Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Happy Chanukah

I am here Jesus:

The feast of the dedication of the Temple, from the 12th to the 19th of December, comes very close to Christmas celebrated annually December 25th and I should like to include and combine both into a single festival.

The Hebrew Feast was kept every year on the 25th day of Kislev (November-December) to commemorate the purification of the Temple of Jerusalem from idolatrous worship of the Seleucid King Antiochus (surnamed Epipanes, son of Antiochus IV) and its rededication by Judas Maccabees in 165 BC (I Maccabee, Chapter 4 versus 56-59, and II Maccabees, Chapter 10 verses 1-8).

On this Feast Day and on the following seven days the houses in Jerusalem and other places were illuminated and Josephus Flavius called the celebration the "Feast of Lights". (John, Chapter10, verses 22-39 and Antiquities of the Jews, Book 12, Chapter 7 verse 7).

Unlike the great Hebrew annual feasts it could be celebrated not only in the Temple of Jerusalem but in the Synagogues of all the places. It was observed with manifestations of joy such as accompanied the feasts of the Tabernacles during the celebration of which the dedication of the First Temple had taken place. Mourning and fasting were not permitted to begin.

The Jews assembled in the Temple and Synagogues bearing branches of trees and plants and singing psalms: The Hallel Psalms CXIII through CXVIII being sun every day.

The joyful character of the feast was also manifested by illumination which may have been suggested by the Lighting of the Lamps or the Candlesticks which the Temple Service was restored, (I Maccabees, Chapter 4, verses 50-51) or according to very early Midrashim by the miraculous burning throughout the celebration of the feast of a vial of oil found in the Temple.

The Menorah or candlesticks is found in Jewish homes. And each night one branch is lighted so that on the last day all seven branches plus the Shammah, or largest, shed their glow. In some cases this process is reversed, the celebration commencing with the full number and diminishing by one each night thereafter. At the morning services a different portion of Numbers, chapter VII is read in the Synagogue.

In Numbers, Chapter VII, there is an account of the gifts which the twelve tribes of Israel presented to God's Dwelling which Moses had erected, just as in the festival of Christmas there are the twelve nights ending with Three Kings day, January 6th and bearing of gifts.

The Psalms called the Hallel begin with the word Hallelujah and the first of these is a description of a good man who reverences God, finds joy in His commands, is generous, acts fairly and who, as a result, always possesses good fortune. Psalm 114 rejoices that God took Judah for His own and made Israel His Domain.

The next, which contains 20 verses, denounces futile idols of the pagans whereas Israel trusts in the Eternal, it's shield and help. Psalm 116, with 19 verses is a song of thanksgiving that the Eternal has saved the worshiper from spiritual death. It goes on to declare (verses15-16).
"Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of His devoted. Eternal One, I am indeed Thy servant; Thy retainer; Thou has delivered me."

Psalm 117 has two verses; the second praising God;
"For His kind Love to us is vast. His loyalty will ever last."

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