Tagged with " Festival of Dedication"
Dec 27, 2011 - Days of Worship    3 Comments

Did Yeshua (Jesus) observe Hanukkah (John 10:22-23)?

Kennard, a servant of Elohim and Yeshua Messiah . . .

First of all-What is Hanukkah?

“Chanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, in which Jews since 164 B.C.E. have celebrated the victory of the Makkabim over Antiochus IV, king of Syria. This is the earliest mention of the holiday in all literature and the only mention of it in the Bible, since the Tanakh was completed before that date (the book of Daniel contains prophecy about the event celebrated). The apocryphal books, 1, 2, 3, and 4 Maccabees, present historical and other perspectives on what happened.

“Antiochus, recently defeated in Egypt, expressed his frustration by attacking Judea, ruthlessly slaughtering men, women and children, and invading the Temple. There he carried off the golden altar, menorahs and vessels; and to show his contempt for the God of Israel he sacrificed there a pig to Zeus. He forbade circumcision, observing Shabbat and keeping kosher, and commanded that only pigs be sacrificed in the Temple; he himself cooked a pig in the Temple and poured its broth on the holy Torah scrolls and on the altar.

“Syrian officers were dispatched to enforce these cruel and blasphemous decrees. One day when the Syrian officer in Modi‛in commanded Mattityahu HaMakkabi (Mattathias the Maccabee or Hammer), head of a family of cohanim, to sacrifice a pig, he and his five sons killed the first Jew to comply (see Ac 6:1N) and then killed the officer and his soldiers. This was the start of a rebellion. After Mattityahu’s death his son Y’hudah (Judas Maccabeus, about whom Handel wrote his oratorio so named) assembled a number of courageous Jews and led them to victory over the Syrians, first in guerilla warfare, then later in open battle. On the 25th of Kislev they rededicated the Temple and consecrated a new altar. The ner tamid (“eternal light”) was relit, but there was only enough consecrated olive oil to keep it burning for one day, and it would take a week to prepare more. By a miracle of God reported in the book of 2 Maccabees the light burned for eight days, by which time a new supply had been prepared. For this reason Jews celebrate Chanukkah for eight days, starting on Kislev 25, which can fall between November 27 and December 27.”

Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary : A companion volume to the Jewish New Testament (electronic ed.) (Jn 10:22). Clarksville: Jewish New Testament Publications.

Yeshua did observe Chanukkah:

“It was winter, and the time came for the Festival of Dedication (Chanukkah – emphasis mine) at Jerusalem.  Jesus was in the Temple area at Solomon’s Porch.”  (John 10:22-23 ESV)

The following is a description of how Jews celebrated Hanukkah in the 1st century:

“It was not of Biblical origin, but had been instituted by Judas Maccabæus in 164 B.C., when the Temple, which had been desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes, was once more purified, and re-dedicated to the Service of Jehovah.c Accordingly, it was designated as ‘the Dedication of the Altar.’  Josephuse calls it ‘The Lights,’ from one of the principal observances at the Feast, though he speaks in hesitating language of the origin of the festival as connected with this observance—probably because, while he knew, he was ashamed to avow, and yet afraid to deny his belief in the Jewish legend connected with it. The Jews called it Chanukkah, ‘dedication’ or ‘consecration,’ and, in much the same sense, Enkainia in the Greek of the LXX., and in the New Testament.

During the eight days of the Feast the series of Psalms known as the Hallel was chanted in the Temple, the people responding as at the Feast of Tabernacles.  Other rites resembled those of the latter Feast. Thus, originally, the people appeared with palm-branches. This, however, does not seem to have been afterwards observed, while another rite, not mentioned in the Book of Maccabees—that of illuminating the Temple and private houses—became characteristic of the Feast.

“Thus, the two festivals, which indeed are put in juxtaposition in 2 Macc. 10:6, seem to have been both externally and internally connected. The Feast of the ‘Dedication,’ or of ‘Lights,’ derived from that of Tabernacles its duration of eight days, the chanting of the Hallel, and the practice of carrying palm-branches. On the other hand, the rite of the Temple-illumination may have passed from the Feast of the ‘Dedication’ into the observances of that of ‘Tabernacles.’

“Tradition had it, that, when the Temple-Services were restored by Judas Maccabæus, the oil was found to have been desecrated. Only one flagon was discovered of that which was pure, sealed with the very signet of the High-Priest. The supply proved just sufficient to feed for one day the Sacred Candlestick, but by a miracle the flagon was continually replenished during eight days, till a fresh supply could be brought from Thekoah. In memory of this, it was ordered the following year, that the Temple be illuminated for eight days on the anniversary of its ‘Dedication.’

“The Schools of Hillel and Shammai differed in regard to this, as on most other observances. The former would have begun the first night with the smallest number of lights, and increased it every night till on the eighth it was eight times as large as on the first. The School of Shammai, on the other hand, would have begun with the largest number, and diminished, till on the last night it amounted to an eighth of the first. Each party had its own—not very satisfactory—reasons for its distinctive practice, and its own adherents.

“But the ‘Lights’ in honour of the Feast were lit not only in the Temple, but in every home. One would have sufficed for the whole household on the first evening, but pious householders lit a light for every inmate of the home, so that, if ten burned on the first, there would be eighty on the last night of the Festival. According to the Talmud, the light might be placed at the entrance to the house or room, or, according to circumstances, in the window, or even on the table.

“According to modern practice the light is placed at the left on entering a room (the Mezuzah is on the right). Certain benedictions are spoken on lighting these lights, all work is stayed, and the festive time spent in merriment. The first night is specially kept in memory of Judith, who is supposed then to have slain Holofernes, and cheese is freely partaken of as the food of which, according to legend, she gave him so largely, to incite him to thirst and drunkenness. Lastly, during this Festival, all fasting and public mourning were prohibited, though some minor acts of private mourning were allowed.

“More interesting, perhaps, than this description of the outward observances is the meaning of this Festival and its connection with the Feast of Tabernacles, to both of which reference has already been made. Like the Feast of Tabernacles, it commemorated a Divine Victory, which again gave to Israel their good land, after they had once more undergone sorrows like those of the wilderness; it was another harvest-feast, and pointed forward to yet another ingathering.”

Edersheim, A. (1896). Vol. 2: The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (226–228). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Obviously, Yeshua participated in the festivities.  The festivities  were similar to the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot).  The Temple is a very significant part of the celebration of Hanukkah and Yeshua was in the temple (John 10:22-23).

May the  Eternal Elohim bless you, and keep you.