Thursday, December 25, 2008

The origins of Hanukah

A guest post by Lurker:

[Cross-posted at DovBear]

Recently, DovBear invited us to have a look at this interesting article by Lawrence Keleman about the true origins of Christmas. Keleman argues that if Jews inclined to celebrate that holiday were aware of these origins, then they might be dissuaded from celebrating it. Keleman points out – quite correctly – that the early Christians did not choose December 25th because of any existing tradition that Jesus had been born on that day. Rather, they picked it because that was the concluding date of the Greco-Roman festival of Saturnalia, which commemorated the Winter Solstice. In other words, "Christmas" was already around for a very long time, in a somewhat different form, long before the Christians came along.

This, in turn, brings to mind the question of the origins of Hanukah. Interestingly, Hanukah also coincides with the Winter Solstice period. More significantly, it is eight days long – just like Saturnalia was. Was this a historical accident, or is there more significance to the time and length of this holiday? Were the Christians the only ones to adapt Saturnalia to their own needs? Or Does Hanukah, too, bear a connection to this ancient Solstice festival? DovBear says that there is indeed such a connection. Is he right?

Needless to say, many reasons have been offered over the years for Hanukah's date and length. Regarding the date (the 25th of Kislev): I Maccabees (1:59, 4:52-59) and II Maccabees (10:5-8) seem to suggest that this date was chosen deliberately for the rededication, since it was on that very date that Antiochus had desecrated the altar three years earlier. Others find a connection in the book of Hagai, which says that the foundation of the Second Temple was laid on the 24th of Kislev (or the 25th; see sources in Further information, below) (Hagai 2:10-19). And a midrash in the Yalkut Shimoni (I Melakhim 184) says that work on the Mishkan was completed on the 25th of Kislev, although the dedication ceremony was delayed until the 1st of Nisan.

As to why Hanukah is 8 days long: II Maccabees (1:9, 1:18, 10:5-8) says that Hanukah was intended to commemorate Sukkot – the holiday that the Greeks had recently prevented the Jews from celebrating – and which is 8 days long (when you include Shemini Atzeret). According to Pesikta Rabbati (ch. 2), the Hashmonaim, upon entering the liberated Temple, found 8 iron spears, which they thrust into the ground and made into an impromptu candelabra. And of course, there is the very famous (but historically questionable) story from the Talmud (TB Shabbat 21b) of the miraculous oil that burned for 8 days. But one is forced to wonder: Do any of these reasons really explain the establishment of an 8-day-long holiday? Megillat Taanit lists a great many days that were celebrated as holidays in early Second Temple times – and they are all just one day long, except for one: Hanukah. Let us assume for a moment that the miracle of the oil is the reason why Hanukah was established. Why does this justify the establishment of an 8-day-long holiday? Suppose the oil had burned for 50 days – would Hanukah then be 50 days long? It is reasonable to wonder whether there was already a pre-existing 8-day-long holiday, which was simply conflated with the new holiday of Hanukah.

The answer may be found in in the Gemara (TB Avodah Zarah 8a), which strongly suggests that the actual origin of Hanukah dates back to antiquity, long before the period of the Hashmonaim:

אמר רב חנן בר רבא: קלנדא ח' ימים אחר תקופה; סטרנורא ח' ימים לפני תקופה. וסימנך: "אחור וקדם צרתני", וגו' (תהילים קל"ט:ה').
ת"ר: לפי שראה אדם הראשון יום שמתמעט והולך, אמר: "אוי לי, שמא בשביל שסרחתי, עולם חשוך בעדי וחוזר לתוהו ובוהו, וזו היא מיתה שנקנסה עלי מן השמים!" עמד וישב ח' ימים בתענית [ובתפלה]. כיון שראה תקופת טבת, וראה יום שמאריך והולך, אמר: "מנהגו של עולם הוא". הלך ועשה שמונה ימים טובים. לשנה האחרת עשאן לאלו ולאלו ימים טובים. הוא קבעם לשם שמים, והם קבעום לשם עבודה זרה.

R. Hanan b. Rabba said: [The festival of] the Kalends [Roman New Year] is observed on the eight days following the [Winter] Solstice; [the festival of] Saturnalia on the eight days preceding the Solstice. As a mnemonic, use "From the back and the front you have afflicted me", etc. (Tehillim 139:5).
Our Rabbis taught [in a braita]: When Adam HaRishon observed the days getting increasingly shorter, he said, "Woe is me, perhaps because I have sinned, the world is darkening and returning to its state of chaos and confusion; and this is the death to which I have been sentenced from heaven!" He stopped, and sat for eight days engaged in fasting [and prayer]. But when he observed the Winter Solstice, and observed the days getting increasingly longer, he said, "This is the nature of the universe". He [therefore] went and celebrated eight festival days. In the following year he made both [of these eight-day holidays into permanent] festivals. He [Adam] established them for the sake of heaven, but they [of later generations] established them for the sake of idolatry.
One can hardly fail to recognize the obvious connection with Hanukah. The Gemara tells us that Adam HaRishon established an eight-day holiday (two, in fact) to be observed at the time of the Solstice, in celebration of the restoration of light. Furthermore, it tells us, these were the very holidays that eventually became known as the Greco-Roman festivals of Saturnalia and the Kalends. The Gemara is thus saying that the holiday we now know as Hanukah actually existed long before the Maccabees, for many centuries, as a Winter Solstice festival – the same Winter Solstice festival that was celebrated by the Greeks and Romans as Saturnalia.

The Hashmonaim later appropriated this holiday, and recast it for their own purposes as a celebration of their defeat of the Greeks and their rededication of the Temple. Significantly, the motif of "casting out darkness" and "restoring light" was retained. Perhaps, by appropriating a Greek holiday and turning it into a celebration of the Temple's rededication, the Hashmonaim were trying to express their victory over Hellenism. Or perhaps they simply recognized the fact that much of the assimilated Jewish populace would go on celebrating Saturnalia whether they liked it or not, and thus tried to co-opt the pagan holiday into a Jewish one.

In conclusion: The Gemara in Avodah Zarah shows us that the Hashmonaim "borrowed" the ancient Winter Solstice festival as a branch upon which to graft their own holiday – just as the Christians did a few centuries later.

Don't get me wrong – I certainly don't think a self-respecting Jew ought to celebrate Christmas. But I wouldn't tell a Jew not to celebrate it on account of its connection with Saturnalia. After all, Hanukah is clearly connected with it, too.

Further information:

For more information on the origins of Hanukah, I highly recommend the following excellent shiurim and articles. They all relate to the topic of this post, and considerably more, as well:


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

15 comments:

Jehoshaphat said...

I wasn't surprised that a Kofer like DovBear would post this, but I thought your standards were a bit higher. See my reply to this here:
Re: The Origins of Hanukkah

Lakewood Falling Down said...

Strange. I always thought we celebrate the winter by switching to "Vesein Tal Umatar"... BTW, I find it disheartening how many frum kids think the Bais Hamikdash was rebuilt on Chanukah vs. cleaned and rededicated. We too should rededicate ourselves to cleansing and building the land.
טובה הארץ
מאד מאד

aschoichet said...

Very interesting post. A few points. Regarding Saturnalia:

The Roman customs are irrelevant to the tradition of Hannukah. The Romans had no cultural influence during the 2nd century BCE in the Middle East. The Romans conquered Eretz Israel only in 63 BCE, a century after the Hasmonean rebellion and the re-dedication of the temple.

1Macc and 2Macc were composed towards the end of the 2nd century BCE (during the reign of John Hyrcanus). They are 2 independent sources which both confirm the date of 25th of Kislev as the re-dedication of the temple. Both mention the fact that the festival is observed for 8 days, although as you wrote they don't provide an adequate explanation. The date and the duration of the holiday, therefore obviously predate Roman political or cultural influence in the region. This excludes any connection with Saturnalia, which is a Roman holiday. If there was some pagan influence in the date or in the duration of the holiday it should be sought in Greek or Eastern traditions.

Regarding the Gemara: this was composed clearly during the Roman or Byzantine era by someone familiar with the Roman calendar, and if it implies that there is a connection between Hannukah and Kalanada (=Calends) or Saturnalia (and I'm not sure that it does, I think it just notes the coincidence), this is an anachronistic explanation.

Also: Calends is not the Roman New Year, but the first day of every month (like Rosh HaHodesh). The Roman new year fell on March 1.

So to sum up, here are the differences between the case of Hannukah and Christmas:

1) Unlike Hannukah, there are no written records to establish the date of Christmas (the birth of Jesus).
2) Christmas was established in the Roman era, therefore possibly (evidently) connected with Saturnalia. Hannukah was established in the Hellenistic period when Roman cultural influence was limited to Italy and parts of Greece. No connection with any Roman custom is possible, although perhaps there may be some Greek influence.
3) Christmas is a festival established among recently Christianized pagans. The date and duration of Hannukah was established among Jews as part of the struggle against Hellenism. This was long before the gradual Hellenization of the Hasmonean kingdom.

In conclusion: perhaps there was some sort of Hellenistic winter solstice celebration that influenced the date and duration of Hannukah, but it definitely wasn't Saturnalia. In my opinion the parallels from the Tanakh which you mention are much more relevant.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

All -- Lurker and I discussed this post at length before he posted it.

A few general comments; Call the holiday what you will -- Saturnalia or whatever. Before the Romans celebrated it, the Greeks did, before the Greeks did, other religions and cultures did.

Lurker was not michadesh the fact that Chanuka existed prior to the Chashmonaim -- Rav Menachem Leibtag discusses it, Bar Ilan discusses it, and Rav Uri Sharki discuss it at great lenght in a shiur as well. In facr, I'll just copy/paste a comment from Lurker over at DB.

Did you watch R. Cherki's shiur? He addresses this specifically, as does R. Leibtag:

Concerning whether the construction got underway on the 24th or 25th of Kislev, note 2:15, which indicates that construction was to begin the next day:
"On the 24th day of the ninth [month], in the second year of Daryavesh (Darius), the word of the Lord came to the prophet Chagai... And now, take note from this day forward, as long as no stone has been laid on another in the House of theLord... for from this day on I will send blessings..." (see
2:10-19).
It is clear from verses 15 and 18 above that the construction of the Temple was to begin the next day, on the 25th of Kislev. Several hundred years later, that very same Temple was rededicated on the 25th of Kislev.

chardal: Second, Rav Uri has no idea what the halacha regarding bikurim was during the bayit rishon. By the time of the Sifri, the deadline for bikurim was Hanukah, we can not extrapolate from this to an early Hanukah

Firstly, why are you bringing the Sifri into this? The source cited by R. Cherki for the Bikuim deadine is the Mishnah (Bikurim 1:6). Secondly, what are you talking about? Bikurim is d'oraita! Are you suggesting that the deadline for bikurim as given in this Mishna is only rabbinic?! You are now claiming that the halakha as given in this Mishnah did not apply durin Bayit Rishon. On what basis? You are the one making a radical claim here, not R. Cherki.

chardal: Finally, the day does not start getting longer at the 25th of kislev but rather at the 21st of December. Hanukah is sometimes as early as November 28th (as it will be in 2013) and sometimes as late as the 26th of December (as it was in 2005).

This is true, because we do not use a purely solar calendar. Therefore, it is impossible to establish a date on the Hebrew calendar that will always fall out on the Solstice. That doesn't mean that a date close to it can't be picked.

You can make the exact same argument against the reasons by the Gemara in Rosh HaShanah for the date of the agricultural New Year (1st of Shevat according to Beit Shammai; 15th of Shevat according to Beit Hillel). The Gamara says that this is the calendar date on which the resin inside a tree rises, causing the fruit to ripen. But this event is clearly dependent upon the solar seasons, so how can a specific date be established for it on the Hebrew calendar? Furthermore, according to the Meiri, Beit Hillel chose the 15th of Shevat because this date is exactly halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. According to your argument, it is impossible to establish such a date, and therefore Beit Hillel could not have chosen the 15th of Shevat to represent it. Nevertheless, they did. And if Haza"l could pick a calendar date that represents the halfway mark between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, then, by the same token, they can pick a date that represents the Winter Solstice itself.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

LFD: We too should rededicate ourselves to cleansing and building the land.

Amen!

BTW; there's a great drash I heard on the double language of when Yosef was thrown into the pit by his brothers; "The pit was empty, it had no water in it".

Rashi says, "There was no water in it, meaning, there WERE snakes and scorpions in it".

R' Riskin extrapolated that Rashi was explaining that nature abhors a vacuum. If the pit has no water in it (what should naturally be in it), then it will be filled with other things. When people complain that Eretz Yisrael is less than 100% "Torah and Mitzvot" oriented, they should look in the mirror and realize that if EY isn't full of Torah, it will be filled with other things...

And its up to Jews around the world to come to EY, to help fill the country with its natural resource.

Shabbat Shalom! (And Chanuka Sameach)

Lurker said...

aschoichet: The Roman customs are irrelevant to the tradition of Hannukah. The Romans had no cultural influence during the 2nd century BCE in the Middle East. The Romans conquered Eretz Israel only in 63 BCE, a century after the Hasmonean rebellion and the re-dedication of the temple.
1Macc and 2Macc were composed towards the end of the 2nd century BCE (during the reign of John Hyrcanus). They are 2 independent sources which both confirm the date of 25th of Kislev as the re-dedication of the temple. Both mention the fact that the festival is observed for 8 days, although as you wrote they don't provide an adequate explanation. The date and the duration of the holiday, therefore obviously predate Roman political or cultural influence in the region. This excludes any connection with Saturnalia, which is a Roman holiday. If there was some pagan influence in the date or in the duration of the holiday it should be sought in Greek or Eastern traditions.
...
Hannukah was established in the Hellenistic period when Roman cultural influence was limited to Italy and parts of Greece. No connection with any Roman custom is possible, although perhaps there may be some Greek influence.


Thanks for your interesting comments.

Your assumption that Saturnalia (or its equivalent) was not observed by the Greeks is mistaken. Saturnalia's roots lie very deep in Greek culture:

"Saturnalia was an Italic-Hellenic hybrid, celebrating the bounty of the harvest and the good things in life, whilst propitiating the dark and threatening forces of winter
According to legend, the Saturnalia was ancient and predated the foundation of Rome.
...
However, the development of Saturnalia was closely influenced by Greek ideas. The format of the festival, with its feasts and social inversion, bear a direct resemblance to those of the Cronia, a Greek harvest festival held in honour of the god Cronos, Saturn’s Greek counterpart."

[Source]

More information about Greek Winter Solstice celebrations can be found here.

Furthermore, this festival was not unique to the Greeks and Romans. Nearly every major ancient culture is known to have had a festival similar to Saturnalia, celebrating the Winter Solstice:

"The Saturnalia can be seen as just one version of many different midwinter festivals created by various cultures around the world (could they all have a distant ur-origin in man's distant past?)."
[Source]

More information about the Winter Solstice festival as observed by the Greeks, the Romans, the Persians, and the Egyptians can be found here.

aschoichet: The Roman new year fell on March 1.

Actually, the Romans initially observed the New Year on March 15th. The festival was called the Calends or Kalends. Later, this was changed to January 1. (The change was made official in 153 BCE.) The Gemara in Avodah Zarah is apparently referring to the latter version.

aschoichet: Calends is not the Roman New Year, but the first day of every month (like Rosh HaHodesh).

Yes, the term kalends (or calends) referred to the firt day of each month. But the New Year festival was also referred to by the term Kalends:

"The later Roman Empire had three important midwinter festivals: Saturnalia, which began on December 17; the Kalends, on January 1; and the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun, on December 25. Saturnalia was named for the early Roman god Saturnus, whose name meant 'plenty' or 'bounty', and his festival was characterized by revelry, feating, and drunkenness. During Saturnalia and the Kalends, which inaugurated the new year and gave us the word calendar..."
[Source]

"The first day of the Saturnalia began on December 17 and continued through the Kalends of January, beginning on January 1. The Kalends of January ushered in the new year. Together they converted the closing and opening of the year into one continuous and uproarious carnival.
[Source]

"The early Church in Rome had a particularly hard battle against two other great pagan festivals, the week-long Saturnalia, which began Dec. 17, and the Kalends, which greeted the New Year."
[Source]

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you saying that the Greek-Roman festival really came from US? Meaning at least from Adam HaRishon?

And thanks for posting this - I was wondering about this very idea without having seen Rav Keleman's article, DovBear's post or talking to anyone about it (just the Winter Solstice thing - my sister's civil birthday is Dec 21st. With that being the 1st night of Chanukah this year, it put me to thinking...)

Avrohom Shimon Tendler said...

If anyone wants to read about the subject in depth they should read Rav Yoel Ben-Nun's article: יום ייסוד היכל השם in the jounal מגדים number 12. Its long but worthwhile.

aschoichet said...

Lurker, as I said: perhaps there was some sort of Hellenistic winter solstice celebration that influenced the date and duration of Hannukah...

Were there week-long or 8 day-long winter solstice festivals among the pagans in Eretz Israel in the middle of the 2nd century BCE? For those claiming that the duration of Hannukah was influenced by a pagan winter solstice festival, the onus is on them to produce some evidence to support this claim.

I don't think I really understand where you're coming from. Are you claiming that the dates of the dedication of the temple in 1 Macc and 2 Macc are not historical? Or are you claiming that the 8 day duration of Hannukah was influenced by some sort of pagan winter solstice festival? Or both?

If the date and the duration of Hannukah was mentioned only in later sources (such as the Talmud) I'd have no problem accepting this. But the first and second books of the Maccabees happen to be very reliable, well preserved and completely independent sources for the Hasmonean rebellion. And unlike the Talmud, they were actually written in order to preserve a historical record and not just ethical and religious teachings. The author of 1 Macc apparently even witnessed the events (see the critical edition of 1 Macc by Uriel Rappaport). Therefore it's a specious argument at best, and at worst intellectually dishonest and ideologically driven. And the comparison to the case of Christmas and Saturnalia is completely out of place, as I explained in my previous comment.

Lurker said...

YSRM: correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you saying that the Greek-Roman festival really came from US? Meaning at least from Adam HaRishon?

In a sense, yes, although I'm not so sure I would describe Adam HaRishon as "us".

Also, I'm not certain that the braita intends the story about Adam in a literal sense. I think the main point that it seems to be making is that there were established Hanukah-like celebrations of the Winter Solstice going way back to primordial times, and that they were originally not pagan in nature.

Lurker said...

Avrohom Shimon Tendler: If anyone wants to read about the subject in depth they should read Rav Yoel Ben-Nun's article: éåí ééñåã äéëì äùí in the jounal îâãéí number 12. Its long but worthwhile.

Thank you for the reference. I will look at it.

Holy Hyrax said...

>Also, I'm not certain that the braita intends the story about Adam in a literal sense. I think the main point that it seems to be making is that there were established Hanukah-like celebrations of the Winter Solstice going way back to primordial times, and that they were originally not pagan in nature.

Ya sort of. I don't think it has anything to do wit Chanukah, but as I said on DB's, its merely a polemic against the paganization of earlier chagim created 'for heavens sake." Instead, chazal are saying it has been corrupted. None of this is historically accurate, but chazal have tendencies of using polemics.

i'm interested in the readers feed back.

Lurker said...

Avrohom Shimon Tendler: If anyone wants to read about the subject in depth they should read Rav Yoel Ben-Nun's article: יום ייסוד היכל השם in the jounal מגדים number 12. Its long but worthwhile.

I notice, btw, that R. bin-Nun's article in Megadim is cited by R. Menachem Leibtag as one of the main sources for his own article.

Lurker said...

aschoichet: perhaps there was some sort of Hellenistic winter solstice celebration that influenced the date and duration of Hannukah, but it definitely wasn't Saturnalia.

It doesn't matter whether the particular variant of the Solstice festival was called Saturnalia or not; they were all essentially the same thing:

"The Saturnalia can be seen as just one version of many different midwinter festivals created by various cultures around the world (could they all have a distant ur-origin in man's distant past?)."
[Source]

The Greeks, over the course of history, had various different equivalents of Saturnalia. E.g., Kronia (which honored Kronos, who was the Greek equivalent of Saturn, in nearly the exact same way), Rural Dionysia, Posidea, Haloea, etc.

aschoichet: Were there week-long or 8 day-long winter solstice festivals among the pagans in Eretz Israel in the middle of the 2nd century BCE?

I am suggesting several different (non-mututally-exclusive) things here: (1) Yes, there were such Solstice festivals practiced among pagans in Eretz Yisrael at that time. (2) There was also a non-pagan version of this festival, practiced among the Jews. (3) Given the high level of assimilation and Hellenism among the Jews, there were probably many Jews who practiced a mixed version of these festivals.

aschoichet: For those claiming that the duration of Hannukah was influenced by a pagan winter solstice festival, the onus is on them to produce some evidence to support this claim.

Firstly: I am simply presenting a hypothesis here, that I believe is suggested by the Gemara in Avodah Zarah. I do not claim to have ironclad proof for it, but I think the hypothesis is quite reasonable. (And so, apparently, do people like R. Uri Cherki, Dr. Gavriel H. Cohen, R. Menachem Leibtag, and R. Yoel bin-Nun.) If no direct evidence can be found for the existence of such a pagan Solstice festival in Eretz Yisrael in the 2nd century BCE, this would not refute the hypothesis, as you suggest. Obviously, if I could find such evidence, that would certainly strengthen the hypothesis.

As it happens, I am fairly certain that I recall reading about the existence of exactly such a festival, practiced by the Greeks and Hellenists in Eretz Yisrael, in a book or article by Saul Lieberman. I am currently trying to track it down.

Secondly: My other suggestion is that there may have been a non-pagan version of this Solstice festival practiced by Jews. The Gemara in Avodah Zarah seems to allude to this. Furthermore, two articles by R. Yoel bin-Nun in Megadim (issues 8 and 12, referenced by Leibtag) [I haven't read them yet] present evidence for the existence of such a Jewish festival.

The Jewish festival is also suggested by Mishna Bikurim 6:1, which says that the bikurim may be brought to Jerusalem until Hanukah. Since bringing the bikurim is a biblically-mandated mitzvah, it stands to reason that the halakhot governing them, as given in the Mishna, predated the time of Hanukah (or, at the very least, that the Tannaim believed that they did). This means, therefore, that there existed an agriculturally-significant event coinciding with Hanukah, prior to the existence of Hanukah by that name. R. bin-Nun argues that it was an 8-day festival celebrating the Winter Solstice and the olive harvest. (Olives in Eretz Yisrael are harvested between Sukkot and Hanukah, to this day.) Note that these were the very same two things celebrated in Saturnalia, Kronia, and their various equivalents:

"Saturnalia celebrated the sun overcoming the power of winter, with hope of spring when life would be renewed.
...
Saturnalia festivities began with ritual and sacrifices in the Temple of Saturn. The statue of the god was hollow and refilled with fresh olive oil, as a symbol of his agricultural functions."

[Source]

aschoichet: I don't think I really understand where you're coming from. Are you claiming that the dates of the dedication of the temple in 1 Macc and 2 Macc are not historical?

No, I'm not claiming that at all. In fact, I'm relying on the accuracy of those dates.

I'm saying that the dedication of the Temple happened at the time of the Winter Solstice festival, and that the Hashmonaim, rather than creating a new holiday "from scratch", chose to attach their celebration to the existing festival that fell out at the same time. I believe that they may have even deliberately conducted the dedication ceremony on the first day of that festival.

Here's an analogy: Imagine that the United States succeeds in thwarting a mega-terror attack, and captures Osama bin-Laden -- and that this happens just a few days before Thanksgiving. Imagine, further, that Congress legislates a national celebration of this, to be held on Thanksgiving Day, and that this becomes part of the ceremony held on Thanksgiving from that year onward. Maybe, by a few hundred years later, that day would become known as "Victory Day": Most people would associate the holiday with a great American victory a few centuries earlier, and assume that the custom to eat turkey and pumpkin pie on that day originated with that victory. So it might come as a surprise to them that there already existed such a holiday, coinciding with "Victory Day", for a long time before the year of the victory in question.

That's pretty much like what I'm suggesting here: There was already a Hanukah-like holiday -- pagan, non-pagan, or (most likely) both -- with which the Hashmonaim's victory celebrations became associated.

aschoichet: Or are you claiming that the 8 day duration of Hannukah was influenced by some sort of pagan winter solstice festival?

Yes. And also possibly non-pagan (see above).

aschoichet: If the date and the duration of Hannukah was mentioned only in later sources (such as the Talmud) I'd have no problem accepting this. But the first and second books of the Maccabees happen to be very reliable, well preserved and completely independent sources for the Hasmonean rebellion.

Yes, they are. And as I already indicated, I am not questioning their accuracy regarding these issues.

aschoichet: Therefore it's a specious argument at best, and at worst intellectually dishonest and ideologically driven.

"Ideologically driven"? What sort of ideology do you imagine would be driving this hypothesis?

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

interesting point about the olive bikkurim — makes the case stronger than i thought it was before!

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