Wednesday, December 06, 2023

  • Wednesday, December 06, 2023
  • Elder of Ziyon has an article about last week's Torah portion discussing the episode of Shechem raping Jacob's daughter Dinah in today's Nablus, and the violent revenge on the entire complicit city from her brothers Shimon and Levi. 

The analysis concludes that Jacob did not oppose their bloody revenge on moral grounds - the brothers' final statement, "Should he treat our sister like a harlot?" remains unanswered by him. Jacob's opposition was that it was not tactically wise  to potentially create enemies, but Dinah's rape was outrageous and the response was apparently the correct one when the tribes of Israel were powerful enough not to worry about repercussions.

This way of looking at how to respond to Jewish women being raped and sexually abused has obviously become relevant these past couple of months. 

What most people don't know is that the story of Chanukah, according to some versions, has much of the same incentive behind the revolt.

A commentary to Megillat Taanit called the Scholion was composed in the talmudic period but edited sometime between the 9th and 11th centuries. It reports that the Greeks sent officials to the Land of Israel for the purpose of raping brides before their marriage, a legal ordinance also called jus primae noctis in medieval legal documents or “right of the first night,” in modern scholarship.
The rabbis who authored the Scholion report that the Jews, out of fear, responded to this Greek policy by abstaining from marriage, and then by engineering underground weddings. But the upcoming nuptials of the daughter of the high priest prove too prominent to conceal. When a Greek official comes to rape the maiden, the Maccabees defend their sister’s honor. This is what sparks the rebellion.

 Two other versions of a Hanukkah story based on the rape-of-the-bride motif appear in two disparate texts: the She’iltot of the Babylonian Rav Ahai Gaon, composed in the 8th century CE, and an anthology entitled Beit Hamidrash, which includes medieval midrashim and aggadot that were collected from Jewish communities in Germany and Poland in the 1800s by Rabbi Adolf Yelenik.

Rav Ahai recounts that after corrupting all the oil in the Temple, in a final act of desecration, a Greek leader attempts to rape Hannah, the daughter of the High Priest, while her father and her betrothed, Elazar the Maccabee, look on helplessly. In Yelenik’s version of this story, the Greek unfurls a Torah scroll to serve as a mattress for the rape.

Meanwhile the priests timidly deliberate about whether to act or await God’s redemption. They look to the eastern mountains, hoping that the Persians, also enemies of the Seleucid Greeks, would come to their rescue. Finally, Mattathias turns to the High Priest and suggests a revolt: “Counting ourselves and our sons, we are twelve, representing the tribes of Israel. Therefore, we can be assured of God’s backing.” Upon hearing this, Mattathias’ son Elazar the Maccabee kills the Greek general, saves his betrothed, and the rebellion begins.

In another tale found both in Rav Ahai’s writing and in Yelenik’s Beit Hamidrash, the woman protests her fate, unlike Hannah, who is portrayed as a silent victim. Like in the previous story, the Jews face increasingly severe oppression, yet subserviently attempt to avoid confrontation with the Greeks. Still the marriage of Mattathias’s daughter draws unavoidable attention.

The unnamed woman discovers that the elders are resigned to abandon her; rather than risking persecution, they plan to let her be raped by the king. But she does not agree. Her rape, she reasons, will be a sign to all the women of Israel that they too will not be protected. She prefers to martyr herself rather than become a symbol of desecration.

Our heroine makes a dramatic protest before she accepts death. She exchanges her fashionable clothing and jewelry for rags, brings a jug of wine to the public square, and drinks with all the passersby. In Yelenik’s version she strips entirely naked at the pre-wedding feast. Her family is embarrassed and outraged by the guerilla theatre she enacts.

“Where are all the good men?” she cries. “Are you ashamed by my nakedness, but you are not embarrassed to abandon me to the uncircumcised?” Her plea finally spurs the Maccabees to hatch a plan. Like a Trojan horse, the stunning bride is paraded through town to the house of the king, who lets down his guard and allows the newly-activated Maccabees into his inner sanctum, where a slaughter ensues. 

In all the versions of the story given here, the Maccabees are eventually prodded into action because of the threat to the honor of Jewish women.

That threat  is a far greater motivation to action and seeking justice than mere murders or kidnappings.

Buy the EoZ book, PROTOCOLS: Exposing Modern Antisemitism  today at Amazon!

Or order from your favorite bookseller, using ISBN 9798985708424. 

Read all about it here!




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