Back around 330 B.C. the known world became Greek because of the conquering leader Alexander the Great. Alexander died when he was only 32 years old, and his kingdom was divided between his two generals.
Back around 330 B.C. the known world became Greek because of the conquering leader Alexander the Great. Alexander died when he was only 32 years old, and his kingdom was divided between his two generals, one of whom took the southwest, including Egypt (Ptolemy), and the other of them received the northeast, including Syria (Seleucus).
This northeastern, Syrian-Greek power kept attacking the Holy Land first to grab it from the Ptolemies and then to gain even more power and to raid its treasuries and sack the temple of its treasures. The Seleucids were horrible to the Jews, killing many and stripping their rights to worship. These are the conquerors who erected a statue of Zeus in the desecrated temple and sacrificed pigs to the idol.
There was no strong Jewish leader to form a revolt, but there was a stubborn and strong family of farmers called “the hammerers”—in Hebrew, “Maccabees.” Judas Maccabee and his brothers led the common people against the Syrio-Greeks and won. They entered the temple to reclaim it. They destroyed the idols and cleansed the building. In order to rededicate the temple, they wanted to light the eternal light (ner tamid) but there was only enough oil to burn for one day.
Miraculously, the oil lasted for 8 days. Jews celebrate this miracle every year in December as the holiday of Hanukkah. The holiday is sometimes called the festival of lights or the feast of dedication. This is not a high holy pilgrimage feast. There are seven holy feasts feted in 3 pilgrimages to the temple, and these were all established by God during the Exodus.
But the feast of dedication was still a festive time to gather at the temple in the time of Jesus, and Jesus did go to teach and testify during His ministry. In John 10 we see Jesus teaching on Solomon’s Porch at the temple that He is the Son of God, for which the leaders tried to stone Him for committing blasphemy.