Many followers of Yeshua, especially in the Messianic movement, believe
that He kept the feast of Hanukkah [also called the Feast of Dedication and the Feast of Lights] and therefore, they keep this feast as well. They use a verse in John 10 to defend this position
John 10:22-23 [Rotherham] 22 The feast of dedication took place at that time, in Jerusalem: it was, winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the porch of Solomon.
The Greek word used for <dedication> is
G1456 – ἐγκαίνια – egkainia
Neuter plural of a presumed compound from G1722 and G2537; innovatives, that is, (specifically) renewal (of religious services after the interruption brought by Antiochus Epiphanes): – dedication.
John mentions the <feast of dedication>, but what was the feast of dedication? Was it Hanukkah or a different feast altogether? Some translations render it <feast of dedication> and others <feast of Hanukkah>. Since the verse in John 10 says it was winter, then presumably it was Hanukkah although there is no way of knowing for sure. Let us look at the Feast of Dedication and the Feast of Hanukkah separately.
FEAST OF DEDICATION
When something was constructed or reconstructed for it to be in the presence of the Eternal, the people would rejoice and celebrate because the Eternal יהוה was with Yisrael and they would make a feast that would last various days. They would call this feast the <feast of dedication>. The first reference to one of these feasts is found in the book of Exodus when Mosheh (Moses) finished the dwelling place of the Eternal where His presence would be (The Tabernacle in the wilderness).
Numbers 7:1-2; 10-11 1 And it came to be, when Mosheh finished setting up the Dwelling Place, that he anointed it and set it apart and all its furnishings, as well as the slaughter-place and all its utensils. Thus he anointed them and set them apart. 2 And the leaders of Yisra’ěl, heads of their fathers’ houses who were the leaders of the tribes and over the ones registered, drew near, ... ... ... 10 And the leaders brought the dedication offering of the slaughter-place in the day it was anointed. So the leaders brought their offering before the slaughter-place. 11 And יהוה said to Mosheh, “Let them bring their offering, one leader each day, for the dedication of the slaughter-place.
As mentioned earlier, there was more than one feast of dedication, but the most important one was when King Shelomoh [Solomon] finished the first temple.
2 Chronicles 7:1-5 1 And when Shelomoh had ended praying, fire came down from the heavens and consumed the ascending offering and the slaughterings. And the esteem of יהוה filled the House. 2 And the priests were unable to enter the House of יהוה, because the esteem of יהוה had filled the House of יהוה. 3 And all the children of Yisra’el saw how the fire came down, and the esteem of יהוה on the House, and they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and did obeisance and gave thanks to יהוה, saying, “For He is good, for His loving-commitment is everlasting.” 4 And the sovereign and all the people slaughtered slaughterings before יהוה. 5 And Sovereign Shelomoh slaughtered a slaughtering of twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep. Thus the sovereign and all the people dedicated the House of Elohim. ... ... ... 8 And Shelomoh at that time observed the Festival seven days, and all Yisra’el with him, a very great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the wadi of Mitsrayim. 9 And on the eighth day they held an assembly, for they performed the dedication of the slaughter-place seven days, and the festival seven days. 10 And on the twenty-third day of the seventh new moon he sent the people away to their tents, rejoicing and glad of heart for the goodness that יהוה had done for Dawid, and for Shelomoh, and for His people Yisra’el.
Why did they keep the feast of dedication for 7 days and not just 1 day?
As it happens, it coincided with the Feast of Sukkoth (Feast of Tabernacles]).
On another occasion, during the time that the Second Temple was finished, the people of Israel celebrated a feast of dedication
Ezra 6:14-17 14 And the elders of the Yehudim were building, and they were blessed through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zekaryah son of Iddo. And they built and finished it, according to the decree of the Elah of Yisra’el, and according to the decree of Koresh, and Dareyawesh, and Artahshashta sovereign of Persia. 15 And this House was completed on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Sovereign Dareyawesh. 16 Then the children of Yisra’el, the priests and the Lewites and the rest of the sons of the exile, did the dedication of this House of Elah with joy, 17 and offered at the dedication of this House of Elah one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and as a sin offering for all Yisra’el twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Yisra’el.
Nehemiah 12:26-27 26 These were in the days of Yoyaqim son of Yeshua, son of Yotsadaq, and in the days of Neḥemyah the governor, and of Ezra the priest, the scribe. 27 And at the dedication of the wall of Yerushalayim they sought out the Lewites in all their places, to bring them to Yerushalayim to perform the dedication with gladness, and with thanksgivings, and with singing, cymbals, harps and lyres.
THE STORY OF HANUKKAH
It (Hanukkah) was instituted by Judas Maccabeus, his brothers, and the elders of the congregation of Israel, in the year 165 B.C., to be celebrated annually with mirth and joy as a memorial of the dedication of the altar (I Macc. iv. 59) or of the purification of the sanctuary (II Macc. i. 18). Three years earlier, on the same day, Antiochus Epiphanes had caused a pagan altar to be set up at the altar of burnt offerings in the Temple at Jerusalem, and sacrifices to be offered to his idol (I Macc. i. 41-64; II Macc. vi. 2). The idol called “Zeus Olympius” was probably also called “Ba’al Shamayim,” of which seems to be a cacophemy (Dan. xi. 31, xii. 11; I Macc. i. 54; see Hoffmann, “Ueber Einige Phönizische Inschriften,” 1889, p. 29).
After having recovered the Holy City and the Temple, Judas ordered the latter to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the one polluted, and new holy vessels to be made. When the fire had been kindled anew upon the altar and the lamps of the candlestick lit, the dedication of the altar was celebrated for eight days amid sacrifices and songs (I Macc. iv. 36), similarly to the Feast of Tabernacles (II Macc. x. 6; comp. ib. i. 9), which also lasts for eight days, and at which during the Second Temple (Suk.v. 2-4) the lighting of lamps and torches formed a prominent part. Lights were also kindled in the household, and the popular name of the festival was, therefore, according to Josephus (“Ant.” xii. 7, § 7), Πῶτα = “Festival of Lights.”
(The Jewish Encyclopedia – 1906)
[The book of Maccabees is among the Deuterocanonical books of Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches Among the Old Testament Apocrypha of Protestants (since the Reformation) and Russian Orthodox Churches (since the 19th century). Not included in the Hebrew Scriptures – Tanak Included in the Septuagint and Vulgate –
The Wesley Center Online]
1 Maccabees 4:36-40 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. 38And 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. ... ... ... 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.
Again, why did they celebrate for eight days and not just one?
2 Maccabees 10:5-8 5 Now upon the same day that the strangers profaned the temple, on the very same day it was cleansed again, even the five and twentieth day of the same month, which is Casleu. 6 And they kept the eight days with gladness, as in the feast of the tabernacles, remembering that not long afore they had held the feast of the tabernacles, when as they wandered in the mountains and dens like beasts. 7 Therefore they bare branches, and fair boughs, and palms also, and sang psalms unto him that had given them good success in cleansing his place. 8 They ordained also by a common statute and decree, That every year those days should be kept of the whole nation of the Jews.
These verses show that they kept <the feast of dedication> for eight days in remembrance of the Feast of Sukkoth (also eight days) because they could not keep it at the appointed time as they were hiding in caves and mountains during the revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes
1 Maccabees 4:48-51 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.
The Talmud says that after the forces of Antiochus Epiphanes had been driven from the Temple, the Maccabees discovered that almost all of the ritual olive oil had been profaned. They found only a single container that was still sealed by the High Priest, with enough oil to keep the menorah in the Temple lit for a single day. They used this, yet it burned for eight days (the time it took to have new oil pressed and made ready). It is said, according to the Talmud, that Judas the Maccabee and those that were with him built a new altar and consecrated it on the 24th of the month of Kislev.
According to the same source, the Temple Menorah had been stolen by the foreigners, which is why the Maccabees made a new one out of a lesser metal (the original Menorah was made of pure gold).
DID YESHUA OBSERVE HANUKKAH?
The verse in John 10 that is used as ‘evidence’ that Yeshua celebrated Hanukka says that He <walking in the temple, in the porch of Solomon>. It doesn’t say that He observed the feast. Yeshua walked and taught on the Temple grounds on many occasions.
Hanukkah was not ordained by the Eternal. It was instituted by Judas Maccabeus, his brothers, and the elders of the congregation of Israel and not sanctioned by Yahweh anywhere in the Scriptures.
Yeshua’s purpose and message was about redeeming people regardless of ethnicity.
The message of Hanukkah is deliverance from the gentile oppressor through war and self endeavour and not the redeeming power of the Eternal.
With this in mind, we can safely conclude Yeshua did not observe this man-made feast and neither did his disciples as there is no scriptural evidence that they did.
Timotai; Yhemaelh Zeev [Kajal Yisraelita de Yahshua Siló]; Jewish Encyclopedia – 1906
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from The Scriptures
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Used by permission.