Join us for a captivating teaching as we unwrap the traditions, history, and significance of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights! In this teaching we delve into the heartwarming story and vibrant customs that make Hanukkah a cherished celebration. Gain a deeper understanding of the cultural significance of Hanukkah, its global observance, and the diverse ways in which communities come together to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness.
Join us as we explore the historical roots of Hanukkah arising from the Maccabean victory. Discover the resilience and spirit that have kept the flame of Hanukkah alive throughout the centuries. Learn the meaning behind the story of Hanukkah, how it relates to our Messiah Yahushua, and to us today, uncovering the spiritual significance of this timeless celebration.
Indulge your senses in the mouthwatering delights of Hanukkah cuisine! From crispy latkes to sweet sufganiyot, we will explore the delectable foods that make this festival a feast for the senses. Join the fun as we spin the dreidel and unravel the excitement of this age-old game. Learn the meaning behind the Hebrew letters and discover why the dreidel has become an iconic part of Hanukkah celebrations.
Connect with us in the comments section! Share your Hanukkah traditions, ask questions, and let us celebrate Hanukkah together.
Whether you’re familiar with Hanukkah or new to its rich traditions, this teaching on Hanukkah promises to be an enlightening and festive exploration for everyone. Don’t forget to subscribe, like, and share this video with friends and family as we embark on this educational and heartwarming journey together!
So like I said, tonight’s drash is going to be all about Hanukkah or Channukah or however how you want to spell it, generally pronounced all the same way. Like always, we will have the link down below in the description, whether you’re watching on a video platform or listening through an audio podcasting platform. The link will be down below for a direct link to the post on our website at godhonesttruth.com. Of course, you can always go to the website directly and click on the link for Hanukkah.
And there on that post, you’ll be able to find the draw slides that you see here on your screen, as well as the on-demand video, the notes we took for this particular subject, and the transcript as well, all right there in one convenient post. And once again, that link is conveniently located for you down in the description below. Now, make sure to have your notes ready because we will be getting into a lot of information on this.
There’s actually very little actual scripture. The history that we get from is from non-scriptural sources, but we’ll get into that as we go through the drash. Now, like I said, this year, Hanukkah is going to be on December 7th at sunset and runs through December 15th at sunset. So mark that down on your calendar. You’ve got about a few weeks or so to get ready, get learned up on it, to get your meals planned, shopping done, what have you.
One word of warning real quick. If you have little ones there with you, certain content within this drash may not be appropriate for them. Of course, as always, you do you and decide what you would like for your children to know about and not know about. Now, of course, there’s not going to be any profanity or any inappropriates. If you get my drift pictures shown tonight, but the content and the history described can be rather disturbing for some viewers.
So I just wanted to give that word of warning real quick. Now before we get into exactly where Hanukkah came from, we do feel like it would be beneficial to give a sort of backstory to the events leading up to the story of Hanukkah and when it originally occurred. Now way back in the day, we’re going to go back as far as the book of Daniel and the prophet Daniel had this prophecy about future events and in Daniel 7, verses 2 through 3 and verse 6, it reads, Daniel spoke and said, I was looking in my vision by night and saw the four winds of the heavens stirring up the great sea and four beasts came up from the sea different from one another.
And then talking about the third beast. After this, I looked and saw another like a leopard, which had on his back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads and rule was given to it. Now who are these various beasts that Daniel is describing here in chapter 7? Well, the first beast was one that looked like a lion with eagle’s wings and that’s commonly associated with Babylon, where Daniel was at the time he made this prophecy.
The second beast was one that looked like a bear. This one is commonly associated with the kingdom of Persia, later to come after Babylon. The third one that we just read about is a leopard with four wings of a bird. This one is commonly associated with Greece and is going to be the main one that we’re going to be referencing tonight, is that Greek empire, if you will. Then of course the fourth one is a beast with ten horns and iron teeth, and this is commonly associated with Rome.
And this fourth beast, of course, succeeds the third beast, Greece. Now out of this third beast, out of Greece, we have the man called Alexander the Great. Now he was a Macedonian and he was of royal stature, he come from a royal family, he was a prince, and as such he got some of the best education, best living, all that good stuff. And actually up until the age of 16, his tutor was the Aristotle. And I don’t know if you’d call it lucky for him or not, but his father, Philip, died and Alexander became king of Macedonia at the early age of 20.
And then in the next 12 years, by the time of his death at about the age of 32, he had conquered most of what was known as the known world at that time and had the largest empire that anyone had ever seen up until that time. And for your reference, here is just a map of the empire that Alexander the Great had carved out for himself, what he had conquered, what he had taken over through diplomacy, etc., etc.
But that just gives you an idea of where his territory expanded to, all the way from Macedonia, all the way over through India, as far south as Egypt, vast, vast territories. Now on his death at the age of 32, his kingdom was divided up, and it was divided up again amongst four of his generals. One of his generals named Cassander was given control of Macedonia and Greece. Lysimachus controlled Thrace and Asia Minor. Both of those two territories are in the northwestern part of Alexander’s empire.
And Ptolemy controlled Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, and nearby Asia Minor. That’s the southern part of Alexander’s empire. And Seleucus controlled India, Syria, Iraq, Iran, etc. That’s the easternmost part. Now for the purposes of our teaching tonight, we’re going to be focusing in on the Seleucid empire, the territory that was given to Seleucus. And here is a map giving you a good idea of how Alexander’s empire was divided up after his death. Now again, Seleucus and his lineage and his empire is what we’re going to be focusing on in the relevant part of the story of Hanukkah.
But how does that go about? Well the Seleucids had the eastern part, as you can see here. But over time as things went on and nation went against nation, eventually the Seleucid kingdom came down south and they did not take over Egypt for various reasons, but they did eventually manage to take over Israel. And it was during this time of the Seleucid control of Israel that the story of Hanukkah happens. But from the very first Seleucus who took over the section that we know of as the Seleucid empire, it goes on down through his lineage to a guy named Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
Very interesting man, we’ll get into him more in just a moment. But he is the main villain of the Hanukkah story. And there is what I actually believe a passage from Daniel foretelling of Antiochus’ reign and what he will do. From Daniel chapter 11 verses 31 to 32. And strong ones shall arise from him, and profane the set-apart place, the stronghold, and shall take away that which is continual, and set up the abomination that lays waste.
And by flatteries he shall profane those who do wrong against the covenant. But the people who know their Elohim shall be strong and shall act. Now this prophecy definitely applies to the end times, the apocalypse times. But it also definitely pertains to Antiochus IV Epiphanes as well because Antiochus is actually a foreshadowing and a type of the Antichrist that’s going to be coming. Now like I said Antiochus IV was a very interesting individual, albeit extremely evil.
His original name was Mithridates, which meant given by Mithra. Lots of Mithra worship going on during that time and then thereafter as well. If you know anything about Mithra, the birth date of Mithra is generally given as December 25th. Epiphanes actually means God Manifest, and this was a name that he took on later in life. Dawn himself God Manifest tells you what kind of guy this really was. He was actually the first of the Seleucid kings to use divine designations on his coins.
Dawn himself God or God Manifest. And he was the first of the Seleucid kings to prohibit and enforce Hellenization and to do so in a very strict and violent manner. This is when we get into that part of the story, that’s what I was warning you about and giving you that parental notice earlier. We’ll get into that when we get into the books of Maccabees. And some of his contemporaries actually called him Epiphanes, the mad one.
Yeah, they would actually call him Antiochus Epiphanes. Now given how the Greeks were and then eventually the Romans were, if they’re calling you names and they’re calling you mad, you know you’re out there on the fringe. And Antiochus IV Epiphanes was one of those people that was way out there, very, very evil and demon possessed almost. Here is a coin of Antiochus IV and if you read ancient Greek there, you can probably see it, but it says Theos Epiphanes there on the left hand side.
God Manifest. That’s what he called himself. So there’s the backstory and the lead up and the main character in, I’m sorry, the main villain anyways, in the story of Hanukkah and how it originated. So now to the time of the main event. We read things happening in the book of Maccabees, both 1st Maccabees mainly and 2nd Maccabees. We’re going to be sticking mostly to 1st Maccabees because therein is where the story of Hanukkah is contained. Now just to lay this out real quick, we do not present the text from the books of Maccabees as scripture because the books of Maccabees are not scripture.
We do not hold to them as scripture. However, they are still relevant and important for historical purposes. Case in point, the story of Hanukkah. So I just wanted to lay that out real quick that we are not presenting these as scripture just for historical purposes. Now we read from the book of 1st Maccabees verses 20 through 24. And Antiochus, after that he had smitten Egypt, returned in the hundred and forty and third year, and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude, and entered presumptuously into the sanctuary, and took the golden altar, and the candlestick of the light, and all that pertained thereto, and the table of the shewbread, and the cups to pour withal, and the bowls, and the golden censers, and the veil, and the crowns, and the adorning of gold, which was on the face of the temple, and he scaled it all off, and he took the silver, and the gold, and the precious vessels, and he took the hidden treasures which he found.
And when he had taken all, he went away into his own land, and he made a great slaughter and spake very presumptuously. So when Antiochus came through Israel, especially Jerusalem and the temple, he ransacked it, straight off with whatever wasn’t bolted down, and probably some stuff that was bolted down. They pretty much destroyed the temple after having stolen everything out of it, all the silver, all the gold, all the valuable stuff used for the processes in the temple, all of that stuff.
They even went so far as to set up a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies and slaughter a pig on the slaughter place. During the time of Antiochus’ reign, also over the people of Israel, actually over everyone under his rule, it was against the law to do anything other than what the king said, your own religion and faith, meaning that the people of Israel were, by law, forbidden from practicing Torah, keeping the feast days, keeping Shabbat, all of that.
We read in 1 Maccabees chapter 1, verses 41 through 43. And king Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and that each should forsake his own laws. And all the nations agreed according to the word of the king. And many of Israel consented to his worship, and sacrificed to the idols, and profaned the Sabbath. So the other nations besides Israel gave up their way of life, gave up their faith, gave up their religion, and went along with Antiochus.
And there were even some within Israel, some of the Judeans that were still there, so at this time the northern kingdom was already in exile, they had already been dispersed, right? So the Judeans who were still left in Israel, even some of them left the faith and went toward Antiochus just to preserve their own skin and have an easier life. But fortunately, there was a remnant, if you will, who did not follow after Antiochus. We also read in 1 Maccabees chapter 1 verses 54 through 57.
And on the fifteenth day of Kislev, in the hundred and fortieth and forty and fifth year, they built an abomination of desolation upon the altar, and in the cities of Judah on every side they built idol altars. And at the doors of the houses and in the streets they burnt incense, and they rent in pieces the books of the law which they found, and set them on fire. And wheresoever was found with any a book of the covenant, and if any consented to the law, the king’s sentence delivered him to death.
So if you were even found with a Torah, much less going according to Torah, like keeping Shabbat, it was the death penalty for you. This was the first Hellenization by a Greek king, by a Greek emperor. As you can see here, it’s talking about setting up the abomination of desolation there on the altar. Remember a while ago when we spoke about putting the statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies? But moving on to 1 Maccabees chapter 1 verses 59 through 63, and on the five and twentieth day of the month, they sacrificed upon the idol altar which was upon the altar of God.
And the women that had circumcised their children they put to death according to the commandment, and they hanged their babes around their necks, and destroyed their houses, and them that had circumcised them. And many in Israel were fully resolved and confirmed in themselves not to eat unclean things. And they chose to die that they might not be defiled with the meat, and that they might not profane the holy covenant, and they died. So you see here some of the horrors and the atrocities that came upon the Judeans by the Greeks under Antiochus.
That mothers who would go according to Torah have their children circumcised. If they did so, they would kill the children and hang the bodies of the dead children around the necks of their mothers. And this is only one of the grievous things they did. We’ve cut out a lot of stuff, mainly for the sake of time, but also for other content. Feel free to read for yourselves in 1 and 2 Maccabees everything that went on during this time.
Some truly, truly horrific things that went on. There’s one story where a mother was forced to watch them kill her seven sons, one by one, and then finally kill her because they kept to the law. And as we read in that previous passage, it said that some did not profane the holy covenant. They kept the faith, they stayed with Yahweh, and as a result, they died. That’s a lesson for us nowadays and into the future. That sometimes our faith may be a struggle, our own livelihoods, our own lives may be at risk for doing the right thing and following Yahweh.
I’m old enough to remember three years ago that if you did not have a card that said vaccinated, you were pretty much persona non grata. That you were no citizen, you were not respected, and there was a vast majority of things that you were not allowed to do in places you were not allowed to go if you did not have that little card saying that you had gotten vaccinated. Similarities? Well, you weren’t killed for not getting the vaccine, but still time.
Anyways, moving on to 1 Maccabees 1, verses 13-15. And certain of the people were forward herein and went to the king, and he gave them license to do after the ordinances of the Gentiles. And they built a place of exercise in Jerusalem according to the laws of the Gentiles. And they made themselves uncircumcised and forsook the holy covenant and joined themselves to the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil. Even though we previously read that some kept the faith, kept Torah, did what they were supposed to do, even though it was going to kill them, there were others who went along with the crowd, who served and went with what Antiochus and the Greeks were telling them to do, even so far as to uncircumcise themselves.
No idea how you do that, but apparently it is possible and they did it, even back then before modern medicine. But yeah, they sold out for their own skin. They went along with Antiochus and the Greeks. That is not keeping the faith. And we are actually told about this very sort of situation by the Apostle Peter in the Brit Hadashah. In 2 Peter 3, verses 17, you then, beloved ones, being forewarned, watch, lest you fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the delusion of the lawless, or by the delusion of the Torahlessness.
So yeah, even 2 Peter, way after the events of Hanukkah, are telling us to be on your guard and do not be led away with those who do not go by Torah. But even though some of the Judeans went along with the plan and sold out, even though all these great atrocities were going on and the might of the Seleucid Empire was there with a chokehold on Israel, there were still some who resisted, who kept the faith, and who began this revolt and eventually freedom.
First Maccabees chapter 2, verses 17 through 25. And the king’s officers answered and spake to Mattithiah, saying, Thou art a ruler and an honorable and great man in this city, and strengthened with sons and brethren. Now therefore, come thou first and do the commandment of the king, as all the nations have done, and the men of Judah, and they that remain in Jerusalem. And thou and thy house shall be in the number of the king’s friends, and thou and thy sons shall be honored with silver and gold and many gifts.
And Mattithiah answered and said with a loud voice, If all the nations that are in the house of the king’s dominion hearken unto him, to fall away each one from the worship of his fathers, and have made choice to follow his commandments. Yet will I and my sons and my brethren walk in the covenant of our fathers. Heaven forbid that we should forsake the law and the ordinances. We will not hearken to the king’s words, to go aside from our worship on the right hand or on the left.
And when he had left speaking these words, there came a Jew in the sight of all to sacrifice on the altar which was at Modin, according to the king’s commandment. And Mattithiah saw it, and his zeal was kindled, and his reins trembled, and he shewed forth his wrath according to judgment, and ran and slew him upon the altar. And the king’s officer, who compelled men to sacrifice, he killed at that time, and pulled down the altar.
So one of his fellow Judeans, while Mattithiah was here, went and made a sacrifice on this pagan altar, and Mattithiah was so enraged for the idolatry of his fellow Judean, that he killed the other Judean. And then he killed the Greek officer there who was overseeing all this, and was trying to get Mattithiah to turn also. And that was the start of the Maccabean Revolt. Now just to give a sort of context here, those who revolted were very, very small in comparison to the Greek army, to the Seleucid army.
It’s almost like putting the National Guard of New Jersey up against the entire U.S. military. The odds were definitely not in their favor, and if this was a sports game, based on the odds alone, you would not bet on them. But the Judeans had an aspect that the Greeks did not. They had the faith and might of Yahweh himself, and through this might, they were able to overcome and drive out the Greeks out of Israel, and they gained their freedom.
Now later on in history, the Romans come in and take over Israel, but this Maccabean Revolt started with Mattithiah Maccabee, and then his son Judah Maccabee were able to drive out the Greeks and gain their independence. And you see this happen over and over through time. The Promised Land, the land of Yahweh, can drive back even the largest armies. We saw this way back in the mid-20th century when Egypt tried to invade Israel, and they beat them and drove them back in just six days.
So stand with Yahweh, have the faith, do what is right, follow Torah, and you’ve got a very powerful ally on your side. And that’s the biggest thing to take away from the history and the story of Hanukkah, is having faith, standing up against evil, against the world’s way of doing things, and doing what is right, doing what is in the Torah, doing the things from Scripture. Even in the Berthadashah, we’re told that we are to be in the world, but not of the world.
This was exemplified by the Maccabees during the story of Hanukkah. They were there in the world, but they refused to be of the world. And as a result, Yahweh delivered them, and the Greeks were driven out, and they gained their freedom. Now, the story of Hanukkah is also important in another aspect as well. Because if Yahweh had not delivered the Judeans out of the hands of Greece, that was the line of Judah that Antiochus was oppressing and killing a lot of them also.
And if they had been wiped out, that line of Judah, there would have been no Messiah. So that is another aspect to the Hanukkah story, because the Messiah, Yeshua, had to come from the line of Judah, from the line of David, right? And if they’d been wiped out during the time of Hanukkah, there would have been no line of Judah or Messiah to have come from. This brings us to our next section of Yeshua and Hanukkah.
How does Yeshua relate to Hanukkah? We’ve already illuminated one aspect, where the line of Judah was not wiped out during the reign of Antiochus. But we go on and we read in the life of Yeshua, and we read in John 10, verses 22-23. At that time, the Hanukkah came to be in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Yeshua was walking in the set-apart place in the porch of Sholomo. At first glance, it seems rather, you know, vanilla.
It was there at the time of Hanukkah, so what? Well, let’s think about this. Well, first of all, you can see here various ways that different translations translate this word. A lot of them go ahead and just put the name Hanukkah there, because they know it was Hanukkah. It was in winter. We know. Other translations translate it as dedication, but Hanukkah means dedication or rededication. So even if they say it was a feast of dedication, it means Hanukkah, right? But think about this also.
Yeshua, during his ministry, where was he most of the time? He wasn’t there at the temple 24-7. He was out in the countryside. He was out in Galilee and various places around Israel. He was out in fishing boats. He was walking in water on the seashore, on mountains, giving speeches, teaching, things like that. It wasn’t very often that we see him coming to Jerusalem to the temple, except mostly during important times, like Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot, and we see here he came for Hanukkah.
So what does that tell you about Yeshua and Hanukkah? Hanukkah was being celebrated by the Judeans at that time. So Yeshua knew about it, and from here we can insinuate that he was actually taking part in Hanukkah. Also take this third point in consideration as well, is that when the Pharisees and other Judeans were doing things they shouldn’t do, they were teaching things that they should not be teaching, Yeshua had absolutely zero problem with calling them out for it.
There was countless times that these Pharisees and other Judeans picked up stones to try and stone him because he was correcting them, setting them straight, because they were doing wrong. But not once, not even in this example, do you see him correcting them for celebrating Hanukkah. So just some things to keep in mind. Also something else that is very, very kind of neat to think about, the Hebraic New Year starts with the month of Nisan, somewhere around March, April, depending on how the Gregorian calendar falls.
Now we know that Yeshua was not born on December 25th, that’s just a straight out historical fact, did not happen, right? Most of the evidence that we’ve been able to uncover points to a Sukkot birth, right? Now if we go with that and consider that a normal pregnancy takes about 40 weeks, anywhere from 9 to 10 months, first 4 weeks in a month. Then we count backwards from Sukkot and we come to the month of Kislev.
So we’re noticing Kislev, the festival of Hanukkah, the festival of lights. And Yeshua refers to himself as the light of the world. Now how amazing would that be if it actually turns out, again this is just speculation at this point. But how awesome would it be if the light of the world, our Messiah, was conceived during the festival of lights? There’s also a prophetic connection between Hanukkah and the end times. For instance, the Antichrist will come forth and we all will face great tribulation.
There will be the abomination of desolation set up, there will be death, there will be all kinds of evil that goes on during this time. And then Yeshua, from the tribe of Judah, will come and defeat the Antichrist. And the new temple that will be here with the new earth coming with the new Jerusalem will be dedicated, will be Hanukkah. Now also think about this, our bodies are described in the Brit Hadashah at the temple of Yahweh, where the spirit dwells.
We were, when we came to salvation, we were initially dedicated, but we slip up sometimes, no doubt. And we rededicate ourselves, that’s the story of Hanukkah in our own personal lives, be rededicated, even after that initial dedication. So also some things to note that are kind of interesting as well. Thinking about the story of Hanukkah and thinking about everything that you know about Hanukkah, let’s go ahead and discuss this whole 8 days and where this 8 days comes from real quick.
Think about it in your mind. Where did the 8 days of Hanukkah actually come from and why is Hanukkah 8 days? We read in 1 Maccabees chapter 4 verses 56 and 59. And they kept the dedication of the altar 8 days, and offered burnt offerings with gladness, and sacrificed a sacrifice of deliverance and praise. And Judas and his brethren and the whole congregation of Israel ordained that the days of the dedication of the altar should be kept in their seasons from year to year, by the space of 8 days from the 5 and 20th day of the month Kislev, with gladness and joy.
So we see that at its initiation, the festival of Hanukkah is to be kept for 8 days. But why 8 days? A lot of people think of the miracle of the oil, but was that really so? As we look in the writings of Josephus when he was relating the story of Hanukkah, he writes the following. Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for 8 days, and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon.
But he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices, and he honored God and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Now they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship that they made it a law for their posterity that they should keep a festival on account of the restoration of their temple worship for 8 days. And from that time to this, we celebrate this festival and call it Lights.
I suppose the reason was because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us, and that thence was the name given to that festival. So here, Josephus is referring to the festival of Hanukkah as the festival of Lights, but there’s no mention of the oil, which would have been a fairly significant thing. So if it was about the oil, why did not Josephus include this in his writings about Hanukkah? We read again in 2 Maccabees 10, verses 5-8.
Now on the same day that the sanctuary was profaned by aliens, upon that very day did it come to pass that the cleansing of the sanctuary was made, even on the five-and-twentieth day of the same month, which is Kislev. And they kept eight days with a gladness in the manner of the feast of Tabernacles, remembering how that not long afore, during the feast of Tabernacles, they were wandering in the mountains and in the caves after the manner of wild beasts.
Wherefore bearing wands, wreaths with leaves, and fair bows, and palms also, they offered up hymns of thanksgiving to him that had prosperously brought to pass the cleansing of his own place. They ordained also, with a common statute and decree, for all the nation of the Jews, that they should keep these days every year. So that was the original initiation of Hanukkah, the declaration of the first Hanukkah, to be done every year. And we can see here, kind of get an idea that the reason for the eight days is because they had not been able to celebrate Sukkot, and Sukkot, as we know it, was for eight days.
Now it doesn’t directly connect this, but that’s more than likely why Hanukkah is eight days, not necessarily because of the oil. The reference to the miracle of the oil actually doesn’t show up for the first time until about the second century of the Common Era, after, 200 years after Yeshua walked the earth. And that comes from the scroll of Antiochus. And we read, And they sought pure olive oil with which to light the menorah, but they found only one little vessel sealed with the seal of the high priest, and they knew it to be pure, and it contained but sufficient oil for one day.
But the God of heaven, who caused his presence to dwell in the sanctuary, gave his blessing, and it sufficed to light the menorah eight days. Therefore did the sons of the Hashmonai, together with the Israelites, ordain that these eight days be ever celebrated as days of joy and feasting, along with the festivals ordained in the Torah, that candles be lit to commemorate the victory they achieved through the God of heaven, that it be forbidden to mourn or to decree a fast day during this period, except such as may have been established previously, and it was further ordained to pray and thank God.
So this reference to the oil doesn’t show up until the second century of the Common Era, way after the events of Hanukkah and after Josephus. Now it’s not to say that the miracle of the oil did not happen, and we just don’t have earlier records, but it’s looking like the eight days for Hanukkah came from the festival of Sukkot, which also relates back to the original dedication of the temple that we read in 1 Kings by Solomon after they first built it.
Now some other things to consider real quick also. Some people may be asking, is it wrong to celebrate Hanukkah? After all, it’s not prescribed in the Torah, in the first five books of the Bible, like various modim such as Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippurim, things like that. So it’s not prescribed and told to us to celebrate it by Yahweh. So is it wrong to celebrate it since it’s not described like that? Think about it like this, here in America we have the 4th of July where we celebrate our hard-earned independence.
Is it wrong to do that? No, I don’t see anything wrong with that. Well, Hanukkah is like the nation of Israel gaining their independence during the time of Antiochus, even though it’s not prescribed in the Torah. Something else to also think about too is when thinking about various holidays to celebrate, consider whether it comes from Scripture, like Passover, Shavuot, etc., does it go against Scripture? Well number one, Hanukkah does not come from Scripture, it comes from apocryphal books, the Book of Maccabees.
So we’re on neutral ground so far. Does it go against Scripture? Well, no, it doesn’t go against Scripture. But also think about does it come from paganism? Because a lot of quote-unquote religious holidays come from paganism. Well no, Hanukkah does not come from paganism. In fact, it’s a defeat of paganism for the one true God, Yahweh, and it’s a celebration of the power of Yahweh and the deliverance He gives to those who are faithful to Him and to His Word.
So is it wrong to celebrate Hanukkah? Not at all. But if it’s not wrong to celebrate Hanukkah and Hanukkah is not in the Torah, then what’s the difference in celebrating Hanukkah and celebrating Christmas and Easter? Well again, go back to those questions we asked ourselves earlier. Is Christmas and Easter in the Bible? No, it’s not. Okay, so again, we’re on neutral ground. Does it go against Scripture? Well, yes, because it comes from paganism. Christmas is a conglomeration of various pagan worship practices such as Sol Invictus, Saturnalia, Mithraism, etc., etc., not to even get into the European pagans that their rituals and their customs regarding that time of year have been woven into what we know of as Christmas now.
Easter, likewise, is a spring fertility goddess celebration. And Scripture tells us to not worship Yahweh in the way that the nations, in the way that the pagans celebrate their gods. So Christmas and Easter are vastly different than Hanukkah. Christmas and Easter come from paganism, whereas Hanukkah comes out of a deliverance by Yahweh for his faithful. So yeah, Hanukkah is night and day different than Christmas and Easter. Hopefully I explained that good enough. But some more interesting things to think about also.
Hanukkah is referred to as the Festival of Lights, and Hanukkah is celebrated on the 25th day of Kislev. Interestingly enough, the 25th word in Scripture, if you look in the Hebrew, the 25th word of the Hebrew Scripture is light. Very, very interesting. And once again, Yeshua refers to himself as the light of the world. We read in John 8, verse 12, Therefore Yeshua spoke to them again, saying, I am the light of the world, he who follows me shall by no means walk in darkness, but possess the light of life.
There’s more possible connections between Yeshua and Hanukkah. There’s something else to think about, too. I do not personally give much stock in Gematria, but, you know, some things are kind of interesting. Maybe you’ll find this interesting as well. The Gematria for the letters on the dreidel is 358, Nun Gemul Pei Shin, Nesgedol HaYasham. Those four letters add up to 358. The Gematria for Mashiach is also 358. Just found that out rather recently. But again, I don’t put a lot of stock in Gematria as far as having a lot of meaning.
However, I did find it rather interesting nonetheless. So now you’ve got the backstory before Hanukkah, you’ve got the story of Hanukkah, what happened there, and you’ve gotten some possible connections and definite connections between Yeshua and Hanukkah. So now you’re thinking, all right, how do I celebrate this Feast of Hanukkah? To start off with, there is a special candelabra that is used during the Feast of Hanukkah. On the left-hand side, you see there a menorah. This is the seven-branched menorah.
This is representative of the menorah that was in the temple. On the right-hand side, you see a nine-branched Hanukkiah. Hanukkiah has nine branches. There are eight for each day of Hanukkah, and then the one in the middle that’s usually rather taller than the rest is called the shamash. It’s used to light the rest of the candles. So on Hanukkah, it’s customary to light an additional candle for each night of Hanukkah using a Hanukkiah. Now of course, every time you think about Hanukkah, you think about dreidel.
And if you’ve never played dreidel before, it’s a lot of fun. My children love it. They’re begging me even long before Hanukkah gets here, you know, play dreidel. They like the candy, and the games, and the suspense, and it’s a lot of fun. But if you look on your screen here, this is what a dreidel looks like. It’s a top that’s got four sides, and the four letters, Nun, Gemel, Hay, and Sheen, which stands for the phrase Nestedol Hayasham, and that’s if you’re outside of Israel.
If you are in Israel, they change the last letter to a Pe, and the phrase goes Nesgedol Hayah Po. That means a great miracle happened here, because the miracle of Hanukkah happened in Israel. Those of us outside of Israel, it’s Nesgedol Hayasham, a great miracle happened there, there in Israel. Now if you’re new to the game of dreidel, here are some of the basic rules for playing. You of course need a dreidel, and you need something to quote-unquote bet with, right, to play for.
Usually it’s like little coins of chocolate called gelt, or you can use other things like wreath cups, those little miniature wreath cups, or Hershey Kisses, or whatnot, hashtag not sponsored, but just something to play for. Everyone puts in one of whatever they got, and you spin the dreidel, and you take turns going around in a circle. When you spin the dreidel, whatever it falls on, that’s the action you take. If it falls on a Nun, you do nothing, and you get nothing.
If it falls on a Gemel, that’s the one you want, because you get the entire pot that was put in by everybody. If it falls on a Hay, then you get half the pot that was put in by everyone. And if you land on a Shin, then you got to put another one in from your stock. So Nun, get nothing, Gemel gets it all, Hay gets half, and Shin put one in. That’s how I remember it.
And you keep going like this until everyone is devoid of their stock, they’ve lost everything except for that one person who has gotten it all at the end. A lot of fun. Again, kids really like it. There are ways to modify it. When we play, it seems to be taking a long time. We usually end up with increasing antis. Like originally, you start out everybody putting one piece of candy in. And then to speed things up, we might put in two or three pieces of candy for each anti.
So there’s different ways you can modify it, but again, give it a try, it’s a lot of fun, dreidels are not very expensive, and yeah, try it out with your own family. Now you can’t have a feast of Hanukkah without food. And some of the traditional Hanukkah food definitely includes things like latkes, which are potato pancakes. We usually shred ours and then mix in various things like garlic, onion, salt, pepper, eggs, what have you, and then fry them up in a frying pan.
Lots of different recipes, lots of different ways you can make them, but they’re oh so good. You also have things like soufganiyot, which is a fried jelly or cream filled donut looking thing. There are lukamades, and of course we always have for Hanukkah something like brisket, because brisket is a traditional meat to have on Hanukkah. But the theme of the Hanukkah season or celebration of Hanukkah is fried foods, and this is going back to the tradition of the oil.
So as the oil lasted for eight days, you know, whether that’s true or not, that’s the tradition, and therefore food on Hanukkah is fried in oil. So it’s about anything fried and you’re sticking with the theme of Hanukkah. So to wrap this up, in summary, Hanukkah means dedication or even rededication. Hanukkah is connected with various things such as Daniel’s prophecy that we went over, our Messiah, Yeshua, and even end-time events still yet to come. Antiochus, as we saw, is a foreshadowing of the Antichrist, a type of the coming Antichrist.
Hanukkah remembers and celebrates the amazing and awesome power and deliverance of our Father Yahweh. And as we saw, Hanukkah is still for us today. Now this one little caveat real quick, that since it is not prescribed in Torah, do not feel in any way obligated to celebrate Hanukkah. If you’re not feeling led to celebrate Hanukkah, don’t do it. You’re good. You’re not going to be condemned for not celebrating Hanukkah. We do. I and my family do celebrate Hanukkah because we love it.
We love, you know, another excuse for family time. We’re from the American South, so we love an excuse for fried foods. And plus, we love celebrating Yahweh and the things he’s done for us and for our ancestors and for those of the faithful. And remembering that in his own way, according to his own will, he would deliver us nowadays if we remained faithful to him. But again, in no way should you feel obligated to celebrate Hanukkah.
So if you don’t want to celebrate it, don’t do it. But if you do want to celebrate it, I would encourage you to go for it. It’s a lot of fun. First year, it’s going to be fun. Every year after that, it’s going to be even more fun because you know more, know better how to do it.