Erick Stakelbeck, author of “The Brotherhood: America’s Next Great Enemy,” told the story of Hanukkah on The Glenn Beck Program Friday, saying it has meaning for every "freedom-loving American...who's concerned that we are losing our country to sinister forces."
Stakelbeck said it makes "no difference" whether you are Jewish, Christian, agnostic, or anything else -- "Hanukkah matters, because Hanukkah is the story of the Maccabees."
"It begins about 170 years before the birth of Jesus," the guest host began. "At that time, Israel was part of the Greek Seleucid Empire, which was ruled by a mad Jew-hating king named Antiochus Epiphanes. In the year 169 B.C., his forces invaded Israel. They sacked Jerusalem, slaughtered thousands of Jews, murdered women and children in the streets, and sold many thousands more into slavery."
Stakelbeck said the king tried to destroy the Jewish religion and "any mention of the God of the Bible" in his quest to Hellenize Israel. They transformed the temple of Jerusalem into a shrine to Zeus; mothers who wanted to circumcise their sons could be executed; any observance of the sabbath was banned; and Torahs were burned.
"In the tragic and, often bloody, history of the Jewish people," Stakelbeck said, "this period has to rank among the worst."
He added that to make matters worse, some "elites" among the Jewish people had no problem making Israel "just another Hellenized pagan land under Greek rule."
"Tradition would be smashed," Stakelbeck said. "A new order would be ushered in. And stubborn Israel would yield to the ways of what was then, the international community. They would become just another nation. Nothing exceptional."
But then, history turned.
"A few good men stood up and said, 'No more,'" Stakelbeck continued. "The Maccabees. A priest named Mattathias along with his five sons fled into the countryside and began to rally an army of Jews who would not accept Greek tyranny and the devastation of their religion, their culture, and their country."
The Maccabees became known as "the hammer of Israel," and their courage and success on the battlefield has been remembered throughout the ages.
"They re-captured Jerusalem, rededicated the temple, and lit the menorah..." Stakelbeck said. "That's what Hanukkah commemorates! It represents the victory of freedom over tyranny. It took the Maccabees over twenty years, but finally, they kicked the Greeks out of Israel...and re-claimed their land."
The Middle East expert added that in hearing this story, the American Revolution may come to mind.
"Think about it: a rebellion against foreign tyranny by a rag-tag group of courageous, God-fearing men," he said. "Just like the Maccabees, the American revolutionaries also had to contend with the 'nay-sayers' and the loyalists to the throne. And just like the underdog Maccabees, they prevailed against all odds."
Stakelbeck proceeded to note the influence the story of the Maccabees had over a number of America's Founding Fathers, before pointing out that "the first day of Hanukkah fell on Thanksgiving this year, and that is extremely rare."
"Maybe there's a message in that for us in these dark times -- for America, and for our friend and ally, Israel," he remarked.
Though some of the challenges America and Israel face may seem impossible, Stakelbeck said that "despite all this madness, all is not lost."
"If, like me, you stand against the dark tide ... and you're feeling overwhelmed, under siege, and outnumbered, remember the story of Hanukkah," Stakelbeck concluded. "Remember the Maccabees, because we are all Maccabees now."
Watch Stakelbeck's complete monologue, which his subsequent guests - one of whom was "America's rabbi," Rabbi Shmuley - praised as one of the best narrations they've heard of the story of Hanukkah:
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