1 Maccabees 4:54


52 Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-eighth year, 53 they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering that they had built. 54 At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. 55 All the people fell on their faces and worshiped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. 56 So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and joyfully offered burnt offerings; they offered a sacrifice of well-being and a thanksgiving offering. 57 They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and fitted them with doors. 58 There was very great joy among the people, and the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed.

Shabbat 21b

Babylonian Talmud

The Gemara asks: What is Hanukkah, and why are lights kindled on Hanukkah? The Gemara answers: The Sages taught in Megillat Ta’anit: On the twenty-fifth of Kislev, the days of Hanukkah are eight. One may not eulogize on them and one may not fast on them. What is the reason? When the Greeks entered the Sanctuary they defiled all the oils that were in the Sanctuary by touching them. And when the Hasmonean monarchy overcame them and emerged victorious over them, they searched and found only one cruse of oil that was placed with the seal of the High Priest, undisturbed by the Greeks. And there was sufficient oil there to light the candelabrum for only one day. A miracle occurred and they lit the candelabrum from it eight days. The next year the Sages instituted those days and made them holidays with recitation of hallel and special thanksgiving in prayer and blessings.

 Notes and References

"... A popular view among historians considers the famous Hanukkah story of the cruse of oil, which appears in the Talmud and seemingly also in the Scholium of Megillat Taanit, as evidence of the determination of the Sages to erase the memory of the Hasmoneans. A careful examination of the traditions about Hanukkah in the Scholium of Megillat Taanit demonstrates, however, that the story, as it appears in the Babylonian Talmud, is a secondary form. The two extant versions of the Scholia offer different traditions in explaining the celebration of Hanukkah. Scholium O makes no mention of finding any oil and offers other reasons for the establishment of the festival. Scholium P does present, among other traditions, an early version of the story, which does not mention any miracle with regard to the finding of the oil. This same episode appears later in the Babylonian Talmud after it had evolved and crystallized, and when all other traditions had been rejected. The Babylonian Talmud is, in fact, the only source for the legend of the bit of oil that lasted eight days. The supernatural basis of this story, as well as its introduction as the only explanation for the celebration of Hanukkah, is a Babylonian manipulation, motivated by literary rather than historical purposes ..."

Noam, Vered The Miracle of the Cruse of Oil: The Metamorphosis of a Legend (pp. 191-226) Hebrew Union College Annual Vol. 73, 2002

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