Most Americans know that ?Jews celebrate Hanukkah this time of year.? But very few know its details or history.? If they did,? the little known story of the ?Miracle of Hanukkah? would inspire and guide Christians and ?Tea Party? conservatives in America today.
Most Jews know little about?the Hanukkah story because Jewish rabbis blamed it for disastrous revolts against Rome and?stopped teaching it nearly 2,000 years ago.? Most of what we now know about Hanukkah is found in books copied and preserved by early Christians who were arrested, tortured and murdered by Roman emperors during that time.? Those Christians prayed for the same miracles that saved Jews from similar persecution by Greek emperors some 200 years earlier.
The story of? Hanukkah should sound? familiar to?Christians and?conservative in America?today.
The kingdoms of? ancient Israel and Judah were founded on basic laws and principles found in the Old Testament of the Bible.?? Those laws and principles were similar in many ways to the core principles of America?s Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
They include the basis idea that each of us, whether rich and powerful or poor and weak, have equal “unalienable”?rights, and must all follow the same basic rules.??? They?include the Ten Commandments which outlaw murder, theft, adultery, perjury, and being jealous of what other people have.?? They also include the Golden Rule and ??loving your fellow as yourself?.?? Even slaves had the right to be set free during the Jubilee Year.
The Old Testament also ?tells a thousand years of Jewish history.? It ?explains how? ancient Jews were blessed with liberty and prosperity when they followed those rules, and cursed with one disaster after another when they did not.
The Hanukkah story begins 333 years before Jesus. ?At that time Greeks led by Alexander the Great conquered the whole Persian Empire from Egypt to India?including what is now Israel.
When Alexander died, his empire and Greek culture remained.? Most people, including most Jews, ?from the border of Italy to the border of India spoke Greek, built Greek-style buildings, watched Greek plays, competed in Greek games, learned Greek science, anatomy, mathematics, and astronomy.?? They also read and discussed Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle.?? Many Jews gave their children Greek names like ?Alexander? and ?Jason?.
Most people also worshipped the Greek gods along with their own.? They also accepted the pagan Greek morality that went with it.??? There were no permanent rules that applied to everyone.??? People with money and power could do whatever they pleased,? and people without them had no choice but to submit.? ??The Greek gods murdered, lied, cheated, and robbed whenever they could get away with it.?? Nothing more was expected of the people who worshipped them.
In that ancient world?emperors, kings, and generals lied, cheated, bribed, and murdered to win power and wealth.? When they succeeded, they changed any laws they wanted.? The ends always justified the means.
Men with enough money or power could legally ?take whatever property they wanted.? They could legally?rape any woman they wanted–even those ?married to someone else.? They could have anyone who objected arrested and killed.? Parents were allowed to kill whatever infants they found to be unsuitable.
Everyone in the Greek Empire accepted this way of life?except the Jews.
The Jews were the only people in the Greek world who rejected the Greek gods and morals.??? They stubbornly worshipped only their one God.?? They continued to believe and teach that they only?the eternal laws of the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule? should be obeyed.?? Only the Jews taught that even emperors and kings had had to obey them and could not?change them.
Alexander and the first Greek emperors at first ignored and tolerated this Jewish ?diversity?.? But later Greek emperors insisted on total ?political correctness? throughout the Empire.
First they appointed high priests at the Temple in Jerusalem who gave ?modern? rulings which approved what the Greek rulers ordered.???? But Jews ignored those priests and relied on the rulings of Bible-based rabbis instead.
When this happened, the Greek emperors made harsh new laws.?? They insisted that their god Zeus be worshipped and pigs slaughtered at the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.?? Any Jew who refused was tortured and put to death.
So Jews stopped going to the Temple, and set up synagogues led by rabbis near?their homes instead.?? The Greek emperors then raided? and searched synagogues and ?homes.?? Anyone caught teaching or possessing a Bible was tortured and put to death.?? Community leaders were arrested and ordered to publicly eat pork to prove they had renounced their religions.?? Anyone who refused was tortured and executed.
During this time, ancient Greek scholars in Alexandria, Egypt,?began a public relations campaign against Jews throughout the empire.?? They wrote false histories that accused Jews of being an evil race who were?dishonest and treacherous.?? They even invented the notorious “blood libel”.? They falsely accused Jews of?murdering non-Jewish children and using their blood for their Passover matzoh.?From Alexandria in Egypt to Antioch in Syria, mobs attacked and murdered Jews wherever they could find them.??Many Jews lost hope that their religion could survive.
That was when the Miracle of Hanukkah began.? A family of dissident priests left Jerusalem and began a revolt in the countryside.? ?They were called ??Maccabees?– Hebrew for ?hammers?.????Soon thousands of?young men and women from?all over Israel left their homes and joined them.
They taught themselves to make the weapons of war used by the Greeks including bows and arrows, long and short swords and spears, and shields that linked together.?? They spent months learning, practicing, and mastering Greek tactics and techniques of war.
The most important of these was the phalanx.?? This was where thousand of men marched in perfect discipline with shields linked together so that they could were completely protected? from enemy weapons.
The Maccabees understood and taught that to win against the Greeks, it was not enough to fight as individual heroes.?? They had to fight as an organized, disciplined machine rather than as individual heroes.
In four years, the Maccabee army captured Jerusalem.?? They re-dedicated the Temple and began a new holiday called the ?Festival of Dedication? or ?Hanukkah?.?? But that was only the beginning.?? The war dragged on for 34 more years.?? Most of the Macabees and others who began the rebellion were killed long before the final victory.
The Miracle of Hanukkah is that this small group of ?inspired men and women survived and prevailed against overwhelming power.??? This miracle should be an inspiration for Tea Party conservatives in America?and a blueprint for success.
Yes, the government, the media, and the pop culture are all against us.?? Every day, they relentlessly attack and ridicule us and lie about us.??? People we once thought were our friends do nothing to help us.?? But we are not being arrested, tortured, and murdered?at least not yet.
Like the Maccabees?and the early Christians, we can overcome.?? Our core beliefs are true.?? But we need to act like the Maccabees.? Without giving up our core beliefs, we must learn and imitate the tactics and techniques of our enemies and defeat them in the modern battlefields of public relations and political campaigns.? And we must be prepared for very long struggle–a struggle that will go on long after we are gone.