The origin of lights at this time of year has an important meaning for today.
King Cyrus of Persi
a let the
after 70 years of captivity and they
rebuilt the Temple
around 516 BC.
Around 334 BC,
Alexander the Great
death, his general
s divided up his empire.
Alexander's General Seleucus I Nicator
ruled the former
which included the land of
It became called the
In 167 BC, the
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
as reported in
2 Maccabees 5:11-14:
"The king ... thought that
was in revolt. Raging like a wild animal, he set out from Egypt and took
... He ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy those whom they met and to slay those who took refuge in their houses.
There was a massacre of young and old, a killing of women and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants ...
... In the space of three days, eighty thousand were lost
, forty thousand meeting
a violent death
, and the same number being
sold into slavery
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
tried to force the
to abandon their beliefs and adopt the Greek culture, as recorded in
2 Maccabees 5:11-14:
"Not long after this the king sent an Athenian senator to force the
to abandon the customs of their ancestors and live no longer by the laws of God;
also to profane the temple in
and dedicate it to Olympian Zeus ...
They also brought into the temple things that were forbidden, so that the altar was covered with abominable offerings prohibited by the laws ...
... A man could not keep the sabbath or celebrate the traditional feasts, nor even admit that he was a
Women ... arrested for having circumcised their children were publicly paraded about the city with their babies hanging at their breasts and then thrown down from the top of the city wall ...
... Others, who had assembled in nearby caves to observe the sabbath in secret, were betrayed ... and all burned to death."
In 165 BC,
led a courageous revolt which finally drove the enemy out.
After cleansing the
Temple in Jerusalem
of pagan defilement, they went to rededicate it by
lighting the menorah lampstand,
there was only enough holy olive oil to keep it burning for a day.
Miraculously, the light burned for
This followed the example of
as recorded in I Kings 8 and II Chronicles 7, who dedicated the
in the 10th century BC with a 7 day festival ending on the 8th day.
return from the
as recorded in Ezra 6:16-17, they celebrated the dedication of the
around 516 BC.
in 164 BC became called the
Jewish Festival of Lights,
which is the Hebrew word for
wrote in the
(12.7.6-7 316-325) that in 164 BC:
"The generals of
armies having been defeated ...
assembled the people and told them that after the many victories which God had given them they ought to go up to
and purify the
But when he with the whole multitude came to
and found he
deserted, its gates burned down, and plants growing in the
of their own accord because of the desolation, he and those with him began to lament ..."
"He had carefully purged it he brought in new vessels--the
the table and the incense altar, which were made of gold ...
And on the 25th day of the month Kislev, which the Macedonians call Apellaios,
they lighted the lights
that were on the
and offered incense upon the altar, and laid the loaves upon the table, and offered whole burnt offerings upon the new altar.
As it happened, these things took place on the very same day on which, three years before, the divine worship had been reduced to an impure and profane form of worship; for the
had remained desolate for three years after being made so by
and his fellow citizens celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the
They honored God, and delighted themselves with psalms of praise and the playing of harps.
Indeed, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs and, after so long a time, having unexpectedly
regained their right to worship,
that they made it a law for their posterity that they should keep a festival celebrating the restoration of their
The New Testament Book of John, chapter 10:22-23, recorded that even
Feast of Dedication:
"At that time the
Feast of the Dedication
took place at
walking in the temple
the portico of Solomon.
The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, 'How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.'"
The many centuries of the
lighting of candles in the winter might have been a latent inspiration for the Christian tradition of putting lights in tree branches to depict the sky above Bethlehem.
Various U.S. Presidents acknowledged HANUKKAH.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
wrote to Samuel I. Rosenman, President of the
Jewish Education Committee
in New York, December 16, 1940:
"Dear Sam, Please convey my best wishes to your co-workers in the
Jewish Education Committee
of New York, at
the annual HANUKKAH Dinner ...
Our modern democratic way of life has its deepest roots in our great common religious tradition, which for ages past has taught to civilized mankind the dignity of the human being, his equality before God, and his responsibility in the making of a better and fairer world ...
... The world (is) ... engaged in a great spiritual struggle to test whether that ancient wisdom is to endure, or whether ... some few men shall dominate multitudes of others and dictate to them their thinking, their religion, their living ...
... We need the sustaining, buttressing aid of those great ethical religious teachings which are the heritage of our modern civilization.
For 'not upon strength nor upon power, but upon the spirit of God' shall our democracy be founded."
President Harry S Truman
received a presentation of
a HANUKKAH menorah
Israel's Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion.
stated May 26, 1952:
"I had faith in Israel before it was established, I have faith in it now.
I believe it has a glorious future before it--not just another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization."
President Harry S Truman
answered questions at a News Conference of August 16, 1945:
"Q. What was the American view on Palestine?
PRESIDENT. The American view ... is, we want to
let as many of the Jews into Palestine as it is possible."
Get the book Prayers and Presidents
Dwight D. Eisenhower
"Our forces saved the remnants of the
of Europe for a new life and a new hope
in the reborn land of Israel.
Along with all men of good will, I salute the young state and wish it well."
President Dwight Eisenhower
stated February 20, 1957:
"There can, of course, be no equating of a nation like
with that of the Soviet Union.
The people of
, like those of the
, are imbued with a religious faith and a sense of moral values ...
which unhappily we cannot expect from a nation controlled by atheistic despots
remarked on the
Jewish High Holy Days,
September 14, 1958:
"The teaching of their ancient belief is filled with truth for the present day ...
The health of our society depends upon a deep and abiding respect for the basic commandments of
the God of Israel."
President John F. Kennedy
Israel's Foreign Minister Golda Meir.
addressed the Zionists of America Convention, August 26, 1960:
Israel was not created in order to disappear--Israel will endure and flourish
. It is the child of hope and home of the brave.
It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom."
stated May 8, 1963:
"This nation from the time of President Woodrow Wilson, has established and continued a tradition of
friendship with Israel
because we are committed to all free societies that seek a path to peace and honor individual rights"
President Lyndon Johnson
remarked at the 125th Anniversary Meeting of B'nai B'rith (Children of the Covenant), September 10, 1968:
"The United States and
share many common objectives ... chief of which is the building of a better world in which every nation can develop its resources and develop them in freedom and peace.
Our society is illuminated by the spiritual insights of
the Hebrew prophets.
have a common love of human freedom and they have a common faith in a democratic way of life ...
... Most if not all of you have very deep ties with the land and with
the people of Israel,
as I do, for my Christian faith sprang from yours ...
The Bible stories are woven into my childhood memories as the gallant struggle of modern Jews to be free of persecution is also woven into our souls."
President Richard Nixon
"The United States stands by its friends.
is one of its friends."
remarked on Presidential Trip to Israel, June 16, 1974:
"Their courage, their tenacity, their firmness in the face of very great odds, is one that
makes us proud to stand with Israel,
as we have in the past in times of trouble, and now to work with Israel in a better time, a time that we trust will be a time of peace."
President and Prime Minister Golda Meir of Israel,
September 25, 1969:
"Madam Prime Minister and our very distinguished guests this evening ... This is the first time that in this administration we have had the honor to receive the head of government of another state who also is a woman ...
... We know that very capable women and strong women have played a remarkable and important part in that history.
In Biblical terms, we remember Deborah, 3,000 years ago. The Bible tells us very little about Deborah, except that she loved her people and served them well...that there was peace in the land for 40 years ...
... When we think back on your people, a war every 10 years; when we think back on your people going back through the century, how they have suffered, we know how much the word 'peace' means ...
We feel it because
the people of Israel
deserve peace. They have earned peace ...
We simply want to say that we are very honored to have the Prime Minister ... here in this room tonight. We are honored to pay tribute to a very brave and courageous people ... I would like to ask you, in affirming that sentiment, to rise and raise your glasses with me to the Prime Minister."
President Gerald Ford
Israeli Prime Minister Rabin,
September 10, 1974):
"The United States ... has been proud of its association with the State of Israel.
We shall continue to stand with Israel. We are committed to Israel's survival and security.
for a quarter of a century has had an excellent relationship with the
State of Israel
On December 17, 1979,
was the first President to participate in
He walked from the White House to Lafayette Park to light
the National Menorah
erected by the American Friends of Lubavitch and commented:
"It's a real honor for me to come from the White House here to this ceremony celebrating the commencement of CHANUKAH, last night, the
Feast of Lights.
As many of you know, the season of CHANUKAH commemorates the victory of religious freedom ...
... At the commencement of the celebration of this annual event, this season of thanksgiving and closeness to God, there was a
within which t
which was supposed to only burn a short time burned for
8 days and nights ...
... This miracle showed that God meets our needs. If we depend on Him, He will meet our needs. This also shows that there is a need to celebrate courage and to remember that hope in one's breast need never die ...
... The first candle that I lit, the shammes candle, has given its light now in this glass cage to five other candles.
It has not itself been diminished. It shows that when we give life and love to others, the life and love in our own hearts is not diminished ... It grows the more we share it.
So, tonight we pray that our closeness to God, our memory of these fine commitments of human beings down through the ages will strengthen our desires to share our life and our love ...
... I'm very grateful that this beautiful menorah has been dedicated for the commemoration of the season of
and I'm very grateful as President to be partaking in this commemoration of a season when human beings are drawn closer to God and, in that spirit, have confidence that the future will bring us a better life with God and with one another."
President Ronald Reagan
stated in his HANUKKAH Message, 1983:
"Whether we be
Americans or Israelis, we are all children of Abraham, children of the same God.
The bonds between our two peoples are growing stronger, and they must not and will never be broken."
President George H.W. Bush
stated in his HANUKKAH Message, 1991:
When Judah Maccabee and his followers prepared to rededicate the Temple in Jerusalem, they found ... only enough oil to light the menorah for one night. Miraculously, it lasted eight.
In 1996, the
U.S. Postal Service
unveiled the first stamp commemorating HANUKKAH.
President Bill Clinton
stated in his
"From the days of the
down to our present time
, tyrants have sought to deny people the free expression of their faith and the right to live according to their own conscience and convictions
... HANUKKAH symbolizes the heroic struggle of all who seek to defeat such oppression and the miracles that come to those full of faith and courage.
This holiday holds special meaning for us in America, where freedom of religion is one of the cornerstones of our democracy.
The coming year will mark the 50th anniversary of the
State of Israel,
where the story of the first
took place so many centuries ago ...
May the candles of the menorah light our way to a true and lasting peace for the people of the Middle East."
President George Bush
the HANUKKAH Menorah
in the White House, December 10, 2001:
the first time
in American history,
the HANUKKAH menorah will be lit at the White House residence
... The magnificent menorah before us was crafted over a century ago in the city of Lvov ...
Jews of Lvov
fell victim to the horror of the Nazi Holocaust, but their great menorah survived. And as God promised Abraham,
the people of Israel still live ...
We're reminded of the ancient story of
and of the power of faith to make the darkness bright.
We can see the heroic spirit of the
lives on in
today, and we trust that a better day is coming, when this
Festival of Freedom
will be celebrated in a world free from terror."
MIRACLES IN AMERICAN HISTORY-32 Amazing Stories of Answered Prayer
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