What is Hanukkah?


מה חנכה?
The First Temple Dedication:

Here is where Hanukkah got its roots… Numbers 8 describes, in detail, the very first Hanukkah observance and the events which modern Hanukkah should symbolize.

The very first Hanukkah takes place after Moses built and anointed the first Israelite temple. Hanukkah, or the dedication, was the establishing of the temple for it to function.

The twelve tribes brought in an equal amount of material and supplies to be used in temple service, including mules, covered wagons, food, utensils, dishes, and incense.

It was at that time, the Levites were also cleansed and dedicated to the temple as the symbolic first fruits of every person born to Israel. Here it was established that a Levite would serve the people for 25 years (ages 25 to 50) and minister to them afterward.

This dedication lasted 12 days. Each tribe presented their offerings on one of these 12 days. Every tribe gave the exact same goods for use in temple service, but each Levitical family received what was required for them to do their respective service.

A Second Temple Dedication:

In 1 Kings 8:63-66, King Solomon dedicates the new temple he built and holds a 14-day feast in the 7th month (Sept-Oct). Israel assembles for 7 days and observes in their own tents for 7 more days. Solomon provides all of the temple goods at this dedication.

2 Chronicles 7 provides additional details about the same event. It specifies that the 7-day feast and 7-day dedication ended on the 23rd day of the seventh month.

The “dedication” seems to more accurately, be a reordering or reorganizing of the temple. 2 Chr 7 appears to describe seven days of feasting and seven days of cleaning and reinstituting regular temple functions.

A Third Temple Dedication:

Ezra 6 details a dedication of the third temple built by the decree of Persian officials. It was completed on the 3rd day in the month of אדר. Adar is said to be the 12th month (Feb-Mar). After which, they also kept Passover on the 14th day of the first month and the feast of unleavened bread.

Dedication of the Wall of Jerusalem:

The Nehemiah 13 dedication appears to be a different kind of dedication. Israel gathered and read the law of Moses which stated, “On that day the book of Moses was read in the hearing of the people and it was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God because they did not come to meet the Israelites with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them in order to curse them—but our God changed the curse into a blessing. So it happened when they heard the law that they separated all of the foreign people from Israel.”

On the other hand, similar to all the previous dedications, Nehemiah attempts to get the house of Israel in order, rather than the physical temple.

Dedication of the house of David:

Palms 30 offers a song that may give insight about חנכה.

*1* A Psalm and Song at the dedication of the house of David. I will extol thee, Yahuwah; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.

*2* Yahuwah my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.

*3* Yahuwah, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

*4* Sing unto Yahuwah, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

*5* For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

*6* And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.

*7* Yahuwah, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.

*8* I cried to thee, Yahuwah; and unto Yahuwah I made supplication.

*9* What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?

*10* Hear, Yahuwah, and have mercy upon me: Yahuwah, be thou my helper.

*11* Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

*12* To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. Yahuwah my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

A Defiled Temple Rededicated:

1 Maccabees 4 describes a time when gentiles trampled the temple and it had to be put back in order, dedicated. It describes that its walls had to be fortified so that gentiles could no longer defile it.

Furthermore, it says that this feast, as an annual tradition, was not instituted by Yah but by Judas Maccabee and his generation.

“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. 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 Chislev, with mirth and gladness.” (1 Maccabees 4:56‭, ‬59 KJVA)

What was instituted by Yahuwah was the dedication or initial set up of a temple that would be capable as a service to the people. Essentially, this set-up was the equivalent of a newly installed modern institution of government whose president was Yahuwah himself.

Although it’s not directly stated, Numbers 6-8 demonstrates that Yah was the one who instituted the dedication of new temples, which was also a rededication of his people. Each temple represented a new beginning – another chance for Israel to try again.

The author of 2 Maccabee 2 seems to be making a case, a persuasive argument, in support of the feast of dedication tradition, but no detail about the feast is offered.

Conclusion

Hanukkah as an annual feast is a man-made tradition, not one instituted or commanded by Yahuwah. To observe it is more of a cultural choice and, perhaps, a spiritual conviction if one recognizes the connection between the temple dedication and his or her own need to be re-established. However, it is highly unlikely that one would need to be rededicated at the same time each year.

According to “Old Testament” canonical Scripture it is not a feast that was instructed to be continually remembered for symbolic or other reasons. Rather, it was a practical practice that Israel and other governments and people did to set things in order or establish them at there onset, usually in an official capacity.

To add context to what Hannukah is, think of it this way.  Hebraicly, to dedicate ones home would be to make it operable for the family to live in it or to make it functional. That would mean bringing in food, furnishing, toiletries, and hygiene supplies necessary for the life and health of its dwellers. Chores and responsibilities would also be determined, assigned, and began to be carried out, but before all that and after we’ve moved all the furniture and fixtures and have the place looking nice, we’d celebrate Yahuwah’s promise fulfilled – that we’d get the house.

With regards to temple dedications, these occurred whenever a new temple was constructed and was celebrated with feasts which occurred immediately before each dedication. In other words, they celebrated the completion of each temple, then set resources in order.

There was no set date for this event because it only happened whenever a new temple was built.

Point is, according to scripture, this feast was only done when a new temple had to be organized – an “institution of government” installed.

According to the only other source, the Apocrypha, Maccabean period Israelites instituted an annual Hanukkah feast tradition after having to rededicate the temple which had been trampled and defiled by Gentiles. This Maccabean tradition is predominately practiced by followers of the religion, Judaism, and has little basis in scripture and itself has become a pagan Christmas substitute.

To determine how one might properly observe the Maccabean tradition, perhaps for cultural or personal reasons, further studies of the above-mentioned scriptures should be conducted.

Important things to keep in mind is this…

• Hanukkah should not be observed as a Christmas substitute.
• The spiritual significance of Hanukkah as a temple dedication is that it is a time when one dedicates his or her self or household to God, meaning they put themselves in order according to Yah’s instruction and commandments.
• Hanukkah “gifts” were necessities given to the temple to serve the people of Israel. It included transportation for temple duties, food, animals to be used for food, incense/spices to cook food, utensils, containers, grains, etc. Essentially, all the gifts were for preparing food for feasts and assemblies, and for the Levites to carry out their duties to the people.
• Hanukkah is a joyful and lively celebration of the dedication of the temple, and restoration of the people.
• It lasts for 7, 8, 12, or 14 days depending upon which temple dedication you based your tradition.
• If following the Maccabean tradition, Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of the ninth new moon of every year (Nov-Dec) … this does not mean December 25th, although the festival may overlap with that day. Contrarily, 2 Chronicle’s temple dedication ended on the 23rd day of the seventh month (Sept-Oct).

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