Channukah is celebrated, this year, December 7-15. Christians know little about this event, as it is found only in the Apocrypha of the Bible. It took place at the time of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) and is considered a Christmas story only because it falls in our December. Channukah will overlap December 25 in 2024. The account is not unlike that of the war that broke out in current Israel, October 7, 2023.
The Year was 148 BCE. The Persian empire has fallen and Irael is sandwiched between Seleucia, Greece and Syria, led by Antiochus IV. These governments tried to force an Israeli priest to offer human sacrifices on the altars of the Second Temple. When he refused, Antiochus, in a rage, sent soldiers to offer pigs on the sacred altars. When Jews rebelled at this blasphemy, he sent another group to devastate the Temple and tear down its walls. Rather than rebel against Antiochus, again, many priestly Jews left Jerusalem to 'hide' in the desert.
"Her Temple has become as one of no repute, the vessels that were her glory have been carried off as booty; her babies slaughtered in her streets, her young men by the enemy's sword. Is there is a nation that has not claimed her royal prerogatives, nor taken some of her spoils? Her ornaments have been snatched and her freedom has become slavery. The Holy Place, our beauty, our glory is now laid waste. What have we left to live for?" First Maccabees 2:8-13 NASB
Antiochus struck, on Sabbath, the hidden ones, killing a thousand Israeli families, along with their cattle, sheep and other personal possessions.
Then came the 'Maccabees'. The word means 'Hammer'.
Judas Maccabaeus rose to battle. He enlisted ten thousand from Israel, stirring them with rousing accounts of their heroes like Moses, Joshua, Gideon and King David. They gathered to sing, praise and call on God. Three notable times they took on the rogue kings and won, every time. Now they went to Mount Zion to cleanse the Temple. Judas set, on the walls, watchmen for the enemy and selected blameless priests to officiate over a work crew. They replaced altars profaned with pigs, restored the Holy Place, "made new sacred vessels and brought the lampstand (Menorah), the altar of Incense and the table (for shew bread) into the Temple." But, holy, purified olive oil for the Menorah was only sufficient for one day. Yet, God detected faithfulness, diligence and true love.
"The twenty-fifth day, the ninth month, Chislev, in the year 148 BC, they rose at dawn to offer lawful sacrifices on new altars of burnt offerings which they made and dedicated. With the sound of hymns and musical instruments, one year to the day on which Gentiles had profaned their Temple. The Menorah miraculously remained aflame for 8 days as they celebrated and made it a law that yearly, beginning on the twenty-fifth day of Chislev, there would be rejoicing and gladness."
Channukah, the Festival of Lights, will be celebrated in Israel, again, this year, 2023, as it was then. "Proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." First Maccabees 4:52-59; First Peter 2:9
Next Week. March of the Magi