In 168 BCE the awful King Antiochus (IV) Epiphanes forbade Judaism and also saw that altars to the Greek gods were set up at the Temple at Jerusalem and in country towns. For Jews this was a disaster because not only were they only allowed to believe in one God, they also had a Jewish rule not to make statues, pictures, etc. of their God.
Mattathias, an old man and Jew, complied with Antiochus’ decree but in 167 BCE (the year after Judaism was forbidden) he went out to the mountains. He fled with his five sons and many faithful Jews. Here Mattathias led them in a revolt against Antiochus. He died soon after, leaving his son Judah in command.
In 166-165 BCE Judah, with a few thousand followers defeated the Syrian forces in a series of fights and minor battles.
In December 165 BCE, Judah led his army into Jerusalem, retook the Temple and, following a cleansing ceremony, restored Judaism and the Jewish rites. This included lighting the menorah for eight days. A miracle happened because there was only enough oil for one day but the lights burned for eight days. This story is remembered yearly by Jews at the festival and feast of Hanukah.
Many years ago in the land of Israel a Syrian king was ruling the land. His name was Antiochus. Jews do not believe in images of God or that there are many gods.
Antiochus made the Jews worship Greek gods and sacrifice pigs. He also made them practise the Greek religion. He put statues in the Temple and if this wasn’t enough, he made them worship him. He called himself ‘Epiphanes’ meaning ‘The Shining One’.
He also made a new law that if anyone didn’t worship him or the gods, they would be killed. There was one man named Judah Maccabee. He did not want to give up his faith so he gathered a group of people who also didn’t want to give up their faith. They became known as the ‘Macabees’ (hammerers). They fought with Antiochus and defeated him.
They rededicated the Temple and cleansed it but there was only enough oil in the menorah to keep it alight for one day. It took eight days to get some more but when they got back it was still alight. Jews celebrate this miracle at the festival of Hanukah.
© Mr.B at Farcaster Communications