The story of Chanukah is timeless. Persecution and freedom. Tyrants and freedom fighters. Deliverance and redemption. The story that we have passed down from generation to generation isn’t terribly complicated.
Dig a little deeper, though, and there are some fascinating storylines that add new layers of understanding to the events of nearly 2200 year s ago.
Did you know that Route 443, the new highway that runs from Jerusalem to Modi’in, and eventually connects with the Tel Aviv highway, is called Ma’ale Bet Horon (the ascent of Bet Horon) after the site of one of Judah Maccabee’s battles in 166 BCE in which he defeated a Seleucid phalanx in a mountain defile?
Did you know that the location of the epic Battle of Emmaus, in which Judah outflanked the Seleucid camp and scored a stunning victory, is in fact the same place as Latrun, the site of a terrible battle in the War of Independence in which the nascent Israeli Army failed to displace the Arab Legion from a critical strategic fort overlooking the entrance to the Bab el Wad?
Did you know that at the defeat of the Maccabees at Beth Zachariah, in 162 BCE, Judah’s brother, Simon, was killed by a marauding Seleucid war elephant? Or that Beth Zachariah is located in Gush Etzion, the location of another famous battle in which Jews were defeated in the spring of 1948?
Curious to hear more? Come to my talk for the JCC Without Walls this coming Tuesday, December 7, at Temple Ohabei Shalom. I’ll be speaking about the land of Israel and the battles of the Maccabean Revolt and the War of Independence. What tactics were used? How did the armies use the terrain to their advantage? Where did some of these battles take place? I’ll spend forty-five minutes going over these topics, and more.
Chag Sameach, and Shabbat Shalom!