We can read the history of the next century as a tale of increasing disappointment.From 94 until 86, there was a civil war between the Hasmonaean leader - by now calling himself "king" - and the Pharisees; in 63, the Romans put an end to another civil war, this time between two branches of the Hasmonaean dynasty.The usual offerings were forbidden - pigs had to be sacrificed instead -, circumcision was no longer allowed, scrolls were burnt, and people who still followed Mosaic law were burnt alive.Many pious Jews joined the revolt of Judas the Maccabaean, who lead a small force against the Seleucid army and defeated it.The concept was vague and therefore served to unite the Jews.
Eschatological texts describe the events at the end of times, when God will personally come to restore order in the world.
After Cyrus the Great had taken Babylon (in 539 BCE), the Jewish elite returned from exile and during the fifth century, the Jews rebuilt the Temple at Jerusalem. His descendants, the Ptolemies, continued to rule Egypt, but had to defend the Jewish territories against attacks from another Greek kingdom in the old Achaemenid empire: the Seleucid kingdom, which occupied modern Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
In 337, a Greek-Macedonian army led by king Philip attacked the Persians, and his son Alexander the Great, who inherited the war, brought down the Achaemenid Empire. To be more precise: after the death of the great conqueror, it became part of the kingdom that one of Alexander's generals, Ptolemy I Soter, had created for himself in Egypt and the Levant.
Because the soldiers needed a sanctuary to perform their religious duties, the Jerusalem temple was rededicated to the Olympian Zeus (December 168).
This was more than the Jews could stomach, but the king became even harder in his policy.