The King of the Seleucids who controlled Judea was named Antiochus Epiphanies who would go on to desecrate the Temple, persecute Judaism and, by 167 BC, outlaw all Jewish practices. In defiance, Mattathias the Hasmonean (a Jew) refused to offer a sacrifice to Zeus. The incident, sparked the beginning of a guerrilla campaign against the Seleucids led by Mattathias' son, Judas.
Judas was also called Judas Maccabeus, or Judas the Maccabee (which means "the hammerer"), and with his brothers Jonathan and Simon, led the revolt. By 164 BC, Judas had liberated the Temple and had it cleansed (both literally and spiritually) and rededicated. That re-dedication is celebrated even today by the Jews in the Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah.
This story is relayed in the books of 1st and 2nd Maccabees, which most Protestant Bibles do not have. Without these accounts, though, there would be virtually nothing written (remaining) conerning Israel's history from the time of Ezra (400 BC) to the time of the New Testament.
The war with the Seleucids would claim the lives of Judas, Jonathan, and Simon, but would achive a total political independence for Israel that would last from 135 to 40 BC. This was known as the Hasmonean Dynasty. After Simon, the rulers John Hyrcanus and Alexander Jannaeus led the dynasty, but following the death of Jannaeus, the dynasty began to weaken.
Backing up slightly to the year 63 BC, the Roman Empire ended the empire of the Seleucids. That same year, Pompey, a Roman general entered Jerusalem and from that point forward, Israel was subordinate to Rome either directly or indirectly.