BAR 34:06, Nov/Dec 2008
Background to Hanukkah
Inscription Reveals Roots of Maccabean Revolt
A major new inscription that recently surfaced on the antiquities market and has been acquired by the Israel Museum in Jerusalem sheds dramatic new light on the run-up to the Maccabean revolt in the second century B.C.E.1
Until now, almost everything we know about the Maccabean revolt, which freed the Temple from the desecration of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (the successful campaign to cleanse the Temple is still celebrated by Jews in the festival of Hanukkah), comes from the writings of Josephus and the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees (apocryphal in Protestant and Jewish tradition and deutero-canonical in Roman Catholic tradition). The new inscription, however, provides a more realistic context to some important history of that period.