Did Yeshua Actually Celebrate Hanukkah?
Did Yeshua celebrate Hanukkah? I have had two people challenge me on John 10:22, claiming that the verse doesn't confirm that Yeshua observed Hanukkah.
"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
Here is my response:
God expects us to use reason to assume the obvious in scripture. John Wesley, one of the great theological thinkers in history, said we interpret scripture through what is now called the Wesley Quadrilateral. We use:
Scripture (other passages)
Tradition (what has been believed in the past)
Reason (our own intellect, given by God)
Experience (our experience with God)
What is obvious? Yeshua was in Jerusalem during Hanukkah.
Then we ask, why did John mention this? He himself said "If every one of [Yeshua's miracles] were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) Real estate in John's book is not cheap. He doesn’t waste words. So, why did he mention the feast of Dedication (Hanukkah)?
We know that Yeshua, for the most part, only came down to Jerusalem for holidays. He spent most of his time in the Galilee.
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. (John 2:13–15)
Notice John does not say He went to celebrate Passover. But John expects us to assume that is why Yeshua went to Jerusalem. John expects us to read John 10:22 the same way we read John 2:13…he was in Jerusalem for Hanukkah.
Secondly, John could have shared all that he was sharing without mentioning Hanukkah, taking out verse 22.
"... It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” (John 10:23–24)
Mentioning that it was Hanukkah adds nothing to the passage unless it was intentional; unless John wants us to know that Yeshua celebrated the victory God gave to Israel over the pagan forces of Antiochus Epiphanies (Greek-Syrian King) in 167 BCE.
Yeshua was Jewish, part of the people of Israel. Of course he celebrated Hanukkah. He grew up celebrating Hanukkah. He lived as a Jew. He never rebuked the Pharisees for their traditions, but for putting them above the word of God. It would have been very confusing for Yeshua to celebrate all the other Jewish Holidays, but not celebrate Israel's victory and independence from a foreign oppressor.
Stuart Dauermann, PhD. adds valuable information.
The practice of kindling lights in our homes for eight days was spontaneously adopted shortly after 76 BCE (decades before Yeshua was born). Especially considering all the indicators that Yeshua's family was tradition-honoring, AND the mention of Yeshua in Solomon's Portico during the Feast of the Dedication (Hanukkah), AND considering the historical context of the spontaneous development of the lighting of Hanukkah lights, demonstrating a communal zeal for the remembrance, it seems just about certain that Yeshua and his family of origin observed the festival. It would be very hard and unsupportable to argue otherwise.
And to say, "The other holidays are biblical," is short-sited.
It would have been biblical if it happened when the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) was bring written.
Do American believers not joyfully celebrate the Fourth of July? Of course they do. Hanukkah is one of Israel's Independence days (in addition to the Exodus, and May 14th 1948).
Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas.