Kislev is the ninth month of biblical calendar year. The name "Kislev" is the Babylonian name of the month. In the Bible, it is referred to as both "the ninth month" and "Kislev" as in Zechariah 7:1, "the word of the LORD came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Kislev" (NIV).
Among other historical events that occurred during Kislev, none is perhaps more well known than the Festival of Hanukkah, an eight day festival which begins on Kislev 25. "Hanukkah" is a word that means "dedication," for it was during these days that the Temple was rededicated in 165 BCE. This occurred during the Intertestamental period, and its history is preserved in the Apocryphal books of 1 & 2 Maccabees, as well as in the Talmud (b. Shabbat 21b).
In the second century BCE, the Syrian Greeks ruled over the land of Israel. In an effort to assimilate the cultures under their control, the Greek ruler Antiochus IV outlawed the "peculiar" customs of the Jewish people, namely, Torah. It became illegal for the Jews to observe the Sabbath, study the Torah, keep kosher, or circumcise their sons. It now became a legal requirement to sacrifice unclean animals and offer incense to the emperor. Sadly, many Jews obeyed these laws and turned away from the Torah of God. They denounced their brothers who remained faithful to the Covenant.
These harsh decrees eventually led to a revolt of those faithful to God against the Greeks. The Hasmonean family, led by Judah Maccabee, were successful in the revolt. They were able to defeat their enemies and reclaim control of the Temple. They set to work rebuilding and purifying the Temple of the uncleanness the Greeks had brought. Tradition also claims that only one days' amount of oil for the menorah was found in the Sanctuary, though eight days' worth was needed. Miraculously, the oil continued to burn for eight days.
The meaning of Hanukkah is one of dedication, commitment, and devotion. We may not be called to bear arms, "for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood" (Ephesians 6:12), but in every generation we are called to persevere under persecution. The Apostle Paul calls us to "not be conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2). Our Master taught, "blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mathew 5:10). May we all remain steadfast in our faith in God and our Master Yeshua.