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Published byErik Carter Modified over 7 years ago
Hanukkah is a special holiday that Jewish people celebrate every year in honor of a miraculous story from long ago.
Hanukkah is not considered a holy day because it is not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. But it is mentioned in the New Testament, in John 10:22: “Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem.” Hanukkah means to dedicate. Jesus Sitting in the Temple (James Tissot, c. 1895) This means Jesus celebrated Hanukkah!
The Story More than 2,100 years ago, an evil king named Antiochus tried to stop the Jewish people from worshiping Yah-weh, the one true God. Hej! Jag är Sponsianus, Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.
The Story Some Jewish people did what Antiochus wanted and began to worship a false god named Zeus. But other Jews were faithful to Yah-weh and decided to fight against Antiochus and his army. Scott D. Welch, Creative Commons
The Story A man named Mattathias led the Jews who fought against the evil king. When he died, his son Judah Maccabee became the leader, along with his four brothers.
The Story The Jews fought to regain control of their homeland. And after fighting for three years, they won! Painting by Wojciech Stattler (1800-1875) of the Maccabees fighting against Antiochus’ armies
The Story On the 25 th day of Kislev (a month in the Hebrew calendar), Judah Maccabee led his small army into Jerusalem.
The Story They went straight to the Temple to worship Yah-weh, but they were horrified by what they found. Antiochus had made a mess of God's Temple. He had taken away the sacred vessels and replaced them with idols for false gods. Nevit Dilmen, Creative Commons
The Story Model of the Holy of Holies Antiochus had even sacrificed unclean animals in the Holy of Holies, where God's presence dwelt. Judah Maccabee and his followers knew they had to make things right again as quickly as possible.
The Story Everyone worked to clean all of the filth out of God's Temple and restore what was missing. They got rid of the false idols and unclean things, and they brought back the symbols and vessels that reminded everyone of Yah-weh.
The Story But there was a big problem: they only had one flask of oil to use for the eternal flame. This was a light that burned constantly in the Temple as a reminder of God's presence, and one flask would only keep the flame burning for one day. Hanukkah lamp unearthed near Jerusalem in the 1900s.
The Story Judah Maccabee lit the lamp and sent for more oil, but it took eight days for new oil to arrive. Miraculously, the eternal flame never went out! The lamp continued to burn through the entire ceremony of the rededication of God's Temple.
The Story So Hanukkah is a story of two miracles: 1. Judah Maccabee and his followers were able to defeat the armies of the evil king Antiochus, even though those armies were much larger and more powerful. 2. The eternal flame burned for eight days, showing that Yah-weh was with His people as they cleansed and rededicated the Temple.
The Celebration Today, Hanukkah begins on the 25 th day of Kislev, which usually falls in December on our calendar. Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days as a reminder of the rededication of God's Temple.
The Celebration One important symbol of Hanukkah is the menorah, which is a lamp or candlestick with eight lights. Jewish people light a new candle each day as a way of remembering the miracle of the oil in the eternal flame.
The Celebration Jewish families place the menorah by a window to remind the world of the miracles that happened in Israel. They say, “A miracle happened there.” This is also why Hanukkah is called the “Festival of Lights.”
The Celebration Hanukkah is a favorite holiday for Jewish children. They receive a gift each day along with a small amount of money called the Hanukkah gelt. Children also enjoy playing with a four-sided top called the dreidel.
The Celebration Families share special holiday treats during the eight days of Hanukkah, including potato pancakes (latkes) and doughnuts (soofganiot).
What Hanukkah Teaches Us Hanukkah teaches us that God must be our first priority. When the world around us pushes us to worship and lift up things that are false, we need to resist and keep our focus on Yah-weh.
What Hanukkah Teaches Us Hanukkah also reminds us to be thankful that America and many other parts of the world provide freedom for people to worship God as they choose — and it reminds us to pray for parts of the world where people are still persecuted for their faith.
What Hanukkah Teaches Us Judah Maccabee demonstrated great faith in God when he fought against the larger armies of Antiochus and when he lit the eternal flame with only one flask of oil. Hanukkah reminds us that we can trust in God, just like he did.
International Fellowship of Christians and Jews 30 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 2600 Chicago, IL 60602-3356 www.ifcj.org
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