bak'-us Dionusos; later Bakchos, the Feast of Bacchus; Dionusia: The god of wine. His worship had extended over the whole Greek and Roman world centuries before the Christian era, and had degenerated into an orgy of drunkenness and unnamable immoralities, possibly under the influence of oriental Baal worship, such as the Hebrew prophets condemned. It has been surmised that Dionysus was originally not a Greek, but an oriental deity. His worship had been introduced into Egypt, perhaps by the Ptolemies, and Ptolemy Philopator (222-204 BC) had branded the Jews there with his emblem, the sign of the ivy. When Antiochus Epiphanes made his assault upon Jerusalem in the year 168 BC, he determined to extirpate the worship of Yahweh, which he recognized as the strength of the Jewish resistance, and to replace it by Greek religion. All worship of Yahweh and the observance of Jewish rites, such as the Sabbath and circumcision, were prohibited. Heathen worship was set up all over Judea, and in the temple at Jerusalem on the altar of burnt offering an altar to Jupiter was erected, "the abomination that maketh desolate" (Da 11:31), and a swine was sacrificed upon it (see ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION). The immoral practices associated with heathen worship in those days established themselves in the temple. When this feast of Bacchus (Dionysus) with all its revelry came round, the Jews were compelled to go in procession in honor of Bacchus (Dionysus), wearing wreaths of ivy,the emblem of the god (2 Macc 6:7). Some years later, when the worship of Yahweh had been restored, Nicanor the general of Demetrius I, in conducting the war against Judas Maceabacus, threatened the priests that, unless they delivered Judas up as a prisoner, "he would raze the temple of God even with the ground, break down the altar, and erect there a temple unto Bacchus (Dionysus) for all to see" (2 Macc 14:33).
Cheyne, article "Bacchus," EB; Kent, History of the Jewish People, I, 328-29; Josephus, Ant, XII, v, 4.