#Chanukah History. #JewishHistory: Thread. /1
I'd like to talk about the outline of events leading up to the Chanukah story. The story itself, the way it was later portrayed in #Judaism, and the meaning to #Jews today, are subjects complex enough for a separate thread. /2
The story of #Chanukah is ancient, and there is some degree of interpretation in chronologies, meaning, and motive regarding the events. So I post this thread with a degree of trepidation! Not everything is certain. /3
Many people take binary positions on the  #Maccabees, hailing them either as liberators from oppression, or as religious extremists. As always, the story is more complex, and as so often seen in history, it is possible to be both. /4
The later #Hasmonean dynasty again is a big enough topic to be a separate thread. /5
The Seleucids gained control over the region through the victories of Antiochus III at the beginning of the second century BCE. The Jews had assisted against the #Ptolemies and #AntiochusIII expressed gratitude by granting privileges and by active assistance. /6
Antiochus III sent aid for rebuilding war-torn #Jerusalem,repairing the #JewishTemple, providing subsidies for sacrifices, exemptions from some taxes, and, importantly, a declaration that Jews were to be allowed to govern themselves under their own #Laws and institutions. /7
For 30 years then, the tone of relationships between the Jews and the Seleucid empire was peaceful. #Hellenism flourished in the whole region, and contemporary sources demonstrate that this culture was also felt by Jews. /8
During this time, appointment of the #HighPriest, an important #religious and #political post, was subject to the approval of the Seleucid king. /9
At this time it was held by #Simeon the Just ( #ShimonHaTzaddik, a well respected Sage in Jewish tradition) from the #Oniad family, who had held this office for many years. Simeon participated in the restoration of the Temple. /10
This cordial relationship continued under Onias III (the next High Priest) and Seleucus IV, the next monarch. However, it was not to last. Family rivalries and ambitions within the Jewish state were simmering under the surface. /11
A fight between Onias III and a man called Simon, an official who oversaw Temple finances, was brewing. In order to gain more power, Simon induced Seleucus IV, via Heliodorus, the royal minister, to plunder Temple funds, so that they could be made available to the regime. /12
Either this was not done as a matter of policy or the attempt was unsuccessful. This schism in the Jewish leadership was to escalate. Simon increased his attacks on Onias III, and one of his (Onias) supporters was murdered, so Onais III appealed to the monarch. /13
Bad timing for him - he had travelled to #Anitoch around the same time #Seleucus was assasinated, and #AntiochusIV took the throne (after having effectively been held hostage by Rome for 15 years.) /14
In addition, while Onias was away, his brother #Jason moved to take the office of High Priest. He promised to increase revenues to the new king Antiochus IV via higher taxes and was installed into office. /15
(Jason is his Hellenised name, he had changed this from his Jewish name Jesus - Joshua.) /16
It is clear is that Jason took measures for further Hellenisation of Jerusalem; although the exact details aren't clear, it seems it was in terms of culture, rather than politics and religion. /17
Traditional governance was not changed, but a new gynmasium was built, which was very attractive to the youth of Jerusalem including those from the priestly class (to the dismay of the Rabbis and the author of I Maccabees). /18
Jason courted the new king, laying on entertainments in Jerusalem, sending money to Tyre for a sacrifice to Heracles (which the delegation refused to do), and providing funds for the war effort against the Ptolemies. /19
None was enough to keep in in power, he only held office for three years, when the internal strife resurfaced. /20
#Menelaus, himself after the office of High Priest, took the opportunity while taking tribute to Antiochus IV, to bid for office himself. He promised Antiochus more money and was duly appointed as High Priest. /21
This represented a break with the tradition of the post being held by a member of the Oniad family. /22
Menelaus was deeply unpopular. His first act in office was to expropriate gold from the Temple to pay for the bribe he had promised. Jason was forcibly exiled. /23
Onias III (the deposed high priest) publicy accused him of stealing from the Temple. Menelaus reacted by having Onias murdered. /24
Dislike of Menelaus, for his continued plundering of the temple, his heavy-handedness and anger about the murder of Onias, exploded. /25
The populace petitioned the king to have the murderer punished, and violence ensued, resulting in the death of Lysimachus, brother of Menelaus, who had plundered the treasury. /26
Antiochus IV intervened by ordering the assasin of Onias executed, but also to acquit Menelaus, who had accused the people of Jerusalem of being loyal to Egypt, an accusation which resulted in several Jews being executed. /27
Menelaus remained in office and these events entrenched Jewish resentment against the Seleucids. /28
In the larger stage, Antiochus IV had led two assaults on Egypt. The first, in 170-169 BCE, was successful; capturing terrirotry and enthroning a client king. Alexandria resisted. /29
Antiochus prepared a new invasion for spring of 168, and Antiochus captured Memphis and set his sights on Alexandria. /30
However, Rome had just defeated Macedon at the battle of Pydna. After that victory the Romans proceeded to finish the Sixth Syrian War. The Roman envoy confronted Antiochus at Eleusis, demanding an end to the war. /31
Playing for time, Antiochus asked to confer. Popillius Laenas is said to have drawn a circle around Antiochus and demanded a reply before he stepped out of it. Antiochus was forced to evacuate his troops from Egypt and his navy from Cyprus. /32
His reputation and aspirations lay in ruin. Furious, Antiochus returned to Jerusalem, which had in his absence been wracked by internal upheaval and violence, to ruthlessly establish his authority. /33
According to II Maccabees, his soldiered massacred the city, resulting in the death of 40,000 Jews, and more sold into slavery. /34
Before returning to Syria, he installed officials and soldiers to control the Jewish population, both in #Jerusalem in #Judea and #MountGerizim in #Samaria. /35
Later on, he sent a force of 22,000 men under the command of Apollonius to brutally oppress the city. Innocent civilians were killed, the city ransacked and set on fire. /36
A permanent military colony of Seleucid forces remained to control the population. This citadel, the Acra (of uncertain location) would be the base of Seleucid strength for the next 25 years. /37
Antiochus then embarked on a campaign to completely extinguish #Judaism. He forbade Jewish offerings in the Temple, ordered the erection of pagan shrines, ordered the sacrifice of pigs and other non-kosher animals, banned circumcision, burnt the Torah.../38
...compelled Jews to eat pagan sacrifices and take part in the festival of Dionysis, and rededicated the temple to Zeus Olympios and the sanctuary at Mount Gerizim to Zeus Xenios. Owning Jewish scriptures was a capital offence. /39
On the 15th Kislev, December 167BCE, a #pagan alter was introduced into the Temple. Ten days later, a pig was sacrificed. For the Jews of Judea, this was an appalling act of desecration. But resistance was punished with torture and execution. /40
Insurgency started small. In Modi'in, #Mattathias of the #Hasmonean family (Matisyahu), became angry when asked by a government representative to offer a pagan sacrifice. He is also said to have killed or struck a Jew that stepped forward to sacrifice, and the official. /41
It was the spark that ignited the straw. /42
Mattathias and his family took refuge in Judea, hiding from arrest. According to some sources, during this time they pulled down pagan altars and killed those who they saw as sinners. /43
On his death, his son #Judah (Yehudah) took over, eventually leading the dissidents to victory in guerilla warfare, which was first directed toward Hellenising Jews. /44
After the victory, the Maccabees entered Jerusalem, ritually cleaned the temple and re-established Jewish worship there with Jonathan (Yonatan - son of Mattathias) as High Priest. These are the events which #Chanukah commemorates. /45
A massive Seleucid army was sent to put down the revolt, but returned to Syria on the death of Antioochus IV. The commander, Lysias, agreed to political compromise. /46
It would take until 110BCE for a fully independent #Jewish state to emerge under the Hasmoneans, although for some time it was run partly autonomously under the Seleucids. /47
The actions of Antiochus IV represented a reversal of normal Seleucid policy; the evidence generally supports toleration by Antiochus IV of local customs elsewhere. /48
Several reasons have been proposed as to why he took such hostile action to erase Judaism but the reasons are not clear. /49
This was also a pivotal moment in Jewish history and Judaism. It's impossible to know "could haves", but it is possible that a less hostile policy would have resulted in eventual Hellenisation and assimilation of the Jewish population. /50
With thanks to "The Construct of Identity in Hellenistic Judaism", Erich S. Gruen and JSTOR for much of this information. Mistakes are my own. /51
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