Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgivukkah

The last time was 1888, the next time will be 81,056 that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah will be on the same day. I doubt seriously that there will be a United States by then.

Hanukkah celebrates the re-dedication of the temple in Jerusalem after it was desecrated in 167BC by the Syrians. There is nothing intrinsically unchristian about it, although sometimes Christians think there is. In our world, we think of Hanukkah as a competing holiday with Christmas. But Jesus goes to this festival in John 10:22. If you think of how the book of Esther has the feast of Purim to celebrate God delivering the Jews of Persia from Haman, Hanukkah similarly celebrates God's victory over the Syrians.

You can read about the event in 1 Maccabees. Another reason why Protestants in particular might have a residual negative feeling toward Hanukkah is the fact that this book (along with 2 Maccabees), is in the Roman Catholic (and Orthodox) Bible. But just because we don't consider these books Scripture doesn't mean that God didn't deliver the Jews. Historically speaking, it is overwhelmingly likely that there is a core historicity to the story.

The Maccabean crisis is what Daniel 11 was originally about. The crisis played such a formative role on Judaism that it's likely Christianity would look drastically different if it hadn't had happened. Pharisees, Essenes, and Sadducees all arguably were formed as groups in this period. The period provided the lens through which Jews at the time of Christ arguably read the Old Testament.


Susan Moore said...

Happy Thanksgivukkah to you and everyone!! His truth will set us all free, one day! (Romans 11:11-24, 25-27). Even though we don't understand His ways, we must still always praise Him!!
If you teach a MOOC class this spring (earlier blog) about the writings from between the testaments (or something like that), is 1 and 2 Macc. going to be in it?
Let's play! :-)

Ken Schenck said...

I am still thinking of using an online "class" to try to finish writing a book I started back in 2004 on Jewish traditions of the afterlife. In that regard, 2 Maccabees is extremely important because of its striking sense of physical resurrection--the earliest and robust account of physical resurrection in Judaism.

Susan Moore said...

That sounds interesting.
Am off from school for 2 months starting yesterday, then just one freshman English class and the final exit class to go and I'm done with Bachelor's degree in April. Wow, I can finally see the finish line coming up!
There is a Jewish organization behind me and they gave me the reference to the Hebrew language teaching material they use. Will be getting that this payday (my first payday!) and digging in. Also told me to check the synagogue to find the local tutor.
God is only good! Much to be thankful for...

Susan Moore said...

Re-reading John 10:22, when Jesus went to the Feast of the Dedication.
It’s curious, isn’t it? Jesus was walking in the temple area and Jews gathered around Him and said, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you really are the Messiah, tell us so in plain words.”
Looking back, it makes me grateful for the times in my life when I have struggled, and in my confusion and impatience I have demanded to know the same thing.
I am grateful because every single time, in His own timing and way, He joyfully turned me around to face Him, just like He turned the Jews around that day.
But, this day, let us rejoice in His grace.
Still thanking Him…