The Story of Hanukkah Part 1
Published on December 10, 2008 By KFC Kickin For Christ In Religion

Yesterday I was privileged to hear a Jewish Christian who is well loved and admired in these parts speak on Hanukkah.  He said it's directly related to Christmas.  Some of which he spoke of I knew, but I was eagerly attentive to his words as he outlined the beautiful Jewish story  behind the celebration of Hanukkah also known as The Feast of Dedication.   It was fascinating to listen to this troubling but also remarkable true story. 

The time period was what is known as the 400 silent years, that is, the years that fell between what is commonly known as the OT and the NT of the Christian bible.  Specifically we're talking 168-165  B.C. 

Hanukkah is the Hebrew word for "dedication."  The reason for this name is because it rejoices in the celebration of the cleansing of the Jewish Temple as a result of the desecration by the Gentiles.  This Hanukkah story is one of the best ever in the remembering of one of the greatest Jewish victories of all time.  This marked the Jews' independence from the Greco-Syrian oppression in 165 B.C. 

Most know  Hanukkah as an eight day holiday which falls in and around Christmas time and in the Hebrew ninth month (Kislev) which is the same as December for us.  Hanukkah is not described in Scripture and was not given by God to the Jews.  It is tho, the most historically documented of all the Jewish celebrations.  The earliest historical record we find of this Holiday can be found in the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees which is found in the Catholic bible in the Apocrypha. 

The background for this story can be found in Daniel Chapter 7 and 8 as Daniel prophesied what was to come.  He actually saw this in advance.  These 400 silent years were the beginning of many things.  It's when the Pharisees and Saducees came into existence.  It was the period of time when Rome became a world power.  It was also the time when Synagogues started to crop up all over the place. 

The story really starts back in 336 B.C. but is too lengthy to get to here.  Alexander the Great only 26 years of age would begin this part of the story.  By age 32 Alexander had conqured all the known world from Europe to Egypt to India.  His teacher Aristotle was behind this unification of Alexander's empire by the use of the Greek culture.  Aristotle believed the way to capture lands is by using the Greek culture; to assimilate them to Greek (Hellinism).  The key was to introduce, by force, the Greek culture to a captured people.  Over the course of three years Greece, under Alexander the Great, defeated the mighty Medes and Persians.  There were more than a million in the Medio-Persian Army fighting Alexander's measely 50,000 or so.  A true David and Goliath story. 

After Alexander died suddenly his kingdom was divided by his four Generals also foretold by Daniel (written about 400 years earlier) and Israel had a problem.  She was sandwiched between Syria to the North and Egypt to the South.  She found herself for almost 200 years tossed around by these two dominate countries taken by two of the Generals between the Selucid (Syrian) and Ptolemaic (Egyptian) empires.  When Egypt ruled, Israel was to pay taxes to Egypt.  When Syria ruled, she was to pay taxes to Syria.  This went on every 10 years or so. 

Enter the madman.  He, written by Daniel, is very similar to what we should expect for the upcoming AntiChrist.  Hitler as well could be compared to this madman known as Antiochus IV. 

In 171 B.C. Antiochus came onto the throne as King in Syria.  He was cruel, harsh and considered a savage.  He wore his pride on his sleeve believing he was God in the flesh.  He called himself Antiochus Theos Epiphanes which means "Antiochus, the visible god."   Remind you of anyone? 

His enemies called him "Epimanes or madman."  Israel would soon be face to face with this madman, just another in a long line of them it seems with more on the horizon. 

His wish was for a one world order quite similar to Alexander and later Hitler and one more to come.  He wanted to unify his rule through assimilation. 

Two factions developed in Israel.  The Orthodox also known as the most religious wished to be ruled by Egypt since that kingdom did not seek to force themselves on its subjects.  The did not wish to be "hellenized" because the Greek religion went against their culture and religion.  The Greek culture was abhorant to the Religious Jew.  It deified nature, introduced many gods and promoted immorality in the worship of these gods, later addressed by Paul in the NT.  The Religious Jews were committed to preserving Judaism and the pure worship of the one and only Creator God of Israel. 

On the other hand there were the more Liberal Jews or the "progressive" Jews.  They had little concern for religion and only looked at the economic and social aspects of Hellenism.  They wished to be "enlightened" and accepted by the more advanced nations so therefore they were more than willing to throw off the yoke of religion and get moderninzed.  They desired the Syrian rule which would bring imposed Greek Culture to the mix.  They were willing to apostatize they holy covenant (1 Macc 1:15). 

So there was a bit of a civil war breaking out in Israel.  Even among brothers.  The High Priest in Jerusalem was very opposed to Hellenistic forces but his brother who changed his name from Joshua to Jason went against his brother and led the Hellenistic faction.  Many supported Jason and were ok to covene with Syria.

So Jason, riding the political wave, offered a bribe to Antiochus, the madman.  He wanted his brother's High Priest job and was willing to pay for it.  Jason promised all sorts of perks to Antiochus and Antiochus gladly gave his consent.  Jason killed his brother the High Priest by using assassins and the political war had begun. 

More bribes ensued.  Another Hellenist named Menelaus obtained the High Priest's office by another bribe.  Only this guy was not even from the family of High Priest's strictly forbidden by God. 

Fueled now by the strife in Israel and encouraged by his supporters, Antiochus's ambitions grew.  He wished to be another Alexander and in 168 B.C. he went to war against Egypt.  Victory would have been certain if Rome hadn't entered the picture.  A Roman General confronted Antiochus.  He asked if him if he wanted peace or war with Rome.  Antiochus didn't answer at first.  The Roman drew a circle in the sand around the madman and said he must decide before leving the circle.  Antiochus made his decision to withdraw from Egypt.  He was humiliated. 

Remember this is all a picture of the forthcoming Anti-Christ.  He too will be humiliated. 

On his way back to Syria from Egypt, Antiochus made a stop thru Israel.  He was in a rage.  He was humiliated and mocked.  To save face and to vent his anger and frustration he ordered his general to destroy Jerusalem.  Houses were burned and the walls of the city were breached.  Thousands and thousands were killed or enslaved. 

Antiochus, the mademan turned his attention towards the temple area.  His men smashed the Temple taking its golden vessels and on December (Kislev) 15, 168 B.C. Antiochus erected an image of Zeus on the holy altar.  The face of Zeus instead bore the face of Antiochus.  He was declaring himself god.  On December 25th Antiochus slaughtered a pig on the altar.  This was the ultimate abomination to the Jews, strictly forbidden by the law of God.  He sprinkled the pig's blood on the Holy of Holies and over the scrolls before he cut them to pieces and burned them.  This was now a nation in trauma.  Severe trauma.  The altar had been polluted and profaned.  It was descecrated and according to the writings of 1 Maccabees it was "laid waste like a wilderness," and "trodden down." 

December 25th was Zeus' birthday.  Yes.  We celebrate the birth of Christ on Zeus's birthday.  How many Christians know this? 

The Temple was now converted to a pagan deity and only pigs were offered as sacrifices.  Isn't it just like Satan (behind all this) to go directly opposite to God?  That's because he's a mirror image of God, that is backward and distorted. 

As if this isn't bad enough, Antiochus issued an order forbidding the practice of Judaism on pain of death.  He ordered house searches.  If any were keeping the Holy Days including the Sabbath or the dietary laws the whole family were put to death.  Babies were hung around their mothers' necks if a circumcision was performed. 

This is so similar to what I'm reading about Communism right now which is so closely aligned with atheism. 

Either they were to assimilate or be annihilated.  Christians know that this will be repeated.  History always is.  There will be soon another Antiochus.  Some believe he's alive now.  I am one.   

I will continue this story ending remarkably with the celebration of Hanukkah soon. 




on Dec 11, 2008

A very good article, KFC!


on Dec 11, 2008

Yes, nicely done.  I do wonder however, how you or the speaker came up with such precise dates on a calendar that didn't exist.  Be well.

on Dec 11, 2008

Didn't the Romans use that calendar? Should be normal dates without Caesar's reforms (i.e. no 29th of February). Year would have started in March.

on Dec 11, 2008

1. March

2. April

3. May

4. June

5. Juli (named after Caius Iulis Caesar)

6. August (named after Augustus)

7. September (seventh month)

8. October (eighth month)

9. November (ninth month)

10. December (tenth month)

11. January (named after two-faced god Ianus when it became the new beginning of the year)

12. February



on Dec 11, 2008

You may be right.  Calendars are not my thing.  There is an interesting article at Wiki about this. Link  Apparently its not as simple as we might think.

Be well.

on Dec 11, 2008

Looking forward to the next article.....

on Dec 12, 2008

Looking forward to the next article.....

me too.  I like to write things down to help me remember them clearly.  I find this is one very interesting story and given the current news of bribery, power and extortion it just goes to show there is nothing new under the sun. 

Just a note on the calendar since it's been brought up here.

Most of the world today uses a solar calendar which traces its origin to the Roman calendar established under Julius Caesar in 45 BC.  Known as the Julian calendar it had 365 days with a leap year every 4th year.  As we know an extra day was added to the month in February.

Over time it was noticed that the solar year was actually about 11 minutes shorter than 365 1/4 days.  An adjustment was needed to compensate for this.  In 1582 Pope Gregory issued an order which declared that century years (1600, 1700 etc) would be leap years but only if they were also divisible by 400 (1600, 2000, etc).  So this revised calendar was called the Gregorian calendar is is the calendar we use today. 

The Hebrew year is based on the phases of the moon instead  of the sun. So they have a lunar calendar.  Their average month is 29 1/2 days or 354 days in a year or 12 Lunar months. 

The bible speaks of appointed seasons and that their holidays were to be kept inside these seasons.  For instance, Passover was to be observed in the spring.  Seasons are determined by the earth's rotation with the sun not with the moon.  If the Hebrew calendar used only a lunar year (354 days) and the solar year was 365 1/4 days it would soon cause Passover to be celebrated out of it's appointed springtime season and would be in violation of scripture.  After a while Passover would find itself in the fall. 

To reconcile this difference the Jewish calendar is based on a 19 year cycle in which the 3rd,6th,8th,11th,14th,17th and 19th years are leap years.  During a Jewish leap year one day is added to the month Adar and a 13th month (29 days) is added to the calendar.  So in effect the Jewish lunar calendar is adjusted to the solar seasonal year. 

Because of the differences between the Gregorian and the Hebrew calendars, Jewish holidays appear to change dates every year.  That's why Passover sometimes occcurs in March or at other times in April. 

To make things even more interesting the biblical calendar is 360 days or 12 months of 30 each.  The exact details of how that calandar was adjusted to keep in alignment with the solar year have been lost from what I understand.