The test of the Sabbath in the wilderness (1 Macc 2:29-2:38)

“At that time, many who were seeking righteousness and justice went down to the wilderness to live there. They, their sons, their wives, and their livestock, went into the wilderness because troubles pressed heavily upon them. It was reported to the king’s officers, and to the troops in Jerusalem the city of David, that men who had rejected the king’s command had gone down to the hiding places in the wilderness. Many pursued them. They overtook them. They encamped opposite them. They prepared for battle against them on the Sabbath day.  They said to them.

‘Enough of this!

Come out and do what the king commands,

Then you will live.’

However they said.

‘We will not come out,

Nor will we do what the king commands.

We will not profane the Sabbath day.’

Then the enemy quickly attacked them. But they did not answer them or hurl a stone at them or block up their hiding places. They said.

‘Let us all die in our innocence.

Heaven and earth testify for us that you are killing us unjustly.’

So they attacked them on the Sabbath. They died, with their wives and children and cattle, to the number of a thousand persons.”

Here there is a movement to the wilderness instead of away from it. More and more people were going out to the wilderness. The Syrian officials found out about this and began to pursue them. They caught a group of about 1,000 people with wives, children, and livestock. Since it was the Sabbath, the Jewish group would not fight. Thus 1,000 people were wiped out because they wanted to die in their innocence. They believed that they died unjustly so that we have 1,000 Jewish martyrs.