Sunday, January 01, 2006

Chanukkah -- the rest of the true story

In our last episode, we saw how the evil Menelaeus (a sort of composite of Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay) usurped power from Jason, who usurped it from the rightful high priest, Oniais III. There are two points to remember:

1) Jason might have been a Hellenizer, but at least he was a legitiamte priest, and so the frummers (i.e., Mattithias et al) didn't raise too much of stink over Jason's "reforms," amd certainly didn't start an uprising,

2) Antiochus, at this point seemed to be moreinterested in the wealth he could extract from the Temple, rather than the possibility of forcing the Jews to be little Greek clones.

But then Antiochus had the rather bad idea of trying to conquer Egypt. The Romans decided to block this, as they didn't want anybody inteh Eastern Med to get too powerful. So Antiochus was rather deicsively defeated.

Unfortunately, in the days before they had instant telecommunications, the message got garbled, and the word came to Judaea that Antiochus had been killed. Jason, thus thought it was his chance to make his move, and he attacked the forces of Menelaeus in Jerusalem.

The only problem with this was that Antiochus was not dead, and also that Jerusalem was on his "retreat route." You can imagine that Antiochus was more than a little pissed to find out about a rebellion against his puppet ruler and source of Temple wealth. Besides after having his butt kicked, Antiochus was more than eager to kick a little but in return. So he marched his army to Jerusalem, defeated Jason's insurgents, and looted and otherwise desecrated the Temple.

The he started thinking about how to pacify thise quarrelsone Jews in the long term. I suspect that becuase Jason's faction had the tacit support (or at last the non-opposition) of the frummers, Antiochus blamed the rebellion on the Jewish traditionalist. So then he started puttingin place his infamous decrees banning observance of the Torah, whether of the frummer variety or in the form of Jason's "Reform" Judaism.

As we know, the rest is history. But we need to remember what happened after the Macabee victory:

73: Thus the sword ceased from Israel. And Jonathan dwelt in Michmash. And Jonathan began to judge the people, and he destroyed the ungodly out of Israel.

-I Macabees 9:73

As we said, "religious freedom," my ass!


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