Monday, December 6, 2010

The Story of Hanukkah

By Mary Vee


This year Hanukkah celebration started last Wednesday, December 1 and will continue until this coming Thursday, December 9.

Many years ago I heard about Hanukkah.

I didn't know what it was, why it was celebrated or even what the word Hanukkah meant.

Today I will share with you a little about Hanukkah.

200 years before Jesus was born, The king of Syria conquered the land where the Israelites lived.  He decided to allow the Israelites to keep their customs while living under his rule.  

25 years later Antiochus IV and his army conquered Jerusalem. They forced the people to follow their customs, dress like them, and speak their language.  The invading army brought statues of Zeus and other idols into the Temple. They told the Jews they could not dress, eat, or follow Jewish customs any more.

A Jewish priest name Mattathias grew angry.  He refused to eat, dress, and speak the language of the new ruler.  He insisted he would only follow Jewish customs, dress, and speak as a Jew.  He gathered together a small army.  They hid in mountain caves and attacked Antiochus IV's army units until, one day, they won the war.

Judah, Mattathias' son, led the people into the Temple. His heart ached. Before his eyes stood an idol of Zeus, broken furniture, and trash.  They worked together to clean the temple and to prepare it for worship.  He searched for oil to use in the menorah (a lamp like the one in the picture above).  They found one small, sealed container of oil.  

Judah ordered the lamp lit, and commanded new oil to be made.  This would take 8 days, what would they do?  They only had enough oil for one day but the lamp needed to stay lit all the time!

One the second day, Judah came to the temple expecting the light to be gone.  To his surprise the menorah shone brightly.  The lamp remained lit for 8 days, long enough for the new oil to be ready for use.  

The people rejoiced for God's miracle of light.  

After cleaning, making new furniture and utensils, and preparing the people, the priest rededicated the temple to God.  The people held a celebration to praise God for the miracle of light in the temple. This celebration was named Hanukkah which means "dedication".

If you know a Jewish person, be sure to tell them Happy Hanukkah. 

If you are a Jewish person, Happy Hanukkah! 

Next week: Hanukkah games 

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