to Jewish folks everywhere – may your celebrations be filled with light and joy.
The books of Maccabees are not in the Tanakh (the Jewish bible), but two of them are in the Catholic bible. (I believe all four of them are in the Eastern Orthodox bible. Ah, canon-quibbles.) Although biblical Judaism is not the same as the rabbinic Judaism practiced today (something that many Christians do not realize), I thought it would be interesting to share an excerpt from 2 Maccabees 10:
When Maccabeus and his companions, under the Lord’s leadership, had recovered the temple and the city, they destroyed the altars erected by the foreigners in the marketplace and the sacred shrines. After purifying the temple, they made another altar.
Then, with fire struck from flint, they offered sacrifice for the first time in two years, burned incense, and lighted lamps. They also set out the showbread.
When they had done this, they prostrated themselves and begged the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes, and that if they should sin at any time, he might chastise them with moderation and not hand them over to blasphemous and barbarous Gentiles.
On the anniversary of the day on which the temple had been profaned by the foreigners, that is, the twenty-fifth of the same month Kislev, the purification of the temple took place. The Jews celebrated joyfully for eight days as on the feast of Booths, remembering how, a little while before, they had spent the feast of Booths living like wild animals in the mountains and in caves.
Carrying rods entwined with leaves, beautiful branches and palms, they sang hymns of grateful praise to him who had successfully brought about the purification of his own place. By public decree and vote they prescribed that the whole Jewish nation should celebrate these days every year.
Hymns of praise and joyful celebration – sounds like my kind of party. 🙂