Hanukkah: Feast of Dedication
BY RICHARD SISON | 2017
The name "Hanukkah" derives from the Hebrew verb "חנך", meaning “to dedicate".
Ḥanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.
The festival is observed by lighting the candles of a candelabrum with nine branches, called a Hanukkah menorah (or hanukkiah). One branch is typically placed above or below the others and its candle is used to light the other eight candles. This unique candle is called the shamash (Hebrew: שמש, "attendant"). Each night, one additional candle is lit by the shamash until all eight candles are lit together on the final night of the holiday.
Then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter, and Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area, in Shlomo’s Colonnade. So the Judeans surrounded him and said to him, “How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us publicly!” Yeshua answered them, “I have already told you, and you don’t trust me."
H: Historical Account. When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted and services stopped, Judaism was outlawed. In 167 BCE, Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. He banned brit milah (circumcision) and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the temple.
By 165 BCE the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. The Temple was liberated and rededicated. The festival of Hanukkah was instituted to celebrate this event.
A: Appointed Time. The Moedim or the Appointed Feasts of Elohim as stipulated in Leviticus 23 and in all the Torah have superior distinctions compared to pagan Feasts or christianized pagan practices for they represent a lot of spiritual truths manifested in physical realm, to wit:
N: New Beginning. "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. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights….”
U: Understanding the Time. The Antiochus event led to the celebration of Hanukkah thus the future event referred to by Yeshua would point out to a future victory of the Jewish people that would lead to the future celebration of the Hanukkah once again. After all, the Appointed Feasts and other important days in the Jewish calendar repeats itself in the history time and time again. The classic example out side the Moed (G-D’s Feasts) is the 9th of Av, which reflects the destruction of the first and the second Temple on the same day, one was in 586 BCE and the other one in 70 CE.
K: Kindling the Fire. Josephus called this festivities as the Feast of lights. Yeshua called His people as light of this world. Mat 5:14-16, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
K: Kick Start to Build the Temple. At the time of the writing, between late first century and early second century (bet 95-105 CE), the Temple was long gone. The three gospels were written while the Temple was still in place. When John wrote about the event of the Feast of Dedication in John 10:22-23, he is remembering the events surrounding the Maccabean rededication of the Temple and at the same time he narrated Yeshua’s deity in this account alluding to the hope that one day He will rebuild the Temple.
A: Advent of His Coming. The whole story of Hanukkah evolves on the fact that one day, the children of Israel will be freed from her enemies and the Temple system will once again be restored in the midst of G-D’s people and that the Temple mount will be rededicated and will be freed from its current abominable state. Only the Messiah can redeem it and can cleanse it. Every time we celebrate Hanukkah, we are hoping to see that the Temple will once again stand where it has been and this will happen at the advent of Yeshua’s coming.
H: Happy Ending. The story of Hanukkah is a happy ending. It is a happy ending story. The people of Israel may have suffered persecution from their enemies, barred from practicing the Torah and has been subjected to too much injustices and hardship but in the end they were able to succeed. Every time we celebrate Hanukkah, we share that hope with them, we share their persecution, their hardship, their hope but in the process, we also share their happy ending.
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