SymbolsChanukah can be broken down into three different elements, and is illustrated into those three parts:
- The war against the Seleucid Empire (left). Chanukah is unique among all Jewish holidays as it commemorates a war victory. There are other holidays about besting villains to be sure, but they center around escaping or thwarting destruction. Indeed, Chanukah acts as a testament to physical power by conviction. The heroes of the story were called the Maccabes (‘hammers’), and three have been drawn: Matisyahu with an assassin’s dagger, Yehuda with a hammer, and Eleazar, who (fused with Sagittarius) can be seen with a bow and arrow under a war elephant, atop of which is Antiochus, the antagonist of the story.
- The miracle of the oil (middle and branching out to either side), often touted as a “greater miracle” than the war victory. Though the story centered around a Menorah (which has 6 arms), it is here drawn as a Chanukiah (which has 8 arms) denoting the 8 days of Chanukah.
- The traditions celebrated in our times (right). Perhaps the things Chanukah is most associated with, spinning the dreidel tops and lighting the Chanukiah. One of the most central songs, Maoz Tzur, also has some of its lyrics literally translated here; find the Pharaoh who sank like a stone in the deep, the gallows for Haman, the seven Shepherds (represented by crooks), and altars and hymns of praise.
Tribe: Binyamin. Here he is illustrated two times, to denote both miracles. His tribe’s symbol was the wolf, who can be seen engaged in combat on the war side. Near the Chanukiah is also a silver goblet. This alludes to the story whereby his brother Yosef, who had become a stranger to his brothers, hid a silver goblet in Binyamin’s bag as a prelude to accusing him of theft. The reaction of the brothers in freeing Binyamin so moved Yosef that he confessed his identity, and out of their strife became unity again. Stylistically, it joins the bottle of pure oil behind it. It also features designs of Kislev’s planet, Jupiter.
Zodiac: Sagittarius (קשת). In Jewish thought, the archer is often seen as daring and sure of themselves. This is why the sign has been fused with Eleazar the Maccabe, who flung himself under an elephant in a suicidal (yet successful) attempt to best it.