Putting Together the Story of Chanukah

The ancient sources that tell the story of the Chashmona’im

Story of ChanukahAsk any Jewish child who the hero of Chanukah is, and he or she will automatically respond, “Yehudah the Maccabee.” But how do we know this? Our traditional sources (an excerpt from Megillas Taanis quoted in the Gemara, Al Hanisim and Rambam) do not mention the names of Yehudah and his brothers. But our ancestors must have known the names, because a tremendous number of boys in the Bayis Sheini and Mishnaic times were given the names of Yehudah and his brothers: Shimon, Elazar, Yochanan and Yonasan. Of course, the name of their father Matisyahu is known to us from Al Hanisim, but nothing is mentioned there of his heroism or his role in the Maccabean Revolt. The Gemara, followed by the Rambam, does tell us that the revolt was led by the sons of Chashmona’i, referring to Matisyahu. So how do we know the rest of the story? And where can you go if you want to get all of the details?

Read more at Ami Magazine.

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