22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.
The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Jn 10:22–23.
The feast of dedication whereof mention is made [in] John 10, some take for the dedication of the Temple in Zerubbabel’s time, as the Magedeburg Centuries (Cent. 1 Col. 244.). So likewise Chrysostome, Theophilactus, Cajetanus, Abulensis, Euthymius, and others, as Barradius reports (Comment. in Evangel. Tom 3 lib. 4. cap. 16.). But let it be meant as is alleged. If the feast of dedication in Solomon and Zerubbabels time was anniversary, then the Maccabees did follow the example of these who had prophetical direction. If they were not anniversary, as indeed Toletus (In John 10) leaves it as uncertain, then this annual memory was an addition of the Pharisees, who enlarged the glory of this feast, as they did their Phylacteries. Junius (In John 10) relates out of the Talmud, that the wise men decreed that the eight days of that feast should be yearly days of joy. By the wise men are meant the Pharisees, who were called Sapientes Israelis [Wise men of Israel]. The renewment of the Altar, and of certain other decayed places, was honored by them with an annual memory, whereas the whole Temple, with all the implements and furniture thereof in Solomon and Zerubbabel’s time had not the like honor. Neither do we read that any annual memory was instituted by Hezekiah after the profanation of the Temple by Manasses and Amon. Christ’s walking in Solomon’s Porch, makes nothing for approbation of this feast. He had remained in Jerusalem from the feast of the Tabernacles, and came not up of purpose to keep that feast. He takes hold of the present opportunity to thrust his sickle into a thick harvest.
We have to consider for a general answer to all instances alleged from the Jewish Kirk, first that they had extraordinary directions which we want [lack]. They had prophets by office, or commission, who ended in Malachi. They had prophets who were only prophets by the Spirit, as Daniel, David, and Solomon, who endured after the days of Malachi, as Drusius (In 2 Peter 1:21) affirms. They had Urim and Thummim under the first Temple, and in place thereof, a slender voice sounding from heaven, called Bathkol under the second Temple, as Tremellius (in Acts 12:22) has observed. Next the Pharisees and degenerating Jews filled their calendar with fond feasts of their own invention, as the festivities of the Equinoctial and festival days, other ways called the feasts of the Tekuphas: or converted any ancient order into a solemn feast, as the day appointed for carrying wood to the Temple to maintain the fire of the altar (Neh. 10:34) they turned into a feast called the feast of Xylophoria. A holy day is to be observed not by a few but by all; but all were not appointed to bring wood, but those only who were designed by lot. It is no wonder therefore that they took the like course with the days of Purim. But we are not to imitate the Pharisees and fond Jews.
Fourthly, as touching the feast of the dedication of the altar by Judas Maccabeus, 1. Let us hear what Cartwright very gravely and judiciously propounds:36 That this feast was unduly instituted and ungroundly, it may appear by conference of the dedication of the first temple under Solomon, and of the second after the captivity returned from Babylon. In which dedication, seeing there was no yearly remembrance by solemnity of feasts, not so much as one day, it is evident that the yearly celebration of this feast for eight days, was not compassed by that Spirit that Solomon and the captivity were directed by; which Spirit, when it dwelt more plentifully in Solomon, and in the prophets that stood at the stern of the captivity’s dedication, than it did in Judas, it was in him so much the more presumptuous, as having a shorter leg than they, he durst in that matter overstride them. And his rashness is so much the more aggravated, as each of them, for the building of the whole temple, with all the implements and furniture thereof, made no feast to renew the annual memory, where Judas only for renewment of the altar, and of certain other decayed places of the temple, instituted this great solemnity.
2. The feast of the dedication was not free of Pharisaical invention. For as Tremellius observes out of the Talmud, the wise men of that era established that in the recurring years, those eight days, etc.37 Yet albeit the Pharisees were called sapiantes IsrÃ¦llis [wise men of Israel], Bishop Lindsey will not grant that they were the wise men of whom the Talmud speaks; for, he says, it behoved those who appointed festivities, not only to be wise men, but men of authority also.38
But what do we hear? Were not the Pharisees men of authority? Why, says not Christ they sat in Moses’ chair (Matt. 23:2)? Says not Calvin, in the governing of the church and interpretation of scripture, this sect held primacy?39 Says not Camero, since the authority of the Pharisees was superior (as Josephus teaches everywhere)? etc.40
Does not Josephus speak so much of their authority that in one place he says, So the name of the government was in the queen’s power, but the administration of it was in the Pharisees’ power?41 And in another place, for there was a certain sect of the Jews which claimed for itself a more exact knowledge of the law of the country? etc. These were called the Pharisees, an astute, arrogant kind of man, and occasionally even dangerous for the kings, as they were not afraid even to provoke them openly? 42
There is nothing alleged which can prove the lawfulness of this feast of the dedication.
It is but barely and boldly affirmed by Bishop Lindsey, that the Pharisees were not rebuked by Christ for this feast,43 because we read not so much in scripture; for there were many things which Jesus did and said that are not written in scripture (John 21:25). And whereas it seems to some, that Christ did countenance and approve this feast, because he gave his presence unto the same (John 10:22, 23), we must remember, that the circumstances only of time and place are noted by the evangelist, for evidence to the story, and not for any mystery. Christ had come up to the feast of tabernacles (John 7), and tarried still all that while, because then there was a great confluence of people in Jerusalem. Whereupon he took occasion to spread the net of the gospel for catching of many souls. And whilst John says, “œIt was at Jeusalem the feast of the dedication,” he gives a reason only of the confluence of many people at Jerusalem, and shows how it came to pass that Christ had occasion to preach to such a great multitude; and whilst he adds, “œand it was winter,” he gives a reason of Christ’s walking in Solomon’s porch, whither the Jews resort was. It was not thought beseeming to walk in the temple itself, but in the porch men used to convene either for talking or walking, because in the summer the porch shadowed them from the heat of the sun, and in winter it lay open to the sunshine and to heat. Others think, that whilst he says, it was winter, imports that therefore Christ was the more frequently in the temple, knowing that his time was short which he had then for his preaching; for in the entry of the next spring he was to suffer.
Howsoever, it is not certain of what feast of dedication John speaks. Bullinger leaves it doubtful;44 and Maldonat says that this opinion which takes the dedication of the altar by Judus Maccabeus to be meant by John, has fewest authors.45 But to let this pass, whereas the Rhemists allege,46 that Christ approved this feast, because he was present at it; Cartwright and Fulk answer them, that Christ’s being present at it proves not his approving of it. Christ did not honor the feast day specifically, says Junius, but the harmonious gathering of the righteous on a feast day; for all opportunities of that kind for sowing his Gospel Christ pays attention to and seizes.47
As if indeed (says Hospinian) Christ left for Jerusalem for the sake of the Feast of Dedication.48 Nay, but he saw he had a convenient occasion, to teach a multitude of men who had come together for that feast day.49
Even as Paul chose to be present at certain Jewish feasts,50 not for any respect to the feasts themselves, nor for any honor which he meant to give them, but for the multitudes’ cause who resorted to the same, among whom he had a more plentiful occasion to spread the gospel at those festivities than at other times in the year.