National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series: Theology

The Festival or Feast of Dedication, also known as Hanukkah or Chanukah, is not mentioned in the Old Testament. It is a Jewish holiday that originated after the time period covered by the Old Testament. The events associated with Hanukkah occurred during the intertestamental period, between the Old and New Testaments.

Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after it was desecrated by the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the 2nd century BCE. The story is documented in the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees, which are part of the Apocrypha, a collection of Jewish writings from that period.

According to the historical accounts, a group of Jewish rebels known as the Maccabees fought against the Seleucid Empire and eventually reclaimed the Temple. They cleansed and rededicated it, which led to the celebration of the Feast of Dedication.

During Hanukkah, which typically falls in late November or December, Jewish people light candles on a special nine-branched candelabrum called a menorah. They light one candle on the first night and an additional candle each subsequent night, until all the candles are lit. The festival lasts for eight days, and it is a time of joyous celebration, gift-giving, and the consumption of foods cooked in oil, such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts).

While the Feast of Dedication is not explicitly mentioned in the Old Testament, it has become an important holiday in the Jewish calendar, symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness and the preservation of Jewish faith and identity.