Chanukah (Term)

Chanukah, also known as Hanukkah, is a Jewish festival that lasts for eight days, typically falling in December. While not a Christian holiday, it holds historical and theological interest for Christians given its proximity to the Christian celebration of Christmas and its significance in the intertestamental period, which provides context to the New Testament environment.

Theologically, Chanukah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE, following its desecration by the Seleucid Empire. The festival is often called the Festival of Lights, centered around the miracle where the menorah (temple candelabrum) miraculously burned for eight days on a supply of oil that should have lasted only one day, according to the Talmud.

For Christians, Chanukah can highlight themes of religious freedom and the light of God enduring in times of darkness. This aligns with themes found in Christian theology concerning God’s continual presence and faithfulness to His covenant, even in periods of persecution or moral decline. Additionally, Jesus Christ’s participation in the “Feast of Dedication” as noted in John 10:22-23 provides a direct biblical connection, illustrating Jesus’ engagement with Jewish tradition and festivals, which can enrich Christian understanding of Jesus’ historical and cultural context.