The story of Hannah and her seven sons is the story of the Jewish resistance to Antiochus' attempts to Hellenize the Jewish people around 166 B.C.E.
When Antiochus demanded that Hannah's sons bow down to an idol before him, Hannah's eldest son stepped forward and said: "What do you wish from us? We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our fathers."
The king had him tortured to death and demanded the same of the second son. He, too, and each of his brothers after him, refused and was summarily executed. Finally only Hannah and her youngest son remained.
Antiochus begged the child not to be a martyr. He beseeched Hannah to convince her son to bow to the idol.
Hannah, however, said to her son, "I carried you for nine months, nourished you for two years, and have provided you with everything until now. Look upon the heaven and the earth--God is the Creator of it all. Do not fear this tormentor, but be worthy of being with your brothers."
When the young boy refused to yield, he too was put to death. As her child lay dying, Hannah requested that, when he arrived in heaven, he remind Abraham of how he (Abraham) had been willing to sacrifice one son to prove his loyalty to God, while she had sacrificed seven; for Abraham it had been a test, for her it was reality. Pleading with God that she should be considered worthy to join her children in the World to Come, Hannah, fearing torture, jumped from a roof and died.
By teaching her sons that there are times one must give up even life itself for the sake of one's beliefs, Hannah made a stand that resonates with all who hear her story.
This Treat was originally posted on December 7, 2012.