What is The Feast of Dedication?

“At the time of the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem.
It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.”
John 10:22

The Feast of Dedication (a.k.a Chanukah or The Festival of Lights) is more than the story of the miracle of the menorah remaining lit for eight days on one day worth of oil, dreidels, latkes, donuts or gifts. The greater narrative of Hanukkah is prophecy fulfilled, a call for spiritual revival, and our Messianic hope in Yeshua.

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Historicity has spoken of Chanukah in great detail in works like Josephus, Septuagint, War of the Jews, History of the Jews, the Talmud, Midrash, and many more. The events of Chanukah occur in the time period between the Old and New Testaments. The story of Chanukah can be found in the books of the Maccabees located in the Catholic Bible, as well as the Aprocrypha. Chanukah is also referenced in the New Testament (John 10:22).

Chanukah commemorates a true event in history that was prophesized by the Prophet Daniel, and fulfilled in a military and moral victory brought forth through G-d’s provision to ensure the birth our L-rd and Savior, Yeshua HaMashiach.

Chanukah Means
The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication” and marks an eight day winter celebration that commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple after a small group of Jewish believers, led by Judah Maccabee, defeated the Greek forces and freed the Jews from forced Hellenistic assimilation. Chanukah represents the victory of faith over reason and humanism and demonstrates mightily the power of G-d through His chosen people. Therefore, you could say that Chanukah truly means dedicated against assimilation.

Daniel’s Prophesy of Chanukah
Chanukah was foretold many centuries before the events surrounding it transpired by the Prophet Daniel. While in Babylon, Daniel described in detail the emergence of Antiochus IV, his campaign to convert the Jews, his desecration of the Temple, and the heroic revolt that overthrew his regime. This prophecy was written about three centuries before Alexander the Great was born. No one but G-d, could have inspired Daniel to document that Alexander would conquer the Middle East and that his empire would be divided into four kingdoms after his death. (Daniel 8:21-22). He also foretold that Antiochus would ascend to power and oppress the Jews. (Daniel 8:23-24). He also described the way in which Antiochus would desecrate the Temple, prohibit Jewish worship, and place idols in the Temple. (Daniel 11:30-31). Finally, Daniel foretold that many Jews would be deceived and practice a Greek perversion of Judaism. (Daniel 11:32).

The Story of Chanukah
In 333 BCE, Alexander the Great conquered Syria, Egypt and Babylonia and promoted a lenient form of Hellenistic culture, encouraging the study of language, customs, and dress of the Greeks. He wanted a statute in His honor erected in the Temple, but since this was against Torah, the High Priest at the time offered a living tribute by requiring the people to name all their firstborn sons after him. This compromise would ultimately threaten the very existence of Judaism. It brought forth a division and selection among the Jewish people those who embraced Hellenistic ideals (Hellenistic Jews) and those who held to G-d’s Word, teachings, and mitzvot (commands).

A century later, the Syrian king Antiochus IV began to openly persecute Jews. He appointed a Hellenistic “High Priest” to the Temple, prohibited the study of Torah, and observation of G-d’s commands (e.g., Shabbat, dietary laws, circumcision, Feasts, etc.). He order pigs to be sacrificed on the holy altar and erected an image of the Greek god Zeus as a new point of worship in the Temple. He insisted on being called “epiphanies” which means “god manifest”. All the altars, utensils, and the golden menorah (lampstand) were defiled or torn down.

These outrages incited rebellion and by 165 BCE the Hasmoean family of Mattathias the High Priest and his youngest son Judah “Maccabee” (the “Hammer”) organized an army using guerrilla warfare that eventually succeeded in evicting the Syrian-Greeks from Israel. The temple was liberated but needed to be rededicated for Jewish worship. They cleaned the temple, removed the altar of sacrifice stone by stone and buried it in the nearby hills, and erected a new alter. It is at this time that the miracle of the oil happened. There was very little oil left that had not been defiled. Oil was needed for the menorah to burn continually in the Temple, but there was only enough to last for one day. Miraculously, the sanctified oil burned for eight days – the time needed to prepare a fresh supply for the menorah. An eight day festival was declared to commemorate the miracle and the liberation of the temple. The festival is the same length as Sukkot, and it is believed that this was chosen because since they did not have a chance to celebrate the Feast during their warfare with the Syrians.

The story of Chanukah includes men and women of faith you were ready and had to courage to take a stand for the true living G-d and the commands that He had given in His Word. These men and women refused  to bow down to false gods and assimilate into another culture because they held tight to the teachings of G-d.  Mattityahu (Mattathias), Juduah Macabee, Yehduit (Judith), Chanah (Hannah) and her seven sons, are written about in the Books of the Macabees and Judith, which are found in the Catholic Bible or the Aprorypha. 

The events of Chanukah happened only four generations prior to the birth of our Messiah, if the great warriors of faith had not risen up in opposition and had the courage to fight, and sacrifice their lives to worship G-d according to His commands, the Jewish nation would have become extinct and the Messiah would never have been born.

Chanukah’s theme is about remaining steadfast in our faith, committed to G-d in a godless and broken world, and our deliverance. Since we are called to be part of His Temple, His Body, at this time we reflect on rededicating ourselves to the eradication of all that compromises us and tempts us to assimilate to the world around us. Through the light of Jesus Christ we have gained victory over the power of darkness. We are called to walk in His light. We have fellowship, unity, echudt, with one another.

Traditions:  There are a number of traditions involved in celebrating Chanukah and they include:

  • Lighting the Chanukiah
  • Family Time and Reading Scripture
  • Playing Dreidel 
  • Special Foods (Latkes, Donuts)
  • Giving Tzedakah (Charity)

Pulling It Altogether  Chanukah is a celebration of deliverance. It is a time to express our Messianic hope. Just as the Maccabees were used by G-d to redeem Israel, we more fully appreciate the scene that unfolded as Jesus celebrated the feast in Jerusalem. Amidst the activities of the celebration, He was approached by some rabbis and asked a simple question, “How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us publicly.” (John 10:24). The answer to this question is the message of Chanukah. He reiterates his claim and the proofs of His Messiahship. (John 10:25-39). 

This shows the real connection between Chanukah and Jesus. Chanukah recalls a military victory for Israel, and the implications are vast.  If Antiochus had succeeded in his campaign of anti-Semitism and destruction, there would have been no Jews around by the time of Jesus.  The miracle of Jesus’ birth could only take place after the miracle of Chanukah. All believers in Jesus have important reasons to celebrate the Feast of Dedication. Messiah, our deliverer, has come. Let us clean and prepare our temples for His return.

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The spake Jesus again unto them saying, I am the light of the world:  he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12

Chag Chanukah Sameach!  Happy Chanukah!

Resources:

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Parashah Chayei Sarah – “Sarah’s Life”

Please join our family in reading Scriptures for this week’s Parashah Chayei Sarah, which means “Sarah’s Life”.

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Scripture Readings:

  • Torah: Genesis 23:1-25:18
  • Haftarah: 1 Kings 1:1-31
  • B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant)
    • Bestort HaGe’ulah (Gospels):  Matthew 2:1-23
    • Iggerot (Letters):  1 Corinthians 15:50-57

Parashah in a Nutshell:

Sarah dies at age 127 and is buried in the Machpelah Cave in Hebron, which Abraham purchases from Ephron the Hittite for four hundred shekels of silver.

Abraham’s servant Eliezer is sent, laden with gifts, to Charan, to find a wife for Isaac. At the village well, Eliezer asks G‑d for a sign: when the maidens come to the well, he will ask for some water to drink; the woman who will offer to give his camels to drink as well shall be the one destined for his master’s son.

Rebecca, the daughter of Abraham’s nephew Bethuel, appears at the well and passes the “test.” Eliezer is invited to their home, where he repeats the story of the day’s events. Rebecca returns with Eliezer to the land of Canaan, where they encounter Isaac praying in the field. Isaac marries Rebecca, loves her, and is comforted over the loss of his mother.

Abraham takes a new wife, Keturah (Hagar), and fathers six additional sons, but Isaac is designated as his only heir. Abraham dies at age 175 and is buried beside Sarah by his two eldest sons, Isaac and Ishmael.

Study Aids, Children’s Activities, Projects, and Homeschool Connections:

  1. Audio of Parashah
  2. YMTOI Parashah Pearls for Chayei Sarah (Has Snack and Craft Ideas)
  3. Adult Study Guide
  4. Torah Explorers
  5. Chayei Sarah Sequencing
  6. Torah Class for Ch. 23, Ch. 24, Ch. 25, more on Ch. 25
  7. Videos:
  8. Songs:  Eliezer Had Ten Camels, Mayim
  9. Craft: Rebecca’s Well  or Make a Watering Jug
  10. Snack: Vegetables with Salad Dressing Well, Camel Sugar Cookies, or Cave Cake
  11. Hebrew Class:  Hey  Trace the letter Hey
  12. Memory Verse & Copy Work:  John 7:37-38
  13. Social Studies:  Continue with your Parashah timeline.  Label a map of the ancient middle east with Beersheba, Mt. Moriah, Mamre, Machpelah, Ur, Canaan, and Hebron.
  14. Language Arts:  Write and essay about the differences between the instructions to Eliezer and his retelling to Rebekah’s father.

 

Parashah Vayera “He Appeared”

Please join our family in studying the Scriptures for this week’s Parashah Vayera, which means “He Appeared.”

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Scripture Readings:

  • Torah:  Genesis 18:1-22:24
  • Haftarah: II Kings 4:1–37
  • B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant)
    • Bestort HaGe’ulah (Gospels):  Luke 2:1-38
    • Iggerot (Letters): 2 Peter 2:4–11

Parashah in a Nut Shell:  In this week’s Parashah, G‑d reveals Himself to Abraham three days after the his circumcision at age ninety-nine.  Abraham rushes off to prepare a meal for three guests who appear in the desert heat. One of the three announces that, in exactly one year, the barren Sarah will give birth to a son. Sarah responds by laughing.

Abraham pleads with G‑d to spare the wicked city of Sodom. Two of the three disguised angels arrive and Lot extends his hospitality to them; as well as, protects them from the evil intentions of a Sodomite mob. The two guests reveal that they have come to save Lot and his family. Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt when she disobeys and looks back at the burning city as they flee.

While taking shelter in a cave, Lot’s two daughters (believing that they and their father are the only ones left alive in the world) get their father drunk, lie with him and become pregnant. The two sons born from this incident father the nations of Moab and Ammon.

Abraham moves to Gerar, where the Philistine king Abimelech takes Sarah—who is presented as Abraham’s sister—to his palace. In a dream, G‑d warns Abimelech that he will die unless he returns the woman to her husband. Abraham explains that he feared he would be killed over the beautiful Sarah.

G‑d remembers His promise to Sarah, and gives her and Abraham a son, who is named Isaac (Yitzchak, meaning “will laugh”). Isaac is circumcised at the age of eight days; Abraham is one hundred years old, and Sarah ninety, at their child’s birth.

Hagar and Ishmael are banished from Abraham’s home and wander in the desert.   G‑d hears the cry of the dying lad, and saves his life by showing his mother a well. Abimelech makes a treaty with Abraham at Beersheba and Abraham gives him seven sheep as a sign of their truce.

G‑d tests Abraham’s devotion by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah (the Temple Mount) in Jerusalem. Isaac is bound and placed on the altar, and Abraham raises the knife to slaughter his son. A voice from heaven calls to stop him; a ram, caught in the undergrowth by its horns, is offered in Isaac’s place. Abraham receives the news of the birth of a daughter, Rebecca, to his nephew Bethuel.

Study Aids, Children’s Activities, Projects, and Homeschool Connections:

  1. Audio of Torah Parashah
  2. YMTOI Parashah Pearls for Vayera (Has Snack and Craft Ideas)
  3. Torah Explorers
  4. Adult Study
  5. Torah Class for Ch. 18, Ch. 19, Ch. 20, Ch. 21, Ch. 22
  6. Video:  Context for Kids – Vayera
  7. Video:  Torah for Children – Vayera
  8. Video:  The Parsha Experiment: – Vayeira: the Power of Abraham’s Influence
  9. Video:  Shaboom! Hachnasat Orchim: How to Make People Feel Welcome (Hachnasat orchim is the Jewish value of making guests feel welcome.)
  10. Video:  Shalom Sesame: Abraham and the Three Visitors
  11. Song: Three Guests Are Coming to Visit Us 
  12. Song:  Home, Home in My Tent
  13. Craft: Welcome Mat
  14. Craft: Salt Art – Lot’s Wife
  15. Snack: Roasted Pepper Dips
  16. Snack: Homemade Matzah with Butter
  17. Snack:  Barley Cake
  18. Activity:  Washing of Feet (Genesis 18:4)
  19. Activity:  Teaching Children About Hospitality
  20. Homeschool Connection:
    • Language Arts:  Write an essay on what it means to practice haschanasat orchim or hospitality. What can we do to make guests welcome in our home?
    • Copy Work: Copy Genesis 18:3 in your best handwriting.  Worksheet – gen183
    • Social Studies – Research the timeframe of the Parashah and add the following elements of the Parashah to your timeline – the 3 visitors, Isaac’s birth, destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Hagar and Ishmael are banished, and the binding of Isaac.  Label your map the ancient middle east with Sodom and Gomorrah.
    • Science: Video – What is Sulfur?  Read:  Sulfur Facts Video – Sulfur Experiment  Either write an essay or give an oral presentation on what you have learned about sulfur.
    • Art: Video- Where does a Shofar Come From and How is it made? Coloring Page
    • Music: Learn the songs listed above. Video – Learn to play the shofar.
    • Hebrew Lesson – Dalet

Blessings,

K

 

 

Parashah Lech Lecha “Go Forth”

Please join our family in reading Scriptures for Parashah Lech Lecha, which means “Go Forth”.

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Scripture Readings:

  • Torah:  Genesis 12:1-17:27
  • Haftarah: Isaiah 40:27-41:16
  • B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant)
    • Bestort HaGe’ulah (Gospels):  Matthew 1:1-17
    • Iggerot (Letters): 1 Peter3:18-22 and Romans 4:1-25

Parashah in a Nutshell: 

In this week’s Parashah, G‑d calls Abram commanding him, “Go from your land, from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.” G‑d tells him he will be made into a great nation. Abram, his wife, Sarai, and his nephew Lot, journey to the land of Canaan.  Abram builds an altar and continues to spread the message of a one G‑d.

A famine forces them depart Canaan for Egypt. Before entering Egypt, Abram tells his wife because of her beauty they will kill him and let her live. He tells his wife to tell everyone that she is his sister. The princes saw her and they thought she was very beautiful and she was taken into Pharaoh’s palace. Abram escapes death because they present themselves as brother and sister. A plague prevents the Egyptian king from touching her, and convinces him to return her to Abram and to compensate the brother-revealed-as-husband with gold, silver and cattle, as if Pharaoh was paying a bride’s price. This same type of pattern will be repeated during the Exodus with Moses.

They travel back in the land of Canaan and Lot separates from Abram and settles in the evil city of Sodom where he falls captive when the mighty armies of Chedorlaomer and his three allies conquer the five cities of the Sodom Valley. Abram sets out with a small band to rescue his nephew, defeats the four kings, and is blessed by Malki-Zedek the king of Salem (Jerusalem). Abram gave the king a tenth of everything.

G‑d seals the Covenant Between the Parts with Abram, in which the exile and persecution of the people of Israel is foretold, and the Holy Land is bequeathed to them as their eternal heritage.

Still childless ten years after their arrival in the Land, Sarai tells Abram to marry her maidservant Hagar. Hagar conceives, becomes insolent toward her mistress, and then flees when Sarai treats her harshly. An angel convinces her to return, and tells her that her son will father a populous nation. Ishmael is born in Abram’s eighty-sixth year.

Thirteen years later, G‑d changes Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “father of multitudes”, and Sarai’s to Sarah, which means “princess”, and promises that a son will be born to them.  This child is named Isaac, which means “will laugh”, will stem the great nation with which G‑d will establish His special bond. Abraham is commanded to circumcise himself and his descendants as a “sign of the covenant between Me and you.” Abraham immediately complies, circumcising himself and all the males of his household.

Study helps, Children’s Activities, Projects, and Homeschool Connections:

  1. Audio of Torah Readings with Summary and Commentaries
  2. Quick Study
  3. Adult Study Outline
  4. Children’s Study Outline
  5. Torah Class Studies on Genesis – Ch. 12, Ch. 13, Ch. 13 part 2, Ch. 14, Ch. 15, Ch. 16, and Ch. 17
  6. The Parsha Experiment – Lech Lecha (Video)
  7. Lech Lecha for Kids (Video)
  8. Torah Tots: Lech Lecha (Video)
  9. Craft & Treat Ideas:
  10. Hebrew Lesson: Gimmel
  11. Homeschool Extension Activities: These are suggestions on how to incorporate the Torah Parashah into your homeschool curriculum.

Blessings,

Kay

Parashah Noach (Noah)

Please join our family in this week’s Parashah reading Noach, which means Noah.

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Scripture Readings:

  • Torah:  Genesis 6:9-11:32
  • Haftarah: Isaiah 54:1-55:5 and 66:1-24
  • B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant)
    • Bestort HaGe’ulah (Gospels):  Luke 1:5-80 and Matthew 24:36-46
    • Iggerot (Letters): 1 Peter3:18-22

Parashah in a Nutshell:  This week’s Parashah is about Noah. It begins with G‑d’s instructions for Noah to build a large wooden teivah (“ark”), coated within and without with pitch.  Noah was chosen by G-d for redemption from the flood that will kill all life on G-d’s creation of Earth because he was the only righteous man in a world consumed by violence and corruption. The ark will float upon the water, sheltering eight people (Noah and his family); as well as, seven pairs of clean and two pairs of unclean of all the animals of creation.

The rain falls for 40 days and nights, and the waters churn for 150 days more before calming and beginning to recede. The ark settles on Mount Ararat, and from its window Noah dispatches a raven, and then a series of doves, “to see if the waters were abated from the face of the earth.” When the ground dries completely, G‑d commands Noah to exit the teivah and repopulate the earth. Thus, Noah becomes the second Adam.  We are more closely related to Noah than Adam, as we – like Noah – have been born into a world of imperfection. Whereas, Adam was born into the perfect world of the Garden of Eden.

Noah builds an altar and offers sacrifices to G‑d. G‑d tells us that He will never again destroy all of mankind because of their deeds, and sets the rainbow as a testimony of His new covenant with man. G‑d also gives the Noachide laws and instructs Noah regarding the sacredness of life: murder is deemed a capital offense, and while man is permitted to eat the meat of animals, he is forbidden to eat flesh or blood taken from a living animal.

Noah plants a vineyard and becomes drunk on its produce. Two of Noah’s sons, Shem and Japheth, are blessed for covering up their father’s nakedness, while his third son, Ham, is punished for taking advantage of his debasement.

The descendants of Noah remain a single people, with a single language and culture, for ten generations. Then they defy G-d by building a great tower to symbolize their own invincibility and the consequence is that G‑d confuses their language so that “one does not comprehend the tongue of the other.”  The result is that they abandon their project and disperse across the face of the Earth creating seventy nations.

The Parshah of Noach concludes with a chronology of the ten generations from Noah to Abram (later Abraham), and the latter’s journey from his birthplace of Ur to Charan, on the way to the land of Canaan.

Study Helps, Children’s Activities, and Projects

  1. Audio of Torah Readings with Summary and Commentaries
  2. Hebrew for Christians Torah Parashah Noach Discussion
  3. Adult Study Outline
  4. Children’s Study Outline
  5. Torah Class In Depth Study of the Book of Genesis Ch. 6, Ch. 7, Ch. 8, Ch. 9, Ch. 10, and Ch. 11
  6. The Parsha Experiment – Noach: The Failure of Humanity (Video)
  7. Noah for Children (Cartoon Video)
  8. Tower of Babel for Children (Cartoon Video)
  9. Teaching from Rabbi Greg Hershberg (Beth Yeshua International) on Torah Parashah Noach: Get Ready Part 1, Get Ready Part 2
  10. Rainbow Themed Treats & Crafts
  11. More Treat & Craft Ideas
  12. Tower of Babel Game
  13. Preschool Worksheets
  14. Hebrew Lesson: Beit
  15. Homeschool Extension Activities:
Blessings,
Kay