What happened in 164 BC

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, one candle will be lit in the Hanukkiah, with one more candle added every evening for eight days, during the Festival of Light, Hanukkah.

Just to be on the safe side, in case the meaning of the holiday escaped you: This is about freedom to practice your own religion.

So, the Greeks conquered the land of Israel and demolished the first temple in Jerusalem, in the 2nd century BEFORE Christ.

They spilled all pure olive oils that were used to light the eternal flame in front of the altar in the temple.

The Hashmonean, which came from a small village in the Jerusalem area, a priestly family, resisted the tyranny of the Greeks and went to war, leading a revolt under the leadership of third son Yehuda, which you could say was a brilliant, brave military leader and a strategist.

Some say that Yehuda’s nickname Maccabee, derives from the Hebrew word for hammer or sledgehammer, referring to the blows he dealt the evil Greek ruler, Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

Since the Greeks banned all religious practices, except Greek, the Jews living in Israel did not want to be forced to worship the Greek pantheon of Gods. They had one of their own, the Jewish god — one, not many, and the rebellion which consequently broke out was organized by Mattathias of the Hashmonean family, a religious priest, and a father to five sons.

Their army, nicknamed the Maccabees, eventually gained autonomy and independence for Judea, the area around Jerusalem, and the Hashmonean family established their own a kingdom, which lasted about 50 years.

When the Maccabees won the battle against the Greek, 164 BC, they walked into Jerusalem, cleaned up the temple, removed all Greek god statues and only found one small amphora/vase of pure olive oil, with which they rekindled the eternal flame.

Then a miracle occurred. The little oil lasted for eight days, time enough to make preparations for a new batch of sacred pure olive oil to light up the temple, and that’s why we celebrate eight days of light and we eat fatty foods celebrating oil….

The miracle in Jerusalem, the revolt against the Greek, and the restored Jewish religious practices, gave birth to a Hashmonean dynasty….and then the Romans showed up on the scene, and the same temple was destroyed again in 70 CE.

From Wikipedia: The name “Hanukkah” derives from the Hebrew verb “חנך‎”, meaning “to dedicate, or “to inaugurate.” On Hanukkah, the Maccabees regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the temple

One more:

Hanukkiah = eight branches and one server in the middle, nine-branched hanukkiah

Menorah = six branches and one server in the middle, seven-branched menorah

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December 07, 2023
Rona Coster