Jesus Celebrates Hanukkah! -- By: Gordon Franz

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 20:4 (Fall 2007)
Article: Jesus Celebrates Hanukkah!
Author: Gordon Franz


Jesus Celebrates Hanukkah!

Gordon Franz

Nine-branched candelabrum used in the celebration of Hanukkah.

Two friends of mine, believers in the Lord Jesus living in Israel, shared with me their excitement over the impending birth of their firstborn child. I inquired as to the due date of the child’s birth. The proud father-to-be replied, “The doctor said the child is due Dec. 25th.” I lamented, “Oh, bummer, the poor child will only receive one set of gifts for Christmas and his or her birthday.” Yisrael half-jokingly responded, “That’s no problem, we’ll celebrate Hanukkah instead!” We had a good laugh, but I thought to myself, “The Lord Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, celebrated the festival of Hanukkah, yet there is no record in the Gospels of Him celebrating Christmas!”

The Origin of Hanukkah

Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that commemorates the purification and rededication of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus on Kislev 25, 165 BC (usually in December). Three years prior, Antiochus IV, the Seleucid (Syrian) king, defiled the Temple by erecting an idol to Baal Shamen (the Canaanite counterpart for the Greek god Zeus), sacrificing a pig on the altar in the Temple and proclaiming himself to be a god. Some of the coins he minted had his features on the face of Zeus along with the words “Theos Epiphanes” meaning “the god manifest.” He also decreed that Torah (the Law of God) could not be studied under penalty of death; also Jewish males were not to be circumcised and it was forbidden to keep the Sabbath. This brought an internal struggle within Judaism out in the open. On the one hand there were the observant Jews who wanted to keep Torah, continue circumcision and observe the Sabbath. On the other hand, there were Hellenized Jews who wanted to assimilate into the Greek culture around them and become “born again” Greeks! That included wrestling in the gymnasium wearing nothing but their “birthday suits”!

Antiochus sent troops from village to village with a statue of himself, ordering people to bow down to it. One day they arrived in the village of Modi’im. An elderly man stepped forward to comply with the order, but an observant priest, Mattathias of the Hasmonean family, thrust him through with a spear and also killed one of the Seleucid soldiers. Thus began the Maccabean revolt. Mattathias, his five sons and others fled into the Gophna

Michael Luddeni

Still learning today. Fathers teach their sons to read, study and keep the Torah.

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