A ceremonious induction into office; an initiation, with solemn ceremonies, of an institution or place. The word is drawn from the Latin inaugurare, but the English word no longer carries the original Latin meaning of “divination by augury,” that is, by the reading of omens or portents. “Inaugurate,” clothed in its modern meaning, is therefore a suitable equivalent for the Hebrew verb hha·nakhʹ (noun form, hhanuk·kahʹ) when it means “to initiate, dedicate or consecrate formally.” Similarly, “inaugurate” is a fitting translation of the Greek verb eg·kai·niʹzo, which primarily means to make new, renew or innovate, as by dedication. The Hebrew word neʹzer, the holy sign of dedication, is considered under the subject DEDICATION.
When the Mosaic Law covenant was put into operation it was solemnly initiated by suitable ceremonies of animal sacrifices and by sprinkling of blood on the altar, on the book and on the people. This event was referred to by the apostle Paul as the eg·kai·niʹzo or the act of inaugurating that covenant.—Ex. 24:4-8; Heb. 9:18-20.
By Paul’s words, “neither was the former covenant inaugurated without blood” (Heb. 9:18), he indicates that the new covenant was similarly put into effect—inaugurated by Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, there to present the value of his human life, and thereafter to pour out holy spirit upon his disciples. Jesus Christ, being resurrected in the spirit, could actually enter into the real “holy place,” the heavens of Jehovah’s presence, and with his ransom sacrifice make it possible for his anointed followers to enter also into heaven. Thus he could be said to have begun, innovated or inaugurated the way into the heavens which would thereafter be used by others.—Heb. 10:19, 20.
We also read of solemn ceremonies involving the offerings by the tribal chieftains at the inauguration of the tabernacle altar in the wilderness. (Num. 7:10, 11, 84-88) There was a special assembly for the inauguration of Solomon’s temple and its great sacrificial altar.—1 Ki. 8:63; 2 Chron. 7:5, 9.
When the temple was rebuilt under Zerubbabel following the Babylonian exile, there were solemn initiation ceremonies in which hundreds of animals were sacrificed. (Ezra 6:16, 17) Later, the walls around the rebuilt Jerusalem were restored under the direction of Nehemiah, and again an elaborate inauguration festival was held, with two large thanksgiving choirs participating in the praising of Jehovah.—Neh. 12:27-43.
In addition to these impressive national ceremonies of inauguration, we read of a man inaugurating or initiating his house (Deut. 20:5), and the superscription of Psalm 30, ascribed to David, designates it as “A song of inauguration of the house.”
When Nebuchadnezzar completed the erection of the huge image of gold on the Plain of Dura, he called together all the satraps, prefects, governors, counselors, treasurers, judges, police magistrates and all administrators of the jurisdictional districts for the impressive ceremonies of inauguration. Nebuchadnezzar thus hoped to unite all his subjects in worship. The three young Hebrews present at this affair refused to compromise their worship of Jehovah by participating in this national religion.—Dan. 3:1-30.
To this day the Jews annually celebrate what they call Hanukkah in the month of December. This is in remembrance of the inauguration (Heb., hhanuk·kahʹ) festival that followed the cleansing of the temple by Judas Maccabaeus in 165 B.C.E. after it had been polluted by Antiochus IV Epiphanes.—John 10:22; see FESTIVAL OF DEDICATION.