Another man came forward to offer a pagan sacrifice. Mattathias killed him on the altar and also killed General Appeles. Mattathias and his five sons gathered others around them and fled into the desert where they hid caves.
The army followed them and attacked on the Sabbath. Because no work is permitted in the Sabbath, many Jews refused to defend themselves. Nearly a thousand men, women, and children were slaughtered. Matthathias pointed out that since God wants to preserve life, self-defense is permissible even on the Sabbath. This ruling became a tradition that continues to exist in modern times.
Mindful that circumcision was punishable by death during the reign of Antiochus, Mattathias made an opposite and equally powerful ruling. Mattathias ordered every boy in Israel, including Gentiles, to be circumcised. Matthathias ruled for a year until he died of natural causes. He was succeeded by his son, Judah.