By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, December 17, 2009

Chanucah celebrates the success of the Hasmonean Revolt, in Hebrew Mered. The Bible is replete with meradim. When the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh set up an altar on their side of the Jordan, the other tribes thought they had rebelled against God and said to them, “If you rebel (timridu) against the Lord today, He will be angry will the whole community of Israel.”

Rebellion entered humanity in the form of the first ever king, Nimrod. Genesis 10:8-9 describe this great-grandson of Noah as “the first man of might on earth ... a mighty hunter by the grace of the Lord”.

The literal meaning of Nimrod, “we will rebel”, was not lost on the composers of the Midrash. They embellish his biblical description and identify Nimrod as the instigator of the Tower of Babel, an act of rebellion against God. He is also the first person to ever eat meat. Monarchy and carnivorism — two mainstays of civilisation were introduced by a rebel.

Josephus’s Antiquities is the first record of the term “Hasmonean Revolt”. The sages do not refer to Chanucah as a mered, but rather as a miracle victory.

Last updated: 11:05am, December 17 2009