|Mattathias’ Followers (bible engraving by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld in Die Bibel in Bildern)|
Antiochus was a very wicked king. He did not want the Jewish people to be able to practice Judaism, and he made life for the Jews very difficult. He tried to make the Jews become more like the Greeks, and he made Jewish practice illegal. Circumcision, the study of Jewish scripture and the observance of eating kosher food were outlawed. He commanded his army to punish Jews who continued to worship only one God and who studied Torah. He forced Jews to bow down to Greek idols and eat foods that were not kosher. In Jerusalem, the soldiers destroyed the Holy Temple by erecting idols, letting pigs run wild and burning Torah scrolls.
|Judas Maccabee (bible engraving by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld in Die Bibel in Bildern)|
Mattathias became the leader of the Jewish rebellion. However, he was very old, and he passed away before the fight was over. He left his middle son, Judah, in charge of the Jewish fighters. Judah was such a brave fighter that he became known as “Judah the Maccabee,” the Hebrew word for “hammer.” After three long years of fighting, the Jewish people defeated the well-trained Greek army. It was a miracle!
After the fighting was over, Judah and his army of Jews traveled to Jerusalem to clean and purify the Temple that was nearly destroyed by the Greek army. On the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev in the year 165 BCE, exactly three years since the fighting started, Judah and his followers rededicated the Temple to God. The word “Chanukah” means “dedication,” and that’s where we get the name of this holiday!
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