When the Maccabees hauled the remnants of pagan worship out of the sancutary they re-dedicated the temple. That re-dedication is what Jewish people celebrate at Hanukka.

Friday, 11/18/11

Our first reading today tells the story of Judas Maccabeus, with his family and friends, purifying the temple that had been defiled by the swine sacrifices of the followers of King Antiochus IV. (The triumphant Jews took down the stones of the altar, and they lifted out all the stones of the surrounding sanctuary. After hauling those offensive stones outside the city, they rebuilt the altar and the sanctuary with fresh stones.)

In the year 148 of  the dynasty of King Seleucus, which is the year 165 B.C. in our reckoning, they rededicated the temple in an eight day ceremony. The Jews call that yearly eight-day holiday Hanukka, which is Hebrew for the “dedication.”

While the birth of Jesus which we celebrate at Christmas is a premier event in the history of Christianity, the cleaning up of that temple does not rank as a premier event in Jewish history. It was not of the same importance as the call of Moses, the dedication of Solomon's temple, or the heavenly vision of Isaiah. Even though, like the feast of Christmas, it comes in winter, as a relatively low ranking event it doesn't qualify to be put up in competition with Christmas.

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