And the story is often told of the miracle of the oil burning for eight days during the festival. But why did they celebrate Hanukah for eight days? Almost everything in Jewish tradition has a meaning and the eight days is no exception. The Maccabees were zealous for the law (1 Macc. 2:26) (see a similar Jewish response in Acts 21:20) and were willing to give their very lives to uphold the ways of G-d. However, because of the war with Antiochus Epiphanes, the Jewish people were not able to properly celebrate the Biblical festivals. 2 Maccabees 10:1-8 describes the rededication of the Temple after the Maccabean victory:
Now Maccabeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the city; they tore down the altars that had been built in the public square by the foreigners, and also destroyed the sacred precincts. They purified the sanctuary, and made another altar of sacrifice; then, striking fire out of flint, they offered sacrifices, after a lapse of two years, and they offered incense and lighted lamps and set out the bread of the Presence… It happened that on the same day on which the sanctuary had been profaned by the foreigners, the purification of the sanctuary took place, that is, on the twenty-fifth day of the same month, which was Chislev. They celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the festival of booths [Sukkot], remembering how not long before, during the festival of booths [Sukkot], they had been wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals.
Hanukah is a celebration of the rededication of the Temple and a commemoration of Sukkot! Sukkot is supposed to be the most joyous Biblical festival (Deut. 16:14) but they were in the mountains and caves living like animals so they were not able to properly celebrate. Sukkot is also the prophetic observance of the coming marriage supper of the Lamb and the full manifestation of Yeshua’s Kingdom of Light on the earth.
|Hanukkiot in our neighborhood|
It is no surprise then that Hanukah is also known as the Festival of Lights because of its connection to Sukkot. During Sukkot they would put up four 55 cubit high (75-88ft tall) menorahs (m. Sukkah 5:1-4, b. Sukkah 52b) in the women’s court of the Temple complex. These menorahs would dramatically light up the entire area as a part of the celebration -- which would have been quite extraordinary since they didn't have electricity back then! It was in this context that Yeshua declared, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (Jn 8:12).
So lighting the menorah during Hanukah is a prophetic declaration of Yeshua as the Light of the world and that His Kingdom is coming to the earth.
|The large hanukkiah located on the roundabout on our street|
Chag Hanukah Sameach