Today (it is after sunset) was the last day of the Festival of Lights, better known as Hanukkah.
Mostly celebrated only by those of the Hebrew faith (Jews), it is a holiday for all lovers of liberty. It is a celebration of liberty and how the Father, YHWH, blessed the ancient people of Judea. Today, we need that blessing, and we need the will to fight for liberty in the same way that ancient Jews did.
The eight-day Jewish celebration known as Hanukkah or Chanukah commemorates the rededication during the second century BC of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the Hellenistic monster Antiochus IV, ruler of the Seleucid (Syrian) Empire. According to history (the extra-biblical books of I, II, and III Maccabees, part of the Apocrypha), the Judeans rose up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar and this year fell on 11-18 December. The holiday is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, traditional foods, games and gifts.
Jews hail the event it celebrates as a miracle. When the Syrian occupiers were driven out of the Temple in Jerusalem along with their sacrifices to Zeus and Hera, using pigs and other forbidden and immoral practices, there was only enough oil to light the menorah in the Temple for one day, while other supplies were produced. But the meager amount of oil actually lasted a full eight days, allowing the reestablished priests of the living God to complete the cleansing of the Temple and for the people to celebrate their liberation from decades of tyranny by foreigners.
That tyranny started with the conquest by Assyria of the Northern Kingdom, then the conquest by the New Babylonian Empire of the Southern Kingdom (Judea itself), and the deportation and scattering of the Hebrew People. After 70 years in exile and captivity, the new imperial masters, the Medes and Persians, allowed some Hebrews to return to Jerusalem and Judea, and reestablish themselves as colony and province of the Persian Empire. But a few decades later, the Persian Empire was itself conquered by the rising star, Alexander of Macedon. The Macedonian Armies swept the board and “conquered the world.” But he died (under odd circumstances) and his generals (“The Successors”) split up his empire.
Two of those were Ptolemy, who seized Egypt and Canaan (Judea and what was becoming Samaria and Galilee), and Seleucus, who grabbed Syria and Mespotamia. (This was in 312 BC.) Years – centuries – of war followed, and finally in 167 BC, the current Seleucid emperor-king conquered Jerusalem and all of Judea. Unlike the Egyptians, the Syrian Greeks tried to suppress the worship of YHWH under the Torah and instill Olympianism (Zeus, etc.). They defiled the Temple, tyrannized and terrorized the people, and quickly found themselves facing a massive rebellion. The Hebrews, after centuries, had finally had enough.
Led by a rural (poor) priest and his five sons (Jewish priests, unlike Catholics, could marry – indeed had to marry), the revolt finally succeeded in 164 BC, and the Temple was liberated and cleansed.
Why retell this story? Because the Hebrews were willing to “go with the flow” until their freedom to worship God was denied them, and they were forced to participate in a state religion anathema to them.
In this, those ancient priests and farmers and merchants were more noble, more worthy of praise, and more honorable than Americans of 2020. Except for a very few, modern Americans have rapidly abandoned gathering together to worship God as they are commanded and taught by the Messiah that most of them supposedly have given their allegiance to, and serve. Not only have they replaced assembling together to worship with electronic “remote” worship, they have objected little to still further demands that (among many other things) congregational singing be banned, that the communion cup and bread cannot be shared, and that even “greet one another with a holy kiss” is to be abandoned. Because the thugs in the Fifty States (as in most of the planet) have ordered it, supposedly to stop the spread of a disease.
A disease, which as these things go, is a very poor and ineffective example of a pandemic. A disease which has been turned into a tool of oppression, of slavery.
But this is just the latest stage of a long-term war on religion, especially Christianity and Judaism, here in the Fifty States. For a century, the very foundations of these beliefs has been attacked and ridiculed by government-run tax-funded schools, by government agencies, and by various and sundry “experts” supported by government money (stolen from taxpayers including those whose religion was denigrated and denied).
In this, at least, the cunning of the modern-day powers-that-be is greater than that of the long-extinct Seleucid dynasty. The rulers in DC and Albany and Richmond and Sacramento and elsewhere have used the “slowly-bring-it-to-a-boil” method of stealing away our liberty. Instead of immediately attacking temples and synogogues and such. (Although now those attacks have been recorded in a half-dozen States, as the Lockdown was enforced. Not violent attack, but attacks with the threat of violence for non-compliance obvious.)
And it is clear that the new state religion is winning. Supposedly half of the participating electorate and more have voted for a supposedly-secular faith in government control and expanding socialism and authoritarianism.
Again, at least the ancient Hebrews fought desperately to keep their freedom, against Assyrians, Babylonians, Macedonians, Egyptians, and Syrians. Even though they failed to keep it. Americans, it seems in 2020, are unwilling to do anything but bow their necks and extend their hands for the chains.
Or are we? Enough is enough. Today, it is not just Jews that should remember Hanakkah, but ALL people who love liberty. Those ancients should encourage and embolden us to fight back, to regain our lost liberty – not just religious but ALL liberty.