Hanukkah, also called the ‘Feast of Dedication’ or ‘Festival of Lights’ will be celebrated by Jews from the 6th to the 14th of December 2015 (25th of Kislev). But what is it, and why is it important to us today?
HANUKKAH, the only Jewish festival not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, is an eight-day festival that commemorates the cleansing and rededication of the temple following the victories of Judas Maccabeus in 167/165 B.C. over the atrocities committed to the Jewish temple and priesthood by ‘vile’ Syrian king Antiochus IV.
Daniel writes accurately (Dan 11:29-30) about Antiochus’ defeat in Egypt – “he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation”, and about the way Antiochus vented upon Judah because of his loss “they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice”, of which the book of Maccabees records that an altar was set up to Olympian Zeus (Jupiter), upon which pigs (unclean by the Jewish law) were sacrificed. This abomination, was only turned around by the hand of God’s plan for the nation through Judas Maccabeus.
While the Jewish book of Maccabees describe the events in Daniel from this period, we do not have to rely only on one historical source of information of the events prophesied by Daniel. Polybius – a historian – is another who describes Antiochus’ actions (31.9).
Judas Maccabeus is said to have ended up cleansing and restoring the temple, after the revolt against Antiochus had ended, he dedicated the new altar with sacrifices, song, and joyous worship for eight days.
The obvious lesson from the tradition is that it follows in a long line of Jewish oppression. Time and time again, a nation will have power over them. The Egyptians, Philistines, Assyrians, Medes/Persians, Greeks, Romans. Yet where are these great superpowers, along with Antiochus and his vile crimes? God says about Israel that “You are My witnesses” (Isaiah 53:10), and that “…he that touches you touches the pupil of His eye” (Zech 2:8). Such promises were made first to Abraham and his seed, that “..I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee..” (Gen 12:3).