The Story of Hanukkah

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Did you know that the only place Hanukkah is mentioned in the Bible is in the New Testament? The Hebrew word Hanukkah actually means “dedication”— this is why the apostle John referred to it as the “Feast of Dedication” in John 10:22. This Holiday commemorates the Jewish people’s rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem to the LORD. In fact, Yeshua actually taught in the Temple during this Feast (John

The history of Hanukkah can be traced back to 168 BC, when the Greco-Assyrians, under the leadership of Antiochus IV, invaded and captured Jerusalem. They attempted to destroy the culture and religion of the Jewish people and desecrate the Temple of the LORD. During this time, a group of Greco-Assyrian soldiers marched into a Jewish settlement and demanded that the Priest there, Mattathias, sacrifice a pig to their pagan god, Zeus. Because Mattathias feared the LORD more than the enemy, he refused to sacrifice the pig. A fellow Jewish onlooker, afraid of the Greco-Assyrians’ wrath, volunteered to sacrifice the pig. In response to this, Mattathias drew his sword and killed him.

This act of conviction and courage by Mattathias was such an inspiration to the rest of the Jewish people that they in response, formed an army to rebel against the Greco-Assyrian oppression. Under the leadership of Mattathias’ son, Judah, they successfully stopped the Greco-Assyrians from overtaking their settlement and eventually drove them out of Jerusalem and the Temple. This victory climaxed with the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem and the inauguration of the Feast of Dedication/Hanukkah in 164 BC.

As one of the Priests prepared to light the Menorah (the lampstand inside of the Temple) during the Temple rededication ceremony, they realized that there was only enough Holy oil to burn for one day. However, according to tradition, the oil burned supernaturally for eight days! This is why Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and why the Hanukkah Menorah that Jewish people light each year has eight candles. (There is an additional ninth “Servant” candle on the Hanukkah Menorah that is used to light these eight candles.)

A Hanukkah Application— “Let Your Light Shine”
Just as the ninth candle on the Hanukkah Menorah is used to light the other eight, so too, Yeshua has “lit” us in order that we become “supernatural lights” to the world!

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven!” (Matthew 5:14-16)

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