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Feast of Dedication / Restoration / Lights / Maccabees


The Feast of Dedication celebrates the Maccabees' victory over the Greeks and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The feast falls on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev, which is usually in December, but some times in November. Josephus called it "The Feast of Lights." John called it "The Feast of Dedication" (John 10:22).

Jewish tradition (no record as to when this tradition actually started, but it was not so in he beginning) claims that Judas Maccabaeus found a cruse of oil, which was sufficient for a day, but lasted for eight. Thus the tradition of lighting a candle each day of the festival and Psalm 30 is read.

In the celebration today, work is allowed on these days, the family gathers around the father as he lights candles with a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the liberation of His people from the persecution of the oppressor. Presents and money gifts are distributed to the children. During the evening games are played with the posing of riddles and exchange of jokes. In Europe the special table dish for the occasion was pancakes.

2 Maccabees 10:5-8 "Now upon the same day that the strangers profaned the temple, on the very same day it was cleansed again, even the five and twentieth day of the same month, which is Casleu. And they kept the eight days with gladness, as in the feast of the tabernacles, remembering that not long afore they had held the feast of the tabernacles, when as they wandered in the mountains and dens like beasts. Therefore they bare branches, and fair boughs, and palms also, and sang psalms unto him that had given them good success in cleansing his place. They ordained also by a common statute and decree, That every year those days should be kept of the whole nation of the Jews."

This indicates that the feast was observed like the Feast of Tabernacles, with palms, branches, and the singing of psalms.

Antiquities of the Jews book12 chapter7:7 "Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days, and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon; but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honored God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights. I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival."

The only mention of it in scripture is found in John.

John 10:22 "And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter."

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906:

The Feast of Dedication, also called "Feast of the Maccabees," celebrated during eight days from the twenty-fifth day of Kislew (December), chiefly as a festival of lights. It was instituted by Judas Maccabeus, his brothers, and the elders of the congregation of Israel, in the year 165 B.C., to be celebrated annually with mirth and joy as a memorial of the dedication of the altar (I Macc. iv. 59) or of the purification of the sanctuary (II Macc. i. 18). Three years earlier, on the same day, Antiochus Epiphanes had caused a pagan altar to be set up at the altar of burnt offerings in the Temple at Jerusalem, and sacrifices to be offered to his idol (I Macc. i. 41-64; II Macc. vi. 2). The idol called "Zeus Olympius" was probably also called "Ba’al Shamayim," of which seems to be a cacophemy (Dan. xi. 31, xii. 11; I Macc. i. 54; see Hoffmann, "Ueber Einige Phönizische Inschriften," 1889, p. 29).

After having recovered the Holy City and the Temple, Judas ordered the latter to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the one polluted, and new holy vessels to be made. When the fire had been kindled anew upon the altar and the lamps of the candlestick lit, the dedication of the altar was celebrated for eight days amid sacrifices and songs (I Macc. iv. 36), similarly to the Feast of Tabernacles (II Macc. x. 6; comp. ib. i. 9), which also lasts for eight days, and at which during the Second Temple (Suk.v. 2-4) the lighting of lamps and torches formed a prominent part. Lights were also kindled in the household, and the popular name of the festival was, therefore, according to Josephus (“Ant.” xii. 7, § 7), Πῶτα = “Festival of Lights.” accessed 11/05/17




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