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The Intellectual Struggle Hidden in Hanukkah’s Best-Known Song

The Maccabean revolt wasn’t just about independence. It was a culture war between those who embraced “Greek wisdom” and those who believed in transcendent, divine knowledge.

A child on his father’s shoulders on the first night of Hanukkah. Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images.

A child on his father’s shoulders on the first night of Hanukkah. Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images.

Observation
Dec. 14 2017
About the author

Lewis Glinert is professor of Hebrew studies at Dartmouth College, where he is also affiliated with the program in linguistics. His books include The Grammar of Modern Hebrew and, most recently, The Story of Hebrew (Princeton).

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The Maccabean revolt wasn’t just about independence. It was a culture war between those who embraced “Greek wisdom” and those who believed in transcendent, divine knowledge.

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More about: Hanukkah, History & Ideas, Religion & Holidays