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    It began in Jerusalem


    The Chanukah story is not nearly as simple as people think.

    It began, according to a 1963 article by Reuben Gross in the American magazine Jewish Life, not in Antioch but Jerusalem.

    The First Book of Maccabees, regarded as quite a good historical source, traces the conflict back to internal events within Judaism.

    Jewish assimilationists advocated following the ways of the gentiles for the sake of peace and social acceptability. They argued that resistance would only bring disaster.

    In order to persuade their coreligionists to go along with the Greeks, they encouraged Greek sporting contests and erected Hellenistic places of amusement in Jerusalem, expecting Jews to be attracted even though it meant “selling themselves to do evil in the sight of God”.

    This anti-assimilationist account of the controversy must have been written by one of the orthodox party who deplored the abandonment of the old paths.

    There do not seem to be any responses in writing from the progressive party, who probably felt that people would not need tracts when they had toys.

    Where does King Antiochus come in?

    Happy that at least some of the Jews appeared to be supporting his policies, he sent messages throughout the kingdom setting out the laws, practices and cultural mores he wanted. He even brought in the troops to prod and hurry up the Jews in the movement towards Hellenisation.

    He was delighted to have some Jewish allies to help him along.

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