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The Biblical Significance of the Month of Kislev (5784)

Updated: Jun 10

Kislev is the ninth month counted from Nissan, and it falls on the darkest period in the year (in the Northern hemisphere): the nights are getting longer, there is less and less light, a process which culminates at the Winter Solstice on 21 December. Therefore, it is not surprising that light and darkness play a role in this month.

At the end of Kislev, the holiday of Chanukah takes place. It starts on 25th day of Kislev and continues into the month of Tevet, and it is known as the “festival of light”.

What other Biblical events occurred during the month of Kislev?

We learned that the Flood began in the previous month of Cheshvan, and we know that it rained for 40 days. It started raining on 17th of Cheshvan, so after 40 days, we are at the end of Kislev: on the 27th day of Kislev, it stopped raining. Does it sound like a sign of hope?

The word kislev can be indeed interpreted as “hope”. We can find it in Psalm 78:

For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments. (Psalm 78:5-7)

Also, Job declares that he had not put his hope (kesli) in gold (Job 31:24).

So, Kislev is the month of hope. The darkness is still increasing, but human experience says that it will be reversed one day, so there is hope. The rains of the Flood stopped, there is hope it will turn for the better. In the natural, this is the time that we see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. We are in a depressed situation but light is about to return.

Interestingly, the word kesel in the Bible has another meaning: foolishness, like in Ecclesiastes 7:25:

I applied my heart to know, to search and seek out wisdom and the reason of things, to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness.

How can hope and folly go together? What is the connection between the Gospel, the Good News, and foolishness? I believe the question is what people consider foolishness. May it be that when we rely on our own judgement or experience, we may miss something that God considers to be full of hope, something that He sees as a solution? We have a great example in 1 Corinthians 1:18.21-25:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

So, the month of Kislev contains this paradox: hope and foolishness. What is hope for one, can be folly for the other. The Bible is full of this: take the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus: one put his hope in Jesus and was saved, the other ridiculed him, considered it a foolishness, and was lost. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16:

For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.

The presence of the Lord sparks two types of reaction, one leading to life, the other to death. And we are told that these two trends will grow in strength: in Revelation 22:11, we have the exhortation for the last time before His coming.

“He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”

It shows that in the last days, there will be both trends: a great awakening, and a great falling-away. As if the seeds that were sown are now manifesting. They had been there before, but now they come to the surface.

The message of the month of Kislev is to remember the power of the Gospel, and live a holy life, be the sweet aroma of Christ.

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