Hanukkah starts tomorrow. So before the big day arrives, we need to review the story that makes the next eight days so special. For you see, the Hebrew word Hanukkah means “dedication”. Jews celebrate Hanukkah to commemorate or “dedicate” this season to remember the Miracle of the Oil.
Our story begins over 2000 years ago, in 165 BC. The Syrian ruler that presided over Judea, Antiochus, insisted that all the Jews worship Greek gods only and not the one true G_d of Torah. In the narrative of 1 Maccabees after Antiochus issued his decrees forbidding Jewish religious practice, Judas Maccabee led an army of Jewish dissidents to victory over Antiochus over three grueling years. The Maccabees went on to destroyed pagan altars in the villages, reinstated Jewish laws and cleansed the temple for worship and proper Jewish animal sacrifices.
As part of the celebrations within the temple, the priests relit the oil lamp that was to be kept burning continually. Problem was, they could only find enough oil to keep it lit for one night.
But here is the part of the story where a miracle occurred. The lamp burned continually for eight days which was the time needed to make new oil specially prepared for temple service. This was the Miracle of the Oil. One days worth of oil kept the lamp burning for eight days.
After this miracle occurred, it was soon declared that every year, Jews would remember the day with an eight-day Festival of Lights. They would celebrate the miracle of the oil by placing eight candles in a Menorah and lighting one candle for each evening of the celebration. The Hanukkah lights are meant to remind those walking by the home about the holiday’s miracle, so the Menorah is displayed at a prominent window or near the front door.
This is the story of Hanukkah. For the past several years, during this season of Advent, our family has used this wonderful story of light to celebrate the “Eight Lights” of the Bible.
This Bible study curriculum is entirely of my own making. I have simply tried to used it as a creative and respectful way to teach my children about the five covenants of the Bible and prepare our family for Advent.
Please join our family for the next eight days as we celebrate Hanukkah within the Advent Season. It will be a time of fun, candles, learning, food, games and great memories.
From our home to yours, Happy Hanukkah. Shalom.
photo by D. Mike Collins