We will not obey the king's decree, and we will not change our way of worship in the least."
Just as he finished speaking, one of the men from Modein decided to obey the king's decree and stepped out in front of everyone to offer a pagan sacrifice on the altar that stood there.
When Mattathias saw him, he became angry enough to do what had to be done. Shaking with rage, he ran forward and killed the man right there on the altar.
He also killed the royal official who was forcing the people to sacrifice, and then he tore down the altar.
In this way Mattathias showed his deep devotion for the Law, just as Phinehas had done when he killed Zimri son of Salu. 1
Then Mattathias went through the town shouting, "Everyone who is faithful to God's covenant and obeys his Law, follow me!"
With this, he and his sons fled to the mountains, leaving behind all they owned.
At that time also many of the Israelites who were seeking to be right with God through obedience to the Law went out to live in the wilderness, taking their children, their wives, and their livestock with them, because of the terrible oppression they were suffering.
The report soon reached the king's officials and the soldiers in the fort at Jerusalem that some men who had defied the king's command had gone into hiding in the wilderness.
A large force of soldiers pursued them, caught up with them, set up camp opposite them, and prepared to attack them on the Sabbath. 2