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We are in the days of Hannukah.....here is some information about Hanukkah from the Jewish Prayer team newsletter.

Quote:The only mention of Hanukkah in the Bible is found not in the Old Testament but in the New Testament, John 10:22-23 to be exact. The reason the Feast of Dedication is not mentioned in the Old Testament is because the events that created the Feast of Dedication took place during the time between the writing of the Old Testament and the writing of the New Testament.

John 10:22-23 says, “Now it was the Feast of Dedication [Hanukkah] in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.” From this we know that the festival of Hanukkah was already being observed during the time that Jesus was walking here on earth and that He celebrated it.

Many centuries ago the Holy Land was ruled by Syrian-Greeks called Seleucids who wanted to force the people of Israel to become Hellenized, or Greek-thinking and acting. A small group of brave and determined Jews called the “Maccabees” went to war with the Greeks over this, battling one of the mightiest armies on earth at that time – and defeated them. They drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (which had been desecrated by the Seleucids) and rededicated it to the service of God.

Before the Holy Temple could be used once again for worship to the one True God – for the enemy had defiled the Temple by offering up unholy sacrifices to false gods – it had to be thoroughly cleansed.

Once the cleansing was complete, the Jews decided to light the seven-branched Menorah, which was to burn continually before the Lord and was never to go out. But in order to do this, they needed oil that was prepared under conditions of ritual purity.

Imagine their dismay when they discovered they only found a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks. But they were determined to reestablish the Temple for God, and so they lit the Menorah using that single cruse of oil. And now imagine their joy and awe as they watched as an eight-day miracle unfolded before their very eyes as the oil that should have lasted for only one day lasted for an entire eight days – the exact time needed for ritually pure oil to be prepared!

The Feast of Dedication – Hanukkah – celebrates two miracles: First, the victory of a small greatly outnumbered army of Jews (the Maccabees) over the strong and forceful Greek army. The Jews had taken their stand for their faith, their God, and their way of life – and won.

The second miracle was that of the Menorah and the light that burned for eight days (which should have lasted for only one day), allowing a ritually pure oil to be created by those assigned to do so. Having the Menorah lit continuously in the Temple was extremely important to worship in the Temple.

During this Festival people often reflect on the brave stand that the Maccabees took for their faith in God and also for their way of life and often rededicate their lives to live for God.

The Menorah that is used today during Hanukkah is not the seven-branched Menorah that is used in the Temple for worship, but rather a specially created nine-branched Menorah which holds nine candles. The middle candle is known as the shamash (attendant candle or servant). It is lit first and is used to light the other candles for each of the eight nights.

On the first night, the shamash is lit along with one other candle that is placed in the far right branch of the Menorah. On the second night, starting from the far right, two candles are lit from the shamash and continue until all nine candles are lit on the final night.

Jewish families recite beautiful prayers during the lighting ceremony, offering praise and thanksgiving to God for “delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few...the wicked into the hands of the righteous.”

This is a joyous time of celebration for family and friends, and there are many festive gatherings during this time of remembering miracles.

Foods that are cooked in oil and are eaten with great abandon to diets and cholesterol, and children and adults alike play many games, including the favorite, dreidel.

Dreidel is a four-sided top that has different letters painted on each of its side. With one letter on each side, they make up the acronym for the phrase, “A great miracle happened there.”

Why is this game so linked with Hanukkah? During the rule of the Greek-Syrians, studying the Torah was outlawed and if anyone was caught, the “crime” was punishable by death. So, when the children were studying the Torah and they saw a Greek patrol come by, they would quickly hide the Torah and take out a dreidel and began playing. So it is a reminder of the brave children who had the courage to study the Torah even during such dangerous times.

In playing the game, each player is given pieces of candy and each child places one candy in the middle of the group. Then each takes a turn at spinning the dreidel. When it comes to a stop, one of the letters is on the top, and the player would have to do whatever the letter instructed. (Nun = nothing happens; Gimel = player takes all candy in the “pot”; Hey – player takes ½ the pot; and Shin = player must put one piece of candy in the “pot.”) The player with the most candy wins!

Hanukkah is a family holiday filled with joy and also filled with symbolism, reminding all of the miracles that God brings to our lives.

For Christians the question is How does Jesus fit into the Festival? John 1:1-11 refers to Jesus as the “Light of the World.” Acts 4:27 refers to Jesus as God’s Holy Servant. Hanukkah is also referred to as the Festival of Lights, and as the candles are lit first by the shamash (which means servant), Jesus is seen as the Servant and Light that will light the whole of mankind.

<FONT font="Times">Jerusalem Prayer Team

P.O. Box 210489 Bedford, TX 76095

FAX: 817-285-09621-800-825-3872

<URL url="http://jerusalemprayerteam.org">http://jerusalemprayerteam.org

Dr. Tim LaHaye, Mrs. Anne Graham Lotz, Mr. Pat Boone, Mr. Bill McCartney, Ms. Kay Arthur, Rev. Tommy Tenney, Dr. A.R. Bernard, and Dr. Jay Sekulow are just a few of the more than 300 Christian Leaders who are part of the Jerusalem Prayer Team. The Jerusalem Prayer Team is a non-profit organization with 501c3 tax exempt status. The Jerusalem Prayer Team is a prayer movement of people around the world. It is a non-denominational organization. It receives no support from the Nation of Israel. Donations are tax deductible. The mission of the Jerusalem Prayer Team: To guard, defend and protect the Jewish people and Eretz Yisrael until Israel is secure, and until the Redeemer comes to Zion.

<COLOR color="green">Unsubstantiated Theorem: They really didn't need a miracle to keep the lamps burning for 8 days...they could have just squeezed out a latke.</COLOR> :lol:

One of the very special aspects of this particular "minor" feast is that it is probably the most public of all the celebrations in the Jewish year! Passover is to be celebrated in a family setting, primarily. That has changed a bit to try and make it more of a teaching opportunity, but the design was at the family level. Tabernacles was also primarily a family oriented feast, but it also comes with the encouragement to go up to Jerusalem to celebrate it in larger family groups. Atonement is celebrated as a congregational event. Most of these things are pretty much cloaked, but the instruction for Hannukkah seems to have been that the Hannukkah menorah or hannukiah was to be lit and placed in the doorway or window so that the light could be seen as a public testimony to the miracles that HaShem had wrought.

There are some that refute the notion that December 25 was chosen in the 4th Century because it was a pagan festival. There are at least a few sources who think it was done to coincide with the Feast of Lights. As Helena shared above, Jesus came into the world to be our Light. Because He told us pretty plainly that we should let our light shine and not hide it in under a basket, there seems to be a parallel with the Hannukkah admonitions to make visible the Light, the Miracle in our midst. :hannukiah: