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The Secret of the Hannukiyah Print E-mail
Written by Victoria Radin   

Return From The Captivity of Edom

David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, touched upon the essence of the continued existence of the Jewish people when he said:

“In Israel, in order to be a realist, you have to believe in miracles.”

The Jews are said to be mankind’s paradigm for perseverance because despite their small size and weakness, they have outlived great empires. They attribute their existence to their Divine partnership and to miracles.

From Israel’s birth in Egypt, the Devil has persistently tried to prevent her from fulfilling her destiny in G-d. Each onslaught, to the amazement of the world, was met by uncharacteristic bravery that preceded Divine miracles. Victory was procured, not by the might of a small and weak people, but by the power of Divine intervention in the face of certain defeat. Over millennia, Satan has used different strategies to defeat G-d’s chosen nation: Egypt and Russia tried to enslave them; Haman and Hitler tried to annihilate them; Assyria and Rome dispersed them throughout the world where most nations despised and persecuted them. But, unlike the others, Antiochus who called himself Epiphanes (G-d manifest), sought only to destroy their distinctiveness as Jews through assimilation into the Greek culture. Many Jews, in fact, did willingly embrace the Hellenistic (Greek) lifestyle with its focus on the perfection of man and the beauty of Greek form: physical, intellectual, philosophical, and cultural beauty. It is, moreover, the antithesis of Judaism, which focuses on G-d and His beauty reflected in His creation and spiritually in imperfect man. It is said, though, that the captivity of the Jews by the Greek General Antiochus was only a precursor to a deeper, darker, more insidious captivity that would follow, the Captivity of Edom.



The rabbis refer to Greece’s successor, Rome, (the carrier of Greek culture), as Edom. Edom epitomizes man’s final exile from G-d. The L-rd said of Esau’s heritage, Edom:

“…Jacob I have loved; but Esau I have hated, and laid waste his mountains and his heritage….Even though Edom has said, ‘We have been impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places,’ thus says the L-rd of hosts: ‘They may build, but I will throw down; they shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, and the people against whom the L-rd will have indignation forever.’” (Malachi 2c—4)

Though the Hellenistic empires of Greece and Rome cease to exist, the spirit of Edom still rules the modern world. It holds much of mankind captive to a civilization that views itself as ethical, moral and humane, caring for knowledge, peace, life, and ecology––a civilization where man is primary and G-d or gods fit into man’s agenda. Historians say that there is almost nothing in our society that doesn’t have its roots in ancient Greece.

The sages of Israel understood this kingdom of brass (Greece) that the prophet Daniel saw spreading through intellectual prowess out to the four directions of the world, moving swiftly like its image of a leopard with four wings, and ruling the whole earth (Daniel 2:39, 7:2-7). The spirit of Edom, transferred from Greece to Rome they taught, would continue to empower the West until the last days. Its captivity would be the last one before Israel’s redemption and the coming of the Messiah.

The captivity of Edom is internal or spiritual exile from G-d, galut within. It causes individuals to be internally split, holding on to two conflicting, diametrically opposed cultures: the Greek or Western culture vs. the ethical and moral beliefs of Judaism. Where Antiochus failed in his attempt to destroy Israel through outward assimilation, Edom has succeeded to do inwardly to many Jews especially in the West. While the sages apply the term, Captivity of Edom specifically to the Jewish people, it should be applied to the Church as well. The apostle Paul taught that everything that happened to the Israelites was for the admonition and training of the Church.

The annual festival of Hanukkah, commemorating the Maccabean victory over the Greek General Antiochus, serves to remind the Jewish people not only of that miraculous military victory; but also of one’s responsibility to personally choose the way of G-d rather than the way of the world. In the festival of Hannukah lies the secret to overcoming the Captivity of Edom, the greatest enemy Israel and the Church have ever faced. The survival tactics to end spiritual exile, galut within, are hidden in the traditions associated with the central focus of the holiday, the nine-branched menorah known as the Hannukiyah, translated “to begin again with G-d”.

The Torah Scroll, or written Word of G-d, is kept in the synagogue in an ark, just as were the Ten Commandments. The Hannukiyah, on the other hand, is out for everyone to see and experience. It is described as the Oral Torah, G-d’s oral instructions to mankind. The one Torah has two parts, the written and the oral.

The seven-branched Temple menorah was kept filled with oil, continuously burning to signify the presence of G-d in the midst of His people. Likewise, the nine-branched Hannukiyah and its flames represent the light of G-d’s wisdom manifested in the soul of man. Antiochus, in calling himself Epiphanies (G-d manifest) sought to replace the menorah with himself by extinguishing the lights and in its place, erecting a statue of himself. Likewise, the Captivity of Edom seeks to extinguish the Hannukiyah, the light of G-d’s wisdom within mankind, erecting self in its place.

The light of the menorah is considered to be holy and is not to be used for worldly things such as for reading. It is the light that was created on the first day of creation. (The sun and stars were not created until the fourth day.) It is said to be the light that was preserved from the original creation for the righteous in the world to come. It is called the Primordial light, to be seen for the purpose of meditation only.

The revelation of the New Covenant holds the key to the deep secrets of the Hannukiyah. The ninth candle, the one that is set higher than all the others, is the Servant Candle which must be used to light all the others. Jesus is the Servant Candle, the physical Torah, and the source of all wisdom and understanding. His light is Primordial, wisdom on which to meditate:

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2 and quoted in Matthew 4:16 as applying to Jesus)

“Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but [shall] have the light of life.’” (John 8:12)

The one Torah has two parts as the sages say: the written word, whom we know as Jesus, and the oral word, the Holy Spirit of G-d who can speak to and through man. In the Bible, pure oil is used to represent the presence or anointing of G-d, the Ruach HaKodesh or Holy Spirit. Just as the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus at His baptism in the beginning of His ministry, the Holy Spirit must fill each new believer. Jesus can enlighten only those filled with the pure oil of the Holy Spirit of G-d. Then the Holy Spirit can speak and work through that individual. The miracle of one day’s worth of oil lasting for eight days, testifies to the fact that the oil of the Holy Spirit does not burn like ordinary oil but can last eternally:

“By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” (1 John 4:13)

The survival tactic to end spiritual exile, galut within, is to be filled with the Spirit of G-d. With Him, each new day offers the opportunity to have Jesus light the oil of understanding within “to begin again with G-d”.

Barukh HaShem (Blessed is the Name of the L-rd)

[1] Galut is the Hebrew word for exile.

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