Updated: Dec 1, 2021
Well, here's something different from the normal parody of music videos featuring hired dancers trying to popularize the Chanukah story or the symbolic deep oil fried donuts, latkes and other fried foods. We think we found the untouched caves where the Maccabees regrouped after Judah Maccabee fell in battle. Spoiler alert, the Maccabean Army went forward against all odds to continue their miraculous battle for religious freedom and against assimilation and antisemitism. The caves are thousands of years old but the story is eternal.
There are lots of wells throughout the region near the Dead Sea, but a more rare finding was recently discovered near the city Asphar which was named after the well that the Maccabees hid from the Greek Army thousands of years ago.
After Judah Maccabee was slain in battle, the surviving rebels retreated into the Judean hills near the Dead Sea. The Book of Maccabees I records them making camp in the Well of Asphar.
Fast forward more than 2,000 years and we find a city which was originally named after Asphar by the Israeli government due to its proximity to the area and connection to the military post where the Maccabees regrouped and decided to forge forward with the war for religious freedom.
One resident of the Jewish community there, Yosef Sholom Rabin recently contracted a stone mason to teach him how to build stone benches for the site a few hundred yards from his back yard where he saw that there is a well. When they went out there they discovered a system of caves that are worthy of an archaeological dig. Some of the pottery found are thought to be from the Maccabean era and the elaborate series of caves which were used for collecting water maybe have been repurposed for an interconnected system of caves where the Maccabee warriors may have taken refuge.
Of course, the main purpose during the excursion was to build a stone bench and begin beautifying the area for picnics and kumzitz experiences. However, the group was pleasantly surprised to discover this likely candidate of caves to have been the place where Jonathan and the remaining soldiers had fled from the Greek Army during the times of Chanukah.
Below is a laid back discussion filmed in 360 degrees that will work with your smart phone or virtual reality headset if you'd like to take a look at the area from the surface. We hope you enjoy this digital content and consider subscribing for more POV on the ground in the Holy Land.
We visit with Yossi Rabin and friends as we explore the caves, learn how to cut stones for building benches and get inspired for the festival of lights beginning Sunday night.