Posts tagged ‘Jerusalem’

Around 333 B.C.E., Alexander the Great conquered Israel. However, the Jews were allowed to continue practicing their own religion.

This ended in 175 B.C.E. when Antiochus IV became king. Antiochus wanted to make Jerusalem a Greek city. He banned Jewish Sabbath observance and scripture study. He built an altar to Zeus in the temple and forced Jews to make sacrifices to Greek gods.

Many Jews accepted the Greek religion in order to maintain peace. But some didn’t. Finally, in 167 B.C.E., a revolt broke out. It was led by Judah Maccabee, son of a priest. Most of the Jewish fighters were farmers, not soldiers. Still, they managed to defeat the Greek army and liberate Jerusalem in 165 B.C.E.

Judah and his followers reconsecrated the temple. The final step was lighting the lamp in the temple. A special oil was used for this lamp; it took several days to prepare properly. When they went to light the lamp they found only enough oil for one day. Still, they filled the lamp and lit it. Amazingly, the lamp continued to burn. It burned for eight days – long enough for more oil to be prepared.

This even is still celebrated today in a celebration sometimes know as the Festival of Lights. What is the proper name of this festival?

After eleven years outside Mecca, Muhammad, Islam’s founder, experienced an Ascension, in which he journeyed to heaven.

After praying, Muhammad was approached by the angel Gabriel. They mounted a winged steed called the buraq and traveled to Jerusalem, where the spirits of many prophets appeared. Muhammad led them in prayer. Then he remounted the buraq and ascended with Gabriel to heaven.

Muhammad said that heaven was difficult to describe. He said it was a combination of lights and sounds and flowing energy.


What does the word heaven mean to you? What do you imagine heaven looks like?

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