Fire in the Circle
It was an amusing, but disastrous, scene. A king was caged inside a circle on the heated Egyptian soil. Despite his proven military prowess, he could not step beyond the ring until he submitted to a Roman ultimatum. His aspirations were shackled. His tactics were shattered. And all by a mere politician. Was this really happening?
The king was Antiochus Epiphanes. He deployed mighty forces during this third foray into Egypt. The ruler arrived under the pretense of restoring the deposed Egyptian king. But, in reality, he planned to seize Egypt for himself. Rome, Egypt’s avowed protector, was there to stop him. Roman ambassadors, ferried by Grecian ships, confronted Antiochus’ madness.
Antiochus had a personal friendship with one ambassador. So, he extended his hand to receive the ambassador’s kiss. The ambassador refused it. Instead, he drew a circle in the sand around the ambitious aggressor. Antiochus would not step from the enclosure until he concurred with the Roman Senate.
Amazingly, the prophet Daniel had described this paradigm hundreds of years earlier. He wrote, “At the appointed time he will return and come into the South, but this last time it will not turn out the way it did before. For ships of Kittim will come against him; therefore he will be disheartened and will return and become enraged at the holy covenant and take action; so he will come back and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant” (Daniel 11:29-30).
A livid Antiochus retreated from the Egyptian sands. He was enraged; vexed to the last degree. He was determined to gratify his revenge in Jerusalem. He wreaked havoc. He slaughtered. He pillaged. He conspired with apostate men in a frontal assault on God’s covenant. He made desolate what was holy.
His actions unwittingly fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy and created the need for Chanukah. The rededication of the Temple, which we recall as we rededicate our spiritual temples this week, came about as prophecy materialized. The story unfolds in The Feasts of Adonai.