בס"ד This is a blog for Jews who feel a sense of deep identification with HaYachad (Dead Sea Sect). This group is for Jews who feel nostalgia and longing for a Judaism that was, and a profound yearning for it to be again. Our way leads to the Self-realization and, on an even more deeply satisfying level, the Mutual-Realization of Mashi'ach. That is what differentiates us from HaPrushim. NO MATERIAL HERE IS TO BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION.

My Photo
Location: Tzfat, Israel

Monday, December 18, 2006

The following was sent to me on the day it was published in Ha'Aretz.

I considered it before posting it. It is my considered opinion that what is written below is in accordance with what is written in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are contemporaneous original sources, and thus I feel relatively sure about disseminating it.

Last update - 02:43 15/12/2006

Antiochus' decrees - a figment of Hasmonean propaganda

By Ofri Ilani

Antiochus IV Epiphanes (215-163 BC), ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, was known as an eccentric king. He spent his childhood as a hostage in Rome and ascended to the throne only due to the surprising death of his father and murder of his brother.

When he inherited the kingdom it was already in decline. However, this does not explain the moves that made him infamous to this day - the brutal edicts he issued against the Jews in 167 B.C., forbidding them to practice their religion.

"The reason for Antiochus' oppression of the Jewish faith, attack on the Temple and prohibition of the Torah precepts is not explained by the existing historic sources," says Dr. Steven Weitzman, a lecturer of Judaism in the University of Indiana and the author of Surviving Sacrilege: Cultural Persistence in Jewish Antiquity.

Weitzman analyzes the description of the edicts in the Hanukkah tale, and concludes that the story was concocted by the Hasmonean kings as propaganda intended to legitimize their precarious rule. The Hasmoneans used literary tales dating back to ancient Eastern kingdoms as the basis for their story of Antiochus, he says.

Historians of ancient times agree that religious persecution was not customary among Hellenistic monarchs. Therefore the acts attributed to Antiochus, which every Jewish child learns about in the Hanukkah story, are historical anomalies. "His behavior is completely inexplicable," argues Weitzman.

He says all the Hellenistic rulers before Antiochus were tolerant toward Jewish religion and ritual. "When Antiochus IV's father first conquered Palestine, he displayed much respect toward the Temple and used his authority to protect the Jews' traditions," says Weitzman. "Most of the sources relating these events were written a very long time after they took place. They do not provide sufficient information and are occasionally contradictory."