Chapter Twenty-three

About the Feast of the Church [Temple] Dedication

This feast is celebrated on the twenty-fifth day of the winter month called Kaslef, [Kislev] in remembrance of the excellent hero Judas the Hasmonean or Maccabee, who, after his father Mattathias died, overcame the Greeks who had taken Jerusalem, desecrated the temple, spoiled all the holy oil in the Temple, and did many other evil things against the Jews. He took the city back, and rededicated the Temple on the twenty-fifth day of the month, as we read in the first book of Maccabees. Therefore Judas, his brothers, and all people of Israel decided that every year on the twenty-fifth day of Caslev, [Kislev] or the winter month, the rededication of the Temple should be celebrated for eight days with joy and thanksgiving.

Such an event is still celebrated today by the Jews, but rather with much eating, drinking and playing and other entertainment, than with thanksgiving to God for the victory bestowed on them, and the defeat of the enemy.

No more holy oil could be found to light the hanging lamps according to the command of Moses for the rededication of the Temple, and the new order of the divine service, so Judas the Maccabee searched the Temple and looked for some, until at last he found a small jug sealed with the high-priest's seal, and therefore not spoiled by the enemy. But this was not sufficient, and everybody was sad that they would not have enough oil, and could not get any for at least eight days, because the city of Tehoa, [Tekoa] where they would have to get it, was four days' travel from Jerusalem. Then a miracle happened. God let the oil in the jug continue to supply fuel for the flame for all the eight days.

To remember God's beneficent deed, they have some superstitious ceremonies with the lighting. They prepare a candlestick which contains seven candles together, or a sevenfold lamp, and then they light one light each day until the eighth night. But they do not let them burn all night, and no work is allowed at their homes while the candles burn. The lamp should be hanging on the right side of the door, not less than ten spans from the ground, and not higher than twenty. They have subtle discussions on how long they should burn, who should light them, if you can light one with the other and similar things. They are very particular about the outer light, but they do not care that such great darkness abides in their hearts.

This feast is also mentioned in the New Testament by John the Evangelist, in Chapter 10, verse 22.


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Alan D. Corré
corre@uwm.edu