1 Maccabees - The Story of Hanukkah

1 Maccabees 4:6-59 "The Story of Hanukkah"

 Summary of all workshops in this Rotation:

  • Video: Watch "Maccabees: Story of Hanukkah (Nest Family).
  • Computer: Watch a clip of a web-based video on the origins of Hanukkah, read the text from one of the suggestions provide (Ilumina or Glo Bible, etc).  Use Cal & Marty to learn the verse Psalm 27:1.
  • Puppets: Perform a puppet show, script provided.
  • Art: Decorate a clay jar and make a scroll to go inside it.
  • Games & Cooking: Watch a clip from Rugrates-Chanukah episode, learn how to play Dreidels and make fried donuts.

Unit Memory Verse: "The LORD is my light and salvation - whom shall I fear?" (Psalm 27:1) 

Main Idea:
The story of 1 Maccabees, recounts the origins of the biblical holiday of Hanukkah that Jesus himself celebrated at the  Jerusalem Temple (John 10:22-23). 


Bible Background

The Book of 1 Maccabees recounts Jewish history during the 400 year period between the times that the Old and New Testaments were written.  It recounts a time when Jerusalem and the land of Judea was occupied by the Greeks under the rule of King Antiochus, following the conquest and death of the legendary Macedonian conqueror, Alexander the Great. 

King Antiochus, who reigned from 175-163 B.C. instituted a violent anti-Jewish policy.  Circumcision, Sabbath worship, teaching the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament), and observance of the commandments were all banned.  Torah scrolls were burned, the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem was desecrated by idol worship, and orders were issued to erect altars to Zeus and other Greek gods throughout the countryside.  Biblical faith was on the verge of being wiped out of existence. 

In 168 B.C. the Jewish priest Mattathias started a revolt against the Greek oppression.  Upon Mattathias death in 166 B.C., his son, Judas the Maccabee (which means “Hammer", succeeded him as leader of the revolt. [Note: Various texts use either  the name Judas or Judah to designate the same person] The Book of 1 Maccabees recounts how Judas succeeded in recapturing Jerusalem and purifying the Temple. The Temple was rededicated for worship of the LORD in 165 B.C.  These events gave birth to the biblical holiday, the annual eight-day Feast of Dedication, called Hanukkah, which Jesus celebrated in Jerusalem (John 10:22-23) and which continues to be observed by God’s people to this day.  

Even though this story takes place between the times of the Old and New Testaments, and is not included in the 66 books of the Bible, it is a vital story of how faith in God helped bring about victory for God’s chosen people.  1 Maccabees draws upon God’s acts in the Old Testament stories of Exodus 14:21-31 and 1 Samuel 14:1-15; 17:40-51 as inspiration  to raise up a faithful remnant who would stand up for the God of Israel in their own generation.  If the Maccabees had failed in their fight to free God’s people from the religious suppression of the Greeks, the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob might have been extinguished and the New Testament might never have been written.  The miracle of Hanukkah sets the stage for a faithful Jewish community who longed for a Messiah (an anointed one) to come as God’s deliverer.  That Savior is Jesus the Christ.  The faith community of the New Testament would not have existed if it were not for the faith and courage of the Maccabees and God’s hand of salvation that worked through them 150 years before the birth of Christ.  These are important lessons to pass onto our children when we retell this story. 

Read the actual text from 1 Maccabees 4:6-59 here: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=1+Maccabees+4:6-59


Written by Rev. Ron Shifley from Scotland United Church of Christ
Scotland, SD, USA

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

Original Post

1 Maccabees 4:6-59 "The Story of Hanukkah"

Video Lesson Sketch

Holy Word Studio:

Materials:

  • DVD Player/Projector
  • Popcorn to serve in paper bags
  • Video: “Maccabees: Story of Hanukkah” (Nest Entertainment, 2005) It is about 30 min. long.


Watch a preview clip of this video by Nest Entertainment from YouTube:

 

Teacher preparation:

  1. Read the Scripture passages prayerfully, asking God to show you what He has to say to you and to those He’s given you to teach.
  2. Read the Biblical Explanation and Background, and think about what concepts you need to teach.
  3. Watch the DVD and review all of the interactive questions so that you are familiar with how to use them.
  4. Prepare the necessary materials.

 


Lesson Plan


Opening:

Greet the children and introduce yourself.

Open with a prayer.

Dig:

Teach about where the story of 1 Maccabees fits into the Bible (note that the story happened between the times of the Old and New Testaments), briefly describing that this story recounts the origins of the biblical holiday of Hanukkah that Jesus himself celebrated at the  Jerusalem Temple (John 10:22-23).  If it is past the first Sunday of this rotation, first ask the children to relate what they’ve already learned about Maccabees and Hanukkah in other workshops. 

Watch the DVD and guide the kids through the interactive questions located on the extra features menu. 

Review the memory verse with the kids:

“The LORD is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear.” Psalm 27:1a 

Reflection:

Close the session with prayer, thanking God for the faith of the Maccabees and asking for God to give us the boldness to live our faith for Him.


Written by Rev. Ron Shifley from Scotland United Church of Christ
Scotland, SD, USA

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

1 Maccabees 4:6-59 "The Story of Hanukkah"


Computer Lesson Plan


Resources Needed: 

  • iLumina Bible software, Tyndale House Publishers, 2010
  • Cal & Marty Scripture Memory Game software, Sunday Software
  • Web based – History Channel online video “Origins of Hanukkah” and Kidz Page online games “Hanukkah for Kids” (Internet connection required to utilize these resouces)
  • “The Story of Hanukkah” by Bobbi Katz, Random House, 1995 (Children’s story book for preschool age)
  • Crayons (optional for preschool kids)  See below
  • Bible
     

Teacher Preparation:

  1. Read the Scripture passages prayerfully, asking God to show you what He has to say to you and to those He’s given you to teach.
  2. Read the Biblical Explanation and Background, and think about what concepts you need to teach.
  3. Make internet short cut for History Channel video “Origins of Hanukkah” (http://www.history.com/topics/.../history-of-hanukkah) onto computer desktop for easy access.
  4. Make internet short cut for Kidz Page “Hanukkah for Kids” (http://www.thekidzpage.com/hol.../hanukkah/index.html) onto computer desktop for easy access.
  5. Install Psalm 27:1 memory verse onto Cal & Marty Scripture Memory Game for each computer.
  6. Familiarize yourself with all of the software and online content that the kids will be using  prior to class so that you can seamlessly guide them through all of the activities.

Lesson Plan


Opening:

Greet the children and introduce yourself.

Open with a prayer.

Dig:

Teach about where the story of 1 Maccabees fits into the Bible, briefly describing that this story recounts the origins of the biblical holiday of Hanukkah that Jesus himself celebrated at the  Jerusalem Temple (John 10:22-23).  If it is past the first Sunday of this rotation, first ask the children to relate what they’ve already learned about Maccabees and Hanukkah in other workshops. 

Web Based Video – “Origins of Hanukkah”  (3:40 running time) 

Have kids click on  the internet shortcut for History Channel video “Origins of Hanukkah” that you made prior to class.  Have kids watch the video. 

Then, say: Today we're going to explore the origins of the biblical holiday of Hanukkah, visit the Temple in Jerusalem where the miracle took place, and have fun playing online games to celebrate the holiday for ourselves, 

ILumina Bible 

Navigation:

  1. Double click on the iLumina icon on the desktop to open the program.
  2. Click “Encyclopedia”.
  3. Click “All Articles”.
  4. In the box entitled “All Articles” on left hand side of screen, type “1 Maccabees”.
  5. Click go button.
  6. Select “1 Maccabees 4” from list that appears.  Text for 1 Maccabees chapter 4 will appear at right
  7. Say: Today we’re going to read the story of Hanukkah for ourselves.  This story appears in a book called 1 Maccabees.  It was written about 100 years before the birth of Jesus.  1 Maccabees was never included in the Bible.  If we were to place it in our Bibles, it would go between the book of Malachi (the last book of the Old Testament) and the gospel of Matthew (the first book of the New Testament) because the story of Maccabees takes place between the times that the Old and New Testaments were written.
  8. Help kids scroll down to verse 6.  Have kids take turns reading 1 Maccabees 4:6-59. 9. After verse 11 has been read, stop the kids and reread verse
  9. “Remember how our ancestors were saved at the Red Sea when Pharaoh pursued them with his army.”  Ask the kids if any of them remember what Bible story Judas is talking about that happened at the Red Sea.  Have kid recount the story of Moses parting the Red Sea from last month.

    Ask: Why do you think Judas Maccabees had his men remember this story as they faced the Greek army in their day? (He wanted to remind them that God saved his people in the time of the Exodus and that God can do the same thing today) 9. Have the kids resume reading the story form 1 Maccabees 4.
  10. When verse 32 is read, have the kids stop and ask: Do you know what Bible story Judas mentions in his prayer right here (verse 30)? (David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17) Have students tell you the story of David and Goliath.  Then ask: Why do you think Judas mentions David’s victory over Goliath in his prayer to God before facing the enemy? (Judas is asking God to give them the same kind of faith and courage that David had when they faced their enemy in battle.  He is also praying for a similar victory)
  11. Have the kids resume reading the story from 1 Maccabees 4.
  12. When verse 36 is read, have the kids stop and explain that the reason the Maccabees wanted to “cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it” is because the Greeks had taken over the Temple a couple of years earlier, and the Jews want to use it to worship God again.
  13. Have the kids resume reading the story from 1 Maccabees 4.
  14. When verse 40 is read, ask the kids why they felt the Maccabees got so upset when they saw the condition of the Temple. Say: Their response would be the same as if somebody’s house was destroyed by a tornado, a fire or a flood.  They were sad that the Temple was standing in ruins.  Explain to the kids that the reason the Jews tore their clothes and sprinkled ashes on themselves was that this was the way they mourned when a loved one died.  Say: The Jews were so sad by what they saw at the Temple, that they mourned like a family member had passed away.
  15. Have the kids resume reading the story from 1 Maccabees 4.
  16. When verse 51 is read, have the kids stop and ask the kids what the Maccabees did to clean up the Temple to make it ready for worship again. (They cleaned the sanctuary, built a new altar,  made new holy vessels, hung up the curtains,  brought in the lampstand and lit the lamps on the lampstand.)
  17. Share with the kids that the lighting of the lampstand (menorah) was important because it represented the light of God in the Temple.  Once the menorah was lit and shining with holy fire, the people felt that the Temple was ready for God’s presence to enter in again and that God could worship there once more.
  18. Have kids finish reading the story from 1 Maccabees 4
  19. Say that the Maccabees were so excited that they Temple was clean again and ready for worship, that they declared an annual holiday called the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah to celebrate the Temple’s cleansing.  Every year in November or December people celebrate the eight day holiday of Hanukkah starting on the exact day that the Temple was rededicated.  The Bible tells us that Jesus also celebrated Hanukkah at the Temple.  Read the passage John 10:22-23 to the kids from your Bible. 
     

Say: Each year on Hanukkah we remember the faith of the Maccabees, the cleansing and rededication of the Temple and that “The Lord is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalms 27:1).  Have kids repeat the Bible memory verse with you a couple of times. 

[Note: iLumina Bible software is now out of print.  To do the same activity, Create internet shortcut for the text of 1 Maccabees 4:6-59 (http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=1+Maccabees+4:36-59) on the desktop of all computers ahead of class so that students can read the passage online.  Follow same teaching suggestions as above.] 

[Preschool option: Since preschoolers can’t read the text of 1 Maccabees, read the children’s book, “The Story of Hanukkah” by Bobbi Katz to them instead.  Make sure you show them the pictures!] 

Say: Today we get a chance to visit the Temple in Jerusalem, the place that Jesus visited on Hanukkah, the place that the Maccabees cleansed to so God could be worshipped again.

  1. Have kids take their mouse and click on “Media Center” at top of page.
  2. On drop down menu, have kids click on “Virtual Tours”.
  3. Once there at menu on left, have kids click on “Temple Mount” and then “Solomon’s Colonnade”  this will take kids on a virtual tour of the Temple in Jerusalem.  Say: this is the spot that Jesus was in the Bible passage that I just read to you.  Jesus was teaching in the outer court of the Temple.  (Let kids explore this section a bit)
  4. Have the kids go back to the menu at left and then have them click on “The Holy Place”.  Say: Now let’s go inside the Temple itself and explore a bit.  Have kids click on the bubble next to where the priest is standing to get a closer view of the Temple furnishings.  Let kids look around and click on bubbles next to objects to learn more about them.  Highlight especially the menorah, and say this is the lampstand that was relit by the Maccabees.  Share with the in brief the legend about the menorah and how one night’s worth of holy oil kept the menorah lit for eight nights until  more purified oil could be produced.  Tell them this is why the menorah is the symbol of Hanukkah and why people who celebrate Hanukkah light candles on a menorah to remind them of God’s miracle in the Temple menorah.
  5. Once kids have explored all of the object of the Holy Place, have them click on “x” at top right of screen to exit out of iLumina. 

[Note: iLumina Bible software is now out of print.  To engage in similar activity, GLO Bible software by Zondervan/Immersion Digital, 2009, offers a similar experience.  Click on “Media” then “Virtual Tours”  then “Herodian Temple” Click “Go Holy Place”.  This will take students into the Holy Place where students will find almost identical virtual tour as iLumina Bible.  Have students explore the chamber, clicking on various objects, especially the menorah.  Use same questions as above.] 

Web Based Games - The Kidz Page (Hanukkah for Kids) 

Have kids click on the internet shortcut for The Kidz Page “Hanukkah For Kids”  that you made prior to class. 

Say:  Hanukkah today is a fun holiday that remembers God’s miracle in the Temple so many years ago.  Today we’re going to get a chance to play a few online games to help remember and celebrate the  miraculous way that the menorah stayed lit for eight nights. 

Direct kids to one of the color Menorah jigsaw puzzles halfway down the page.  Have kids choose between the “Star of David” menorah and the “Happy Hanukkah” menorah.  Have younger kids click on 6 piece puzzle link; older kids click on at least 12 piece puzzle link.  Allow kids time to solve the same puzzle again with harder piece selection or to choose other puzzles on the web page.  Before you leave the web page, direct preschool kids  to one of the printable coloring pages linked so kids can print out a coloring page to either work on in class (if there is extra time) or take home with them. 

Cal & Marty Scripture Memory Game 

Instructions:

  1. Click on the Cal& Marty icon
  2. Have kids type one of their names in the space as prompted
  3. Click select verse when prompted; then click on “1 Maccabees” from list; then select Psalm 27:1.
  4. Have kids study the verse.  Then click scramble to play the game.
  5. Allow time for both kids in the group to unscramble the memory verse.
  6. Click “End Game” to exit program

End session with prayer.


Written by Rev. Ron Shifley from Scotland United Church of Christ
Scotland, SD, USA

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

Puppets Lesson Plan - 1 Maccabees 4:6-59 "The Story of Hanukkah"


Praise Him! Playhouse:


Materials:

  • “Kindle a Candle of Light” song by Dan Crow on the CD “Chanukah At Home” copyright 1988 Rounder Records Corp.(also available as digital download through Amazon.com or iTunes) Lyrics of song to hand out to each student
  • Puppets: Alley Cat, Church Mouse, Theo
  • Dust cloth to attach to Church Mouse puppet
  • Candelabra
  • Bibles
  • Volunteers to portray the puppet characters
  • Microphone and speaker system
  • Menorahs to be handed out to each student (Menorahs and Hanukkah candles can be purchased in bulk from BargainJudaica.com
  • Copy of “Light of the World: A Hanukkah Devotional for Jesus Followers”  by Rev. Ron Shifley to be handed out for each student  (Attached.  Permission granted for download and printing of devotional for congregational use.)


Teacher preparation:

  1. Read the Scripture passages prayerfully, asking God to show you what He has to say to you and to those He’s given you to teach.
  2. Read the Biblical Explanation and Background, and think about what concepts you need to teach.
  3. Print out lyrics of “Kindle a Candle of Light” for each student.
  4. Prepare the necessary materials.


Lesson Plan


Opening:

Greet the children and introduce yourself.

Open with a prayer.

Dig:

As class begins, share with the kids that today we’ll have a real treat.  There will be a puppet skit based on a story from 1 Maccabees.  Ask kids to find the book of 1 Maccabees in the Bible.  When they are unable to do so, show them the spot in the Bible between Malachi and Matthew and explain that 1 Maccabees is a story that took place between the times that the Old and New Testaments were written.  Explain that even though 1 Maccabees is a book that never made it into the Bible, it contains a story of faith that recalls the heroes of the Old Testament and produced a holiday that Jesus celebrated in the New Testament.  If this is not the first Sunday in the rotation, ask kids what they have learned about the story from 1 Maccabees.

Skit

[Church Mouse appears with rag and begins to clean candelabra.  Alley Cat and Theo appear.] 

Alley Cat:  Hi Church Mouse!  What are you doing?

Church Mouse: O hi Alley Cat, Hi Theo.  Good to see you.  I’m just polishing our candelabra, here, to help Dianne, our church’s custodian to get the church ready for the holidays.  There’s so much cleaning to be done around here.  Our church is such a big place.  Dianne works really hard to keep everything clean.  But she can’t do it all by herself.  So, when she’s not looking, I help her clean things up once and awhile.

Theo:  That’s really nice of you Church Mouse!  What are you working on right now?

Church Mouse:  I’m cleaning one of my favorite objects in the church.  It’s a candelabra.  Every time I polish the candelabra I think about my ancestors who lived in the Old Country.  You know I come from a long line of church mice.  We’ve been living in God’s House for generations.  Our family has been living in the Church long before the Church ever started.  Generations ago, Amos, the first church mouse lived in Egypt with Moses and the Hebrews who were living as slaves.  He got to actually watch Moses part the Red Sea during the Exodus.  Boy was that something to see!  I’ll have to tell you that story some time…

Alley Cat:  We just learned about Moses and the Exodus. The Parting of the Red Sea was an amazing adventure of faith!

Church Mouse:  Yes it was.  Well anyway, Amos, went with Moses and the Hebrews on their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.  On the way, God told Moses to build him a tent church, called the Tabernacle, where God could be worshipped along the way to the Promised Land.  Moses asked my great, great, great, great grand pappy Amos if he wouldn’t mind living in the Tabernacle and helping keep it clean.  Amos agreed, and he became the first of a long line of church mice to live in the Lord’s House.  Every time I clean this here candelabra I think of him and the rest of my ancestors.

Theo:  Why is that?

Church Mouse:  Well because the candelabra is one of the oldest items in the church.  Back 3,000 years ago when the Tabernacle was first built, God had Moses construct a candelabra to be placed in the tent church.  Only thing, they called it a menorah back then.  It’s purpose was to light the Tabernacle with a flame that was never extinguished to remind people of God’s presence and salvation.

Theo: That reminds me of our memory verse from Psalm 27, “The LORD is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?”

Church Mouse:  That’s right Theo!  The glowing flames on the menorah reminded God’s people that the LORD is our light and salvation for many, many years.  The menorah, which was housed in the Tabernacle finally made it’s way into Jerusalem when King Solomon built the Temple for God there.  Of course, my family of church mice also got to move into the Temple as well.  And they enjoy polishing the menorah as it lit up the sanctuary, reminding everyone that the LORD is our light and salvation.  That is, until that one terrible, day when…

Alley Cat:  When what happed?

Church Mouse: When the most horrible thing occurred…

Theo:  What occurred, Church Mouse?  Please tell us!

Church Mouse:  When the flames on the menorah were snuffed out and it lit the Temple no more!

Alley Cat: The light of God was extinguished?  Why?

Church Mouse: Many, many years after King Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, the Greeks took over the land of Judea. This happened between the times that the Old and New Testaments were written.  King Antiochus, the Greek king didn’t believe in God, our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Israel.  He worshipped gods made of stone called idols.  His favorite was the Greek god Zeus.  Anyhow, he made laws forbidding the people of Israel from worshipping our God in the Temple.  He even made it illegal to study the Scriptures.  The most horrible thing was he had his soldiers take over the Temple and put up a stone idol of Zeus in the sanctuary and told everyone they had to worship Zeus and not God!  And that’s when it happened.  The Greek soldiers threw the priests and the church mice out of the Temple, and extinguished the flames on the menorah so that it no longer lit up the Temple to remind people that the LORD is our light and salvation.

Alley Cat:  That’s horrible!  What did the people do?

Theo:  What did your family do?

Church Mouse:  Well, my ancestor Abinadab, was the resident Temple mouse at the time.  He joined with the old priest Mattathias when he and his family were kicked out of the Temple.  They fled to the hill country where it was safe.  There they decided that it was not right for the Jews to be told that they couldn’t worship God anymore.  So Mattathias’ sons asked other Jews to join them in forming a rebel band called the Maccabees (which means hammer) to help them break the Greek army so that the Jews could win back their freedom and free Jerusalem and the Temple from Greek control.

Alley Cat:  That sounds like a tough thing to do.

Church Mouse: It was.  The Greeks outnumbered the Maccabees 2 to 1.  But Mattathias’ son, Judah Maccabees wasn’t afraid.  He reminded the Jewish rebels that all they needed was faith in God and they win the battle.  He said, “Do not fear their numbers or be afraid when they charge.  Remember how our ancestors were saved at the Red Sea when Pharaoh and his forces pursued them.  And now, let us cry to Heaven, to see whether God will favor us and remember His covenant with our ancestors and crush this army before us today.  Then all the Gentiles will know that there is a God who redeems and saves Israel.”

Theo:  Wow.  Judah must have had a lot of faith.

Alley Cat: of course being reminded of God’s miracle that he worked through Moses when they crossed the Red Sea, was a great way to remember that “the Lord is our light and salvation.”  If God could save the children of Israel at the Red Sea, we know that He will be with us no matter what problems we face.

Church Mouse:  You’re right Alley Cat.  The story of the Exodus is an important story for all of us to remember when we face big challenges.  My ancestor Abinadab and the rest of the Jewish rebels were inspired by Judah’s words.  They knew that God was their light and salvation and that they didn’t need to be afraid anymore.  For God would be with them.  So they prayed to God for help and got ready to face the Greek army.

Theo:  And then what happened?

Church Mouse:  God was with them, just like Judah Maccabees said He would be.  It took a couple of years, and a number of battles, but finally the Maccabees won, and drove the Greeks out of Jerusalem and Judea.  The Jews were so excited after this victory.  They rushed right over to the Temple in Jerusalem to cleanse the sanctuary and re-dedicate to the Lord.  But, what they saw when they got there was heart breaking.

Alley Cat:  What was wrong Church Mouse?  What did they see?

Theo:  Yes, please tell us!

Church Mouse:  The Temple had been left in awful shape.  It was dirty and dingy.  Wild bushes were growing in the courtyard.  The gates had been burned, and the altar was in disrepair.  Even the priests chambers were in ruins.  This sight broke everybody’s heart.  The people couldn’t believe that the Lord’s House had been left in such a way.  Everybody tore their clothes and mourned as if a relative had died.  They sprinkled ashes on their heads, and fell to the ground crying.  As the trumpets sounded, everybody cried out to Heaven in mournful prayer to God.

Alley Cat:  Wow!  I’ve never seen the church look that way.  Our custodian always makes it look so clean and ready for Sunday worship.  What did the people do?

Church Mouse:  They did the only thing they could do.  They cleaned the Temple from top to bottom.  They made a new altar and rebuilt the interior sanctuary.  Judas even instructed the priests to make new holy vessels for the Holy Place.  When everything was completed they brought the menorah and the other furniture into the temple to prepare it for worship.  Every time I help clean up around church, I’m reminded of all the cleaning my ancestors did to get the Temple ready for worship once again.  I never want our church to look like the Temple did back then.

Alley Cat:  Neither would I.

Church Mouse:  Well, after the Temple was all cleaned up, the people were ready to rededicate the Temple.  When the priests went to fill the seven oil cups on the menorah to light the lamps with God’s holy fire, they discovered that there was only one pot of purified olive oil left in the Temple with which to light the lamps on the menorah.  The problem was, it would take seven days to make more purified oil that was fit to be used in the Temple, and there was only enough oil keep the lamps lit for one night.

Theo:  So did Judas Maccabees postpone the Temple’s rededication?

Church Mouse:  No, everyone was so excited to worship in the Temple again, that they lit the menorah by faith, in hopes that God would work a miracle or something.  And you know what?  God did.  The menorah stayed lit for eight nights, just long enough for more holy oil to be produced.  The Maccabees decided that, since God had provided this miracle, that the people should celebrate the Feast of Dedication of Hanukkah, every year starting on the same day to remember how God freed his people from religious persecution and how God worked a miracle in the Temple through the miracle of the oil.

Alley Cat:  I’ve heard about Hanukkah.  The Jews celebrate it every year around November and December.  I just never knew what the holiday was all about.

Theo:  Neither did I.

Church Mouse:  The cool thing is, God’s people have celebrated Hanukkah every year ever since.  The Bible tells us that Jesus even went up to the Temple in Jerusalem one winter to celebrate Hanukkah with the rest of his people.  If Jesus celebrated Hanukkah, then you know that this holiday is really special.

Alley Cat:  I wish I could celebrate the biblical holiday of Hanukkah too.

Church Mouse:  You can.  That’s why I’m cleaning the candelabra.  I’m getting it ready to light for our church’s celebration of Hanukkah.  For eight nights we’ll light the candles and remember God’s miracle in Jerusalem so many years ago.

Theo:  I can’t wait to celebrate that “The Lord is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?”

Church Mouse:  Let’s go.  We’ve got to fry some donuts for the Hanukkah party.  I can’t wait to show you guys how to play the game of Dreidel.  It’s a lot of fun… 

[Puppets exit]

The End.

Reflection:


After the skit is over, say:

You know what, you get to celebrate Hanukkah too this year.  We’ve got a menorah for each of you along with a devotional booklet that will help you and your family light the menorah for the eight nights of Hanukkah.  Each night of Hanukkah you’ll remember the faith of the Maccabees, the miracle of the oil, and how Jesus celebrated Hanukkah in the Temple. 

Here’s a song that reminds us of the miracle of Hanukkah. 

[Sing"Kindle a Candle of Light" together.  Pass out the menorahs and devotional booklets to all the kids.  Recite the memory verse one more time: “The Lord is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalms 27:1)] 

Close with prayer. 

Attachments
 

Written by Rev. Ron Shifley from: Scotland United Church of Christ
Scotland, SD, USA

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

Attachments

Crafts Lesson Plan - 1 Maccabees 4:6-59 "The Story of Hanukkah"


Creation Station:


Materials:

  • Block of self drying clay; cut apart for each student
  • 1 Maccabees story scroll printed on parchment paper (precut, one for each student)
  • 2 pre-cut wood dowel rods (per student) to make scroll rollers
  • Nails (one for each student) to etch pictures onto  sides of clay jar
  • Glue
  • Dry erase board
  • Dry erase markers, eraser

Maccabees jar scroll


Teacher preparation:

  1. Read the Scripture passages prayerfully, asking God to show you what He has to say to you and to those He’s given you to teach.
  2. Read the Biblical Explanation and Background, and think about what concepts you need to teach.
  3. Prior to class write the following phrases randomly on the dry erase board: “Faith in God, Temple worship, Study of Scripture, Hebrew language, Holidays i.e. Passover, Purim
  4. Prepare the necessary materials.

Lesson Plan


Opening:

Greet the children and introduce yourself.

Opening with a prayer.

Dig:

Today we’re going to learn the story of the origins of the biblical holiday of Hanukkah.  This story is found in the book of 1 Maccabees that was written down between the times that the Old and New Testaments were written.  Although 1 Maccabees was ultimately not included in our Bibles, it contains a story of faith and courage that made it possible for the events in the New Testament to happen. 

As the Old Testament era was drawing to a close, there were a number of things that were important to the Jewish people living in the land of Judea: [Point to the phrases written on the dry erase board]  Their faith in God, the ability to worship God in the Temple, the study of Scriptures, the Hebrew language, biblical holidays like Passover which celebrated the Exodus story and Purim which celebrated the faith of Queen Esther when she saved her people from being killed.  These things along with other Jewish customs were important to help maintain their Jewish identity and faith in God after the times of the prophets. 

This was important because, in between the times that the Old and New Testaments were written, the land of Judea had been conquered by the legendary Macedonian king Alexander the Great and his Greek army.  Although Alexander the Great allowed the Jewish people to worship the God of Israel and maintain their religious and ethnic customs, Greek culture swept through the land under Greek occupation.  After Alexander’s death, King Antiochus was installed as the Greek king that ruled over Jerusalem and Judea.  He did not like the Jews or Jewish faith and culture. 

King Antiochus decided that wanted to erase everything Jewish from the land.  [As you mention each point, erase a phrase from the dry erase board.] He made laws that forbid faith in the God of Israel.  He outlawed Temple worship, the study of Scripture, and observance of biblical holidays like Passover and Purim.  He even tried to erase the use of the Hebrew language and other Jewish customs like circumcision.  To top things off, he erected an idol of the Greek god Zeus in the Temple in Jerusalem and told the people that Zeus was their new god. 

Ask: How would you feel if some foreign country invaded the United States and told us that we couldn’t go to church anymore, that we couldn’t speak English anymore or display the American flag?  [Let kids have time to respond] 

The old Jewish priest Mattathias and his sons were upset by the Greeks’ attempt to erase their faith and Jewish identity.  They formed a group of Jewish rebels called the Maccabees.  Led by Mattathias’ son Judas, the Maccabees made a commitment that the Greeks would not erase their faith in God or Jewish worship and culture from the land of Judea.  So the Maccabees led a revolt against the Greek armies. 

1 Maccabees recounts that one time before they faced the Greeks, Judas encouraged the men by saying, “Do not fear their numbers or be afraid when they charge.  Remember how our ancestors were saved at the Red Sea, when Pharaoh with his forces pursued them.  And now, let us cry to Heaven, to see whether He will favor us and remember His covenant with our ancestors and crush this army before us today.  Then all the Gentiles will know that there is [a God] who redeems and saves Israel.” (1 Maccabees 4:8-11) 

God did help the Maccabees beat the Greeks.  They freed Jerusalem and Judea from Greek occupation, tore down the idol of Zeus in the Temple, cleansed the Temple and made it ready for the worship of God once again.  When the priests relit the flames on the Temple menorah all the people of Judea were able to proclaim once again that “The LORD is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1) 

Ask: Do any of you know the miracle that God performed in the Temple when the Jews relit the Temple menorah?  [Let kids answer.  If kids don’t know the story say] Legend has it that when the priests went to relight the candles on the menorah in the Temple, there was only one pot of holy oil to fill the oil lamps on the menorah.  The oil was enough to only keep the menorah lit for one day, but God made a miracle happen.  The menorah stayed lit for 8 days, just long enough for new holy oil to be produced.  That is why the menorah is the symbol of Hanukkah. 

Say: After the Temple was rededicated to the LORD, the Jews decided that the people should celebrate the rededication of the Temple every year to remember not only the faith and courage of the Maccabees who refused to let the Greeks erase faith in God from Israel, but also the miracle that God performed in the Temple.  They developed an annual holiday called “Feast of Dedication” or Hanukkah which has been celebrated every year ever since.  The Bible says that Jesus even celebrated Hanukkah at the Temple in Jerusalem during his ministry (John 10:22-23). 

The Maccabees made it possible for faith in God to exist during the time of foreign occupation.    If it hadn’t been for the Maccabees, faith in God might have been erased forever, and the events in the New Testament might have never happened. 

Ask: How would the New Testament be different if the Maccabees hadn’t saved the Jewish faith from being erased? [People wouldn’t have believed in the God of Israel, People wouldn’t have been looking for a Jewish Messiah, No one would have worshipped God in the Temple.  No one would have studied the Scriptures, and the Scriptures might have been lost forever, Jesus wouldn’t have grown up Jewish, The Church wouldn’t never been started by Jewish Christians, etc.] 

1 Maccabees records this important story of faith and courage that made the birth of Jesus and the establishment of the Christian Church possible. 

Today, we’re going to make a clay scroll holder, so you can have your very own copy of the story of Hanukkah found in 1 Maccabees. This way you’ll never forget this story of faith and courage that didn’t make it into the Bible.  The clay pot will feature an etching of the Temple menorah on one side, reminding us of how Judas Maccabees liberated the Temple and rededicated it to the glory of God.  On the other side, you’ll draw the Messianic Seal, one of the oldest symbols of Christianity that was used by the Early Church in Jerusalem, it features the Temple menorah, star of David, and ichthus fish which was a early Christian symbol for Jesus.  This symbol helps remind us that the faith of the Early Church was deeply rooted in the Jewish faith of the Old Testament.  The Maccabees helped keep that faith alive, and we Christians are indebted to them forever. 

Instructions for Craft

  1. Have kids glue wood dowel rods to ends of 1 Maccabees scroll.  Let glue dry.
  2. Have kids take their portion of clay, flatten it and mold it into a clay jar.  Make sure the mouth of clay jar is wide enough to insert the scroll into it. Measure opening by inserting sample Maccabees scroll in it.
  3. Decorate clay jar with nail to make designs of “menorah” and “Messianic Seal.”
  4. Let clay jars and scrolls dry.  They will be available for pick-up next week. 

 

Reflection:

As kids finish the craft project, practice this month’s memory verse with them a couple of times.  “The LORD is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1) 

End the lesson with a group prayer.


Written by Rev. Ron Shifley from: Scotland United Church of Christ
Scotland, SD, USA

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

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Games and Cooking Lesson Plan - 1 Maccabees 4:6-59 "The Story of Hanukkah"


Discovery Destination:


Materials:

  • “Rugrats Chanukah” episode on DVD; “Rugrats Holiday Celebration”, Paramount, 2004  or  “Rugrats: Season 4”, Nickelodeon, 2011
  • TV, DVD player
  • Wooden Dreidel  (one for each student) Can be purchased in bulk at BargainJudaica.com
  • Handout: "Dreidel Game Instruction"s (one for each student) Attached for download and printing
  • Foil covered chocolate coins (about 30 per group; 2 groups)
  • 2 low kids tables to play games on
  • Cooking oil
  • Electric fryer
  • Tube biscuits to make donuts
  • Cinnamon/sugar mixture to coat donuts
  • Tongs
  • Plates, napkins


Teacher preparation:

  1. Read the Scripture passages prayerfully, asking God to show you what He has to say to you and to those He’s given you to teach.
  2. Read the Biblical Explanation and Background, and think about what concepts you need to teach.
  3. Learn more about persecuted Christians living today at The Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com/ 
  4. Prepare the necessary materials.

Lesson Plan


Opening:

Greet the children and introduce yourself.

Open with a prayer.

Dig:

Teach about 1 Maccabees, briefly relating that it is a story that took place between the times that the Old and New Testaments were written and that it inspired the biblical holiday of Hanukkah that Jesus himself celebrated in the Temple in Jerusalem. If it is past the first Sunday of this rotation, first ask the children to relate what they’ve already learned about the story of Hanukkah in other workshops. 

Rugrats Chanukah Video 

Play the first 2:00 minutes of “Rugrats Chanukah.” [This portrays the plight of the Jews under King Antichous, when the Jews were forbidden to study the Scriptures and played the Dreidel game as a way to hide their religious observance.  It also introduces the hero Judah Maccabee.] 

After the video clip is over, ask:

Imagine what it would have been like during this time, and you were told that you told that you could no longer worship God and study the Bible.  How would this have made you feel? 

Do you think you’d would have given up your faith in God  to get along with the Greeks, or would you have still studied the Bible, and worshipped in secret like the Jews did in the Rugrats cartoon?

What do you think it was like to have to meet in secret to study the Bible?  Would you have been afraid? 

Legend has it that the Jews used the game of Dreidel as a cover up when Greek soldiers discovered them studying the Scriptures.  What do you think you might have done to keep the Greeks from discovering that you were studying the Bible? 

Say: In a number of countries around the globe, Christians today live under similar circumstances and are oppressed, even at times put in prison for their faith.  In some countries people are put in prison for even owning a Bible. Let’s say a prayer for those who live under religious persecution today. [Lead the class in a short time of prayer.  You might want to pray for persecuted Christians living in Iran, Egypt, Sudan, China]. 

Recite the memory verse together a couple of times: “The Lord is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalms 27:1) 

Then say:  Fortunately, during the times between the Old and New Testaments, the Maccabees stood up for their faith, freed Jerusalem and the Temple from Greek occupation.  The biblical holiday of Hanukkah celebrates the faith and courage of Judas Maccabees and the miracle that God performed among the Jews at the Temple.  Today, we’re going to have fun and get a chance to play a traditional Hanukkah game and enjoy a tasty snack that reminds us of God’s miracle at the Temple in Jerusalem.

Dreidel Game

One of the fun traditions of Hanukkah is the spin the Dreidel game.  A Dreidel is a for-sided spinning top that families play with on Hanukkah.  Each side is imprinted with a Hebrew letter.  These letters form an acronym for the Hebrew words (Nes Gadol Haya Sham) “A great miracle happened there,” referring to the miracle of the oil that took place in the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Dreidel game is played to commemorate the time when worship of the God of Israel was outlawed by King Antichous from 168-165 B.C. and the reading and teaching of Scripture was forbidden.  Yet, as legend had is that faithful Jews continued to teach God’s Word in small groups in defiance of the law.  When Greek soldiers would pass by, the Jews hid their Torah scrolls and began spinning the Dreidel so that it would appear that they were gambling and not studying Scripture, just like we saw in the Rugrats video clip earlier. 

[Divide the kids into two groups and sit them around the two tables, unless the group is small.  On each table should be one Dreidel and a loot of foil wrapped chocolate coins.] 

The game is played using a Dreidel and chocolate coins (gelt).  Each player starts out with 10 or more coins and places one coin in the “pot”.  The first player spins the Dreidel, and depending on which side the Dreidel falls on, either wins a coin from the pot or gives up part of his stash.  The code is as follows:

  • Nun – “none”-  the player gets none and the next player spins
  • Gimel – “all” – the  player gets all of the coins in the pot.  Each player then puts one coin in to replenish the pot.
  • Hey – “half” – the players takes half of the pot, rounding up if there is an odd number of coins.
  • Shin – “put one in” – each player puts one coin in the pot. 

Play continues until one player wins the entire pot of coins.  After the game is over, all the coins are divided up so each player ahs their own chocolate coins to take home and enjoy. 

[Allow kids the chance to play the Dreidel game.  If time runs too long to complete the next part of the lesson, call the game and divide up the gold chocolate coins evenly among the kids.] 

Frying Donuts 

One of the traditional foods eaten during the celebration of Hanukkah are fried donuts.  The oil used to fry donuts reminds us of the miracle of the holy oil in the Jerusalem Temple. 

1 Maccabees recounts how after the Maccabees defeated the Greeks and  freed Jerusalem from foreign occupation, they went to the Temple in Jerusalem to cleanse it so that it could be dedicated to the worship of God once again.  “They made new holy vessels, and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple.  They offered incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the lampstand, and these gave light in the temple… So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days…” (1 Maccabees 4:49-50, 56) 

Legend has it that when the priests went to light the lamps on the menorah, they discovered that there was only enough purified olive oil to light the menorah for one night.  Yet, in faith, they lit the lamps anyway.  A miracle happened.  God let the flames on the menorah burn for 8 days until more holy oil could be made.  This is why lighting the menorah is one of the central acts during the annual celebration of Hanukkah. 

Eating foods fried in oil is also another tradition that reminds us of the miracle of the oil.  Today, we’re going to fry some donuts and enjoy them.  As we do, take a moment to remember God’s miracle in the Temple so many years ago. 

  1. Have a helper fry the donuts while the kids are playing the Dreidel game above.
  2. Give kids bowls of sugar and cinnamon mix to coat their warm donuts with
  3. Let each child enjoy at least one fried donut. 

 

Reflection:

End the lesson with prayer, thanking God for the ordinary miracles that He performs everyday in our lives. 

Pass out a Dreidel and instructions on how to play the game to each student before they leave so that all the kids can play Dreidel at home.


Written by Rev. Ron Shifley from: Scotland United Church of Christ
Scotland, SD, USA

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

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FYI:  The Hanukkah devotional that I wrote for this lesson plan has since been revised and expanded into a published book, Light in the Darkness: A Hanukkah Devotional for Jesus Followers by Ron Shifley.  It is available for $5.99 each at www.barnesandnoble.com and www.amazon.com.

If you want to give out a nicer copy of the devotional to your students as a family keepsake than the PDF linked to the lesson plans above, the published version of the book might be a useful supplemental resource.

 

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