The modern state of Israel was founded in 1948. The menorah was adopted as their National emblem. This bronze menorah, resides in front of the Knesset building in Jerusalem, and stands over sixteen feet tall. The menorah’s  sculptor was  Benno Elkan, and it was a gift to the people of Israel from Great Britain.


The Jewish celebration of Chanukkah is known by many different names including: the Feast of Rededication, Second Tabernacles and the Festival of Lights. Ok that’s great, but what is it and when and where did it begin? Another pressing question being, “should we who are new covenant believers celebrate Chanukkah”? In order to answer these questions we’ll have to take a look at a little bit of prophecy and history. We’ll look into the old covenant book of Daniel, non-canonical books of the Maccabee’s and the Gospels of Matthew and John. Two other secular books provided some of the background. These being: Through Jewish Eyes by Craig Hartman and The Outpouring by Elwood Mc Quaid.



PROPHECY (Dan. 8:14 and 11: 1-4)

The book of Daniel is an extremely fascinating book of prophecy. Chapter two of this book reveals how four different kingdoms would rule over the land of Israel. The first kingdom was Babylon, the second, Medo-Persia, the third, Greece, the fourth, Rome. We know from history that this Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled.

Daniel 8:21-22 discusses Israel’s rule under the kingdom of Greece. We know from history that Alexander the Great ruled most of Asia Minor which included Israel from 356-323 B.C.. Alexander died at an early age and his kingdom was divided between three of his generals (sons). Toward the end of Greek domination a forth king named Antiochus IV, also known as Antiochus Epiphanes came into power (171 to 165 BC). Thus the fourth king mentioned in Daniel 8:22.  Daniel 8:23b-25 prophesied that he would do terrible things to the Jewish people. He would attempt a holocaust, outlaw Judaism, forbid temple worship and desecrate the temple. Daniel also prophesied that after 2,300 days the temple would be vindicated and restored.


Israel’s Rule by Greece

As prophesied, Antiochus Epiphanes did very evil things to the Jewish people, and tried to annihilate them. He is also a picture of the antichrist of who is prophesied as yet to come. Antiochus ruled between 171 and 165 BC. He had the temple desecrated by sacrificing a pig on the altar of the Jewish temple. This act was done to commemorate Antiochus’ birthday on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev (December). 

  •  Just a side note: — The word epiphany means a flash of insight or enlightenment. The shortest day of the year is the twentieth of December. From that day on the days get longer. The ancient ones knew that the days were getting longer toward the end of December, but weren’t sure of the exact day. They knew that by the twenty fifth the days were definitely getting longer and there was additional light each day.  There were many ancient celebrations which commemorated “the lengthening” on or about the twenty fifth of our December. This may be why Antiochus wanted to be known as Epiphanes, a flash of insight or light. Isn’t it interesting, to say the least, that we celebrate Christmas on December 25th, even though many scholars maintain Yeshua (Jesus) was born sometime in the spring of the year. Could it be there is a connection with the celebration of the Jewish Chanukkah and Christmas? Did the early Christians want to celebrate the Light coming into the world, with the Hebrew celebration of the festival of lights? Who knows, it really doesn’t matter!

Antiochus went about Israel requiring the Jewish people to renounce their religion and that he be worshiped. He would also require synagogue leaders throughout Israel to sacrifice a pig and have all their followers eat the flesh.

Seventeen miles Northwest of Jerusalem was the village of Modiin. A retired temple priest lived there. He refused to kill a pig and have the people eat its flesh. A compromising citizen rushed forward to slay the pig. Mattathias, the retired priest, killed that man. The sons of Mattathias then killed all of Antiochus’ henchmen. The revolt known as the Maccabee revolt began. The Maccabee revolt was under the leadership of Judas Maccabee (the hammer). This revolt was successful in over-throwing Greek power. The temple in Jerusalem was repaired and rededicated. The period of time between the time the temple was desecrated and its rededication by the Maccabees was 2300 days, as prophecied in the book of Daniel. The Israelites initiated an annual feast celebrating the temple rededication. Legend has it that the Maccabees had only enough sanctified oil to keep the lamp which was located in the room in front of Holy of Holies, burning for one day. However, the lamp burned for eight days. Thus, it was decided to celebrate the Rededication Feast for eight days. The lamp stand used in the Temple is called a Menorah. The Menorah holds nine candles or bowls of oil. The candle or oil bowl in the center is the called the shammash. (meaning a servant.) A new candle is lighted each successive night for eight nights. All the candles are lighted from the shammash. The eighth night when all the candles are all lighted is called the “Great Day of the Feast”.  (Remember the Jewish day begins at sun down, not midnight.)

Why was lighting the Menorah so important to the Maccabees and the Jewish people? The specifications for the Tent of Meeting, the Menorah, and the Sacred Oil all were given to the Children of Israel upon their being set free from the Egyptians and receiving the Torah. The Tent of Meeting was where God ministered to His people. Keeping the Menorah lighted was a perpetual statue throughout their generations, and symbolized the presence of God. Thus, it was an important step in rededicating the temple.

Israel’s Rule by Rome

Rome instituted a new form of governing. They were a centralized form with a Caesar and senate in Rome and kings, governors or magistrates in their occupied territories and possessions.

 Israel was ruled in the first century A.D. by Rome’s appointed king and the local figure-head, king Herod Antipas the tetrarch of Galilee. Rome was polytheistic, but knew that Israel had religious laws. They therefore also exercised control in the religious area by placing a High Priest of their choosing in office.

The Jewish temple in Jerusalem during the first century was one of the wonders of the world. Much of the interior was inlaid with gold, and the temple treasury was substantial because of the temple tax levied on the people. The temple tax was over and above the tax levied by Rome. Because of the wealth and the need to maintain order, Rome stationed troops in the temple compound. Rome, however, did not interfere with any of the Jewish customs, laws or worship. The ruling body or council of religious matters was the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was composed of seventy men, from two religious groups. One group contented themselves with following only what was written in the Law of Moses. This group was called The Righteous, and became known as the Sadducees. The other group added the constitutions and traditions of the elders to the Law and other religious observances, like the Feast of Rededication. Both of these groups had their origins around the time of the Maccabee revolt.

Israel’s Rule by King Herod Antipas.

Herod Antipas ruled Israel from about 4(?) B.C. to year 44 A. D. Herod was a vile, treacherous and adulterous murderer. (These were his good qualities.) During Herod’s reign our Messiah, Yeshua (Christ Jesus) was born.

 When Magi from the East came to pay homage to Yeshua the “New Born King”, they ask where this king would be found. Herod asked his scribes and the chief priest where He could be found. They replied that this king was to be born in Bethlehem of Judah, as proclaimed by the prophets. Herod asked the Magi to let him know where He was located when they found Him. This was done so that Herod would have the child killed. He wanted no competition to his claim as king. The Magi did not return to give Herod that information. However, Herod found out and decreed that all the male children up to two years were to be slaughtered. Yeshua’s parents had fled to Egypt before the massacre occurred, and the coming king was safe. Yeshua’s parents moved back to Israel after Herod’s death.

 Yeshua began his public ministry after being immersed in the Jordan River by ‘John the Immerser’. As He came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God descended upon hHm, and God proclaimed Him as My Beloved Son.  Matt.3:16-17 (God’s Promised Messiah.) Thus, His public ministry began. The Sanhedrin and temple leader denied hHe was the promised Messiah and set out to find a way to put him to death because they claimed He was blasphemous making Himself out to be God. They would not believe He was the Messiah. Yeshua was in the temple and proclaimed one His many great “I Am”. One of these proclamations was, “I Am the light of the world” (John 8:1. Why was this proclamation “I Am” considered to be blasphemy? Well, let us take a minute and look back into some more of Israel’s history, and at a little bit of the Greek language.

  •  First, we have to go back to the time God talked to Moses out of the burning bush. Moses wanted to know Gods name. God told him to tell the children of Israel that He is “I Am who I Am”. This expression in the Hebrew Language is like a verb of being, meaning I exist. That’s all they needed to know, for the time being. The One who exists would be with them and deliver them out of the hands of Egypt.
  •  The expression translated into English from the Greek is just “I am”. However, the Greek is really two words I and I am. (pronounced eago eeme) This is really saying I Am the I Am. Yeshua’s statement means that He and God are a unity.

Yeshua’s accusers wouldn’t believe Him saying his testimony wasn’t true because He was testifying about Himself. He continued ministering to the common people and proclaiming himself to be their Messiah.

Yeshuas Celebrates Chanukkah. (John 10: 22-40)

 Scriptures tells us that it was winter and Yeshua went up to the temple to celebrate Chanukkah. He probably went up on the “Last Great Day of the Feast”. This is the night when all eight bowls of oil were lighted. Giant menorahs were erected in the temple compound. The light of these menorahs could be seen for miles. The Jewish leaders met Him there and demanded that he tell them plainly if He was the Messiah. Yeshua responded, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness to me.” He told them “I  give eternal life to them (His followers), and they will never perish, and no one can snatch them out of My hand. I and My Father are a unity”. That made it very plain to the Jewish leaders what He was asserting. So, they plotted to have Him put to death. Yeshua then demonstrated that He and God are unity. Soon after Chanukkah, He convincingly displayed He is God by performing miracles which only God can do. Things like raising someone back to life after having been dead for four days, and open the eyes of a man having been born blind. Yeshua did both of these (John 11: 1-37).


Wow! That took a long time to answer the questions of what is Chanukkah and where did it begin? The answer to the question of should we as believers in Messiah celebrate Chanukkah will require a little more discussion, so stick with me.

 Remember, the Jewish celebration has to do with rededication and restoring the light in the temple. Scriptures (1 Cor.3:16 and 1Cor.6:19) tell us, that our bodies are a Temple of God and the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit). We know that once obtained, we cannot lose our salvation. We can’t be snatched out of his hand! However, while here on earth we will continually sin (continually fall short of what He requires.), and must confess this to God the Father to be cleansed. Our whole body doesn’t need cleaning, we just need to remove the dust off our feet as we walk along the path He put us on. Yeshua washed His shlichim (disciples) feet during His last celebration of the Jewish feast of Passover. Simon Peter didn’t want his feet washed, but Yeshua said “He who has bathed has no need to wash, except the feet; he is completely clean”. We’ll talk more about this in a future write-up as we get closer to the spring feast of Passover.

Since our bodies are temples and we get dirty (sin) as we travel through life, and need frequent cleaning, Chanukkah is a good time to rededicate our life to him so the “light of the world” can shine brightly through us. We of course need to be washed and cleansed on a daily and hourly basis. However, it is nice to set some time aside right before we celebrate Yeshuas’ birth, to commit and rededicate ourselves to Him. You see it doesn’t have to be either Chunakkah or Christmas, it’s good to remember and celebrate both. 

For example of what can be done. Each of the eight days on which a Menorah candle is lighted, say a simple prayer of thanksgiving, and meditate on what He has done and is doing in your life. During Chanukkah focus on the following fIVE undeniable things in preparation for celebrating His birth at Christmas:

  1.     He is the “Light of the World, in Him there is no darkness at all.
  2.    He promises believers in Him eternal life and that, “nothing can snatch us out of His or the Fathers hand.”
  3.     He and the Father and the Holy Spirit are one, a unity.   
  4.     He is the only one to forgives sin and trespasses.
  5.     God is Love


God Bless and Happy Chanukkah.