The story of Hanukkah has been around for thousands of years and has become one of the most beloved Jewish festivals celebrated today. Hanukkah marks the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after a small group of Jews, called the Maccabees, successfully defended their homeland against the armies of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Although the story of Hanukkah is found in the Books of 1 and 2 Maccabees – parts of the Apocrypha – its roots lie in the books of the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament.
The story of Hanukkah can be found in four books of the Bible. The longest and most detailed account of the Maccabean Revolt and the rededication of the Temple is found in 1 Maccabees. This book is part of the Apocrypha, which is a collection of works not included in the Hebrew Bible. The other three books that contain references to the events associated with Hanukkah are Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah.
Daniel was written around 167 – 164 BCE, making it one of the last books of the Bible written. The story of Hanukkah in the Book of Daniel is recorded in chapter 11, which describes the exploits of Antiochus IV. This section of Daniel is the backdrop for the Maccabean Revolt. It is important premise for what will take place in 1 Maccabees and other references to Hanukkah in the Bible.
Ezra was written a few decades before the Maccabean Revolt of 168 – 164 BCE. The passage recorded in Ezra does not tell the story of Hanukkah directly, but it provides valuable information into the form of sacrifices that were being practiced in the Temple during the time of the Maccabees. This information provides context into the implications of the rededication of the Temple which was a major part of the Hanukkah celebration.
The Book of Nehemiah, which was written around 400 – 300 BCE, contains one of the earliest accounts of Hanukkah and sets the stage for the events that would soon unfold. Nehemiah records the way of life of the Jews at this time and his words provide an important insight into what was happening in the year 168 BCE. It also explains why a small group of Jews, led by Judah Maccabee, would rise up and fight against the Seleucid Empire.
In conclusion, the story of Hanukkah is not found in the Bible, but references to the events that happened during this time can be found in four books of the biblical canon. These books include Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, which provide context, and 1 Maccabees, which is the longest and most detailed account of the Maccabean Revolt and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. The story of Hanukkah is one of courage and resilience which continues to inspire countless people each year.
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