Once the Maccabees evicted the pagan, removing a statue of Zeus, driving the idolaters from their Holy Temple, they began the process to repair, restore, cleanse, and rededicate it to the Lord. The dedication was an eight-day process and required the use of sanctified oil for the Lampstand—the seven-candlestick menorah that stood in the first room of the sanctuary. But they only had a one-day supply of holy oil, and it would take eight days to make more. Nevertheless, they lit the menorah and began the sanctification process. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days! This is the essence of the eight-day celebration. The miracle of the anointed oil with the lighting of the Lampstand in the Holy Place, restored the light of the Word of God again. 400 years of silence and darkness was now going to be broken.
Jerusalem was ablaze in light, as each family burned candles at the doors of their houses. Today they celebrate this festival with a nine-candlestick menorah—one for each day the oil burned, and the center candlestick is the “servant candle” which is used to light the others. God spoke through His prophet Isaiah: “My servant shall bring light to the Gentiles.” John, the disciple of Messiah, said, “Jesus is the true Light that lights everyone who comes into the world” (Isa. 42:1, Jn.1:9). Jesus Himself declared two months earlier, at the close of the Feast of Tabernacles, “I am the light of the world; he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12). Every day for eight days the candles are lit: one on the first day, two on the second, etc., until on the last day all eight candles are lit. This is why it is also called the Festival of Lights. Unlike other feasts, there is no fasting or mourning. It is a celebration of joy.
Joy to the world!
*See this article by Sharon Hardy Knots and R. G. Hardy for more background.