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Happy Hanukkah




Remember the Light


Our story begins long ago during the time of the 2nd Temple. After over 100 years of benevolent rule by the Greeks beginning with Alexander the Great, a king named Antiochus IV came to power. He was cruel and was contemptuous of religions and cultures that were not his own.


The Greeks defiled the Temple and devoted to Zeus complete with the sacrifice of pigs. The High Priest Yochanan tried to organize a rebellion against the Greeks while Antiochus was at war with Egypt, but most was too afraid of Antiochus’ reprisal. When the Romans spread a rumor of Antiochus IV’s demise in battle, the Jews began following Yochanan and revolted.


Imagine the Jews’ horror when the rumor proved false and Antiochus returned. He was enraged by the Jewish rebellion and ordered his army to strike out against the Jews killing thousands.


Then a great darkness began to spread across the land as Antiochus IV ordered a series of extremely harsh decrees against the Jewish people and religion. All Jewish worship was forbidden under penalty of death including observing Shabbat, performing Brit Milah, and abiding by Kashrut under.


No one else dared to stand up to the Greeks. That is until Mattiyahu.


In town after town the Greek soldiers built their pagan idols and forced the Jewish inhabitants to worship them and even eat the flesh of pigs. Then they arrived in a town called Modiin. In this town just outside of Jerusalem was an old, great priest named Mattiyahu who defied Antiochus’ soldiers. A Hellenistic Jew approached to worship and Mattiyahu struck him down with his sword. The citizens of Modiin then sprung on the soldiers killing some and chasing the rest away



Ancient ruins of synogaue in Modiin very well could have been the place Mattityahu defied the Greeks.

Silver Hanukkah Menorah at JesusBoat.com


Mattiyahu and his sons and neighbors fled to the caves of the Judean hills knowing their uprising would not go unanswered by Antiochus IV. Word was sent out for all loyal and courageous Jews to join them. They formed legions and would carefully leave the caves to attach outposts of Greek and Syrian soldiers and destroy pagan altars.


When old Mattiyahu was on his deathbed, he called his sons together. He encouraged them to defend G-d’s Torah. He asked that the tactical leader be Shimon the Wise and in battle the leader be Judah the Strong. Judah was known as Maccabee – a contraction for “MiKamochaBa’eilimHaShem” translated as “Who is like you, O G-d.” This was sung to G-d by Moses and the Israelites after G-d parted the Red Sea giving them safe passage and destroying the Egyptians (Exodus 15:11). His followers became “The Maccabees.”


To wipe out this little band of Jewish fighters who were wreaking havoc Antiochus sent ones of his best generals with 40,000 soldiers. With the battle cry, ““Let us fight to the death in defense of our souls and our Temple!” the Maccabees were triumphant in battle again and again. The Maccabees fought with G-d in their hearts and the honor of Judaism in their souls. They fought for their Torah and for their Temple. After a series of bloody battles, it was done. They had defeated the powerful army of Antiochus.


With their victory, the Maccabees climbed a mountain outside Jerusalem and looked upon the city. On the 25th of Kislev they descended the mountain to liberate Jerusalem and reclaim their Temple. As they marched into the Holy City they were distressed by what they saw – idols, impurity, and filth everywhere. They entered the Holy Temple and were shocked to see the same. Jerusalem and the the Temple needed to be made Holy again for G-d.



The Light in the Darkness


In the Temple they immediately cleared it of all pagan idols and built a new altar. They wanted to light the Menorah to rededicate the Temple to the One True G-d, but the Golden Menorah was gone, stolen by the Greeks. The Maccabees made a new one from what they could find and then rummaged through the ruins seeking a flask of sanctified oil. All they could find was defiled until finally they found a small jug in which the Kohen seal was still intact.


With great joy in their hearts they carefully they poured the small about of oil into their makeshift Menorah knowing there was only enough oil for one day. They also realized that it would take eight days to sanctify more oil for the Temple. Nevertheless, the Maccabees had faith and dedicated the Holy Temple and lit the Menorah.


Then a great miracle occurred. The oil burned through the first night and on to the second, then on to the third. The oil continued to burn for eight nights, each night the light from the Menorah cleared away more of the darkness that had befallen the land.

The Maccabees understood that it would be their steadfast faith in G-d and the Torah that would see them through. The fought for their beliefs and never waived in the face of death because they had G-d at their side.


These eight miraculous nights have been chosen as the eternal commemoration of the Maccabees, their true faith in G-d’s divine presence and the miracle of the oil. Therefore, we light the Hanukkah Menorah to show G-d our faith in Him, His Torah, and our beliefs and traditions. Let us remember during Hanukkah and always that G-d is forever the protector of His faithful.


You, O L-RD, keep my lamp burning; my G-d turns my darkness into light. Psalms 18:28


Classic Hanukkah Candles from JesusBoat.com


from the Shore of the Sea of Galilee

wishes you a

Happy Hanukkah




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