Jesus And Channukah

by Shlomoh
December 7, 2008

Jesus apparently told his followers that they must be ready and willing to become martyrs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.
In the Gospel according to Matthew, we find the following episode.

Matthew 22 <br>
"23 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, 24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: 26 Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. 27 And last of all the woman died also. 28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven."

This incident appears in the same chapte of Matthew in which Jesus is asked whether Jews ought pay taxes to the Roman Empire to which Jesus answers that Jews ought give to Caesar what is owed to Caesar and to God what is owed to Him.

The real object of the question is whether or not the Jews should rebel aganist the Roman Empire. The paradigm for any rebellion against Rome
would have been the Maccabean uprising against the Syrian Greeks. In the story of the woman married to seven brothers, which appears later in the
chapter, the gospel author is alluding to the seven brothers in 2 Maccabees who martyred themselves for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
2 Maccabees Chapter 7
The glorious martyrdom of the seven brethren and their mother.
1 It came to pass also, that seven brethren, together with their mother, were apprehended, and compelled by the king to eat swine's flesh against the law, for which end they were tormented with whips and scourges. 2 But one of them, who was the eldest, said thus: What wouldst thou ask, or learn of us? we are ready to die, rather than to transgress the laws of God, received from our fathers. 3 Then the king being angry, commanded fryingpans and brazen caldrons to be made hot: which forthwith being heated, 4 He commanded to cut out the tongue of him that had spoken first: and the skin of his head being drawn off, to chop off also the extremities of his hands and feet, the rest of his brethren and his mother looking on. 6 And when he was now maimed in all parts, he commanded him, being yet alive, to be brought to the fire, and to be fried in the fryingpan: and while he was suffering therein long torments, the rest, together with the mother, exhorted one another to die manfully, 6 Saying: The Lord God will look upon the truth, and will take pleasure in us, as Moses declared in the profession of the canticle; And in his servants he will take pleasure.

There is one important difference between the Roman rule in Israel and the Greek rule. The cause of the Channukah uprising against the Greeks
was due to Hellenization that was being forced on the Jews by the Greeks, the intent of which was to do away with the TORAH and turn Israel into
a completely secular society. In contrast, the Romans allowed the Jews complete religious freedom. Not so the Christians. Rome persecuted Christians specifically because of their religion.

Consequently among the early Christians, the events and personalities of the Channukah story were used as archetypes for the response to Roman religious persecution. The ancient Jewish martyrs, ready to die for their faith, served as models of inspiration for Christians facing persecution at the hands of the Romans, even as Antiochos was perceived as a prototype of anti-Christian tyrants like Nero.

However the irony is that the story in 2 Maccabees tells of martyrdom SPECIFICALLY in order to uphold the commandments of the TORAH; commandmnents which Christians said were no longer the will of God. Additionally, the major theme of Channukah and the OBJECT of lighting CHANUKIOT for 8 nights
is in order to recall the miraculous re-dedication of the Jerusalem Temple. Early Christians taunted Jews, claiming that God had allowed the destruction of that Temple because its rituals displeased God.

As a matter of fact, the Gospel of John subtly tells Christians that Christ, superceeding all of Jewish religion, has made Channukah passe.

John 10
22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.

The holiday of Channukah is mentioned by the evangelist to set up Jesus' claim the he is "the light of the world". Else there is no reason to even mention the holiday.

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