Feast of Dedication, also called "Feast of
the Maccabees," celebrated during eight days
from the twenty-fifth day of Kislew (December),
chiefly as a festival of lights. It was instituted
by Judas Maccabeus, his brothers, and the elders
of the congregation of Israel, in the year 165
B.C., to be celebrated annually with mirth and
joy as a memorial of the dedication of the altar
(I Macc. iv. 59) or of the purification of the
sanctuary (II Macc. i. 18). Three years earlier,
on the same day, Antiochus Epiphanes had caused
a pagan altar to be set up at the altar of burnt
offerings in the Temple at Jerusalem, and sacrifices
to be offered to his idol (I Macc. i. 41-64; II
Macc. vi. 2). The idol called "Zeus Olympius"
was probably also called "Ba'al Shamayim,"
of which seems to be a cacophemy (Dan. xi. 31,
xii. 11; I Macc. i. 54; see Hoffmann, "Ueber
Einige Phönizische Inschriften," 1889,
having recovered the Holy City and the Temple,
Judas ordered the latter to be cleansed, a new
altar to be built in place of the one polluted,
and new holy vessels to be made. When the fire
had been kindled anew upon the altar and the lamps
of the candlestick lit, the dedication of the
altar was celebrated for eight days amid sacrifices
and songs (I Macc. iv. 36), similarly to the Feast
of Tabernacles (II Macc. x. 6; comp. ib. i. 9),
which also lasts for eight days, and at which
during the Second Temple (Suk.v. 2-4) the lighting
of lamps and torches formed a prominent part.
Lights were also kindled in the household, and
the popular name of the festival was, therefore,
according to Josephus ("Ant." xii. 7,
§ 7), ??ta = "Festival of Lights."
the Talmud it is principally known as the "Feast
of Illumination," and it was usual either
to display eight lamps on the first night of the
festival, and to reduce the number on each successive
night, or to begin with one lamp the first night,
increasing the number till the eighth night. The
Shammaites, usually representatives of the older
traditions, favored the former custom; the Hillelites
advocated the latter (Shab. 21b). Josephus thinks
that the lights were symbolical of the liberty
obtained by the Jews on the day of which ?anukkah
is the celebration. The Talmudic sources (Meg.
eodem; Meg. Ta'an. 23; comp. the different version
Pes. R. 2) ascribe the origin of the eight days'
festival, with its custom of illuminating the
houses, to the miracle said to have occurred at
the dedication of the purified Temple. This was
that the one small cruse of consecrated oil found
unpolluted by the Hasmonean priests when they
entered the Temple, it having been sealed and
hidden away, lasted for eight days until new oil
could be prepared for the lamps of the holy candlestick.
A legend similar in character, and obviously older
in date, is that alluded to in II Macc. i. 18
et seq., according to which the relighting of
the altar-fire by Nehemiah was due to a miracle
which occurred on the twenty-fifth of Kislew,
and which appears to be given as the reason for
the selection of the same date for the rededication
of the altar by Judas Maccabeus (comp. ?ag. iii.
10, 18, 20; Num. R. xiii. 4).
actual reason for the selection of the twenty-fifth
of Kislew by Judas Maccabeus for the dedication
of the altar is stated to have been, as mentioned
above, that on the very same day three years earlier
Antiochus Epiphanes had a pagan altar set up at
the altar of burnt offerings in the Temple of
Jerusalem and sacrifices offered to his idol (I
Macc. i. 41-64; comp. II Macc. vi. 2, where the
heathen god is called "Zeus Olympius").
The twenty-fifth of Kislew was accordingly a day
sacred also to the heathen before it became a
Jewish festival. According to Ewald ("Gesch.
des Volkes Israel," 3d ed., iv. 407) and
Wellhausen ("Israelitische und Jüdische
Gesch." p. 210; comp. Paulus Cassel, "Weihnachten,"
pp. 57, 97, and p. lii., notes), it had been celebrated
as the winter solstice feast by the Jewish people
before it became a historical festival associated
with the great Maccabean victory. Regarding the
historical data connected with the ?anukkah feast
see Maccabees; Maccabees, Books of.
Pharisaic circles the political achievements of
the Hasmoneans were pushed into the background,
and the very name of Judas Maccabeus fell into
oblivion. For some time Ps. xxx.—which, according
to verse 1 (A. V. heading), was sung by the Levites
in the Temple "at the dedication of the House"
(of God), that is, ?anukkah—was also recited in
the synagogue (Masseket Soferim xviii. 2; comp.
Pesi? R. 2). Later on only the Hallel was recited,
as on any other festival of thanksgiving; and
in the "hoda'ah" (thanksgiving) benediction
"Shemoneh 'Esreh" the liturgical formula
"'Al ha-Nissim" was inserted, referring
briefly to the victory achieved over the Syrians
by the Hasmonean Mattathias and his sons. The
erroneous designation of Mattathias as son of
Johanan the high priest seems to rest upon the
late Hebrew apocryphal "Megillat An?yokus"
or "Megillat ?anukkah," which has other
names and dates strangely mixed. The liturgical
part inserted reads as follows:?anukkah Lamp Found
in Jerusalem Excavations.(In the possession of
J. D. Eisenstein.)
thank Thee] also for the miraculous deeds and
for the redemption and for the mighty deeds and
the saving acts wrought by Thee, as well as for
the wars which Thou didst wage for our fathers
in days of yore at this season.
HANUKKAH LAMPS.1. Bronze, French, attributed to
12th cent. (in the Musée de Cluny, Paris).
2. Yellow copper, modern (in the synagogue at
Pogrebishche, Russia). 3. Silver (?), medieval
(in the possession of Dr. Albert Figdor, Vienna).
4. Yellow copper, modern (in the synagogue at
Padua, Italy). 5. Silver and bronze, 17th cent.
(in the possession of Jacob H. Schiff. New York).?anukkah
Lamps.1. Silver, modern (from the collection of
the late Rabbi Benjamin Szold, Baltimore). 2.
Bronze, Italian, 15th cent. (in the Victoria and
Albert Museum, London). 3. Silver, English (?),
16th cent. (in the possession of E. A. Franklin,
London). 4. Silver, Nuremberg, 17th cent. (in
the possession of N. S. Joseph, London). 5. Silver,
modern (in the possession of Maurice Herrmann,
the days of the Hasmonean Mattathias, son of Johanan
the high priest, and his sons, when the iniquitous
kingdom of Greece [Syria] rose up against Thy
people Israel, to make them forget Thy Law and
to turn them away from the ordinances of Thy will,
then didst Thou in Thine abundant mercy rise up
for them in the time of their trouble, plead their
cause, execute their judgment, avenge their wrong,
and deliver the strong into the hands of the weak,
many into the hands of few, the impure into the
hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of
the righteous, and insolent ones into the hands
of such as are occupied with Thy Law. Both unto
Thyself Thou didst make a great and holy name
in Thy world, and unto Thy people didst Thou achieve
a great deliverance and redemption as at this
day. Whereupon Thy children entered the sanctuary
of Thy house, cleansed Thy temple, purified Thy
sanctuary, kindled lights in Thy holy courts,
and appointed these eight days of ?anukkah in
order to give thanks and praises unto Thy holy
Pentateuch readings for the eight ?anukkah days
are taken successively from Num. vii., the chapter
relating to the gifts of the twelve princes of
Israel on the occasion of the dedication of the
altar of the tabernacle in the wilderness. On
the eighth day the verses Num. vii. 54-viii. 4
are read, the last four verses referring to the
kindling of the lights of the holy candlestick
(Meg. iii. 6; Bab. 31a). The twenty-fifth of Kislew
was taken by tradition to have been also the date
of the dedication of the altar in the time of
Moses (Pesi?. R. 6; Ex. R. lii.; Num. R. xiii.
importance is attached by rabbinical law to the
kindling of the ?anukkah lamp, the sole object
of which, however, was originally not the lighting
of the house within, but the illumination of the
house without, so that passers-by should see it.
Accordingly lamps were set up near the door leading
to the street; and when a house had doors on several
sides, lamps were placed in front of each door.
As many lights were kindled as there were persons
in the house. Only when there was danger of persecution,
as was the case in Persia under the rule of the
fire-worshipers, were the lamps placed indoors.
As the lights were intended only for illumination
in honor of the feast, reading by them was prohibited
who lights the ?anukkah lamp and those who see
it kindled recite the benedictions, "Blessed
be the Lord our God, King of the Universe, who
hast sanctified us by Thy commandments and enjoined
us to kindle the ?anukkah lamp," and "Blessed
. . . who has done wondrous things to our fathers
in days of yore at this season." See also
She-?e?eyanu (Shab. 23a; comp. Yer. Suk. iii.
53d, and "Tanya," xxxv.).
also are enjoined to kindle the ?anukkah lamp
(Shab. 23a). In fact, Jewish legend loved to connect
the heroic deed of Judith with the Maccabean story
kindling of the ?anukkah lights is solemnized
also by songs extolling God as Israel's Deliverer
(see Ma'oz ?ur). In view of the fact that work
ought not to be done by the ?anukkah light—especially
by women ("Tanya," l.c.; ?ur Ora? ?ayyim,
670)—games, riddles, and other pastimes were indulged
in on ?anukkah evenings (Bodenschatz, "Kirchliche
Verfassung der Juden," ii. 3, 4, 6; Berliner,
"Aus dem Inneren Leben der Deutschen Juden
im Mittelalter," 1900, p. 32; Brüll's
"Jahrb." ix. 18; Abrahams, "Jewish
Life in the Middle Ages," pp. 385, 396; Tendlau,
"Sprüchwörter und Redensarten,"
1866, p. 52).