There were battles between the Greeks and the Maccabees right here near Shiloh. Yes, when we in Shiloh say the phrase indicated on a dreidel, נס גדול היה פה! Nes Gadol Hayah Poh, A Great Miracle Happened Here, we really mean HERE! There were battles around Shiloh where today we have the villages of Eli, Ma’ale Levona and smaller Jewish communities.
Most of the battles take place in the foothills leading from the coastal plain area (Tel Aviv) to Jerusalem. The Greeks are trying to march their armies up the natural canyons that lead into the mountain areas, the stronghold of the Jewish army. There’s only a few places where the Greeks can ascend and this is where the Maccabees choose to take them on. (History Crash Course #29: Revolt of the Maccabees)
Shiloh is east of what is today Tel Aviv and north of Jerusalem. All of the recent archaeological excavations are revealing the rich and active Jewish life in Shiloh and environs after the Mishkan was destroyed. This area was full of Jewish Life during the reign of King Solomon and even after the division of the Jewish kingdoms to Judea and Israel.
Close to twenty years ago, during my final year as the Girls Gym Teacher of our local elementary school, I, for the first time, was asked to accompany my students on a school trip. That’s when I learned that Shiloh was more than just the location of the Mishkan Tabernacle. Actually, I had no idea where we were going, just that they needed a teacher who could “walk.” It was during the very short bus ride that I learned that the Second Grade students would be “reenacting” those ancient battle in situ.
First the boys were dropped off towards the bottom and the girls further up. They were all given toy swords for the activity. They were told to meet and “battle it out.” I don’t remember which group was supposed to be the Greeks and which the Maccabees. I was too terrified. I have a phobia about walking down cliffs, and for me this was one big nightmarish cliff! The soldiers who were there to protect us had to drag me down, or I’d probably be there until this day.
Living in Shiloh, as I’ve written many times before, gives me a perspective that you won’t get in most other locations. Not only is Shiloh the center of many Biblical events, but we are the place and the people politicians and world leaders want to move around like chess pieces. They talk about me, my community, neighbors and home as if we’re no more than cheap plastic. I am one of “those settlers.” I’ve lived in Shiloh for over thirty years. “Peace plans” isn’t a computer game with the convenient “undo” button. We can’t afford to make a mistake.
The ancient Jewish Maccabees fought for Jewish Rights, Independence and sovereignty thousands of years ago, and we must do it again. Nothing’s new.
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