The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (139:3) writes:

בחנוכה, מתר בעשית מלאכה. אך הנשים נוהגות שלא לעשות מלאכה כל זמן שהנרות בבית דולקים, ואין להקל להן. והטעם שהנשים מחמירות יותר, מפני שהגזרה היתה קשה על בנות ישראל, שגזרו, בתולה הנשאת, תבעל להגמון תחלה

On Chanukah, it is permitted to perform work. But there is a custom that women do not work for the time that the menorah is burning in the house, and there shouldn't be a leniency for them. And the reason that women are more stringent is because there was a harsh decree against the daughters of Israel; it was decreed that a girl who was to be married must first cohabit with the governor.

(Translation mine)

What is the source for this statement in the Kitzur, that the Greeks decreed that the brides must first cohabit with the governor before getting married to their husband? I read through the first Book of Maccabees and briefly scanned the second book, but I did not find it therein.

Could someone point me to the source of the story? I suspect maybe it is in the Book of Judith, but I have not yet found it in there.

  • Remember, you can still accept another answer, should a better one come along. While all these sources are medieval or earlier, I didn't state when the Midrash was composed, or when that passage in Megillat Taanit was written. Or what the earliest source is. (I hope to improve the post when I have time).
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 1:29
  • While the story is likely based on the Book of Judith, I don't think the Book of Judith indicates that this was done with all women. In the story, only Judith has a similar experience, although that is of her initiation...
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 1:40
  • related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/12198/603
    – Menachem
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 3:11
  • Besides Judaism, can anybody find historical sources for this tradition - was it common, what nation practiced it etc?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 18:29
  • You should definitely edit the title of your question, reading: "what is the source of gentiles ruling of cohabiting with the governor before marriage." It has nothing to do with Channuka, as explained by the sources.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 18:30

1 Answer 1


At the minimum, the Rishonim mention this in their commentaries to Shabbat (23a), regarding the statement that women were included in the Hannukah miracle. The earliest of these Rishonim, is Rashi there (s.v. Hayu B'oto HaNes) who states:

שגזרו יוונים על כל בתולות הנשואות להיבעל לטפסר תחלה

He is followed by other Rishonim such as Rabbenu Perahya and Rabbenu Yehuda Anav there, and Riaz (2:1:14).

The Yeshuot Malko commentary to the Mishneh Torah, writes that this is what Rambam was alluding to when he wrote (Hilkhot Hannukah 3:1) that the Greeks violated the Jews' property and daughters.

A possibly earlier source, is this Midrash in R. J.D. Eisenstein's Midrashic collection, which states:

ועוד גזרו שכל מי שנושא אשה תבעל להגמון תחלה ואח"כ תחזור לבעלה.

Additionally, Megillat Taanit (Scholion in ed. Lichtenstein) states:

נפקו רומאי מן ירושלם...מלכי יון היו מושיבין קסטריאות בעירות להיות מענין את הכלות ואחר כך היו נשואות לבעליהן...ובת אחת היתה למתתיהו בן יוחנן הכהן הגדול וכשהגיע זמנה לינשא בא הקסטרין לטמאה ולא הניחו אותו וקנאו מתתיהו ובניו וגברה ידם על מלכות יון ונמסרו בידן והרגום ואת היום שבטלום עשאוהו יום טוב.

  • 2
    Similarly, see Ketubot 3b about such concerns, although it does not specify which period in history this applied to.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 1:07
  • Likely Rashi's immediate source was Yosef of Carcassonne, in his piyyut "אודך כי אנפת בי". See Rashi on Y'chezkeil 21:18 ("והפייט שיסד בחנוכה בשבת ראשונה ביוצר 'המואסת כל עץ הדקיר המזנה' מסייעני שקרא את החרב מואסת כל עץ").
    – Fred
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 1:10

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