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Hanukkah in the Bible

Tonight is the 5th night of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. This is a holiday, as I’m sure most of my readers are aware, that celebrate a miracle at the time of the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, after its defilement by Greek forces. The holiday lasts eight days and each day of the holiday lasts from sundown to sundown. (Thus, Adam Sandler’s “Eight Crazy Nights”.) Modern Jewish observance generally includes the giving of gifts and the lighting of a menorah: one additional candle each night until all of the candles are lit on the eighth day.

The story of Hanukkah is one of a miraculous event: After the temple was re-dedicated, all of the holy oil had been defiled. This oil was used to keep an eternal flame lit at the altar, to comply with the commandment in Leviticus 6:6: “A perpetual file shall be kept burning on the altar, no to go out.” (Weirdly, my Christian bibles have this as 6:13.) Unfortunately, there was only enough oil to keep the fire burning for one day, but it would take eight days to make more. The miracle of Hanukkah is that the oil DID last for all eight days until it could be replenished.

Of course, this is a “Bible Blog”, but Hanukkah as a holiday was started in the post-Biblical period. The Hebrew Bible ends shortly after the construction of the Second Temple. So, to find the story of Hanukkah in the Bible, you need to turn to an unlikely source: The Roman Catholics.

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