What is Hanukkah all about?


By Toni Ford

Over the past eight days, many people across the world, including myself, have taken the time to celebrate Hanukkah.Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, is a holiday on the Jewish calendar and often referred to as “The Feast of Dedication.”

Many traditions have been built around Hanukkah over the years, one of those being the legend known as The Miracle of the Oil, which states that at the time of the rededication of the temple, there was only enough pure holy oil to burn the light of the menorah for one day. However, that single day supply lasted for eight days, which was the time required for new oil to be pressed. This is how the Hanukkiah, a nine branched menorah, was developed.

During this holiday, many Jews will place their Hanukkiah in a window of their home where others can see the light from the candles being lit each night, to serve as a reminder of the miracle that took place at this time. In other words, remembering the light in dark times.   

Although The Miracle of the Oil is a beautiful tradition, the true miracle of Hanukkah is how God led the Jewish people in defeating the Syrian Greeks in 168 to 165 B.C. and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 164 B.C.

The history of this holiday is well documented in the books of 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees and the historical writings of Josephus among other historical documents that explain the political and religious battle of the times. Thus, the miracle of Hanukkah is the deliverance and saving of the Jewish people by God, and the focus becomes the temple and not the oil.

Surprisingly to both Jews and Christians, the clearest mention of Hanukkah in the Bible is in the New Testament. John 10:22-23 says, “Then came Hanukkah in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area in Solomon Colonnade.” Not only did Yeshua/Jesus celebrate Hanukkah; He observed it in the same temple that had been cleansed and rededicated just a few generations earlier under the Maccabees.

Hanukkah is a celebration of deliverance, a time to express hope. Unfortunately, joy has been hard to come by in Jewish communities this year due to the war that began on October 7.

This year, Hanukkah required the Jews and their communities to figure out how to balance sadness and celebration.  Just as the Syrian Greeks desired to destroy the Jewish people, so today Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and most of the Arab countries desire the same thing – to destroy the Jews. Yet the people of Israel understand that in this difficult time, Hanukkah is a reminder that just as God performed a miracle in 164 B.C. by restoring the temple in Jerusalem, He can do the same thing today in delivering the Jewish people from Hamas and Hezbollah.

God’s miracles are light over darkness, and if there is ever a time when God’s light is needed for Israel and His people, it is now! This is why we continue to press in and pray, crying out to God for His light.

Exodus 13:21-22 reveals that God is the source of Israel’s light: “And the Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before people.”

John 1:4-5 reminds us that Jesus is the greatest light of all: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

In John 8:12, Jesus declares, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.”

Matthew 5:14-16 tells us we are to be a source of light for the world: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden…let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Yeshua taught us that He is the light of the world and reminded us before His ascension that He would send the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to teach us. We would then become the light of the world in representing Him and the kingdom. Through this season, may we be reminded that one of the greatest ways to carry His light into this world is in our continued prayers for Israel and His people.

If you would like me to join you in prayer, please e-mail me at tonif77@gmail.com. I would love to pray for you!

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