Category Archives: Hanukkah (Christmaskah)

Hanukkah – the Miraculous Oil of Joy for the poor in spirit

“I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.'”  (Isaiah 49:9)
On Saturday night, the eight-day “Festival of Dedication,” HANUKKAH begins.
This wonderful holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the Jewish Temple by the Hasmoneans, also known as the Maccabee family, and the miraculous single-day supply of oil lasting a full eight days in the process of that re-dedication.
The first Hanukkah on the 25th of Kislev in 164 BC heralded freedom from Greek rule, the purification of Jerusalem from pagan influence, and the restoration of God’s House—the Temple in Jerusalem.
With the Temple recaptured from the Greeks and newly restored, the family of Judah Maccabee reestablished the seven-day autumn festival of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) and the extra day of Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah, which concludes the annual cycle of Parashiot).
The Greek ruler Antiochus IV had forbidden its observance earlier in the year, so when the Temple was recaptured in December, they celebrated this eight-day festival.
And so the keeping of Torah once again freely commenced.  Hanukkah, therefore, represents the renewed ability to study the Torah, which is compared to light.
Darkness Descends on Israel
“Do not gloat over me, my enemy!  Though I have fallen, I will rise.  Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.”  (Micah 7:8)
The Greek Empire had risen to power under Alexander the Great after Judah had served as a vassal state to Persia for two centuries.  After Alexander’s death, the state of Judah was wrested back and forth by two of Alexander’s generals seven times.
All the while, clashing starkly with the unique holiness of the Hebrew religion, the pagan culture of the Greeks was wildly offensive: naked wrestling, immodest dress and a preference for homosexuality, writes Richard Hooker in The Hebrews: A Learning Module.
However, while the Greeks influenced the language and culture of Jerusalem and the state of Judah (Judea), “they allowed the Jews to run their own country, declared that the law of Judah was the Torah, and attempted to preserve Jewish religion,” writes Hooker.  Such was the case, at first.
Two Greek monarchs, Ptolemy and Seleucus, battled for Judea until 198 BC, at which time Antiochus III, a Seleucid Greek, won the prize.  He allowed the Jews autonomy until “a stinging defeat at the hands of the Romans began a program of Hellenization that threatened to force the Jews to abandon their monotheism for the Greeks’ paganism,” writes Mitchell G. Bard in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East Conflict.
After Antiochus III raised idols in the Jewish Temple, the Jews rebelled, forcing back the Greeks.  However, Antiochus IV took the throne in 176 BC and did not accommodate Jewish customs as his father had.  The son outlawed the keeping of Shabbat as well as the circumcision covenant, and carried out a cruel campaign against the people of God.
Antiochus IV gave himself the last name “Epiphanes” (meaning “the visible god”) and destroyed every copy of the Scriptures he could find, selling thousands of Jewish families into slavery and murdering anyone who had a Scripture scroll in their possession.
Antiochus IV defiled the Jewish Temple by offering a pig on its altar, erected an altar to Jupiter, and prohibited the Jews from Temple worship.
But the reach of that defilement was wider than the Temple.
“Women who insisted that their sons be circumcised were killed along with their babies.  Brides were forced to sleep with Greek officers before they could be with their husbands.  Jews were required to eat pork and sacrifice pigs to the Greek gods.  The teaching of Torah became a capital crime,” writes Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf.
Although a great darkness had come over Judah and Jerusalem, “most Jews did anything and everything to remain Jewish,” Apisdorf adds, including studying Scripture and getting married in secret.
The Rise of Righteousness
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.”  (Ephesians 6:14)
The Hasmoneans were a Jewish family with a seemingly impossible calling: to stand up for righteousness under the weight of an oppressor trying to eradicate their identity as well as empty the Temple of its holy purpose — and of its eternal light.
The head of the family, Mattisyahu (Mattathias), was serving as a priest in God’s Temple in 167 BC when a Greek official tried to force him to sacrifice to a pagan god.  Mattisyahu resisted and killed the official, which triggered reprisals by Antiochus IV against the Jews.
Nevertheless, Mattisyahu — and after his death, Judah, one of his five sons — took charge of the fight against the pagan Greeks and earned the name “Maccabee” (possibly from “hammer” in Hebrew) because of their hammer-like blows against their enemies.
Three years after the Maccabee uprising, in 164 BC, the Hasmoneans had taken back Jerusalem and purified the Temple.
It took another 20 years before the Hasmoneans pushed the Seleucid Greeks out of the Land of Israel with the defeat of the Acra citadel, a stronghold uncovered in 2015 (after a decade of excavations) just outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls.
That the many were defeated by the few is heralded as the main miracle of Hanukkah: Judah and the Hasmoneans succeeded in defeating the pagan Greeks who had so offensively defiled the Temple of God, the Holy City of Jerusalem, and the Holy Land given to Israel.
The Maccabees served as a light that pushed back the darkness; by faith, their”weakness was turned to strength; and [they] became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.”  (Hebrews 11:34)
While the Greeks devastated the Jewish community at the time, they would not succeed in destroying the Hasmonean conviction to worship the God of Israel alone.
And while the Greeks defiled the Jewish Temple, they would not succeed in eradicating its means for purification—oil.
Despite the pagan altars within her and impure animals that were offered to idols on the Temple’s holy ground, a day’s worth of purified oil remained concealed on the Temple grounds with its seal intact.
This jar of oil, sanctified to the God of Israel, would help push back the spiritual darkness that had overcome the Temple.
And while it was only enough for a single day, it miraculously burned for a full eight days.  By the last day, the Jews had prepared enough sanctified oil to keep the light shining perpetually.
Let Your Light So Shine
“Open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”  (Acts 26:18)
During the years of His ministry, Yeshua (Jesus) walked the Temple Courts during Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication, and told those gathered around him: “The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me.” (John 10:25)
Yeshua pointed to His own deeds, which were all good, as a testimony of His identity and of His Father’s character.
In the context of the Festival of Lights, another name for Hanukkah, Yeshua may have had in mind His Sermon on the Mount, where he said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)
The term “good works” is idiomatic for the commandments of Torah.
Yeshua told His disciples that if they kept the commandments of Torah according to His teaching, they would retain their saltiness and their light would shine before men and bring honor to God.
The half brother of Yeshua, Yaacov (James), elaborated on this point, saying that”faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  (James 2:17)
Good deeds done by those faithful to God allow His Spirit to shine from within them, illustrating “the light of the world” and giving glory to Adonai’s Name.
For the Festival of Lights, this image of God’s light shining through His people is emphasized further by noting the basic components of fire — a spark and a source of fuel — as well as by contemplating that God Himself provides both our Spiritual Light and Oil.
A Jewish woman serves traditional sufganiot (donuts) at a Hanukkah party.  It is traditional to eat foods fried in oil during this holiday in honor of the one-day supply of oil lasting eight days.

A Jewish woman serves traditional sufganiot (donuts) at a Hanukkah party. It is traditional to eat foods fried in oil during this holiday in honor of the one-day supply of oil lasting eight days.

Oil is understood to be a symbol of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).  It has had an important role in Jewish life for millennia as a means of anointing.  In Judaism, anointing was performed for kingship, for the priesthood, for prophets, for the healing of the sick, and for purification.

Where the anointing sanctified the priests and treated the sick, “anointment conferred upon the king ‘the Spirit of the Lord,’ [that is to say], His support (1 Samuel 16:13–14), strength (Psalm 89:21–25) and wisdom (Isaiah 11:1–4),” states the Encyclopedia Judaica.
Of the Messiah (Anointed One) to come, the prophet Isaiah announced, “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord.”  (Isaiah 11:1–2)
Messiah Yeshua announced His anointing in a synagogue in Nazareth when he read from the scroll of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  (Luke 4:18–19; see also Isaiah 61:1–2)
The Messiah’s light shone throughout His life and continued to burn brightly even when confronted with the darkness of death.  Death could not hold Him and extinguish His light. 
“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  (John 1:4–5)
With the oil of Adonai’s Ruach upon and within Him, the Messiah is an Eternal Light.  By living out His anointing He brought “a crown of beauty,” “the oil of joy” and “a garment of praise” to the mourners of Zion.
As Isaiah prophesied, the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the prisoners in darkness, the mourners, and the grievers of Zion — having received the freedom and favor of the Lord—”will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated.”  (Isaiah 61:1–4)
Just as promised, through the Messiah those covered in ashes and a spirit of despair would receive the oil of joy and “be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor.”  (Isaiah 61:3)
Through Adonai’s life-giving work, the once-devastated children of God would be re-activated to rebuild the ancient ruins and renew the ruined cities; His people would stand as oaks of righteousness for “the display of His splendor,” a calling that radiates light.
Miraculous Oil for the Poor in Spirit
Having come “to bring good news to the poor,” Yeshua said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
“Being poor in spirit is admitting that, because of your sin, you are completely destitute spiritually and can do nothing to deliver yourself from your dire situation,” writes Got Questions, led by S. Michael Houdmann. “Jesus is saying that, no matter your status in life, you must recognize your spiritual poverty before you can come to God in faith to receive the salvation He offers.”
This spiritual poverty is reflected in the single flask of oil found in the recaptured Temple.  While enduring the unspeakable darkness of Greek oppression, that flask did not hold enough oil to fulfill its purpose in the House of God to keep the Menorah lit while more oil was made.
Only with a miracle could this oil be multiplied, and it took the intervention of God Himself.
A Jewish girl admires the lights on the menorah.

A Jewish girl admires the lights on the menorah.

In the Temple, the Almighty intervened to make the flask of oil last for eight full days—as if adding the oil of His Spirit to sanctify and renew the devastated Temple.

Likewise, when we are poor in spirit, humbly acknowledging our reliance upon God, we can praise Him for sanctifying and renewing our spirit with His, as David did when He wrote, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”  (Psalm 23:5)
From all of our ministry family…
May you be filled with oil of joy this Hanukkah and clothed with the garments of praise during this Holiday Season!
“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)

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NOW, finally after 4 years, Jewish Priests are being prepared for Third Temple Service

After four years, the Nezer HaKodesh Institute for Kohanic Studies is now teaching Jewish priests to perform Temple service for the Third Temple, which will hopefully soon be rebuilt in the Holy City of Jerusalem.
Birkat Cohanim, Priestly Blessing

Thousands of Israelis attend the Birkat Cohanim (Priestly Blessing) at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem.

And science is moving this hope forward.
As archaeology continues to uncover coins, seals, jugs, arrows, and writings confirming a Jewish presence in Jerusalem during the First and Second Temple periods, so too “genetic archaeologists” are uncovering a continual line of priests beginning 3,300 years ago with the first High Priest (Cohen Gadol), Aaron.
While in the wilderness, God gave instructions to Moses on how to build a Tabernacle where His presence would dwell.
He also instructed Moses to anoint his brother Aaron as the first High Priest who would perform sacred service unto the Lord in the Tabernacle.  In doing so, He promised that Aaron’s descendants would also become priests in His service forever: 
“Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue throughout their generations.”  (Exodus 40:15)
Today, genetic testing of these descendants is revealing how incredibly true God’s promise is.  In fact, the highest “paternity-certainty” rate of any population ever studied is that of the priestly descendants of Aaron.
Dr. David Goldstein of Oxford University, says, “For more than 90 percent of the Cohens to share the same genetic markers after such a period of time is a testament to the devotion of the wives of the Cohens over the years.  Even a low rate of infidelity would have dramatically lowered the percentage.”
Since Aaron and Moses were from the Tribe of Levi, all Cohens then and now are Levites, but not all Levites are Cohens.  Let’s examine some of the differences.  (In English, there are various ways of spelling Kohen, Kohan, Cohen).
"The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets."  (2 Chronicles 29:26)

“The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the
trumpets.” (2 Chronicles 29:26)

Temple Service of the Levites
“The duty of the Levites was to help Aaron’s descendants in the service of the temple of the LORD: to be in charge of the courtyards, the side rooms, the purification of all sacred things and the performance of other duties at the house of God.”  (1 Chronicles 23:28)
Moses and his brother Aaron belonged to the tribe of Levi, the third son of Jacob and Leah.
While God set aside the descendants of Aaron to be anointed as Levitical priests from generation to generation, He also set aside Levites who did not descend from Aaron to help the priests in their worship and sacrificial duties.
For instance, Levites sang psalms during service, maintained the Temple, and served as guards, among other duties.
In the wilderness, maintaining the Tabernacle involved taking down, carrying, and reassembling the structure and its furnishings as they moved from place to place.
Levitical Priests in training practice the Passover offering.

Levitical Priests in training practice the Passover offering.

Temple Service of the Cohen
“As I will never renege on My covenant with day and night, so is my covenant with … the Levites, the Cohanim, My servants.”  (Jeremiah 33:21)
The Tabernacle in the wilderness not only housed God’s presence, it provided a place to perform the sacrificial system that God handed down to Moses in the desert, a system that is totally under the direction of the Cohanim or the priestly class.
The sacrifices were designed to temporarily cover or make appeasement for the sins of the Cohanim and those of the entire nation of Israel, to cleanse each member of the community from their iniquities before man and God.
Throughout the year, the people brought their own sacrifice for their own individual transgressions.
But once a year, on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) entered into God’s presence inside the Holy of Holies and made atonement for the entire nation of Israel.
Joshua assigned pasture lands outside the walls of 35 cities for the Levites and 13 cities for the Cohen throughout the tribal lands of Israel (Joshua 21).

Joshua assigned pasture lands outside the walls of 35 cities
for the Levites and 13 cities for the Cohen throughout the
tribal lands of Israel (Joshua 21).

One might think that God would have given the Levites privileged land as their inheritance to match their privileged position, but God actually gave them no land inheritance at all.
Instead, they received agricultural and monetary tithes from the people as their inheritance, particularly the Maaser Rishon or First Tithe, which was ten percent (Numbers 18:26, 10:38, 18:24).
The Levites and Cohanim lived among the people on pasture land allotted to them by the Israelites outside their city.  In this capacity, they raised cattle and had the opportunity to minister to the people through the instruction of Torah. 
In Jerusalem, for instance, after returning from Babylonian exile, the Levites translated the Torah, often into the common Aramaic language, and explained it so the people could understand.
“The Levites … instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there.  They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.”  (Nehemiah 8:78)
By the time of Yeshua (Jesus) the Levitical priests had become religious aristocrats holding powerful positions, including the chief priest in the Sanhedrin court.
Though they considered Scripture to be far more important than oral traditions, politics held more power than religion, and many judicial decisions were made in order to keep the peace with the Roman government instead of keeping God’s law.
With this hierarchy firmly in place, they condemned Yeshua and turned Him over to the Romans to be executed.
Since their rule was politically tied, when the Romans destroyed the Temple in AD 70 and the Jewish people were exiled throughout the nations, the authority and influence of the Sanhedrin as well as the Cohen as a ruling class dissolved.
In their absence, the Pharisees who were of multiple tribes and worked in the marketplace among the people, formed a council and rose to power. They continued to thrive, developing traditional Judaism into the religion that exists today.
Although prayer, charity, and repentance have temporarily replaced Temple sacrifices, the Jewish People still long for the rebuilding of a Temple where they will serve the Lord in the Messianic reign to come.
They pray every day “that the Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days…. And there we will serve You in reverence, as in the days of old and as in former years.”
In this effort, various groups such as the Temple Mount Faithful and Temple Institute are proactively preparing for a Third Temple so that priestly service can resume.
A school for priests is the natural result of that effort.
The Nezer HaKodesh Institute for Kahanic Studies trains priests to perform offerings and sacrifices as prescribed in the Torah (first five books of the Bible)

The Nezer HaKodesh Institute for Kahanic Studies trains priests to perform
offerings and sacrifices as prescribed in the Torah (first five books of the Bible)

Training Temple Priests
After four years of extensive pilot programs, the Nezer HaKodesh Institute for Kohanic Studies is actively schooling Jewish priests to perform Temple service.
Participants are being drawn from a registry of Cohanim prepared by the school’s parent foundation, the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, which has already created nearly all of the vessels, furnishings, and priestly garments needed in a fully functioning Temple.
To register for study, one must be certified as having a clear patriarchal link to the priestly class, be born and raised in Israel, and have observed the laws of purity required by priests.
Anyone who has made contact with a dead body or has come under the roof of a dead person is disqualified.  Therefore, a Jew of Cohen descent who was born in a hospital, has visited hospitals, or has been to a cemetery (except for a close relative) is not eligible.
The school is not only instructing students on the halakha (Torah law) that applies to priestly Temple service but also such specialized topics as “The Role and Application of Modern Technology in the Third Temple” and “The Mathematics of the Holy Temple.” Also included are courses on “Aspects of Engineering and Design” and “The Topography of the Temple Mount.”
This instruction seems to suggest that the Cohanim are involved in the actual design and/or construction of the future Temple, whose architectual plans began last year.
In fact, this was the case in Jerusalem after the Jews returned from exile in Babylon.
We read in Ezra 1:5 that “the priests and Levites — everyone whose heart God had moved — prepared to go up and build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem.”
And in Ezra 3:8, we learn that the leaders of Israel appointed “Levites twenty years old and older to supervise the building of the house of the LORD.”
Discovering Priestly Descent
“Bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests.”  (Exodus 28:1)
The Cohen line is patrilineal — that is, it has been passed down from father to son over the last 3,300 years.
As with the line of David, DNA is not the only way to determine ancestry.
One can trace their priestly lineage through family trees, oral traditions, and possessing a common priestly surname, such as the obvious Cohen as well as Kahn and Katz, which stands for Kohen Tzedek (Righteous Priest).
Since AD 1000 when the Jews separated into Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities, Cohanim have adopted a myriad of skin color, eye color, and hair color.
Nevertheless, one Israeli scientist, Dr. Karl Skorecki, a Cohen of Eastern European parents hypothesized that if Cohanim are descendants of one man (Aaron) there should be a common set of genetic markers, a common haplotype that is shared by all male ancestors dating back to Aaron HaCohen.
Working with Prof. Michael Hammer at the University of Arizona, a pioneer in Y chromosome research, Dr. Skorecki conducted the first study to test his hypothesis that Cohanim have more specific common genetic markers than the Jewish population in general.  The results of this first study were published in the British science journal, Nature.
Of the 106 men who identified themselves as Cohen before the study, 97 of them had six of the same chromosomal markers.
This collection of markers has come to be known as the Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH), and now serves as the standard genetic signature for helping to determine who is a member of the Jewish priestly family.
While the chance of such markers occurring randomly is greater than one in 10,000, merely possessing the CMH haplotype does not certify a man for Temple Service.
This is because tribal identity is derived through one’s father but Jewishness is derived through one’s mother.
If a Cohen’s mother is not Jewish, his status as a priest is stripped.  Converting to Judaism does not make him eligible either.  (chabad)
Markers have been identified for non-priestly Levites as well; they can also be pointed out through such surnames as Levy, Levin, or even Lewis.
More than identifying who can serve as a Cohen and Levite in a Third Temple, the genetic markers of the Cohanim are helping scientists hunt for Jewish genes and dispel myths throughout the world as to who is or is not Jewish by descent, especially in relation to the lost tribes.
Discovering Our High Priest: Yeshua HaMashiach
“Since we have a great Kohen Gadol [High Priest] who has passed through the heavens, Yeshua Ben-Elohim (Jesus, Son of God), let us hold firmly to our confessed allegiance.  For we do not have a kohen gadol who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all the same ways—yet without sin.”  (Hebrews 4:14–15)
We learn in Scripture that Yeshua (Jesus) is our Cohen Gadol in the order of Melchizedek in that He served the Most High God even before Abraham was called to become the Father of a chosen people (Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 2:17, 6:20; John 8:58).
Yet, Yeshua is also our Cohen Gadol in the order of the Levitical priests in that He came to offer the final sacrifice and make atonement for all who believe (Isaiah 53; Hebrews 2:17).
Moreover, as we look toward His return during the Messianic reign to come, we see that Yeshua also fulfills the role of Jewish priests who were known for honoring God with zealousness.
While exempted from army service, an honored position in the Cohanim was the “Cohen anointed for War,” who spiritually prepared soldiers for battle. 
Moreover, it was the Levites who physically avenged God’s honor when the Israelites worshipped a Golden calf instead of the God of Israel (Exodus 32:25–28).
Centuries later, the priestly family of the Hashmonaim, known as the Maccabees, led the revolt against the foreign pagan influences and rededicated the Holy Temple for service unto the Lord, an event marked by the holiday of Hanukkah.

The Book of Revelation (19:11–13) describes this warrior priest who will judge the nations:

“There before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. … He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.”  (Revelation 19:11–13)

Similarly, the Prophet Zechariah (14:1–21) describes how Yeshua will fight for the Jewish people upon His return to the Mount of Olives.

Zechariah 14:16 tells us that during the millennial reign, “the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.”
Will the Cohen being trained today serve the Lord as the people worship the King and Lord Almighty on His throne?
Will they serve in the Temple that the Prophet Ezekiel describes in the last four chapters of his book?

Will they serve in the Temple whose blueprints are being prepared today?

What we do know is that the Lord is fulfilling all of His promises to the Cohen, to the Levites, to the Jews, and to all who Believe in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah). 
And now, those who Believe in Him are priests as well, anointed to teach God’s word and be ministers of reconciliation between an unbelieving generation and the Most High God.
“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  (1 Peter 2:9)
As the Lord moves the hearts of His people to draw close to Him and return to their Promised Land in these Last Days, let us keep prayerful watch and prepare our own hearts and souls for the return of the true Messiah and the Temple from which He will reign.

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Content in Books of 1 and 2 Maccabees

The books of 1 and 2 Maccabees are early Jewish writings detailing the history of the Jews in the first century BC. Both books are part of the canon of Scripture in the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Coptic, and Russian Orthodox churches, but they are not recognized as canon by Protestants and Jews. The books outline the history of the Maccabees, Jewish leaders who led a rebellion of the Jews against the Seleucid Dynasty from 175 BC to 134 BC. The first book portrays the effort by the Jews to regain their cultural and religious independence from Antiochus IV Epiphanes after his desecration of the Jewish temple. (The book of 1 Maccabees Can be Read Here:)

The book of 2 Maccabees consists of a Greek synopsis of a five-volume history of the Maccabean Revolt written by Jason of Cyrene. The authors of both books are unknown. The first book, although written from a biased perspective, does not directly mention God or divine intervention. The second book has a more theological slant, advancing several doctrines followed by the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. The book of 1 Maccabees was written in Hebrew and later translated into Greek. Scholars believe that the author was a Palestinian Jew who was intimately familiar with the events described. The author opposed the Hellenization of the Jews and clearly supported and admired the Jewish revolutionaries led by Judas Maccabeus and his brothers.

In the second century BC, Judea existed between the Egyptian Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Syrian Seleucid Empire, kingdoms formed after the death of Alexander the Great. Judea fell under the control of the Seleucids in approximately 200 BC. During this time, many Jews began to adopt a Greek lifestyle and culture in order to gain economic and political influence. They avoided circumcision and advocated abolishing Jewish religious laws.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes became the ruler of the Seleucid Empire in 175 BC. He was inconsiderate of the views of the religious, traditional Jews in Palestine. To Antiochus, the office of high priest was merely a local appointee within his realm, while to orthodox Jews the high priest was divinely appointed. Antiochus appointed a high priest named Jason, a Hellenized Jew, who promptly abolished the Jewish theocracy, followed by Menelaus, who had the rightful high priest, Onias, murdered. After Menelaus’ brother stole sacred articles from the temple, a civil war ensued between the Hellenized Jews and the religious Jews. Antiochus subsequently attacked Jerusalem, pillaged the temple, and killed or captured many of the women and children. He banned traditional Jewish religious practice, outlawing Jewish sacrifices, Sabbaths, feasts, and circumcision. He established altars to Greek gods upon which “unclean” animals were sacrificed. He desecrated the Jewish temple. Possession of Jewish Scriptures became a capital offence.

MaccabeesIn a small, rural village called Modein, an elderly priest named Mattathias lived with his five sons-John, Simon, Judas, Eleazer, and Jonathan. Sometimes referred to as the Hasmoneans (a designation derived from Asmoneus, the name of one of their ancestors), this family more frequently has been called the Maccabeans (a nickname meaning “hammerer”). In 167 BC Antiochus sent some of his soldiers to Modein to compel the Jewish inhabitants to make sacrifices to the pagan gods. Mattathias, as a leader in the city, was commanded by the officers to be the first person to offer a sacrifice as an example to the rest of the people. He refused with a powerful speech (see 1 Maccabees 2:15-22).

Fearing violence against the people for Mattathias’ refusal, another Jew volunteered to offer the sacrifices to the pagan gods in the place of Mattathias, but Mattathias killed this Jewish man, as well as the soldiers of the king. He then destroyed the altar to the pagan gods, after which he, his sons, and a number of followers fled to the mountainous wilderness. These men formed a large, guerrilla warfare army and soon began to launch raids against the towns of the land, tearing down the pagan altars, killing the officials of Antiochus, and also executing those Jews who were worshipping the pagan gods.

Mattathias died in 166 BC, just as the revolt was gaining momentum, leaving his son Judas in charge of the rebel forces. Even though greatly outnumbered, Judas and his rebels defeated general after general in battle, winning decisive victories against overwhelming odds. The rebels even won a tremendous victory south of Mizpah against a combined army of 50,000 troops. The people of Israel gave Judas the nickname “Maccabeus” because of his success in “hammering” the enemy forces into the ground.

Antiochus, who had underestimated the scope of the revolt, now realized the serious nature of the rebellion in Palestine. He dispatched Lysias, the commander-in-chief of the Seleucid army, along with 60,000 infantrymen and 5,000 cavalry, to utterly destroy the Jews. This vast army was additionally commanded by two generals serving under Lysias-Nicanor and Gorgias. This powerful army came against Judas, who fought with a force of only 10,000 poorly equipped rebels, in the town of Emmaus. He prayed to God for strength and deliverance (1 Maccabees 4:30-33), and God answered and they won a huge victory over the Seleucid army.

Subsequently, the Maccabees marched into Jerusalem, cleansed the temple, and resumed traditional Jewish religious practices. The festival of Hanukkah commemorates the cleansing and rededication of the Jewish temple. Judah’s brother Jonathan became the new high priest after the rededication of the temple and ultimately succeeded Judah as commander of the army. His brother Simon assumed control from 142 to 135 BC, followed by Simon’s son, John Hyrcanus. With the death of Simon, the last son of Mattathias, the Maccabean Revolt came to an end. The author concludes his narrative in 1 Maccabees with these events.

The Second Book of Maccabees was written in Koine Greek, most likely around 100 BC. This work coheres with 1 Maccabees, but it is written as a theological interpretation of the Maccabean Revolt. In addition to outlining the historical events, 2 Maccabees discusses several doctrinal issues, including prayers and sacrifices for the dead, intercession of the saints, and resurrection on Judgment Day. The Catholic Church has based the doctrines of purgatory and masses for the dead on this work. On the other hand, an important tenet of the Protestant Reformation (1517) was that scriptural translations should be derived from the original Hebrew and Aramaic texts for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament, rather than upon the Septuagint and Jerome’s Vulgate. Statements were included in the Protestant Bibles indicating that the Apocrypha was not to be placed on the same level as the other documents.

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Christian celebrate Hanukkah (Christmaskah)

Chanukkah (or Hanukkah) is the Jewish Festival/Feast of Dedication, also known as the “Festival of Lights.” It is an eight-day festival beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, which typically falls in November or December on our calendar. Although this Jewish festival in not mentioned in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), it is referenced in the Talmud: “On the 25th of Kislev are the days of Chanukkah, which are eight… these were appointed a Festival with Hallel [prayers of praise] and thanksgiving” (Shabbat 21b, Babylonian Talmud).

Chanukkah is probably one of the best-known Jewish holidays, not because of any great religious significance, but because of its proximity to Christmas. Many non-Jews think of this holiday as the Jewish Christmas, adopting many of the Christmas customs, such as elaborate gift-giving and decoration. Because of this, it is ironic that this holiday, which has its roots in a revolution against assimilation and the suppression of Jewish religion and people, has become the most assimilated, secular holiday on the Jewish calendar.

The holiday of Chanukkah celebrates the events which took place over 2,300 years ago in the land of Judea, which is now Israel. It begins in the reign of Alexander the Great, who conquered Syria, Egypt, and Israel, but allowed the lands under his control to continue observing their own religions and retain a certain degree of autonomy. Under this relatively benevolent rule, many Jews assimilated much of Hellenistic culture, adopting the language, the customs, and the dress of the Greeks, in much the same way that Jews in America today blend into the secular American society.

More than 100 years after Alexander, Antiochus IV rose to power in the region. He began to oppress the Jews severely, placing a Hellenistic priest in the Temple, massacring Jews, prohibiting the practice of the Jewish religion, and desecrating the Temple by requiring the sacrifice of pigs (a non-kosher animal) on the altar. One of the groups which opposed Antiochus was led by Mattathias (Matitiyahu) the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee (“The Hammer”).

This small band of pious Jews led guerrilla warfare against the Syrian army. Antiochus sent thousands of well-armed troops to crush the rebellion, but the Maccabees succeeded in driving the foreigners from their land. According to historical accounts, Jewish fighters entered Jerusalem in December 164 BC. The Holy Temple, the Jewish religious center, was in shambles, defiled and desecrated by foreign soldiers.

The Maccabees cleansed the Temple and re-dedicated it on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. When it came time to re-light the Menorah (the multi-branched lampstand), they searched the entire Temple, but only one small jar of oil bearing the pure seal of the High Priest could be found. Miraculously, the small jar of oil burned for eight days, until a new supply of oil could be brought. From then on, Jews everywhere have observed a holiday for eight days in honor of this historic victory and the miracle of the oil. The observance of Chanukah features the lighting of a special Chanukkah menorah with eight branches (plus a helper candle), adding one new candle each night.

In the Brit Chadasha (The New Covenant), in the Gospel of John, we learn that Jesus the Jewish Messiah was at the Holy Temple during the “feast of dedication” or Chanukkah: “At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon” (John 10:22-23).

During this great season of remembering miracles, Jesus pointed out to His listeners that the miracles He had done authenticated His claim that He was, indeed, the long-awaited Jewish Messiah (see John 10:37-38). His works and His true character clearly demonstrated who He was.

Star of David and the CrossJesus said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). The Lord Jesus gives all of us, Jew and Gentile, the “light of life.” And He commanded us to “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Should Christians celebrate Chanukkah today? First, be mindful of the fact that we are under no obligation or “law” to celebrate any of the Jewish festivals given to Israel in the Torah (Law of Moses). But to all true Believers in Jesus Christ, especially those who have a profound appreciation for the Hebraic roots of our Christian faith, celebrating the “true light” of this world only seeks to glorify our wonderful Lord and Savior.

As Christians, we can celebrate the “Festival of Lights” as we rededicate our lives to Christ and acknowledge Him as the perfect and true light of this world. As believers, when we celebrate Chanukkah it reminds us of God’s wonderful miracles on our behalf. It reminds us of God’s protection throughout our lives. It reminds us to remain true to God even when the world around us tries to force us into assimilation.

Jesus told us that whoever follows Him will not have darkness, but the Light of Life. What a wonderful time of the year to remember and commemorate the great miracle that God has done for us, by giving us new light and new life.

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The Miracle Of The Endless Oil And The Amazing Story of Hanukkah

Millions of Jews around the world celebrated the start of the Jewish “festival of lights,” or Hanukkah, on Sunday night.

Hanukkah 2015 began in the evening of
Sunday, December 6
and ends in the evening of
Monday, December 14

They began in the Temple, clearing it of all pagan idols and building a new altar. The golden Menorah has been stolen by the Syrians and Greeks so the Maccabees made a new one from what they could find.

“Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” Exodus 15:11 (KJV)

In the beginning. We begin the story of Hanukkah during the reign of the Greek king, Alexander the Great. Alexander conquered Syria, Egypt and the Land of Israel and annexed them into his kingdom. He was a benevolent king who allowed the people in all of his lands to continue to observe their own religious beliefs and customs. Nevertheless, during this time of quiet, many Jews chose to assimilate into Greek culture. This group was termed Hellenistic Jews.

Alexander’s empire divided

When Alexander the Great died, his Empire was divided amongst his generals. The Land of Israel has given to Seleucus. For over 100 years the Jews were afforded much of the same privileges and rights as other citizens of the Empire. However, Antiochus III, the great-greatgrandson of Seleucus, was forced to fight a costly war against the Romans. As a result the Jewish people fell out of favor with Antiochus III and thus the beginning of the end of equality for the Jews in the Syrian-Greek Empire.

In 174 BCE Antiochus III’s son, Antiochus IV, began his reign over the Empire. He was a harsh and cruel king; a tyrant of reckless nature and contemptuous of religions and customs that were not his own.

Antiochus IV – the cruel king

Antiochus IV wanted to unite his kingdom under his religion, worship of the Greek idol Zeus. Within the Empire he stifled all Jewish Law. He removed the righteous High Priest Yochanan from the Temple in Jerusalem. Yochanan was replaced with his brother Joshua – a Hellenistic Jew who called himself by the Greek name Jason. Jason used his position as High Priest to infect the priesthood and the Jewish people with the traditions and religion of the Greeks. Jason was soon replaced by another named Menelaus who defiled the Temple with the worship of Greek idols.

ISRAEL’S National Anthem – HATIKVAH with English and Hebrew lyrics

Yochanan was outraged by his brother’s behavior and that of Menelaus. When Antiochus IV was away fighting a war against Egypt Yochanan began to rally the Jews to disobey the new customs and religion being forced on them. The Jewish people were afraid of Antiochus’ reprisals and mostly did nothing. However, when the Romans spread a rumor that Antiochus IV had been killed, the Jewish people rebelled against Menelaus causing him to flee.

Much to the horror of the Jews, Antiochus returned from battle alive and enraged by Roman meddling and Jewish rebellion. He ordered his army to strike out against the Jews killing thousands. Antiochus IV then ordered a series of extremely harsh decrees against the Jewish people and religion.

All Jewish worship was forbidden. All Scrolls of the Law were confiscated and burned. Observation of Shabbat, the Brit Milah, and abiding by Kashrut were all prohibited under penalty of death. As the soldiers went town to town ravaging the Land of Israel they forced Jewish inhabitants to worship their pagan idols and eat the flesh of pigs. Many complied, but some refused and died for their beliefs.

Thousands participate in Chabad-Lubavitch's annual public menorah lighting ceremony at the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Sunday December 6, 2015, the first night of Hanukkah.

Thousands participate in Chabad-Lubavitch’s annual public menorah lighting ceremony at the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Sunday December 6, 2015, the first night of Hanukkah.

One day Antiochus’ soldiers arrived in a town called Modiin just outside Jerusalem. An old, great priest named Mattiyahu was an inhabitant of this town. The soidiers built an altar to their pagan idols in the center of town and ordered Mattiyahu to worship at it. Mattiyahu refused. A Hellenistic Jew approached the altar to offer a sacrifice. Mattiyahu took out his sword and killed him, and his sons and neighbors sprang on the Greek soldiers killing or chasing them away.

Mattiyahu knew when Antiochus IV heard of this rebellion there would be a heavy price to pay. He fled together with his sons and neighbors to the hills of Judah. Here they lived in the caves and encouraged all loyal and courageous Jews to join them. They formed legions and would carefully leave the caves to attach outposts of Greek and Syrian soldiers and destroy pagan altars.

When old Mattiyahu was on his deathbed, he called his sons together. He encouraged them to defend God’s Torah. He asked that the tactical leader be Shimon the Wise and in battle the leader be Judah the Strong. Judah was known as Maccabee – a contraction for “Mi Kamocha Ba’eilim HaShem” translated as “Who is like you, O God.” This was sung to God by Moses and the Israelites after God parted the Red Sea giving them safe passage and destroying the Egyptians (Exodus 15:11).

For more on the History of Greece and Alexander the Great read here:

Kings and Events of the Babylonian, Persian, and Greek Dynasties

A Brief Historical Survey of the Powers of Mesopotamia

Rise of the Maccabees, and the fall of Antiochus

Judah’s followers became known as “The Maccabees” and caused great havoc to the Empire. Eventually Antiochus sent one of his best generals to wipe out this little band of Jewish fighters. Even though the Empire’s army was much better equipped and greater in number, the Maccabees were triumphant in battle again and again.

Antiochus IV realized that he needed to put an end to this rebellion once and for all. He sent an army of 40,000 men in to the Judean hills. When Judah and the Maccabees heard the army coming they cried, “Let us fight to the death in defense of our souls and our Temple!” The Maccabees fought with God in their hearts and the honor of Judaism in their souls. They fought for their Torah and for their Temple. After a series of bloody battles, it was done. They had defeated the powerful army of Antiochus.

With their victory, the Maccabees climbed a mountain outside Jerusalem and looked upon the city. On the 25th of Kislev they descended the mountain to liberate Jerusalem and reclaim their Temple. As they marched into the Holy City they were distressed by what they saw – idols, impurity, and filth everywhere. They entered the Holy Temple and were shocked to see the same. Jerusalem and the the Temple needed to be made Holy again for God.

The miracle of the endless oil

They began in the Temple, clearing it of all pagan idols and building a new altar. The golden Menorah has been stolen by the Syrians and Greeks so the Maccabees made a new one from what they could find. They wanted in light the Menorah to rededicate the Temple to the One True God. They rummaged though the ruins seeking a flask of sanctified oil, but all had been defiled. Finally, they found a small jug in which the Kohen seal was still intact.

They carefully poured the oil into their makeshift Menorah even though they realized that there was only enough oil for one day. They also realized that it would take eight days to sanctify more oil for the Temple. Nevertheless, the Maccabees had faith and dedicated the Holy Temple and lit the Menorah.

Then a great miracle occurred. The oil burned through the first night an on to the second, then on to the third. The oil continued to burn for eight nights until more oil was ready for the Temple. This miracle proved that God was with the Maccabee all along. They fought for what they believed and held fast in face of death with God at their side. Their faith in God and the Torah never wavered and God showed them His Divine presence.

Read more about the Maccabees here.

1 Maccabees Chapters 1:1-16:24

2 Maccabees Chapters 1:1-15:39

3 Maccabees Chapters 1:1-7:23

4 Maccabees Chapters 1:1-18:24

Happy Hanukkah!

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The Amazing Story Of Hanukkah And The Endless Oil

Close your eyes and picture Arnold Schwarzenegger: His Uzi has just jammed, he’s got one arm in a sling, he’s about to take on 300 bad guys all at once – and he’s wearing a yarmulke. That’s who Judah Maccabee was!
“Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” Exodus 15:11

In the beginning. We begin the story of Hanukkah during the reign of the Greek king, Alexander the Great. Alexander conquered Syria, Egypt and the Land of Israel and annexed them into his kingdom. He was a benevolent king who allowed the people in all of his lands to continue to observe their own religious beliefs and customs. Nevertheless, during this time of quiet, many Jews chose to assimilate into Greek culture. This group was termed Hellenistic Jews.

Alexander’s empire divided

When Alexander the Great died, his Empire was divided amongst his generals. The Land of Israel has given to Seleucus. For over 100 years the Jews were afforded much of the same privileges and rights as other citizens of the Empire. However, Antiochus III, the great-greatgrandson of Seleucus, was forced to fight a costly war against the Romans. As a result the Jewish people fell out of favor with Antiochus III and thus the beginning of the end of equality for the Jews in the Syrian-Greek Empire.

In 174 BCE Antiochus III’s son, Antiochus IV, began his reign over the Empire. He was a harsh and cruel king; a tyrant of reckless nature and contemptuous of religions and customs that were not his own.

The miracle of the endless oil

The miracle of the endless oil

Antiochus IV – the cruel king

Antiochus IV wanted to unite his kingdom under his religion, worship of the Greek idol Zeus. Within the Empire he stifled all Jewish Law. He removed the righteous High Priest Yochanan from the Temple in Jerusalem. Yochanan was replaced with his brother Joshua – a Hellenistic Jew who called himself by the Greek name Jason. Jason used his position as High Priest to infect the priesthood and the Jewish people with the traditions and religion of the Greeks. Jason was soon replaced by another named Menelaus who defiled the Temple with the worship of Greek idols.

The prophet Daniel saw the rise and fall of Alexander the Great hundreds of years before it all happened.

The prophet Daniel saw the rise and fall of Alexander the Great hundreds of years before it all happened.

Yochanan was outraged by his brother’s behavior and that of Menelaus. When Antiochus IV was away fighting a war against Egypt Yochanan began to rally the Jews to disobey the new customs and religion being forced on them. The Jewish people were afraid of Antiochus’ reprisals and mostly did nothing. However, when the Romans spread a rumor that Antiochus IV had been killed, the Jewish people rebelled against Menelaus causing him to flee.

Much to the horror of the Jews, Antiochus returned from battle alive and enraged by Roman meddling and Jewish rebellion. He ordered his army to strike out against the Jews killing thousands. Antiochus IV then ordered a series of extremely harsh decrees against the Jewish people and religion.

All Jewish worship was forbidden. All Scrolls of the Law were confiscated and burned. Observation of Shabbat, the Brit Milah, and abiding by Kashrut were all prohibited under penalty of death. As the soldiers went town to town ravaging the Land of Israel they forced Jewish inhabitants to worship their pagan idols and eat the flesh of pigs. Many complied, but some refused and died for their beliefs.

One day Antiochus’ soldiers arrived in a town called Modiin just outside Jerusalem. An old, great priest named Mattiyahu was an inhabitant of this town. The soidiers built an altar to their pagan idols in the center of town and ordered Mattiyahu to worship at it. Mattiyahu refused. A Hellenistic Jew approached the altar to offer a sacrifice. Mattiyahu took out his sword and killed him, and his sons and neighbors sprang on the Greek soldiers killing or chasing them away.

Mattiyahu knew when Antiochus IV heard of this rebellion there would be a heavy price to pay. He fled together with his sons and neighbors to the hills of Judah. Here they lived in the caves and encouraged all loyal and courageous Jews to join them. They formed legions and would carefully leave the caves to attach outposts of Greek and Syrian soldiers and destroy pagan altars.

When old Mattiyahu was on his deathbed, he called his sons together. He encouraged them to defend G-d’s Torah. He asked that the tactical leader be Shimon the Wise and in battle the leader be Judah the Strong. Judah was known as Maccabee – a contraction for “Mi Kamocha Ba’eilim HaShem” translated as “Who is like you, O G-d.” This was sung to G-d by Moses and the Israelites after G-d parted the Red Sea giving them safe passage and destroying the Egyptians (Exodus 15:11).

Rise of the Maccabees, and the fall of Antiochus

Judah’s followers became known as “The Maccabees” and caused great havoc to the Empire. Eventually Antiochus sent one of his best generals to wipe out this little band of Jewish fighters. Even though the Empire’s army was much better equipped and greater in number, the Maccabees were triumphant in battle again and again.

Antiochus IV realized that he needed to put an end to this rebellion once and for all. He sent an army of 40,000 men in to the Judean hills. When Judah and the Maccabees heard the army coming they cried, “Let us fight to the death in defense of our souls and our Temple!” The Maccabees fought with G-d in their hearts and the honor of Judaism in their souls. They fought for their Torah and for their Temple. After a series of bloody battles, it was done. They had defeated the powerful army of Antiochus.

With their victory, the Maccabees climbed a mountain outside Jerusalem and looked upon the city. On the 25th of Kislev they descended the mountain to liberate Jerusalem and reclaim their Temple. As they marched into the Holy City they were distressed by what they saw – idols, impurity, and filth everywhere. They entered the Holy Temple and were shocked to see the same. Jerusalem and the the Temple needed to be made Holy again for G-d.

Obverse: Diademed head of Antiochos IV Epiphanes right. Reverse: Zeus Nikephoros enthroned left holding scepter and Nike

Obverse: Diademed head of Antiochos IV Epiphanes right. Reverse: Zeus Nikephoros enthroned left holding scepter and Nike

The miracle of the endless oil

They began in the Temple, clearing it of all pagan idols and building a new altar. The golden Menorah has been stolen by the Syrians and Greeks so the Maccabees made a new one from what they could find. They wanted in light the Menorah to rededicate the Temple to the One True G-d. They rummaged though the ruins seeking a flask of sanctified oil, but all had been defiled. Finally, they found a small jug in which the Kohen seal was still intact.

They carefully poured the oil into their makeshift Menorah even though they realized that there was only enough oil for one day. They also realized that it would take eight days to sanctify more oil for the Temple. Nevertheless, the Maccabees had faith and dedicated the Holy Temple and lit the Menorah.

Then a great miracle occurred. The oil burned through the first night an on to the second, then on to the third. The oil continued to burn for eight nights until more oil was ready for the Temple. This miracle proved that G-d was with the Maccabee all along. They fought for what they believed and held fast in face of death with G-d at their side. Their faith in G-d and the Torah never wavered and G-d showed them His Divine presence.

Judah Maccabee

Two thousand years ago, one family led by one man stood between the mighty Greek army and the conquest of the Jewish people. The family was the Hasmoneans, and the man was Judah Maccabee.

The Greeks were different from other empires. They didn’t just want your land, your resources and your riches — they wanted your national essence, your culture. They wanted you to think like them, live like them and even be entertained like them. The problem was most Jews weren’t buying, and the Greeks didn’t appreciate that. So the Greeks brought pressure to bear on the Jews.

Women who insisted that their sons be circumcised were killed along with their babies. Brides were forced to sleep with Greek officers before they could be with their husbands. Jews were required to eat pork and sacrifice pigs to the Greek gods. The teaching of Torah became a capital crime. The sages and their students went into hiding in order to study and preserve the Torah. Secret weddings were held. Most Jews did anything and everything to remain Jewish. Many were tortured and murdered for their defiance.

A period of darkness and suffering descended upon the Jews of Israel. And then came the Hasmoneans. The Hasmonean family was led by Mattisyahu and his five sons: Shimon, Yochanan, Yehudah (Judah), Elazar and Yonasan. Mattisyahu was a devout man who could not bear to see Judaism and the Jewish spirit crushed. It was his family that led the revolt against the vastly superior Greek forces.

Mattisyahu understood that the battle was far less for national liberation than it was for spiritual and religious liberation. Though Mattisyahu’s valor provided the initial spark for the revolt against the Greeks, he died shortly after the rebellion grew into a full-fledged war. The mantle of leadership passed from Mattisyahu to his son Judah, and with that the course of history was forever changed. Judah Maccabee was a fearless leader, a brilliant battlefield tactician and a man capable of inspiring thousands to take up arms in the battle for the preservation of Judaism.

It was Judah Maccabee who conceived of ways for the Jewish forces to out-maneuver the larger, better equipped and seasoned Greek army. When at last the Jews captured Jerusalem, rededicated the Temple and witnessed the miracle of the oil, it was with Judah Maccabee as the leader of the Hasmonean family and at the head of the Jewish army of liberation. Arnold, step aside!

If you are traveling somewhere in the world and you want to know if American culture has reached that place, don’t look for an American flag, look instead for the “Golden Arches.” If McDonalds has arrived, then Steven Spielberg can’t be far behind. Can you imagine that today there are places in the world where Levi jeans sell for hundreds and even thousands of dollars, that Croatia is starting to produce basketball players talented enough to be NBA All Stars, and that somewhere behind the Great Wall of China there are countless people who can’t get enough pirated CDs of rap music? The Greeks would have been awfully jealous because this is exactly what they were trying to do with their culture.

For more on the History of Greece and Alexander the Great read here:

Kings and Events of the Babylonian, Persian, and Greek Dynasties

A Brief Historical Survey of the Powers of Mesopotamia

They wanted their philosophy, form of worship, entertainment, arts, literature, theater and athletic games to become the defining elements for peoples national and daily lives everywhere. At the time of the Greek conquest there were two kinds of Jews living in Israel. First, there were those who decided that Hellenism represented an attractive alternative to Judaism. For them, Hellenist culture was the way of the future, the way to gain acceptance into the larger Greek society and the way to prosperity. Some abandoned Judaism altogether and some relegated it to a secondary role in their lives, but all of them believed that they belonged more to the theater and the gymnasium than to the halls of Torah study and the Temple. These Jews were the Hellenists. The second group, and the larger of the two, was the traditional Jews — the “ardently orthodox” of their day. This group continued to lead a Jewish life despite the Greek persecution and despite great risk to their very lives. When the Hasmoneans launched their revolt, it was this camp that provided the men who would come to be known as the Maccabees. The Jewish rebellion was a great event in Jewish history, but tragically, the war against the Greeks was also a civil war. Not all Jews sided with the Maccabees, who to some represented “the past.” Many Hellenized Jews aligned themselves with “progress” and with the future.

As a result, Jews battled with one another for the right to define the future of Jewish life and the Jewish nation. In many ways the story of Chanukah is the story of how one man and one family can make all the difference in the world for an entire people. It was the inspiration of Mattisyahu, the leadership of Judah Maccabee and the stubborn tenacity of the dedicated Jews that literally saved the Jewish people and the Jewish way of life. As a Jew, don’t ever think that you can’t make a difference.

Read more about the Maccabees here.

1 Maccabees Chapters 1:1-16:24

2 Maccabees Chapters 1:1-15:39

3 Maccabees Chapters 1:1-7:23

4 Maccabees Chapters 1:1-18:24

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Should a Christian celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas?

HERE IS WHY WE SHOULD CELEBRATES “CHRISTMAS” AS “CHRISTIANS”…
………”Should a Christian celebrate…”Hanukkah”…or…”Christmas”……….

“Chanukkah or Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival “Feast of Dedication”, also known as the “Festival of Lights.” It is an eight-day festival beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, which typically falls in November or December on our calendar. Although this Jewish festival in not mentioned in the Tanakh the Hebrew Bible, it is referenced in the Talmud: “On the 25th of Kislev are the days of Chanukkah, which are eight… these were appointed a Festival with Hallel prayers of praise and “thanksgiving”…

…”Chanukkah is probably one of the best-known Jewish holidays, not because of any great religious significance, but because of its proximity to “Christmas”. Many non-Jews think of this holiday as the “Jewish Christmas”, adopting many of the Christmas customs, such as elaborate “gift-giving and decoration”. Because of this, it is ironic that this holiday, which has its roots in a revolution against assimilation and the suppression of Jewish religion and people, has become the most assimilated, secular holiday on the Jewish calendar…

“The holiday of Chanukkah celebrates the events which took place over 2,300 years ago in the land of Judea, which is now Israel. It begins in the reign of Alexander the Great, who conquered Syria, Egypt, and Palestine…but allowed the lands under his control to continue observing their own religions and retain a certain degree of autonomy. Under this relatively benevolent rule, many Jews assimilated much of Hellenistic culture, adopting the language, the customs, and the dress of the Greeks, in much the same way that Jews in America today blend into the secular American society”…

…”More than 100 years after Alexander, Antiochus IV rose to power in the region. He began to oppress the Jews severely, placing a Hellenistic priest in the Temple, massacring Jews, prohibiting the practice of the Jewish religion, and desecrating the Temple by requiring the sacrifice of pigs..a non-kosher animal on the altar. One of the groups which opposed Antiochus was led by Mattathias ..Matitiyahu.. the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee “The Hammer”…

“This small band of pious Jews led “guerrilla warfare against the Syrian army”…. Antiochus sent thousands of well-armed troops to crush the rebellion, but the Maccabees succeeded in driving the foreigners from their land. According to historical accounts, Jewish fighters entered Jerusalem in December 164 BC….The Holy Temple, the Jewish religious center, was in shambles, defiled and desecrated by foreign soldiers…hummm…

…”The Maccabees cleansed the Temple and re-dedicated it on the 25th day of the Jewish month of “Kislev”. When it came time to re-light the Menorah the multi-branched lampstand, they searched the entire Temple, but only one small jar of oil bearing the pure seal of the High Priest could be found. Miraculously, “the small jar of oil burned for eight days”, until a new supply of oil could be brought. From then on, Jews everywhere have observed a holiday for eight days in honor of this historic victory and the miracle of the oil. The observance of Chanukah features the lighting of a special Chanukkah menorah with eight branches plus a helper candle, adding one new candle each night…….

……..In the Brit Chadasha”The New Covenant”, in the Gospel of John, we learn that Jesus the Jewish Messiah was at the Holy Temple during the “feast of dedication” or Chanukkah: “At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon”…John 10:22-23…

During this great season of remembering miracles, Jesus pointed out to His listeners that the miracles He had done authenticated His claim that He was, indeed, the long-awaited Jewish Messiah…John 10:37-38…His works and His true character clearly demonstrated who He was…

…”Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life”…John 8:12…The Lord Jesus gives all of us, Jew and Gentile, the “light of life.” And He commanded us to “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven”…Matthew 5:16…

“Should Christians celebrate Chanukkah today? First, be mindful of the fact that we are under no obligation or “law” to celebrate any of the Jewish festivals given to Israel in the Torah..Law of Moses.. But to all true Believers in Jesus-Christ, especially those who have a profound appreciation for the Hebraic roots of our Christian faith, celebrating the “true light” of this world only seeks to glorify our wonderful Lord and Saviour Jesus-Christ that born, lived, and died for us! We don’t acually have to have candles or light them, it’s enough to remember the miracles that God performs through the ages and even for us now…

…”As Christians, we can celebrate the “Festival of Lights” in our hearts, as we rededicate our lives to Christ and acknowledge Him as the perfect and true light of this world. As believers, when we celebrate Chanukkah it reminds us of God’s wonderful miracles on our behalf. It reminds us of God’s protection throughout our lives. It reminds us to remain true to God even when the world around us tries to force us into assimilation…

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE AND HAPPY HANUKKAH!

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE AND HAPPY HANUKKAH!

“There is nothing wrong with celebrating “CHRISTMAS”…It is a time to rejoice as Jesus told us that whoever follows Him will not have darkness, but the Light of Life. What a wonderful time of the year to remember and commemorate the great miracles’ that God has done for us, by giving us new light and new life…

…”Whoever” reject to celebrate this special memorable feast of lights…or Christmas let them live in darkness of the truth and the joys that Jesus birth is something to be celebrated about…Don’t be afraid to be part of it…it’s our heritage of thanksgiving in honour of Jesus!!!…Let’s Celebrates Together this Feast and Rejoices in our Lord and Saviour Jesus-Christ!”…

…….”MERRY CHRISTMAS” EVERYONE AND “HAPPY HANUKKAH”.

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