Today begins the jewish “holiday” of hanukkah, so let’s take a look at the real history behind it. After Alexander the Great’s death in 323BC his empire was split amongst his generals. One of them was a man by the name of Seleucus I Nicator who founded the Seleucid Empire. In the year 170BC the Seleucid Empire had defeated Ptolemaic Egypt during the 6th Syrian War and gained full control of the Levant, including the province of Judea. In 168BC Seleucid Emperor Antiochus IV had plans to Hellenize the Levant and ordered a statue of the Greek God Zeus to be built outside of the jewish temple in Jerusalem. Because of this many jews gave up their religion and willingly converted to the Greek religion.
In 167BC a jew by the name of Mattathias began what would become to known as the Maccabean Revolt when he refused to sacrifice a pig on the alter of a Greek temple then killed the man who volunteered to take his place and desecrated the alter and fled the city into the hill. One year later Mattathias’s son Judas gathered like minded jews began a violent revolt, going into towns and massacring any Greek or jewish convert they could find and also began forcibly circumcising children, as well as destroying Greek temples. The Seleucid Governor was informed of the revolt and a Seleucid Army of around 30k was dispatched to crush the revolt. The jews fought a guerilla style war against the Seleucids, for many years and in 164BC the Seleucids withdrew to Syria due to Antiochus’s death. The jews believed this was a sign they had won and built a new temple to commemorate.
This event was completely forgotten by jews until around the 1890’s when jewish rabbi’s decided to turn the event into a holiday as a means of mocking the Christian Advent calendar and Christmas.