8 thoughts on “Hanukah Counter-History: Everything They Taught You in Hebrew School is Wrong – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. [comment deleted: when you become the Jewish Pope then you can decide who is Jewish and who isn’t. BUt I will not let you decide that. After your later comment claiming Biden was senile, you are now moderated. Try to publish another such comment and you will be banned. Also, do not publish more than a single comment in any comment thread.]

    1. Try addressing the substance of his remarks, not immediately rushing like Barry Allen to the old, heinous tactic of gate-keeping one’s heritage.

      1. @ Frank: Yeah, that’s dead-on. It makes me nuts when anyone, Jew or non-Jew, tries to define who are good Jews or bad Jews. And who isn’t a Jew at all because…well, because they aren’t the sort of Jew I agree is a Jew. That’s why I deleted that offensive comment.

  2. You said: “Yigal Yadin’s famous discoveries of the Qumran Scrolls and excavations at Masada, offered a narrative of militant heroism…”

    Yigal Yadin didn’t discover the DSS, although he did play an important role in the acquisition of the scrolls from Qumran Cave I that had been taken to the United States by the Metropolitan of the Syrian Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem. Yadin’s piecemeal translations and publishing of Scroll bits has nothing to do with any ‘narrative of militant heroism’. He was, and remains, a brilliant and respected scholar and archeologist.

    Regarding Masada, why wouldn’t Yadin have assumed that Josephus account of mass suicide was correct when the Roman siege ramp, the ‘lot’ ostracon discoveries, and other signs of Zealot occupation, fully supported Josephus account? 

    Did Yadin misuse archaeological evi­dence to support a nationalistic agenda, as you and some scholars have suggested?

    Amnon Ben-Tor, who is now the Yigael Yadin Professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, had excavated with Yadin at Masada, and has published a spirited defence of Yadin and his findings, titled Back to Masada (2009). In this book, Ben-Tor went through the archaeology again, dismissing each of points of contention, and basically confirming Yadin’s point of view.

    Your attempt at villainizing a brilliant scholar and archeologist is, to say the least, misguided.

    You said: “The two Books of Maccabees were omitted from the Biblical canon by the Talmudic rabbis who formalized it. ”

    I thought that the  final redaction and canonization of the Torah book, therefore, most likely took place during the Babylonian Exile (6th–5th century BCE), hundreds of years before the time of the Talmudic rabbis.


    1. @ Engelsdorf:

      He was, and remains, a brilliant and respected scholar and archeologist.

      Whatever Yadin’s accomplishments (and they are in dispute), he was a nationalist hack, peddling a narrative that coincided with Israel’s needs for ancient heroes, martyrs and victories. Most societies have such national narratives, most of the embellished if not invented. Israel is no different.

      why wouldn’t Yadin have assumed that Josephus account of mass suicide was correct

      Welp, maybe because Yadin actually found the remains of only two bodies in the entire Massada complex. Not 10, not 100 and certainly not 988. Nor do any of the claims you offer about archaelogical evidence support the claim of martyrdom. They don’t even confirm what the outcome of the siege was, though at least we can probably confirm Josephus’ claim that whoever was at Masada was vanguished. There is simply no other independent source that confirms his account. THerefore it is suspect in the extreme and virtually every serious scholar today believes this. Except you, of course. But you don’t count as a scholar. Whatever Ben Tor claims, he is a biased source because of his background as a Yadin protege. The other archaelogists to whom I refer have no axe to grind in this debate and are far more credible.

      Your attempt at villainizin

      Whoa, don’t EVER mischaracterize me or my views. I didn’t villainize him. And don’t you dare use such infammatory language. I criticized him. THat is a totally legitimate enterprise engaged in by scholars for millenia. If that’s goring your ox, I could care less. But just cut that s* out. I don’t have the time for it.

      Whatever you thought is not the same as what actually happened. THe theories about when the Tanach (not the Torah as you wrote) was canonized suggest a number of different eras and dates. I chose the one that a number of scholars have proposed as the most likely, and which made the most sense to me.

      And Encylopedia Britannica is not more credible as a source than the many I consulted. It’s just one of many theories, as there is no defniitive concrete evidence for any of them.

  3. Time was, IDF soldiers pledging allegiance to the State of Israel, did so during a moving ceremony atop Masada, where the soldiers vowed that “Masada shall not fall again”, a phrase taken from the poem “Masada” by Y. Lamdan in 1927.

    This ceremony at Masada was done away with after retired Israeli General, M. Gichon, turned scholar, and realized that, based on the archeology, it was, politically and militarily speaking, an embarrassing mistake to continue the ceremony.
    Subsequently he whole performance was abandoned without fanfare. 

    Chanukah, we can agree, is a most ancient holiday, timed to coincide with the winter solstice, when after the longest night of the year, life-renewing light reappears.

    Relax. The big wheel keeps on turning.

    1. @topcant:

      a moving ceremony atop Masada

      “Moving?” To whom? To pro-Israel patriots? Yeah. To anyone else? Not so much. Besides how can a ceremony be moving and “embarrassing” at the same time?

      Chanukah, we can agree, is a most ancient holiday

      I don’t agree with you about anything. So don’t assume I agree with you on this. HOwever old the holiday may be, it has always been a minor holiday. Far below the four festivals in holiness and significance. As a rabbi just recently wrote, all of the Jewish holy days are agricultural, and not religious in origin. Any religious elements were added after the original agricultural rites were codified. In other words, they predated Judaism and became formalized as specifically Jewish during the Biblical era or somewhat before it.


      Cut the snark. I don’t need directives from you. Repeat that and you’ll be outa here.

      No further comments.

  4. Until reading your comments I hadn’t heard or read about the “Judean forces against a powerful foreign invader” for a long time

    All I hear about anymore, and often from “intelligent” people is – the miracle of light lasting for 8 days…

    oh, and eating donuts…

    but then, what do you expect in a society that Christmas is about spending money for junk that will soon be forgotten

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