What is the Feast of Dedication?
The Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah in the Hebrew language, is a time of remembrance - and specifically a time to remember the temple being built and rebuilt long ago. These eight days of remembrance are to reflect on Yah's providence throughout history and how He continually made a way for His people to draw near to Himself. In the world around us, we can easily see how the Jewish community celebrates this holiday, but how does a Messianic Israelite Christian Truther Natsarim (or whatever we call ourselves) celebrate this feast without all of the pagan ties? This question became my mission for the several weeks last year and I made it my wifely duty to figure it out!
The first questions I had were, "Should we be celebrating this holiday?" and "Is it even in the bible?" It's not one of Yah's seven Holy Days, and that's what spurred the questions. In digging into this, I found that the Feast of Dedication was a festival that can be traced back furthest to Solomon's temple, but also in at least two more Biblical references.
1) The Feast of Dedication at Solomon's Temple
I encourage you to take the time to read
1 Kings 8 to get a better understanding of what was going on (Solomon's prayer over the temple, etc.), but to summarize, the temple had finally been built and all of the people of Israel were gathered for the dedication of the temple. Most importantly for this study, 1 Kings 8:65-66 shows that Solomon held a feast for 8 days that was to celebrate the dedication of the temple.
65 And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt, before YAHUAH our Elohim, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days.
66 On the eighth day he sent the people away: and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that YAHUAH had done for David his servant, and for Yashar'el (Israel) his people.
Our first encounter with the Feast of Dedication is exciting to read. What an occasionit must have been for the Israelite's - can you imagine being there and celebrating the temple that was promised to David and Solomon?! The people went away joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that Adonai had done. What a momentous time in history!
2) The Feast of Dedication recorded in Maccabees
First and second Maccabees are found in the Septuagint and unfortunately, they were later removed from most Protestant bibles. These books were originally part of the Holy Scriptures referred to by our Messiah and are now mostly viewed as apocryphal books. For more information on the removal of the apocryphal books from our modern day bible, check out
Without spoiling the whole story for you, Maccabees recounts the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. The Maccabees were a band of Jewish freedom fighters who freed Judea from the Syrian-Greek occupiers during the Second Temple period. Led by Judah the Maccabee and his four brothers, they annihilated the Greek intruders and restored the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to the service of Yah. This is the victory that is primarily celebrated during the holiday of Hanukkah.
The overarching message that we get from Maccabees is to never cower in the face of tyranny. Do your part, trust in Yah, and success is sure to come. What a powerful message that is relevant in all times and in all situations! I truly love the reasons for this feast.
3) Yahusha (Messiah) at the Feast of Dedication
Here's what put the nail in the coffin for me. In John 10:22-23 we find Yeshua in the temple during the Feast of Dedication:
22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
23 And Yahusha walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.
If this was not a feast that Messiah believed we should be keeping, why was He there and why didn't He take this perfect opportunity to say so? In the verses that directly follow this passage, Yahusha is speaking to the Jews and doesn't condemn them in anyway for observing this feast in His fathers house. Of course He would be there as this was a great day of remembrance of the first and second temple being dedicated to Yah.
The research up to this point settled it for our family. "Let's do this!" We said, but how?
What the Feast of Dedication is NOT:
First and foremost, it is not a holy appointed day given to us by Yah. You can look at this as more of a secondary holiday similar to Purim. In American culture it's sort of similar to Memorial Day... not a main holiday, but still one that is cause for celebration. The nine branch hanukiah (which many people mistakenly call a menorah) is not biblical. You will not find a nine branch hanukiah anywhere in the Holy Scriptures. You will however find a seven branch menorah (a seven branch lampstand) and the detailed instruction that were given to Moses to create it in Exodus 25:31-40.
There are many Jewish / Talmudic influences on Hanukkah. The holiday has been hijacked in many ways. There's some bogus story about oil lasting for 8 days and many other random things I found that don't line up with scripture. Do your own research before implementing any traditions, especially if you're copying anything from modern Judaism.
Lastly, I'll just say that the Feast of Dedication is not a day to replace christmas. This is a memorable day of remembrance in the Hebrew culture and it revolves around the meaning of the feast rather than simply giving gifts.
Here's how our family celebrated last year
Just like last year, we are improvising and making it our own in 2019 as well. The beauty of this feast is that it's a joyful time of celebration and we can do that in many ways. Biblically, there's no right or wrong way to do this, so we're kind of making it up as we go and making sure that it will all be glorifying to Yah.
This year (2019) the feast falls on December 22nd through December 30th (according to the Jewish calendar which we don't typically follow, long story) and we are going to use this time to rededicate our temple.
1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and what better time to search within and focus on dedicating or rededicating every ounce of ourselves fully to Yah? We plan to enter into this time in prayer and also combine that with celebration for the goodness that YAHUAH has shown us. This is the heart of the feast for us.
Last year, we read through 1 Kings 8 and first and second Maccabees as a family and we plan to do the same again this year. We have kids ranging from 5-15 and I'm sure we'll stop throughout, explain and ask questions to make sure everyone understands the story - especially since we've started reading the Torah portions as a family, we've all really grown to love reading together. It's something that most families don't often do in modern culture and it's seriously undervalued in my humble opinion.
Last year, we ordered our first 7 branch menorah and it arrived within a week. It was much smaller than I anticipated...only 5 inches or so tall (the Amazon picture was quite deceiving), but it is an adorable mini menorah that we have grown fond of over the last year. Here's the one we ordered. Our plan is to use the seven branch menorah to represent the seven Holy Days: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles. Ideally, each night we plan to discuss one of these Holy Days and then we will give a gift to each of family member that will help us to remember the meaning of each Holy Day.
We will also have the kids help us light a candle for the four prophecies that have been fulfilled by our Messiah (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Pentecost), however the last three will remain unlit as they have not been fulfilled yet. The last day ideally would be a big feast day with a yummy meal and lots of family time together.
Ideas for celebrating
Decorate! This is all part of the fun and the kids will love it. We decorated a week ahead of time and decided to go with mostly gold decorations (streamers, flowers and other dollar store finds). Gold signifies pureness and we want to focus on purifying our temple during this time. We made a "Feast of Dedication" banner, we bought gold-wrapped candy (Werther's) to put in a bowl and we'll be working on more handmade kid crafts leading up to the feast.
Make a menu for your feast. We're having broccoli cheddar soup in bread bowls with a side salad and latkes... because we like soup in a bread bowl and don't do it often, so it will be a treat. We also haven't tried latkes before so that will be something fun to taste test. Additionally, we're going to make baklava for dessert...because it's delicious. We're going to prepare the whole meal as a family and have fun working in the kitchen together as part of our family tradition for this feast.
Brainstorm gifts that go along with each of the Holy Days represented on the menorah. Here's what we came up with last year:
PASSOVER: Everyone received a wooden cross made in Bethlehem that is made out of olive tree wood (Click link in previous sentence to check it out). They are about 5 inches tall and have enough room so that Justin was able to engrave each of the family members names on it in Hebrew. This will be a reminder of our Messiah's sacrifice and will sit by our beds so that we remember every morning and every evening to give thanks to our King and our Redeemer.
UNLEAVENED BREAD: The older two children received purity rings as a reminder to stay pure and keep the unleavened bread (sin) out of our lives. I purchased these on Amazon and they were under $10. With our younger two girls, my husband and I will be sharing a mommy/daughter bracelet and daddy/daughter necklace.
FIRST FRUITS: Each family member received a shirt that has a biblical tie written on it such as "OBEYAH" (obey Yah), "Shalom Y'all", "Daughter of a King", etc. This tied into a message about being fruitful... faith is a verb, and we should be bold to wear faith proudly! It's pretty incredible how many opportunities Yah will give you in public just from wearing a t-shirt.
PENTECOST: The biggest meaning we see here is "power"(the power of the Holy Spirit) and what's more powerful than love? My husband and I gave each of the children handwritten love letters and we also wrote love letters to each other. These letters included our prayers for each child.
TRUMPETS: We decided we were going to make a joyful noise - so everyone received a musical instrument. We purchased a ukulele, a guitar, a recorder, tambourines and other noise makers to make sure Yah (and the neighbors) will hear our songs. We plan on worshiping together with our new instruments again this year.
ATONEMENT: My husband is artistically gifted and painted a small canvas for everyone in the family and each had a unique scripture for each individual written over the painting. I am not a painter, but I did my best to make my husband a beautiful canvas as well (Editors Note from Justin: "I loved Jacquie's painting!")
TABERNACLES: Just like last year, we will be making mini sukkah's (a booth/hut) out of graham crackers, pretzels, frosting and candy during the day. We will be celebrating this day with lots of candy and baked goods which will be followed by our feast meal. We also plan on taking communion before our meal and my husband and I will drink some red wine and the kids will have sparkling cider.
Over the days that we celebrated, I also found a
Second Temple 3D wooden puzzle that we worked on as a family. It was an awesome visual project for the kids to learn more about what the temple looked like in detail. You can also paint the puzzle once it's finished! Click the pic to check prices on Amazon.
As I said earlier, make the Feast of Dedication traditions your own and above all, make sure that your heart is in it to glorify the Most High for all his goodness. This is an exciting feast to partake in and I pray that your family is blessed during this season of remembrance and re-dedication.
We would love for you to share your family's traditions and ideas in the comments below as we can all learn from each other. Looking forward to hearing from you all!
Blessings and shalom,