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Archeology reveals: How did Jews live after the victory of the Maccabees? | Israel today

2021-11-29T12:42:28.199Z

In a new book, Prof. Roni Reich examines the daily lives of ordinary people in the days of the Second Temple. • On the occasion of Hanukkah, he reviews the findings that shed light on the lives of the Jews who lived here thousands of years ago. Divers into history



Did the events of Hanukkah, which took place thousands of years ago, shape the Jewish-religious culture as we know it today?

In the history classes and in the many mentions of Hanukkah events in particular, and the history of the Jewish people in general, the occupation usually concentrates on the macro level and the prism of the Hasmonean leadership and the prominent figures of that period.

A new book based on archeological findings attempts to outline the routine life of the common people in the days of the Second Temple, and the impact of the victory of the Maccabees and the miracle of Hanukkah on the Jewish community and community in the Land of Israel.

"I am not a historian or a researcher of Jewish history, but examine the reality, and in this case the Jewish culture, according to the archeological findings," emphasizes Prof. Roni Reich, a retired archaeologist at the University of Haifa, who wrote the book "Day by day: the daily life of The Jewish community in Eretz Israel at the end of the Second Temple period in light of the archaeological finds, "published by Pardes.

A synagogue in Khirbet Umdan near Modi'in.

Photo: Tzila Sagiv, Israel Antiquities Authority, Photo: Tzila Sagiv, Israel Antiquities Authority

Reich points out that the very fact that the Hasmonean revolt against Slovak rule, which took place mostly on the battlefield in guerrilla warfare, was successful, challenges archaeologists.

Following the victory of the Maccabees and the taking of power from the Greeks, many of the ruins were restored and it was difficult to find expression in the various archeological excavations.

At the same time, he says that findings discovered in recent years help more to discover the influence of the actions of Matityahu the priest and his sons on the Jewish way of life in the period after the Hanukkah events.

Mikveh Tahara near the rabbi of the house, Photo: Roni Reich

The revolt against the Greeks began in 168 BC and its success led to the establishment of the leadership of the Hasmonean House 16 years later for nearly 80 years.

According to Prof. Reich, "with the rise of the Hasmonean house begins the rise of religious piety. In my opinion, this is the beginning of Jewish culture as we know it and it has been expressed in many aspects."

Prof. Roni Reich, Photo: Wanda Reich

As a first example he cites the subject of mikvahs, which he researched as part of his doctoral dissertation.

"The issue of the observance of ritual purity, in connection with the entrance to the Temple Mount and Temple Mount, dates back to the Hasmonean period. The Jews, who needed places of purification, built these sites.

Another issue that may indicate the religious strengthening of the residents of the Jewish community in the period after Hanukkah is the subject of the pictures and the statue that may have come as an antithesis to the Greek decrees to bow to the photographer.

"In Jewish localities," Reich explains, "there is almost no description of human and animal figures. The second commandment will not make you a statue and a mask. You do not see this in the excavations of Jewish localities compared to non-Jewish localities discovered in the area."

Inscription written in ink on pottery, Photo: Yael Yolovitch, Israel Antiquities Authority

Book cover, Photo: Cover design: Studio Raya Gilboa.

Reconstruction of the lamb that led to the altar: Roni Reich and Yuval Baruch, painting: Shalom Kovler

According to the veteran archaeologist, the pilgrimage also intensified during the Hasmonean period.

"The story of the desecration of the Temple and its rededication strengthened the theme of pilgrimage and strengthening of the Temple as the only source of worship for the Jewish people. It is unique to the Jewish religion. For the Romans when we were crowded in one temple they simply built another temple."

Expression for the strengthening of the ascent to the temple can be obtained, according to the book, by the large quantities of cooking pots found scattered on the outskirts of the city which were used by pilgrims, as well as a large number of animal bones, "without pig bones of course," Reich emphasizes. Another religious issue that sharpened during the reign of the Hasmonean dynasty was the cessation of the import of wine produced by non-Jews, "the import ceased. Evidence of this can be seen in the drastic reduction of the appropriate jars."

During Hanukkah, following the decrees of the Greeks who dealt mainly with religious issues, it is said of many Jews who converted and became Greek.

Beyond that, the influence of Hellenistic culture also left its mark on the Jewish people.

With regard to the period after Hanukkah, Prof. Reich notes in his book that this issue remains an open question.

In all of these, the question of the presence in Jerusalem of buildings used for leisure culture in the spirit of Hellenistic culture (theater, hippodrome) remains unresolved. Ben Matityahu, and no tangible archeological remains were discovered from them. "

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Source: israelhayom

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