Antiochus and the Maccabee Revolt: A detailed account of the rise of
Hellenism and the beginning of the Maccabee revolt.
There is a widespread misconception that the chief villain of the Hanuka story was the Syrian Greek king Antiochus IV, Antiochus Epiphanes, who, because of his commitment to Hellenism, unilaterally imposed his pagan beliefs and practices upon the Jewish populace of Judea. The truth, however, is that the true villains of the Hanuka story were those assimilated Jews (misyavnim), like Menelaus, the self proclaimed “High Priest”, and his cohorts, who desired to rule over Judea and generouly bribed the Syrian government in order to secure their positions and power. It was Menelaus, who prevailed upon Antiochus to forcibly assimilate the Jews. In the words of Josephus (Antiquities Book XII Chapter 9 paragraph 7), “For that this man (Menelaus, the High Priest) was the origin of all the mischief the Jews had done them (the Greeks), by persuading his father (Antiochus IV) to compel the Jews to leave the religion of their fathers; so the king sent Menelaus to Berea, a city of Syria, and there had him put to death, when he had been high priest ten years. He had been wicked and an impious man; and in order to get the government to himself, had compelled his nation to transgress their own laws.” The outlawing of Torah practice by the Greeks, the imposition of pagan ritual, and the conversion of the Temple (Bais HaMikdash) into a pagan sanctuary were the last steps in a process that began many years before with the rise of Yosef ben Tovia and his family into positions of wealth and power. The true story behind the Maccabee revolt and the figures who played a dominant role during this period is the subject of this lecture.
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