John 10:22 New Living Translation

It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication.

Ezra 6:16

Then the people of Israel--the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles--celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy.

3 Answers 3


We need to be very careful with the text here - John 10:22 only says that Jesus was in Jerusalem at the feast Dedication which most understand to be "Hanukkah", the historic celebration of the Maccabean Revolt and rededication of the temple.

However, there would be only two reasons for Jesus to be in Jerusalem at this time of year:

  1. to celebrate the feast
  2. to teach the people because of the available crowds

While it could have been both, we must recall that Hanukkah is not specified in the Torah (this does not make it wrong!) but was only a tradition because of the historical event. [Recall that a tradition is only wrong when it interferes with truth or nullifies it, eg, Matt 15:5, 6.]

Thus, we have no explicit record of Jesus celebrating Hanukkah but neither do we know if he did not. I see no reason why He would not celebrate Hanukkah.

  • 1
    I don't think dedication meant anything other than what you find out of Ezra 6:16. This would make sense too because there it was said to have occurred in the last month of the original Hebrew year, and in John 10:22 it says it was 'winter' afterwards. Solomon's dedication on the other hand of the altar of the temple occurred before the feast of the seventh month, which is, further away from 'winter' than the former. These are the biblical facts that define the context of John 10:22. If you want to otherwise say he had a house in Jerusalem by all means prove it.
    – user21676
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 1:30
  • @user21676, thanks for the reference. I updated my question with it.
    – user35953
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 20:55

How did Jesus celebrate Chanukah (חֲנֻכָּה) in the Gospel of John 10:22?

The NRSV Bible in [2 Maccabees 10:1-8] states Yehudim / Jews were to celebrate Chanukah for 8-days starting on the 25th of Kislev by "carrying ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches and also fronds of palm, they offered hymns of thanksgiving to him [YHVH] who had given success to the purifying of his own holy place".

2 Maccabees 10

[1] Now Maccabeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the city; [2] they tore down the altars that had been built in the public square by the foreigners, and also destroyed the sacred precincts. [3] They purified the sanctuary, and made another altar of sacrifice; then, striking fire out of flint, they offered sacrifices, after a lapse of two years, and they offered incense and lighted lamps and set out the bread of the Presence. [4] When they had done this, they fell prostrate and implored the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes, but that, if they should ever sin, they might be disciplined by him with forbearance and not be handed over to blasphemous and barbarous nations. [5] It happened that on the same day on which the sanctuary had been profaned by the foreigners, the purification of the sanctuary took place, that is, on the twenty-fifth day of the same month, which was Chislev. [6] They celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the festival of booths, remembering how not long before, during the festival of booths, they had been wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals. [7] Therefore, carrying ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches and also fronds of palm, they offered hymns of thanksgiving to him who had given success to the purifying of his own holy place. [8] They decreed by public edict, ratified by vote, that the whole nation of the Jews should observe these days every year.

[ https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Maccabees+10&version=NRSV ]

  • We read in the Gospel of John (Chapter 10 : Verses 22-39) a strange account of Jesus going to the Temple not to celebrate Chanukah the Dedication of God's Temple - but instead celebrate Himself as God's Son :

John 10

[22] At that time the Festival of the Dedication [חֲנֻכָּה] took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, [23] and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. [24] So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” [25] Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; [26] but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. [27] My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. [28] I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. [29] What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. [30] The Father and I are one.”

[31] The Jews took up stones again to stone him. [32] Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?” [33] The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.” [34] Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? [35] If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’—and the scripture cannot be annulled— [36] can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? [37] If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. [38] But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” [39] Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.

[ https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+10&version=NRSV ]

Conclusion: In the Gospel of John 10:22-39, Jesus is portrayed testifying about himself as God's Son - not performing traditional Chanukah "hymns of thanksgiving" as recorded 2 Maccabees 10:1-8.

  • What's the context of that verse that Jesus is quoting, there, in John 10:34?
    – nick012000
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 9:16
  • 1
    Look at Psalm 82:6
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 10:08

If you see a devout Muslim teacher going to Mecca at a time of a festival, you should assume he is going for the pilgrimage, rather than for tourism or for selling fruits. The question fails to recognize that it was somehow characteristic of Jesus to celebrate the customs of his own Jewish religion.

Jesus and Judas Maccabees:

The Maccabees are often seen as messianic figures who fought against the Syrian antisemites and preserved the Jewish religion or maintained justice by destroying the wicked, according to the Bible. Jesus also cursed and suggested violent deaths for the sinners who cause his people to sin; "whoso shall cause one of these little ones which believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea" (Matt 18:6).

From the Gospel accounts, it is clear that Jesus was very radical in his politics or world-view, especially from the fact of his own death. He was far from being a pacifist or a sinner who justified lawlessness for the sake of worldly pretence of peace.

The Jewish NT Commentary by David Stern states about the background of this verse:

Chanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, in which Jews since 164 b.c.e. have celebrated the victory of the Makkabim over Antiochus IV, king of Syria. This is the earliest mention of the holiday in all literature and the only mention of it in the Bible, since the Tanakh was completed before that date (the book of Daniel contains prophecy about the event celebrated). The apocryphal books, 1, 2, 3, and 4 Maccabees, present historical and other perspectives on what happened. Antiochus, recently defeated in Egypt, expressed his frustration by attacking Judea, ruthlessly slaughtering men, women and children, and invading the Temple. There he carried off the golden altar, menorahs and vessels; and to show his contempt for the God of Israel he sacrificed there a pig to Zeus. He forbade circumcision, observing Shabbat and keeping kosher, and commanded that only pigs be sacrificed in the Temple; he himself cooked a pig in the Temple and poured its broth on the holy Torah scrolls and on the altar.
Syrian officers were dispatched to enforce these cruel and blasphemous decrees. One day when the Syrian officer in Modi‘in commanded Mattityahu HaMakkabi (Mattathias the Maccabee or Hammer), head of a family of cohanim, to sacrifice a pig, he and his five sons killed the first Jew to comply (see Ac 6:1N) and then killed the officer and his soldiers. This was the start of a rebellion. After Mattityahu’s death his son Y’hudah (Judas Maccabeus, about whom Handel wrote his oratorio so named) assembled a number of courageous Jews and led them to victory over the Syrians, first in guerilla warfare, then later in open battle. On the 25th of Kislev they rededicated the Temple and consecrated a new altar. The ner tamid (“eternal light”) was relit, but there was only enough consecrated olive oil to keep it burning for one day, and it would take a week to prepare more. By a miracle of God reported in the book of 2 Maccabees the light burned for eight days, by which time a new supply had been prepared. For this reason Jews celebrate Chanukkah for eight days, starting on Kislev 25, which can fall between November 27 and December 27

Jesus' own mission did not fight, however, John presents a Maccabees like midrashic account of the temple cleansing by Jesus; also see the Abraham's story of temple cleansing. Thus, the gospels presents Jesus as a regular Jew who observed Jewish customs, and therefore, it is not surprising to see him celebrating the festival of Hanukkah.

[John 2:13-17 RV] And the passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And he found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and he made a scourge of cords, and cast all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the changers' money, and overthrew their tables; and to them that sold the doves he said, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house a house of merchandise. His disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house shall eat me up.

  • I'm upvoting and keeping an eye on this because the user makes a very good point: people follow their own culture! We must assume that, otherwise literature about a culture won't make sense. The OP asks a great question, maybe even hoping for an answer like this answer: of course people follow their own culture. Remembering that, Bible will be easier to understand. Thank you!
    – Jesse
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 0:33

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