The Story of Hanukkah

The Festival of Lights celebrates a miracle

By Sarah James,

Hanukkah Menorah

Hanukkah Menorah

Over 2,000 years ago, a Greco-Syrian man named Antiochus ruled the land of Judea (modern day Israel). Antiochus banned Jewish religious practices, and anyone who disobeyed his rule was either tortured or put to death.

In an attempt to strengthen his hold on the Jewish people, Antiochus captured the Holy Temple of God in Jerusalem and dedicated it to the Greek god Zeus.

Angered by the treatment of the Jewish people, a Jewish man named Judah Maccabee led a revolt against the tyrant King. With the help of his four brothers, Judah drove out Antiochus and liberated Judea.

Following the victory of the Maccabees, Judah returned to Jerusalem and found the Holy Temple desecrated. After cleaning and repairing the temple, the Maccabees wished to have a dedication ceremony for the newly restored temple. However, only one can of olive oil was discovered to light the menorah. Miraculously, the oil lasted eight days and eight nights—the same amount of time needed to press and consecrate new oil.

The Jewish people rejoiced and declared the 8 days to be observed each year in remembrance of their liberation and celebration of the rededicated holy altar.

Today, Hanukkah is celebrated on the 25th of Kislev of the Hebrew calendar. Like their ancestors, the Jewish people celebrate for eight days and eight nights, lighting the menorah in honor of the miracle.

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