Hanukkah, or the Feast of Dedication, commemorates the reclamation of the Temple by the Jews from the Greeks.

Under the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, the Greeks had introduced their pagan worship practices throughout Israel. They even brought their unclean sacrifices into Elohim's Temple and offered them to their own gods. Many Jews caved under the pressure of the Hellenist culture. The more reluctant ones gave in when Antiochus announced the death penalty for holding on to Judaism. They abandoned their Jewish faith and traditions, and embraced the religion of their rulers.

A remnant, however, chose to leave their homes behind and live as fugitives in the mountains rather than bow the knee to Antiochus. Among these courageous men and women were the Maccabees, a group of five brothers led by their brother Judah. They had fled with their father after he refused to sacrifice to the false gods of Antiochus, and after his death, they spearheaded the resistance against the Greeks.

After months of strategic hit-and-run fighting tactics that wore the mighty Greek army down, the Maccabees marched victorious into Jerusalem.

The Temple was completely desecrated, but the Jews were undaunted. They immediately began to restore the House of Elohim, cleaning and preparing to once more offer sacrifices to the true God.

Yeshua celebrates the Feast of Dedication by going up to Jerusalem as recorded in John 10:22. He obviously recognized not only the miracle of the defeat of a world-renowned army by a band of untrained Jewish outlaws, but the fulfillment of the prophecies in the book of Daniel. First and Second Maccabees tells this historical account.

The tradition of lighting the Hannukiah was the result of a legend that originated about the rededication of the Temple. The story says that when the Jews wanted to relight the golden, seven-branched Menorah (candlestick) that was supposed to be kept continually burning, they found to their dismay, that they had only enough sacred oil to last for one day. It would take them eight days to prepare more holy oil, but they lit the Menorah anyway. However, instead of going out after one day, the Menorah burned for all the eight days needed to produce more oil. It was a miracle!

Traditional foods at Hanukkah are cooked in oil as a reminder of the miracle of the Menorah. Potato pancakes, called latkes, are fried in oil and eaten with various toppings. Jelly doughnuts are also traditional Hanukah fare.

A traditional game played during Hanukkah is the dreidel game. Players start with a certain amount of chocolate coins, or gelt. Each player puts a coin into a center pile at the start of each turn. They then take turns spinning a top with four Hebrew letters printed on it. Depending on the letter the top lands on, the spinner either collects coins from, or adds coins to, the center pile. The four Hebrew letters are an acronym for the phrase, "Nes Gadol Haya Sham," or, "A great miracle happened there". If you live in Israel, the dreidels say, "A great miracle happened here!"






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