Judith, Channukah and the Last Days

Judith, Channukah and the Last Days
By James Scott Trimm
An excerpt from Channukah and the Last Days



The Apocryphal book of Judith is about a beautiful and devout Jewish widow who saves her city from an invading army. The Elders of her city decide to surrender unless help arrives within five days. Judith leaves and enters the camp of the opposing general. She beguiles him by her beauty but ultimately returns to her city with his head in a bag. This inspires her city to route the invading army. In the end the High Priest comes to her city an honors Judith for her valor. Many modern critics have accused the Book of Judith of anachronisms and historical inaccuracies. On the surface the book claims to be set “In the twelfth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled over the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh, in the days of Arphaxad who ruled over the Medes in Ecbatana”. In fact Nebuchadnezzar was actually the King of Babylon, not the King of Assyria. In actuality these are all Euphemisms and the book is actually set in the Maccabean era. For example the book of Judith uses Nebuchadnezzar as a euphemism for Antiochus Epiphanies, because both names have a gematria (numerical value) of 423.


There are other reasons to associate Antiochus Epiphanies with Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon.  The call to “come out of Babylon” is phrased in Zechariah as coming out of “The Land of the North” and Antiochus Epiphanies was the “King of the North” in Daniel 11. Also as we discovered in the last chapter, Antiochus Epiphanies parallels the first “Beast” of Revelation 13. This “Beast” of Revelation 13 is described as follows:

1 And I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast coming
up from the sea that had ten horns and seven heads: and upon
his horns, ten diadems, and upon his head, the name of
blasphemy.
2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, and his feet like
those of a bear, and his mouth [was] like that of lions. And the
dragon gave to him his power, and his throne, and great
authority.
(Rev. 1:1-2)

This is a composite of the four beasts Daniel sees in his vision in Daniel 7. Students of Biblical Prophecy will be well aware that Daniel’s prophecy in Chapter 7 parallels the dream of the image made up of various substances in Daniel 2 and that the “image” of Daniel 2 is a composite of the kingdoms laid out as “Beast” in Daniel 7. In other words, the “image” of Daniel 2 parallels the “Beast” of Revelation 13. This is significant because in Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar is told that the “head” of this image represents him as the King of Babylon. This is because Nebuchadnezzar was symbolizing Antiochus Epiphanies who was to come. This is further substantiated by the parallel between the abomination of desolation and the arrogant proclamation attributed to the last days “King of Babylon” in Isaiah 14 and the fact that the account of Antiochus Epiphanies death in 2nd Maccabees recalls language from this portion of Isaiah 14.

In reality the book takes place during the rule of Antiochus Epiphanies over the Selucid Empire of Syria and of Ptolemy VI over Egypt. The story appears in several Midrashim in Jewish literature in which it is set in the Maccabean era. 2Maccabees recounts the death of Antiochus Epiphanies (9:1-29) just before it recounts the purification of the Temple (10:1-9).  This appears to contradict 1Maccabees which places his death (6:1-17) after the cleaning of the Temple (4:36-61) in agreement with the account of Josephus.  Having examined it, I believe that the historical chronology is to be found in 1Maccabees and Josephus.

The account in 2Maccabees is not intended to relay the chronology (which was already well known) but to cover one subject at a time. 2Maccabees 9:1 begins with “About that time came Antiochus out of the country of Persia.” Which is the event that took place shortly before the cleaning of the Temple in chapter 10. But in the next verse the book backtracks to an event which had occurred while he was in Persia, and in recounting that event, he follows through to the death of Antiochus before returning to the “present” in 2Maccabees 10:1 with “Now Maccabee and his company, YHWH guiding them, recovered the Temple and the city…”. 2Maccabees 9:2-29 is a parenthetical which is not intended to be placed in chronological order.

This helps us to place Judith in context. Judith takes place shortly after the purification of the Temple (Judith 4:3) and before the death of Antiochus Epiphanies (i.e. “Nebuchadeznar”) during the gap between 1Macc. 4:36-61 and 1Macc. 6:1-17. It is commonly recognized in Judaism as a Channukah story. And like the books of the Maccabees, the Book of Judith has much to teach us about last days events. The Book of Judith features two primary villains Nebuchadnezzar who is called “King of Assyria” and one of his generals named Holofernes. As discussed above, Nebuchadnezzar is used as a euphemism for Antiochus Epiphanies and Holoferenes represents one of his generals. Just as Antiochus Epiphanies is a type and shadow of the first “Beast” of Revelation 13, Holofernes is a type and shadow of the second “Beast” of Revelation 13.

Holofernes enacts an edict from “Nebuchadnezzar” (Antiochus Epiphanies) to abolish all other forms of worship in favor of the worship of “Nebuchadnezzar” (Antiochus Epiphanies):

…he [Holofernes] did cast down their frontiers, and cut down
their groves: for he had decreed to destroy all the gods of the
land, that all nations should worship Nabuchodonosor only,
and that all tongues and tribes should call upon him as god.
(Judith 3:8)

3: He will send his power, and will destroy them from the face
of the earth, and their God shall not deliver them: but we his
servants will destroy them as one man; for they are not able to
sustain the power of our horses.
4: For with them we will tread them under foot, and their
mountains shall be drunken with their blood, and their fields
shall be filled with their dead bodies, and their footsteps shall
not be able to stand before us, for they shall utterly perish, saith
king Nabuchodonosor, lord of all the earth: for he said, None
of my words shall be in vain.
(Judith 6:3-4)

Holofernes prefigures the second beast of Revelation 13, which causes people to worship the first beast:

11 And I saw another beast coming up from the earth, and he
had two horns, even like a lamb, and he was speaking as a
dragon.
12 And he will exercise all the authority of the first beast
before him, and he will cause the earth and those who dwell in
it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
13 And he will do great signs in such a manner, that he will
make fire to descend from heaven upon the earth, before the
sons of men.
14 And he will seduce, those who are dwelling on the earth: by
the signs that are given to him to work in the presence of the
beast; saying to those who are dwelling on the earth [that they
should] make an image for the beast, who had the wound of the
sword and lived.
15 And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the
beast: and he will cause all who will not worship the image of
the beast, to be killed.
(Rev. 13:11-15 HRV)

Judith 2:20 speaks of the army of Holofernes as “like a swarm of locusts” recalling the army of locusts in Joel and Revelation 9. The main character Y’hudit (Judith) represents the remnant of House of Judah which overcomes the false prophet. Her name means simply “Jewess” (this may also be a euphemism and not her actual name). She parallels the “woman” in Revelation 12 who dwells in the wilderness for forty-two months. In parallel Judith had been a widow for three years and four months (about 1,200 days) (Judith 8:4). Her husband had dies at the time of the barely harvest (around Passover) and had been named “Manasseh” (Judith 8:1-3). Her bridegroom parallels Messiah, the bridegroom of Judah, Messiah was impaled at Passover (at the barley harvest) when he died in the role of Messiah “ben Yosef”.

Channukah is not just a Jewish holiday, it is a key to prophetic events of the last days. Embedded within the Channukah story are elements foreshadowing the apostasy, the abomination of desolation, the Great Tribulation the Anti-Messiah, the martyrs of the tribulation, the false prophet, the remnant, the return of Messiah and the Messianic Kingdom to come.

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The Plain Truth About Christmas

THE PLAIN TRUTH
ABOUT CHRISTMAS

by
Herbert W. Armstrong
1892 – 1986

Where did the world get Christmas?…from the Bible, or paganism. Here are astonishing facts which may shock you. Test yourself. How much do you know of the origin of the Christmas tree – of “Santa Claus” – of the mistletoe – of the holly wreath – of the custom of exchanging gifts?

When I was a little boy, I was taught to hang up my stockings on Christmas eve. When I awakened the next morning, they were filled with small toys and sacks or little boxes of candy and nuts. And beside the mantle, from which my stockings hung, a Christmas tree had suddenly appeared, decorated with shiny tinsel. And on it hung presents. Other presents for us children were piled on the floor underneath. I was told Santa Claus had come down the chimney during the night and left all these things.

But did I question what my parents had told me? Of course not. I accepted it – took it all for granted. Didn’t you?

Stop and think a moment. Very few have ever reflected on WHY they believe what they do – WHY they follow the customs they do, or from WHERE those customs came. We were born into a world filled with customs. We grew up accepting them without question. Why? Sheep instinct? Well, not exactly. But by nature we do tend to follow the crowd, whether right or wrong. Sheep follow others to the slaughter. Humans ought to check up where they are going. How – WHEN did Christmas originate? Does Christmas REALLY celebrate the birthday of Christ? Was Jesus born on December 25th? Did the original apostles, who knew Jesus personally and were taught by Him, celebrate His birthday on December 25th? Did they celebrate it AT ALL?

If Christmas is the chief of the Christian holidays, WHY do so many non-Christians observe it? Do you know? Why do people exchange presents with family members, friends, relatives, at Christmas time? Was it because the wise men presented gifts to the Christ-child? The answer may surprise you.

Most people have “supposed” a lot of things about Christmas that are not true. But let’s quit “supposing” and get the facts!

WHAT ENCYCLOPEDIAS SAY

The word “Christmas” means “Mass of Christ,” or, as it came to be shortened, “Christ-Mass.” It came to non-Christians and Protestants from the Roman Catholic Church. And where did they get it? NOT from the New Testament – NOT from the Bible – NOT from the original apostles who were personally instructed by Christ – but it gravitated in the fourth century into the Roman Church from paganism.

Since the celebration of Christmas has come to the world from the Roman Catholic Church, and has no authority but that of the Roman Catholic Church, let us examine the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 edition, published by that church. Under the heading “Christmas,” you will find:

“Christmas was NOT among the earliest festivals on the Church…the first evidence of the feast is FROM EGYPT.” “PAGAN CUSTOMS centering around the January calends gravitated to Christmas.”

And in the same encyclopedia, under the heading “Natal Day,” we find that the early Catholic father, Origen, acknowledged this truth: “…In the Scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday. It is ONLY SINNERS (like Pharaoh and Herod) who make great rejoicings over the day in which they were born into THIS world”.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 1946 edition, has this: “Christmas (i.e., the Mass of Christ)…Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the church…” It was not instituted by Christ or the apostles, or by Bible authority. It was picked up afterward from paganism. The Encyclopedia Americana, 1944 edition, says: “Christmas…It was, according to many authorities, not celebrated in the first centuries of the Christian church, as the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth…” (The “Communion,” which is instituted by New Testament Bible authority, is a memorial of the death of Christ.) “…A feast was established in memory of this event [Christ’s birth] in the FOURTH CENTURY. In the fifth century the Western Church ordered it to be celebrated forever ON THE DAY OF THE OLD ROMAN FEAST OF THE BIRTH OF SOL, as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ’s birth existed.”

Now notice! These recognized historical authorities show Christmas was not observed by Christians for the first two or three hundred years – a period longer than the entire history of the United States as a nation! It got into the Western, or Roman, Church, by the fourth century A.D. It was not until the fifth century that the Roman Church ordered it to be celebrated as an official Christian festival!

JESUS NOT BORN DECEMBER 25th

Jesus was not even born in the winter season! When the Christ-child was born “there were in the same country shepherds ABIDING in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8). This never could have occurred in Judaea in the month of December. The shepherds always brought their flocks from the mountainsides and fields and corralled them not later than October 15, to protect them from the cold, rainy season that followed that date. Notice that the Bible itself proves, in Song of Solomon 2:11 and Ezra 10:9, 13, that winter was a rainy season not permitting shepherds to abide in open fields at night.

“It was an ancient custom among Jews of those days to send out their sheep to the fields and deserts about the Passover (early spring), and bring them home at commencement of the FIRST RAIN,” says the Adam Clarke Commentary (Vol. 5, page 370, New York ed.)

Continuing, this authority states: “During the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. As…the first rain began early in the month of Marchesvan, which answers to part of our October and November (begins sometime in OCTOBER), we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole SUMMER. And, as these shepherds had not YET brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields BY NIGHT. On this very ground, the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a CHRONOLOGICAL FACT…See the quotations from the Talmudists in Lightfoot.”

Any encyclopedia, or any other authority, will tell you that Christ was not born on December 25. The Catholic Encyclopedia frankly states this fact.

The exact date of Jesus’ birth is entirely unknown, as all authorities acknowledge – though if I had space in this booklet I could show you scriptures which at least strongly indicate it was in the early fall – probably September – approximately six months after Passover.

If God had wished us to observe and celebrate Christ’s birthday, He would not have so completely hidden the exact date.

HOW THIS PAGAN CUSTOM GOT INTO THE CHURCH

Then how did this pagan custom creep into the Western Christian world?

The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religous Knowledge explains it clearly, in its article on “Christmas”: “How much the date of the festival depended upon the pagan Brumalia (Dec. 25) following the Saturnalia (Dec. 17-24), and celebrating the shortest day of the year and the ‘new sun’…cannot be accurately determined. The pagan Saturnalia and Brumalia WERE TOO DEEPLY ENTRENCHED IN POPULAR CUSTOM TO BE SET ASIDE BY CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE…The pagan festival with its riot and merrymaking was so popular that Christians were glad of an excuse to continue its celebration with little change in spirit and manner. Christian preachers of the West and the Near East protested against the unseemly frivolity with which Christ’s birthday was celebrated, while Christians of Mesopotamia ACCUSED THEIR WESTERN BRETHREN OF IDOLATRY AND SUN WORSHIP FOR ADOPTING AS CHRISTIAN THIS PAGAN FESTIVAL.”

Remember, the Roman world had been pagan. Prior to the fourth century, Christians were few in number, though increasing, and were persecuted by the government and by pagans. But, with the advent of Constantine as emperor, who made his profession of Christianity in the fourth century, placing Christianity on an equal footing with paganism, people of the Roman world began to accept this now-popular Christianity by the hundreds of thousands.

But remember, these people had grown up in pagan customs, chief of which was this idolatrous festival of December 25th. It was a festival of merrymaking, with its special spirit. They enjoyed it! They didn’t want to give it up. Now this same article in the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge explains how the recognition by Constantine of Sunday, which had been the day of pagan sun worship, and how the influence of the pagan Manichaeism, which identified the SON OF GOD with the physical SUN, gave these pagans of the fourth century, now turning over wholesale to “Christianity,” their excuse for calling their pagan-festival date of December 25th (birthday of the SUN-god), the birthday of the SON OF GOD.

And THAT is how “Christmas” became fastened on our Western world. We may call it by another name, but it’s the same old pagan sun-worshipping festival still. The only change is in what we call it. You can CALL a rabbit a “lion,” but it’s still a rabbit, just the same.

Again from the Encyclopaedia Britannica: “Certain Latins, as early as 354, may have transferred the birthday from January 6th to December 25, WHICH WAS THEN A MITHRAIC FEAST…OR BIRTHDAY OF THE UNCONQUERED SUN…The Syrians and Armenians, who clung to January 6th, accused the Romans of sun worship and idolatry, contending…that the feast of December 25, had been invented by disciples of Cerinthus…”

THE REAL ORIGIN OF CHRISTMAS

But if we got Christmas from the Roman Catholics, and they got it from paganism, where did the pagans get it? Where, when, and what was its real origin?

It is a chief custom of the corrupt system denounced all through Bible prophecies and teachings under the name of Babylon. And it started and originated in the original Babylon of ancient Nimrod! Yes, it stems from roots whose beginning was shortly this side of the Flood!

Nimrod, grandson of Ham, son of Noah, was the real founder of the Babylonish system that has gripped the world ever since – this system of organized competition – of man-ruled governments and empires, based upon the competitive and profit-making economic system. Nimrod built the tower of Babel, the original Babylon, ancient Nineveh, and many other cities. He organized the world’s first kingdom. The name “Nimrod,” in Hebrew is derived from “Marad,” meaning “he rebelled.”

From many ancient writings, considerable is learned of this man, who started the great organized worldly apostasy from God that has dominated this world until now. Nimrod was so evil, it is said he married his own mother, whose name was Semiramis. After Nimrod’s untimely death, his so-called mother-wife, Semiramis, propagated the evil doctrine of the survival of Nimrod as a spirit being. She claimed a full-grown evergreen tree sprang overnight from a dead tree stump, which symbolized the springing forth unto new life of the dead Nimrod. On each anniversary of his birth, she claimed Nimrod would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts upon it. December 25th was the birthday of Nimrod. This is the real origin of the Christmas tree.

Through her scheming and designing, Semiramis became the Babylonian “Queen of Heaven,” and Nimrod, under various names, became the “divine son of heaven.” Through the generations, in this idolatrous worship, Nimrod also became the false Messiah, son of Baal the Sun-god. In this false Babylonish system, the “Mother and Child” (Semiramis and Nimrod reborn) became chief objects of worship. This worship of “Mother and Child” spread over the world. The names varied in different countries and languages. In Egypt it was Isis and Osiris. In Asia, Cybele and Deoius. In pagan Rome, Fortuna and Jupiterpuer. Even in Greece, China, Japan, Tibet is to be found the counterpart of the Madonna, LONG BEFORE THE BIRTH OF CHRIST!

Thus, during the fourth and fifth centuries, when the pagans of the Roman world were “accepting” the new popular “Christianity” by the hundreds of thousands, carrying their old pagan customs and beliefs along with them, merely cloaking them with Christian-sounding names, the Madonna and “Mother and Child” idea also became popularized, especially at Christmas time. Every Christmas season you’ll hear sung and chanted dozens of times the hymn “Silent Night, Holy Night,” with its familiar “Mother and Child” theme. We, who have been born in such a babylonish world, reared and steeped in these things all our lives, have been taught to revere these things as holy and sacred. We never questioned to see where they came from – whether they came from the Bible, or from pagan idolatry!

We are shocked to learn the truth – some, unfortunately, take offense at the plain truth! But God commands His faithful ministers, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression!” Shocking as these facts are, they are the plain facts of history and the Bible. The real origin of Christmas goes back to ancient Babylon. It is bound up in the organized apostasy which has gripped a deceived world these many centuries. In Egypt, it was always believed that the son of Isis (Egyptian name for “Queen of Heaven”) was born December 25th. Paganism celebrated this famous birthday over most of the known world for centuries before the birth of Christ.

December 25th is NOT the birthday of Jesus, the true Christ! The apostles and early true Church never celebrated Christ’s birthday at ANY time. There is no command or instruction to celebrate it in the Bible – rather, the celebrating of birthdays is a pagan, not a Christian custom, believe it or not.

Thus the ancient idolatrous “Chaldean Mysteries,” founded by this wife of Nimrod, have been handed down through the pagan religions under new Christian-sounding names.

ORIGIN OF HOLLY WREATH, MISTLETOE, YULE LOG

Now where did we get this mistletoe custom? Among the ancient pagans the mistletoe was used at this festival of the winter solstice because it was considered sacred to the sun, because of its supposed miraculous healing power. The pagan custom of kissing under the mistletoe was an early step in the night of revelry and drunken debauchery – celebrating the death of the “old sun” and the birth of the new at the winter solstice. Mistletoe, sacred in pagan festivals, is a parasite!

Holly berries were also considered sacred to the sun-god. The yule log is in reality the “sun log.” “Yule” means “Wheel,” a pagan symbol of the sun. Yet today professing Christians speak of the “sacred yule-tide season”!

Even the lighting of fires and candles as a Christian ceremony is merely a continuation of the pagan custom, encouraging the waning sun-god as he reached the lowest place in the southern skies.

The Encyclopedia Americana says: “The holly, the mistletoe, the Yule log…are relics of pre-Christian times.” Of paganism!

The book Answers to Questions, compiled by Frederick J. Haskins, found in public libraries, says: The use of Christmas wreaths is believed by authorities to be TRACEABLE TO THE PAGAN CUSTOMS of decorating building and places of worship at the feast which took place at the same time as Christmas. The CHRISTMAS TREE IS FROM EGYPT, and its origin dates from a period long anterior to the Christian Era.”

YES, AND EVEN SANTA CLAUSE

But surely dear old Santa Claus is not a creature of pagan birth? But he is, and his real character is not so benevolent and holy as many suppose.

The name “Santa Claus” is a corruption of the name “St. Nicholas,” a Roman Catholic bishop who lived in the 5th century. Look in the Encyclopedia Britannica, volume 19, pages 648-649, 11th edition, where you’ll read: “St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra, a saint honored by the Greeks and Latins on the 6th of December… A legend of his surreptitious bestowal of dowries on the three daughters of an impoverished citizen…is said to have originated the old custom of giving presents in secret on the Eve of St. Nicholas [Dec. 6], subsequently transferred to Christmas day. Hence the association of Christmas with Santa Claus…”

Through the years, parents punish their children for telling falsehoods. Then, at Christmas time, they themselves tell their little children this “Santa Claus” lie! Is it any wonder many of them, when they grow up and learn the truth, begin to believe God is a myth, too?

One little fellow, sadly disillusioned about “Santa Claus,” said to a playmate, “Yes, and I’m going to look into this ‘Jesus Christ’ business, too!” Is it Christian to teach children myths and falsehoods? God says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” It may seem right, and be justified by human reason, but God says, “There is a way that SEEMETH right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” “Old Nick” also is a term for the devil! Is there a connection? Satan appears as an “angel of light,” to deceive (II Cor 11:14; Rev 12:9).

And so when we examine the facts, we are astonished to learn that the practices of observing Christmas is not, after all, a true Christian practice, but a pagan custom – one of the ways of Babylon our people have fallen into.

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT THE CHRISTMAS TREE

But if the Bible is silent about telling us to observe Christmas, or recording any such observance by the apostles or early true Church, it DOES have something to say about the Christmas tree.

This will come as a real surprise to many. But here it is: Jeremiah 10:2-6: “Thus saith the Lord, LEARN NOT THE WAY OF THE HEATHEN…FOR THE CUSTOMS OF THE PEOPLE ARE VAIN: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.”

There is a perfect description of the Christmas tree, termed by the Eternal as “the way of the heathen – the customs of the people.” We are commanded not to learn that way or follow it. It is also viewed in this passage as idolatry. The fifth verse shows that these trees cannot speak – cannot walk – must be carried. “Be not afraid of them; for THEY (the trees) cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.” They are not gods to be feared. Some people MISread this to make it say there is no harm in having a Christmas tree, but that is not what it says.

ISN’T EXCHANGING GIFTS SCRIPTURAL?

But when it comes to the most important part of all in this Christmas observance – the Christmas shopping season – the buying and exchanging of gifts – many will exclaim triumphantly, “Well, at least the Bible tells us to do that. Didn’t the wise men give gifts when Christ was born?”

Again, we are due for some surprises, when we learn the plain truth. First, let’s look at the historic origin of trading gifts back and forth, then see exactly what the Bible DOES say about it.

From the Bibliotheca Sacra, volume 12, pages 153-155, we quote: “The interchange of presents between friends is alike characteristic of Christmas and the Saturnalia, and MUST HAVE BEEN ADOPTED BY THE CHRISTIANS FROM THE PAGANS, as the admonition of Tertullian plainly shows.”

The fact is, this custom fastened upon people of exchanging gifts with friends and relatives at the Christmas season HAS NOT A SINGLE TRACE OF CHRISTIANITY ABOUT IT, strange though that may seem. This does not celebrate Christ’s birthday nor honor it or Him! Suppose someone you love has a birthday. You want to honor that person on his or her birthday. Would you lavishly buy gifts for EVERYONE ELSE, trading gifts back and forth with all your OTHER friends and loved ones, but ignore completely any gift for the one whose birthday you are honoring? Rather absurd, when viewed in that light, isn’t it?

Yet this is exactly what people the world over are doing. They honor a day that is not Christ’s birthday by spending every dime they can scrape together in buying presents to trade back and forth among friends and relatives. But I can say by years of experience, as I believe most pastors and ministers can say, that when the month of December rolls around, nearly all professing Christians forget to give gifts to Christ and His cause almost altogether. December often is the most difficult month to keep Christ’s work from dying. People are too busy trading gifts back and forth among themselves to think of Him and His Work, it seems. Then, in January and even into February it seems they have to catch up from what they spent for Christmas, so they seldom get back to normal in supporting Christ and His Work before March.

Now consider what the Bible says about the wise men giving gifts when Christ was born. It is in Matthew 2:1-11. “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born KING OF THE JEWS? …And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him: AND WHEN THEY HAD OPENED THEIR TREASURES, they presented unto HIM gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”

WHY GIFTS PRESENTED TO CHRIST

Notice, they inquired for the child Jesus, who was born KING of the Jews. Now why did they present gifts to Him? Because it was His birthday? Not at all, because they came several days or weeks after the date of His birth. Was it to set an example for us, today, to trade gifts back and forth among ourselves? No, notice carefully. They did not exchange gifts among themselves, but “they presented unto HIM gifts.” They gave their gifts to Christ, not to their friends, relatives, or one another.

Why? Let me quote from the Adam Clarke Commentary, volume 5, page 46: “Verse 11. (They presented unto him gifts.) The people of the east never approach the presence of kings and great personages, without a present in their hands. The custom is often noticed in the Old Testament, and still prevails in the east, and in some of the newly discovered South Sea Islands.”

There it is. They were not instituting a new Christian custom of exchanging gifts with friends to honor Christ’s birthday. They were following an old and ancient eastern custom of presenting gifts to a king when they came into his presence. They were approaching Him, born King of the Jews, in person. Therefore custom required they present gifts – even as the Queen of Sheba brought gifts to Solomon – even as many people today take a gift along when they visit the White House for an appointment with the President.

No, the custom of trading gifts back and forth does not stem from this scriptural incident at all, but rather, as quoted from history above, it is the continuance of an ancient pagan custom. Instead of honoring Christ, it invariably retards His Work, often sets it back, at the Christmas season every year.

DOES IT REALLY HONOR CHRIST?

Now come two arguments often used to justify Christmas observance.

1) Many will reason this way: “But, even though the exact date of Jesus’ birth is unknown, should we not select SOME date to celebrate as His birthday?” The answer is positively no. Did you not notice the statement quoted from the Catholic Encyclopedia: “Sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthdays.” The custom of birthdays is not a Christian, but a pagan custom, observed by sinners!

2) But, many still reason, “Even so – even though Christmas was a pagan custom, honoring the false sun-god, we don’t observe it to honor the false god, we observe it to honor Christ.”

But how does God answer in His Word? “Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them [the pagans in their customs]

… that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord they God: for every abomination to the Eternal, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods” (Deut 12:30-31).

God says plainly in His Instruction Book to us, that He will not accept that kind of worship, even though intended in His honor. To Him, He says, it is offering what is ABOMINABLE to Him, and therefore it honors, not Him, but false pagan gods. God says we must not worship Him according to the “dictates of our own conscience” – a term we often hear. But Jesus says plainly, “God is a spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). And what is truth? God’s Word – the Holy Bible – said Jesus, is truth (John 17:17); and the Bible says God will not accept worship when people take a pagan custom or manner of worship and try to honor Christ with it.

Again, Jesus said: “In VAIN they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt 15:9). Christmas observance is a TRADITION OF MEN, and the commandments of God, as quoted, forbid it. Jesus said, further, “full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”

That is precisely what the millions are doing today. They ignore the commandment of God. He commands, regarding taking the customs of the pagans and using them to honor or worship God: “Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God.” Still, most people today take that command of God lightly, or as having no validity whatsoever, and follow the tradition of men in observing Christmas.

Make no mistake. God will ALLOW you to defy and disobey Him. He will ALLOW you to follow the crowd and the traditions of men. He will ALLOW you to sin. But He also says there is a day of reckoning coming. As you sow, so shall you reap. Jesus was the LIVING Word of God in Person, and the Bible is the WRITTEN Word of God. And we shall be judged, for eternity, by these words. They should not be taken lightly or ignored.

WE’RE IN BABYLON, AND HAVEN’T KNOWN IT

Christmas has become a commercial season. It’s sponsored, kept alive, by the heaviest retail advertising campaigns of the year. You see a masqueraded “Santa Claus” in many stores. Ads keep us deluded and deceived about the “beautify Christmas spirit.” The newspaper, who sell the ads, print flowery editorials exalting and eulogizing the pagan season, and its “spirit.” A gullible people has become so inoculated, many take offense when told the truth. But the “Christmas spirit” is created each year, not to honor Christ, but to sell merchandise. Like all Satan’s delusions, it appears as an “angel of light,” is made to appear good. Billions of dollars are spent in this merchandising spree every year, while the cause of Christ must suffer. It’s part of the economic system of Babylon.

We have professed to be Christian nations, but we’re in Babylon, as Bible prophecy foretold, and we don’t know it. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” – now soon to fall – is the warning of Revelation 18:4.

This year, instead of gift trading, why not put that money into God’s Work?

ABOUT HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG

From time to time I have been asked my opinion of Herbert W. Armstrong and the old Worldwide Church of God.

Let me begin by saying that I do not agree with everything Armstrong taught. However Armstrong taught many truths that were definitely on the cutting edge for his time.

The very name “Church of God” though still using gentilized terminology was a Scriptural name, as the Body of Messiah is generally referred to in the Ketuvim Netzarim (the so-called “New Testament”) as the “Assembly of Elohim” (for which reason WNAE takes the name “Worldwide Nazarene Assembly of Elohim”).

Armstrong taught seventh day, evening to evening Sabbath observance, while exposing the pagan origins and nature of Sunday Worship.

Armstrong taught the Scriptural feasts (which also happen to be the Jewish Holidays) while exposing the pagan origins and nature of the Pagan holidays like Halloween, Christmas and Easter.

Armstrong also criticized pagan customs in general, not just Pagan holidays and Sunday worship.

And long before the so-called “Two House” movement, Armstrong was teaching:

“The peoples of the United States, the British Commonwealth nations,
and the nations of northwestern Europe are, in fact,
the peoples of the Ten Tribes of the House of Israel.
The Jewish People are the House of Judah.”
-The United States and Britain in Prophecy, ninth ed. P. 144; Herbert W. Armstrong

Not long before his death in 1986, Armstrong finally came to the following far reaching conclusion:

“Satan has deceived this world’s churches into the
belief that God’s law was done away-that Jesus, rather than paying the
price in human stead for transgressing the law, did away with it-
“nailing it to his cross.” The expression used by Protestants
“nailing the law to his cross” can mean only one thing. This is
Satan’s teaching that by being nailed to the cross, Christ
abolished the law, making it possible for humans to sin with impunity.
What actually was nailed to the cross was Christ our sin bearer, who
took on himself our sins, paying the death penalty in our stead, so
that we are freed from the ultimate penalty of sinning, not made free
to sin with impunity. The very basic teaching, belief AND DOCTRINE OF
God’s true Church therefore is based on the righteousness of and
obedience to the law of God.”
-Mystery of the Ages; Herbert W. Armstrong p. 274

Unfortunately Armstrong died before he was able to fully explore and implement the far reaching implications of this astounding revelation. Armstrong had realized that it was not just the Sabbath we should be keeping, not just the Holy Days, not just bits and pieces of the Torah, but that the Torah had never been done away with at all. Had Armstrong lived to fully implement this revelation, the old WWCG would have started wearing Tzitzit (Numbers 15:37-41) putting a mezuzah on the door (Deut. 6:8-9; 11:18-20), wearing tefillin (Deut. 6:8; 11:18; Ex. 13:9; 13:16; Mt. 23:5) etc.

For this reason I say that in a world that was blind, Armstrong saw with blurred vision.

Don’t forget to support NazareneSpace with your tithes and freewill offerings by donating via Paypal to donations@wnae.org

And don’t forget to join the conversations at the NazareneSpace Social Network

The New NazareneSpace

Shalom Chaverim,

I want to share a few things with you today about the new NazareneSpace. But before I begin, I need to let you all know that we are in a budget shortfall. We must raise $500 by the end of the day today, or our account will plunge into the negative and start a cascade effect of “bounce” fees and the domino effect that goes from bad to worse. So if you can donate anything today by Paypal to donations@wnae.org, it would be especially helpful and appreciated.

As many of you know, we have ended our more than ten year relationship with Ning. There were good reasons for this, and if you have any questions about that, feel free to ask me via a private message. We are now building the new NazareneSpace using primarily Open Source software. All of the old NazareneSpace users have been imported to the new NazareneSpace. If you were a member of the old NazareneSpace then you should have gotten an email with your new login info. If you did not see it, check your spam folder. Over the last eleven years (more really) I have written over 600 blogs. Many of you have asked about accessing these. We have preserved them all. We currently plan to repost these blogs, occasionally mixed in with new ones, over the next couple of years. If there is one you are especially interested in, at any time over the next two years, let me know, and I can move it to the front of the line. However we will be concentrating on Channukah and truth about Christmas blogs thru most or all of December. Also, all of the International Nazarene Beit DIn information has been preserved and will be posted in its own section in the near future. To visit the new NazareneSpace social network just go to www.nazarenespace.com (if you want to post, pull down the “My Spaces” menue and choose “NazareneSpace” (all users are automatically added to this Space). “Spaces” on the new system are like “groups” on the old system. Watch for added features and improvements in the future. The Nazarenespace Blog site is at www.nazarenespace.com/blog. This is where you will see my latest blogs. The two sites are interconnected. Please be patient with us, we are “on the job training” learning how to use not just one, but two new open source software packages and plugins for each, Eric Sandquist has been enormously helpful, and have other volunteers. And as always, this ministry is made possible by tithes and freewill offerings of people like you! So please donate by Paypal to donations@wnae.org to help us keep this vision alive!

James Scott Trimm

PS: As many of you know, my wife Inga “Kitty” Trimm has had six abdominal surgeries since 2015. In 2018 she went into septic shock and was hospitalized for over fifty days. During that time she had three abdominal surgeries and was in ICU on a ventilator twice, for about a week each. Now she needs a seventh abdominal surgery, but is too high of a risk for surgery, so no surgeon will agree to do it. Instead she must wait until her condition is life threatening, and they are forced to do emergency surgery. Meanwhile I lost my secular job while she was hospitalized, and am now her caretaker as well as doing full time research and teaching ministry. You can also donate to my wife’s GoFundMe page for her medical crisis at https://www.gofundme.com/f/trimm-family-crisis (but today, we have an immediate need, so a donation by Paypal to donations@wnae.org will reach us immediately (GoFundMe is not as fast).

Channukah and the Miracle of the Canon

Channukah and the Miracle of the Canon
The Forgotten Maccabean Canonization
By James Scott Trimm


What does the festival of Channukah have to do with our canon of Scripture? Well in a way the celebration of Channukah is, in part, a celebration of the canonization of the Tanak. The Tanak was not canonized all at once by either Rabbinic Judaism or Christianity. It was canonized through time, in stages. The following are the stages of canonization as recorded in Scripture.


Canonization under Moses

The first stage of canonization was the canonization of the Torah by Moshe (Moses). Moshe wrote the five books of the Torah, which are collectively known as “The Torah” or “The Book of the Covenant” and delivered them to the Priests and to the Elders of Israel, as we read in the Torah:

9 And Moshe wrote this Torah, and delivered it unto the cohanim, the sons of Levi–that bore the ark of the covenant of YHWH–and unto all the elders of Yisra’el.
(Deut. 31:9 HRV)


The Torah remained the “canon” of Scripture for the Assembly of Israel for about 400 years during which time Israel worshiped YHWH in a portable Tabernacle.


Canonization under David and Solomon

At the time of David and Solomon there was a shift in the system of worship, so that under Solomon a Temple was built to replace the Tabernacle. By this time also the number of Cohenim (Priests) had multiplied so that through direction from Samuel (1Chron. 9:22) David subdivided the Cohenim and Levitical singers into twenty-four courses that took turns serving in the Temple (1Chron. 24-25). This meant that liturgical materials and other worship information would no longer just be passed from generation to generation, over the generations. As a matter of actual application this information would be transmitted from course to course as they took their turns serving from week to week. This created the need for written liturgy and written information as part of the Temple worship.

Certainly it was at this time that the majority of the Psalms were canonized. It was also at this time that the literary works of Solomon were canonized. We cannot be certain which other books may have received canonical status at this time.


Canonization under King Hezekiah and Isaiah

The next period of canonization was under King Hezekiah and is mentioned in the Talmud (b.Baba Batra 15a). At the beginning of his reign, the Kingdom of Judah faced invasion by Assyria. There was great concern that the Temple would be taken by Assyrians and the official copies of the canonical books stored there might be compromised. Moreover internal apostasy was resulting in idols to foreign gods being set up throughout Judah (2Chron. 31:1). Ahaz (Hezakiah’s predecessor on the throne) had himself apostatized. He had given Temple ornaments to the King of Assyria as a gift, shut up the doors to the Temple, and set up idols to false gods (2Chron. 28:21-25).

It was at this time that the “men of Hezekiah” canonized more of Solomon’s Proverbs (chapters 25-29).

1 These also are proverbs of Shlomo, which the men of Y’chizkiyah, king of Y’hudah copied out.
(Prov. 25:1 HRV)


Also Hezekiah composed new Psalms which were introduced to the Temple worship. As Isaiah writes:

19 The living, the living … he shall praise You, as I do this day; the father to the children shall make known Your truth.
20 YHWH is ready to save me, therefore we will sing songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life, in the House of YHWH.
(Is. 38:19-20 HRV)


At this time Hezekiah’s life had been extended by fifteen years, so these were probably the fifteen “Degree Psalms” or “Psalms of Ascension” (Psalms 120-134) which were read as the Cohenim ascended each of the fifteen steps to the alter.


Canonization under Josiah

Very similar to the canonization under Hezikiah was the canonization under Josiah. The days preceding the reign of Josiah had also been days of great apostasy. Josiah’s reign was preceded by those of Manasseh and Amon:

9 And M’nasheh, made Y’hudah and the inhabitants of Yerushalayim to err, so that they did evil more, than did the nations whom YHWH destroyed before the children of Yisra’el.
22 And he did that which was evil in the sight of YHWH, as did M’nasheh his father. And Amon sacrificed unto all the graven images which M’nasheh his father had made, and served them.
23 And he humbled not himself before YHWH, as M’nasheh his father had humbled himself: but this same Amon became guilty, more and more.
(2Chron. 33:9, 22-23 HRV)


The Temple had become an unused empty edifice.

8 Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land, and the house, he sent Shafan the son of Atzalyah, and Ma’aseiyah the governor of the city, and Yoach the son of Yo’achaz the recorder, to repair the House of YHWH his Elohim.
9 And they came to Hilkiyah the cohen gadol, and delivered the money that was brought into the House of Elohim, which the L’vi’im, the keepers of the door, had gathered of the hand of M’nasheh and Efrayim, and of all the remnant of Yisra’el, and of all Y’hudah and Binyamin, and they returned to Yerushalayim.
10 And they delivered it into the hand of the workmen, that had the oversight of the House of YHWH, and the workmen that wrought in the House of YHWH gave it to mend and repair the house:
11 Even to the carpenters and to the builders gave they it, to buy hewn stone, and timber for couplings, and to make beams for the houses, which the kings of Y’hudah had destroyed.
(2Chron. 34:8-11 HRV)


King Josiah ushered in an era of restoration:

25 And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to YHWH with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Torah of Moshe; neither after him arose there any like him.
(2Kn. 23:25 HRV)


3 For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the Elohim of David his father. And in the twelfth year, he began to purge Y’hudah and Yerushalayim from the high places, and the Asherim, and the graven images, and the molten images.
(2Chron. 34:3 HRV)


In the process of restoring the Temple, the original copy of the Torah was discovered:

14 And when they brought out the money that was brought into the House of YHWH, Hilkiyah the cohen, found the Book of the Torah of YHWH given by Moshe.
15 And Hilkiyah answered and said to Shafan the scribe, I have found the Book of the Torah in the House of YHWH. And Hilkiyah delivered the book to Shafan.
16 And Shafan carried the book to the king, and moreover brought back word unto the king, saying, All that was committed to your servants … they do it.
17 And they have poured out the money that was found in the House of YHWH, and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers, and into the hand of the workmen.
18 And Shafan the scribe, told the king, saying, Hilkiyah the cohen has delivered me a book. And Shafan read therein before the king.
19 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the Torah, that he rent his clothes.
(2Chron. 34:14-19 HRV)


This began a Scripture restoration and a re-establishment of Scripture canon.


Canonization under Ezra and Nehemiah:

Next we come to the period of canonization under Ezra and Nehemiah. This canonization involved a complete editing and redacting of the Tanak. It was at this editing that some editorial comments may have been added. For example the parenthetical comment in Deut. 34:5-6 which seems to have been added for a later audience:

5 So Moshe, the servant of YHWH, died there in the land of Mo’av, according to the word of YHWH.
6 And he was buried in the valley in the land of Mo’av, over against Beit-peor: and no man knows of his sepulcher unto this day.
10 And there has not arisen a prophet since in Yisra’el, like unto Moshe, whom YHWH knew face to face,
(Deut. 34:5-6, 10 HRV)


The phrases “and no man knows of his sepulcher unto this day” and “there has not arisen since” are much later additions, probably editorial comments by Ezra.

This editing, redacting and canonization is described in 2Edsras. First Ezra prayed for inspiration to restore the Scriptures:

19: Then answered I before thee, and said,
20: Behold, Lord, I will go, as thou hast commanded me, and reprove the people which are present: but they that shall be born afterward, who shall admonish them? thus the world is set in darkness, and they that dwell therein are without light.
21: For thy law is burnt, therefore no man knoweth the things that are done of thee, or the work that shall begin.
22: But if I have found grace before thee, send the Holy Spirit into me, and I shall write all that hath been done in the world since the beginning, which were written in thy law, that men may find thy path, and that they which will live in the latter days may live.
23: And he answered me, saying, Go thy way, gather the people together, and say unto them, that they seek thee not for forty days.
24: But look thou prepare thee many box trees, and take with thee Sarea, Dabria, Selemia, Ecanus, and Asiel, these five which are ready to write swiftly;
25: And come hither, and I shall light a candle of understanding in thine heart, which shall not be put out, till the things be performed which thou shalt begin to write.
26: And when thou hast done, some things shalt thou publish, and some things shalt thou shew secretly to the wise: to morrow this hour shalt thou begin to write.
(2Esdras 14:19-26)


Then he edited and redacted the Scriptures:

27: Then went I forth, as he commanded, and gathered all the people together, and said,
28: Hear these words, O Israel.
29: Our fathers at the beginning were strangers in Egypt, from whence they were delivered:
30: And received the law of life, which they kept not, which ye also have transgressed after them.
31: Then was the land, even the land of Sion, parted among you by lot: but your fathers, and ye yourselves, have done unrighteousness, and have not kept the ways which the Highest commanded you.
32: And forasmuch as he is a righteous judge, he took from you in time the thing that he had given you.
33: And now are ye here, and your brethren among you.
34: Therefore if so be that ye will subdue your own understanding, and reform your hearts, ye shall be kept alive and after death ye shall obtain mercy.
35: For after death shall the judgment come, when we shall live again: and then shall the names of the righteous be manifest, and the works of the ungodly shall be declared.
36: Let no man therefore come unto me now, nor seek after me these forty days.
37: So I took the five men, as he commanded me, and we went into the field, and remained there.
38: And the next day, behold, a voice called me, saying, Esdras, open thy mouth, and drink that I give thee to drink.
39: Then opened I my mouth, and, behold, he reached me a full cup, which was full as it were with water, but the colour of it was like fire.
40: And I took it, and drank: and when I had drunk of it, my heart uttered understanding, and wisdom grew in my breast, for my spirit strengthened my memory:
41: And my mouth was opened, and shut no more.
42: The Highest gave understanding unto the five men, and they wrote the wonderful visions of the night that were told, which they knew not: and they sat forty days, and they wrote in the day, and at night they ate bread.
43: As for me. I spake in the day, and I held not my tongue by night.
44: In forty days they wrote ninety and four books.
45: And it came to pass, when the forty days were filled, that the Highest spake, saying, The first that thou hast written publish openly, that the worthy and unworthy may read it:
46: But keep the seventy last, that thou mayest deliver them only to such as be wise among the people:
47: For in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and the stream of knowledge.
48: And I did so.
(2Esdras 14:27-48 KJV)


Notice that this canon is described as consisting of twenty-four books. Many of the books we know of in the Tanak were originally parts of single books (like 1st and 2nd Samuel) and many books were collected into a group often thought of as a single “book”. There is great debate over how the books were anciently reckoned to reach a canon of 24 books (or as some other sources prescribe, 22 books) but the following is a proposal:

1. The Torah (the Book of the Covenant)
2. Joshua
3. Judges
4. The Book of Kingdoms (Samuel and Kings)
5. Isaiah
6. Jeremiah
7. Ezekiel
8. The Minor Prophets
10. Psalms
11. Proverbs
12. Wisdom of Solomon
13. Job
14. Song of Songs
15. Ruth
16. Lamentations
17. Esther
18. Daniel
19. 2Esdras
20. Tobit
22. Baruch
23. Letter of Jeremiah
24. Ezra/Nehemiah/Chronicles (including 1stEsdras)

The Book of Enoch would have likely been one of the seventy “secret” books and the other six books of the Apocrypha were canonized later. The number seventy connected to the “secret books” is interesting, because 70 is the gematria of the Hebrew word SOD (meaning “hidden, secret, mystical).

Nehemiah followed up on this, gathering these books into an official “library” (the word “Bible” literally refers to a library):

13 The same things are reported in the records and in the memoirs
of Nehemiah, and also that he founded a library and collected
the books about the kings and prophets, and the writings of
David, the letters of the kings about votive offerings.
(2Macc. 2:13 RSV)



Canonization under Judas Maccabee

The final canonization of the Tanak took place under Judas Maccabee and the Gerusia (Assembly of Elders in his day) his successors. This is a “lost” period of canonization forgotten by many who list the canonization under Ezra and Nehemiah is “final”.

The time leading up to this canonization was also a time of great apostasy, as we read in 1st Maccabees:

11: In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow.
12: So this device pleased them well.
13: Then certain of the people were so forward herein, that they went to the king, who gave them licence to do after the ordinances of the heathen:
14: Whereupon they built a place of exercise at Jerusalem according to the customs of the heathen:
15: And made themselves uncircumcised, and forsook the holy covenant, and joined themselves to the heathen, and were sold to do mischief.
(1Macc. 1:11-15 KJV)


At this time the High Priesthood was purchased by Jason who drove the apostasy forward, as we read in 2nd Maccabees:

7: But after the death of Seleucus, when Antiochus, called Epiphanes, took the kingdom, Jason the brother of Onias laboured underhand to be high priest,
8: Promising unto the king by intercession three hundred and threescore talents of silver, and of another revenue eighty talents:
9: Beside this, he promised to assign an hundred and fifty more, if he might have licence to set him up a place for exercise, and for the training up of youth in the fashions of the heathen, and to write them of Jerusalem by the name of Antiochians.
10: Which when the king had granted, and he had gotten into his hand the rule he forthwith brought his own nation to Greekish fashion.
11: And the royal privileges granted of special favour to the Jews by the means of John the father of Eupolemus, who went ambassador to Rome for amity and aid, he took away; and putting down the governments which were according to the law, he brought up new customs against the law:
12: For he built gladly a place of exercise under the tower itself, and brought the chief young men under his subjection, and made them wear a hat.
13: Now such was the height of Greek fashions, and increase of heathenish manners, through the exceeding profaneness of Jason, that ungodly wretch, and no high priest;
(2Macc. 4:1-22 KJV).


And Antiochus Epiphanies profaned the Temple, not just shutting it down, but polluting it and making it into a temple for false gods. And banned the Torah, seeking to destroy every copy, and forbidding ownership of a copy of the Torah on pain of death:

54 Now the fifteenth day of the month Kislev, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, and builded idol altars throughout the cities of Juda on every side;
55: And burnt incense at the doors of their houses, and in the streets.
56: And when they had rent in pieces the books of the law which they found, they burnt them with fire.
57: And whosoever was found with any the book of the testament, or if any committed to the law, the king’s commandment was, that they should put him to death.
(1Macc 1:54 KJV)


1: Not long after this the king sent an old man of Athens to compel the Jews to depart from the laws of their fathers, and not to live after the laws of God:
2: And to pollute also the temple in Jerusalem, and to call it the temple of Jupiter Olympius; and that in Garizim, of Jupiter the Defender of strangers, as they did desire that dwelt in the place.
3: The coming in of this mischief was sore and grievous to the people:
4: For the temple was filled with riot and revelling by the Gentiles, who dallied with harlots, and had to do with women within the circuit of the holy places, and besides that brought in things that were not lawful.
5: The altar also was filled with profane things, which the law forbiddeth.
6: Neither was it lawful for a man to keep sabbath days or ancient fasts, or to profess himself at all to be a Jew.
(2Macc. 6:1-6 KJV)


Judas Maccabee and his men defeated Antiochus Epiphanies and rededicated the Temple:

1: Now Maccabeus and his company, the Lord guiding them, recovered the temple and the city:
2: But the altars which the heathen had built in the open street, and also the chapels, they pulled down.
3: And having cleansed the temple they made another altar, and striking stones they took fire out of them, and offered a sacrifice after two years, and set forth incense, and lights, and shewbread.
4: When that was done, they fell flat down, and besought the Lord that they might come no more into such troubles; but if they sinned any more against him, that he himself would chasten them with mercy, and that they might not be delivered unto the blasphemous and barbarous nations.
(2Macc. 10:1-4 KJV)


The Talmud records the event this way:

For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils in it, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they [the Maccabees] searched and found only one cruse of oil which possessed the seal of the High Priest, but which contained sufficient oil for only one day’s lighting; yet a miracle occurred there and they lit [the lamp] for eight days.
(b.Shabbat 21b)


At this time, just Judas Maccabee and his men underwent a time of restoration and Temple dedication very much like those of the previous periods of canonization. In fact the preface of 2nd Maccabees includes a letter from the Gerusia (Assembly of Elders) to the Jews in Alexandria Egypt:

13 The same things are reported in the records and in the memoirs
of Nehemiah, and also that he founded a library and collected
the books about the kings and prophets, and the writings of
David, the letters of the kings about votive offerings.
14 In the same way Judas also collected all the books that had
been lost on account of the war which had come upon us,
and are in our possession.
15 So if you have need of them, send people to get them for you.
(2Macc. 2:13-15 RSV)

The context of this letter indicates that 2nd Maccabees is being sent to the Jews in Alexandria as part of this Maccabean Canon. It was during this period of canonization that books which were written after the time of Ezra would have been first canonized. These includes books like:

Ben Sira – Written about the time of Alexander the Great.
1st Maccabees (which was not finished until the reign of John Hycranus)
2nd Maccabees (lifetime of Judas)

3rd Maccabees (around 217 BCE – probably provided by the Alexandrian Jews as part of the exchange of books implied in the letter above)
4th Maccabees (lifetime of Judas)
Book of Judith (lifetime of Judas)

It was also probably during this editing, redacting and canonization that final touches were added to the book of Nehemiah in which the names and genealogies of priestly families are given which reach all the way to the time of Alexander the Great (Neh. 12:11, 22; see Josephus Antiquities 11:7:2).

Why did the Gerusia wrap up their canonization with the beginning of the reign of John Hycranus? Possibly because he was the first Hasmonian ruler that was not one of the original sons of Mattithias. But most likely it was because he began as a Pharisee but apostatized to Sadduceeism (Josephus; Ant. 13:10:5-6). At this time the Gerusia probably split into the political Sanhedrin headed by the High Priest and dominated by Sadducees (this is the one that convicted Yeshua) and the Pharisaic Sanhedrin which was headed by such men as Hillel and his decedents who were not Priests at all.

The Maccabeean canon was later rejected by Rabbinic Judaism, possibly out of a disapproval of the later Hasmonian dynasty. For this same reason Channukah was almost unmentioned in the Mishna, and only briefly discussed in the Talmud, in which the shift is away from the military victory itself, and toward the miracle of the oil. The Books of the Maccabees were removed from the canon, and in fact a move was made to restore the pre-Maccabean canon of Ezra in its place.

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The Miracle of the Oil and the Remnant

The Miracle of the Oil and the Remnant
By
James Scott Trimm
From the book:
Channukah and the Last Days



A major part of the Channukah story is the miracle of the oil. In fact, when the Hasmonian dynasty fell out of favor, celebration of Channukah shifted in theme from the military victory itself, to the miracle of the oil. The miracle of the oil is not actually mentioned in the books of the Maccabees however the Talmud does recount it:


What is the reason for Channukah? For our Rabbis taught: On the 25th of Kislev begin the days of Channukah, which are eight, during which lamentation for the dead and fasting are
forbidden. For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils in it, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they [the Maccabees]
searched and found only one cruse of oil which possessed the seal of the High Priest, but which contained sufficient oil for only one day’s lighting; yet a miracle occurred there and they lit [the lamp] for eight days. The following year these days
were appointed a Festival with the recitation of Hallel and thanksgiving.
(b.Shabbat 21b)


It was also recounted even earlier in the Megillat Antiochus (c. 200 CE):


The Hasmoneans entered the Sanctuary, rebuilt the gates, closed the breaches, and cleansed the Temple court from the slain and the impurities. They looked for pure olive oil to light the Menorah, and found only one bottle with the seal of the Kohen Gadol so that they were sure of its purity. Though its quantity seemed sufficient only for one day’s lighting, it lasted for eight days owing to the blessing of the Elohim of heaven who had established His Name there. Hence, the Hasmoneans and all the Jews alike instituted these eight days as a time of feasting and rejoicing, like any festival prescribed in the Torah, and of kindling lights to commemorate the victories Elohim had given them.
(Megillat Antiochus)


There has been some controversy concerning the miracle of the oil. Some say that it was a later innovation, since it is not mentioned in either 1st of 2nd Maccabees. I am convinced that the miracle of the oil did take place for three reasons:

1. It is implied in 2nd Maccabees (we will cover this below)

2. It is recorded in other early sources, such as the Megillat Antiochus.

3. It fits the Last Days prophetic imagery to well for that relationship to be coincidental.

While none of the books of the Maccabees mention this miracle, there are hints of it found in 2Maccabees (which is written on the REMEZ level 2nd Maccabees opens with two letters. The first is a letter to the Jews in Egypt (2Macc. 1:1-9) and the second is more specifically to Aristobulus and to the Jews in Egypt (2Macc. 1:10-2:18). The purpose of these letters, is to explain to the Jews in Egypt why they should keep the eight day Channukah Festival, despite the fact that it is not one of the feasts prescribed in the Torah. The letter begins with events concerning Nehemiah and works it way backwards to the time of Moses. The letter encourages the Egyptians to “celebrate the feast of tabernacles and the feast of fire” which he says “was given when Nehemiah, who built the Temple and the alter, offered sacrifices.” (2Macc. 1:18) What is “the feast of fire”? Is it a reference to the original feast of Tabernacles or to Channukah which originated as a belated feast of Tabernacles? The text is unclear.


The Letter goes on to explain the original “miracle of the oil” which took place in association with the dedication of the Second Temple built by Nehemiah:


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 God, Nehemiah, 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, Nehemiah 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 whilst the sacrifice was consuming, I say, both the priests, and all the rest, Jonathan beginning, and the rest answering thereunto, as Nehemiah did.
24: And the prayer was after this manner; O Lord, Lord God, Creator of all things, who art 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, thou that deliverest Israel from all trouble, and didst choose the fathers, and sanctify them:
26: Receive the sacrifice for thy whole people Israel, and preserve thine 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 thou art our God.
28: Punish them that oppress us, and with pride do us wrong.
29: Plant thy people again in thy holy place, as Moses hath spoken.
30: And the priests sung psalms of thanksgiving.
31: Now when the sacrifice was consumed, Nehemiah 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 Nehemiah 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 Nehemiah called this thing Naphthar, which is as much as to say, a cleansing: but many men call it Naphta
(2Macc. 1:19-36)

The account is unclear as to whether these events took place at a Suukot (Tabernacles) or on the 25th of Chislev. The author probably assumes that his audience is familiar with this account and knows which was the case.


If it took place on a Sukkot, it might explain how Sukkot has become the original “festival of lights” a characteristic that transferred to Channukah. Sukkot was known as the “Festival of Light” and at this feast he entire city of Jerusalem was filled with light from giant 75 feet tall menorahs. (m.Sukkah 5:2–4; b.Sukkah 52b).

This author’s intent was to justify the observance of Channukah through this account, which certainly implies that Channukah also involved a similar “miracle of the oil”. The letter goes on to recount another apocryphal event, in which Jeremiah also took some of this “fire” (which by implication, would also have taken the form of the miraculous thick liquid (oil) “nephthar” along with certain Temple artifacts including the Ark of the Covenant, hiding them up in a cave in Mount Moab:


1: It is also found in the records, that Jeremy the prophet commanded them that were carried away to take of the fire, as it hath been signified:
2: And how that the prophet, having given them the law, charged them not to forget the commandments of the Lord, and that they should not err in their minds, when they see images of
silver and gold, with their ornaments.
3: And with other such speeches exhorted he them, that the law should not depart from their hearts.
4: It was also contained in the same writing, that the prophet, being warned of God, commanded the tabernacle and the ark to go with him, as he went forth into the mountain, where Moses climbed up, and saw the heritage of God.
5: And when Jeremiah came thither, he found an hollow cave, wherein he laid the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door.
6: And some of those that followed him came to mark the way, but they could not find it.
7: Which when Jeremiah perceived, he blamed them, saying, As for that place, it shall be unknown until the time that God gather his people again together, and receive them unto mercy.
8: Then shall the Lord shew them these things, and the glory of the Lord shall appear, and the cloud also, as it was shewed under Moses,…
(2Macc. 2:1-8a)

The Author of 2nd Maccabees is telling us that on the Last day when Messiah returns there will be a great miracle, the pillar of cloud will return and indicate the hidden position of the Ark of the Covenant, Temple artifacts and the “Naphthar” the oil that will miraculously restore the fire of the alter for the Millennial Temple. The letter goes on to recount Solomon’s dedication of the First Temple, and how the original fire of the alter of the First Temple was
also a great miracle:


8b …and as when Solomon desired that the place might be honourably sanctified.
9: It was also declared, that he being wise offered the sacrifice of dedication, and of the finishing of the temple.
10: And as when Moses prayed unto the Lord, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the sacrifices: even so prayed Solomon also, and the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offerings.
11: And Moses said, Because the sin offering was not to be eaten, it was consumed.
12: So Solomon kept those eight days.
(2Macc. 2:8b-12)


This refers back to the events recorded in 2 Chronicles :


Now when Shlomo had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt-offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of YHWH filled the house.
(2Chon. 7:1 HRV)

This was part of the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, which took place at Sukkot (2Chron. 7:8-10; 1Kn. 8:2).


Thus 2nd Maccabees makes the case that each Temple dedication was tied to a “miracle of fire” and to the eight day Sukkot celebration. It was manifest by the miracle of fire that came down from heaven at the dedication of the First Temple during Sukkot. It was manifest at the dedication of the Second Temple and the miracle of the fire from the Naphthar. Finally it was manifest at the re-dedication of the Second Temple with the miracle of the oil.

The miracle of the oil points to the last days in two important ways. To begin with, the finding of the oil in the Temple as the re-dedication prefigures the finding of the Naphthar as well as the Ark of the Covenant and other Temple artifacts which will bring about another “miracle of fire” at the dedication of the Millennial Temple.


There is another important way in which the miracle of the oil prefigures the Last Days. At the end of the three and one half years of the Great Tribulation, when Messiah shall cleanse His Sanctuary, he will find a remnant. Just as the oil had the seal of the Cohen HaGadol, the remnant shall also be sealed:


2 And I saw another angel who ascended from the rising of the sun, and he had the seal of the Living Eloah. And he cried aloud with a loud voice to the four angels–those to whom it was given to harm the earth and the sea.
3 And he said, Do not harm the earth nor the sea, not even the trees, until we seal the servants of Eloah between their eyes.
4 And I heard the number of those sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand from all the tribes of Yisra’el.
(Rev. 7:2- 4 HRV)


This seal is the seal of the Ruach HaKodesh:


11 And we were chosen in Him, even as He marked us out beforehand, and He desired: He who performs everything according to the purpose of His will,
12 That we, those who first hoped in the Messiah, should be to the esteem of His glory.
13 In Him also, you heard the Word of Truth, which is the Good News of your life, and in Him, you believed and were sealed with the Ruach HaKodesh which was promised,
14 Which is the token of our inheritance, unto the redemption of those who have Life, and unto the glory of His honor.
(Eph. 1:13 HRV)


In the Tanak, the olive oil of the menorah is identified as symbolic of the Ruach HaKodesh:


1 And the angel that spoke with me returned and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep.
2 And he said unto me: What see you? And I said, I have seen, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and its seven lamps thereon; there are seven pipes: yes seven, to the lamps, which are upon the top thereof.
3 And two olive trees by it: one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.
4 And I answered and spoke to the angel that spoke with me, saying, What are these, my master?
5 Then the angel that spoke with me answered and said unto me: Know you not what these are? And I said, No, my master.
6 Then he answered and spoke unto me, saying: This is the word of YHWH unto Z’rubavel, saying: Not by might, nor by power: but by My spirit! says YHWH Tzva’ot.
7 Who are you, O great mountain before Z’rubavel? You shall become a plain. And he shall bring forth the top stone with shoutings of Grace! Grace! unto it.
8 Moreover the word of YHWH came unto me, saying:
9 The hands of Z’rubavel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it: and you shall know that YHWH Tzva’ot has sent me unto you.
10 For who has despised the day of small things? Even they, shall see with joy the plummet in the hand of Z’rubavel–even these seven, which are the eyes of YHWH, that run to and fro through the whole earth.
11 Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick, and upon the left side thereof?
12 And I answered the second time, and said unto him, What are these two olive branches, which are beside the two golden spouts, that empty the golden oil out of themselves?
13 And he answered me and said: Know you not what these are? And I said, No, my master.
14 Then said he: These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Adon of the whole earth.
(Zech. 4)


Note the parallel here between these two “olive trees” and the two “olive tree” witnesses who witness during the forty-two months of the Great Tribulation:


1 And a reed was given to me like a rod, and the angel stood and said, Arise and measure the Temple of Eloah, and the altar, and those who worship in it:
2 Yet the court within the Temple, leave out, and do not measure it, because it is given to the Goyim, and they will trample down the Set-Apart city, forty-two months.
3 And I will give my two witnesses [authority] to prophesy, one thousand two hundred sixty days, being clothed with sackcloth.
4 These are two olive trees and two lampstands, that stand before the Adon of the whole earth.
(Rev. 11:1-4 HRV)


Yeshua illustrates the “oil” which the remnant will have upon their return:


1 Then will the Kingdom of Heaven be comparable to ten virgins, which took their torches, and went out to meet the bridegroom.
2 Five of them were foolish, and five of them were prudent.
3 The five foolish, when they took the torches, took no oil with them:
4 But the prudent took the oil in their vessels, with the torches.
5 And while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 And at midnight there was a cry, Behold! The bridegroom has come: go out now to meet Him!
7 Then all those virgins arose, and made ready their torches.
8 And the foolish said to the prudent, Give us now of your oil, for our torches are extinguished.
9 But the prudent answered and said to them, We may not give you, lest there suffice not for us and you. But go now therefore to them that sell, and buy for yourselves:
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came. And they that were ready, went in with Him to the marriage, and the door was shut.
11 And after that, came the rest of the virgins, saying, My Master, My Master: open to us!
12 But He answered, saying: Amen, I say to you, I know you not.
(Mt. 25:1-12 HRV)


Just as Judas Maccabee found a single jar of set-apart oil sealed with the seal of the Cohen HaGadol, when Messiah returns, he will find a remnant sealed with the seal of the Ruach HaKodesh, filled with the Ruach HaKodesh.

As you know we have been digging ourselves out of a budget shortfall.  As I have said to you many times, I look on this work as a co-operative one with me, and all of you combining our resources together in order to get the job done of helping to teach this great truth to all in the world who will listen. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your continued support, you are the ones who make it all possible by your contributions and your prayers for our work. I truly appreciate your help in every way.

If you can make a one time donation of $500 or $1,000 dollars to support this work.


Donations can be sent by paypal to donations@wnae.org.

Donations can also be made out to “Nazarene Judaism” and sent to:

Nazarene Judaism
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053