Nazarene Space

Three Reasons to Celebrate Channukah
By
James Scott Trimm
 


1. Yeshua observed Channukah.

John 7:1 tells us that starting at that time, Yeshua avoided going to Judea and taught only in Galil because the Judeans wanted to kill him:
 
After these things, Yeshua was walking in Galil,
for He did not want to walk in Y’hudah,
because the Judeans wanted to kill Him.
(John 7:1 HRV)
 
The next few verses tell us that when Sukkot came, Yeshua felt compelled to go to the Temple in Jerusalem, but came there secretly, not even letting his family know, and traveling apart from them:
 
2 And the Feast of Tabernacles of the Judeans was near.
3 And His brothers said to Yeshua, Depart from here and go into Y’hudah, that Your
talmidim might see the works that You do:
4 For there is no one who does anything in secret, and desires that he be [known] in
public. If you do these things, show your nefesh to the world:
5 For not even His brothers had trust in Yeshua.
6 Yeshua said to them: My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.
7 The world is not able to hate you, but it hates Me because I testify against it; that its
works are evil.
8 Go up to this feast: I will not go up now to this feast, because My time is not yet
fulfilled.
9 He said these things, and He stayed in Galil.
10 And after His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He also went up: not in the open,
but in a secret manner.
(John 7:2-10 HRV)

Yochanan then goes on to cover the events which transpired during this Sukkot visit (John 7:11-10:21).

John 10:22 then opens with:

Now the Feast of Chanukkah was held in Yerushalayim,
and it was winter. And Yeshua was walking in the Temple,
in the porch of Shlomo.
(John 10:22-23 HRV)

Clearly Yeshua had returned to Jerusalem, something he normally avoided doing at this point in time, just as he had come for Sukkot, now he had come for Channukah. In context John 10:22 is not simply incidental, it is intended to be read in context with John 7:1-10 to indicate that Yeshua risked his life to come to Jerusalem to be there for Channukah, juts as he had done so for Sukkot. Normally in this time he avoided Judah and taught only in Galil. Clearly Yeshua had come to observe Channukah just as he had come to observe Sukkot, despite the fat that many Judeans wished to kill him, because he thought it urgently important to observe the feast.

He who says, I am in Him,
ought to conduct himself
according to His conduct.
(1Jn. 2:6 HRV)
 

2. The Scripture instructs us to observe Channukah.
 
Moreover Judas and his brethren with the whole congregation of Israel ordained, that the days of the dedication of the altar should be kept in their season from year to year by the space of eight days, from the five and twentieth day of the month Casleu, with mirth and gladness.
(1Macc. 4:59 KJV)

And now see that ye keep the feast of tabernacles in the month Casleu.
(2Macc. 1:9 KJV)
 
Therefore whereas we are now purposed to keep the purification of the temple upon the five and twentieth day of the month Casleu, we thought it necessary to certify you thereof, that ye also might keep it, as the feast of the tabernacles, …
(2Macc. 1:18a KJV)

Whereas we then are about to celebrate the purification, we have written unto you, and ye shall do well, if ye keep the same days.
(2Macc. 2:16 KJV)

5 Now upon the same day that the strangers profaned the temple, on the very same day it was cleansed again, even the five and twentieth day of the same month, which is Casleu.
6 And they kept the eight days with gladness, as in the feast of the tabernacles, remembering that not long afore they had held the feast of the tabernacles, when as they wandered in the mountains and dens like beasts.
7 Therefore they bare branches, and fair boughs, and palms also, and sang psalms unto him that had given them good success in cleansing his place.
8 They ordained also by a common statute and decree, That every year those days should be kept of the whole nation of the Jews.
(2Macc. 10:5-8 KJV)

1st and 2nd Maccabees were originally part of the Canon.
(see: http://nazarenespace.com/profiles/blog/show?id=2182335%3ABlogPost%3... )


All English-language Protestant Bibles in the 16th Century included the books of the Apocrypha—generally in a separate section between the Old and New Testaments; However, Puritan theologians were inclined to reject books which owed their inclusion in the Biblical canon to ecclesiastical authority. Starting in 1630, volumes of the Geneva Bible were occasionally bound with the pages of the Apocrypha section excluded. After the Restoration in 1660, Dissenters tended to discourage the reading of the Apocrypha in both public services and in private devotion.

The 1611 KJV included the Apocrypha but many publishers sought to satisfy a demand for cheaper and less bulky Bibles. In 1615 public notice was made that no Bibles were to be bound and sold without the Apocrypha with a penalty of one year in prison. None the less publishers continued seeking to increase their profit margin and soon it became difficult to find an ordinary edition of the KJV which contained the Apocrypha. (Today publishers are doing the same thing with the rest of the Tanak, simply printing the New Testament alone).
 

3. The Beit Din as Empowered by the Torah Established Channukah as Halachah.

We read in the Torah:

9: And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment:
10: And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee:
11: According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left.
(Deut. 17:9-11 KJV)

2nd Maccabees opens with two attached letters from the Jerusalem Council, the first is addressed to the Jews in Egypt in general (1:1-9) and the second is to Aristobulus, a teacher of King Ptolemy and to the Jews in Egypt (1:10-2:32). The two letters are from “the people that were at Jerusalem and in Judea, and the council, and Judas” (1:10). 2nd Maccabees is very much like the letter from the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:23-29 relaying an official decree from the Council to Jews in the Diaspora. That which we find written in 2Maccabees chapters 1-2 is “the sentence of judgment” of “the judge that shall be in those days” (Deut. 17:9) and we are therefore directed by Torah to “observe to do according to all that they inform you” (Deut. 17:10) and not “decline… to the right hand, nor to the left” (Deut. 17:11).

And now see that ye keep the feast of tabernacles in the month Casleu.
(2Macc. 1:9 KJV)
 
Therefore whereas we are now purposed to keep the purification of the temple upon the five and twentieth day of the month Casleu, we thought it necessary to certify you thereof, that ye also might keep it, as the feast of the tabernacles, …
(2Macc. 1:18a KJV)

Whereas we then are about to celebrate the purification, we have written unto you, and ye shall do well, if ye keep the same days.
(2Macc. 2:16 KJV)

And as we see also recorded in 1st and 2nd Maccabees:

Moreover Judas and his brethren with the whole congregation of Israel ordained, that the days of the dedication of the altar should be kept in their season from year to year by the space of eight days, from the five and twentieth day of the month Casleu, with mirth and gladness.
(1Macc. 4:59 KJV)
 
5 Now upon the same day that the strangers profaned the temple, on the very same day it was cleansed again, even the five and twentieth day of the same month, which is Casleu.
6 And they kept the eight days with gladness, as in the feast of the tabernacles, remembering that not long afore they had held the feast of the tabernacles, when as they wandered in the mountains and dens like beasts.
7 Therefore they bare branches, and fair boughs, and palms also, and sang psalms unto him that had given them good success in cleansing his place.
8 They ordained also by a common statute and decree, That every year those days should be kept of the whole nation of the Jews.
(2Macc. 10:5-8 KJV)

And as we also read in the Talmud:

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 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)

The Torah commands us to “observe and to do” according to what the “judges that be in those days” direct us to do, and the Jerusalem Council at the time of Judas Maccabee officially directed us to observe Channukah.

 

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