To mark this miracle, and eight day festival was inaugurated. Hanukkah is not one of the major holidays on the Jewish calendar, but it is one equally enjoyed. It is a time of celebrating traditionally called the Feast of Dedication, as it was during the eight days of oil in the temple that it was purified and rededicated. It is also known as the Festival of Lights, but by no means the Jewish equivalent to Christmas.
Learning all of this, I went and gathered my hanukia, a 9-branch menorah. I bought some tea lights. I shopped online and ordered a dreidel, a special toy for the holiday. I surfed the web for latke recipes. Just as I was getting prepared to be festive, something dawned on me.
Was Hanukkah actually celebrated by Christ?
Was this one of the special 7 festivals God mandated for Israel to celebrate?
I began to get a bit downcast which furthered when I thought deep down that maybe there wasn’t really an oil shortage in the temple. Not that God couldn’t do this miracle, but I was beginning to doubt that this miracle happened.
I did some surfing online and discovered that my fears were true. The story of Chanukkah has a dark side. Seems the Jews were torn. There were the militant Maccabees and the sect the Pharisee’s grew out of, the Hasidim. It seems this sect did not approve of the militant powers the freedom fighters used, and the brutality they carried out even after they won their temple back.
Trying to clear the reputation of the Jews and steer attention away from the military victory, many scholars believe the
Hasidim devised the story of the oil and the miracle of God so the central focus of Chanukah would be about the oil and candles. So it remains to this day.
The Maccabees didn’t even declare this feast to be celebrated in the temple, just to commemorate the time they took victory over the Greeks, regained their temple, purified it and rededicated it to God.
During the Festival of Lights the main focus is on the candles. They are lit in a very specific manner. That is, that are placed from right to left and lit from left to right. Each night the shamash, or candle to light all the others, is lit. Then one candle is placed in accordance to which night it is during the Hanukkah. Blessing and prayers are recited.
The Wall Street Journal reports, “It is a holiday mashup that has happened only once before—in 1888—according to those who track the Jewish calendar. And it is one that isn’t set to happen again for potentially another 70,000-plus years.”
Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 nights. I am beginning to like that number, because it is the number that represents Yeshua. Most powerful, however, is the symbolism to the flame on the candle in the temple. It represented the ever-present, Almighty God. The Hanukkah candle flames do also.
For me, this year is the first time I will officially be celebrating and I was originally hoping for something grand. It will fall short of that for me, as this celebration was not mandated by God. In fact, this was one of the darkest times in Jewish history. It was a time of famine from hearing from YHWH. The generations that followed this victory altered the Torah, added things not directed by God and ultimately became like the people they strove to defeat.
Jesus addressed them harshly.
Watch this space…
By Jori Sams