From the Exile to the Christ:
The Story of Hanukkah

By Daniel Fuchs


In 168 B.C., Antiochus Epiphanes, trusting in a Pantheon of Greek gods, outlawed Judaism. As he went about destroying synagogues and massacring thousands he never suspected that a small band of Jewish men, trusting only in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, would completely humiliate him.

In 168 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes thought he had solved the "Jewish problem." His troops had leveled the walls of Jerusalem, and he erected a huge fortress, known as Acra, in the Temple area for the use of his Greek troops.

Epiphanes had made up his mind to entirely obliterate the Jewish religion. He declared their constitution, the Torah, to be null and void. He forbade the observance of their religious customs, especially the keeping of the Sabbath, circumcision and the dietary laws. On the other hand, he enforced the adoption of the Greek state religion.


Enforcing the "New" Religion

The Jews were forced to sacrifice to the Greek gods. In order to compel them to follow the Greek religion, he made them sacrifice unclean animals, particularly pigs, on the pagan altars. Greek officials were sent throughout the entire nation to rigidly enforce the "new" religion. The slightest show of resistance was punished by death. Synagogues were destroyed, sacred scrolls of the Law were desecrated, and people were massacred by the thousands.

To top these calamities, the Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated to the Greek god Zeus. A statue of Zeus was set up in the Temple. Pigs were slain on the altar. This was the horrible "abomination that causes desolation" spoken of by Daniel.

His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him" (Dan. 11:31, 32).

Those who escaped Antiochus's wrath fled to hiding places on the shores of the Dead Sea, in the wilderness of Judea and in the mountain caves. They carried with them copies of the Torah and the prophecy of Daniel. The leaders of the exodus into the wilderness were known as Chasidim, "the pious ones." They were prepared to die for their faith, and many of them did.

One captain in Antiochus's army erected a pagan altar at a little town northeast of Jerusalem. The people were commanded to come forward and sacrifice a pig at the altar in order to demonstrate their loyalty to Antiochus.

An aged priest, Mattathias, was commanded to set an example and be the first to sacrifice. He refused. Then a timid Judean, a collaborator, approached the altar to sacrifice a pig. Mattathias was enraged. He killed the apostate Jew and the Syrian captain. He and his five sons destroyed the pagan altar and fled to the mountains around Jerusalem.


The Timid Responded

The news of Mattathias's rebellion quickly spread. Many who had been timid responded when Mattathias and his five sons raised their war cry. "Let every one who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come out with me" (1 Macc. 2:27).

At first it was guerrilla warfare and it seemed hopeless. Then many seekers for uprightness and justice went down into the wilderness to settle, with their sons and their wives and their cattle, because their hardships had become so severe. And news reached the king's agents and the forces that were in Jerusalem, in the City of David, that men who had disregarded the king's order had gone down to the hiding-places in the wilderness. And they pursued them in force and overtook them, and pitched their camp against them and prepared to attack them on the sabbath day. And they said to them,

"Enough! Come out and do as the king commands, and you will live."

And they said, "We will not come out nor do as the king commands, and break the sabbath."

Then they hastened to attack them. And they made no response to them; they did not throw a stone at them nor block up their hiding-places, for they said, "Let us all die guiltless. We call heaven and earth to witness that you destroy us unlawfully."

So they attacked them on the sabbath, and they died, with their wives and their children and their cattle, to a number of a thousand people. I Maccabees 2:29-38.

Mattathias decided that the policy of letting the Greeks massacre them on the Sabbath was wrong. He decided that from that time on the Jews could defend themselves on the Sabbath day. This decision was the turning point in the war. Antiochus soon learned that he had a violent rebellion on his hands.

The Jews were forced to sacrifice to the Greek gods. In order to compel them to follow the Greek religion, he made them sacrifice unclean animals, particularly pigs, on the pagan altars. Greek officials were sent throughout the entire nation to rigidly enforce the "new" religion.

Mattathias, an old man, died within a year of his tearing down the pagan altar. On his deathbed he appointed his son Judah, who was surnamed Maccabeus, as commander-in-chief,* It was a wise choice. God greatly used Judah in humbling Antiochus Epiphanes.

*Some scholars explain that the name Maccabeus is an acrostic consisting of the first syllables of their war cry, "Mi-ko-moch ba-eilem?" which means "Who is like unto Thee, O Lord?" Others derive his name from Makkebet, the Hebrew word for hammer.

At first Judah Maccabeus and his men made sporadic attacks against unguarded cities. But gradually, as his forces grew bolder, he began to attack the outposts of the Syrian forces. The Syrian commanders deployed battalions of Syrian soldiers and Hellenized Jews. Many times it seemed as if the Jews were cornered, but each time before the battle the Jews fasted and prayed. And the Lord would bring them through victorious.


The Book of Daniel — A Lifeline

They read the Book of Daniel, and in that book God told them how long it would be before the Temple would be out of pagan hands. "How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled — the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?' He said to me, 'It will take 2,300 evenings mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated'" (Dan. 8:13, 14).

The answer to the question, "How long?' was "Not long." God was faithful to His promise. The temple was reconsecrated exactly 2,300 days from the time Antiochus Epiphanes began his persecution of the Jews!

(The 2300 days, were 2300 evenings and mornings of daily sacrifices—Robert K. Sanders.)

The prince of Jewish historians, Professor H. Graetz, wrote of this prophecy as follows:

"The book of Daniel, with its mystical revelations, was undoubtedly read with great interest by the Assidaeans. The apocalyptic form, which gave each line a peculiar meaning, and reflected the present conditions, lent it a great attraction. Moreover, it solved the problem of the present calamities, and showed the object of the horrible persecutions; these were intended, on the one hand, to destroy sin, and on the other hand, to ennoble believers. It was evident that the duration of the period of affliction had been determined from the beginning, and that this very duration, too, had a secret meaning. The worldly kingdoms would disappear, and at the end time, God's kingdom, the kingdom of the holy ones, would commence, and those who had died or had been slain during the persecutions would awake to eternal life." H. Graetz, History of the Jews, Vol. 1, R 466.

Never before in military history were so many defeated by so few. Antiochus now realized that he had a full-blown rebellion on his hands, one which he had to quickly suppress. He appointed his ablest general, Lysias, to wipe out all vestiges of Judaism. Lysias led an elite army and was so confident of victory that he announced beforehand the price he would charge for the Jewish slaves he would capture!

Judah and his men gathered at Mizpeh, where centuries before Samuel had called the people of Israel to repentance (1 Sam. 7:5). There they prayed, and God answered their prayer. That night the brilliant General Lysias decided to divide his troops. He sent a contingent of cavalry and infantry to make a surprise attack against the Jewish forces in the morning. But that night Judah and his men broke camp and the next morning utterly routed the remainder of the Syrian army.


They Dropped Their Swords

The road to Jerusalem was now open. With songs of praise (Hallelu Yah) on their lips, the Maccabean army entered Jerusalem, which had been desecrated three years ago. There the soldiers dropped their swords so that they could finish what they had been fighting for—cleansing of the Temple.

"And Judah and his brothers said, 'Now that our enemies are crushed, let us go up to purify the sanctuary and rededicate it" (1 Macc. 4:36). They removed every vestige of paganism and erected a new altar. On the 25th day of Kislev (usually in December),exactly three years after the abomination of desolation fouled the Temple, the Temple once more was dedicated. They celebrated the dedication feast for eight days.

This was the origin of Hanukkah. Almost two centuries later our Lord celebrated it: "Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, an Jesus was in the Temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade" (Jn. 10:22, 23).


A Beautiful Tradition

In later years a beautiful tradition arose. The Talmud tells us of the miracle of a single cruse of oil. It contained just enough oil to light the menorah (candlestick) for one day. But it would take eight days for the priest to prepare more oil that was untouched by pagan hands. According to the legend, a miracle happened, and the single cruse of oil lasted until the "eternal" light in the Temple could be lawfully lighted.

It's a fascinating, legend, but the real miracle is that once more God preserved His people so that He could fulfill His promise to Abraham. that "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Gen. 12-3).


Note from editor

The SDA reader will hopefully note that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself observed Hanukah (Feast of Dedication) as noted in John 10:22 and also note that Ellen White never commented on this verse, WHY not?? It's another part of the slippery deception of SDAism. Why didn't Ellen acknowledge that the cleansing of the Sanctuary was in the past and was celebrated by our Lord? The reason she could not do so, was because it would destroy her "Sanctuary doctrine" and her prophetic influence.

Every December the Jewish People by their observance of Hanukah, disprove EGW and the SDA interpretive nonsense of Daniel 8:14 as applying to an imaginary event that Jesus cleansed the Sanctuary and began an Investigative Judgment in 1844 of the saints.

JESUS warned of ravening false prophets that would look like sheep. EGW is just such a person. The SDA theology is not the Gospel of the New Testament.

SDA's, you have been badly misled in your SDA experience, and it is your responsibility to search and find out the real truth, since Jesus commanded us to beware of falsehood and false prophets as did other Bible writers. —Robert K. Sanders


Further Information

2300 Days by Vowless

Robert K. Sanders, Founder and Editor of Truth or Fables, 1997–2012
Life Assurance Ministries assumed ownership of Truth or Fables in 2012
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