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A little more than a century and a half before the birth of Christ, a handful of Jewish farmers in Palestine rose against the Syrian-Greek conquerors who had occupied their land.
For three decades, they carried on a struggle which, in terms of resistance and liberation, has almost no parallel in human history. In a sense, it was the first modern struggle for freedom, and it laid a pattern for many movements that followed.
This tale, which is still celebrated by Jews all over the world as Chanaka, or the Feast of the Lights, I have tried to retell here, considering that in these troubled and bitter times there is both a need for and a value in recalling the ancient consistency of mankind.
Whatever is good in the telling, I owe to the people who march through these pages, those wonderful people of old who, out of their religion, their way of life, and their love for their land, forged that splendid maxim—that resistance to tyranny is the truest obedience to God.