History of Hanukkah: A Religious Struggles for Freedom

            Judaism is a much different religion from Christianity. Jews have different beliefs, traditions, and different ideas about how the world should see God. I personally believe that the most fascinating tradition of Judaism is Hanukkah. The hope of this essay is to discuss some of the many aspects of Hanukkah. An example of which is the history of Hanukkah, the celebration of candles, and the activities in which partake in to celebrate this special occasion.

             The history of Hanukkah is a story of the struggle for religious freedom and it commemorates the victory of the Jews over the Hellenistic Syrians in the year 165 B.C.E. The story begins in 338 B.C.E. when Philip of Macedon invaded Greece. Athens and the Greek states, along with their pagan customs, became part of the Macedonian empire. Two years later, Philip died, and his son, Alexander, assumed the throne. Alexander the Great, as he was known, conquered territories from Macedonia and Greece across the Persian empire to the borders of India. Included in this empire were Egypt and Israel, then considered part of Syria. When Alexander's army reached Jerusalem, the Jews, already under Syrian occupation, did not resist. It was Alexander and his forces that first brought Hellenism to Jerusalem and the Jewish people. However, the Jews did not rush to adopt the Greek religion and culture. For all its beauty and accomplishments, especially in the fields of athletics, theater and philosophy, Hellenism had a dark side. In ancient Greece, behavior that is today considered abnormal, such as infanticide, pedophilia, adultery and institutionalized prostitution, were routine and even encouraged. To Jews, who valued the Torah and purity of family life, these aspects of Hellenistic culture were incompatible with their own. When Alexander died, his empire was divided between his generals: Antigonus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy. Antigonus ruled Macedonia and Greece; Seleucus ruled Babylonia, Persia and Syria; and Ptolemy ruled Egypt and Israel.

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