How do you spell Maccabee?

Spelling the name Maccabee shouldn't be difficult. But how you spell it in the original Hebrew can be a cause for major debate and could reflect religious tension. As we know there are two letters in Hebrew that make the "k" sound - "caf" (the backward "c") and "kuf" (the letter with the tail). It is unclear how the Maccabee family spelled their name back in 165 BCE. 

If they spelled it with a "kuf" then their name means hammer. Makes sense for a family that led the military revolt against the Syrian Greek army. This band of brothers used clever guerrilla warfare tactics to lead the highly outnumbered Jews to victory and restored Jewish autonomy to the land of Israel.

But if their name were spelled with a "caf" then it becomes an acronym for "Mi Camocha Ba'elim Adonay" - "who is like You among other gods O God" - the famous line recited by the Israelites after the exodus from Egypt and recited in our prayers twice a day. If their name is spelled with a "caf" then it reflects the idea that God played a major role in the defeat of the Syrian Greeks and purifying the Temple and restoring the service. 

So which is it? Is the holiday of Hanukkah and the Maccabean revolt a human victory or a divine miracle? I say it's a little of both. When right defeats might, when the oppressed are able to free themselves from persecution, then that is a bold victory. It takes great human effort and resolve to do so. If successful it can be seen later as if it were miraculous. 

Spell Maccabee with a "caf" and a "kuf" recognizing that with God's help we can be inspired to change the world for the better. Happy Hanukkah!