What the Hell is a Jack?

Happy Chanukah!

A good friend brought this New Yorker magazine cartoon to my attention. For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Jeff.” Perhaps this is a question in search of an answer.

The playing card known as a jack or knave pictures a man in the traditional or historic aristocratic or courtier dress, generally associated with Europe of the 16th or 17th century.

In the English tradition, the jacks are generic male servants of royalty. In the late 16th century, French card makers assigned historical figures to each of the face cards, including the Jacks of…

– Ogier the Dane (a knight of Charlemagne and legendary hero of the chansons de geste – an epic poem in French literature)

– La Hire (French warrior)

– Hector (mythological hero of the Iliad – y’all know the Iliad, amiright?)

Judah Maccabee

Today being the 5th day of Chanukah, I’d like to point out that Chanukah is a festival that commemorates the restoration of Jewish worship at the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century, following a revolt led by Judah Maccabee against the Seleucid Empire and removal of statues depicting Greek gods and goddesses.

Now you have an answer for the “You don’t know jack!” insult thrown in your direction.

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