It’s probably no coincidence as we approach the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah that archaeologists have uncovered a remnant of a remarkable time in Israel’s history.
About a hundred years before Christ, a Jewish rebellion against the Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes produced some of the most amazing leaders in Israel’s history. The Maccabees, a family originating from Modi’in (near present-day Tel Aviv), rallied an army that defeated Antiochus. Thus the Jews were sovereign in their land until the Romans emerged decades later.
Just one — one of hundreds — remarkable thing about visiting Israel is seeing ancient history swirl around the present day and even the future. A couple examples come to mind: Israel’s governing body, the Knesset, is made up of 120 members. Why that number? Because the Jewish leadership council during the Babylonian exile 2,600 years ago numbered 120.
Also, no matter where new construction starts, great care is given to making sure an archaeological treasure is not harmed. A few years ago I was strolling down a street in Jaffa and noticed the street was torn up. Thinking it was some paving problem, I asked someone. “Oh, no,” came the reply. “They’ve uncovered some ancient site.”
I know other countries have archaeological sites, but certainly Israel is unique in this regard.
Hearing of this week’s announcement of a fortress used by Antiochus reminded me of the sublime times I’ve walked around Jerusalem’s Old City. There are still places just outside the city’s walls where one can imagine some amazing treasure just waiting to be uncovered.
No one knows where the tombs of David and Solomon are, but significant sites have been uncovered on the southern end. David’s palace sits atop an ancient community that slopes downhill, overlooking the modern Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. One can imagine David here, looking down on a beautiful young woman bathing on her roof.
According to the Times of Israel:
“A section of fortification was discovered under the Givati parking lot in the City of David south of the Old City walls and the Temple Mount. The fortification is believed to have been part of a system of defenses known as the Acra fortress, built by Antiochus as he sought to quell a Jewish priestly rebellion centered on the Temple.
“Antiochus is remembered in the Jewish tradition as the villain of the Hanukkah holiday who sought to ban Jewish religious rites, sparking the Maccabean revolt.”
It is absolutely incredible that in our day scores of people around the world seek to erase Jewish history from the Holy Land. Some in the religious community even refer to it almost exclusively as “the Holy Land” so that they don’t have to say “Israel.”
And yet we continually see evidence of Jewish history uncovered in their ancient homeland.
I love that this new site is being opened to the public on the evening of December 6, the beginning of Hanukkah this year.
May the memory of the Maccabees be remembered in all their glory. And may their memory inspire today’s generation of Israelis, who are facing their own Antiochus.
Reprinted with author’s permission from Rapture Ready – Israel Watch