Question 8: What is Hanukkah?

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What is Hanukkah?

Ian
I heard someone say “Happy Hanukkah” and I got confused. What’s Hanukkah?

Clive
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that also happens in December.

Ian
A Jewish holiday?

Clive
You know … the Jews were the Israelites. They’re God’s chosen people in the Old Testament.

Ian
Oh right! So what’s Hanukkah?

Clive
Well, about 200 years before Jesus was born, Israel was controlled by the Seleucid Empire.

Ian
Empire’s are bad, right? Like in Star Wars.

Clive
It depends on who’s in charge. Things got very bad for the Jews, though, when Antiochus IV Epiphanes became king.

Ian
I wish I had a number in my name. Like “Ian 7.”

Clive
Stay focused.

Ian
sorry.

Clive
Antiochus didn’t like the Jews at all, so he banned their religion! He said they couldn’t go to the Temple or worship God!

Ian
That’s terrible!

Clive
To make it even worse, he sacrificed a pig on the altar – which was against God’s rules – then put a statue of Zeus in the Temple and told the Jews to pray to that!

Ian
Zeus?!? He isn’t even real!!

Clive
I know! The Jews were so upset that five brothers led a rebellion against Antiochus! They were called the Maccabees.

Ian
Oh, I was stung by a pack of bees once.

Clive
No, not “pack of bees,” Maccabees. The Maccabees actually beat Antiochus’s army and pushed them out of Jerusalem. Then they got rid of the statue of Zeus and spend 8 days cleaning the temple and rededicating it to the true God!

Ian
That’s amazing!

Clive
So every year Jews all over the world remember the 8 day rededication of the Temple by celebrating the 8 days of Hanukkah! Why even Jesus celebrated Hanukkah!

Ian
What?

Clive
It’s true! John 10:22-23 says “Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, it was winter, and Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.” The “Feast of Dedication” is now called Hanukkah!

Ian
I thought Jesus celebrated Christmas!

Clive
No, Jesus didn’t celebrate Christmas – Christmas celebrates Jesus! Celebrating Christmas wouldn’t begin for another 300 years or so. Hanukkah came first!

Ian
I did not know that! Happy Hanukkah, everyone!

Clive
Yes, happy Hanukkah!

Ian
I’ve got another question …

Clive
Save it.

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