~ The Second Temple ~
YHVH is a God
of his word, so when the children of Israel rebelled, and
followed after pagan gods, HaShem first punished the
house of Israel by divorcing them (Jer. 3:8) and sending them
into captivity by the hand of the Assyrians. He did not allow
them to return except in very small numbers. Some time later He
called upon Nebuchadnezzar to come from Babylon, destroy the
Temple, and take the house of Judah captive.
But God was also true to the second part of His promise, for God brought the people of Judah back to Jerusalem after they had repented of their wicked ways. (The return of the House of Israel is yet to occur.)
There were actually three returns of the House of Judah from Babylon to Jerusalem. The first was led by Zerubbabel c. 538 BCE, when work was begun on the rebuilding of the Temple. I-however the work was discontinued about two years later and not resumed again until c. 520 BCE. The Temple was finally completed in 515 BCE, a full seventy years after the full term of the captivity had taken place.
In c. 457 BCE there was a second return to Jerusalem led by Ezra, the Scribe and Priest. It has been said that Zerubbabel rebuilt the physical Temple, while Ezra rebuilt the spiritual Temple.
The third return was led by Nehemiah, the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia. His return took place c. 444 BCE. Nehemiah was responsible for the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem in a brief fifty-two day period.
Both Ezra and Nehemiah are central figures in the spiritual rejuvenation of the house of Judah, and although the completed Second Temple had been standing for about fifty-eight years by the time Ezra arrived, and a full seventy-one years before Nehemiah appeared, there had never really been a true return of the hearts of the people to their God, until their time.
~ Two Dedications ~
There were two dedication ceremonies for the Second Temple. The first one took place in 515 BCE once the physical structure had been completed. The second, a spiritual rededication, did not take place until the time of Ezra and Nehemiah in the year 444 BCE, some seventy-one years later.
* The First Dedication *
"Now the temple was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius."
It is unclear whether the dedication ceremony took place in the month of Adar (the twelfth month on the Hebrew calendar) or if it actually took place during the Days of Unleavened Bread, for the description of that festival follows directly upon the mention of the dedication ceremony.
"Then the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites and the rest of the descendants of the captivity, celebrated the dedication (Hanukkah) of this house of God with joy."
"And the descendants of the captivity kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves;
"And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the LORD made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel."
Although the Scriptures mention the joy and celebration of the people, there apparently was no visible manifestation of the Shekinah into the Temple as had occurred during Solomon's time.
* The Second Dedication *
Now we come to the time of the spiritual dedication, some seventy-one years later. Ezra and Nehemiah were both there, the Second Temple was standing, the city walls had been rebuilt, the priests and Levites had been identified and set in their divisions, and the people had been numbered. All was in preparation for the fall festival season.
"Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law (Torah) before the congregation, of men and women and all who could hear with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. ...
"And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered, Amen, Amen! while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground."
(Neh. 8:1-2, 5-6)
Apparently the people in Jerusalem had once again been deprived of hearing the Torah read on a regular basis, for they seemed not to be aware that the Feast of Tabernacles was to be celebrated in the seventh month.
"And they found written in the Law (Torah) which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month,...
"And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner."
Because the Torah was read every day during that eight day festival, the children of Israel became convicted of their sins. The outcome of this learning experience was a day of fasting and repentance, which was held immediately following the Feast.
"Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshipped the LORD their God."
There is no indication
in Scripture that the Shekinah (the Presence of God)
returned at this time either, although Jewish tradition does
teach that it did dwell in the Second Temple up until about forty
years before its destruction. That would place the disappearance
of the Shekinah at about the time of Yeshuas
There is, however, a tradition about the miracle of the fire which is supposed to have taken place at this time. It is believed that the fire from the altar of the First Temple was taken by Jeremiah and hidden in a cave. The location of the cave was to remain a secret until the time when God would redeem 1-lis people and bring them back to Jerusalem. Nehemiah sent Priests to find the cave and bring back the celestial fire. When they located the cave they found it full of thick water. They brought the water back to the Temple, and Nehemiah sprinkled it on the wood which was placed on the altar. When the sun came out the wood ignited into a great fire. This event was likened to the celestial fire that had come down to claim the sacrifice at the dedication of Solomons Temple.
~ Judah Maccabees ~
~ Rededication ~
It is in the context of
the dedications (Hanukkah = dedication) of the first and
second Temples, that Judah and his fellow priests conducted the
re-dedication on Kislev 25 in the year of 164 BCE.
Because they had been unable to celebrate Succoth (The Feast of Tabernacles) that fall due to the desecration of the Temple, they seem to have patterned the Hanukkah (dedication) after that festival. This was in keeping with the Succoth dedication of Solomon s Temple as well as the Passover dedication of the Second Temple.
Also, it must be remembered that, in a cleansing ceremony, the eighth day is a symbol of a new beginning. There are a number of seven day purification ceremonies described in the Torah; the eighth day being when full cleansing had been accomplished and the individual or object was declared fully clean.
The sages also saw the connection between the miracle of the heavy water igniting on the altar during Nehemiahs time and the burning up of the offering at the dedication of Solomons Temple. They equated these two events with the lighting of the Menorah at Hanukkah, which was accomplished by striking two stones together to create a spark.
~ Ezekiels Temple ~
Beginning in chapter 40
of Ezekiel, God gives us a description of a Temple that will
stand during the Millennium; the one thousand year reign of
Messiah Yeshua. Once again, we have a description which
does not have sufficient detail for this edifice to be
constructed just by using the Scriptures. It will take further
revelation from the Father or Yeshua to make this
building a reality.
Nevertheless, there is a description of what will happen when the dedication ceremony of this Temple takes place.
"Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate that faces toward the east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. ...
"And the glory of the LORD came into the temple by way of the gate which faces toward the east. The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple.
"Then I heard Him speaking to me from the temple, while a man stood beside me. And He said to me, Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever. No more shall the house of Israel defile My holy name, they nor their kings, by their harlotry or with the carcasses of their kings on their high places. When they set their threshold by My threshold, and their doorpost by My doorpost, with a wall between them and Me, they defiled My holy name by the abominations which they committed; therefore I have consumed them in My anger. Now let them put their harlotry and the carcasses of their kings far away from Me, and I will dwell in their midst forever."
(Ezek. 43:1-2, 4-9)
Ezekiel was commanded to describe the Temple of the Messiah to the house of Israel so that they abandon their idolatry (spiritual harlotry) and return to their Creator God.
"And the man said to me, Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here so that I might show them to you. Declare to the house of Israel everything you see."
"... Write it down in their sight, so that they may keep its whole design and all its ordinances, and perform them. This is the law of the temple: The whole area surrounding the mountaintop shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the temple."
As in the pervious Temple dedications, this one will also last for eight days.
"Seven days they shall make atonement for the altar and purify it, and so consecrate it. When these days are over it shall be, on the eighth day and thereafter, that the priests shall offer your burnt offerings and your peace offerings on the altar; and I will accept you, says the Lord God."
This will indeed be the real New Beginning. In Jewish teaching the Eighth Day represents infinity, for the entirety of the universe was created in seven days.
~ Section Six ~
~ Hanukkah In Prophesy ~
In addition to the Yeshua connection to Hanukkah, there may also be a prophetic connection. Consider what is written in Daniel:
"Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, My lord, what shall be the end of these things?
"And he said, Go your way Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.
"And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days."
Many have puzzled over
the 1290 days and the 1335 days. Numerous interpretations have
been expounded, some dealing with literal days, others using the
day for a year principle. Given the fact that Scripture can often
be understood at more than one level, it is possible that some of
these interpretations may be perfectly valid.
However, consider when the daily sacrifice was taken away at the time Antiochus Epiphanies set up the statue of Zeus in the Temple court and offered pigs on the altar. It was only a three year period, or 1080 prophetic days (assuming 360 days in a prophetic year), before the sacrifices were resumed, and there is no record that anything phenomenal happened on the 1290th day or the 133 5th day.
Consider also Yeshuas own words concerning the same type of desecration taking place all over again, just before His return as King of kings and Lord of lords.
"Therefore when you see the "abomination of desolation," spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains."
Without going into
further detail let us look at another way of counting these days.
If the False Messiah is truly going to be a counterfeit, then he is going to have to look enough like the real Messiah to be able to fool people. Yeshua rode into Jerusalem and was proclaimed King of Israel on 10 Nisan.
"The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:
"Blessed is lie who comes in the name of the LORD!"
The King of Israel!"
Let us assume for a
moment that the False Messiah will duplicate this event on 10 Nisan
in some future year. By counting 1260 days (again using 360 day
prophetic years) it brings us to Yom Kippur (10 Tishri)
some three and one-half years later.
Let its also assume that a Temple or, at least, a Tabernacle is standing when the fulfillment of Matt. 24 comes about, for there must be a Holy Place in order for the Abomination that makes Desolate to be set up and daily sacrifices to cease.
Let us also assume that Yeshua will return with His Bride in tow on this very same Yom Kippur that occurs 1260 days after the revealing of the False Messiah. Thirty days after his arrival would bring us to 10 Cheshvan, the eighth month on the Hebrew calendar. Could it be that the cleansing of the desecrated Tabernacle will begin on this day? A possibility.
Now count another forty-five days. That will bring us to the 1335th day shown to Daniel. Cheshvan usually only has 29 days, but in some years it has 30 days. If the year in question happens to be one in which Cheshvan has thirty days, then the 1335th day will fall exactly on the first day of Hanukkah, Kislev 25.
Coincidence? Probably not. It may well be that the Tabernacle cleansing process will take forty-five days, and that another eight day Rededication of the Tabernacle or Temple will be initiated on that very special day.
(Credit for this prophetic scenario goes to Joseph Good of Hatikva Ministries, P0 Box E, Nederland, TX, 75627.)
~ Section Seven ~
~ Observing Hanukkah ~
If you decide to
observe Hanukkah. the important thing to remember is
that it is supposed to be a festival of celebration. It is not
necessary to observe all of the rituals that are common to the
Jewish tradition, but on the other hand, it certainly is not
wrong to do so. Sometimes it is good to begin the observance of a
festival that is new to you in the manner that others have
developed. After you have followed their lead a couple of times
you can begin to add your own touches, making it a more personal
family type of festival.
The first requirement for a modern celebration of Hanukkah is to acquire the special Menorah, called the Hanukiah. If you wish, you can make your own. The traditional method of lighting the Hanukiah is to begin after the sun is down but before traffic has ceased passing on the street. Place one candle in the helper position, plus one candle for each day of Hanukkah that has transpired. (On the first day there would be the Shamash plus one other candle on the far right side of the holder. On the second day place the Shamash plus two other candles in the holder; the third day, the Shamash plus three, etc.)
1.) Begin by lighting the shamash.
2.) In a Jewish setting a blessing is then said that goes something like this:
"Blessed are You
Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with
His commandments and has commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah
"Blessed are You Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has wrought miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season.
"Blessed are You Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season."
(From: Hanukkah In the Home of the Redeemed, by Ariel and Dvorah Berkowitz, First Fruits of Zion, P0 Box 620099, Littleton, CO 80162-0099, p. 15.)
3.) Then, use the Shamash to light the other candle(s).
Each night the proper
number of candles are placed in the Hanukiah beginning at the
right and proceeding to the left. However, when they are lit, the
lighting begins on the left (the one representing the current
day) and proceeds to the right.
After the candles have been lit, it is customary sing and celebrate with a nice meal, and play some games, especially if there are children present. In more modern times it has become customary in Jewish homes to give a small gift to each child on each evening of Hanukkah. Some feel this practice developed because of the pressure Jewish families felt from the Christian holiday of Christmas and its massive gift giving traditions.
~ Traditional ~
~ Scripture Readings ~
It is always good to
support what we do in the celebration of festivals by reading
Scriptures that will enhance our families understanding of the
meaning of the days. Each family is encouraged to find Scriptures
that speak about the days in a meaningful way to their own
hearts. Psalm 30 and Psalm 44:2-9 are two traditional passages
commonly read in the Jewish community. In addition, if you have
access to the books of I and II Maccabees, it might be well to
read some of the passages from those books which relate to the
cleansing and rededication of the Temple, or you could use some
of the quotes found in this article.
To help you in this endeavor we have prepared a small booklet entitled; Scripture Readings for Hanukkah, which contains suggested readings for each day from both the Old and New Testaments. (To obtain a copy check the appropriate box on the current Offer Form, or write us and ask for it by name.)
~ Section Eight ~
~ Summary and Concluding ~
~ Remarks ~
We pray that you have
found this article to be both interesting and useful. As
Believers, many of us have had the truth of the Festivals kept
from us by well meaning Bible teachers, who themselves have
swallowed the teachings concerning the so-called
Christianized pagan festivals. True Christianity is
not about trees that are brought into the house, or eggs and
bunnies. True Christianity is about the Festivals of Leviticus
23, about the Sabbath and about all the other instructions found
in the Torah, Gods instruction book for our lives.
It is quite true that Hanukkah is not a required festival. It is not listed in Leviticus chapter 23, or anywhere else in the Hebrew Scriptures. One reason for this omission is that the sages had already determined the canon of the Old Testament prior to the advent of Hanukkah. Yet Hanukkah is mentioned in the New Testament, and we have Yeshuas example of being at the Temple during its celebration. Given the context of that particular passage in the gospel of John, there is really no reason for Hanukkah to even be mentioned. It appears to have been placed there to tell us that it is perfectly all right, and very possibly a good deed, to observe it.
There is much more that could be said about Hanukkah. About Hannah and her seven sons, all of whom refused to sacrifice on the pagan altar, bow before an idol and eat pork. Because they stood up for the Torah, Hannah and all of her seven sons were put to death. Nor have we told the story of Judith, another book from the Apocrypha, which is traditionally read during the festival of Hanukkah. Neither have we studied the Jewish prayers for Hanukkah and what the teach, and how they may relate to the conception and birth of Yeshua.
Perhaps these topics can be covered at a later date. In the meantime we encourage you to look deeply into the season of Hanukkah. Part of the beauty of any religious festival is that it can help to kindle a desire to know more fully both the Father and the Son, bringing our families into a closer relationship with God. Hanukkah is one of those seasons where a good share of scriptural truth can be woven into eight days of fun and games. It is a season to rejoice. In traditional Jewish homes it is forbidden to fast or mourn during this time.
If you do decide to celebrate Hanukkah, be sure you bring Yeshua into your celebration in full measure, for He is without a doubt the "Light of the World." Yeshua is represented by the Shamash, the helper candle through which all the other candles (Believers) obtain their light.
It is light that allows us to see. During the night, when it is dark, we cannot see where we are going. But when the sun shines bright, when the "Daystar" arises (another symbol of Yeshua) then we can see where we are going; we can see the road that leads into the fullness of the Kingdom of God and eternal life:
"The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
"Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."
(Isa. 9:2, 6-7)
All of us have "walked in darkness" in times past. But now, like the blind man that Yeshua healed, just prior to the Hanukkah season, it is our prayer that all of our readers can say with us:
"...One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see."
~ ~ ~
~ Sources ~
Berkowitz, Ariel and Dvorah,
Hanukkah, In the Home of the Redeemed, First Fruits of
Zion, P0 Box 620099, Littleton, CO 80162-0099, 1997.
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____ The Biblical and Historical Background of the Jewish Holy Days, Ktav Publishing House, New York, 1978.
Bullinger, EW., The Companion Bible, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, 1974.
Carberry, John J., S.T.D., Ph.D., J.C.D., LL.D., The Holy Bible, Catholic Bible House, Charlotte, NC, 1961.
Edersheim, Alfred, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Win. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1990.
Good, Joseph, Hanukkah and Prophecies, Taped Messages from In the Footsteps of the Messiah, P0 Box E, Nederland, TX, 75627, 1997.
Green, Jay P., Sr., The Interlinear Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, 1985.
The Jewish Encyclopedia, 12 Vols., Funk & Wagnalls Co., New York & London, 1901.
The Open Bible, The New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1985.
Solis-Cohen, Emily, Hanukkah, The Festival of Lights, The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1947.
Spier, Arthur, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, 1986.
Strassfeld, Michael, The Jewish Holidays, A Guide and Commentary, Harper & Row, New York, 1985.
Strong, James, S.T.D., L.L.D., Strongs New Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, World Bible Publishers, Inc., Iowa Falls, 1986.
Trepp, Leo, The Complete Book of Jewish Observance, Behrman House, Inc., New York, 1980.
Waskow, Arthur, The Seasons of Our Joy, Beacon Press, Boston, 1982.
Wigram, George V., The Englishmans Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1980.
In the Footsteps of