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Friday, December 11, 2009

Hanukkah Begins at Sundown

The Feast of Dedication
Hanukkah in Hebrew
Begins at sundown

Hanukkah commemorates two events. First, the battle in which the Maccabees were victorious over Antiochus Epiphanes. And second the miracle of the holy oil, enough to light a candle for one day, lasting eight.

This story can be found in the first and second book of Maccabees in the Catholic Bible or in the Protestant Apocrypha, which narrate the struggle led by Judas Maccabeus and his brothers against the Seleucid kings.

For forty years the Maccabees struggled against the invasion of paganism and Hellenization into Jewish Palestine. In BC 167 Antiochus IV Epiphanes of Syria brought the cult of Zeus into the sacred area of the Jewish Temple resulting in its desecration with pagan statues and those refusing to eat pork were tortured. A revolt was ignited. Due to the heroic resistance of Mattathias Maccabeus, and continued by his sons Judas, Jonathan and Simon a Jewish victory resulted in the recapture of Jerusalem and the Temple. At the rededication of the Temple in BC 164 it was necessary to relight the menorah. Only one jar of holy oil remained, enough to light the menorah for one day. Miraculously, though, the flame remained for eight days.
The Feast of Dedication, Hanukkah or the Feast of Lights celebrates the rededication of the Temple and is observed for eight days commemorating the eight days of the miracle of the oil. So in Jewish homes all around the world for the next eight days a special Hanukkah candelabra or menorah will be lit in remembrance of this miracle. Though I am a Gentile, this miracle and feast is not lost on me, nor should it be on other Christians. Hanukkah commemorates an event that should be remembered by anyone who honors God and believes in religious freedom.

Schnorr & Gustave

Bible 1 & 2 Maccabees
Hahn, Catholic Bible Dictionary
Ambrosio Hanukkah Why it is not just for Jews
Schoen, What I Wish my Christian Friends Knew about Judaism

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