You mean you’re Christian and you *aren’t* celebrating Hanukkah? Well, I daresay: if you are a traditionalist who despises the encroachment of secular liberalism, and particularly resents our elite’s embrace of that agenda, then the tale of Hanukkah is for you.
The Jewish festival of Hanukkah celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple following Judah Maccabee’s victory over the Seleucids.
What was the Maccabean Revolt all about? Of course, amateur students of history need to beware of inferring false analogies based on superficial similarities. Nevertheless:
In the 2nd century BC, Judea lay between the Ptolemaic Kingdom based in Egypt and the Seleucid empire based in Syria, kingdoms formed after the death of Alexander the Great (336–323 BCE). Judea had been under Ptolemaic rule, but fell to the Seleucids around 200 BCE. Judea at that time had been affected by the Hellenization begun by Alexander. Some Jews, mainly those of the urban upper class, notably the Tobiad family, wished to dispense with Jewish law and to adopt a Greek lifestyle. According to the historian Victor Tcherikover, the main motive for the Tobiads’ Hellenism was economic and political. The Hellenizing Jews built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, competed in international Greek games, “removed their marks of circumcision and repudiated the holy covenant”.
Hrm. I can’t imagine where I’ve heard this sort of story before.
The author of the First Book of Maccabees regarded the Maccabean revolt as a rising of pious Jews against the Seleucid king who had tried to eradicate their religion and against the Jews who supported him. The author of the Second Book of Maccabees presented the conflict as a struggle between “Judaism” and “Hellenism”, words that he was the first to use.
Most modern scholars argue that the king was reacting to a civil war between traditionalist Jews in the countryside and Hellenized Jews in Jerusalem, though the king’s response of persecuting the religious traditionalists was unusual in antiquity, and was the immediate provocation for the revolt. According to Joseph P. Schultz, modern scholarship “considers the Maccabean revolt less as an uprising against foreign oppression than as a civil war between the orthodox and reformist parties in the Jewish camp”
And lo, the traditionalists won – thus, Hanukkah. And hardly anybody today knows or cares who Antiochus IV Epiphanes was, but the Israelite religion (of which Christianity is the proper, legitimate expression, ever since that first Christmas ca. 4 B.C.) has spread across the face of the earth.
Speaking of that: Merry Christmas! While I hope you will also be enjoying Exmas with your family (as I will be), don’t forget the real Christmas, which is not about presents nor even family, but about the birth of the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.