Hanukkah Candle Lighting
The central symbol of Hanukkah is the Hanukkiah, a nine-branched version of the Menorah, the seven-branch candelabra that shed light in the otherwise dark Tabernacle and later the Temple. The hanukkiah’s nine-branches serve as a reminder of the eight-day miracle. The additional Shamash candle being used to light the other eight.
Initially, people celebrated Hanukkah by bringing palm branches to Jerusalem, as for Sukkot. This was an ancient custom, the same used by the crowds when Yeshua made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. However, the traditional practice gave way to the lighting of candles and Hanukkah became known as the Feast of Lights (Hag Haorim). Palm branches were a symbol of freedom and defiance, and had been since the times of the Maccabees1.
The Hanukkiah is a beautiful representation of Messiah. It was Yeshua, the obedient servant, who was raised up (John 3:12) and gives light to all (John 8:12). The 9th candle of the Hanukkiah is set apart from the rest of the candles and is usually higher. It’s used to light the other candles, which is why it’s called Shamash, a Hebrew word meaning servant.
Messiah Yeshua stated in Mark 10:44-45 — Whoever wants to be first among you shall be the servant of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
Genesis 1:3-4 — describes the Creation of the first light: Elohim said, Let there be light: and there was light. And Elohim saw the light was good; and Elohim separated the light from the darkness.
Exodus 13:21-22 — reveals God is the source of Israel's light: Adonai went before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead the way and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light. So they could travel both day and night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night never departed from the people.
King David reminds us in Psalm 27:1 and Psalm 18:28 that God is the source of our own individual light: Adonai is my light and my salvation: whom should I fear? Adonai is the stronghold of my life: whom should I dread? For You light up my lamp. Adonai my God shines in my darkness.
Psalm 119:105 and Psalm 119:130 describe the light that comes from God's Word: Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. The unfolding of Your words gives light, giving understanding to the simple.
Messiah Yeshua is the greatest light of all John 1:4-5 — In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it. As Yeshua was in the Temple, seeing the magnificent light from the Menorah, He declared in John 8:12 — I am the light of the world. The one who follows Me will no longer walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
Aged Simeon was promised by God that he would not die until he saw Israel's Messiah. When he saw Yeshua as an infant in the Temple, he knew that this One was the Light of Israel and the Nations. Simeon declared in Luke 2:30-32 — My eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples: ‘A light for revelation to the nations’ and the glory of Your people Israel.
2 Corinthians 4:6 — For God, who said, “Let light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Messiah.
After we come to know Messiah, we are to be a source of light for the world. Yeshua tells us in Matthew 5:14-16 — You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on a lampstand so it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine for all to see so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.
The prophet Isaiah speaks of the future glory of a restored Israel in Isaiah 60:1-3 — Arise, shine, for your light has come! The glory of Adonai has risen on you. … Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brilliance of your rising.
Revelation 21:22-27 gives a description of our glorious eternal dwelling place in the New Jerusalem: And I saw no temple in the city, for its Temple is Adonai-Yahweh-Tzva’ot (The Lord, the Lord of Hosts) and the Lamb. The city has no need for the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s Sh’khinah gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it. Its gates will never close, they stay open all day because night will not exist there, and the honour and splendour of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure may enter it, nor anyone who does shameful things or lies; the only ones who may enter are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.