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Re: orion Hanukkah civil holiday?; Etc.

Martin Jaffee writes (in response to Goranso's quote from Goodman's Hanukkah
>  To conclude: even if, as is likely, the Rabbinic version of Hanukkah is
>  relatively recent (first cent ce?), we would still not be able to draw the
>  conclusion that Hanukkah itself is a relatively recent festival (despite
>  its absence at Qumran). Does this sound reasonable? Marty Jaffee

    Just to be clear, Goodman did not hold Hanukkah to be a recent festival.
Rather, he held that Hanukkah, after being observed down to ca. 125 BCE, went
into a period of "dormancy" for about a hundred years, as evidenced by the
debate between Hillel and Shammai over how to light the candles.  In my view,
a preferable analysis is that of Abraham Bloch, *The Biblical and Historical
Background of the Jewish Holy Days" (KTAV Publishing House, 1978) 49-78.  He
holds that the debate between Hillel and Shammai reflected the recent origin
of the custom of lighting candles for Hanukkah under influence of a similar
custom instituted for the water drawing festival after the death of Jannaeus
(76 BCE).  However, there are indications that Hanakkuh later fell into non-
observance in some circles, e.g. Josephus' ignorance of the origin of the
alternative name, "festival of lights"; Philo's complete omission of Hanukkah;
the occasion on which a fast was proclaimed during Hanukkah in Lydda,
prompting protests from those who still believed Hanukkah should be observed;
the debate over the authority of the Megillat Ta'anith (and parallel debate
over Purim). 

    Jaffee comments, "Yom Kippur is not more 'religious' than Hanukkah -- its
observance is simply governed by different procedures within a larger economy
of obligations incumbent upon the Nation."  I would respectfully submit that
Yom Kippur and other holy days revealed at Sinai were indeed held to be more
sacred than lesser days of gladness such as Hanukkah.  Jewish national
assemblies had authority to proclaim a day of gladness, but had no power to
raise such a day to a sacred status.  Can both be equally religious but not
equally sacred?  

     Jaffee also writes:

>  Certainly it seems to me that one of the major Hasmonean 
>  achievements was to obliterate any possibility of defining for 
>  Judeans a political/civic sphere unconnected to sacred
>  warrants. This would be particularly true of Hanukkah, with its close
>  associations with the political/religious institution of the Temple. Have
>  I got this all wrong?

    It seems to me that the Yom Tob or "days of gladness" listed in the
Megillat Ta'anit provide a concrete example of semi-holidays (to use Zeitlin's
terminology) without sacred warrants.  A number of these Yom Tob originated in
the Hasmonean Era and even earlier.  (See S. Zeitlin, "Megillat Ta'anith as a
Source for Jewish Chronology and History in the Hellenistic and Roman
Periods," JQR n.s. 9 [1918-19] 71-102; 10 [1919-20] 49-80, 237-290 or his 1922
book by the same title or Jewish Encyclopedia s.v. Megillat Ta'anith.)  Yet
nearly all these festivals ceased to be observed.  This could hardly have
occurred if these holidays did indeed have a sacred warrant as you suggest.
S. Goranson writes:

> 	With more than 850 manuscripts, most of which are religious, the
>  absence of Hanukkah is striking and, this, together with presence of
>  anti-Hasmonean texts, and the absence of 1, 2 Maccabees copies, in my
>  opinion, suggests that Qumranites did not observe Hanukkah...  <snip>   
>  The numbers of calendar texts (see, e.g., Daniel Falk's 1998 book for a
>  sampling of the range) make this absence significant.

    Such arguments from silence carry no weight.  Your finding the absence of
1 and 2 Maccabees significant is especially lacking in merit, given that
Qumran contains no historical texts whatsoever.  The absence of Hanukkah in
calendar texts is equally unremarkable.  Translations of all the calendar
texts may be conveniently found in Wise, Abegg and Cook, *The Dead Sea
Scrolls:  A New Translation* (Harper Collins, 1996) 301-323.  These texts
outline the sacred year and are dominated by priestly concerns.  Of these,
festivals are found in 4Q319, 4Q320, 4Q321, 4Q321a, 4Q325, 4Q326, 4Q327 and
4Q329a.  Every festival in these calendars are also found in 11QT cols. 13-29,
which outlines the required temple sacrifices associated with all the sacred
festivals revealed to Moses at Sinai (as well as daily and sabbath offerings).
If you have been following this thread, you will have noted that Hanukkah was
not a sacred festival, did not have associated temple sacrifices, but was a
lesser day of gladness.  As such it would not have appeared in a calendar

>  ...We do have many texts with festivals,
>  including joyful, non-torah prescribed ones, e.g., 4Q502, whether that is a
>  marriage ritual (Baillet), a golden age ritual (J. Baumgarten), a new year
>  festival (Satlow), a celibacy celebration :-)  or something else...

    4Q502 does not appear to be an annual festival of fixed date, at least
from the surviving text, and as such is irrelevant to our discussion:  or
else, if you hold it to be an annual festival, perhaps you can explain why you
are untroubled by its omission from the calendar texts?

    Russell Gmirkin