SENTINEL, opening the door slightly, says: Who comes?
JUDAS: Judas, of the house of Mattathias, with a friend.
SENTINEL: I will inform the Venerable Sire of your presence.
SENTINEL: Venerable Sire, without the gate stands thy son Judas, with a friend.
CHAPLAIN, AS MATTATHIAS: If he be Judas, my son, let him enter, and present his friend.
SENTINEL, returns and opens wide the door and says: Judas, thy father, bids thee enter, and present thy friend.
MATTATHIAS, in tones of deep distress, with head bowed on left hand: Oh, Jerusalem! The Holy! Thy sanctuary is laid waste; thy feasts are turned into mourning; thy Sabbath into a reproach; and thy honor into contempt. Wherefore was I born to see this misery of my people, and the sad day when the Holy City should be delivered into the hands of the enemy? To what end should we live any longer?
JUDAS, as soon as all is quiet in a low voice says: Father, I have ‘with me a friend, who, having seen the Holy Altar cast down, hath himself refused to be defiled or take part in unlawful ceremonies, and who desires to unite with us in the cause of humanity.
Those at altar rise, Mattathias tremblingly leaning on his staff, in a feeble voice says: My son, thy friend is welcome; but, before we accept him, let him truthfully answer me. Addressing candidate, says: Stranger, art thou true and loyal to thy home and friends? Candidate answers. Dost thou love thy country? Candidate answers. Art thou zealous of its laws? Candidate answers. Dost thou observe them thyself? Candidate answers. Further, art thou willing to yield up thy life, shouldst thy country or its institutions require such a sacrifice? Candidate answers. Kinsman, adversity surrounds us; and the hand of calamity lies heavily upon us. Who knows how soon thy assurances may be put to the test? Perchance, this very night! If, therefore, thou wouldst recall or modify them, do so now before it is too late.
At this moment a flourish of trumpets occurs, with commotion, cheering, etc Mattathias continuing says: The hour has come!
APELLES: Hear ye! Hear ye! Men of Judea! The King makes proclamation unto you. Unfolds scroll and reads.
"I ANTIOCHUS, would have all my kingdom one people. Now, therefore, unto you it is commanded, that all your former laws and customs shall cease; The Maccabees contemptuously torn away. That you shall forthwith set up altars to Almighty Jove; and that you shall not henceforth discriminate against the flesh of swine.
In token of your compliance, you are commanded to sacrifice before the reader of these present. I, ANTIOCHUS, have spoken!" rolls the scroll and says: And I, APELLES, the King's officer, now command you to obey. Mattathias returns and looks upon Apelles with scorn.
APELLES: Mattathias, thou art a man of honor and influence here; come, be thou the first to set an example of obedience to thy kinsmen.
MATTATHIAS, with emphasis: NO. We will not depart from our faith. We will not hearken to the King's words.
APELLES, argumentatively: The people of other countries have obeyed. Yea, even Jason the High Priest at Jerusalem and many more of thine own people have obeyed. Come, Venerable Sire, if thou wilt be the first to offer sacrifice on this altar, thou and thy house shall find favor with the King and be counted among his friends.
MATTATHIAS: I know how Joshua became high priest and why the vile traitor calls himself Jason! Officer of the King,—though all the nations of the earth should obey Antiochus, and all the children of Israel abandon the faith of our Fathers, I and MY house will remain steadfast.
APOSTATE: General, I crave the favor of your great King Antiochus, and would burn incense on this altar.
MATTATHIAS: Traitor, thou must DIE!
Tableau—when the fire has burned out and the curtain closed, and all is quiet, Judas proceeds as follows.
JUDAS: The scene you have just witnessed represents the revolt at Modin. [See SCENE left] Learn from this terrific scene a lesson in genuine patriotism, and see in it your duty to uphold and defend the rights of liberty and conscience, regardless of what the destroyer would promise or give in their stead. Let us retire.
Ancient initiation rite
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An ancient order reborn
The Fraternal Order of the Knights of the Maccabees rises again, one eye to our storied history and one eye toward our glorious future.
These pages represent a glimpse into the formal business and rites of the Order.
They should be seen as ceremonies that connect the Order to the past, yet rites that do not bind the Order to the past.
We are a modern Order unashamed and unchained by our long and glorious history. Our history is ever before us as example and beacon, yet our future like our present is that of contemporary service and reflection.
The venerable Mattathias, the father of the Maccabees, was the first man to activity oppose the mandates of the pagan king. He not only scorned the bribes and flatteries of the king's officer but in a moment of uncontrollable indignation he slew the Apostate Jew in the act of sacrificing to strange Gods, and likewise the king's officer when he attempted to protect the miserable traitor.
Do not mistake the significance of this scene. From the heights of Sinai the thunderous command of Jehovah still echoes through the known world. Yes, "Thou shalt not kill," but the staff of Mattathias was not the weapon of a murderer. Its deadly blow was not struck with the fell purpose of the assassin. Rather did it speak the sudden impulse of the patriot, driven to desperation by the wrongs inflicted upon his country and his people.
Maddened by the craven hypocrisy of an erstwhile friend and follower, and fired with an unselfish zeal to strike for the liberty of his countrymen, avenge their wrecked hopes and ruined homes, and hold aloft the sacred traditions of his fathers.