Hanukkah Word: Hammer

The dictionary defines a ‘hammer’ as “a tool with a heavy metal head mounted at right angles at the end of a handle, used for jobs such as breaking things and driving in nails.”

The noun ‘hammer’ is found only a few times in Scripture. The first time is in Judges when Ya’el, the wife of Heber, uses a hammer to pound a tent stake into the head of Sisra piercing his skull and crushing his temple. With this act, she sets Israel free from God’s judgement for worshipping idols. The second time is in the book of First Kings where it is recorded that the stones for building the Temple were prepared at the quarry so that no ‘hammer’ was heard while it was being built.

Though the days of the Maccabean Revolt were before the days of King David, Psalm 74 reveals how the sanctuary of Elohim was destroyed when Israel was taken captive as judgement by God for disobeying His commands and worshipping idols. Hammers were used by the enemies of Elohim to destroy the Temple, specifically, to smash the intricately carved woodwork.

“If a prophet has a dream, let him tell it as a dream. But someone who has my word should speak my word faithfully. What do chaff and wheat have in common?” asks Adonai. “Isn’t my word like fire,” asks Adonai, “like a hammer shattering rocks?” (Jeremiah 23:28-29).”

The Word of God is like a hammer that shatters rocks. Through His Spirit, Elohim changes the heart of stone into a heart of flesh; He shatters the rock-hard heart so that it desires to obey His commandments. However, the prophet Jeremiah speaks about shepherds who lead the people of Adonai astray – shepherds like the false priests who succumbed to the Hellenization of their faith and began to worship many ‘other’ gods.

The Hebrew word for ‘hammer’ is maqqebeth or מקבות or in English, Maccabee. This word is significant to the celebration of Hanukkah as the leader of the revolt against the Syrian armies of Alexander the Great was called Judah ‘Maccabee’ or ‘the Hammer.’ As an army of ‘hammers,’ the Maccabees fought against the Syrian armies of Alexander the Great who wanted to Hellinize Israel.

Rather than assimilating into the Greek culture around them and the worship of foreign gods, Judah and his ‘hammer’ rebels fought for their freedom to worship the Elohim of Israel. With faith in the ‘Word’ of Elohim, and the help of the ‘Commander of Elohim’s Armies,’ they ‘hammered’ against the enemies Israel for four years in order to live as commanded by Elohim and regain control of the Temple in Jerusalem and restore it to its original glory and worship.

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