Chanukah, Yeshuah and the Temple

"Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Yeshua was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade," (John 10:22)

Channukah, also known as the Festival of Lights, commences on the 25 th day of Kislev, the very end of November or beginning of December. It lasts for eight days and commemorates the rededication of the Temple during the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. Chanukah is observed for eight nights and days, After the forces of the infamous Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who some years earlier had slaughtered a pig over the Holy Scrolls on the altar (abomination of desolation), had been driven from the Temple in 164 B.C. (1 Maccabees 4:36-59; 2 Maccabees 10:1-8; Josephus Antiquities of the Jews12.316-26), 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, that is to say consecrated, all the rest was defiled, with enough oil to keep the great menorah in the Temple lit for a single day. To their joy and blessing the single container burned for eight full days and nights, which was the time needed to have new oil pressed and prepared in a proper manner.

The Festival is observed by the kindling of the lights, on a special nine-branched menorah (Chanukiah), one candle is lit on the first night followed by a second , additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight. The Menorah has eight branches with an additional raised or detachable branch know as a shamash(attendant). As using the Chanukah lights themselves is forbidden, the shamash was introduced for the purpose of lighting the others.

The Jewish tradition of lighting a menorah at Chanukahis a reminder of three specific blessings:

Both Yeshua and His talmidim (disciples) associatedHim with the Beit Ha Mikdosh (Jerusalem Temple). Yeshua kept referring to Himself as the temple, especially in the context of “tearing down” His body so He could rebuild it. Yeshua celebrated Chanukah and conveyed one of His most bold statements of Who He was and why He had come. Solomon's Colonnade (10:23) was an open, roofed 45-foot walkway with double columns that were 38 feet tall. It was situated along the east side of the Court of Gentiles. During pilgrim festivals it served as shelter for numerous pilgrims who could not afford or find accommodation. It was also the place that the sages would hold their public teachings. Although it was part of the temple complex, it was not considered to be part of the actual temple, as evidenced by the fact that Gentiles were not allowed into the temple but they could be present in Solomon's Colonnade. Thus, Jesus' departure from the temple at the end of chapter 8 was final. But now, right next to the temple, at a feast commemorating the rededication of the temple, Jesus gives his clearest teaching about His own identity. It is this identity that is the grounds for His replacement of the temple as the place where forgiveness of sins is available and God is to be met.

Messiah is further associated with Chanukah in the timing of His birth. Time references in the gospels suggest the births of Yochanan ha ‘mabtil (the Baptizer) and Yeshua were around Passover and Tabernacles, respectively, and the timing of Gabriel’s visit to Miriam was in the latter part ofthe ninth month of the year.

The birth narratives found in Matthew 1 and Luke 1–2 are best understood in the context of the service of the mishmarot (courses ofpriests) and the timing of their yearly service in the Temple. If we look at the time of year that Yochanan’s father, Zechariah of the division of Abijah’s (1 Chron. 24:1-19), would have been serving in the temple, consider the normal timespan of pregnancies and the six-month earthly age difference between Yochanan and Yeshua and the likely timing of the birth of Messiah around the Feast of Tabernacles, the conception of Messiah by God’s Spirit in Miriam would have come around the end of the ninth month, the time of the Feast of Dedication.

Yeshuah referred to Himself during the feast of Succoth as the Light of the World, therefore, let us as his followers be a light to the world by returning the Jewish people to their ancient homeland to bring about thereality of Isaiah 42.