Why Everyone Should Know About Hanukkah
Hanukkah celebrates the re-dedication of the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem after the successful rebellion of the Maccabees against King Antiouchus Epiphanes, (175-164 B.C.)
The full story of Hanukkah is documented in 1st and 2nd Maccabees.
After the death of Alexander the Great, 323 B.C. the Greco-Syrian Seleucids emerged to gain most of his former territories, including Judea.
By 167 B.C. persecution and oppression was at its peak in Jerusalem. Mattathias, the Temple Kohen (Priest) and his five sons, Yohanan, Shimon, Judah, Eleazer and Yonatan began a revolt against King Antiochus IV.
When Anitiochus erected an idol in the Temple, he also ordered a Hellenized Jew and a Greek official to sacrifice a pig on the alter. Mattathias stabbed and killed both men, then yelled to the people:
“Follow me, all of you who are for God’s law (Torah) and stand by the Covenant.” (1-Maccabees 2:27)
Those who remained faithful to YHVH ran for the hills and began to form a guerrilla army. Mattathias’ eldest son Judah gained the nickname, “The Hammer,” “Maccabee,” an acronym for mi komocho ba’alim Hashem, “who is like you among the powers O God (YHVH).”
Known as the Hasmonean dynasty, the Macabees successfully prevailed against the Seleucid Empire. Re-gaining control of the Temple, it was cleansed and re-dedicated, (Hanukkah) on the 25th of Kislev, (the 9th lunar month).
Historical Accounts of Hanukkah
Many Christians don’t realize “Jesus Christ” was as Jewish as one can be. He was born from the tribe of Judah, as prophesied. His Hebrew followers called Him, “Yehoshua HaMashiach,” (YHVH Is Salvation the Anointed One).
The New Testament documents Yehoshua attended the celebration of Hanukkah, meaning the Dedication.
“At that time the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple courts in Solomon’s Colonnade.…” John 10:22, 23.
First century historian Josephus writes about Hanukkah in his book, Jewish Antiquities XII:
“Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days, and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon; but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honored God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights. I suppose the reason was because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival. Judas also rebuilt the walls round about the city, and reared towers of great height against the incursions of enemies, and set guards therein. He also fortified the city Bethsura that it might serve as a citadel against any distresses that might come from our enemies.”
“The king, (Aniochus IV) being thereto disposed beforehand, complied with them, and came upon the Jews with a great army, and took their city by force, and slew a great multitude of those that favored Ptolemy, and sent out his soldiers to plunder them without mercy. He also spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months.”
Megillat Antiochus, a second century Aramaic original, writes of Hanukkah:
“After this, the sons of Israel went up to the Temple and rebuilt its gates and purified the Temple from the dead bodies and from the defilement. And they sought after pure olive oil to light the lamps therewith, but could not find any, except one bowl that was sealed with the signet ring of the High Priest from the days of Samuel the prophet and they knew that it was pure. There was in it [enough oil] to light [the lamps therewith] for one day, but the God of heaven whose name dwells there put therein his blessing and they were able to light from it eight days. Therefore, the sons of Ḥashmonai made this covenant and took upon themselves a solemn vow, they and the sons of Israel, all of them, to publish amongst the sons of Israel, [to the end] that they might observe these eight days of joy and honour, as the days of the feasts written in [the book of] the Law; [even] to light in them so as to make known to those who come after them that their God wrought for them salvation from heaven. In them, it is not permitted to mourn, neither to decree a fast [on those days], and anyone who has a vow to perform, let him perform it.”
Menorah or Hanukiah
Pictured below are two Menorahs, also called Candelabras. The one on the right was made according to God’s instructions, Exodus 37:17.
On the left is a traditional Hanukiah. Two extra branches were added to the candlestick as a reminder that one days worth of oil miraculously burned for eight days during the re-dedication of the 2nd Temple.
Why Hanukkah Is More Than a Jewish Holiday
Yehoshua, (transliterated as Joshua from Hebrew and Jesus from Greek) was the promised Jewish Messiah from the lineage of Judah. The fulfillment of every ancient Hebrew figure of speech, like the “Lion from the tribe of Judah,” that pointed to the prophesied Messiah, (Anointed) whose reign would be everlasting, forever, eternal, spiritual, (le’Olam): Genesis 49:10; Ezekiel 37:25; Isaiah 11:1; Matthew 2:2; John 12:34; Hebrews 7:14; Acts 2:30; Acts 13:23; Acts 13:34; Revelation 5:5; Revelation 22:16
He also stood against every religious addition and subtraction that had been made to YHVH’s (He Is, Was and Will Be) Torah (The Way of Life).
“You must not add to or subtract from what I command you, so that you may keep the commandments of
the LORD, YHVH your God I am giving you.” Deuteronomy 4:2
The distinction between Jewish and Non-Jewish remains today because the majority of people either don’t understand or believe YHVH’s purpose in setting apart Judah’s lineage.
When our Creator gave birth to the nation of Israel He Set it Apart from the world to reveal the Spiritual Mystery of His Salvation for All mankind.
There is no division in YHVH’s Spirit, He Is One, (Echad #259), Deuteronomy 6:4. When we are born Spiritually we become One in His Spirit: John 17:22; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:15; Romans 10:12; Romans 3:29; Colossians 3:11; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Timothy 2:5…
Yehoshua, (YHVH Is Salvation) fulfilled the reason for setting apart Israel. He made the two, One, Spiritually, (le’olam #5769).
Judah’s eternal, (le’olam), prophecy, Joel 3:20 can be traced to Abraham’s (le’olam) “Seed” and the “Seed of the woman.” The same Seed/Offspring Adam and Eve had hope in, the Seed who would metaphorically stand with his foot on the head of the serpent/death, Genesis 3:15; Galatians 3:28; Romans 3:29; Romans 10:12; Colossians 3:11.
See “Who is Israel” to learn more about Physical and Spiritual Israel.
Our Spiritual Re-Dedication/Hanukkah
Some think there will be a 3rd physical Temple but whether or not, when we are born into Yehoshua’s renewed Spiritual Life we are called His Temple because He dwells in you.
“Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s Temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16
In my opinion the third “Temple” to be destroyed is the physical “Body.” The Spiritual Assembly of Israel,” are those who Prevail, (Israel). We will be cleansed and re-dedicated (Hanukkah) Spiritually, on the renewed earth (eretz).