“And ye shall draw water with joy from the fountains of salvation.”
This festival is observed for eight days during the ninth month Kislev (December), and commemorates the dedication of the Temple after it had been defiled by Antiochus Epiphanes, whose armies were overthrown by the valiant Maccabees, Hashmoneans.
The Most Holy One has frequently wrought wonders in behalf of his children in their hour of need, and thereby displayed His supreme power to the nations of the world. These should prevent man from growing infidel and ascribing all happiness to the course of nature. The God who created the world from naught, may change at His will the nature which He established. When the Hashmoneans gained, with the aid of God, their great victory, and restored peace and harmony to their land, their first act was to cleanse and dedicate the Temple, which had been defiled, and on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev, in obedience to the teachings of the Rabbis, we inaugurate the “Dedication Feast” by lighting the lamps or candles prepared expressly for this occasion. The first night we light one, and then an additional one each succeeding night of its continuance. We also celebrate it by hymns of thanksgiving and hallelujahs.
This feast is foreshadowed in the Book of Numbers. When Aaron observed the offerings of the princes of each of the tribes and their great liberality, he was conscious of a feeling of regret, because he and his tribe were unable to join with them. But these words were spoken to comfort him, “Aaron, thy merit is greater than theirs, for thou lightest and fixest the holy lamps.”
When were these words spoken?
When he was charged with the blessing to be found in Numbers 6:23, as will be found in the Book of Maccabees in the Apocrypha.
The Lord said unto Moses, “Thus say unto Aaron. In the generations to come, there will be another dedication and lighting of the lamps, and through thy descendants shall the service be performed. Miracles and wonders will accompany this dedication. Fear not for the greatness of the princes of thy tribe; during the existence of the Temple thou shalt sacrifice, but the lighting of the lamps shall be forever, and the blessing with which I have charged thee to bless the people shall also exist forever. Through the destruction of the Temple the sacrifices will be abolished, but the lighting of the dedication of the Hashmoneans will never cease.”
The Rabbis have ordained this celebration by lighting of lamps, to make God’s miracle known to all coming generations, and it is our duty to light the same in the synagogues and in our homes.
Although the Lord afflicted Israel on account of iniquities, He still showed mercy, and allowed not a complete destruction, and to this festival do the Rabbis again apply the verse in Leviticus 26:44:—