Hanukkah in a Nutshell
Dec. 24-31, 2016
|Judas Maccabeus, the Temple Menorah, |
and Mattathias the High Priest
And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
Hanukkah is not one of the original seven holy days that God gave to Israel in Leviticus 23, but both Hanukkah and Purim were added later and are Biblical Jewish holidays. Jesus Himself celebrated Hanukkah as mentioned in John chapter 10:22. Here the term 'feast of dedication' is used. Hanukkah ( חֲנֻכָּה) is a Hebrew word which actually means 'dedication'.
Rededication of the Temple
Judah Maccabee (Hebrew: יהודה המכבי) was a priest ( - kohen) and a son of the High priest Mattathias. He led the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire (167-160 BCE). Hanukkah commemorates the restoration rededication of the temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE, after Judah Maccabee removed the Hellenistic statues that Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Greek ruler, had placed in the Temple. Antiochus had suspended all freedom of Religion. The prophet Daniel wrote about this time period in Daniel ch. 11 (remember Daniel wrote this several hundred years BEFORE it happened!) Antiochus is a type of the anti-Christ who will rule the earth during the Tribulation period who will persecute the Jewish people just as Antiochus did, but on a much WORSE scale! Just as Antiochus desecrated the Temple, Jesus Himself prophesied that the anti-Christ will desecrated the Temple during the Tribulation period (Matthew 24:15). This is how we know that a new Temple will be built - since it is standing during the Tribulation period.
God raised up the Maccabee's during what is sometimes called the intertestamental period - the approximate 400 + year period between the Old and New Testaments. Archaeologists call this time the Second Temple Period. Antiochus was a cruel tyrant who desecrated the Temple, destroyed the Torah scrolls and tried to destroy the Jewish people. As the song says, God sent the Maccabees as hero's to defeat Antiochus and once again, the Jewish people were preserved. It is often stated that if it was not for the miracle of Hanukkah, there would not have been a Christmas story 160 years later
The Miracle of the Oil
At the time of the cleansing and re-dedication of the Temple, the priests only found enough of the kosher oil for the Temple Menorah to burn for one day. According to Exodus 25:31, the Golden Menorah (translated as 'candlestick' in the KJV) was to never go out. The great miracle was that once the priests re-lit the Golden Menorah, it burned for eight days (with oil for only one day) until the priests could make more of the special kosher oil. Thus on Hanukkah, favorite foods include potato pancakes (latkes) fried in oil and doughnuts (which are fried in oil). Yum!