Thursday, December 22, 2011

HANUKKAH -- The Festival of Lights

by Molly Noble Bull

The Menorah, The Jewish candelabrum or lamp stand, ordinarily has only seven candlesticks—three on the right side, three on the left and one big one in the middle. But the Hanukkah lamp stand is different. It has four on the right side, four on the left and one big "Servant" candle in the middle. The servant candle is used to light all the other candles. 
Hanukkah is also known as the Feast of Dedication and the Festival of Lights to celebrate the eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt in the 2nd century. Christians believe the servant candle represents Jesus—the Light of the World. 
As the story goes, the Jews had only enough oil to light the Menorah for one day. Yet a miracle took place. The lamps remained lighted for eight days.
I read that the first Hanukkah took place after the Old Testament was written. Though the Jews celebrated Hanukkah, it is not mentioned in the Old Testament. However, Hanukkah appears to be mentioned in 2 Chronicles chapter 7 and verse 9. I report. You decide. 
[And on the eighth day they held a solemn assembly, for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days and the feast seven days.] 
So perhaps it was mentioned in the Old Testament after all. In any case, according to the New Testament Jesus celebrated Hanukkah. See the Gospel of John. 
[And it was at Jerusalem the Feast of Dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. 
Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not; the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. But ye believed not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish; neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my father are one.]
John 10: 22-30  
In 2011, Hanukkah began at sundown on December 20th, ending at sundown on December 28th. 


Teresa Slack said...

I always learn so much from your posts. Thanks, Molly, for posting and sharing more about the season.

Molly Noble Bull said...

Thanks, Teresa. I love to study the Bible and learn things about the history of the Bible.
I'm you enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

As someone who studies the Bible, I'm sure you're aware that 2nd Chronicles is in the Old Testament, which makes your statement that Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Old Testament, but is mentioned in 2nd Chronicles, confusing at best.

Molly Noble Bull said...

Thanks, Jolan B. You caught my mistake. I love it when people do that because it keeps me on my toes. Good job, Jolan.
I think I fixed the problem by being honest. I simply don't know whether the verse in the OT that Jolan mentioned in her message is talking about Hanukkah or not. But I do think the verses in the Gospel of John means that Jesus celebrated Hanukkah, and that is really the point of my article.

Jeff Reynolds/Becky Reynolds said...

A little clarification.

Your original concept is correct: Hanukkah is NOT in the Old Testament. The celebration you are referring to is the one time dedication of Solomon's temple.

Hanukkah commemorated an event probably towards the middle of the "silent period" between Malachi and the ministry of John the Baptist. During the Greek empire, an Antiochus Epiphanes tried to wipe out Judaism by forcing Jews to eat pork. The Maccabean revolt took place at that time, and the cleansing and dedication of the temple (which was actually Zerubbabel's temple -- see Ezra 3-6; Zechariah 4; and the book of Haggai for references to its building) occurred at this time. Hanukah celebrates that temple dedication, during the Maccabean era.

Hope that helps.


Molly Noble Bull said...

Dear Jeff,
Thanks for writing and explaining more about the history of Hanukkah. I love to learn new info, and you were great at explaining it. I can hardly wait to read your upcoming guest article and learning more about you and yours.