Friday, June 5, 2009

The Maccabee Uprising - FITJ podcast review

The podcast series From Israelite to Jew is also a podcast about Judaism, but first of all it is a history podcast that attempts to survey the Jewish Culture in the Second Temple Period. This period ranges from the sixth century BCE to the first century CE. It implies diaspora and return, cultural influence from Persia and Hellenism, Persian rule, Greek rule and Roman rule and uprisings.

The Maccabee uprising against the Greek rulers in 165 BCE is a history that lay the basis for the Chanukkah holidays. In the traditional story the Maccabees are fed up with the Greek and assimilated Jews' desecration of the Temple. They revolt and when they gain the Temple and have to consecrate it, they need a continual burning of ritual oil. Of the oil they have an amount that will last them for a mere day, yet it takes eight days to prepare new. The miracle of Chanukkah is that the oil burnt for eight days.

The Maccabees installed a new dynasty, that of the Chashmonean kings and Satlow attempts to get a finger behind the actual history of the uprising. Here it becomes much less a tale of Jews against Greeks or observant versus assimilated Jews, but rather a quest within the oligarchy of the day between the ruling families. Who was to get power over the worship and over the people. Satlow makes the best of what few sources he has in order to construct the history.

More FITJ:
Jews of the Persian Empire,
The fox and the hedgehog,
Looking for a Persian History podcast.