Today is the last day of Hanukkah, which this year is celebrated from the 4th to the 12th of December. As a young girl I celebrated Hanukkah with my friend Madie. She also would come to my house to celebrate Christmas with me.
The story of Hanukkah does not start with the miracle of the lights. It starts much, much earlier with the oppression of the Jewish people by the Syrians.
It was a terrible time for the Jews. Little by little the kings of Syria condemned everything the Jews held holy. Practice of their religion was reason to be put to death. The king, Antiochus IV outlawed all Jewish traditions and tortured and killed those who would not obey him. I've read a story of Hannah (Chanah) and her seven sons during the period of martyrdom.
At last when Antiochus' men arrived in the village of Modin where the old High Priest Mattityahu told them that he and his sons would remain true to the Laws of God. Then when one of the Jews, fearing his life, started to approach to the Syrians' altar, Mattityahu grabbed a sword and killed him. His sons rose up against the Syrians, killing many while the remaining few ran away.
From there, Jewish men, led by the Maccabees gathered together to make strikes against the Syrians. As Antiochus sent his men out, theywere defeated. Finally, he sent 40,000 men. The old prophet Samuel prayed for the battle and the Syrians were defeated.
The Maccabees returned to Jerusalem to recapture their temple. When they had, they entered the temple to rededicate it. After clearing it of idols and building a new alter, they made a new Menorah. They searched for oil, but found only 1 cruse of pure olive oil ~ enough for only 1 day. However, God gave them a miracle . . . the oil burned for 8 days until new oil could be obtained.
This is not just a tale of war and lights, it is rich and beautiful, the story of God's protection of His chosen people.
Bless all who are celebrating the last night of Chanukah tonight and all who are reading tonight.