THE FEAST OF DEDICATION
The Feast of Dedication or “Hanukkah” (Hanukkah = “Dedication”) as it is known in the Hebrew is an eight-day feast in remembrance of the re-dedication of our temple. To understand this feast one must begin by understanding the rise of the Greek empire, the abomination of desolation and the courageous acts of our forefathers in defiant resistance to Greek oppression and Hellenization. The events leading up to this feast were foretold in the book of Daniel.
Daniel 8:8, 21
"8 Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king."
The He goat was Alexander the great, first king of Greece, who conquered the Persian & Mede empire. The four notable ones were his four generals that ruled after his death: Lysimachus, Ptolemy, Cassander and Seleucus
Daniel 8:9 "And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land."
The little horn was Antiochus Epiphanes (Epiphanes= “God manifested on Earth”) who came out of Seleucus. He eventually conquered the pleasant land — Jerusalem.
Daniel 8:10 "And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them."
Antiochus waxed so powerful that he conquered the children of Israel (the host).
Daniel 8:11 "Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down."
He ended the daily sacrifice of the Levites and defiled the temple.
Daniel 8:12-14 "And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered.
13 Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?
14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."
The host that was given to Antiochus in verse 12 were wicked, Hellenized Jews who forsook our laws to gain amity with the Greeks. This vision that Daniel saw of the transgression of desolation or, as written in other scriptures, the abomination of desolation was fulfilled and recorded in the book of Maccabees. As we will read, the sanctuary, which is the temple, was later cleansed and re-dedicated to The Most High through the heroism of Mattathias and his sons.
"1 Maccabees 1:1-11, And it happened, after that Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came out of the land of Chettiim, had smitten Darius king of the Persians and Medes, that he reigned in his stead, the first over Greece,
2 And made many wars, and won many strong holds, and slew the kings of the earth,
3 And went through to the ends of the earth, and took spoils of many nations, insomuch that the earth was quiet before him; whereupon he was exalted and his heart was lifted up.
4 And he gathered a mighty strong host and ruled over countries, and nations, and kings, who became tributaries unto him.
5 And after these things he fell sick, and perceived that he should die.
6 Wherefore he called his servants, such as were honourable, and had been brought up with him from his youth, and parted his kingdom among them, while he was yet alive.
7 So Alexander reigned twelve years, and then died.
8 And his servants bare rule every one in his place.
9 And after his death they all put crowns upon themselves; so did their sons after them many years: and evils were multiplied in the earth.
10 And there came out of them a wicked root Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king, who had been an hostage at Rome, and he reigned in the hundred and thirty and seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.
11 In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow."
"1 Maccabees 1: 41-59
41 Moreover king Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people,
42 And every one should leave his laws: so all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king.
43 Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the sabbath.
44 For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land,
45 And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days:
46 And pollute the sanctuary and holy people:
47 Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine's flesh, and unclean beasts:
48 That they should also leave their children uncircumcised, and make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation:
49 To the end they might forget the law, and change all the ordinances.
50 And whosoever would not do according to the commandment of the king, he said, he should die.
51 In the selfsame manner wrote he to his whole kingdom, and appointed overseers over all the people, commanding the cities of Juda to sacrifice, city by city.
52 Then many of the people were gathered unto them, to wit every one that forsook the law; and so they committed evils in the land;
53 And drove the Israelites into secret places, even wheresoever they could flee for succour.
54 Now the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, and builded idol altars throughout the cities of Juda on every side;
55 And burnt incense at the doors of their houses, and in the streets.
56 And when they had rent in pieces the books of the law which they found, they burnt them with fire.
57 And whosoever was found with any the book of the testament, or if any committed to the law, the king's commandment was, that they should put him to death.
58 Thus did they by their authority unto the Israelites every month, to as many as were found in the cities.
59 Now the five and twentieth day of the month they did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God."
The abomination of desolation was the sacrifice of swine’s flesh upon the holy alter within the temple.
"1 Maccabees 2:1-9, In those days arose Mattathias the son of John, the son of Simeon, a priest of the sons of Joarib, from Jerusalem, and dwelt in Modin.
2 And he had five sons, Joannan, called Caddis:
3 Simon; called Thassi:
4 Judas, who was called Maccabeus:
5 Eleazar, called Avaran: and Jonathan, whose surname was Apphus.
6 And when he saw the blasphemies that were committed in Juda and Jerusalem,
7 He said, Woe is me! wherefore was I born to see this misery of my people, and of the holy city, and to dwell there, when it was delivered into the hand of the enemy, and the sanctuary into the hand of strangers?
8 Her temple is become as a man without glory.
9 Her glorious vessels are carried away into captivity, her infants are slain in the streets, her young men with the sword of the enemy.
"1 Maccabees 2: 27-30
27 And Mattathias cried throughout the city with a loud voice, saying, Whosoever is zealous of the law, and maintaineth the covenant, let him follow me.
28 So he and his sons fled into the mountains, and left all that ever they had in the city.
29 Then many that sought after justice and judgment went down into the wilderness, to dwell there:
30 Both they, and their children, and their wives; and their cattle; because afflictions increased sore upon them."
Mattathias, provoked by the miserable conditions and atrocities committed against Israel, led the initial resistance against the profanation of his nation.
"1 Maccabees 2:49-50 Now when the time drew near that Mattathias should die, he said unto his sons, Now hath pride and rebuke gotten strength, and the time of destruction, and the wrath of indignation:
50 Now therefore, my sons, be ye zealous for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of your fathers."
"1 Maccabees 3:1 Then his son Judas, called Maccabeus, rose up in his stead."
After Mattathias’ death his son Judas rose up in his stead, leading those Israelites who had already chosen to fight for their people or die valiantly. Under his leadership and, most importantly, by the Spirit of God resting upon those Israelite soldiers, our nation began to slaughter Greek forces and eventually (after two years) reclaim the temple.
"1 Maccabees 4:1-61 Then took Gorgias five thousand footmen, and a thousand of the best horsemen, and removed out of the camp by night;
2 To the end he might rush in upon the camp of the Jews, and smite them suddenly. And the men of the fortress were his guides.
3 Now when Judas heard thereof he himself removed, and the valiant men with him, that he might smite the king's army which was at Emmaus,
4 While as yet the forces were dispersed from the camp.
5 In the mean season came Gorgias by night into the camp of Judas: and when he found no man there, he sought them in the mountains: for said he, These fellows flee from us
6 But as soon as it was day, Judas shewed himself in the plain with three thousand men, who nevertheless had neither armour nor swords to their minds.
7 And they saw the camp of the heathen, that it was strong and well harnessed, and compassed round about with horsemen; and these were expert of war.
8 Then said Judas to the men that were with him, Fear ye not their multitude, neither be ye afraid of their assault.
9 Remember how our fathers were delivered in the Red sea, when Pharaoh pursued them with an army.
10 Now therefore let us cry unto heaven, if peradventure the Lord will have mercy upon us, and remember the covenant of our fathers, and destroy this host before our face this day:
11 That so all the heathen may know that there is one who delivereth and saveth Israel.
12 Then the strangers lifted up their eyes, and saw them coming over against them.
13 Wherefore they went out of the camp to battle; but they that were with Judas sounded their trumpets.
14 So they joined battle, and the heathen being discomfited fled into the plain.
15 Howbeit all the hindmost of them were slain with the sword: for they pursued them unto Gazera, and unto the plains of Idumea, and Azotus, and Jamnia, so that there were slain of them upon a three thousand men.
16 This done, Judas returned again with his host from pursuing them,
17 And said to the people, Be not greedy of the spoil inasmuch as there is a battle before us,
18 And Gorgias and his host are here by us in the mountain: but stand ye now against our enemies, and overcome them, and after this ye may boldly take the spoils.
19 As Judas was yet speaking these words, there appeared a part of them looking out of the mountain:
20 Who when they perceived that the Jews had put their host to flight and were burning the tents; for the smoke that was seen declared what was done:
21 When therefore they perceived these things, they were sore afraid, and seeing also the host of Judas in the plain ready to fight,
22 They fled every one into the land of strangers.
23 Then Judas returned to spoil the tents, where they got much gold, and silver, and blue silk, and purple of the sea, and great riches.
24 After this they went home, and sung a song of thanksgiving, and praised the Lord in heaven: because it is good, because his mercy endureth forever.
25 Thus Israel had a great deliverance that day.
26 Now all the strangers that had escaped came and told Lysias what had happened:
27 Who, when he heard thereof, was confounded and discouraged, because neither such things as he would were done unto Israel, nor such things as the king commanded him were come to pass.
28 The next year therefore following Lysias gathered together threescore thousand choice men of foot, and five thousand horsemen, that he might subdue them.
29 So they came into Idumea, and pitched their tents at Bethsura, and Judas met them with ten thousand men.
30 And when he saw that mighty army, he prayed and said, Blessed art thou, O Saviour of Israel, who didst quell the violence of the mighty man by the hand of thy servant David, and gavest the host of strangers into the hands of Jonathan the son of Saul, and his armourbearer;
31 Shut up this army in the hand of thy people Israel, and let them be confounded in their power and horsemen:
32 Make them to be of no courage, and cause the boldness of their strength to fall away, and let them quake at their destruction:
33 Cast them down with the sword of them that love thee, and let all those that know thy name praise thee with thanksgiving.
34 So they joined battle; and there were slain of the host of Lysias about five thousand men, even before them were they slain.
35 Now when Lysias saw his army put to flight, and the manliness of Judas' soldiers, and how they were ready either to live or die valiantly, he went into Antiochia, and gathered together a company of strangers, and having made his army greater than it was, he purposed to come again into Judea.
36 Then said Judas and his brethren, Behold, our enemies are discomfited: let us go up to cleanse and dedicate the sanctuary.
37 Upon this all the host assembled themselves together, and went up into mount Sion.
38 And when they saw the sanctuary desolate, and the altar profaned, and the gates burned up, and shrubs growing in the courts as in a forest, or in one of the mountains, yea, and the priests' chambers pulled down;
39 They rent their clothes, and made great lamentation, and cast ashes upon their heads,
40 And fell down flat to the ground upon their faces, and blew an alarm with the trumpets, and cried toward heaven.
41 Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those that were in the fortress, until he had cleansed the sanctuary.
42 So he chose priests of blameless conversation, such as had pleasure in the law:
43 Who cleansed the sanctuary, and bare out the defiled stones into an unclean place.
44 And when as they consulted what to do with the altar of burnt offerings, which was profaned;
45 They thought it best to pull it down, lest it should be a reproach to them, because the heathen had defiled it: wherefore they pulled it down,
46 And laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple in a convenient place, until there should come a prophet to shew what should be done with them.
47 Then they took whole stones according to the law, and built a new altar according to the former;
48 And made up the sanctuary, and the things that were within the temple, and hallowed the courts.
49 They made also new holy vessels, and into the temple they brought the candlestick, and the altar of burnt offerings, and of incense, and the table.
50 And upon the altar they burned incense, and the lamps that were upon the candlestick they lighted, that they might give light in the temple.
51 Furthermore they set the loaves upon the table, and spread out the veils, and finished all the works which they had begun to make.
52 Now on the five and twentieth day of the ninth month, which is called the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and eighth year, they rose up betimes in the morning,
53 And offered sacrifice according to the law upon the new altar of burnt offerings, which they had made.
54 Look, at what time and what day the heathen had profaned it, even in that was it dedicated with songs, and citherns, and harps, and cymbals.
55 Then all the people fell upon their faces, worshipping and praising the God of heaven, who had given them good success.
56 And so they kept the dedication of the altar eight days and offered burnt offerings with gladness, and sacrificed the sacrifice of deliverance and praise.
57 They decked also the forefront of the temple with crowns of gold, and with shields; and the gates and the chambers they renewed, and hanged doors upon them.
58 Thus was there very great gladness among the people, for that the reproach of the heathen was put away.
59 Moreover Judas and his brethren with the whole congregation of Israel ordained, that the days of the dedication of the altar should be kept in their season from year to year by the space of eight days, from the five and twentieth day of the month Casleu, with mirth and gladness.
60 At that time also they builded up the mount Sion with high walls and strong towers round about, lest the Gentiles should come and tread it down as they had done before.
61 And they set there a garrison to keep it, and fortified Bethsura to preserve it; that the people might have a defense against Idumea."
Thus, this victory was ordained to be kept yearly for eight days. Furthermore, it is an eight-day feast because our forefathers purposed it to be kept as the Feast of Tabernacles.
"2 Maccabees 1:18 Therefore whereas we are now purposed to keep the purification of the temple upon the five and twentieth day of the month Casleu, we thought it necessary to certify you thereof, that ye also might keep it, as the feast of the tabernacles, and of the fire, which was given us when Neemias offered sacrifice, after that he had builded the temple and the altar."
The Jewish fable, that there was no oil to light the menorah (7 branched candlestick) — yet the flames continued flickering for eight days— is a lie perpetuated by heathens. Finally, as there may be some who either deny the authenticity of the Apocrypha or reject the necessity to keep this feast, we provide irrefutable proof that even Christ kept the Feast of Dedication.
"John 10: 22-23 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."
Therefore, if Christ walked in the temple to celebrate Hanukkah then so must we, as his followers, keep it in the Spirit of Christ today; and, coupled with the prophecies of the abomination of desolation in the book of Daniel there should be no doubt in your minds that this feast is ordained by God.