Hannukah, the eight days and the Light of the World

It is coming to the end of the eight days of Hanukkah.  As Christians we should remember what happened as the Jews who had survived the astonishing evil perpetrated by Antiochus Epiphanes against God and His people. The story is told in full in the two books of Maccabees, with the eight day light in 1 Mac 4 especially.

The Temple always had a Menorah since the days when it was in a tent or tabernacle. It had seven branches that stood up from a golden tree like structure that had lamps of oil in the shape of almond blossoms. The menorah seems to represent the seven days of creation, the Tree of Life and the burning bush through which Moses first encountered God, and received His Name “I AM WHO AM” or “I Am The Being One” YHWH.

The Menorah for Hanukkah has nine branches. eight lamps for each day of the miracle and the ninth lamp is called the Servant from which all the other lamps are lit. While some modern versions of this menorah have the servant light to one side, the traditional place was at the centre.

The miracle of the menorah that is celebrated at Hanukkah is interesting from the Christian point of view. There was just enough holy oil to keep the menorah lit for one day and it would take eight days to produce more oil. In an act of great faith the people who had returned to clean and reconsecrate the Temple lit the oil and set to work to make the new

These lights were continued through to the Church and we still have the Bog Six candles on the high altar or back of the Sanctuary with the Tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament in the middle as the Light of the World, just as Jesus identified Himself.

At Hanukkah which is considered a festival set up by man rather than God, the people show their deep gratitude for the freedom God gave them from the darkness of Antiochus who had persecuted the Jews so viciously. The story of the mother who was forced to watch while her seven sons where tortured to death and how she encouraged them and supported them with her courage and strength, from her great faith in God, is told in Maccabees. From this persecution a remnant returned to Jerusalem and rededicated the Temple. God Himself provided the light for those eight days.

There are two acolyte candles with large brass holders that are carried by altar servers and stand either side of the altar through most of the Mass. They are carried and held either side of the lecturn for the Gospel reading and are carried before the gifts for the presentation of the gifts of bread and wine.

In Scripture Hanukkah is called the Feast of Dedication and takes places about two months after the festival of tabernacles (booths or tents). Jesus celebrated the feast and entered the Temple (John 10:22+) where He faced those who accused Him of working with the devil. Yet again the Temple was defiled by those who refused to see or hear the Truth and Christ entered as a Light who would bring the world out of darkness.

The Hanukkah menorah has nine branches – eight for the eight days God gave light and one as the Servant to light all the others. Christ came as a servant-king washing the feet of the apostles and pouring Himself out for His bride the Church.

There are six days of creation at the end of which Adam fell. The Seventh Day was made the Sabbath for man (“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” Mar 2:27). Jesus died on the eve of the Sabbath that in that year fell on Passover (by one calendar). He was laid in the tomb on the Seventh day and rested. He rose on the First Day which is the Eighth day- for He is the first and the last (ΑΩ). The first day/eighth day then became the Lord’s Day and so Christians gathered for the breaking of Bread, the Mass on the Lord’s Day and have done ever since.

So we are now living in the Eighth day.

Now this bit is pure speculation on my part and as I can find no Church teaching on this you can take it or leave it: but as Novenas seem to have been rooted in the prayers for the dead I was wondering if there might be a Ninth Day in the future linked with the Second Coming. Would this link with the ninth lamp on the Hanukkah menorah? Or is it more likely that the symbolism we are to see is that the Servant King stands outside of time- beyond both the Seven Days and the Eighth Day? I don’t know. But I wonder.


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