Ever wonder what Hanukkah is all about?
Here’s a breakdown of how and why Jews celebrate Hanukkah.
First of all let say that no one can agree on the spelling of Hanukkah. In Hebrew the first letter has a “ch” sound so some spell it Chanukah. There are also other spellings. Don’t let that tip you over. The important thing to know is why Hanukkah exists.
It is actually a celebration that is based on a story that happened in 165 BC in Israel. 200 years before Christ was born the Greeks were the occupiers of Israel under the evil ruler Antiochus IV. He was so bad that that he had banned the reading of Scripture and even forced the Jews to eat pig’s flesh that had been sacrificed in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem!
Of course the Jews eventually rebelled and overthrew the Greeks. When they rededicated the Temple to God they needed to relight the Menorah. The light was supposed to burn perpetually and the oil used was not just any ordinary oil. It was a special kind of oil and they only had enough to last for one day. Not enough time to get more oil. Miraculously the oil lasted for eight days. Long enough to replenish the oil.
It is also important to note that Jesus Himself celebrated Hanakkuh. John 10:22 tells us that Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah means Dedication). It comes from the rededication of the Temple after overthrowing the oppression of the Greeks.
So, why do Jews eat donuts and other oily foods during Hanukkah? Because it reminds them of the oil that lasted 8 days at the time of the lighting of the Menorah. Why does the Menorah have 9 branches instead of 7? It’s to commemorate the 8 day miracle. The 9th branch is the “servant” branch from which the other branches are lit.
Hanukkah is a time to show Jewish people love. When you see a Jewish person don’t be afraid to wish them a Happy Hanukkah! You might also want to get yourself a Menorah and light it during the Hanukkah season which is the evening of December 7th to the 15th this year.
Hope this sheds some “light” on Hanukkah for you.
Now go light a candle and find someone to wish a Happy Hanukkah!
Pastor Craig