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Holy War in JudaismThe Fall and Rise of a Controversial Idea$
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Reuven Firestone

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199860302

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860302.001.0001

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Jewish Holy War in Practice

Jewish Holy War in Practice

Early Success

(p.26) Chapter 2 Jewish Holy War in Practice
Holy War in Judaism

Reuven Firestone

Oxford University Press

The military victory of the Jewish Maccabees against the idolatrous Seleucid Greeks and their Hellenised Jewish allies during the period of the Second Temple was understood by its protagonists to have been successful by virtue of divine providence. Descriptions of this are not found in the Hebrew Bible but appear in the non-canonical Books of Maccabees. The triumph of Jewish heroes against the Greeks was acknowledged by Jews as a celebration of divinely wrought military success. Josephus acknowledges God’s hand in victory, and the festival of Hanukkah originally developed a celebration of military victory. Later, however, as observed from canonical rabbinic literature, Hanukkah takes on an entirely different meaning that plays down the military aspect of the occasion it celebrates.

Keywords:   Maccabee, Hasmonian, Hanukkah, Second Temple, Seleucid, Hellenism, Josephus, Book of Maccabees

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