JESUS AND CHANUKAH
"It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Chanukah, the Festival of Dedication". (John 10:22) (NLT)
When Gentile followers of Jesus consider Chanukah, some may think of this feast as primarily an 8 day period where Jewish families light the menorrah and exchange gifts. I grew up in a neighborhood where almost 35 percent of the families were Jewish. Little did I know that I was receiving an Hebraic education during my childhood years in the homes of my Jewish friends, and that Chanukah had such rich meaning.
Chanukah is Hebrew for the word(s) "dedication" and "train." In a nutshell, "The Feast Of Dedication" (Chanukah) is the celebration and commemoration of the Maccabean revolt against the Army of Syrian Greeks, and Hellenistic (Greek) influence. A miracle took place when the Maccabeans returned to Jerusalem. When they entered the Temple they had only one vial of oil to light a small cruse (lamp). The "miracle" oil lasted for 8 days. This victory over the Syrian Greeks led to the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem.
CHANUKAH AND ENOCH
Chanukah in its root form gives you the name of one of Jesus Christ's ancestors ENOCH (Chanuk). Enoch is believed to be the originator of letters and learning. The Book of Jude is also ascribed to him.
CHANUKAH AND EDUCATION
My purpose in writing this letter is to give you information on the root word of Chanukah (Chanuk), as it relates to educating children. We are all acquainted with the biblical text in Prov. 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." The Hebrew verb translated "train" is the word "chanuk." To train is to discipline. From the Hebraic perspective discipline is education. Jesus' last words in Matt. 28:19 command us to make students (disciples) and teach them to become observant.
I learned from the Hebrew scholar Marvin Wilson in his book, Our Father Abraham, that it was Jewish practice to use honey in a special ceremony on a child's first day of school. The child was shown a slate which had written on it the letters of the alphabet, and two verses of Scripture (Lev. 1:1; Deut. 33:4). Along with the Scriptures was one other sentence: "The Law will be my calling." Then the slate was coated with honey, which the child licked off. After this ceremony, the child was given sweet cakes to eat with Bible verses from the Law written on them. Remember, God's words are sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. This reminded them of Ezekiel, who said after eating the scroll, " I ate it; and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth" (Ezek. 3:3). 1
Pastors have a responsibility to educate their sheep in the fullness of Hebraic understanding. When taught accurately, this education should result in the sweet taste of each word taught; each word drawing the student to a closer personal relationship with the Father, His Son and with the person of the Holy Spirit. "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven" (Mat. 18:3).
(1) Wilson, M. (1998). Our Father Abraham. Grand Rapids, Mi.: Wm. B. Eerdmans. pgs.291-293.