When Alexander the Great died, his vast empire was split between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies. The Seleucids set about radically imposing their values and Greek ideas on to the Jewish people. Some fell to the influence of Hellenism, while others resisted. Mattathias and his sons rebelled against Greek ways and stood against the Seleucid army. This family became known as the Maccabees, but their brave fight to ward off Greek ideas seeping into Jewish life, was short-lived.
Their ancestors soon slipped steadily into Hellenism and lusted for power. Civil war broke out, and the Jewish people felt only animosity towards these rulers. A Maccabean descendant, Shelamzion married her cousin Alexander the king, and her destiny would begin to unfold during a time of war, terror, murder, and injustice. This is her story, a story worth reflecting on during the feast of Chanukah.