Okay, so here’s the story of Hanukah in a nutshell: Political infighting between three guys vying for the High Priest spot in Judea resulted in the murder of one of them, and in seriously pissing off their Syrian ruler, Antiochus, because the murdered guy was his pick for the top spot. So Antiochus got mad at all the Jews because of these infighting knuckleheads, shut their Temple down and forbid anyone from practicing Judaism anymore. If you want a time frame, we’re talking the 2nd century BCE. Eventually, Judah Maccabee, the son of a Jewish dissident priest who was hellbent on regaining religious freedom, formed a guerilla army that successfully ousted Antiochus. With Jerusalem now reclaimed, the Jews could reconsecrate their Temple and start worshipping there again.
If you’re unfamiliar with Jewish synagogues then you don’t know that they always contain a light called the Ner Tamid – Eternal Flame – that burns continually as a reminder of the eternal presence of God. In my lifetime I’ve only ever seen the eternal lightbulb, but 2,200 years or so before Thomas Edison, you can be sure oil lamps were de rigeur. Continue reading