Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 12/06/2010

In Case You Didn’t Know

The Miracle of Hanukkah

The festival of Hanukkah, which in Hebrew means “dedication,” is an eight-day celebration most famous for the hanukkiah candelabras that traditionally sit in the windowsill during the holiday in Jewish homes around the world. This year, hanukkiah candles will be lit each night from December 1 through December 8. Though not mentioned among the traditional “feasts of the Lord” in the book of Leviticus, the holiday of Hanukkah has important significance for Jews and Christians alike.

The holiday remembers the account of the Maccabee revolt during the second century BC. The Greek empire at the time controlled the Holy Land, and the foreign ruler Antiochus Epiphanes was effectively in the process of cultural genocide in Israel. According to, Jews were prohibited from engaging in essential aspects of their own culture, including circumcising their children, while Anticohus also destroyed the scrolls of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.

Though the Maccabees were facing a superior foreign army that was even equipped with war elephants, God miraculously led the Maccabean revolt to victory, defeating Antiochus’ forces and establishing the first independent nation of Israel in centuries. When the Maccabees took back the Temple, however, they found it had been defiled. The Maccabees then began the process of cleaning up and rededicating it, hence the naming of the holiday as the Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah.

Tradition holds that as part of that process, it was discovered that additional oil was needed for the Temple’s menorah, an oil lamp with seven branches that was supposed to be always lit. However, the amount of time it would take to replenish the holy supply of oil would be eight days, and there was only enough oil for one day. Tradition says that miraculously, the one day’s worth of oil burned for all eight days. In honor of the miracle, the hanukkiah candelabra is lit, using either oil or candles. increasing the number of candles lit each night.

Christians also can see God’s miraculous provision in the holiday. It marks an immense victory for Israel that vividly portrays God’s salvation and blessing. And lest we think such miracles no longer happen, the creation of the modern state of Israel is very similar to the Maccabean revolt. Attacked by five Arab nations and outgunned, God miraculously enabled the Jewish people to hold on in 1948. And like the Maccabean victory, the 1948 war resulted in the first independent Israel in centuries.

For us personally, Hanukkah can be a season to reflect on God’s provision and blessing in our own lives. Most importantly, it is an opportunity for us to rededicate ourselves just as the Maccabees rededicated the Temple (1 Cor. 5:19-20). Hanukkah, then is a time when we can search our hearts and remove the selfishness, the immorality, the greed-which is a form of idolatry-and other forms of wickedness, and rededicate ourselves to God’s service.


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