We are blessed to be able to use the Bible (and in this case, apocrypha) as our guide-book in Israel.
The Jewish holiday of Hannukah is around the corner, and we looked to Modiin, where the heroic part of the story of Hannukah starts.
“In those days arose Mattathias the son of John, the son of Simeon, a priest of the sons of Joarib, from Jerusalem, and dwelt in Modin.” (1Mac 2:1, KJV).
After Jerusalem was conquered by Antiochus, the Holy Temple was defiled and practicing Judiasm was forbidden. Instead of allowing themselves to abandon their faith, Mattathias and his sons decided to fight back. Unfortunately, Mattathias died before Jerusalem could be re-conquered.
“And he died in the hundred forty and sixth year, and his sons buried him in the sepulchres of his fathers at Modin, and all Israel made great lamentation for him.” (1Mac 2:70, KJV).
His son Judas, also known as Maccabeus, took charge of an armed revolt to capture Jerusalem and return Jewish worship to the Holy Temple. With the Lord’s help, they defeated a larger army and took control of the Holy Temple, which had been defiled by idol worship. They purified the Temple, the alter and all of the utensils for the holy worship and held a festival for 8 days and nights.
“They made also new holy vessels, and into the temple they brought the candlestick, and the altar of burnt offerings, and of incense, and the table. And upon the altar they burned incense, and the lamps that were upon the candlestick they lighted, that they might give light in the temple. Furthermore they set the loaves upon the table, and spread out the veils, and finished all the works which they had begun to make. Now on the five and twentieth day of the ninth month, which is called the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and eighth year, they rose up betimes in the morning, And offered sacrifice according to the law upon the new altar of burnt offerings, which they had made. Look, at what time and what day the heathen had profaned it, even in that was it dedicated with songs, and citherns, and harps, and cymbals. Then all the people fell upon their faces, worshipping and praising the God of heaven, who had given them good success. And so they kept the dedication of the altar eight days and offered burnt offerings with gladness, and sacrificed the sacrifice of deliverance and praise. They decked also the forefront of the temple with crowns of gold, and with shields; and the gates and the chambers they renewed, and hanged doors upon them. Thus was there very great gladness among the people, for that the reproach of the heathen was put away. Moreover Judas and his brethren with the whole congregation of Israel ordained, that the days of the dedication of the altar should be kept in their season from year to year by the space of eight days, from the five and twentieth day of the month Casleu, with mirth and gladness.” (1Mac 4:49-59 KJV)
This is the basis for the modern-day celebration of Hannukah.
The whole area around modern-day Modi’in in Israel is full of archeological sites from the time of the Second Temple. One of them claims to be where the Maccabees are buried.
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Next week, we will bring photos of Christmas in Jerusalem and, if the security situation permits it, from Bethlehem! Stay tuned.