Saturday, December 24, 2016
A bronze penny from the time of the first Hanukkah (165 BC) was stumbled upon recently by archaeologists near Jerusalem’s Tower of David. The head of Antiochus Epiphanes appears on the front of the bronze penny, and the reverse side has a goddess holding a torch in her hand. Antiochus IV was a Seleucid monarch remembered in Jewish history for his promotion of Greek culture and suppression of Jewish religious observances. After he had a shrine built to Zeus and even sacrificed a pig on the altar of the temple in Jerusalem, Jewish zealots led by Judas Maccabeus rose up in revolt against him, which is the basis for the celebration of Hanukkah.