Hanukkah begins this evening for our Jewish friends and others who might join them in their celebrations. I pray that those who are celebrating have a wonderful eight days! In the Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism Daniel K. Falk summarizes Hanukkah as follows:
“The Festival of Dedication (Hanukkah in Hebrew) commemorates the restoration of the Temple and dedication of the alter by Judas Maccabaeus in 164 B.C.E. It is celebrated for eight days, beginning on the anniversary of the defilement of the alter under Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 167 B.C.E., the 25th of Kislev (see 1 Macc. 1:59), the ninth month (it usually falls in December).”
According to Falk ancient sources agree on the following traditions, “…it was observed in the Temple with feasting, abundant sacrifices, rejoicing, songs of praise, and music”, but the sources differ on matters related to other aspects like precedent (Solomon in 1 Kings 8 or Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 29), and the origin of the eight candle menorah (the “one days oil lasting eight days” story or the “eight iron spears on which they lit lamps” story), for example.
The festival centered in the home after the destruction of the temple in 70 CE.
If you’d like to learn a bit more about modern observation of Hanukkah there is info at the following locations:
If you come across any useful articles on Hanukkah please share in the comments section. It is an eight day festival, so there is time to chat about it!
 Daniel K. Falk, “Festivals and Holy Days” in J.J. Collins and D.C. Harlow (eds.), The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 644.
Should a Gentile light the menorah?
Yesterday as my wife and I walked through Target we marveled as some of the menorahs for sale. I told her that I would like the celebrate Hanukkah, but I feel a bit odd about it since it is a celebration for Jews. I’m not sure how Jews would feel about a Gentile like myself celebrating a holiday that remembers when they regained and rededicated their temple after the Gentiles polluted it. My motivation is that it is a reminder of the preservation of the people who would give the Messiah to the world (even if many don’t acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah). As the Apostle Paul argued in his Letter to the Romans, the Jews are the primary part of the great tree of Abraham. We non-Jews are grafted into the family. As a Gentile I am grateful to the Jews who have shared their story with us who had no story.
The Jewish Annotated New Testament
I don’t know how many readers of this blog are Jewish, but if you are Jewish how do you feel about non-Jews celebrating holidays like Hanukkah?
While I am discussing Jewish-Christian relations I should mention that my review copy of The Jewish Annotated New Testament edited by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler courtesy Oxford University Press (thank you!) arrived yesterday. I will be reviewing it on this blog soon, but I think I will mention some thing now. First, it is a NRSV New Testament with annotations, essays, and charts created by Jewish scholars. In other words, it is a Jewish presentation and interpretation of the New Testament. Inside I have found great annotations covering the whole of the New Testament, introductions to each book, essays on a wide-array of subjects covering everything from messianic movements to Philo, maps, and more. It seems like a really, really great volume to have on your bookshelf and unlike many themed New Testaments this one is of value!
In case Hanukkah is more your thing. (HT)