It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication.

Hanukkah (Hebrew, Khánukka/“dedication”) is an eight-day holiday which celebrates the Maccabees’ rededication of the temple from 25 Kislev to 2 Tevet, 165BC. (In 2013, this starts tonight, sundown 27 November, till sundown 5 December.)

At the time the Jews were under the rule of the Seleucid Empire, one of the countries formed when Alexander the Great’s empire had broken apart. The ruler, Antiochus 4, decided the Jews had to worship Zeus like they did, and tried to destroy the Hebrew religion. He desecrated the temple by setting up a statue of Zeus in it, and sacrificing a pig on the altar. While many Jews capitulated, the Hasmonean family, namely Judas Maccabee, refused and started a revolt. Finally successful, they drove out the Seleucids, purified the temple (rebuilding the defiled altar from scratch), and celebrated a feast.

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