Myth. Jesus celebrated Hanukkah not Christmas, and we should be celebrating Chanukkah instead of pagan Christmas.
A. Hanukkah is a celebration and holiday within Judaism about the Jewish people, for practicing Jews of Judaism only. It is an offence to them for Gentiles and those outside of Judaism to participate in this holiday and we as believers in Jesus Christ are called to cause none offence.
Although it is suggested that Hanukkah be celebrated because of the universal desire of mankind for liberty, within Judaism many believe it to be a memorial about the historical and ongoing conflict of Jewish culture and faith versus non-Jewish beliefs and what many call the Gentile/Greek influences and faith.
Others articulate that the celebration of these festivals is to continue strengthening the Jewish people in all aspects of their lives. The very name of Hanukkah imparts the belief that when Jews have dedicated themselves to their faith and through the pursuit of their religious ideals, Judaism is strong. The goal then is to strengthen the Jewish religion and their people and that is what is being commemorated in celebrating Hanukkah.1
Also called Lights, The Feast of Lights, or Feast of the Maccabees, 2 the historical name for the festival was not the Feast of Lights but the Feast of Fire. 3. Hanukkah, (also Hannukah, Chanukkah, Chanukah) which means Dedication, commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after having been desecrated by Gentile forces. Based on the Maccabean revolt (discussed below), and victory over Antiochus of Syria, the subsequent cleansing and rededication of the temple, culminated in the legend of the oil burning in the temple eight days, which many believe is true.
Jewish Rabbi Daniel Kohn, in answer to the question, “Is the miracle of Chanukah made up?” stated that the whole concept of the miracle of the oil, was indeed untrue. While stating that the actual lighting of the Menorah for the dedication of the Temple was real and based on spiritual significance, the rabbinic writings in the Talmud took the shift from the Maccabeean military victory to that of a claimed miracle of the oil for the Menorah. 4
The perceived glory of the Maccabean victory became overshadowed due to all they did that caused harm to fellow Jews and their focus became viewed as dangerous and containing seditious ideas that were to be suppressed. The fear of glorifying the military success of the Maccabeans while under Roman rule, formed the basis for the idea of inventing the story of the miracle of the oil to become the focus and with it, masked the truth about the Maccabees and their shameful legacy for many years. By reinventing the stories, the rabbis kept the holiday alive with a shift in focus and thereby inserted more religious significance. 5
Celebrated anywhere from late November to late December, for many within Judaism the eight day holiday has become very much a children’s holiday, reminiscent of Christmas and (for some) instead of Christmas, celebrated with decorated and lit Hanukkah ‘bushes’. It is a time when family comes together to commemorate this holiday by lighting a candle and exchanging gifts for each of the eight days, and eating special food. Traditionally children received gifts of coins which were meant as a remembrance of the coins minted by the Maccabee state after the military victory. The receiving of gifts on each of the eight days became a later tradition, meant to parallel what is done at Christmas with Christians, although Christians that do exchange gifts normally do so only on one day. Prayers and Psalms are recited according to Talmudic and kabbalist traditions. The prayers and recitations during Hanukkah have much to do with the view of the Jews’ salvation[s], redemption and miracles via God using the Maccabees and other people/wars/events historically.
Hanukkah in the Scriptures
The Hebrew word of hanukkah or chanukkah is used in the Old Testament eight times. It means ‘dedication.’ and is found in Numbers 7:10, 11, 84, 88; 2 Chronicles 7:9; Nehemiah 12:27 and Psalms 30:1. The secondary language found in the Old Testament, Aramaic, uses hanukkah precisely four times, in Daniel 3:2,3 and Ezra 6:16 & 17 and spells it chanukka. Invariably, the word hanukkah refers to the dedication of the altar in front of the Tent of Meeting, the Temple built by Solomon, or the wall of Jerusalem. The two times in Daniel 3 it is not used for those purposes, but rather is found used in reference to the dedication and worship of the image of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. Those that refused to worship it were to be thrown into a fire.
Daniel 3:3…. were gathered together unto the dedication <chanukka’ (Aramaic)> of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up…”6
The one Scriptural reference to dedication in the New Testament is found in John 10:22. Many Messianics are using this passage to say that Jesus celebrated Hanukkah and therefore that means we should.
It is necessary to view the passage of John 10 as a whole first, and read the whole chapter because the verse in reference to the feast of dedication, does not in fact say that Jesus was celebrating it. It was a statement of what time of year it was.
John 10:22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication <egkainia>, and it was winter.
G1456 >dedication <egkainia> 1456. ἐγκαίνια egkainia
1) dedication, consecration
1a) in particular the annual feast celebrated eight days beginning in the 25th of Chislev (middle of our December), instituted by Judas Maccabaeus [164 BC] in memory of the cleansing of the temple from the pollution of Antiochus Epiphanes” 7
Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries > 1456…Neuter plural of a presumed compound from G1722 and G2537; innovatives, that is, (specifically) renewal (of religious services after the Antiochian interruption): – dedication.
Prior to verse 10:22, we see that the context began while Jesus was teaching in the Temple from chapter 8:
John 8:2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
John 8:13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
John 8:52-54 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54. Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:
Joh 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. [KJV]
Jesus healed the blind man just after leaving the scene at the Temple, John 9:1, and said:
John 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. 8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?
John 9:14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. 15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.
16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.
Joh 9:22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. [KJV]
Summary –the Jews cast out the blind man cured by Jesus. Jesus finds him and reveals who He is and the healed man believes and worships Him.
–the Pharisees there witness this and are told they are blind
10:1-5–the sheepfold parable-the Pharisees did not understand
10:6-16–about the sheepfold, Christ the door of the sheep, Christ the good Shepherd, the hirelings, laying down His life for the sheep,
Jesus had been healing and teaching prior to healing the blind man, and the Pharisees were disputing him, some claiming He had a devil. Starting at verse 10:17, it says the following:
John 10:17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
19 There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. 20 And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?
21 Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind? 22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.
24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. 25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.
26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
30 I and my Father are one.
31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.
38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.
39 Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,
40 And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.
41 And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. 42 And many believed on him there. [KJV]
Many of the Jewish and Gentile people gathered in Solomon’s porch because it was winter and it was cold. Solomon’s porch bordered the outer court and was where the Gentiles congregated, because they were not allowed into the inner court with the Jews. Jews could interact with the Gentiles on the porch, which was located on the east side of the outer court of Herod’s Temple, i.e. the Second Temple. There was a sign posted at the inner court warning all non-Jews that to enter would be punishable by death. The actual quote inscribed on the sign tablet[s], read:
“No foreigner may enter within the railing and enclosure that surround the Temple. Anyone apprehended shall have himself to blame for his consequent death!” 8
Alfred Edersheim suggests in his writing, The Temple-It’s Ministry and Service in the time of Jesus Christ, written during his seven volume work from 1876-87, “…These halls or porches around the Court of the Gentiles must have been most convenient places for friendly or religious intercourse- meetings or discussions.” 9
Jesus went to where the people were and spoke the truth of who He was. He was not received by most of the Jews present, especially the Pharisees, which many Messianics claim Jesus was celebrating with. They, in fact, wanted to stone Him. There is nothing that says Jesus entered into any celebration. From what is stated in this chapter, the preceding and following chapters and verses, Jesus was there to share the things of God and who He was/is. He was about His Father’s business. And when they tried to seize Him, He left Jerusalem.
Unlike the Maccabees, whose original mission was to protect and include the Jews and their beliefs while excluding Gentiles and their beliefs, Jesus came to include all mankind who believed in Him, so they could be part of the kingdom of God which He was building. Jesus was teaching that He was the Good Shepherd and that not only were there going to be ‘other sheep’, meaning the Gentiles, brought into the sheepfold with the Jews but, all must enter the sheepfold through Him. The resulting flock of sheep would be comprised of believing Jews and Gentiles, which was prophetic and part of the Abrahamic covenant from Genesis
These teachings are contrary to the Hanukkah festivities and focus, which was/is to separate fully from anything or anyone non-Jewish, and celebrate the Maccabees, with the focus of some on that ‘messiah.’
In sharp contrast to the Maccabean mission of physical liberty through war, self focus and revolt to the governing authorities, disassociation and for some, resentment or hatred for those outside of Judaism, Jesus instead taught of loving enemies and forgiving and bringing those viewed as unclean into the fold through the only door that would make all spiritually clean. Himself. He taught and fulfilled, for example, the Isaiah prophecy of making God’s house a house of prayer for all people. He taught that all mankind, not just the pagan Gentiles, needed His cleansing.
Isaiah 56:7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
8 The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him. [KJV]
Jesus often made a distinction between ‘the religion of the Pharisees’ and what He and the Scriptures said. That is why many could not receive Him. They went by man made religion and thought over the Truth in the Scriptures. The Scriptures were there for them. Jesus said so.
John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. [KJV]
Regarding Hanukkah, there is no doubt that if the legend of the oil was true in that God kept the oil burning for 8 days, He is more than able. However, Hanukkah is not about God, but rather about the Maccabees and the Jewish people within the religion of Judaism. God was very specific about how the Menorah was to be made, with 7 candlesticks. There was no divine directive to change that or celebrate with anything different, or in fact, change the law of Moses. God forbids the changing of His commandments and the adding to them, and yet we have Messianics following rabbinic traditions that do just that. That Judaism elevates their traditions and writings of the sages (found within the Talmud and kabbalah) above the Scriptures is what makes Judaism what is today. It is totally separate from what Christians or those who believe Jesus are to be about. And that is the issue. The things of Christ are not about days and such, nor is our focus or glorying to be on man, but God alone:
Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; [KJV]
For Christians , we need to apply the verses:
1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. [KJV]
Myth: Hanukkah commemorates the miracle of the oil and the victory of the Maccabees over the Gentile rule and should be celebrated by those in Hebrew Roots or Messianics instead of pagan Christmas.
A. Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration for the Jewish people. It was never to be including those outside of Judaism. The historical facts show a far different story than many weave to bring others into celebrating this event. The Maccabee’s story is central to understanding what is legend and what is fact.
The Maccabean Revolt
The revolt that inspired the keeping of Hanukkah was through the actions of Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons: Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah, who eventually led the uprising. This small group of Jews called the Maccabees rebelled and risked their lives to, “live according to Jewish law,” and to prevent any further desecration of the Temple. 1
The story of the Maccabees and the Maccabean Revolt was reportedly commissioned by the Maccabees themselves, and is found in the Apocrypha’s 1st & 2nd Maccabees, which are found in Catholic and some Protestant Bibles. However, none of those writings are found in Jewish Bibles, but rather, the Maccabean Revolt is found referenced to in the extra-biblical writings of the Talmud. 2
From those and other historical sources such as Josephus’ Antiquities, we know that Antiochus or “Epiphanes”, outlawed the practice of Judaism prior to the second century BC. Idols and altars were established throughout Jerusalem where sacrifices were made to the various ‘gods’. In full rebellion to Almighty God, an idol was erected in the Temple, with many historically believing it to be an image of Zeus. Jews who disobeyed the directive to burn their Torah scrolls and cease from practicing Judaism were murdered. By about 167 BC, Mattathais Maccabees and his sons determined to stop the sacrilege of the Temple and proceeded to overthrow the Syrians. Judah Maccabees took the lead and the Jews recaptured the Temple. According to the various writings, they rededicated the altar on the 25th of Kislev, that is, November-December. The celebration for the dedication of the altar went on for eight days followed by the rededication of the Temple to God. 3
Following the Maccabean War, peace was re established temporarily with the Seleucids, and the Maccabean state became known as the Hasmoneans. They did not cease their war however, but discarded the temporary peace and continued with a civil war against the Seleucids and Hellenized Jews within Jerusalem. It was then that the Maccabees commissioned and paid for the writing of their war history called I Maccabees, which was fully propaganda about their exploits. Jewish loyalists called the Hasidism, who had also been against the Hellenizing Jews, were outraged not only by that propaganda, but also by the Maccabees claim to political and religious power. In response they formed a new opposition political party called the Perushim aka the Pharisees, who were separatists. 4
It was descendents of those Pharisees that Jesus dealt with many times and it was they who tried to stone Him and in the end, most rejected Him.
The Pharisees eventually became the Rabbis, who (years later) were responsible for writing the Mishnah and Talmud, and through them kept their hatred of the Maccabees entrenched in the writings. The Pharisees believed the Maccabees had committed blasphemy by uniting the political power seat with that of the priesthood. The Maccabees had used their military power to forcibly expand the Jewish kingdom by becoming a military dictatorship, forcing such as the Idumeans (Edomites descended from Esau) to convert to Judaism and follow the laws and rituals, as well as submit to the Jewish government. It became obvious that the more successful and wealthy they became, the more Hellenization took place within Jewish society. They became the major force behind it, doing exactly what they started out to overthrow. Their political rule was eventually terminated by the conquest of the Romans. By the time of the Rabbis, the descendents of the Pharisees and Hasidism, Israel had faced massive loss of life, not just in the initial revolt, but in the following civil war where Jew rose up against Jew. 5
Jewish Rabbi Daniel Kohn, in answer to the question, “Is the miracle of Chanukah made up?” stated that the whole concept of the miracle of the oil, was indeed untrue. The actual lighting of the Menorah for the dedication of the Temple was real and based on spiritual significance, but the rabbinic writings in the Talmud took the shift from the Maccabees military victory to that of the claimed miracle of the oil for the Menorah. 6
The perceived glory of the Maccabean victory became overshadowed due to all they did which caused harm to fellow Jews, and their focus became viewed as dangerous and containing seditious ideas that were to be suppressed. The fear of glorifying the military success of the Maccabeans while under Roman rule, formed the basis for the idea of inventing the story of the miracle of the oil. By making the oil the focus, they masked the truth about the Maccabees and their shameful legacy for many years. By reinventing the stories, the rabbis kept the holiday alive with a shift in focus and thereby inserting more religious significance, which in turn used to strengthen and build Judaism. 7
As an added point, the Eastern Orthodox Church venerates the Maccabees as Saints and The Dictionary of Bible and Religion suggests that the Maccabees were exalted to the point of Messiah. 8 Many venerated Judah Maccabees specifically as the awaited Messiah. These are the facts surrounding Hanukkah.
Some Further History on Jews Killing Jews
As stated above, while many celebrate Hanukkah and the Maccabees, what many do not realize is that the Maccabees themselves became a destructive force to Judaism.
For many years, Hanukkah symbolized the overthrow of pagan Gentile influence from Jewish spirituality, and the rededication to God and the Mosaic Law. However, history reveals that the wrath which was dealt out by the Maccabees did not end the path of disaster which Israel had been treading. Whether reading ‘Gentile’ historical or Jewish resources, the end result was that the Maccabees became power hungry and corrupt. What started out for many as a zealous spiritual endeavor based on wrath, became immersed in corruption, murder and destruction, and the eventual act of Jews killing Jews. The war and rebellion became a civil war. According to Josephus in his Antiquities, within 65 years of the initial revolt, a challenge was put forth by a number of Pharisees towards one of the corrupt leaders of the Maccabees, one Alexander Janneus. During the Feast of Tabernacles, Alexander who was performing as high priest, corrupted the libation ceremony by pouring the water over his feet instead of on the altar as the Pharisees had decreed. [Please note this ceremony was not from the God-given Law, but added in and decreed by the Pharisees as part of their oral traditions.] In response, the religious Jews pelted him with lemons. It was after that time that Janneus had a partition-wall of wood built around the altar and the temple, where it was only lawful for the priests to enter. In this way, he kept the multitude of Jews from coming at him. 9 Outraged by the lemon incident, Janneus ordered his soldiers to slay 6,000 of the Jews, resulting in a civil war which lasted six years and by the end, approximately 50,000 Jews were killed. At the end of the war, the Jewish soldiers were ordered by Janneus to crucify 800 of the Pharisees. He then ordered the throats of their children and wives cut, while they watched. 10
The initial Revolt lasted about four years, from 167-163 BC. By 66 AD, the Zealots again revolted against their Gentile oppressors. Just as with the earlier Maccabees, again the revolt ended with Jews killing Jews, and many would agree that it changed the course of Jewish history forever. Many know that by 70 AD the Romans destroyed the Temple, burned Jerusalem, and slaughtered thousands of people. The last stronghold at Masada ended with the rebel Jews committing suicide.
From a Christian perspective we know that Jesus foretold of the destruction of the Temple.(Matthew 24) Many view it as a physical ending of the sacrificial system and the change in priesthood, meaning also the closing of the door on the Mosaic covenant with the fulfillment of the promised New Covenant.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Isaiah 11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
Isaiah 42:6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
Isaiah 49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
Isaiah 49:22 Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.
It meant that now all, both Jew and Gentile, could come to God through Jesus Christ who was the final sacrifice, once for all.
Ephesians 2:13-19 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15. Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16. And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17. And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Romans 10:11-13 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
There is no need for a Temple, because Jesus is the Temple and has also made us the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The sacrifice of our bodies and the sacrifice of praise take the place of the offerings.
Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. [KJV]
Myth: God ordained Hanukkah and it is Scriptural, therefore Messianics and Christians should celebrate it instead of Christmas. The ceremonies are found in the Scriptures.
A. There is no Scripture that suggests that God commanded or suggested the keeping of Hanukkah. It is not found in the commandments given to Moses for Israel and is not listed in any of the feasts or holidays commanded by God. It was first celebrated by the Maccabees and became a religious holiday which became enforced by the Pharisees and rabbis through the Talmud. It was not God ordained in the Scriptures.
In Rabbi Hyam Maccoby’s, Revolution in Judaea, and as discussed in the article, To Embrace Hebrew Roots: Part II : The Bible & The Talmud, he noted that the Pharisees brought in many traditions, observances and festivities which were not part of the written law of Moses given by God. These additional traditions, often referred to as the oral law, are what were rejected by the Sadducees. However, most Jews defend and fully support the additions found throughout the Rabbinic writings of the Talmud and Kabbalah, which have become ingrained in Judaism as it is known today. According to Hyam Maccoby, the Pharisees not only added the festivals of Hanukkah and Purim, they added to the canon of Scripture and added new doctrine to Judaism, which included new rites to Temple worship, and they have continually brought in new prayers and ceremonies for use in Jewish synagogues. These are all additions that many Messianic congregations also utilize and participate in. 1
The principal source for the story of Hanukkah and the legend of the oil is found in the Talmud and many Jewish and non-Jewish sources discuss the fact that the legend of the oil burning for eight days in the Temple is just that, legend. Which brings one to an interesting point.
We have been told that most Messianics do not approve of, nor do they embrace the teachings from the Talmud, although some have admitted to this author that they do, and one merely needs to peruse the writings of many leadership to see they do. And of course the activities and Messianic dress is based on rabbinic aka talmudic or kabbalist traditions. So, why are most using the Legend of the Maccabees and the associated Miracle of the Oil story to enter into the celebration for that Legend?
The 9-candle menorah (Chanukiah) is used to celebrate Chanukah and contemporary use of it is in celebration of the victory of what many view as a Messiah, Judas Maccabees and his brothers. The story includes the cleansing of the Temple and the legend of oil miraculously burning for eight days.
Some suggest that initially, the lighting of the Temple menorah in the rededication ceremony was based on the commandment to light the Menorah with pure oil as is written in Leviticus 23 and 24. That was immediately followed by the commandment to observe the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot festival for 8 days, which means 7 days of Sukkot followed by Shemini Atzere. “The Sages saw this as a Divine hint that Chanukah should be for 8 days.” 2 The Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated in the fall, not late November to late December when Hanukkah is celebrated, yet this conflict does not appear to be noticed by most.
Following the seven days of Sukkot, the eighth day is called Shemini Atzeret, which literally means “the assembly of the eighth day”. It is actually a separate holiday from Sukkot, and does not involve the special rituals of Tabernacles. Rabbinic writings (Talmud) explain it that, “our Creator is like a host, who invites us as visitors for a limited time, but when the time comes for us to leave, He has enjoyed himself so much that He asks us to stay another day”. Another explanation is that Sukkot is a holiday for all of mankind to participate in, but when it is over, only the Jewish people are invited by God to stay the eighth day for a more intimate celebration with Him. 3
According to the teachings of Kabbalah and Hasidism, the eighth day for Hannukah is the final ceremony for when the dedication of the altar took place by the Maccabees and it is the “seal” of the High Holiday season of Yom Kippur (day of atonement) , and is therefore considered a time to repent out of love for God. Due to this belief, many Hasidic Jews greet each other with the traditional Yom Kippur wish, “may you be sealed totally for good”. It is taught in Hasidic and Kabbalistic literature that this day is particularly favorable for answers to prayers. 4
Through kabbalah’s gematria, eight is viewed as representing the Jewish People’s special role in human history. Seven is the number of days of creation, meaning the completion of the material cosmos, and planets and eight represents the Infinite. The Eighth Day of the Assembly festival, is according to Jewish Law a festival for Jews only. Similarly, in Judaism the rite of circumcision which brings a Jewish male into God’s Covenant, is performed on the eighth day. In Judaism, Hanukkah’s eight days celebrate their victory over Hellenistic humanism, and as such have great symbolic importance for practicing Jews.
To simplify, what they are saying regarding the implementation of this holiday, is that within Judaism’s writings, they changed the timing, purpose and length of the Feast of Tabernacles as ordained by God and as described in Leviticus in the Law of Moses. They then ascribed to it the new celebration proclaimed by the Maccabees and which was then enforced by the writings of the rabbis in the Talmud. That despite the very clear warning by God to not add to or change what He had commanded in the Law.
Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
…12:28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.
…12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. [KJV]
Myth: The Hanukkah Menorah with nine candles symbolizes Christ and therefore all Messianics and Christians should be celebrating Hanukkah instead of pagan Christmas.
The Candle Question & Messianics
A. The Hanukkah festival is observed in Judaism by the lighting of a special nine candle Menorah, although the Menorah ordained by God for the Temple has seven candles. One candle is lit per night, and each additional candle is lit on each night of the holiday, progressing to the eighth on the last night. The ninth candle, separated either above or below the rest, is called the ‘shamash’ or guard or servant candle, which is lit each night in order to light the other candles. It’s purpose is fully secular, not religious, and is strictly for Judaism to which this holiday belongs.
According to the Talmud, the purpose of the extra light is to adhere to the prohibition, specified in Tracate Shabbat 21b–23a, against using the Hanukkah lights for anything other than publicizing and meditating on the Hanukkah story. 1
And yet, we have Messianics who utilize the rabbinic writings, including the Talmud and the Zohar which is the kabbalah, and state that the whole use of 9 candles was a prophecy about Christ.
Some Messianics also align Chanukah to a celebration of the conception of Mary, with some going so far as declaring that December 19 was “the evening before the conception of Mary”.
One Messianic stated in an email:
“…the evening’ before the conception of Mary. “*** From Peter: For all of you awaiting the day of the conception of Yeshua, it will be in the early evening hours of Sunday. It occurred in the early evening when Miryam entered the home of Elizabeth. At that very moment in history the Messiah Yeshua, the Word/Torah was made flesh in the womb of Miryam. peterm ” 2.
According to these people, the proof of the conception of Mary calculations are found in the writings of various Messianics practicing kabbalah and gematria, with the approximate time of conception believed to have fallen sometime in late November to late December. They proudly proclaim that this is exactly the period of time for the Festival of Chanukah, which is also when they believe the Magi arrived fifteen months later. Another said:
“…for Jews who light the Chanukiah this year, or for those who can learn from our customs, we should keep in mind that in our encounter with “darkness”, we don’t want to use the flame to burn and destroy the world, but rather, we want to use it to illuminate the whole world with Torah. We want to light the way for all the Nations so that they can prosper materially and spiritually. Even though they will never fully respond to this before the coming of Mashiach, we must still give them this prescription. It is the same as it was in the time of the Hellenistic oppression: by increasing our light, the darkness fades and the bright Morningstar arises.”3
Words cannot express how un-Scriptural these things are. The man-ordained celebration was never intended to represent the conception of Mary — and it is certainly not viewed like that in Judaism nor their writings in the Talmud or Zohar. Nor did Almighty God feel it necessary to suggest precisely how and when these things happened. However, that does not hinder many from delivering the intent of Hanukkah as being for Gentiles to join with the Jews in this celebration, so that the Jews can “illuminate the whole world.” What a sharp contrast to the historical and original intent of the Maccabees–to separate from all Gentiles and their practices and beliefs, and also the current view of Hannukah by practicing Jews of Judaism.. And what a very sharp contrast to the Scripture where Jesus said He was the Light of the world.
John 8:12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” [KJV]
Jesus also said those who followed Him were to be salt and light of the world.
Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. [KJV]
Christians are told in the Scriptures to do the following:
Mar 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Luke 24:44-47 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46. And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. [KJV]
Nowhere are we told to go into all the world and preach Torah, because it is about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some Messianics have determined that the whole legend of the oil as being true and go on to declare that the original and specially designed menorah and all the symbolism was meant to symbolize Jesus. It is also being stated that the Jews were free to change what and how God ordained the Temple menorah and feasts to be. The belief is that the Maccabees wanted to make the holiday so much more special, (than the God commanded ones?) that they copied the Feast of Tabernacles, but changed the menorah to the 9 candles instead of the seven. The 9th candle is, according to them, used to light all others and represents Jesus. 4 Which of course is fully contrary to what Judaism teaches. And it is their celebration…
Some teach that the original Chanukiah, aside from the 9 candles, had the Star of Remphan, also called the Star of Moloch, emblazoned as a symbol on it and which people today refer to as the star of David.
The Encyclopaedia Judaica’s article, Magen David, acknowledges that the hexagram was used by magicians in connection with Judah Maccabee.
” The oldest text mentioning a shield of David is contained in an explanation of a magical “alphabet of the angel Metatron”…among the Hasidei Ashkenaz of the 12th C. But here it was the holy Name of 72 names which was said to have been on this protective shield together with the name MKBY, which the tradition of the magicians connected with Judah Maccabee.” 5
Of the many Scriptures concerning this are:
Acts 7:42,43 ” Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the STAR OF YOUR GOD REMPHAN, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
Amos 5:26-27 But ye have born the tabernacle of your Moloch, and Chiun (Remphan) your images, the STAR OF YOUR GOD, which ye made to yourselves. Therefore, will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the Lord…
Exodus 25:30 And thou shalt set upon the table showbread before me alway.
31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
32 And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
33 Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.
34 And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.
35 And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.
36 Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold. [KJV]
God dealt with the issue of the star of remphan/chiun/molech that some in Israel went after…
Referencing Strong’s Concordance about Remphan, we see:
4481 Rhemphan [hrem-fan’] by incorrect transliteration for a word of Hebrew origin 3594; n pr m AV – Remphan 1; 1 Remphan = “the shrunken (as lifeless)” 1) the name of an idol worshipped secretly by the Israelites in the wilderness.”
3594 Kiyuwn [kee-yoon’] from 3559; n pr dei AV – Chiun 1; 1 Chiun = “an image” or “pillar” 1) probably a statue of the Assyrian-Babylonian god of the planet Saturn and used to symbolise Israelite apostasy.”
Various articles reference The Talisman of Saturn, which involves a pentagram and a hexagram. From one occult source concerning the use of this symbol:
“On the first face is engraved…a pentagram or a star with five points. On the other side is engraved a bull’s head enclosed in a SIX-POINTED STAR, and surrounded by letters composing the name REMPHA, THE PLANETARY GENIUS OF SATURN, according to the alphabet of the Magi.” (Christian, p. 304-5) 7
In other words, the hexagram used today as the star of David came historically from non-Biblical foundations. Some within Judaism openly admit that it came from Babylon.
The point is, neither Hannukah, nor the 9 candle menorah were ordained by God in the Scriptures. And it is to the Scriptures that we are to turn to confirm our beliefs and doctrine.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17. That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
James 1:21-22 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. [KJV]
Myth. Christians believe Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.
A. Obviously it is not, although some would be inclined to say it is the actual birth day of Christ. For those in Hebrew Roots, December 25 is anathema, and by using the pagan roots of secularism attempt to apply them to how Christians celebrate Christ’s birth. They push the “real date” back to the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall as the correct date, but do little to celebrate His birth in any case, as everything about “Jesus” is pagan and everything about keeping the feasts is right. Once the issue of the person and name of Jesus Christ being pagan is established as a ‘fact’, then the Scriptures can be overturned, which is done systematically, until the New Testament is believed to have been totally corrupted by pagans.
Christmas, although having many secular and unnecessary elements, for most Christians, means a time to publicly tell the story of the miracle of Jesus Christ’s birth and all related to it, including the fulfillment of prophecies. May we never be silent on these Truths.
Original article and footnotes can be found here: