I have once heard that there was a miraculous eternally burning flame present in the Temple. I have never found the source for this midrash or its hebrew name (I thought the Ner Tamid referred to something that was repeatedly lighted so as to keep it burning forever by natural means). I could only find a reference to it in the commentary of Rabbi Wein on parashat Tzav on www.torah.org.
The origin of the ner tamid is found in this week’s parsha of Tzav. Here the Jewish people are commanded by God to have an eternal flame constantly burning on the altar of the Mishkan and later in the temple in Jerusalem. The Midrash teaches us that the flame on the altar resembles a crouching lion and was miraculous in the fact that even when the altar was covered with its protective cloth, while being transported in the desert, the flame was not extinguished nor did it burn the cloth.
What is the source of this midrash? If this miracle was already observed daily, why was the miracle of the menorah lights that we celebrate on channukah regarded as such a unique and great miracle at all?
EDIT: regadering the eternally burning flame in the Temple: I've heard that the miracle of this particular light was that it was perpetually burning. Suggesting that it was something other than the Ner Tamid?