The Biblical Basis for Celebrating Chanukah
By Yehudah ben Shomeyr
Chanukah, to the misconception of almost everyone, like the Feasts of the L-RD
in Leviticus 23, Chanukah is for every Believer in Yeshua the Messiah.
Chanukah has a long history, longer than many people may think. The majority of
the people believe Chanukah was established and instituted between the 500 year
gap of the writing of the Tanak (O.T.) and the Renewed Covenant (N.T.), during
the time of the Levitical family of the Maccabees, when they took back the
Temple from the Greco-Syrian invaders and rededicated it and got it back up and
running again. People think that since it has no connection to canonical
Scripture, it has no relevance or place in their lives. They think it's purely
a "Jewish thing", when in reality King Solomon instituted it, the Maccabees
re-instituted it and made it what it is today, and Yeshua the Messiah
celebrated it, and will re-institute it again when the 3rd Temple is built!
Chanukah is NOT the "Jewish Christmas"; it has NOTHING to do with Tammuz, Santa
Clause, or the birth of Jesus. The only commonalities between Christmas and
Chanukah is that we exchange and give gifts, which is more of a modern
institution in reactions to Christmas, and it steamed from the fact that Jews
gave (Tzedekah) charity on Biblical and Jewish holidays. Also sometimes
greenery is hung, not because of the reasons people do it for Christmas, but
because the Maccabees used Chanukah to also celebrate a late Sukkot (Feast of
Tabernacles) which is a type of harvest festival in which greenery was hung as
In I Kings 8 and II Chronicles 7, it speaks of King Solomon fulfilling the life
long dream of his father David and himself, of having built the Holy Temple of
YHVH. It says the he "Chanukah-ed" it, dedicated it, and had a 7 day festival
and ended it on the 8th day, hence 8 days of Chanukah, just as we have today.
In Ezra 6:16-17 it tells of the Babylonian exiles who have returned to Jerusalem
and have built and Chanukah-ed the 2nd Temple. Verse 16 says that "The children
of the captivity kept the "Chanukah" of this house of G-D with joy."
In I Maccabees 4:52-59 and II Maccabees 10:1-8 it recounts the reason we
celebrate Chanukah today. After Yehudah Maccabee recaptures the 2nd Temple and
began to cleanse it and restore the service of it, they were about to light the
Holy Menorah when they discovered they only had enough oil for it to stay lit
for one day. It took 7 days to produce more, but they lit it anyway and a
miracle occurred, the Menorah stayed lit a whole 7 days until more was made!
Apparently the dates for celebrating Chanukah have changed through out the ages.
A new date for each time the Temple was built and dedicated, or cleansed and
rededicated. But to this day we keep the days set forth by the Maccabees in I
Maccabees 4:59 and II Maccabees 10:8 because that was the last rededication
until the Messiah returns to build the 3rd Holy Temple. Chanukah today
commemorates the rededication of the Temple, the defeat of the Greco-Syrian
invaders, affirms our Jewishness, and commemorates the miracle of the oil.
Because of II Maccabees 10:8 commanding the Jewish people to keep the 25th day
of the month of Kislev and the 7 days that follow, we see Yeshua in John
10:22-23 keeping Chanukah! If Messiah celebrated Chanukah, that's good enough
for me! I want to do it to, I want to be as much like my Messiah as I possibly
can, I want to do what He did, and experience what He experienced.
So what does Chanukah mean for Believers in Messiah Yeshua?
As mentioned before, the Temple is important to the Messiah, and He kept the
Festival of Chanukah there. But on a Spiritual level WE are the Temples of G-D
(I Cor. 3:16; 6:15-20; II Cor. 6:15-18; Eph. 2:18-22) and ever so often the
invaders of Self and Sin desecrate that sacred place and we need to wage all out
war, kick out the invaders, cleanse and rededicate ourselves back to G-D and His
Torah. This is exactly what we do at Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (Lev.
23:26-32), so I like to think of Chanukah as Yom Kippur part shatayim (two)!
Jews! Stand up and be counted. Rededicate your self to G-D and His Torah.
Christians! Toss out that Christmas tree (Jer. 10:3-4), and grab a Menorah!
The only "birthday" the Messiah celebrated at this time of the year wasn't His
own, but the Temples! How could we not do likewise!?
Once I received some junk snail mail by the Messianic evangelical missions group
"Chosen People Ministries" and the first words to greet my eyes in bold blue
letters was "Merry Messiahmas!" I laughed at the idiocy and was angered by the
ignorance and or blatant syncretism. As if simply replacing the Greek word
"Christ" for the Hebrew word "Messiah" makes the pagan holiday now okay for Jews
to celebrate! Breaking it down it's, "The mass of the Christ" which the
Catholics instituted, that's the Roman pagan roots, but taking it further back
to its original roots in Babylon it's, "Christ-Tammuz", meaning, "The anointed
one Tammuz", which was Nimrod's son, whom he had with his mother, who was
eventually gored to death by a wild bore, in which people get that bore back for
killing their god-man by eating the good ol' Easter ham, and whom women mourn
during Lent (Ezk. 8:14 ).
December 25th was never, and will never be the birthday of Yeshua the Messiah.
1. December 25th is a solar date and We Jews go by the lunar calendar, the two
do not coincide.
2. No one knows for sure the exact date the Messiah was born. However, we do
know He was born around Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. We were never
commanded to celebrate His birth, but if you want to, please do it at the right
time of the year!
3. December 25th is the birth date of the pagan gods Tammuz, Mithra, and
Christmas was instituted by the Emperor Constantine and the Catholic Church to
try to make pagans feel comfortable and be more receptive to "Christianity".
All they did was take a pagan holiday and slap a new name on it inside and out.
"Merry Messiahmas" is no different than what the Fox networks primetime twenty
something soap, "The O.C." did by having the family on the show (who was at
least part Jewish) combine Christmas and Channukah together and call it
"Chrismukah". Or that cell phone commercial that blends all the holidays
together and says, "Happy Christmaramahkwanzikkah (Christmas, Ramadan, Kwanza,
and Chanukah)!" It is the Bable mentality that says, "We are all one, it's all
the same anyway, so let's all love each other and get along!" Celebrating
Christmas would be like being married, but celebrating your wife's birthday on
your X-girlfriends birthday! Why? After all we are the "bride" of Messiah and
He is our "Husband", and that would be celebrating his birth on the day of a
pagan god, our former lover! Or it's also like if I, a Jew, would take the
Swastika and assign a new meaning to it, let's say it is the cross of Messiah
humbly bent, reaching out to all four corners of the earth! Doesn't fly does
it! Pretty sick, perverted and insensitive of me huh? Well, how do you feel
the Messiah himself thinks about Christmas?
Christians! You claim you're of the Messiah, if you are, then come out of
Babylon and toss that tree (Jer. 10:3-4)!
Jews! Stop the hellenization and assimilation, come out of Rome and Greece and
I'm not saying grab a torch and pitchfork and hunt participants of Christmas
down. The majority of people simply don't know of understand the pagan roots of
Christmas. To them it's just the time of the year to be nice to everyone. So
if some one not knowing smiles and says to you, "Merry Christmas!" or even,
"Merry Messiahmas!" A kind, neutral, non committal response would be, "Happy
Holidays!" That way you're being kind, returning the sentiment without
celebrating or endorsing a pagan day of a pagan god. After all, it is the
"Holiday Season", and not only Christmas but. Kwanza, Chanukah, and sometimes
Ramadan fall around this time of year. If and when the opportunity presents
itself, in a loving, matter-of-fact way, expose the truth concerning the pagan
roots of Christmas, the real time of the year Yeshua was born, and the truth
about Chanukah and how it relates to the Believer.
In Yochannon (Jn.) 10:22 we read that Yeshua was at the Temple at the
"feast of the dedication", this is the feast known as Chanukah.
Chanukah is the Jewish holiday which celebrates the rededication of
the Temple after it had been polluted by Antiochus Epiphanies.
This festival celebrates the victory of the Jewish rebels known as the
"Maccabees" over the Greco-Syrians who had outlawed Torah observance
and were attempting to force all Jews to embrace Greek Paganism and
"The exploits of the Maccabees are to be found in the four Books of
the Maccabees. The Books of the Maccabees did not make it into the
Jewish canon. They were not preserved in the Masoretic text, but were
included in an appendix to both the Aramaic Peshitta Tanak and the Greek
Septuagint Tanak. First and Second Maccabees were also included in the Latin
Vulgate and were canonized by Rome, but have not been accepted as canon by most
protestant groups, though some of these still include the books of the Maccabees
in an appendix called "apocrypha". In fact the original 1611 edition of the KJV
included 1st and 2nd Maccabees in a separate section labeled "Apocrypha".
What is truly fascinating is that the four books of the Maccabees
are each written on each of the four levels of understanding. In
Judaism there are four levels of understanding recognized in the Scriptures:
The Pashat (the simple literal meaning)
The Remez (the hinted, implied meaning)
The Drash (the allagorical, homiletical meaning)
The Sod (the hidden, secret, mystical meaning)
The first letter from each of these Hebrew words spells the Hebrew
word PRDS (PaRDeS) meaning "paradise". I have noted in the past that the four
Gospels are written on each
of these four levels:
Mark gives the Pashat, the plain simple meaning.
Luke gives the Remez, digging into the details Mark did not get into.
Matthew gives the Drash, telling the story of Yeshua as a commentary
to a number of passages from the Tanak.
John gives the Sod, telling the mystical account of Yeshua as the
incarnate light and the incarnate "word".
Now the same is true of the Books of the Maccabees:
1st Maccabees gives the plain simple account.
2nd Maccabees digs into the details.
3rd Maccabees tells a related story of another persecution under
Ptolomey to illustrate the same point.
4th Maccabees is a treaty making the case that the Torah is divine
reason, and as such is supreme." – James Scott Trimm