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The Scriptural Foundations of Chanukah

For so many, Chanukah is a problem.  The eight day festival which begins on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month on the biblical calendar is practiced by those in Judaism, yet it does not have its establishment on this date in the Tanakh.  The feast is described in 2 Makkabiym, which is considered an Apocryphal book, so the Christian church distances itself from the reading.  However, the feast is referenced as being practiced by HAMASHIACH in Yahuchanan 10:22 (the Greek word there expressly references the rededication of the temple by the Makkabiym using the Greek word εγκαινια - Eggkainea).

We begin our discussion of this important feast with the prayer uttered by the Makkabiym at the time of the rededication.  This prayer can be found in your edition of the Eth Cepher, but will not be found in almost all other English Bibles being published today, as the result of a publisher’s decision to limit the books in the Bible to sixty-six for economic reasons, not for spiritual reasons.  (The King James Bible had 81 books; the Catholic Bible has 79 books.  Your Bible has 66.)

2 Makkabiym (Maccabees) 1

YAHUAH be gracious to you, and remember his covenant that he made with Avraham, Yitschaq, and Ya`aqov, his faithful servants; 3 And give you all the heart to serve him, and to do his will, with a good courage and a willing mind; 4 And open your hearts in his Torah and commandments, and send you peace, 5 And hear your prayers, and be at one with you, and never forsake you in time of trouble.

24 O YAHUAH, YAHUAH ELOHIYM, Creator of all things, who is fearful and strong, and righteous, and merciful, and the only and gracious King, 25 The only giver of all things, the only just, almighty, and everlasting, you that deliver Yisra’el from all trouble, and did choose the fathers, and sanctify them: 26 Receive the sacrifice for your whole people Yisra’el, and preserve your own portion, and sanctify it. 27 Gather those together that are scattered from us, deliver them that serve among the heathen, look upon them that are despised and abhorred, and let the heathen know that you are our ELOHIYM. 28 Punish them that oppress us, and with pride do us wrong. 29 Plant your people again in your holy place, as Mosheh has spoken.

The term Chanukah is a term derived from the name Enoch – in fact, you could think of the feast as the feast of Enoch, in one sense.  Enoch’s name is the Hebrew is Chanoch חֲנוֹךְ, which is how it is set forth in the Eth Cepher.  Chanoch means “he who is dedicated”, as the word for dedicate in Hebrew is Chanak חָנַךְ.  The word for dedication in Hebrew, is therefore Chanukah חֲנֻכָּה.  Let’s take a look at how this word appears in the Tanakh portion of the sacred Scriptures.  In Bemidbar 7, we see Moshe being instructed as to how to dedicate the altar.

Bemidbar (Numbers) 7:84-89; 8:1-4

This was the dedication (Chanukah) of the altar, in the day when it was anointed, by the princes of Yisra’el: twelve chargers of silver, twelve silver bowls, twelve spoons of gold: 85 Each charger of silver weighing an hundred and thirty sheqels, each bowl seventy: all the silver vessels weighed two thousand and four hundred sheqels, after the sheqel of the sanctuary: 86 The golden spoons were twelve, full of incense, weighing ten sheqels apiece, after the sheqel of the sanctuary: all the gold of the spoons was an hundred and twenty sheqels. 87 All the oxen for the burnt offering were twelve bullocks, the rams twelve, the lambs of the first year twelve, with their meat offering: and the kids of the goats for sin offering twelve. 88 And all the oxen for the sacrifice of the peace offerings were twenty and four bullocks, the rams sixty, the he goats sixty, the lambs of the first year sixty. This was the dedication (Chanukah) of the altar, after that it was anointed. 89 And when Mosheh was gone into the Tabernacle of the assembly to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the Ark of Testimony, from between the two Keruviym: and he spoke unto him.

ANd YAHUAH spoke unto Mosheh, saying, 2 Speak unto Aharon, and say unto him, When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the menorah. 3 And Aharon did so; he lighted the lamps thereof over against the menorah, as YAHUAH commanded את-Mosheh. 4 And this work of the menorah was of beaten gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work: according unto the pattern which YAHUAH had showed את-Mosheh, so he made the menorah.

So you see that at the first dedication (Chanukah) of the altar, the instruction from YAHUAH was to light the menorah.  This however, is not the only dedication (Chanukah) in the Tanakh.  Shalomah also made a dedication of the first temple.

2 Chronicles 7:1-11

Now when Shalomah had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of YAHUAH filled the house. 2 And the priests could not enter into the house of YAHUAH, because the glory of YAHUAH had filled YAHUAH’S house. 3 And when all the children of Yisra’el saw how the fire came down, and the glory of YAHUAH upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised YAHUAH, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endures forever.

4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before YAHUAH. 5 And king Shalomah offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated (Chanukah) the house of ELOHIYM. 6 And the priests waited on their offices: the Leviyiym also with instruments of music of YAHUAH, which David the king had made to praise YAHUAH, because his mercy endures forever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded shofars before them, and all Yisra’el stood. 7 Moreover Shalomah hallowed the middle of the court that was before the house of YAHUAH: for there he offered burnt offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the brasen altar which Shalomah had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings, and the meat offerings, and the fat.

8 Also at the same time Shalomah kept the feast seven days, and all Yisra’el with him, a very great assembly, from the entering in of Chamath unto the river of Mitsrayim. 9 And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly: for they kept the dedication (Chanukah) of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days. 10 And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that YAHUAH had showed unto David, and to Shalomah, and to Yisra’el his people. 11 Thus Shalomah finished the house of YAHUAH, and the king's house: and all that came into Shalomah's heart to make in the house of YAHUAH, and in his own house, he prosperously effected.

It is of some interest to those who know of the Feasts of YAHUAH (the moediym), that this dedication lasted seven days, with a solemn assembly on the eighth day, and on the 23rd day of the seventh month, everyone was sent home (in this case, to their tents).  The feast of Sukkoth is the feast which is ordained to occur on the 15th day of the seventh month, which before the Babylonian captivity was called Ethanim, but afterward called Tishri.  Vayiqra 23:34-43.  So the feast would go seven days, from the 15th to the 21st (yes, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21), and the eighth day assembly would be held on the 22nd, which meant Shalomah could rightfully send everyone to their tent on the 23rd, as carefully set forth in this passage.  So here, in this passage, you see that Shalomah practiced a feast of Chanukah at the same time as Sukkoth in the dedication (Chanukah) of the first Temple.

We might be curious then, if such a dedication (Chanukah) happened at the rebuilding of the second temple.  If we look, we will discover as you might expect, with one surprise.

Ezra v Nechemyah (Ezra) 6:15-22

And this house (the Second Temple) was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Dar`yavesh the king. 16 And the children of Yisra’el, the priests, and the Leviyiym, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication (Chanukah) of this house of ELOHIYM with joy, 17 And offered at the dedication (Chanukah) of this house of ELOHIYM an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Yisra’el, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Yisra’el. 18 And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Leviyiym in their courses, for the service of ELOHIYM, which is at Yerushalayim; as it is written in the cepher of Mosheh. 19 And the children of the captivity kept the Pecach upon the fourteenth day of the first month. 20 For the priests and the Leviyiym were purified together, all of them were pure, and killed the Pecach for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves. 21 And the children of Yisra’el, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek YAHUAH ELOHIYM of Yisra’el, did eat, 22 And kept the Feast of Matstsah seven days with joy: for YAHUAH had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of ELOHIYM, the ELOHIYM of Yisra’el.        

Bearing in mind that the Feast of Dedication as practiced by Shalomah was a seven day feast, with a solemn assembly on the eighth day, it is likely that the dedication of the Second Temple kept the dedication (Chanukah) in the same manner.  However, we see that the Second Temple was completed in the last month of the year, and the Ezra goes on to relate that Pecach and Matstsah were kept, and that Matstsah was kept for seven days.  This places the second Chanukah contemporaneous with the Feast of Matstsah – the feast of unleavened bread.  This too is an eight day feast, with the solemn assembly (Pecach) preceding the seven day feast (Matstsah).  However, this feast occurs in the first month of the year, in the month of Aviv (Nisan).

The feast that is practiced now among the Yahudiym called Chanukah is practiced beginning on the 25th day of the ninth month.  Before we get into that, consider that the Roman church struggled to reconcile this feast with its traditional Sol Invictus (son god) worship, which occurred three days after the winter solstice, when the return of the sun could be confirmed.  The Gregorian calendar had to make a few adjustments.  The traditional calendar continued to reflect the biblical numeration, calling the seventh month September (meaning seventh month), the eighth month October (meaning the eight month), the ninth month November, and the tenth month December.  Chanukah, the eight day festival was to be practiced in the ninth month (November), however, if it were moved out a month, and the days of the month were restructured to make the third day following the winter solstice the twenty-fifth day, it would be possible to reconcile to the two practices, thereafter creating Christmas – designed to be an eight day festival to coincide with the celebration of the circumcision of Christ on the first day of January, the new year.  The Feast of Circumcision is practiced in the Eastern Orthodox Church and is celebrated by some churches of the Anglican Communion and virtually all Lutheran churches.  It formerly appeared in the pre-1960 General Roman Calendar, but it has now – as you might imagine – been changed to be a feast dedicated to Mary. 

The story of Chanukah that is with us today concerns the rededication of the Second Temple by Yahudah Makkaby (Judah the Hammer), as is related in the Cepher Sheniy Makkabiym (2 Makkabiym).  This is a book that is included in the Eth Cepher.

2 Makkabiym 1

9 And now see that ye keep the Feast of Chanukah in the month Kiclev.

17 Blessed be our ELOHIYM in all things, who has delivered up the wicked. 18 Therefore whereas we are now purposed to keep the purification of the Temple upon the five and twentieth day of the month Kiclev, we thought it necessary to certify you thereof, that ye also might keep it, as the Feast of Canukah, and of the fire, which was given us when Nechemyah offered sacrifice, after that he had built the Temple and the altar. 19 For when our fathers were led into Persia, the priests that were then devout took the fire of the altar privily, and hid it in an hollow place of a pit without water, where they kept it sure, so that the place was unknown to all men. 20 Now after many years, when it pleased ELOHIYM, Nechemyah, being sent from the king of Persia, did send of the posterity of those priests that had hid it to the fire: but when they told us they found no fire, but thick water; 21 Then commanded he them to draw it up, and to bring it; and when the sacrifices were laid on, Nechemyah commanded the priests to sprinkle the wood and the things laid thereupon with the water. 22 When this was done, and the time came that the sun shone, which afore was hid in the cloud, there was a great fire kindled, so that every man marvelled. 23 And the priests made a prayer while the sacrifice was consuming, I say, both the priests, and all the rest, Yonathan beginning, and the rest answering thereunto, as Nechemyah did. 24 And the prayer was after this manner; O YAHUAH, YAHUAH ELOHIYM, Creator of all things, who is fearful and strong, and righteous, and merciful, and the only and gracious King, 25 The only giver of all things, the only just, almighty, and everlasting, you that deliver Yisra’el from all trouble, and did choose the fathers, and sanctify them: 26 Receive the sacrifice for your whole people Yisra’el, and preserve your own portion, and sanctify it. 27 Gather those together that are scattered from us, deliver them that serve among the heathen, look upon them that are despised and abhorred, and let the heathen know that you are our ELOHIYM. 28 Punish them that oppress us, and with pride do us wrong. 29 Plant your people again in your holy place, as Mosheh has spoken. 30 And the priests sung psalms of thanksgiving. 31 Now when the sacrifice was consumed, Nechemyah commanded the water that was left to be poured on the great stones. 32 When this was done, there was kindled a flame: but it was consumed by the light that shined from the altar. 33 So when this matter was known, it was told the king of Persia, that in the place, where the priests that were led away had hid the fire, there appeared water, and that Nechemyah had purified the sacrifices therewith. 34 Then the king, inclosing the place, made it holy, after he had tried the matter. 35 And the king took many gifts, and bestowed thereof on those whom he would gratify. 36 And Nechemyah called this thing Naphthar, which is as much as to say, a cleansing: but many men call it Nephu.

So, for those of you who asked themselves the question, should I practice this feast of dedication, this feast of Chanukah?  One answer can be had with the question: what would YAHUSHA do (WWYD)?  And that answer is had in the Besorah Yahuchanan:

Yahuchanan 10:22

22 And it was at Yerushalayim the Feast of Chanukah, and it was winter. 23 And YAHUSHA walked in the Temple in Shalomah's porch. 24 Then came the Yahudiym round about him, and said unto him, How long do you make us to doubt? If you be HAMASHIACH, tell us plainly. 25 YAHUSHA answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. 26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and my Father are one.

Without getting into the establishment of the four seasons, Scriptures allow for the seasons to be appointed by the relationship of the sun and the moon.  Therefore, Spring begins with the Vernal Equinox, Summer begins at the summer solstice, Autumn begins at the autumnal equinox, and Winter begins on the winter solstice.  This means that the Feast of Chanukah that was occurring at the time of this occurrence was not in the seventh month (September or October) as would be the case if it were being practiced contemporaneous to the Feast of Sukkoth, and it most assuredly rules out the Feast of Matstsah.  The indication in the verse is that it happened in winter, which is consistent with the 25th day of the ninth month of the Hebrew year.  In short, HAMASHIACH practiced the Feast of Chanukah which began on the 25th day of the ninth month, as specified in 2 Makkabiym.

Should you practice Chanukah?  I can’t speak for you, but I love the feasts set forth in the Sacred Word.  Let us celebrate the Sabbath, the spring feasts of Pecach, Matstsah, and Bikkur, the wheat harvest feast of Shevaoth, the fall feasts of Teruah, Kippur and Sukkoth, and let us rededicate ourselves to do it again next year by lighting the fire of the temple in our hearts for the eight days of Chanukah.



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