Eight Nights of Hanukkah (Study Guide)

Each night of Hanukkah we light a menorah or Hanukkiah.  Sometimes our family focuses on one aspect of Hanukkah per year: the Persecution, the Deliverance, the Altar, the Menorah, the Oil, the Light, the Miracles, or the Dedication.  (This list is not exhaustive). Other times we look at all the aspects, one each night.  Below are some ideas for celebrating the eight nights (or eight years) of Hanukkah.  There are no right or wrong answers to the questions as they are spring boards to create discussion and learning more about the Feast of Dedication called Hanukkah.

The historical account of the Maccabean revolt is found in the apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees.  The account of Yeshua attending the festival in Jerusalem is found in John 10:22-30.

Day 1 – Persecution

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light one candle.

The story of Hanukkah is based in the persecution of God’s people – the Jews.  King Antiochus of Syria was intent on bringing Greek culture and Greek gods into the empire of Alexander the Great.  In order to fulfill his goal, he had to remove all people who refused to submit.  The Jewish people were enemies to his goal as they already had a God: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who gave them different times, seasons, and days of celebrations from the Greek culture.   Along with a Temple in Jerusalem where they worshipped this God of Israel they called Yahweh, they ate differently (kosher foods) and circumcised their baby boys.

The persecution was dreadful for the Jewish people.  If they did not submit, they faced being burned to death.    If they were caught reading the Scriptures, circumcising their sons, keeping the Sabbath, or celebrating a Biblical feast they were murdered.   It really didn’t matter what they did, they were killed for remaining Jewish and refusing to be Hellenized.

We, as believers, are told we will have persecution in this life because of our faith in God, in Yeshua.  We are told to stand firm and not to fear.  We are told, as saints, to have patient endurance.  In America, however, believers do not yet face death for believing in Yeshua and living according to Biblical Truth as many do in other countries around the world.   In fact, many believers in  America, don’t really believe they will ever face persecution that leads to death.  This is unfortunate because it is through persecution that God tests, refines and matures our faith.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  …Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).

“Consider it pure joy, by brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-3).

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor with Messiah Yeshua is revealed” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Messiah Yeshua” (2 Timothy 2:3).

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.  For what son is not disciplined by his father?” (Hebrews 12:7).

If anyone is go to into captivity, into captivity he will go.  If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed.  This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints” (Revelation 13:10).

“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Yeshua” (Revelation 14:12).

Questions:

1.  Compare today with the time of Alexander the Great and the influence of Greek gods and thought (Hellenization) with the pure Word of God.  Are these influences easily recognized?  Are these influences easily removed from our walks of faith?  Why or why not?

2.  What is the difference between a discipline, a trial and a persecution?

3.  What does it mean for a saint to ‘patiently endure’?

4.  Have you ever been persecuted for your faith in Yeshua?  How?

5.  What did the Jewish people want to do to Yeshua at Hanukkah?

 

Day 2 – Deliverance

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light two candles.

The Jewish people were delivered from Syria by a man named Judah Maccabee.  Not only does his name mean ‘hammer’, but his army rode elephants.  Though they were small in number, they did not fear the armies of Syria, but feared Yahweh, His Word and his commands.    The defeat of the Syrians was not quick.  It took years and the death of many Jews for the Maccabees to overcome their enemy.  Yet, they were victorious and were able to reclaim the Temple and return and restore it back to Yahweh.

“Arise, Yahweh, deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love” (Psalm 3:7).

“My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me” (Psalm 31:15).

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation” (Psalm 13:5).

“Yahweh is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).

Questions:

1.  What is a remnant?  What are the promises for the remnant (Gen. 45:7, 2 Kings 19:30, Ezra 9:8, Isaiah 10:21, Isaiah 11:16, Micah 2:12, Romans 9:27, Romans 11:5).

2.  Would you consider Judah Maccabee prophet?  Why or why not?

3.  Yeshua is the Hebrew word for ‘salvation‘ and ‘save’.   Read the above Scriptures, change deliver or save to ‘yeshua’.   Does changing the word give you more insight into deliverance and Yeshua?

4.  Syria still exists today.  What is their relationship to Israel?  How is Syria once again attacking the faith of the Jewish people in Israel and the faith of those around the world who love the God of Israel?

 

Day 3 – Altar of Sacrifice

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light three candles.

The Bronze Altar was also called The Altar of Sacrifice.  The Hebrew root for altar means ‘to slay or slaughter’.  The altar stood on a mound of dirt and was made of acacia wood and overlaid with bronze.  It was a square that measured 7 1/2 feet and was 4 1/2 feet deep.  Four horns projected from the four corners from which an animal was tied and a bronze grate was inside to hold the animal. It was on this altar that animals were slaughtered.  Only certain clean or kosher (holy) animals like bulls, sheep, goats, pigeons or doves were allowed to be offered on the altar.

Antiochus,  because he hated the Jewish people and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, sacrificed pigs on the altar.  This was an abomination to the Temple ordinances established by Yahweh and to the Jewish people.    Antiochus splattered pig blood everywhere and put it on the Temple articles: the Menorah, the Altar of Incense, the Table of Presence.  In the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was, he set up a statue of  Zeus.

The Jewish priests had a lot of work to do once the Temple was restored back to them.   They had to remove the idols.  They had to clean and scrub the pig blood from everything defiling themselves in the process.   Though they desired the Temple to be ready for the Feast of Tabernacles, they needed more time to complete the task.  It wasn’t until early winter when they were able to re-dedicate the Altar of Sacrifice and the eight-day Feast of Dedication was birthed.

Daniel chapters 7 and 8 describes a future time – ‘the time of the end.‘  Within the interpretations of the vision and the dream, Daniel is given prophetic insight into a future ‘hanukkah’ when the anti-messiah will desecrate the Temple and set himself up as god to be worshipped.  As this event has happened once in the past, we should understand the prophecies and be prepared for it to happen again.

Note from Wikipedia:  Antiochus’ name was originally Mithradates.   He changed his name to Antiochus IV Epiphanes probably after the death of his brother.  He regarded himself as Zeus from which the title “Epiphanes” comes meaning manifestation of the Greek god.  He saw himself as the supreme God which meant he had power over all religions in his realm.  In this way he was a shadow of the coming anti-messiah.  Rabbis regard him as the ‘little horn’ in Daniel chapter 6.

“Listen to me, Levites!  Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the Temple of Yahweh, the God of your fathers.  Remove all defilement from the sanctuary” (2 Chronicles 29:5).

“Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the midst of those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things—they will meet their end together,” declares the Lord” (Isaiah 66:17).

“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).

 

Questions:

1. What does defile mean?

2. Why were pigs and the blood of pigs such an abomination for the Altar of Sacrifice?  (Read Leviticus 11).

3.  The priests at the time of the Dedication were the Levites.  They had a huge responsibility.   Peter calls us a ‘royal priesthood’.  What are our responsibilities – as priests? as royalty?  Do you think our responsibilities are the same, different, more or less than the Levites?  Why or why not?  (Ezekiel 22:26 for the Levites; 2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1 for the royal priesthood).

4.  From the prophecies in Daniel, what are some of the things that the ‘beast’ will do?  Scripture already says the ‘man of lawlessness is at work’.  What are ways you see that when you read the prophecies in Daniel?

5.  Hanukkah was not one of the seven Feasts of the Lord in Leviticus 23.  Why do you think Yeshua was walking around at the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem?

6.  When the Temple is re-established in Jerusalem, what will you do if you see it defiled?  Will you fight for it as the brothers and sisters of Yeshua did?

 

Day 4 – Menorah

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light four candles.

The menorah has an incredible history.  It was the only article for the Tabernacle patterned from the one shown to Moses on the mountain (Ex. 25:39, Heb. 8:5).   It was made out of one talent or 75 pounds of  pure gold.  Rather than poured, its base and shaft was hammered.  Its cups for oil were shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms.  It had six almond branches: three on one side of the shaft and three on the other giving it seven cups.  The menorah was filled with pure olive oil and its wicks were kept trimmed.

The menorah was put in the Holy Place along with the Table of Presence and the Altar of Incense.  These three objects symbolized the sanctification of the priesthood  as they walked in the light, ate the bread of God’s presence, and lifted their hands in prayer as the sweet smell of incense.

During the defilement of the Temple at the time of Antiochus, the menorah had been splattered with pig’s blood.  It was not in good condition.   It was important that the menorah was returned to its glory.  After removing the filth of the desecration, it was ready to be lit and shine its golden light in the Most Holy Place.  It was the rabbis who decided to make the menorah the symbol of Hanukkah by creating the 9-branched Hanukkiah.  Though some consider it a perversion of the original Lampstand, it is an incredible way to remember that the menorah once again shined in the Temple in Jerusalem after being defiled.  It is the  symbol of great victory (and a great way to count the 8 days).   Today, the menorah,  surrounded by an olive branch,  is the emblem of the State of Israel.

In  a prophecy found in Zechariah 4:1-14, an angel speaks of a solid gold Lampstand with two Olive trees.  The angel says that the seven lights are the ‘eyes of Yahweh, which run to and fro  throughout the earth.’  The Olive trees are the two who bring oil to the Lampstand.

In Revelation 2:1-7 Yeshua speaks to the Congregation of Ephesus as the One who walks among the seven Lampstands.  These menorahs represent the different testimonies of the congregations to whom he is giving messages.  He tells Ephesus that they have forgotten their first love and need to repent or their lamp will be removed from its stand.

“He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left” (Zechariah 4:2-3).

“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,”dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars,and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance” (Revelation 1:12-16).

“If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Revelation 2:5).

“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in god’s unfailing love for ever and ever” (Psalm 52:8).

“After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!” (Romans 11:24).

Questions:

1.  Research how much the menorah would be worth today in gold.

2.  Why do you think it was not ‘fashioned’, but beaten into shape?

3.  Why do you think almond buds, flowers and branches adorned the menorah?

4.  Read Revelation 11:3-5.  Compare the Lampstands and Olive trees to Zechariah chapter 4.

5.  Read Romans 11:13-21.  These verses talk about the Olive Tree.  What is significant about the branches of the Olive Tree?  Are there two witnesses to the Olive Tree?  Why or why not?  If why, what are the two witnesses?

6.  Why do you think there is an olive branch around the menorah in the Israeli emblem?  Do you think it has prophetic significance for you, for the land, for the people?  Why or why not?

7.  Was the menorah present at the Temple when Yeshua was there?  How do you know?

 

Day 5 – Oil

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light five candles.

Oil is generally a Biblical symbol for the Holy Spirit and was used to anoint articles for the Tabernacle, priest and kings.   The foundation of the anointing oil in the Scriptures is olive oil, but spices were added to it to make it holy, consecrated, set apart for anointing the Temple.  Pure olive oil from the first pressing was used in the menorah.

The account of Hanukkah includes a little story about some oil.  Though there is no evidence that the story is true, there is no evidence to say that it’s not.  It is not an impossible event because olive oil was miraculously multiplied for a poor widow by Elisha (2 Kings 4).  Once the Temple was cleansed, the story says there was only enough oil to burn in the menorah for one day.  While it took eight days to consecrate more oil, that one day’s oil lasted eight.

It doesn’t matter if the menorah story is true or not, oil played a significant part in the re-dedicating of the Temple. Without oil, the Temple could not be sanctified and dedicated.  “Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishing and it will be holy” (Exodus 40:9).

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane, 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil” (Exodus 30:22-25).

“Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head” (Exodus 29:7).

“So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6).

Questions:

1.  Look up the different spices used in the anointing oil. It is possible to buy  myrrh and frankincense candles or incense.  Purchase some in order to enjoy the aroma that would have filled the Tabernacle.

2.  Spices also have special purposes.  What are some of the reasons these spices may have been chosen?

3.  Why do you think the Tabernacle/Temple and the articles inside needed to be anointed with oil? What do you think it signified?

4.  What is the difference between ‘virgin’ olive oil and other olive oils?

5.  Read Matthew 25: 1-13 and the parable about the Ten Virgins.  Why was oil important for them?  Psalm 119:105 says that the Word is a lamp to my feet.  Five virgins had lamps (the Word), but no oil (the anointing of the Spirit) and were not ready for their Bridegroom.  Read John 4:24 and consider why these two ‘things‘ are important.

6.  Was the Holy Spirit present at the Temple during the Feast of Dedication?

 

Day 6 – Light

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light six candles.

Because ‘light’ is a theme throughout Hanukkah, it is sometimes called the “Festival of Lights”.  This comes from the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah for eight days.  With electricity  lots and lots of lights have become a more brilliant way to commemorate the holiday.

Day one of creation, Yahweh said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).  This light was not the light of the sun, moon, and stars, but the ‘light of life’ that he was going to create.

Israel and Jerusalem were to be a light that would draw the nations.  “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of Yahweh rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but Yahweh rises upon you and his glory appears over you.  Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn” (Isaiah 60:1-3).

The Word of God, the teachings and commandments,  are the light to our paths.  “Your Word is a lamp (menorah) to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Yeshua is to be a light for the nations.  “I will keep you and make you a covenant for the people and a light for the gentiles, to open the eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:6-7).

Yeshua says he is the light of the world.  “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Yeshua calls those who hear his words and obey them, the light of the world. “You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp (menorah) and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”  

The glory of God is the light in the New Jerusalem.  “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp (menorah)” (Revelation 21:23).

Questions:

1.  What is light?  Learn about the spectrum of colors that make light.

2.  How is light like a thread woven throughout the Scriptures?

3.  Do you think the light changes or it is the same light?  Explain.

4.  Read John chapter 1.  It is all about light.  What do you learn about light, life, darkness, men, and the world?

5.   “Yahweh is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1). How are light and salvation connected in this verse?  (Remember Yeshua means salvation.)

6.  Yeshua told Ephesus that their lamp could be removed from its stand thus removing its light from the world.  What do you think he meant and what would their reward be if they repented?

 

Day 7 – Miracles

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light seven candles.

In John chapter 10, Yeshua speaks of the miracles that he had done in his Father’s name while at the Feast of Dedication.  One of the miracles of Hanukkah is the deliverance of the Jewish people from the Syrian conquest.  Another miracle of Hanukkah was the re-dedication of the Temple.  Another miracle of Hanukkah could be the one day of oil lasting eight days.

Mary, the mother of Yeshua, had a miraculous encounter during the Feast of Dedication.  Following the time frame in Luke for the birth of Yeshua, the angelic visit to Mary would have occurred in ‘winter’.  The angel tells Mary that she will conceive a son through the power of the Holy Spirit/Ruach ha Kodesh.  Though she is troubled at the words of the angel, she responds by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant” thus dedicating her life and the life of her unborn child to the Lord.  Mary was given the incredible honor of carrying the Son of God, the Light of the World, Yeshua (salvation) at Hanukkah.

Years later when Yeshua is in Solomon’s Colonade, he speaks of the same miracle.  He plainly tells his Jewish brothers and sisters,  “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).  To the Jewish people, this is blasphemy and he should be stoned.  But to those sheep who know the Father’s voice, they know Yeshua is the real miracle of Hanukkah – Light of the World.

Luke 1:26-38 “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (Job 5:9).

“I will remember the deeds of Yahweh; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago” (Psalm 77:11).

“You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples” (Psalm 77:14).

“And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith” (Matthew 13:58).

Questions:

1.  What was Mary’s Hanukkah miracle?

2.  What are some of the miracles that God performed long ago displaying His power to the Israelites?

3.  How is Isaiah 9:6 related to the miracle of  “I and the Father are One?’ (John 10:30).

4.  If Yeshua means salvation, how does the following verse also support John 10:30. “Yahweh is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1).

5.  Why do you think Yeshua spoke of His Father’s miracles at the Feast of Dedication?

6.  Play the dreidel game.

 

Day 8 – Dedication

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light all eight candles.

Hanukkah as the Feast of Dedication is a memorial to the dedication the Temple.   This is the not the Temple that Solomon built for the name of God, but the one that was rebuilt by Ezra and Nehemiah.   Yeshua claims to be the Temple and says that if it is torn down, three days later he will raise it up.   Paul tells us that we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  There will be one more Temple, Ezekiel’s Temple that will stand during the Millennial Reign of Yeshua from Jerusalem.  That Temple will also be dedicated and used by the Levitical priests and the royal priesthood together as the spiritual and the physical reign together.

“Now I am about to build at temple for the Name of Yahweh my God and to dedicate it to him for burning fragrant incense before him, for setting out the consecrated bread regularly, and for making burnt offerings every morning and evening and on Sabbaths and New Moons and at the appointed festivals of Yahweh our God.  This is a lasting ordinance for Israel.  The temple I am going ti build will be great because our God is greater than all other gods” (2 Chronicles 2:3-5).

Yeshua answered them, ‘Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days” (John 2:19).

“Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1).

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

“For seven days they are to make atonement for the altar and cleanse it; thus they will dedicate it” (Ezekiel 43:26).

Questions:

1.  How did Solomon dedicate the Temple?  What was going to happen in the Temple after it was dedicated?

2.  The Second Temple (Herod’s Temple) was destroyed in A.D. 70.  Did the destruction of the Temple end the celebration of the Feasts of Yahweh?  Why or why not?

3.  Read Colossians 2:17.  Take a flashlight and shine in on something to create a shadow.  A shadow cannot be made without a reality.   In the same way, if you have a reality, if there is light, it will cast a shadow.  The two, the reality and the shadow are entwined together.    How is Yeshua the light that brings the Reality to the Shadow and the Shadow back to the Reality?

4.  How can you offer your body, your Temple of the Holy Spirit, as a living sacrifice?

5.  Read Ezekiel chapter 43.  What do you learn about the coming third Temple?

6.  Dedication means to ‘set something apart’ for God.  This is also the meaning of the words ‘holy’ and ‘sanctified’.  Look up the words ‘holy’ and ‘sanctified’ in a Bible concordance.  What do you learn about these words in regards to God, His people, His Land, and you?

7.  Do you think Yeshua re-dedicated the Temple at Hanukkah?  If so, how?

©2012 Tentstake Ministries Book Nosh

This study is included in the book Journey With Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive. 

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