Hebrew Prayer Books

Chanukah, and the indestructable Jew

The story of Chanukah which is celebrated at this time of the year – 22-30 December, is just one of many events in Jewish history that celebrate survival against the odds.

In addition to Chanukah, both Passover and Purim also celebrate great acts of deliverance.
The events surrounding Chanukah makes for exciting reading and it all began during the days between the Greek and Roman Empires.


Alexander the Great had died and his empire split into four parts which gave rise to the Seleucids who ruled over Syria and Israel.
It all came about when Antiochus IV (Epiphanes – madman) came to power 174 BC and he much like Haman really hated the Jews.  He was a tyrant, rash, ruthless and very cruel and tried to force the Jews to worship pagan gods.


On one occasion Antiochus entered the Jewish temple and sacrificed a pig on the altar.
This was just too much for some of the Jews and as a result Judas Maccabee came to prominence and led Jewish resistance against an army of 40,000 and defeated them.


The Maccabeans returned to the Temple in triumph, cleansed the Temple, built a new altar and rededicated it on the 25th Kislev in 139BC.


However, when they came to light the Menorah they discovered they had only enough oil for one day. They lit it in faith and the oil continued to burn for 8 days, when a new supply of oil had been prepared.
The miracle of the oil, a reflection of many other similar OT miracles became the Feast of Chanukah and continues to be celebrated up until the present time.


Jesus himself celebrated the Feast of Dedication or Chanukah – (John 10:22) and like all the Feasts of Israel they celebrate key events in Jewish history – the main theme being God's goodness to his ancient people.
The Jewish people are the greatest survivors in the history of mankind. Almost since the day of their birth they have endured hostility from nations and empires.


Although the Babylonian captivity was devastating along with the loss of the First Temple, the exile which began in the Roman empire was even more devastating and this included the loss of the Second Temple.                                                                                          
Mervyn Tilley – Chairman

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