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Is Chanukah Mentioned in the Torah?

Is Chanukah Mentioned in the Torah?


Chanukah is not specifically mentioned in the Torah, since the story happened after the Torah was written. Moses finished writing the Torah in the year 2488 after creation (1273 BCE). The Chanukah miracles occurred over a thousand years later, in the years 3621–3622 (140–139 BCE).

Nevertheless, G‑d is above the limitations of time, and as such, He included in the Torah allusions to Chanukah.

[In fact, all of creation is a byproduct of G‑d’s wisdom, which is expressed in the Torah. This is why the Torah is dubbed the “blueprint of creation,” and every event—minor or major—that ever did and ever will occur is alluded to in the Torah.]

1. In the original Hebrew, the 25th word in the Torah is ohr, “light.” We begin lighting the Chanukah lights on the 25th day of the month of Kislev.

2. When the Jews traveled in the desert, on their way from Egypt to the land of Israel, the twenty-fifth place that they camped (“rested”) was Chashmonah.1 This alludes to the priestly family of Chashmonaim (Hasmoneans), who led the Maccabee armies in the battle against the Greeks, and who rested on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev.

3. The 23rd chapter of Leviticus describes the different Jewish holidays. Immediately afterwards, at the beginning of chapter 24, we find the commandment to light the menorah in the Temple. This is a hint to a holiday connected to the lighting of the menorah.

4. The 7th chapter of Numbers describes the offerings that the tribal leaders brought when the Tabernacle was dedicated. Chapter 8 begins: “The L‑rd spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall cast their light toward the face of the menorah.’” We thus see a connection between the dedication of the Temple and the lighting of the menorah. After the Maccabean war ended, the Jews cleaned, repaired and rededicated the Temple, and lit the menorah once again.

The Midrash tells us that while every tribal leader brought an offering, the tribe of Levi didn’t. G‑d told Moses to tell his brother Aaron—the high priest, head of the Levites, and ancestor of the Maccabees—not to worry: sacrifices will last only as long as the Temples stands, but the lights will be lit forever. The lights of the Chanukah menorah that your descendants will initiate will continue to illuminate the darkness even after the destruction of the Temple.

May we soon merit to see the building of the third Holy Temple and the lighting of the menorah there!

Happy Chanukah and Shabbat Shalom!

All the best,
Rochel Chein for

Mrs. Rochel Chein is a member of the Ask the Rabbi team.
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David Aharon Lindzon-Lindsay Toronto Ontario, Canada December 8, 2013

One more thing to add Those of us who needa deeper insght might find these remarks worth noting in the story of Noah and the flood...After the flood Noah degrades himself through drinking wine after getting it from the Vine and goes into his wife's tent in a stupor ... Cham sees his father naked as rushes out to tell his two brothers Shem gets a sheet and Yaphet, his brother both walk walk backwards to cover their father Noah... Noah blesses Shem first for being the initiator of the act ... and then he blesses Yaphet to be in the tent of Shem... Shem is the one of whom Israel come and the Greeks are from Yaphet and Shem's reward is based on truth and Yaphet can only make that truth nicer through logic ... But Truth is always Truth, even if logic fails. The issue is with Logic saying something the man alone decides. We saw this in Germany. In both world wars. Reply

David Aharon Lindzon-Lindsay Toronto Ontario, Canada December 8, 2013

Military and spiritual In addressing Doreet's post, may I suggest that if it was only military
a] How could a very few people overcome a powerful army without the help of G-d?

b] They came back and cleaned the Temple out of all defiled things they found including flasks of oil that the seal was broken. among all this they found a single flask of UNDEFILED OIL with the seal of the High Priest ... remember they were fighting against not only the Greeks but also their own Hellenized Jews. It was these Hellenists that agreed to nullify the circumcision, and erect a gymnasium next door to the Temple. To qualify as a athlete you had to have a perfect physical body with a foreskin and do the exercise program in the nude. - the very opposite of Kedusha - holiness. Reply

doreet Eugene December 7, 2013

Hanukah we were taught that hanukah was a "military victory" by the Maccabees, who were warrior Jews; the oil in the temple lasted more days than was physically possible, denoting a miracle,and victory by the Maccabees.I understand there were "'hidden numbers'" or meanings in the Hebrew letters, of "maccabee"because they also mean numbers, and added up to a meaningful sum..Sorry, I don't know Hebrew numerology that well, but it seems to be a valid subject.

We were taught chanukah as a military victory had as significant a meaning as any spiritual one.As for continuing to light candles,on into time,could that be symbolizing continuing to "light souls"(make decendants) as well as lighting continual knowledge into future?And It does say,"thank God for enabling us to reach this season" which sounds as if season to season survival was hard;so hard,you celebrate each anniversary you are still alive. You cannot take tomorrow as a surety.I do understand life being lived that way. Reply

jamie moran London December 7, 2013

In regard to earlier vis a vis later traditions within the on-flowing stream of Tradition, could you please comment on this= Is it correct that the rabbinical tradition only arises after the captivity in Babylon, but not before it? Or, does it have older roots? My impression, which may be off the mark, is that as the priestly tradition of the First Temple somehow did not reignite in the Second Temple, so the rabbinical emphasis stepped into the breach. But this may be wildly off.. Reply

jamie moran December 7, 2013

the contrast of Greek and Jew is more complex. Greeks= 'men of eyes' they were called in antiquity, and believed in both a lower rational but also higher visionary faculty with which to 'vision' higher archetypes. the mystical strain of later judaism borrowed from Greeks, without any doubt. but the Jews had to 'close the eyes' to step into the dark of faith. Greeks= ontological; Jews= existential. The Jewish emphasis is on doing, indeed, the doing of the heart that rests in faith.. The Greek metaphysics were impersonal, a sort of pictorial and symbolic account of a divine 'what'; the Jews were not permitted to speculate in any way, but depended upon a revelation from a divine 'who', a personal divinity and a personal relationship. it was the later hellenism that put a certain value on human, but this was also bc the Greek gods and goddesses are irrelevant to humanity, leading some Greeks to think of humanity as a play thing of arbitrary higher powers.. both Grs and Jews were v communal! Reply

David Aharon Lindzon-Lindsay Toronto Ontario, Canada December 4, 2013

Chanukah is found in the torah... If you read in the book of Numbers you will find a section where they describe the presents given by the heads of the tribes... Each one brought identically the same gift as the first one brought and the torah there summarizes and gives the totals and then continues with zot Chanukat Hamizbeach just before Aharon is commanded to light the menorah in the Mishkan as hashem commanded Moshe.

The other thing is that the Rabbis did not include all the scriptures in the Tanach because they were not something needed for all generations. There were over 100 prophets that were excluded because the prophecies were only for that specific time period and not for future times. Reply

Sanford Silverburg Salisbury, NC December 4, 2013

T'nach and the Where is the textual support for the "miracle of the lights" and the oil? Reply

Anonymous NY, NY via December 4, 2013

Chanukah in Torah There are two scrolls depicting story in slightly different versions that were omitted from inclusion into T'nach. They are part of the Apocrypha.. It seemed that certain books were omitted by the Sanhedrin. Ironically, the story is included in Christian Bible. Go figure! Reply

Malkie Janowski for Coral Springs via December 4, 2010

Chanukah commemorates the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks and the miracle of the oil that took place in 138 BCE. The Sages established Chanukah as a holiday then, and it was celebrated from the on. Reply

Diane roslyn, ny via December 3, 2010

First Chanukah Celebration When was Chanukah first observed? Reply

Norman F Birnberg Salida, CO/USA December 25, 2008

Greek Culture, The Jews And G-d Greek culture emphasized reason and a pursuit into the nature of things. Yet it also embraced paganism, idolatry and man as the center of all things. The latter was something religious Jews could never accept. That led to the war of independence against the Seleucids and to the celebration of Hanukkah. Reason and philosophy have their place in life but man must never put himself before G-d. Only G-d alone must he worship and serve. Reply

golda arad, israel December 24, 2008

thanks for explaining evrything Reply

Dani January 7, 2008

additional source During a famous meeting between Jacob and Esau, Jacob asks G-d to "save him from Esau, from his brother". The rabbis are wondering about this duplicity since Jacob had only one brother - Esau. The conclusion is that "from Esau" alludes to Purim (physical threat) and "from my brother" means Chanukah (spiritual threat). Reply

Rochel Chein December 20, 2007

Chapter numbers What you write about the chapters in the Torah is correct. Allusions #3 and #4 are not connected to the chapter numbers. The allusions to Chanukah come from the proximity of the two related topics: Jewish holidays and the lighting of the Menorah, in #3, and the dedication of the Tabernacle and the lighting of the Menorah, in #4. I included the chapter numbers, as you put it, for convenience, to help the reader look up the references. Reply

Leyzer Silver Spring, MD December 19, 2007

Chapter numbers I thought the division of the Torah into chapters was invented by non-Jews, that the chapters were only applied to Jewish texts a few centuries ago, and that the chapters are not given any significance and are only there for convenience. Is that correct? If so, then how can allusions #3 and #4 make any sense, since they rely on the non-Jewish chapter devisions? Reply

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