The epic triumph of spiritual survival of the Jewish people through the hands of an army of untrained priestly scholars is as much of a mystery as it is a miracle. Needless to say it was the Hidden Hand of Omnipotent One that assured that the cry of victory would be issued from the lips of the humble Cohanic conquerers, but why were they chosen to fight the battle? Aren’t they the embodiment of the traits of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing it, yet here they charge on to the battle field?
The riddle is resolved by peering beyond the outer layer that shrouds the priestly order. The G-d given duty of the Cohen is to create unity between Hashem and His people, and amongst the members of the nation themselves. The Cohen looks to resolve the seeming disparity in the world by bringing together its’ disjointed pieces and forming a unified whole. There is no conflict between heaven and earth, they are united on the altar and there is no disunity within the folk as they all stem from a single source. The spiritual and the physical, the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, the mundane and the holy all are united under the banner proclaiming the oneness of the Creator.
It is now simple to understand why it was the high priests who took battle against the Greek oppressors. The Greeks came to strip the community of their mantle of purity, bring discord to the harmonious relationship between the G-d of Israel and His children and dismantle the structure of a unified universe. And the Cohen knew that his priestly charge must move him to respond, even if it meant that his life would be lost, for the loss of life upon the altar of Hashem is the ultimate claim to life.