We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Saturday, December 24. 2016
First day of Chanukah
Although almost all use quotations from the Bible to buttress modern day arguments, relatively few have ever read it. Actually, I should say any of them. For there's the Jewish Bible, the Catholic Bible, and various Protestant Bibles, and among these are various translations, inclusions and exclusions.
One of the narratives, that of the Maccabees, is not included in the Jewish Bible. There's several reasons offered: The two Books of Maccabees are in the Alexandrian Greek version, and only those Books in the original Hebrew are included. (Other Books of similar non-Hebrew language or not accepted as divine scripture, like Judith, are as well in the Apocrypha, some in some denominations' Bibles.) The reign of the Maccabees' heirs were not of the sacred line of David and, therefore, unworthy to be treated as kings. Their rule was tarnished by corrupt practices, and contributed toward the internal divisiveness and, then, destruction by the Romans of the Jewish homeland, the wholesale massacres of Jews there and diaspora to alien lands for the remainder. Then, there's the rationale that for a people in exile, subject to survival under and adaptations to inhospitable or suspicious foreign ways, it was not good politics to exalt recent Jews as warriors in the codification of the Jewish Bible.
Today, with the increased ability of Jews to practice openly and participate constructively in Western societies, and with pride in having a homeland to secure safety for all Jews who would return there, the relatively minor holiday of Chanukah is celebrated widely. Providing a celebration for Jewish children at the time of year that others celebrate Christmas has made of Chanukah a major holiday. lt also fits with the recovery of a homeland of refuge in Israel, and is a celebration in which many Christians can choose to share. (Senator Hatch wrote this song for Chanukah, for example. I met him in 1996, and he does always wear a Star of David or a small Mezzuzah around his neck.)
Still, if Chanukah is degraded to just blue-and-white lights in place of red-and-yellow, or icicles, Chanukah is made meaningless.
One must remember there are two Books of Maccabee. The first Book deals with the profanation and oppression in which many Jews went along to survive -- leading to the brave fight by a few for religious freedom that overwhelmed seemingly undefeatable might.
(There's also the side-story of Hannah and her seven sons, who endured the most severe tortures practiced in those times, the descriptions of which would even sicken a surrealist, rather than renounce their faith.)
The second Book deals with the resanctification of the Holy Temple. The custom of the eight day miracle of lights grew from this resanctification, even though there's weak evidence to substantiate it happening that way.
I'll leave the canonical and scholarly debates here for others, in order to draw a lesson. Chanukah and the Maccabees fits within the Jewish Bible's narrative, whether formally or by custom. And, more attention deserves to be given the first Book, to understand the second. Fight, or surrender to comforts and fears and, thus, perish.
The Jewish Bible is a series of opportunities for living the guidance provided by G-d through experience and direction, often failing to do so in successive generations and paying terrible prices to relearn and return to basic truths. In this sense, Jews are fated to be a small self-selecting people, those who adhere to these basic truths, while by basic frail human nature others fall and fail by the wayside, merging into ostensibly safer masses.
The modern state of Israel struggles with these choices, and so far has risen beyond any expectations -- by rejecting the sophistry of self-serving internal weaklings, defectors, and collaborators paid off by Israel's enemies, and by evading false friends in high-places within other governments, who all recommend paths that are well-known to lead to defeatism and doom.
So, depending on the transliteration, to all a Happy Chanukah, or Hannukah. These young people in a flash mob on Ben Yehuda Street are the spirit that bring pride to fighting to endure in basic truth, for the benefit of all. There are onlookers and there are participants. Without modern Maccabees, participants in fighting for life, all would be enslaved.
Round about some of the NH Conservative sites - week of 12/12/09
Once again, a traipse through some of NH's Conservative / Libertarian blogsite - and if you think I missed a good one, let me know and I'll go take a look for myself!...Thanks, Skip! Well, Paul, you are welcome! And...
Tracked: Dec 11, 15:42
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
The reason given by the Jewish tradition itself for the exclusion of these books is that the age of prophecy had already lapsed - in the words of the Talmud "prophecy has been given over to children and fools."
So the Jewish Biblical canon was closed long before, with the books of Daniel, Esther, Ezra, Nehemia, and a few of the minor prophets - all of which date to the early second temple restoration.
The Maccabees are centuries later, leading very quickly to the Roman conquest and ultimate destruction of the Temple.
Regarding the structure of the Jewish canon - it primarily emphasizes the covenantal relationship between G-d and His people. One of the last books of the Bible - Esther - has the Jews of Persia willingly reaffirming the Torah they accepted at Sinai. This is hinted at in the verse "they accepted and fulfilled" - which the Sages interpret as "they fulfilled what they accepted before."
The sages see the acceptance of Torah at Sinai as in some sense "forced" - coming after the miraculous manifestion of G-d's dominion in Egypt.
This is bookended with an affluent, assimilated community of Jews freely embracing the covenant centuries later - and reclaiming their homeland by force of effort, rather than miracle.
Here, then, is the path of the Torah: to see oneself- and live one's life - as part of G-d and His plan. Miracles and prophecy are temporary impositions on the natural order of this world - whose purpose is Tikkun Olam by human effort.
Despite Christian teachings about the "vengeful" G-d of the Jews, it is a path that starts with real, adult responsibility - and ends with real, adult love.
Reminds me of the two Jews on a desert island with two synagogues, or even a third that they won't go to. (Yuk, Yuk, chuckles Curly)
There are as many explanations, some mentioned and some added thanks to your comment.
The point remains the same: Book One of Maccabees is consistent with the Jewish Bible. Book Two is reassuring that good may prevail, though that isn't always the case, is it? One reaffirms truth, regardless of outcome.
BTW, historical research shows that most Jews remained in Babylon, assimilated, and were lost. Only those who reaffirm and return are "found" in the Biblical narrative.
Thanks for the very thoughtful comments on Chanukkah. Even as a Jew, it wasn't clear the connection between the Macabees and the rest of the Jewish Bible, or Torah (as I call it).
As an aside, I was never more proud when last year I was asked by my boss' son (age 9) to participate in the small ceremony that my family and I do every year. To be approached by an individual practicing another religion and be asked if he could be part of the ceremony was humbling. His father and I were surprised, but very encouraging, and both families had a great evening.
That's true religious understanding and cooperation.
I have a copy of the Tanakh translated by the Jewish Bible Society. The translators are unusually candid about the difficulties encountered, and their introduction (as well as the translation) are well worth the reading.
By the way, you forgot the Orthodox Bible, the Septuagint, which is now available in English translation from Conciliar Press. As all of the citations in the New Testament are from the Septuagint, it should be more commonly read.
Not forgotten. The Greek translation is the source of most's Bibles, and mistranslations. The original Hebrew is more accurate, but even there is the need for extensive notes in English or other languages due to archaic or confusing terms. -- Regardless, the core messages and lessons remain the same.
Bruce - You claim the Bible in the "original Hebrew is more accurate" then the Septuagint Bible. The Septuagint Bible was written in Greek by Jewish Rabbis using their best available targums as source. And the Septuagint Bible was the one version in most use within the Jewish world at the time of Christ. Would you be able to point me to that more accurate "Original Hebrew" Bible?
Bruce - did you happen to read David Brooks' commentary this morning?
Yes, I did, Tom.
IMHO, really not H, David "Putz" Brooks epitomizes the spineless relativism that seeks only to undermine lessons of strength where he doesn't feel threatenened. Awaiting his historicism about Jesus' Resurrection? Don't hold your breath. Awaiting his exposure of Mohammed's flip-flopping for sheer conquest and power? Don't wait for modest minarets.
More to the point, I think that Bird Dog (see his excellent Advent-"Christmas Carol" post above) and I affirm that the lessons are most important, not the callower commentaries or seekings after ways to "mortalize" truths to reduce their potency for living as excuses for existential defeatism in the face of enemies of life-giving worth.
"affirm that the lessons are most important, not the callower commentaries or seekings after ways to "mortalize" truths"
10-4. I agree completely. You said it betterer than I could. :>)
Took a course once that focused on "Paul". Class was taught by a great man of the Catholic tradition. He would come into class every day carrying:
One Bible written in Latin
One Bible written in Greek
One Bible written in Hebrew
When we would ask a question regarding text, he would respond with: "where would you like to start?" He was fluent in all three. Gave a whole lot of meaning to exegesis!
Just yesterday I was thinking I had not seen a post from you in a while Bruce.
Why? Why? Why?
Is this man above the law of the USA? Above our collective IDEAL of truth, clarity, and transparency in the marketplace? WHY is this man above our mutual well being?
Yep, hooray for the basic truths. And for the fighting spirit to slaughter anyone who sees things differently. Hooray for all of the wonderful, brilliant and blessed people who share those insights. Wonderful indeed. And, lets all give thanks for those unique, miraculous glimpses into the greater truth nobody has ever thought about before. Hooray.
this story is based on Hebrew history of the Battle of Maccabees, which is now adopted and celebrated on the Jewish holiday called Hanukah is found in Maccabees Book 1 and Book 2
and also a couple of versus mention it in
Mathew and John in the New Testament
See this vid for more info on Hanukah
Hannukah is observed in memory of the victory of a band of Hebrew dissenters against pagan overthrow of their Temple.
It originally was Celebrated the Re-dedication and re-assembly of the Altar that was defiled by pagans after the destruction of the temple altar.
There is no miracle of oil that burned for 8 days.
That is a false oral tradition.
Please read In Maccabees, which discusses the conflict in great narrative and descriptive detail, it states that ONE Lamp (Not the 7 lamp altar menorah) was lit.
You did not mention the Orthodox Christian Bible, which is similar to the Roman Catholic Bible, but has a little more in the canon. The Orthodox Christian Bible accepts three of the four books of Maccabees. The fourth is there too, but as not canonical. The Maccabee brothers are Saints to the Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics. The Orthodox have icons for them and Feast Days to celebrate them. For example, The Orthodox Church celebrates the Holy Maccabean Martyrs on August 1. Our Sunday schools teach the significance of Chanukah, and so do some homilies. I have always found it a historical head scratcher that Chanukah is in the Christian Bible, yet not in the modern Jewish Bible. But it makes sense when you study when parts of the Bible were canonized, and when current versions of the Bible were adopted. The Hebrew Bible (Old Testement) is basically organized into three parts in the order that those parts were finalized and closed (canonized) - the Law or Torah, the Prophets or Neviʾim, and the writings or Ketuvim. These three together are called by the acronym formed from those titles - the Tanakh. (TaNaKh) (Christian Bibles classify books using the same classifications, but call some history, and breaking the order.) The early Christians being Jews, continued using the version of scripture most used at that time, also used most widely in the Jewish diaspora of that age as Old Testement Scriptures - the Septuigint . You will note that most quotes of Old Testement scripture found in the New Testement actually match the Septuigint, and not the Old Testement used in most modern English Languale Bibles, due to Reformation reformers switching to the newer Jewish Masoretic text of the Old Testement, which was not canonized until six hundred or more years after the time of Christ. Why that is, is something not fit for a short post like this. But the point is that at the time of Christ the Writings, the Ketuvim, had not yet been universally agreed to be closed, in effect canonized. As a result there are differences between Jews and Christians as far as Biblical books in that category. You will notice many of these texts missing from today's Protestant Bibles, due to their use of the Jewish Masoretic text. If you have not read about Susanna and the Song of the Three Holy Children, check those out. They are beautiful ancient Jewish writings that inspired Christians for 2,000 years, and continue to. Also Check out Susanna for example, an oratorio by George Frideric Handel.
Hannukah is a MINOR holiday, whose significance has been blown ALL out of proportion for one reason only; it happens around the same time as Christmas, and so the advertisers and merchants have conflated it.
Our major holidays are Passover in the spring, and Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur in the early fall. Even holidays such as Simchat Torah and Sukkot are more religiously significant.