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|December, 2000 (5761)||Vol. 26 No. 12|
History of Chanukah
Upon assuming the Seleucid throne in 175 B.C.E., Antiochus IV, who vainly called himself "Epiphanes" (god manifest), dedicated himself fanatically to the total Hellenization of all the peoples under his rule. Of those peoples, the Jews alone refused to be Hellenized. So Antiochus decided to force Hellenization upon them. He banned the Torah and the Commandments; he sacked and defiled the Beit ha-Mikdash, inaugurating the sacrifice of pigs, and erecting there a statue of Zeus; and he decreed the death penalty for all Jews who refused to worship the Hellenic idols and who remained loyal to the Torah and the Commandments.
The Jewish revolt against this oppressive regime began in 168 B.C.E., when Mattathias the Hasmonean, a priest who had settled in Modi'in (a village northwest of Jerusalem), refused to permit idolatrous worship there, saying:
"Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him and have chosen to do his commandments, departing each one from the religion of his fathers, yet I and my sons and my brothers will live by the covenant of our fathers!" (I Mac. 2:19)
When a Jew then arose to sacrifice to an idol, Mattathias killed both him and a royal officer who was present.
Then, Mattathias and his sons and followers fled to the hills, and organized to wage a guerilla war, which culminated three years later in the miraculous victory, led by Judah the Maccabee.
However, the eight days of Chanukah do not directly commemorate the spectacular victory of a tiny people over the imperialist ogre. Rather, they directly commemorate the purification of the Beit ha-Mikdash and the rededication of the altar. To the question "What is Chanukah?", our rabbis answered:
When the Greeks entered the Beit ha-Mikdash, they defiled all the oils in the sanctuary. When the Hasmoneans prevailed and conquered them, they conducted a search and found but one tin of oil, which lay with the seal of the High Priest, and there was in it an amount sufficient for kindling only one day. But a miracle was wrought concerning it, and they were able to kindle with it for eight days, until they could crush olives and produce pure oil. (Shabbat 21b; Maimonides, Hilk. Han. 3:2)
To Jewish people, the miracle of Chanukah is the miracle of Jewish history. Despite the cruelest persecutions of imperialist powers and evil rulers, and despite the temptations of collaboration and assimilation, the light of our Torah and the lamp of the Commandments have never been extinguished. Even in the darkest times of apostasy and genocide, even when it has indeed appeared that we could not possibly preserve the light for more than one day, we have refused to surrender, we have defied the logic of history, and miraculously, time and again, the light continued to burn until we could regroup ourselves and generate new strength.
The true miracle of the Festival of Lights -- which is the miracle of all Jewish history -- was not military but spiritual. The portion of Scripture recited in synagogues for Chanukah is, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts". (Zechariah 4:6)
Before kindling the lights, say these Blessings:
Baruch atta adonai elohenu melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav v'tzeevanu l'hadlik ner shel Chanukah
Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us by Your commandments, and commanded us to kindle the light of Chanukah.
Baruch atta adonai elohenu melech ha-olam, she-assa nissim la'avotenu bayamim ha-hem ba-z'man ha-ze.
Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.
On the First Evening only, add this Blessing:
Baruch atta adonai elohenu melech ha-olam she-hecheyanu v'kee-y'manu v'hee-gi-yanu la-z'man ha-ze.
Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has given us life, and has sustained us, and has brought us to this season.
Each evening, after kindling the first light, say this while lighting the others:
Ha-ner-oht ha-lahlu anachnu mahd lee-keen al ha-nissim ve al ha-t'shu-oht v'al ha-neef la-oht shey ahsee-tah la-ahvohteynu al y'dey koh ha-ney cha ha-k'dohsheem v'kol sh'monaht y'mey chanukah ha-ner-oht ha-lahlu kodesh v'eyn lah-nu r'shoot l'heesh'tamesh ba-hem elah lir-ohtam bil'vad. K'dey l'hodoht l'shimcha al nisecha v'al y'shuatecha v'al neef-le-oh teh cha.
We light these candles because of the miracles, the deliverances, and for the wonders that You did perform for our fathers by the hands of Your holy priests. And these lights are holy all eight days of Chanukah. And we do not have a right to use them improperly, but only to look at them in order to thank Your name for Your miracles, for Your deliverances, and for Your wonders.
The Second Temple.
The nine-branched candelabra used on Chanukah.
English word for Chanukah.
FEAST OF LIGHTS
Another name for Chanukah.
Psalms of praise to God.
Family name of Mattathias the Priest.
Name of the Hebrew month during which Chanukah falls.
The name given in later times to the Hasmoneans.
Song sung on Chanukah.
The Everlasting Light which burned in the Second Temple.
IS CHRISTMAS IN THE BIBLE ?IS CHRISTMAS IN THE BIBLE ?
The Untold Story
"HEAR YE THE WORD WHICH THE LORD SPEAKETH UNTO YOU."
What does the term 'CHRISTMAS' conjure up in your mind and heart, and what do you associate it with?
Is it gifts, trees, 'Santa Claus', family gatherings, arguments, the manger, envy, strife, tinsel, depression, parties, drinking, fighting, gossiping, and, oh yes, Jesus?
Do you 'really' set aside the 25th day of December to fully and completely love and worship The LORD? Or, is it a means to an end, a day off, a holiday, an excuse to 'party' in The Name of Jesus. Obviously, only you can answer your own motives and reasons.
DO YOU CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS ?
Do you celebrate Christmas simply because it's a tradition, or because others expect you to? Again, only you can truly answer this most important question.
If you are remembering the birth of Y'shua (Jesus) on Christmas day, then, shouldn't you worship Jesus; love Jesus; speak of Jesus; sing unto and about Jesus; and bring gifts unto Jesus, rather than, see who can decorate the prettiest 'tree', or receive gifts rather than give gifts, and party, party and more party?
WE CAN LEARN:
We can learn so much from The Commandments that The Almighty GOD gave unto The Children of Israel, as they were warned not to learn the way of the Nations (see: Jeremiah 10:2).
And so, The LORD reminds us today to be careful not to become involved with and participate in the customs and traditions of the world that are pagan, false and idolatrous.
The cutting down of trees and decorating them to 'so-call' honor The LORD (?).
In Jeremiah 10:3-5, we read the following, "For the customs of the people are vain: for it is but a tree which one cutteth out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not, ... neither ... is it in them to do good."
THERE IS NO EVIDENCE:
There is no evidence in The Holy Bible that Christmas is to be celebrated, in fact, The Apostles, the disciples, the first true believers and even for the next three centuries we find absolutely no record anywhere that anyone spoke about or observed what we know today as 'Christmas'.
SO, HOW DID ALL THIS GET STARTED?
Before the birth of The Messiah, Y'shua our LORD, The Romans had a pagan feast called 'saturnalia' that was observed during the early part of winter, what we now call 'December', and its heathen feast and practices fell towards the end of the month.
As a result of Roman Catholicism connecting church and state around the year 313 A.D., the secular and religious became in many instances one issue. It is from this point in history that we begin to witness many pagan and lurid rituals and activities that became lot and parcel of 'so-called' Christianity.
POPE GREGORY THE FIRST:
Pope Gregory The First around 600 A.D., specifically instructed Augustine, the Archbishop of Cantebury, to adapt existing local religious (pagan or otherwise) customs and practices to Christian usage in order to help propagate the faith.
Thus, the state church endeavored to amalgamate, the old with the new, and as a result, a 'strange fire' became evident within Christianity that remains even today as a smell of awfulness in the sight of The Almighty GOD.
Just think, instead of bringing gifts to The LORD like the wise men did long ago, many in selfishness receive, and receive from one another.
HOW ABOUT THE TREE?
How about the tree? Some individuals will traditionally go into deep debt not only to decorate such an idol, but also, all the other things that revolve around the Christmas celebration that brings no honor and glory to The Son of GOD.
Haven't you sensed something in your spirit telling you year after year that your adoration of and involvement with: the tree, Santa (deception) Claus, rudolph, debts, gifts, who outgives who, stories and songs 'about Christmas' that have nothing to do with the advent of Y'shua (Jesus) is wrong? Haven't you sensed something terribly wrong?
DON'T YOU WANT TO DO WHAT OUR LORD DID?
Y'shua (Jesus) celebrated The Feast of Dedication (Chanukkah) as recorded in John 10:22-30, furthermore, Our LORD never celebrated what today is referred to as The merry, merry holiday of x-mas, also known as Christmas.
HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ?
Have you ever thought about the name of this holiday -- "Christ - Mass" --, which associates the Christ (the Messiah) with a man-made service that (for all intentions) has no Jewish sentiment, called the Mass? This of course is an invention of a major religious order that has its roots in Judaism, and yet has for these many centuries completely separated itself from anything remotely considered 'Jewish'. In this century, this has been especially true regarding the Vatican's position towards the Land of Israel. Roman Catholicism today does recognize Israel, but the question is...to what extent? It is this religious entity that authored what we know today as Christmas. In a world of complexities and religious misgivings, it's a terrible shame that true believers in Y'shua (Jesus) throughout these many centuries have been drawn into this awful celebration of tinsel and a old bearded man declaring that he has a 'gift' for you.
It is high time to wake up out of this sleep and stupor that has plagued those who profess faith in the Living GOD, The only True Light for this dying world, and His Name is, Y'shua (Jesus) The Son of GOD.
YES, Y'SHUA (JESUS) WAS BORN!
Yes, Y'shua (Jesus) was born in Bethlehem of Judea nearly two-thousand years ago for one and only one purpose and reason, and that is, to become our mediator between GOD and man, and not as some espouse, that Mary, or the Pope, or a rabbi, or a minister can take his place or even intercede before GOD for us. Only Y'shua (Jesus) is Our LORD.
It is only through The Birth, Life, Death, Burial and Resurrection of Our LORD and Saviour Y'shua (Jesus) that anyone can have access into The Kingdom of GOD.
AS A CHILD OF GOD!
As a child of GOD, are you willing to put aside idols? Like the tree, santa, rudolph, debts, traditions, customs, paganistic and heathenistic issues that revolve around Christmas and its commercialism with all of its trappings?
LET US JOIN TOGETHER IN PRAYER.
God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in The Name of Thy Beloved Son Y'shua (Jesus), I ask You to forgive me for the lack of understanding and the disrespect that I have shown You in observing 'Christ-mas' the way I have in the past; Now, with Your love, mercy and help, please strengthen me to properly and scripturally worship You in spirit and in truth as I look unto My Saviour, The Messiah of Israel as My LORD, on the 25th day of December and every day of the year, and help me to be a loving and compassionate witness of Your love and grace 'to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile'.
May The LORD Himself help us to stay within the pages of Holy Writ for our counsel and guidance, and may we never accept additions or deletions to The Word of God, no matter how enticing they may be, or how old and beautiful the tradition and custom is.
Shalom (peace) U'vracha (blessings) and Emet (truth) from The Holy One of Israel be yours now and forever. Amen.
"Pray For The Peace Of Jerusalem: They Shall Prosper That Love Thee". Psalm 122:6
THERE WOULD BE NO CHRISTMAS
A word definition of the two holidays are in order. CHANUKKAH is a Hebrew word meaning 'Dedication' and the events surrounding this feast dates back to 168-165 B.C. It is celebrated on the 25th day of Kislev (equivalent to the month of November-December), and is commemorated for eight days. CHRISTMAS comes from two words in our English language, "Christ" and "Mass", and the event it looks back upon is The Birth of Jesus that took place almost 2,000 years ago. It is celebrated, generally speaking, on the 25th day of December.
The reason I chose the title for this brochure, "Without Chanukkah There Would Be No Christmas", is because of the close and indispensable association between Chanukkah and Christmas. Today we are aware, through The Holy Bible and history, that Jesus was born of a Jewish virgin (Miriam-Mary), from one of The Tribes of Israel, namely Judah.
Long before the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ to this earth, we know and have read about a ruthless people towards The Nation of Israel, namely, The Syrians. Their commander in Chief was ANTIOCHUS. He wanted to conquer the entire Middle East of that day (168 years Before Christ); and in order to have access to Egypt from Syria, his troops needed to pass through The Land of The Jews. Not only did this prove to be extremely difficult, but Antiochus had an obsession regarding The Jewish people living in The Land of Israel, that is, their belief in only ONE GOD; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Therefore, this Syrian malefactor, not only wanted to conquer the Jews physically, but most importantly, Antiochus wanted to destroy the religion of the Jews.
Through many and sundry maneuvers, Antiochus finally ordered and sent one of his generals to desecrate The Temple in Jerusalem, by sacrificing a pig upon the altar. The LORD GOD in His might ensured not only the continuity of His people Israel, but also used a family from a City in Israel (MODIN) to stand against the entire Syrian force; and the name of this family was The MACCABEANS. Not only did they resist their enemies, The Syrians, even though they were out numbered 1,000 to 1; but The LORD used this revolt which reached the capitol of Israel (Jerusalem), and the Maccabean fighters to recapture The Temple and RE-DEDICATE the altar to The LORD GOD.
The Priests had a cruse of oil that should have lasted only one day, and to their surprise it lasted eight days. Thus, we have The Feast of Chanukkah being observed for eight days in honour of The Lord and The Maccabeans. It was through the valor of the few in Israel (empowered by The Almighty) that The Temple altar was re-dedicated and the onslaught of The Jewish people was stopped.
You see, if The Emperor Antiochus, of Syria, would have had his way ALL the Jews would have been destroyed 165 years before Christ. Thusly, the Birth of Christ, who was born humanly speaking, in Bethlehem, Israel from a Jewish woman could not possibly have taken place. But GOD, Who oversees the affairs of mankind, gave might and power to this small band of Jewish men to not only defend themselves, but to be victorious in The Land of Israel over 2150 years ago.
The 25th day of KISLEV falls either in the month of November - December. Remember that KISLEV is the name of the Jewish month, and on the 25th day, the altar in The Temple in Jerusalem was re-dedicated in 165 B.C.
As Believers, we are interested in knowing as much as possible about The Life of our Saviour Y'shua (Jesus), and His activities while He was on earth. Therefore, I would like to remind ourselves that even our LORD observed and celebrated CHANUKKAH as recorded in The Gospel according to John 10:22 - 23,
"And it was at Jerusalem The Feast of The Dedication (Chanukkah), and it was winter. And Jesus walked in The Temple in Solomon's porch".
The very presence of our LORD in The Temple, in observance of The Feast of Dedication (Chanukkah) should stimulate you as a child of God to consider the importance of observing Chanukkah and also its direct relationship with *CHRISTMAS.
The conclusion of it all is extremely important, because, the happenings and events that transpired 165 years before The Birth of Christ, allowed the fulfillment of prophecy, to take place in relationship to The First Coming of our Messiah. He had to be born from a virgin (see: Isaiah 7:14), and from The House of David (see: II Samuel 7:12), and from The Tribe of Judah (see: Genesis 49:10).
Just as Abraham was faithful and obedient to GOD'S call; so also The Maccabean family which stood in the power of God against insurmountable odds, defeated The Syrians; and, 165 years later resulting in The Birth of Christ.
This year as we observe and remember The Birth of our Lord on December the 25th, let us not forget what took place on KISLEV the 25th at The Hand of GOD.
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty GOD, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace".
*Please read our brochure "IS CHRISTMAS IN THE BIBLE."
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