web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



A Tragic, Shameful End

Front-Page-120613

Share Button

Throughout the past week we have thanked Hashem for the improbable defeat of the powerful Seleucid forces by a small, untrained band of Jewish fighters. We also celebrated the story’s one open miracle, when the menorah’s lights burned for eight consecutive days following the Temple’s rededication.

For the uninformed, the Chanukah story is understood in a narrow context. From our youth, we are taught that at one point in our history a sworn enemy (Antiochus IV, a Seleucid ruler) passed a series of heartless decrees against our nation and threatened our spiritual survival. We were then told that a hoary hero (Matisyahu) emerged and defiantly challenged the monarch’s cruel decrees. Following the hero’s death, his son, Yehudah Maccabee, completed the uprising and led the Jews to lasting victory.

While much of that description is true, some of it is not. Moreover, it fails to present the true context of the spiritual challenge to our nation, as well as the aftermath of the Jewish uprising. In fact, relatively few are aware that the story of the illustrious Hasmonean family ended in tragedy and shame, just a few decades following their heroic stand.

Yehudah, Matisyahu’s third son, died in battle some years after the Temple’s rededication. He was succeeded by his younger brother Yonasan, who deftly led the Jewish forces through the next stage of battles and began the process of expanding Judea’s boundaries. Following Yonasan’s abduction and murder at the hands of a former ally, Matisyahu’s last living son, Shimon, assumed the reigns of leadership.

Shimon would complete the process of ridding the Seleucids from Judea and obtained complete autonomy for the Jewish people. As a result, he was proclaimed “leader and high priest” of the Jews (I Maccabees 14:35, 47) and the Hasmonean Dynasty officially began (though Shimon stopped short of accepting the title “king.”)

After a lapse spanning roughly three centuries, a Jewish state once again reigned supreme in the Holy Land. However, like his brothers before him, Shimon met his death in an untimely fashion, murdered by a scheming son-in-law who sought to expand his own locus of power. Shimon was succeeded by his son Yochanan Hyrcanus.

* * * * *

The collective fate of the five Hasmonean brothers is nothing less than tragic. Each of them died an unnatural death. Three (Elazar, Yehudah, and Yochanan) perished in the act of war. Two others (Yonasan and Shimon) were victims of deceit and treachery from former allies or relatives.

Ramban, in his commentary to Genesis 49:10 (“The scepter shall not depart from Judah”), describes the Hasmoneans as “saints of the most high, without whom the Torah would have been forgotten from Israel.” Despite such greatness, he writes that their tragic fate was sealed because they ruled over the people even though they were not from the tribe of Yehudah. They went against the will of their forefather Yaakov in removing “the scepter” from its rightful heirs.

As sad as the demise of Matisyahu’s sons was, it would pale in comparison to the moral degeneration that would be exhibited by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Following his ascension to the throne, Yochanan Hyrcanus set his eyes on restoring the Jewish commonwealth to its biblical borders. The Hasmonean leader first turned north, to the center of the country. Soon thereafter, he embarked on a campaign in Transjordan. Sizable territory was brought under Hasmonean control from this area as well.

Yochanan then conquered Idumea from tribes in the Negev. Concerned that these tribes might later join sides with invading forces, he made a decision that would have dire consequences for his people: forced conversion of the Idumeans. From this time onward, the Idumeans became inseparable from the Jewish people. Out of this nation would come Antipater, a scheming advisor in a subsequent Hasmonean civil war. Of even more significance would be Antipater’s son Herod, who would rule the people for an extended period with oppressive force.

Share Button

About the Author: Rabbi Naphtali Hoff is president of Impactful Coaching and Consulting (ImpactfulCoaching.com). He can be reached at info@impactfulcoaching.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “A Tragic, Shameful End”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Who will he take to the dance?
It’s Prom Time, and Abbas Must Choose a Dance Partner – Israel or Hamas
Latest Indepth Stories
Al-Aksa Mosque was claimed to be the site from which Mohammed ascended to Heaven, but it was built nearly 50 years after Mohammed died.

Jerusalem only seems important in the Islamic world when non-Muslims control or capture the city.

Israeli police enter the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City to disperse stone-throwing Palestinian protesters.

Jordan’s king is adding fuel to the fire on the Temple Mount, blaming Israel for violence by Muslim Arab rioters.

Imam Suhail Webb who boasted his Muslim community persuaded Brandeis President Fred Lawrence to withdraw an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

At Brandeis, much of what counts as Western civilization got cold feet and won’t stand with Hirsi Ali.

Text of anti-Semitic flyer distributed to Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine on Passover 2014.

But the lesson from this meditation is that hidden behind the anti-semitic act is the greatest light.

As support of their messianic dream, Halevi and Antepli approve dishonoring Hirsi Ali as a ‘renegade.’

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

More Articles from Rabbi Naphtali Hoff
Front-Page-032114

I can testify from experience, however, that despite such experience and/or training, top-tier leaders often begin their tasks unprepared for the rigors of their new position, particularly when the experience and training focused on instructional leadership (such as classroom observation and curriculum) rather than organizational stewardship and management.

Front-Page-011714

Humility is perhaps the least understood quality a person may possess. Often it is perceived as a form of meekness, a reticence that stems from a lack of self-confidence or an unwillingness to stand up and assert oneself. But that is far from what true humility is.

Throughout the past week we have thanked Hashem for the improbable defeat of the powerful Seleucid forces by a small, untrained band of Jewish fighters. We also celebrated the story’s one open miracle, when the menorah’s lights burned for eight consecutive days following the Temple’s rededication.

The exchange was brief and simple in its content, yet profound in its implications.

One morning this past summer, I davened at a shul in Passaic, New Jersey. Passaic was our new home as of mid-July, following nearly a decade of school leadership in other communities. After tefillah, I opened a conversation with someone who had also just concluded his tenure as a principal out of state. He informed me he had left the field of education entirely and had moved to the tri-state area to go into business with a relative. In the course of our talk, he mentioned that another colleague, also young by comparative standards, was not returning to the school he had helped found out west.

Throughout our nation’s long history we have resided in countless countries and lived under numerous governmental regimes. For the most part, our existence in the diaspora has been difficult at best, intolerable at worst.

Earlier this month the London Games were all the rage. Tens of thousands descended upon Great Britain’s crown jewel to witness the Olympics and cheer for their respective countrymen.

After three-plus years of economic challenge and uncertainty, we remain anxious for positive news, the kind that will finally let us believe the worst is fully behind us. Unfortunately, the outlook for the 2012 global economy remains uninspiring: recession in Europe, anemic growth in the U.S. and a sharp slowdown in China and other emerging-market economies all weigh on economist forecasts.

Asara B’Teves, the 10th of Teves, commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar that ultimately culminated with the First Temple’s destruction on the 9th of Av the following year.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/a-tragic-shameful-end/2013/12/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: