Hanukkah - International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

Hanukkah is a special holiday that Jewish
people celebrate every year in honor of a
miraculous story from long ago.
Hanukkah is not considered
a holy day because it is not
mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.
But it is mentioned in the New
Testament, in John 10:22:
“Then came the Feast of
Dedication at Jerusalem.”
Hanukkah means to dedicate.
Jesus Sitting in the Temple (James Tissot, c. 1895)
This means Jesus celebrated Hanukkah!
The Story
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More than 2,100
years ago, an evil
king named
Antiochus tried to
stop the Jewish
people from
worshiping Yah-weh,
the one true God.
The Story
Some Jewish people did
what Antiochus wanted
and began to worship a
false god named Zeus.
But other Jews were
faithful to Yah-weh and
decided to fight against
Antiochus and his army.
Scott D. Welch, Creative Commons
The Story
A man named Mattathias
led the Jews who fought
against the evil king. When
he died, his son Judah
Maccabee became the
leader, along with his four
The Story
The Jews fought to
regain control of their
homeland. And after
fighting for three years,
they won!
Painting by Wojciech Stattler (1800-1875) of the Maccabees
fighting against Antiochus’ armies
The Story
On the 25th day of
Kislev (a month in the
Hebrew calendar),
Judah Maccabee led
his small army into
The Story
They went straight to the
Temple to worship
Yah-weh, but they were
horrified by what
they found. Antiochus had
made a mess of God's
Temple. He had taken
away the sacred vessels
and replaced them with
idols for false gods.
Nevit Dilmen, Creative Commons
The Story
Antiochus had even
sacrificed unclean
animals in the Holy of
Holies, where God's
presence dwelt. Judah
Maccabee and his
Model of the Holy of Holies
followers knew they had to make things right
again as quickly as possible.
The Story
Everyone worked to clean all of the filth out of
God's Temple and restore what was missing.
They got rid of the false
idols and unclean things,
and they brought back
the symbols and vessels
that reminded everyone
of Yah-weh.
The Story
But there was a big problem:
they only had one flask of oil
to use for the eternal flame.
This was a light that burned
constantly in the Temple as
a reminder of God's
presence, and one flask
would only keep the flame
burning for one day.
Hanukkah lamp unearthed near
Jerusalem in the 1900s.
The Story
Judah Maccabee lit the lamp
and sent for more oil, but it took
eight days for new oil to arrive.
Miraculously, the eternal flame
never went out! The lamp
continued to burn through the
entire ceremony of the
rededication of God's Temple.
The Story
So Hanukkah is a story of two miracles:
1. Judah Maccabee and his followers were able
to defeat the armies of the evil king Antiochus,
even though those armies were much larger
and more powerful.
The eternal flame burned for eight days,
showing that Yah-weh was with His people as
they cleansed and rededicated the Temple.
The Celebration
Today, Hanukkah
begins on the 25th
day of Kislev, which
usually falls in
December on our
calendar. Jews
celebrate Hanukkah
for eight days as a reminder of the rededication
of God's Temple.
The Celebration
One important symbol of Hanukkah is the
menorah, which is a lamp or candlestick with
eight lights. Jewish
people light a new
candle each day as a
way of remembering
the miracle of the oil
in the eternal flame.
The Celebration
Jewish families place the menorah by a window
to remind the world of
the miracles that
happened in Israel.
They say, “A miracle
happened there.”
This is also why
Hanukkah is called
the “Festival of Lights.”
The Celebration
Hanukkah is a favorite
holiday for Jewish children.
They receive a gift each
day along with a small
amount of money called the
Hanukkah gelt. Children
also enjoy playing with a
four-sided top called the dreidel.
The Celebration
Families share
special holiday
treats during the
eight days of
Hanukkah, including
potato pancakes
(latkes) and
What Hanukkah Teaches Us
Hanukkah teaches us
that God must be our
first priority. When the
world around us
pushes us to worship
and lift up things that
are false, we need to
resist and keep our
focus on Yah-weh.
What Hanukkah Teaches Us
Hanukkah also reminds us to be thankful that
America and many other parts of the world
provide freedom for
people to worship God
as they choose—and
it reminds us to pray
for parts of the world
where people are still
persecuted for their faith.
What Hanukkah Teaches Us
Judah Maccabee demonstrated great faith in
God when he fought against the larger
armies of Antiochus
and when he lit the
eternal flame with
only one flask of oil.
Hanukkah reminds us
that we can trust in
God, just like he did.
International Fellowship of
Christians and Jews
30 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 2600
Chicago, IL 60602-3356

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