One popular explanation for the name Chanukah is that on 25th of Kislev (כ"ה) they had a respite of their enemies (חנו מאויביהם). (Actually I am not so sure about the first source of this either. A late source is in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.)

Now, is this claim true at all? Was there a war after the miracle of the oil?

Rabbi Miller here (in the very beginning) claims that definitely, a long and bitter war with many victims continued, and nevertheless, there was a good reason to celebrate Chanukah as a holiday – even in the middle of the war.

[...] the battles of the Chashmonaim against their enemies lasted thirty years and what happened on Chanukah took place at the beginning of this period; about five years, or four years, after the war began; which means that for twenty five years or more they continued fighting.

What could possibly be the source of his assumption? The miracle of oil is not mentioned in the Books of Maccabees or in Josephus Flavius. In the Gemara it does not relate not to the chronology neither the war.

(In Megillas Antiochus it does relate the miracle to the end of the war, although, its historicity has been questioned.)

  • According to the account in the Book of Maccabees I, the war indeed lasted for 30 years, but it was ended with the establishment of a celebration (supposedly Chanukah, without the mention of the miracle of the oil). However, Megillas Antiochus links the miracle to the triumph against Bacchides, which happened indeed decades before (according to the chronology in the Books of Maccabees).
    – Binyomin
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 6:05

1 Answer 1


Was there a war after the miracle of the oil?

Yes, there was. The Book of Maccabees describes several battles between the Maccabees and the Seleucids. One of these was the Battle of Beit Tzur, which ended in a massive victory for the Jews. From there they went and conquered the Mikdash and set to purifying it (Maccabees 1:4:35-58):

"Then said Judas and his brethren, Behold, our enemies are discomfited: let us go up to cleanse and dedicate the sanctuary. Upon this all the host assembled themselves together, and went up into mount Sion. And when they saw the sanctuary desolate, and the altar profaned, and the gates burned up, and shrubs growing in the courts as in a forest, or in one of the mountains, yea, and the priests’ chambers pulled down; They rent their clothes, and made great lamentation, and cast ashes upon their heads, And fell down flat to the ground upon their faces, and blew an alarm with the trumpets, and cried toward heaven. Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those that were in the fortress, until he had cleansed the sanctuary. So he chose priests of blameless conversation, such as had pleasure in the law: Who cleansed the sanctuary, and bare out the defiled stones into an unclean place. [...]"

This culminated in the celebration of Chanukah. The oil miracle isn't mentioned there but it obviously took place at that time.

Afterwards, there were more battles. Besides further Maccabean conquests, there were also more battles against the Seleucids, such as the Battle of Beit Zechariah, which is where Elazar died (link).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .