The story of Hanukkah begins in the reign of Alexander the Great. Alexander conquered Syria, Egypt, and Judah in 332 B.C.E. Alexander the Great allowed the lands under his control to continue observing their own religions and retain a certain degree of autonomy. Under this relatively benevolent rule, many Jews assimilated to much of Hellenistic culture, adopting the language, the customs and the dress of the Greeks, in much the same way that Jews in America today blend into the secular American society.
More than a century later, a successor of Alexander, Antiochus IV was in control of the region. He began to oppress our Jewish people severely, placing a Hellenistic priest in the Temple, massacring Jews, prohibiting the biblical practices, and desecrated the Temple by requiring the sacrifice of pigs (a non-kosher animal) on the altar. A group led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee led a revolt against both the assimilation of the Hellenistic Jews and oppression by the Seleucid Greek government. The revolution succeeded and the Temple was rededicated on the 25th day of Kislev.
Antiochus tried to eliminate the Kingdom of God, not so much by killing the Jewish people as by forbidding the Worship of the God of Israel. Studying and reading Torah was forbidden, along with circumcision, honoring the Sabbath, etc. In 167 BC a priest by the name of Mattityahu Hasmonea started guerrilla warfare along with his sons and a few followers. What they did in the hill country of Judea and Samaria was so amazing that books on their exploits are still studied by modern guerrilla fighters. Early in the war Judas Hasmonea took over after his father’s death and he is the one who came up with the legendary tactics. His motto was “Mi Camokha Ba Elim Adona’y,” from Exodus 15:11. The translation is: “Who is Like You, Oh Lord, Among the Mighty.” The initials of those words spell Maccabee, which is the name that was later applied to Judas and his followers. Although spelled differently in Hebrew, the Hebrew word for hammer sounds like Maccabee. Therefore, he was called “The Hammer,” which in Hebrew is Maccabeus, so the books of Maccabees in the Apocrypha were written about their successful wars. In 164 BC they retook the Temple on Kislev 25, two years to the day after it was taken by the Syrian Greeks. They needed to repair and dedicate the temple right away. Dedication is an eight-day process that requires the use of sanctified oil for the lamp stand in the Holy Place, the first room of the sanctuary.
They could only find a one-day supply of oil, but rather than wait eight days to sanctify more, they began the temple sanctification process with the one-day supply. Adonai, through a creative miracle made that one-day’s supply last the full eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. An eight-day celebration was declared to commemorate this miracle. The Apocrypha records their struggle:
II Maccabees 10:1-8. Now Maccabeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the city; 2 and they tore down the altars which had been built in the public square by the foreigners, and also destroyed the sacred precincts. 3 They purified the sanctuary, and made another altar of sacrifice; then, striking fire out of flint, they offered sacrifices, after a lapse of two years, and they burned incense and lighted lamps and set out the bread of the Presence. 4 And when they had done this, they fell prostrate and besought the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes, but that, if they should ever sin, they might be disciplined by him with forbearance and not be handed over to blasphemous and barbarous nations. 5 It happened that on the same day on which the sanctuary had been profaned by the foreigners, the purification of the sanctuary took place, that is, on the twenty-fifth day of the same month, which was Chislev. 6 And they celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the feast of booths, remembering how not long before, during the feast of booths, they had been wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals. 7 Therefore bearing ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches and also fronds of palm, they offered hymns of thanksgiving to him who had given success to the purifying of his own holy place. 8 They decreed by public ordinance and vote that the whole nation of the Jews should observe these days every year.
The olive oil that is used for the menorah in the temple (A seven-branch menorah, a Hanukkiah menorah has nine branches which is only used for Hanukkah) was an extra virgin oil that is the first fruits offering of the oil press. This oil was not pressed by a pressing stone, rather, as the olives are placed into the press their weight upon themselves causes a very light, clean, and pure oil to be released from the olives which is collected and sent to the temple to be burned in the menorah. Cloudy olive oil or olive oil with debris in it will smoke and sputter in the menorah and was not allowed, so the purest, cleanest, first fruits pressing only olive oil was used for the menorah in the temple. The stone vases that were used to hold this special pressing were marked by a priestly seal on the lid of the jar denoting its purity and dedicated use in the temple menorah only!
Dedicate is a devotion to a cause, ideal, or purpose, zealous. To be given over to a particular purpose. God commands dedication unto Him, He searches for it among those that serve Him! This was celebrated then with great joy, thankfulness, and with decorations! This is our model in the days, months, and seasons to come. When we dedicate ourselves, volunteer for God’s duty (this is the story of Hanukkah), when we are zealous and dedicated unto Adonai signs and wonders will follow! The same spirit of apostasy that was working in the time of the Maccabee’s was also working in Yeshua’s day. Zealousness, dedication, and obedience to the Word is the only foundation that will sustain us!
Deuteronomy 12:11. then you will bring all that I am ordering you to the place ADONAI your God chooses to have his name live -your burnt offerings, sacrifices, tenths, the offering from your hand, and all your best possessions that you dedicate to ADONAI;
Judges 5:2. “When leaders in Isra’el dedicate themselves, and the people volunteer, you should all bless ADONAI.
We begin to understand the complexity of the moral issue they faced, a question arises: Who or what was the real enemy? The Syrians Greeks who were attempting to Hellenize Israel through assimilation or the Israeli Aristocracy who were openly embracing the new and wildly popular Greek philosophy and cultural fad! This parallels Americas flirtation with Socialism and Communism. The Syrian Greeks then are now the Chinese and Russians, and America’s Aristocracy are embracing them seeking a new world order!
I Maccabees 1:11-15. In those days certain renegades came out from Israel and misled many, saying, “Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles around us, for since we separated from them many disasters have come upon us.” 12 This proposal pleased them, 13 and some of the people eagerly went to the king, who authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. 14 So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, 15 and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.
Assimilation through Hellenization would result in a complete annihilation and replacement of the biblical culture and philosophy of Israel with Greek culture and philosophy. This would have eliminated Israel, the Jewish People, and the prophetic soon coming and birth of Messiah!! What is Assimilation? Assimilation is a verb, an action which means to become like another people, another nation, or another people group through culture, language, viewpoint, and character attributes.
Assimilation to a religion or expression of worship contrary to Adonai, His word, His Kingdom, His Son is apostasy, it’s sin! It’s contrary to Adonai’s word, commands, and mitzvahs! This is especially true for Israel! Throughout our history we have continually strayed from Adonai, worshipped and served other gods which resulted in death, destruction, and exile to foreign lands. Its critical to be dedicated, sanctified for Adonai, Hanukkah! Hanukkah isn’t just about Sufganyut (jellied fill Donuts) and Latkes, it’s a time of ‘dedication.
The Maccabees dedicated themselves to Adonai long before they rededicated the temple! We must do the same! Hanukkah reveals a mystery, the miraculous power of trust in Adonai in the face of hopelessness, a spark of light in the depths of darkness, the limitless, divine, dunamis power of Adonai against a worldly superpower! Hanukkah is the story of restoration and dedication! To accomplish this, we like the Maccabee’s must first seek a personal, spiritual restoration through the word and the Blood of Messiah! Yeshua Himself, the Light of the world observed Hanukkah in the temple.
John 10:22-23. Then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter, 23 and Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area, in Shlomo’s Colonnade.
The menorah, kept in the temple, represents the “light unto the world”. The temple, which was located on a hill had inverse windows which allowed the light of the Menorah to be radiated to the world. This light represents the knowledge of the kingdom of God. The light which separated the upper and lower heavens! Yeshua said He was the light of the world (John 8:12, 9:5). The supernatural light of Adonai will be restored in the Messianic Age when we will no longer need the sun or the moon (Rev. 21:23). Yeshua told us that we are a light for the world.
Matthew 5:14-16. “You are light for the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Likewise, when people light a lamp, they don’t cover it with a bowl but put it on a lampstand, so that it shines for everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they may see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.
Be creative this Hanukkah, let your light shine before people so that they may see the good things you do and praise Adonai!! Rebbetzin and I always decorate for Hanukkah! We place blue and white lights in and around our home. We have a 3ft tall lit menorah and lighted Star of David that we hang on the front of our home that can be clearly seen from quit a distance. Why? Because we are up front in defining our Jewish identity in Yeshua, we’re letting our light shine. Everyone on our block knows that we’re Messianic Jews! Rededicate yourselves and rejoice in this season of miracles, be a light for the world! Chag Hanukkah Sameach, have a Happy and Blessed Hanukkah!
HANUKKAH MENORAH LIGHTING 2022
The Hanukkah celebration is a time for family and prayer. Hanukkah is a time to focus on the light of the world, Yeshua. The Hanukkah (9 branch) menorah should be placed in a window or outside to publicize this great miracle. The candles are placed in the menorah from left to right and the candles are kindled from right to left. The center candle is called the shammash (caretaker/helper). The shamash is removed, lit, and used to kindle the other candles then returned to its holder. The first night of Hanukkah you will have two candles in your menorah, the Shamash and one candle for the first night of Hanukkah. The second night you will have three candles, the Shamash and two candles on the far right of the menorah representing two nights of Hanukkah and so on through the eight days! On the last night of Hanukkah you will have all nine candles in the menorah. You will need a total of 44 candles for the entire Hanukkah celebration. The candles should be lit after sundown and the whole family should be gathered (it’s acceptable to wait past sundown so that the entire family can gather around the menorah). The candles should remain lit for at least 30 minutes. The following blessings are recited when kindling the candles:
Lighting the Candles
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר חֲנֻכָּה
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, Asher Kid’shanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu,
Le hadlik Ner Hanukkah.Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has set us apart by Your commandments and has enjoined upon us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִּים לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בִּזְּמַן הַזֶּה
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, Sh’asa Nissim La’avoteinu Bayamim Hahim B’zman Hazeh.
Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.
ברוח אתא יהוה אלוהנו מלך העולם אשר נתן לנו את דרך הישוע במשיח ישוע
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha olam, asher natan lanu et Derek ha Yeshua, b’Mashiach, Yeshua.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has given us the way of salvation in Messiah Yeshua.
ברוך אתה יהוה אלוהינו מלך העולמ שהחינו וקימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה.
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloiheinu Melech ha olam sh’hekiyanu v’kiyimanu
v’higiyanu l’azman hazeh.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.
After the blessings, kindle the candle or candles. The following scriptures may be read, followed by family fellowship. This is a quiet time, a time focused on our heavenly Father. Shut off the television, turn off the radio, and enter into the presence of the Most High God!
Night one, Sunday, Dec 18th, 2022 @ sunset:
Night two, Monday, Dec 19th, 2022 @ sunset:
Night three, Tuesday, Dec 20th, 2022 @ sunset:
Night four, Wednesday, Dec 21st, 2022 @ sunset:
Night five, Thursday, Dec 22nd, 2022 @ sunset:
Night six, Friday, Dec 23rd, 2022 @ sunset:
Night seven, Saturday, Dec 24th, 2022 @ sunset:
Night eight, Sunday, Dec 25th, 2022 @ sunset:
Isaiah 60:19, Psalm 27:1.
Psalm 119:105, 119:130, Proverbs 6:23.
Matthew 5:16, Luke 11:30.
Luke 11:34, Acts 26:18.
John 1:4-5, John 8:12, John 12:35-36.
Ephesians 5:8-11, I Peter 2:9, Ephesians 5:11-15, I John 1:5-9.