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In 168 BCE, Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes invaded Egypt, but the false rumor of his death led the deposed Jewish high priest to seize Jerusalem by force. The Romans thwarted the Seleucid conquest of Egypt, and Antiochus looted the Second Temple in Jerusalem and launched a pogrom against the Jews, outlawed their religion, erected an altar to Zeus in the Temple, ordered pigs to be sacrificed there, and banned circumcision. In response a Jewish priest, Mattathias (Mattityahu) killed a Jew who wanted to comply with the order to sacrifice to Zeus and then killed a Greek official sent to enforce the policy, leading to a general revolt. After his death he was followed by his son Yehuda HaMakabi ("Judah the Hammer"), who defeated the Seleucids in 165 BCE, liberating and rededicating the Temple. Antiochus, meanwhile, preoccupied with another war (against Parthia), but when he learned of the Maccabees' victory he drowned himself or was thrown from his chariot and killed. The Jews temporarily achieved autonomy within the Seleucid empire, and the festival of Hanukkah was instituted. The name derives from a Hebrew verb meaning "to dedicate and is observed for eight nights and days in late Novemeber or in December, based on the Jewish lunar calendar. The holiday is marked by lighting a nine-branched candelabrum called a menorah, with one additional candle lit each night of the holiday; the typical menorah consists of eight branches with an additional visually distinct one, usually above or below the rest, with which the others are lit. Long after the revolt, a story explaining this ceremony was circulated in the Gemara (Talmud), in tractate Shabbat: After the Seleucids had been driven from the Temple, the Maccabees discovered that most all of the ritual olive oil had been profaned,. Only a single container survived that had been sealed by the high priest, with enough oil to keep the menorah in the Temple lit for one day. However, it burned for eight days (the time it took to have new oil pressed and made ready).
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