Why would a Christian use a Menorah?
As Christians we believe by faith in Jesus Christ. We do not need candle sticks to remind us who Jesus Christ is because we have the Holy Spirit abiding in us. The Menorah is part of the Jewish faith – a Christian should not be entertaining symbols from other faiths.
What’s the difference between the 7-candle Menorah and the 9-candle Menorah?
God said to Moses in Exodus 25:31-38: 31 “Make a lampstand of pure gold and hammer it out, base and shaft; its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms shall be of one piece with it. 32 Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand-three on one side and three on the other. 33 Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. 34 And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. 35 One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair-six branches in all. 36 The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold. 37 “Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. 38 Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold.
The Talmud (Menahot 28b) states that it is prohibited to use a seven-branched menorah outside of the Temple. The Hanukkah menorah therefore has eight main branches, plus a ninth branch set apart as the shamash (servant) light which is used to kindle the other lights. This type of menorah is called a hanukiah in Modern Hebrew. — Birnbaum, Philip (1975). A Book of Jewish Concepts. New York: Hebrew Publishing Company. pp. 366-367
The story of Hanukkah:
Hanukkah or Chanukah, also called The Feast of Lights or Feast of the Maccabees which is celebrated on the 20th December is a Jewish celebration that commemorates the re-dedication or cleansing of the Temple after the success of a Jewish military victory over the Greeks of Syria in about 166 BC. It is said that the victorious Jews (Maccabees) could find very little oil to light their lamp, enough oil for only for a day. But miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days before they could find an alternative source of oil.
This so called miracle started a tradition of lighting eight candles on nine branched candle stick. Each day during Hanukkah one arm is lighted. The candle that is used to light all the arms is kept at the centre. For many it’s very much a children’s holiday, similar to Christmas with special food prepared, decorated bushes and wrapped gifts. But Hanukkah is not a children’s holiday at all, in fact it’s story is tainted.
“History tells us that the original name for the festival was not the Feast of Lights but the Feast of Fire.  The story of the Maccabees and the Maccabean Revolt, was reportedly commissioned by the Maccabees themselves, and is found in the Apocrypha’s 1st & 2nd Maccabees, which are found in Catholic and some Protestant Bibles. However, those writings are not found in Jewish Bibles, but rather, the Maccabean Revolt is found referenced to in the extra-biblical writings of the Talmud.
From those and other historical sources such as Josephus’ Antiquities, we know that Antiochus or “Epiphanes”, outlawed the practice of Judaism prior to the second century BC. Idols and altars were established throughout Jerusalem where sacrifices were made to the various ‘gods’. In full rebellion to Almighty God, an idol was erected on the great Temple, with many historically believing it to be an image of Zeus. Jews who disobeyed the directive to burn their Torah scrolls and cease from practicing Judaism were murdered. Some suggest by about 167 BC, Mattathais Maccabees and his sons determined to stop the sacrilege of the Temple and proceeded to overthrow the Syrians. Judah Maccabees took the lead and the Jews recaptured the Temple. According to the various writings they rededicated the altar on the 25th of Kislev or November-December. The celebration for the dedication of the altar went on for eight days followed by the rededication of the Temple to God.  Many venerated Judah Maccabees as the awaited Messiah.
For many years, Hanukkah in essence symbolized the overthrow of pagan Gentile influence from Jewish spirituality, and the rededication to God and the Mosaic Law. However, history reveals that the wrath that was dealt out by the Maccabees did not end the path of disaster which Israel had been treading. Whether reading ‘gentile’ historical or Jewish resources, the end result was that the Maccabees or Hasmoneans as they are called, became power hungry and corrupt. What started out for many as a zealous spiritual endeavor based on wrath, became immersed in corruption, murder and destruction, and the eventual act of Jews killing Jews. The war and rebellion became a civil war. According to Josephus, in his Antiquities, within 65 years of the initial revolt, a challenge was put forth by a number of Pharisees towards one of the corrupt leaders of the Maccabees, one Alexander Janneus. His response was to quell the revolt by having the Jewish soldiers under his command crucify 800 of the Pharisees. He then ordered the throats of their children and wives cut, while they watched. While many celebrate Hanukkah and the Maccabees, what many do not realize is that the Maccabees themselves became a destructive force to Judaism.
The initial Revolt lasted about four years, from 167-163 BC. By 66 AD, the Zealots again revolted against their Gentile oppressors. Just as with the earlier Maccabees, again the revolt ended with Jews killing Jews, and many would agree that it changed the course of Jewish history forever. Many know that by 70 AD the Romans destroyed the Temple, burned Jerusalem, and slaughtered thousands of people. The last stronghold at Masada ended with the rebel Jews committing suicide. The surviving Jews were exiled from the land, until 1948.”
Hanukkah itself was added to Jewish celebrations by Pharisees and was not God ordained in the Scriptures. —www.seekgod.ca/legend.htm
The miracle of the oil burning for 8 days is just a legend, nothing more.
Why is the celebration of Hanukkah and the use of the 9-branch Menorah becoming so popular?
Universally the menorah symbolises the ideal of universal enlightenment. The seven or nine branches of the candle stand allude to the branches of human knowledge, represented by the six or eight lamps inclined in wards towards, and symbolically guided by, the light of God represented by the central lamp. The 7 or 9 branches are also symbolic of many faiths leading to one Universal Christ (reference to Jewish Mysticism (Chakras / Tree of Life / Kaballah) and the 7 colours of the rainbow) The center candle is called ‘The Servant’ because this candle is used to lite the surrounding candles. Because of this, this candle is supposed to symbolize Jesus who is a ‘servant’ and the light of the world. But as Christians we know this is not Jesus Christ of the Bible. Notice how Jesus Christ is continuously reduced to the level of a servant, when He is in fact a KING seated at the right hand Father in heaven.
Menorah as the symbol for interfaith understating?
About the Centre for Interreligious Understanding CIU: With more than 30 years of experience in interreligious affairs, the CIU is a trusted resource for insight, analysis and positive action. Through educational programs and policy leadership, the CIU brings people of all faiths together to learn about our history, our shared values and why we must live and work together toward a society of justice and peace. By exploring the theological foundations and common goals of the world’s religions, the CIU fights religious stereotypes and intolerance to foster genuine understanding.
Education. The CIU educates theologians, academics and laity about interfaith issues among Christians, Jews and Muslims including sacred texts, Holocaust revisionism and the Middle East. The Vatican also invites CIU Director Rabbi Jack Bemporad to teach seminarians about Judaism and interreligious cooperation at the Angelicum University in Rome.
Insight. The CIU analyzes major theological developments through articles, conferences and speeches at leading institutions such as the United Nations, New York University and at temples, churches and mosques around the world.
Awareness. Through its historic Menorah Project, the CIU places Holocaust menorahs in major Catholic centers throughout the United States, bringing Christians and Jews together to remember the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust and raise awareness of anti-Semitism.
Recognition. Through its “Faith in Dialogue Award” the CIU recognizes extraordinary individuals who have fostered interreligious dialogue and understanding throughout the world. —