Hanukkah

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Hanukkah

חֲנֻכָּה

John 10:22-23 (NLT) is the only place in the Bible that Hanukkah is mentioned by name when it states Yeshua was in the Temple for the Feast of Dedication. Yeshua recognised Hanukkah, so too Christians, as well as Jews, can enjoy this celebration, and all the more, if its eternal importance is understood.

Then came Hanukkah1; it was winter in Jerusalem. Yeshua was walking in the Temple around Solomon’s Colonnade. Then the Judean leaders surrounded Him, saying, “How long will You hold us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us outright!”. John 10:22-24 (HNV) Read on further as Yeshua reveals the connection between Himself and the Father in John 10:25-30 (HNV).

Notice how the Judean leaders wanted to know if Jesus was the Messiah. They thought He might kick out the pagans and set up His Kingdom just like Judah Maccabee did over a hundred years prior — they were ready for independence. The second thing to notice is that Yeshua was at Hanukkah. Not only did Yeshua celebrate Hanukkah but He made the effort to be at the Temple during this time, even though it was not required. If it was good enough for Yeshua to celebrate a non-compulsory feast, why not us too?

The focus of the holiday is the re-dedication of the Temple of the Lord about 160 years before Messiah’s birth. God rescued His people, and preserved Biblical Judaism. Without this, the prophetic fulfillment pertaining to the birth of Messiah could not have happened. Without Jews, Messiah could not have been born through the tribe of Judah, as a descendant of King David. 

The real miracle of Hanukkah was not the miracle of the lights, but the fact that God had once again preserved His chosen people against all odds! The Lord kept His promise to Israel that they would not be destroyed (Jeremiah 31:35-37, Romans 11:29). The Lord preserved His people because He had chosen them for a glorious purpose, yet to be fulfilled! In fact, the best was yet to come as almost 200 years later God sent His final Word and ultimate deliverer, Jesus the Messiah, to purchase the salvation of Jews and Gentiles with His own life.

If God had not enabled the Maccabees to overthrow Antiochus, the Jewish people may very well been destroyed. And if the Jewish people had been destroyed then the birth of the Saviour could never have taken place! (see Galatians 4:4-7)

This same God continues to keep His promises to the Jewish people and one day an even greater deliverance than Hanukkah will take place. (see Romans 11:25-27 HNV)

If we take the word Hanukkah (חֲנֻכָּה) and divide it in half we get two Hebrew words: hanu (חֲנֻ), which means "they rested", and kah (כָּה), which is composed of the Hebrew letters that correspond to the number 25. Based on that, the meaning of the word becomes they rested on the 25th. Indeed the fighting with the Greeks stopped on 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev. It was on that day that a major battle was won and the people rested.

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... It was also on the 25th that the Jews joyfully marched to the newly recaptured Temple, ready to begin the Temple service again. We can only imagine their disappointment as they opened the Temple doors and discovered that the House of God was in a shambles. The place of utmost purity was utterly defiled. They realised that the Temple needed more than some cleaning; it needed a complete renewal — a rededication.

On the 25th of Kislev, the Jewish people decided to rise up from the ruins and renew all that had been destroyed. They decided to recommit to their ideals and realign themselves with God. The literal meaning of the word Hanukkah is “dedication”; however, the Temple had already been dedicated. On this day, the word Hanukkah meant “rededication.” It signified a complete renewal..

Psalms-30

Psalm 30, which is read at Hanukkah, begins "A song for the dedication of the temple, of David." The word used in the verse for dedication is Hanukkah. However, David never dedicated a Temple, it was his son Solomon who built and dedicated the Temple. Jewish sages explain that it could be David meant this psalm for future Temple dedications. However, it could also be that David meant this psalm for himself!

David had just recovered from an acute illness when he wrote the psalm. The temple in this psalm is David's body, the home of his godly soul. In this psalm David rededicated his body. He rose from his devastating illness and recommitted to living a godly life. He renewed his dedication to serving God.

Solomon’s Temple

Solomon’s Temple — the First Temple — was majestic and magnificent, but it was destroyed when the people of Israel were taken captive by the Babylonians in 586 BC.

The books of Ezra, Haggai, Zechariah and Nehemiah recount the ...

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... building of the Second Temple, after the Jewish people returned from exile in Babylon. This Temple, built under Ezra’s leadership, was dedicated approximately 450 years before Messiah. But within a few centuries, this Temple was profaned and desecrated by God’s enemies.

First and Second Maccabees, Josephus in his Antiquities, and The Talmud2 tell the story of this holiday. Also, Daniel 8 and Daniel 11 record the prophet’s vision of the future, a vision that foretells the history surrounding the events leading up to Hanukkah.

Hanukkah

Hanukkah also known as Hag Haorim3 is celebrated for eight days beginning on the eve of Kislev 25, celebrating the triumph of light over darkness and purity over adulteration.

It celebrates two miracles ...

Great Victory

Back in the 4th century BC, Israel was ruled by the Seleucids, who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of God.​​​​​​​​

Supply of Oil

When they tried to light the Temple's Menorah, they found only a single vessel of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.

To commemorate these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Hanukkah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Hanukkah, when all eight lights are lit.

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. One candle is lit on the first night, two on the second night, until all eight candles are lit on the eighth night.

The Hanukkiah is a beautiful representation of Messiah. It was Yeshua, the obedient servant, who was lifted up (John 3:14) 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.

Candle Lighting

Dreidel

A game similar to the Dreidel game was popular during the rule of Antiochus. During this period Jews were not free to openly practice their religion, so when they gathered to study Torah they would bring a top with them. If soldiers appeared, they would quickly hide what they were studying and pretend to be playing a gambling game with the top.

Dreidel is a Yiddish word that comes from the German word Drehen, which means to turn. In Hebrew the Dreidel is called a Sevivon, which comes from the root Savov and also means to turn.

Each side of the Dreidel has a letter of the Hebrew alphabet: Nun(נ‬), Gimmel (ג‬), Hey (ה), Shin (ש) together forming the acronym — Nes (Miracle), Gadol (Great), Hayah (Happened), Sham (There) — A Great Miracle Happened There4.

After the State of Israel was founded in 1948 the Hebrew letters were changed for Dreidels used in Israel. Shin was replaced with Peh, so it reads Nes Gadol Hayah Po — A Great Miracle Happened Here.

The History of Hanukkah

Greek Empire
under Alexander the Great

Hasmonean Dynasty
under the Maccabees

Divided Greek Empire
under Lysimachus, Ptolemy and Seleucus