The events of Chanukah took place about 150 years after the death of Alexander
the Great (323 BCE), whose death brought 40 years of civil war to his empire.
Eventually, the empire was divided into 3 smaller empires: the Antigonid Empire
in Greece, the Selucid Empire in Mesopotamia and Persia, and the Ptolemaic
Kingdom in Egypt, Judea and Cyrenaica (Libya). By the time Antiochus IV
Epiphanes assumed the throne of the Selucid empire in 175 BCE, Judea was under
Selucid control. He began his oppression of the Jewish people in 167 BCE, after
his attempt to conquer Egypt was thwarted by threats from Rome. Antiochus’s
initial anger at the Judeans was for the ousting of Menelaus from the office of
High Priest, to which Antiochus had appointed him.

The Maccabees redeemed
Jerusalem and re-dedicated the Holy Temple in 165 BCE. While they won religious
freedom, the Jews never completely regained their political independence. Jewish
kings reigned, but were often vassals to greater political empires. Sadly, the
era following the great Maccabean uprising is one known for corruption and

The Maccabeans began their reign just as a powerful new
empire was emerging: Rome. Julius Caeser was born in the year 100 BCE. Just 100
years after the Maccabean victory, Pompey brought the Roman army into Judea at
the invitation of Hyrcanus and Aristobolus, the two Hasmonean brothers who were
vying for the throne. It was the beginning of a very sad ending to an inspiring

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