Are There Nine Candles on the Hanukkah Menorah?

By Gershon L. (Missionary of Chosen People Ministries)

At the beginning of December, you can see the decoration of Christmas trees in all the city department buildings, libraries, and banks. But do you also notice the Hanukkah Menorah with nine candles on? In a Jewish synagogue, a menorah usually has only 7 candles. So why does the Hanukkah Menorah have 9 candles?

The Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah while Christians around the world celebrate Christmas every December. So what is Hanukkah?

During the New Testament time, Jesus has been through this holiday himself. “Then came the Festival of Dedication (Hanukkah) at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.” (John 10:22-23)

This holiday had its origin in 2 B.C., between the Old and the New Testaments, and under the rule of the Greek-Syrian oppressors. The Jews were furious when Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid king of Syria massacred thousands of people and desecrated the city’s holy Second Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs within its sacred walls. Under the leadership of the high priest Mattathias and his oldest son Maccabee, this small group of Jews miraculously defeated the huge army of Greeks! They then restored the temple and re-established sacrifices on the altar. Suddenly they discovered that the olive oil in the temple had been profaned but only one bottle was left untouched. They quickly used that bottle of oil to light up the Menorah. Yet one little bottle of oil was only enough for one day. Another miracle took place when they found the Menorah remained brightly lit on the second day and up to 8 days when more oil finally arrived! Witnessing this miracle, the Jewish people have been celebrating Hanukkah every winter because they firmly believe that God is pleased with their newly built nation and will continue to bless them.

The celebration of Hanukkah involves the lighting of 2 candles on the first day and then one on each of the following days until all 9 candles are lit on the 8th day. The Jewish people call this special Menorah, the “Hanukkiah” which can be in different design styles but the middle candle holder named “shamash” (the servant light which represents the light that kept burning for 8 days as a miracle) must be taller than the other 8.

After baby Jesus was born, Simeon from Jerusalem met the parents of Jesus holding Baby Jesus in their arms and said, “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

Just like Simeon, would you also celebrate Christmas as God’s salvation to both Jews and Gentiles?

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!

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