Are you ready to discover Hanukkah through Jewish eyes? It is a very festive 8-day Festival of Lights, filled with joy and celebration. But exactly what are our Jewish friends celebrating? Perhaps this will help!
Throughout history Satan has tried to destroy God’s plan by destroying God’s people. First, he deceived Eve, resulting in enmity with the one God said would crush his head. Later, horrible Haman concocted a plan to eliminate the Jewish people, but God used Esther to reveal the plan that reversed the fate of Haman. (For the intriguing account, read the book of Esther!) Later, Jews were taken into captivity in attempts to separate them from their land, yet they returned. Hitler and others made attempts in more modern history to eliminate the Jewish people, but they persevered and survived.
Well, another such attempt was made about 165 years before Christ, when Syrian King Antiochus Epiphanes tried to squash Judaism by desecrating the Temple, erecting idols and forcing Jews to worship them. When a priest named Mattathias was commanded by Syrian soldiers to sacrifice a pig on the pagan altar, he refused and fled with his 5 sons to the Judean Wilderness. These were the Maccabees who were joined by other Jews in plans to revolt.
Eventually, they did revolt, making their way back to Jerusalem where they dismantled the pagan altars and reclaimed the Temple. When it came time to light the menorah and re-dedicate the Temple, they found only one days worth of oil. How would they accomplish the 8-day celebration? It would take at least that long to get purified olive oil from the Galilee region to keep the menorah lit.
You may be familiar with the miracle of God multiplying 2 fish and 5 loaves on the shores of the Sea of Galilee to feed thousands of people in Jesus’ time. But that wasn’t the first time God multiplied provision! He did so with that single days worth of oil, making it last 8 days!
So, even to this day, the Jews celebrate the same Festival of Dedication those in Jesus’ day celebrated (John 10:22). It is called Hanukkah (Festival of Lights) and always begins on the 25th day of Kislev and lasts for 8 days. The Hebrew calendar is a lunar one, so does not align consistently with our Gregorian calendar. Thus, Hanukkah typically begins in early- to mid-December. This year, it begins at sundown on December 22.
Why not share this simplified account of Hanukkah with your family:
Stay tuned for more insight about Hanukkah, as we honor our Jewish friends by understanding their celebratory feast!