Chanukah is a reminder of God as Or goyim, Light of the world. It is a reminder of the Light that shows us the Way we should go. God’s ultimate Plan of Salvation came into fruition during this Festival - the Light of the world was conceived, and Yeshua was on His Way to us!
Chanukah (Dedication): Officially, the Feast of Dedication is only recorded in the Bible briefly (John 10:22) where it is mentioned just once by name. The event that resulted in this celebration happened some time after the books of the Hebrew Scriptures were decided upon for the Bible, but before Yeshua (Jesus) was born, so it was a festival that Yeshua was taught to observe each year. It is included in the Hebrew histories (see Maccabees).
It was this time of year that Yeshua was conceived (Luke 1:31). Mary was visited by the Holy Spirit when her cousin Elizabeth was six months pregnant with Yochanan (Luke 1:26). (see How we know Yeshua's birth month below) Zechariah, Yochanan’s father, was of the division of Abijah (Luke 1:8), a priestly division appointed by King David (1Chronicles 24:1-10). Zechariah served twice a year in the Temple, and had the eighth lot, which served in June and December (Gregorian calendar time). Yochanan was conceived six months before Yeshua was, so it is by this that we know that Yochanan was conceived in June, and Yeshua was therefore conceived in December during Chanukah (Luke 1:36). Very appropriate timing on God’s part, since Chanukah is also known as the Festival of Lights, and Yeshua is the Light of the world.
The Story of Chanukah
Antiochus IV Epiphanes attacked the city of Jerusalem and defiled the temple. The king ordered the Hebrews to reject their God, their religion, their customs and their beliefs, and to worship the Greek gods. Antiochus is said to have killed many of the Hebrews as a terrifying warning to all who would not deny their God and worship him, Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
Antiochus placed a statue of the Greek god Zeus in the Temple, and sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Most Holy Place. When the Hebrew priests refused to eat the meat of the pig, it is said Antiochus had them killed. Eventually all Hebrew observances were outlawed. This event is what Daniel prophesied about, and is a rehearsal for the end of times (Daniel 9:23-25 & 11:21-24, 40-45).
Under the leadership of Mattathias Maccabeus, a Hebrew priest, along with his brothers, this band of Hebrews revolted against the cruelty of Antiochus. They refused to bow their knee to his pagan god. Mattithias’s son, Judas Maccabeus, continued the revolt after his father died.
By 165 BC the temple was freed, but before the temple could be used again for sacrifices and worship, it had to be cleansed of its defilement, and then rededicated. A part of the cleansing process was to relight the temple Menorah. According to Leviticus 24:2 it was to burn continually before God, and could only be lit from consecrated oil. But most of the oil had been defiled.
According to the Jewish sages, the Hebrew priests found only one small jug of oil, sufficient to light the Menorah for one day. It would take eight days to prepare a new supply of consecrated oil, but they lit the Menorah anyway. It is said that the oil that should only have lasted for only one day, kept the Menorah burning for eight full days.
This event was declared to be a miracle, and an eight day celebration was officially announced that this feast was to commemorate this oil miracle each year on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev (although it is called the Feast of Dedication, this festival is also known as the Festival of Lights - a celebration of the Light of the world).
Since this celebration is only briefly mentioned in the Bible, there isn’t anything that tells us precisely how to celebrate this festival. This celebration is not commanded by God, but Yeshua did celebrate it (John 10:22). Not only did He celebrate it each year, He was teaching in the Temple on Chanukah at least one year during His walk on this Earth (John 10:23).
According to the Jews, each evening (possibly just before dinner––you can choose what time to celebrate since this is not a mandatory Festival), beginning with the candle on the right of the nine candle Menorah on the first night, light the center candle and use it to light the first candle. On the second night, light the center candle and use it to light the first two candles, and so on, leaving the center candle lit as well as the others. Each night allow the candles to completely burn down (45 candles should be enough for all eight days of this celebration).
On the final day, when all the candles are to be lit, perhaps you can have a special meal and read something about the Temple of God being Dedicated. Although this is more of a celebration of the Lights - the Light of the World, Yeshua, the Dedication prayer Solomon said over the first Temple might be appropriate to read on this day (2Chronicles 6:1-40;; and also John 1:1-8).
You can say the prayers the Jews say, and play the dreidel games that the Jewish children play, but again, this festival is not a Commandment of God. We really have nothing in writing anywhere (except online or in George Robinson’s book Essential Judaism) as far as how to celebrate this eight-day celebration, so do whatever the Spirit leads you to do.
Chanukah was actually considered to be a minor holiday until about the early nineteenth century, but then it morphed into a counterpart to Christmas. In Israel Chanukah is becoming a symbol of Jewish military national rebirth. But as described previously, this holiday is because of the reclaiming the Temple back from Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 163BC.
There are Jewish prayers for this 8-day holiday, and there are eight consecutive days of Torah readings according to the Talmud, taken from the story of the dedication of the Tabernacle.
The Chanukah candles are lit immediately after dark, and the dreidel game is played, probably each night. The dreidel game is a gambling game, played for nuts, chocolate or pennies, so be sure to pray about playing this game.
A special food for this day is latkes, a fried potato pancake. Usually served with applesauce, they are eaten while still hot and in the skillet. While you can create your own traditions, this holy day is really about Yeshua. So whatever you create, make sure you include our Savior, Yeshua (Jesus), in everything you say and do during these eight days.
How we know Yeshua’s birth month
It was during the winter of the year that Yeshua was conceived (Luke 1:31), during Chanukah. Miryam was visited by the Spirit of God when her cousin Elizabeth was six months pregnant with Yochanan (Luke 1:36).
Zacharias, Yochanan’s father, was of the division of Abijah (Luke 1:5), a priestly division appointed by King David (1Chronicles 24:1-10). Zacharias served twice a year in the Temple, and had the eighth lot, which served in Sivan and Kislev (June and December).
This division of Abijah served about half a month, and being the eighth lot, was during the second half of the fourth month of the Hebrew calendar, Sivan. So Yochanan was conceived right after Zacharias served (Luke 1:23-24).
Yochanan was conceived six months before Yeshua was, and since we know that Yochanan was conceived in Sivan, then Yeshua was therefore conceived in Chisleb, during Chanukah (Luke 1:36). Miryam went to visit her cousin Elizabeth and stayed for three months because it was winter, and travel would have been difficult during those three months (Luke 1:56). Very appropriate timing on God’s part, since Chanukah is also known as the Festival of Lights, and Yeshua is the Light of the world.
(See complete Detail below Chart)
(December 2nd - 10th, 2018)
Kisleb 24 through Tevet 5989