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THE HANUKKAH STORY (Part 4)
A Beginners Guide to Celebrating Hanukkah by En Punto
REDEDICATING THE TEMPLE
Early successes attracted attention, and the little army was harassed constantly. Soon enough, the Seleucids sent thousands of mercenary soldiers to root out the rebels in the hills. They must have thought it would bring a quick and easy end to the Hanukkah revolution. But a great miracle happened there.
When he reached the ascent of Beth-horon, Judah went out to meet him with a few men. "How can we, few as we are, fight such a mighty host as this? Besides, we are weak today from fasting." But Judah said: "It is easy for many to be overcome by a few; in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between deliverance by many or by few; for victory in war does not depend upon the size of the army, but on strength that comes from Heaven. With great presumption and lawlessness they come against us to destroy us and our wives and children and to despoil us; but we are fighting for our lives and our Torah laws. He Himself will crush them before us; so do not be afraid of them." (1 Maccabees 3:16-22)
In a stunning victory, ADONAI overthrew the massive army before the small band of rebels. It was clearly a miracle from heaven. Yehudah and his brave Maccabees fought many battles for many years. They suffered defeats but also achieved many miraculous victories. In battle after battle, the few overpowered the many, the weak overturned the strong. They pushed forward despite overwhelming odds. Miraculous intervention shifted the battles until at last they were able to take back Jerusalem.
REDEDICATING THE TEMPLE
Upon entering Jerusalem, Yehudah and his brother priests were dismayed to see the Temple desolate, the altar profaned, the gates burned, and the holy courtyard overgrown with weeds. They tore their garments, cried out to heaven, and sounded the shofar. Before the last enemy had even been rooted out of the strongholds of Jerusalem, Yehudah set about restoring the Temple. They tore down the defiled altar and built a new one. They made new implements and furnishings from what was available. One scrap of legend has it that they made a menorah of iron bars they found in the Temple
Another famous legend has it that when they searched the Temple, they were only able to find one cruse of olive oil with the priestly stamp upon it. It was enough to fuel the lamps of the menorah for only one day. It would take eight days before they could procure more olive oil fitting for use in the menorah. Uncertain of what to do, they decided to keep the mitzvah of lighting the menorah as best they could. They lit it, fully expecting it to go out that day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, until new oil could be obtained. Some say this is the reason Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days.
It was on the 25th day of Kislev, exactly three years after the first swine had been sacrificed on the altar, that Yehudah and his men reinstated the daily burnt offerings of ADONAI. They celebrated the rededication of the Temple for eight days. The days of dedication came to be remembered and celebrated as the festival of Hanukkah.
Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, that is, the month of Kislev, in the year one hundred and forty-eight (165 BCE), they arose and offered sacrifice according to the Torah on the new altar of holocausts that they had made.
On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had defiled it, on that very day it was re-consecrated with songs, harps, flutes, and cymbals. All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven, who had given them success,
For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar and joyfully offered holocausts and sacrifices of deliverance and praise. They ornamented the facade of the temple with gold crowns and shields; they repaired the gates and the priests' chambers and furnished them with doors. There was great joy among the people now that the disgrace of the Gentiles was removed. Then Judah and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness on the anniversary every year for eight days, from the twenty-fifth day of the month Kislev. (1 Maccabees 4:52-59)
The Second book of Maccabees (1:9; 10:1-5) records that, the eight-day dedication ceremony of the first Hanukkah was meant to correspond to the eight days of Sukkot at which Solomon consecrated the First Temple. It says that the eight days were celebrated: with gladness like the Feast of Tabernacles remembering how, not long before, during the Feast of Tabernacles, they had been wandering like wild bests in the mountains and the caves. So, bearing wands wreathed with leaves and fair boughs and palms, they offered hymns of praise", (10:6-8). Another ancient name for Hanukkah is "Sukkot of Fire" (1:18). Just as the altar fire had been ignited from heaven at the dedication of the altar in the days of Moses and at the sanctification of the Temple of Solomon, so too the heavenly fire was said to have returned in the days of Yehudah Maccabee (1:18-36; 2:8-12; 14; 10:3).
Whether or not the legends of miraculous fire and miraculous oil are historically reliable is not important here. What is important is to acknowledge that a great miracle happened there--a verifiable, historical fact. The Torah-honouring Maccabees won a great victory against overwhelming odds. Light shone in the darkness.
1. A baraita, Scholium to Megillat Ta'anit, cited in Encyclopaedia Judaea’s article on Hanukkah.
2. 1 Kings 8
3.Quoted in Encyclopaedia Judaea’s article on Hanukkah.
Psalm 136…Friday December 16th, 2011
THE NEVER ENDING STORY OF GOD’S LOVE
TRULY GOD DESERVES OUR PRAISE BECAUSE HIS ENDLESS LOVE NEVER FAILS
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good
To him who alone does great wonders
Who by his understanding made the heavens
Who spread out the earth upon the waters
Who made the great lights
To the one who remembered us in our low estate and
Freed us from our enemies and
Who gives food to every creature
Give thanks to the God of Heaven
HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER
The phrase “His love endures forever” is repeated over and over throughout this psalm.
Repetition reveals the important truth that we need to so absorb
GOD’S LOVE INCLUDES ASPECTS OF LOVE, KINDNESS, MERCY AND FAITHFULNESS
We never have to worry that God will run out of love because it flows from a well that will never run dry
We all have experiences for which we foresee that truly
His love does endure forever
His mercy endureth for ever literally means His loving kindness, His unfailing love or His steadfast covenant of love is a apart of every situation of life
CONSIDER THE DEPTH OF SUCH LOVE THAT BIDS US TO COME AND ENTER
GOD IS ETERNAL AND SO IS HIS MERCY
NO MATTER WHAT THE SITUATIONS OF LIFE
HIS MERCY IS THERE SO COME PARTAKE OF THE TREASURES THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO WHOSOEVER
AND SO EXPERIENCE OF HIS ABIDING LOVE AND GRACE
Study by Charlotte…December 2011
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