of Light, the festival of Hanukah is held in December. On each day of
the festival a new candle is lit on the menorah, a nine branched
candlestick. Candles are place into the menorah from right to
left, with the center "Shamash" (servant) candle and the right
most candle being used the first night. The candles are lit left to
right, so the Shamash candle is lit first, then all other candles.
It is tradition to light the candles before the festive meal each night.
or Chanukah means
“dedication”, referring to the rededication of the Temple
after a great Jewish military victory in 165 BCE
This feast did not originate with Moses, nor is it even
mandated in the Bible. It
is found in the books of First and Second Macabees in the
Apocrypha, the books written in the 400 year “silence” between
the Tenach (Old Testament) and B’rit Hadashah (New Testament).
God was not silent in these years however.
He was still at work fulfilling His promises and preserving
His people. Furthermore,
there are good Biblical reasons to celebrate this feast.
The first is that Yeshua observed this holiday:
“Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem.
It was winter and Yeshua was in the Temple area walking in
Secondly, the events
at Hanukkah were prophesied centuries before by Daniel:
11:3-4 “Then a
mighty king will appear, who will rule with great power and do as
he pleases. After he
has appeared, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward
the four winds of heaven. It
will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he
exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to
“mighty king” was Alexander the Great.
Then Daniel goes on to describe another person who would
“...a despicable person....and his heart will be set
against the Holy Covenant...”
“His forces will desecrate the sanctuary and do away with
the regular sacrifice, and they will set up the abomination of
This prophecy accurately describes Antioch IV who reigned
175 - 164 BCE.
His reign was one of many throughout history that tried to
wipe out the Jewish people.
The survival, however, of the Jewish people is a firm
testimony of God’s faithfulness...
peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Yeshua, the Messiah of all mankind, would come through the
wanted everyone to be united under Greek Hellenism, thus he was
not at all tolerant of the Jews.
“Then the king shall do according to his own will.
He shall exalt and magnify himself above all gods and speak
blasphemies against the God of Gods.”
king called himself
Epiphanies” which means “visible god”.
He made people bow down to his statues and if they didn’t
comply.....the consequence was death! Social
and political pressures caused some Jews to follow Antiochus and
they actually bowed down to his statues (doesn’t sound Jewish to
smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly
toward the Covenant, but the people who know their God will
display strength and take action.”
Jews took the easy way out and tried to “go Greek”.
Others understood that assimilation and elimination of
Jewish worship, sacrifices and traditions would be the destruction
of Judaism itself...making God a liar! The Jewish people faced
heavily armed soldiers were sent out to force people to worship
the king and make sacrifices (pigs) on the holy altar.
This was the “abomination” that Daniel spoke of.
The penalty for resistance was death.
Antiochus’ actions foreshadowed Hitler’s axiom toward the
“You can’t live among us as Jews.”
“You can’t live among us.”
“You can’t live.”
167 BCE soldiers came to Modin outside Jerusalem to force Greek
worship on an influential Jewish family led by Matathias and his 5
sons. Matathias would
not forsake his faith. He
tore down the Greek altar and drove off the soldiers with the
battle cry, “Whoever is for the Lord, follow me!”
This was the beginning of the Jewish rebellion.
The Jewish people knew they were up against great odds, but
their banner was “Who among the mighty is like Thee, o God?”
(“Mee Kamocha B’aleem Adonoi!”)
The name for the Jewish heroes of Hanukkah comes from using
the first letters of these Hebrew words to form “Macabee”.
Matathias’ oldest son was nicknamed
“Judah Macabee”....the hammer....because he fought so hard.
The battle was difficult for untrained Jewish farmers against the
well equipped Syrian soldiers.
“...the people who know their God shall be strong and
carry out great exploits.”
real miracle of Hanukkah is that a few, with God on their side,
triumphed over a multitude of powerful enemies.
“God’s people + God = VICTORY!
“...not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says
the Lord of hosts.”
(Haftorah reading for Hanukkah Shabbat)
the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev, the date we celebrate
Hanukkah, the Macabees won back Jerusalem and the Temple that had
been desecrated by Antiochus.
This date was also prophesied by
“How long will it be until the daily sacrifice is
How long until the desecration of the Temple is avenged and
God’s people triumph?’
“For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the Holy Place
will be properly restored.”
This is a great confirmation that God’s word is true:
Historically accurate from the start of Antiochus’
persecution of the Jews in 171 BCE until the restoration of the
Temple in 165 BCE......
years, 3 1/2 months = 2,300 days!!
How did the tradition
of the 8 days and lighting 8 candles begin?
When the victorious Macabees began cleaning up the Temple,
they found only one small jar of oil for “ner tamid”...only
enough for one day. They
sent a messenger for more. Meanwhile, the small amount of oil
burned miraculously for 8 days.
Another explanation for the 8 day observance is that some
Rabbis believe it was a delayed celebration of the fall feast of
Sukkot, which also lasts for 8 days.
the time of Yeshua (in John 10:22), people’s minds were
focused on themes of deliverance and rededication, oil and light.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow
and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never
perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.”
Yeshua was promising His people deliverance from sin and
death...not just for a season, but for eternity!
in John 8:12, Yeshua proclaims “I am the light of the
world...he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the
light of life.” The
people listening to Yeshua understood what He was saying...they
knew what God had promised through the prophet:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great
those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon
them a light has shined.”
“The Lord is my light and my salvation.”
(“Yeshua” in Hebrew means salvation.)
Hanukkah is referred to as the “Festival of Lights”
(Hag Haorim) and it was during this season that Yeshua
described Himself as the” light of the world”.
future Hanukkah is described in 2 Thessalonians 2: 3-8
where Paul writes about the second coming of the Lord:
Many will turn away from God (as some Jews did who followed
The “son of perdition exalts himself above God” (as
Antiochus Epiphanies did).
But the Lord will destroy him with the “brightness of His
this victory we can all think of when we gaze at the lights of our
The Lord will usher in His millennial kingdom with the
overthrow of the “lawless one” in a miraculous way.
(A miracle to think about when we retell the Hanukkah
shamash or “servant” is the candle used to light the other
candles of the Hanukkah menorah.
Yeshua is our shamash...
“...the Son of man did not come to be served, but to
serve and give His life as a ransom for many...”
Display your menorah in the window to show God’s miracle
to the world.
So eat some latkes and donuts already!
Oil (the symbol of the Ruach) is associated with the
Hanukkah miracle. Fry
the latkes in oil and don’t think about the calories....think
about the miracle!
The draydel: The
four Hebrew letters mean “a great miracle happened there”. (nes
Children play a game with the draydel and each letter has
an assigned value: nes
(nothing), gadol (all),
(half), and sham (put in).