Hanukkah is not a commanded or biblical holiday, and for many years we did not commemorate it at all. Purim also falls in this category, which to this day we do not observe. Hanukkah and Purim are instead national holidays for the Chosen People.
You see, the Bible is God’s Word to all mankind – His commandments are universal. The biblical holidays of Sabbath and the seven annual feasts apply to all who take Him for their God, as the fourth commandment, Honor the Sabbath day, shows. His Word was given, however, through the Chosen People of Israel, to bless all of mankind. Hanukkah and Purim are national holidays of the Chosen People, each celebrating a specific historic national deliverance, exactly like the American 4th of July is a national holiday specific to the American people.
We eventually starting lighting the candles of Hanukkah on the eight nights, although we never did more than that. The temptation was always strong to do more, and this year I was seriously planning more. But it always seemed like the decorating, food, parties, and gift-giving was a Jewish answer to Christmas. Shouldn’t the biblical answer to Christmas be the eight days of Tabernacles and the 8th Day? I always thought so.
When my friend Anne Elliott shared the pagan origins of the Hanukkah “shamash” candle, I had to collect the historical evidence for it, for if she was right, then we have traded in one Babylonian custom – Christmas – for another Babylonian custom – Hanukkah candles.
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written:
MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,
THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement. Rev 17:1-6
I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, that you have no participation in her sins, and that you don’t receive of her plagues, for her sins have reached to the sky, and God has remembered her iniquities.” Rev 18:4-5