corner graphic

Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Dedication, the Feast of the

Resource Toolbox
Additional Links

(τὰ ἐγκαίνια, the renewal, John 10:22 [which the Sept. has in Numbers 7:10]; Vulg. encania), the festival instituted to commemorate the purging of the Temple and the rebuilding of the altar after Judas Maccabaeus had driven out the Syrians, B.C. 164 (1 Maccabees 4:52-59, where it is ἐγκαινισμὸς τοῦ θυσιατηρίου, the restoration of the altar, because the old and profaned altar was then replaced; but in 2 Maccabees 10:5, καθαρισμὸς τοῦ ναοῦ, the purification of the Temple: the modern Jews call it simply chanukah', חֲנוּכָה ["dedication," as occurs in Numbers 7:10-11; Numbers 7:84; Numbers 7:88; 2 Chronicles 7:9; Nehemiah 12:27; Psalms 30, title; Ezra 6:16-17; Daniel 3:2, as in the Mishna; but Josephus, Ant. 12:7, 7, styles it φῶτα, lights). The following account of it is chiefly from Rabbinical sources. (See ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANES).

Mode in which this Festival was and still is celebrated. It commenced on the 25th of Chisleu, (See CALENDAR, JEWISH), and lasted eight days, but it did not require attendance at Jerusalem. (Jesus, however, was present there during this season, χειμών, or winter, John 10:20.) It was an occasion of much festivity. The Jews assembled in the Temple or in the synagogues of the places wherein they resided (Rosh haShana, 18:2), carrying branches of trees and palms in their hands, and sang psalms to the God of their salvation. No fast or mourning on account of any calamity or bereavement was permitted to commence during the festival (Mishna, Taanith, 2:10; Moed Katon, 3, 9); the Temple and all private houses were lighted up within and without by lanterns and torches every evening during the eight days in token of this joy (1 Maccabees 4:52-59; 2 Maccabees 10:6, etc.; Mishna, Baba Kama, v. 6), for which reasons Josephus also calls it λύχνων ἀνακαύσεις, the Feast of Lamps (comp. Ant. 12:7 7,7 with Apion. 2:39). Maimonides, in discoursing upon this subject, distinctly declares that "the lighting up of the lamps is a commandment from the scribes." "The order is," says he, "that every house should light one light, whether the inmates thereof be many or only one. He, however, who honors the injunction has as many lights as there are inmates in the house he has a light for every man and woman. And he who respects it still more adds a light for every individual every night, so that if a house wherein are ten inmates began with ten lights, it would end with eighty" (Mishna, Torah Hilchoth Megillah VeChanukah, sec. iv, p. 326, b). These lamps must be lighted immediately after sunset by the head of the family, who pronounces the three following benedictions:

1. "Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the world, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and enjoined upon us to light the lamps of the Feast of the Dedication."

2. "Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the world, who hast done wonders for our forefathers in those days about this time;" and,

3. "Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the world, who hast preserved us in life and health, and hast permitted us to see this day!" The third benediction however, is only pronounced on the first day of this festival. The practice of illumination in connection with this festival is, as we have seen, of very old date, and was most probably suggested by the fact that "the lamps which were upon the candlestick" were lighted by the people at the restoration of the Temple service (1 Maccabees 4:50-51), as well as by the natural feeling existing among most nations to have illuminations on occasions of great joy. The Egyptians also had a similar festival (Herod. 2:62). Midrashim of very great antiquity, however, give another reason for this custom of lighting lamps. They tell us that "when the Maccabees went into the Temple after vanquishing the enemy, and wanted to light the candlestick, they could not find any oil, except one vial, and it was sealed with the ring of the high-priest, which assured them that it was not polluted, but it was just enough to light one day. Whereupon God, whose glory dwelleth in the heavens, blessed it, so that they were able to feed the lamps therewith for eight days. Wherefore the Maccabees and all the people, like one man, have ordained that these eight days should henceforth be days of joy and rejoicing, like the festivals ordained in the law, and that lamps should be lighted on those days, to make known the wondrous works which the God of the heavens hath wrought for them" (Megillath Antiochus, p. 145, ed. Jellinek; Talmud, Sabbath, 21, b). Now, whatever we may think about the embellishments of this story, it is not at all unlikely that a vial of oil was actually discovered in the Temple just at a time when it was most wanted, and that this is one of the reasons why the lighting of lamps has been instituted.

At every morning prayer during the whole of this festival, a portion of the 7th chapter of Numbers is read in the synagogue by the prelector, in accordance with a very old custom (Mishna, Megilla, 3, 6); thus, on the first day, Numbers 7:1-17, is read after the regular lesson of the Pentateuch, if it is a Sabbath, and the Haphtorah, or the portion from the Prophets, is Zechariah 2; on the second, Numbers 7:18-23, is read, beginning with "On the second day," etc., and the same Haphtorah; on the third day, Numbers 7:24-29, and the same Haphtorah, and so on. In the Temple at Jerusalem, the "Hallel" was sung every day of the feast. Connected with this festival is the celebration of the exploits performed by Judith (q.v.) upon Holofernes, because, as some suppose, she was of the stock of the Maccabees. Hence some of the Midrashim which give. the history of Judas Maccabaeus mix up with it the history of Judith.

Modern Jews keep the feast of lights very strictly, but servile work is not forbidden to be done. The feast is observed as one of rejoicing for the wonders which God wrought for them. During the eight days, parents and children amuse themselves in different innocent games, particularly the last night, when neighbors and friends meet together to enjoy themselves. The Karaites, however, do not observe this festival, because it is an uninspired ordinance.

There are four other dedications of the Temple recorded:

1. The dedication of the Solomonic Temple (1 Kings 8:2; 2 Chronicles 5:3), which took place in the seventh month, or in the autumn. B.C. 1003. This was coincident with the Feast of Tabernacles (q.v.).

2. The dedication at the time of Hezekiah, when the Temple was purified from the abominations which his father Ahaz introduced into it (2 Chronicles 29). B.C. 726. (See HEZEKIAH).

3. The dedication of Zerubbabel's Temple, built after the captivity (Ezra 6:16), which took place in the month Adar, in the spring. B.C. 517.

4. The dedication of Herod's Temple (Josephus, Ant. 15:11, 6). B.C. 22. Some of the fathers have therefore thought that Jesus is said to have gone to the celebration commemorative of the dedication of Solomon's Temple or of Zerubbabel's. The fact, however, that there was no annual festival to commemorate these dedications, and that the evangelist John distinctly says that it was in the winter, establishes it beyond doubt that our Lord went to the Feast of the Dedication instituted by Judas Maccabaeus. (See TEMPLE).

Literature. Maimonides, Mishna Torah, or Yad HaChazaca; Hilchoth Megilla Ve-Chanukah, sec. 3 and 4; Megillath Antiochus, printed in Bartolocci, Bibliotheca Magna, 1:382, etc.; Midrash, Le-Chanukah, and Midrash, Achar le-Chanukah, published by Dr. Adolph Jellinek in Beth ha- Midrash (Leipzig, 1853), 1:132, etc. This volume also contains (p. 142, etc.) a reprint of Megillath Antiochus. See also the volumes quoted in this article, and in Fabricius, Bibliog. Antiquar. p. 419 sq. Likewise Otho, Lex. Rab. p. 238 sq.; Lightfoot and Wetstein, in loc. Job.; Wahner, De festo Enceniorum (Helmst. 1715); Weber, De Encenius (Lips. 1683); Venne, De jure circa Encoenia (Erf. 1718); and the treatises De Encaeniis templorum, by Dannenberger (Lips. 1754), Lincke (Altdorf, 1678), Lund (Upsal. 1706), Reich (Altdorf, 1713). (See FESTIVALS).


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Dedication, the Feast of the'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/d/dedication-the-feast-of-the.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

Search for…
Enter query in the box:
 or 
Choose a letter to browse:
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M 
N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  Y  Z 

 
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology