Quote of the Day - December 23, 2011

by FSM: QUOTE OF THE DAY December 23, 2011
 
“The First Hanukkah (December 164 BCE)
Antiquities 12.7.6-7 316-325 (1 Maccabees 4:36-59) 
 
The generals of Antiochus's armies having been defeated so often, Judah Maccabee assembled the people and told them that after the many victories which God had given them they ought to go up to Jerusalem and purify the Temple and offer the appointed sacrifices. 
 
But when he with the whole multitude came to Jerusalem and found he Temple deserted, its gates burned down, and plants growing in the Temple of their own accord because of the desolation, he and those with him began to lament in their distress at the sight of the Temple. 
 
So he chose some of his soldiers and gave them an order to fight the men that guarded the upper city until he has purified the Temple. When therefore he he had carefully purged it he brought in new vessels -- the menorah, the table and the incense altar, which were made of gold, and hung up the veils at the doors and restored the doors themselves. He also took down the altar and built a new one of stones that he gathered together, and such as had not been hewn with iron tools. 
 
And on the twenty-fifth day of the month Kislev, which the Macedonians call Apellaios, they lighted the lights [phôta] that were on the menorah, and offered incense upon the altar, and laid the loaves upon the table, and offered whole burnt offerings upon the new altar. 
 
As it happened, these things took place on the very same day on which, three years before, the divine worship had been reduced to an impure and profane form of worship; for the Temple had remained desolate for three years after being made so by Antiochus...And the desolation of the Temple came about in accordance with the prophecy of Daniel, which had been made four hundred and eight years before; for he had revealed that the Macedonians would destroy it. 
 
And so Judah and his fellow citizens celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the Temple for eight days, and omitted no sort of pleasure, but everyone feasted upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and they honoured God, and delighted themselves with psalms of praise and the playing of harps. Indeed, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs and, after so long a time, having unexpectedly regained their right to worship, that they made it a law for their posterity that they should keep a festival celebrating the restoration of their Temple worship for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this, which we call the Festival of Lights [phôta], because, I imagine, beyond our hopes this right was brought to light [phanênai], and so this name was placed on the festival.
 
-  Josephus,Yosef Ben Matityahu, 37-100 CE, writing in The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 7, 6 - 7.
 
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