Staff & Sling

Joseph E. Hébert, Ph.D.

98119 N 3745 Rd
Okemah, OK  74859
918 623 3078

Thanksgiving & Hanukah 2013

I am continually amazed at the capacity of people for denial.

"How could they let that happen, and do nothing?"

"Oh! Don't be ridiculous. That could never happen here."

Today is Thanksgiving. It is also Hanukah. And while the outcomes couldn't possibly be more opposite, the similarity of circumstance is more stark, more condemning, than you think or will probably care to admit.

Hanukah, also called the Festival of Lights, or the Feast of Dedication (as it is referred to in Scripture), commemorates a miracle from the Intertestamental Period. It happened in the aftermath of Alexander the Great's reign, when his empire was divided between his generals. Judea had come under Macedonian-Greco control and one Antiochus Epiphanes (Antiochus IV) was ruler. He had already taken possession of, and desecrated, the Temple in Jerusalem, and was committed to assimilating the Jews into Hellenistic culture (which is where Hellenist Jews came from).

Of course, you must understand that this was not the result of Epiphanes' own megalomania. This was very much expected, even required, by the Macedonian-Greco culture he represented.

In order to assimilate the Jews he outlawed all of their practices. They weren't allowed to slaughter cattle in a way to keep them kosher, they weren't allowed to circumcise their male children, they weren't even allowed to study the Torah (which is why the dreidle exists today, but that's another story). The point is, he made it illegal to practice Judaism.

Well, it happened that one day some soldiers came to a priest named Mattatias (Matthew). They attempted to force him to sacrifice a swine on the alter, but even under the threat of death he would not. When one of his fellow Jews stepped up and offered to do so, in what would be an ironic effort to keep the peace, Mattatias was so enraged that he took the sword intended for the swine and slew the man who would compromise their faith in, and commitment to, the Lord. This event triggered revolution (hence the irony).

Mattatias' son, Judah, became one of the leaders of the revolution. His nickname was Maccabee, the Hebrew word for "hammer." He was called Judah Maccabee, and the revolution he lead was called the Maccabean Revolution.

The Jews would regain control of the Temple in Jerusalem. They would purify it and rededicate it to the Lord, but they ran into a difficulty. They needed to light the Menorah, the Golden Lampstand, and keep it burning day and night perpetually, but that required kosher oil. There was some oil there, but only enough to keep it burning for one day. And it would require eight days to establish a new supply.

Some wanted to postpone the dedication of the Temple until that new supply was established, but others decided to go ahead and trust the Lord to provide. They lit the Lampstand with the remaining oil, rededicating the Temple to the Lord, and that single day's supply of oil miraculously burned for all of the eight days it took to establish a new supply. The Lord provided.

And that's this Gentile's understanding of Hanukah. That's why it's called the Festival of Lights, or the Feast of Dedication, and that's why it lasts for eight days. That's even the reason for the four letters on the dreidle today. They stand for the phrase "A Miracle Happened There," in Hebrew of course, unless the dreidle is in Jerusalem in which case the last letter is changed from a shin to a peh (A Miracle Happened Here).

"But what has any of this to do with Thanksgiving," you ask? Because, while we're indulging in the bread and circuses of bountiful food and Black Friday (or Grey Thursday this year), on the same day the Jews are declaring "A Miracle Happened There," we should be asking "How can it happen here?"

Think about it. Today Barak Obama, the same Barak Obama who told Israel they would have to give up their own land to appease those who have openly declared and repeatedly demonstrated that nothing short of Israel's destruction will appease them, is helping to secure nuclear arms for Iran. All the while he is closing our embassy in the Vatican. Then, in true Epiphanean fashion, he is telling Americans that they're no longer free to practice their Christian faith.

We must now leave our faith behind in order to conduct business or otherwise venture out into the public square. Even if you choose to forego operating a business, even if you choose to stay in your homes and churches as it were, he still requires that you purchase health insurance that must include abortion coverage. He isn't forcing you to slaughter a pig on a stone altar; he is literally requiring you to participate in the slaughter of innocent children on the altar of Secular Humanism.

Barak Obama is become Antiochus Epiphanes to the Liberal Left's Macedonian-Greco culture. And in a grand gesture of both compromise and denial, while the Jews are celebrating God's benevolence and providence, we are giving thanks with no memory of to whom, or for what, we're supposedly thankful. And like Mattatias' ill-fated contemporary, most of us deserve the fate that awaits.