Shalom: Chag “Chanukat hamizbayach”

Shalom: Chag “Chanukat hamizbayach.” OK, should it be “Chanukah” or rather “Chanukat hamizbayach” (dedication of the altar)?I have wrestled for years with the accepted celebration of Chanukah, the so-called “miracle of the oil lasting 8 days” & the use of a 9 branched candelabra, because the story of “the miracle of the oil” appears to be one concocted by the Rabbis sometime subsequent to the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE and for most of the Jewish world represents a Jewish-Christmas!

Shalom: Chag Hamazbeyach

So, the question is: Should we follow “tradition” blindly or should we know the facts?

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For the Jews, Chanukah is the festival bringing to remembrance “the miracle” that occurred almost 2400 years ago (165 BCE), after the Maccabees liberated the Temple from the Greeks. The actual miracle is that the Maccabees were victorious over Antiochus (“god manifest with us”) Epiphanes & the Greeks and not the “story” of the miracle of the oil lasting 8 days!

Fact:

Yes, the Maccabees did search the Temple looking for pure olive oil to light the 7 branch Menorah pursuant to Torah that it must burn continually in the Temple (Leviticus 24:2) and since many died in the battle to liberate the Temple, the entire altar area was “ritually impure”.

Macca ean dynasty

They searched for vials of pure olive oil with their seals intact because a seal would shield it from the ritual impurity of the dead, as it is forbidden to use any oil that was open and had no seal on it pursuant to Numbers 19:15.

BUT, they only found a single vial of oil with  for its seal intact and lit the menorah with this single dose of oil.

Also see: Sukkot-Tabernacles: Feast of our Joy

BUT, they only found a single vial of oil with  for its seal intact. And lit the menorah with this single dose of oil.

Since Numbers 19 calls for a 7 day process for the ritual purification from the dead, they could not produce new batches of pure oil until the eighth day.

“The miracle”, according to the Rabbis is that this single vial of oil burned for eight days instead of one, giving the Maccabees the time to prepare a new batch of ritually pure oil.

chag chanukat hamazbayach

Once again, the problem with this wonderful miracle is that it never happened.

In actuality, the Greeks had desecrated the altar in the Temple. By sacrificing a pig on it to their sun-god on the 25th of Kislev 168 BCE.

So, after the Maccabees were victorious in 165 BCE, they tore down the defiled altar. And built a new one and dedicated this new altar (chanukat hamizbayach) on the 25th day of the ninth month (Kislev).

Three years to the day after it was defiled by the Greeks.

So, why did they celebrate for 8 days if it was not for the miracle of the oil lasting 8 days?

Primarily, it was a belated Succot. since they were prohibited by the Greeks from celebrating the 8 days of Succot in the 7th month. They celebrate it when they could in the 9th month, after the re-dedication of  the altar.

7 branch menorah

How do we know this for a certainty?

2 Maccabees 10:6: “And they celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the feast of booths. Remembering how not long before, during the feast of booths, they had been wandering in the mountains. And caves like wild animals. ”

SO, a 7 branch menorah or a chanukiah, a 9 branch candelabra, which one is “kosher’, so to speak?

While Chanukah is not one of the mowadim spelled out very clearly in the Torah. Yeshua did go up to the Temple to celebrate the feast of dedication in the winter according to Yochanan 10:22. And walked on Solomon’s porch (10:23).

shalom, chag chanukkat, solomon portico

Fact:

On the 25th of the 9th month (Kislev) they celebrated the feast of dedication of the altar. And lit a 7 branch menorah!

Messianic/Natsari Flag (Paleo)[/caption]

Tradition:

By tradition, we celebrate the festival of the 8 day “oil” miracle with the creation of a chanukiah. And 8 days of gifts (see, I just saved all ya’all a bunch of money [LOL])!

Success, reality check

Shalom Shalom: Rav Ya’akov Levi

References:

Once again, my annual Chanukah dilemma… by Rav Ya’akov Levi

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