The celebration of Chanukah has been in practice since the second century BC. Also known as the Feast of Dedication, the celebration marks the Maccabees success in rededicating the Temple to the worship of God after being used for the worship of pagan deities. When they arrived in the Temple, there was only enough oil pure enough to light the menorah and it would take a week to make more. Miraculously, the oil lasted eight days until new oil could be produced. This is a well-known and loved story the world over, but is there any historical evidence of Chanukah?

Chanukah took place during the Hellenistic period of Israeli history. This lasted from around 332 BC to 63 BC. During much of this time, the practice of Judaism was outlawed and many fell to pagan worship. The Temple itself was used for such activities, making it no longer pure for the worship of the Lord. in 165 BC, the Maccabees fought back and retook Jerusalem and the Temple again for the worship of the one true God which lasted until it’s destruction just short of 200 years later by the Romans.

Evidence of Chanukah Story

Israel is known for being one of the hottest spots for archeology in the entire world. Its soil is rich in well preserved artifacts, and thousands of years of history is found every year.  This includes evidence of the Chanukah story.

Recently, evidence of Chanukah and its historical participants has been located in Israel. Recently, a fortress from the time was discovered. The fortress was found atop a hill and constructed by the Hellenistic army commanders to keep an eye out for the Hasmoneans.

The researchers found that the fortress eventually was overtaken by the Hasmoneans, as burn marks on the fortress were found. Among the discoveries in the fort were arrows, other weapons, coins, pots and sling shots.

Chanukah in 2021

Chanukah this year is very early, falling November 28-6. It moves every year due to actually being ruled by the Hebrew calendar, which is based in the lunar cycles. Celebrations of the days will go on more traditionally this year, with no major restrictions in force for the Israeli population. This will make for some very exciting and meaningful celebrations!

How Can You Celebrate?

Evidence of Chanukah includes its enduring celebration, even being celebrated by Jesus!

Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

-John 10:22-30

Whether Jewish or Christian, we are all rooted in these ancient celebrations and traditions. You can celebrate Chanukah as well! Lighting a menorah is a great way to celebrate and bring the story to life for yourself and those around you.

Don’t forget the food! No Jewish celebration is complete without meaningful foods! Fried food is on the menu! How great is that!? Make some delicious latkes or just run down to your favorite donut shop and get some jelly donuts! Jelly donuts are a favorite of Chanukah celebrations. The reason for all the fried foods is to remind you of the oil that was provided.

The best way to celebrate the Feast of Dedication is to pray wherever you are for the peace of Jerusalem. That is a good prayer to do any day!

We look forward to celebrating this year with our families and hope you enjoy your celebrations wherever you are and that we will see you NEXT YEAR, IN JERUSALEM!