The Chanukah Story
In 333 B.C.E., Alexander the Great conquered Persia. Judea, which was under Persian rule, became part of the Greek Empire. After the death of Alexander the Great, the Greek Empire was divided and Judea became under control of the Syrians.
The Jews who were living in Judea at this time were able to live their Jewish life without interference until 175 B.C.E., when Antiochus Epiphanes became King of Syria. Antiochus wanted the Jews to accept the Greek Hellenistic way of life. He ordered them to worship Greek gods and forbid the practice of Judaism, under the penalty of death.
On 25 th Kislev 168 B.C.E., the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was desecrated when a pig was sacrificed on the holy alter and was dedicated to the Greek god of Zeus, by Antiochus.
In Modiin, a town in Judea, the priest, Mattahias the Hasmonean decided, with his five sons, to oppose the king and joined by small bands of loyal Jews, they led an uprising against him. Mattahias died, but his son Judah took command and after three years of fighting, the Syrians were overthrown and driven out of Judea
Three years after the desecration of the alter in the temple, Judah entered the temple and rededicated it to G-d. His courage won him the title of “Macabee”, which means, “hammer”. Also, the word Macabee in Hebrew is made up of the fist letter of the motto inscribed on his banner -.” Mi Kamocha B'Elohim Adonai”. ("Who is like unto the of Lord, the almighty”).
The Miracle of Chanukah
According to the Talmud, when the Hasmoneans reentered the temple, they wanted to light the Menorah (candelabra) there was only enough clean oil to burn for one day. However, the miracle was than the oil indeed lasted for eight whole days, enough time to get fresh supplies of oil in.
The other miracle is the victory of the small band of fighters against Antiochus's strong army.