Impact

The Feasts of Israel – Booths (Tabernacles)

These are the Lord’s appointed times, holy assemblies, which you must proclaim at their appointed time. (Leviticus 23:4 NET)

Historical Background of the Feast of Booths

God gave the following instructions concerning the Feast of Booths in 1446 B.C.

The LORD spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Temporary Shelters for seven days to the LORD. On the first day is a holy assembly; you must do no regular work. For seven days you must present a gift to the LORD. On the eighth day there is to be a holy assembly for you, and you must present a gift to the LORD. It is a solemn assembly day; you must not do any regular work. “ ‘These are the appointed times of the LORD that you must proclaim as holy assemblies to present a gift to the LORD—burnt offering, grain offering, sacrifice, and drink offerings, each day according to its regulation,besides the Sabbaths of the LORD and all your gifts, votive offerings, and freewill offerings which you must give to the LORD. “ ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you gather in the produce of the land, you must celebrate a pilgrim festival of the Lord for seven days. On the first day is a complete rest and on the eighth day is complete rest. On the first day you must take for yourselves branches from majestic trees—palm branches, branches of leafy trees, and willows of the brook—and you must rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. You must celebrate it as a pilgrim festival to the Lord for seven days in the year. This is a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you must celebrate it in the seventh month. You must live in temporary shelters for seven days; every native citizen in Israel must live in temporary shelters, so that your future generations may know that I made the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’ ” So Moses spoke to the Israelites about the appointed times of the LORD. (Leviticus 23:33–44 NET)

Instructions for the Feast of Booths were reiterated by Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy in 1407 B.C.

You must celebrate the Festival of Temporary Shelters for seven days, at the time of the grain and grape harvest. You are to rejoice in your festival, you, your son, your daughter, your male and female slaves, the Levites, the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows who are in your villages. You are to celebrate the festival seven days before the Lord your God in the place he chooses, for he will bless you in all your productivity and in whatever you do; so you will indeed rejoice! Three times a year all your males must appear before the Lord your God in the place he chooses for the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Temporary Shelters; and they must not appear before him empty-handed. Every one of you must give as you are able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you. (Deuteronomy 16:13–17 NET)

The Feast of Booths is celebrated on the 15th day of Tishri, the seventh month on the Hebrew religious calendar (1). It is the last of the Feasts of Israel following the Feast of Trumpets (1), celebrated on the 1st of Tishri, and the Feast of Atonement(s) (1), celebrated on the 10th of Tishri. The first and eighth days are considered sacred assemblies or high Sabbaths (cf. John 19:31). This means no work of any kind is permitted on these days. (11)

Hebrew Calendar with Feasts

Tishri is the post-exilic name of the seventh month, and Ethanim was the pre-exilic name, corresponding to the Gentile months of September through October. Tishri is also the first month on the Jewish civil calendar and is the Jewish New Year. (3)

The Feast of Booths was designated as a “Pilgrimage Festival,” meaning there was a requirement for all males to “pilgrimage” to Jerusalem during this time, as is required for all Pilgrimage Festivals (1).

Three times a year all your males must appear before the Lord your God in the place he chooses for the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Temporary Shelters; and they must not appear before him empty-handed. (Deuteronomy 16:16 NET) (cf, Exodus 23:16–17; Exodus 34:22,23)

Three annual Pilgrimage Feasts that all males had to attend:

  • Festival of Unleavened Bread
  • Festival of Weeks
  • Festival of Booths (aka, Shelters or Tabernacles)

During the Feast of Tabernacles, the people brought their tithes and offerings to the Temple, for they were not to appear before the Lord empty-handed. (11)

Three times a year all your males must appear before the Lord your God in the place he chooses for the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Temporary Shelters; and they must not appear before him empty-handed. (Deuteronomy 16:16 NET) 

The sound of trumpets of the Feast of Trumpets on Tishri 1 would announce to those living outside Jerusalem that the Feast of Booths would soon occur!

Scripturally Derived Names

Hag Hasuccot

Hag Hasuccot, which means the “Feast of Tabernacles” or the “Feast of Booths.” (2)

The English word “tabernacle” is from the Latin tabernaculum meaning “booth” or “hut.” It acquired this name from the biblical requirement that all Israelites dwell in tabernacles or temporary shelters during the holiday. It was to be an annual reminder of God’s provision during the forty-year wilderness sojourn when Israel lived in similar shelters. (11)

The Lord spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival [Hb. hag] of Temporary Shelters [Hb.  sukkah, “booth”] for seven days to the Lord. (Leviticus 23:33–34 NET)

Sukkah (Booth) at Neot Kedumim Park, Israel (9)

5521. סֻכָּה sukkāh: A feminine singular noun meaning a booth, a thicket. This term is used for temporary shelters used to cover animals (Genesis 33:17), warriors (2 Samuel 11:11), and the prophet Jonah (Jonah 4:5). It is used poetically to refer to the clouds (Job 36:29; Psalms 18:11[12]). A specialized usage is employed for booths constructed for the fall harvest festival (Leviticus 23:42, 43). The festival was known as the ḥag̱ hassuḵḵôṯ (2282) (sukkot is pronounced sue-KOTE), the Feast of Booths (Deuteronomy 16:13,16). This reminded the Israelites that they lived in booths when the Lord brought them up from Egypt (Leviticus 23:43). (20)

Hag Adonai

Adonai, which means the “Feast of Yahweh” or the “Feast of the Lord.” (2)

“ ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you gather in the produce of the land, you must celebrate a pilgrim festival of the Lord for seven days. On the first day is a complete rest and on the eighth day is complete rest. (Leviticus 23:39 NET)

Hag Haasiph

Hag Haasiph means the “Feast of the Ingathering.” It is called the “Feast of the Ingathering” because it marks the end of the summer harvest and comes shortly before the rainy season begins. (2)

“Three times in the year you must make a pilgrim feast to me. You are to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; seven days you must eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you, at the appointed time of the month of Abib, for at that time you came out of Egypt. No one may appear before me empty-handed. “You are also to observe the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors that you have sown in the field, and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year when you have gathered in your harvest out of the field. At three times in the year all your males will appear before the Lord God. (Exodus 23:16–17 NET)(cf, Exodus 34:22,23)

Hag

Hag, which simply means “Feast.” When Jews spoke of the Feast without giving any other name, it was generally called the Feast of Tabernacles. This was a Jewish Talmudic name because of this feast’s unusual pomp and ceremony. (2)

All the men of Israel assembled before King Solomon during the festival in the month Ethanim (the seventh month). (1 Kings 8:2 NET)

Seventh Day Name

The Greatest Day

John recorded that Jesus shouted to the people on the Seventh day of the Feast, calling it the Greatest Day.

On the last day of the feast, the greatest day, Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’ ” (John 7:37–38 NET)

Shmini Atzeret

Shmini Atzeret means “the eighth day of the assembly.” It refers to the added eighth day. Technically, it is considered an independent holiday from the Feast of Tabernacles, but it comes immediately afterward and is thus always connected with the Feast. This eighth day marks the end of all the festivities and observances of the Feast of Tabernacles, although the laws of the Feast of Tabernacles do not apply to it.

For seven days you must present a gift to the Lord. On the eighth day there is to be a holy assembly for you, and you must present a gift to the Lord. It is a solemn assembly day; you must not do any regular work. (Leviticus 23:36 NET)

Zman Simchateinu, which means “the season of our rejoicing.” This is a rabbinic name.

Seventh Day Names

Yom Hashvii Shel Aravah

Yom Hashvii Shel Aravah, which means “the seventh day of the willow,” is so named for the seventh day of this feast. It is a day when there are special prayers for rain.

Hoshana Rabba

Hoshana Rabba means “save us in the highest.” This, too, is a name for the seventh day of the feast because special prayers are recited concerning Israel’s future and final redemption on this day.

Eighth Day Names

Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah means “the rejoicing of the Law.” It is called the Simchat Torah because the cycle of the reading of the Law both ends and begins again in the synagogue on this occasion. This is a rabbinic term for the eighth day based on the following verse. (2)

“ ‘On the eighth day you are to have a holy assembly; you must do no ordinary work on it. (Numbers 29:35 NET)

The synagogue service has a regular recitation from the Mosaic Law: every Sabbath and on special holy days. The Mosaic Law has been divided into fifty-two parts so that the entire Mosaic Law is read within one year’s time. On this occasion, on the eighth day of the Feast of Succoth or Tabernacles, they finish reading Deuteronomy and immediately begin to read the first several verses of Genesis.

The Feast of Booths is the most joyful and festive of all Israel’s feasts. It is also the most prominent feast, mentioned more often in Scripture than any other feast. (11)

 It is an occasion when the Jewish people sing and dance, especially doing dances that are done in circuits (i.e., a roughly circular line). It fell on a time of year when the people’s hearts would naturally be full of thankfulness, gladness, and expectancy. All the crops had been long stored, and now all fruits were also gathered, the vintage past, and the land only awaited the softening and refreshment of the “latter rain” to prepare it for a new crop. It was appropriate that when the commencement of the harvest had been consecrated by offering the first ripe sheaf of barley during the Feast of Firstfruits (1) and the full ingathering of the wheat by the two wave loaves during the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost)(1), there should now be a fall firstfruits harvest feast of thankfulness and of gladness unto the Lord. Furthermore, as they looked around on the good land, the fruits of which had just enriched them, they must have remembered that by miraculous intervention, the Lord their God had brought them to this land and given it to them and that He ever claimed it as peculiarly His own. The land was strictly connected with the people’s history, and both the land and the history were linked with the mission of Israel. If the Feast of Passover (1) at the beginning of the harvest had pointed back to the birth of Israel in their Exodus from Egypt and forward to the true Passover sacrifice in the future, if the wheat harvest was connected with the giving of the law on Mount Sinai in the past, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost; the harvest-thanksgiving of the Feast of Tabernacles reminded Israel, on the one hand, of their dwelling in booths in the wilderness, while, on the other hand, it pointed to the final harvest when Israel’s mission should be completed, and all nations gathered unto the Lord. (4)

Thus, the first of the three great annual feasts spoke in their presentation of the following:

  • The Feast of Firstfruits barley sheaf was harvested at the founding of the Church.
  • The Feast of Weeks’ two-leavened wave loaves made from the second ingathering of the wheat 50 days later represented the Church Age.
  • The Feast of Booths represented the complete harvest in the end when the Lord of Hosts will hold a banquet for all the nations in the future. (4)
The Lord who commands armies will hold a banquet for all the nations on this mountain. At this banquet there will be plenty of meat and aged wine— tender meat and choicest wine. On this mountain he will swallow up the shroud that is over all the peoples, the woven covering that is over all the nations; he will swallow up death permanently. The sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from every face, and remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. Indeed, the Lord has announced it! (Isaiah 25:6–8 NET)
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more—or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.” (Revelation 21:4 NET)

 The instructions the Lord gave concerning the Feast of Booths:

The LORD spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Temporary Shelters for seven days to the LORD. On the first day is a holy assembly; you must do no regular work.For seven days you must present a gift to the LORD. On the eighth day there is to be a holy assembly for you, and you must present a gift to the LORD. It is a solemn assembly day; you must not do any regular work. (Leviticus 23:33–36)

Again, the Feast of Booths celebrated the final ingathering of the harvest God had blessed the people with for the year. The land’s fruit had been reaped so the people could rest from their harvest labors. It was a time of great rejoicing. (3)

God then repeated the command and gave further instructions:

“ ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you gather in the produce of the land, you must celebrate a pilgrim festival of the Lord for seven days. On the first day is a complete rest and on the eighth day is complete rest. On the first day you must take for yourselves branches from majestic trees—palm branches, branches of leafy trees, and willows of the brook—and you must rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. You must celebrate it as a pilgrim festival to the Lord for seven days in the year. This is a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you must celebrate it in the seventh month. You must live in temporary shelters for seven days; every native citizen in Israel must live in temporary shelters, so that your future generations may know that I made the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’ ” (Leviticus 23:39–43 NET)

We learn from this text that the Feast of Booths began on the 15th of Tishri and lasted through the 21st.

The first day of the feast, and also the eighth were to be days of “holy assembly,” and each a day of complete rest or a high Sabbath (cf. Leviticus 23:32; John 19:31), not in the sense of the weekly Sabbath, but of festive rest in the Lord, when no regular work of any kind might be done. (4)

Again, on the 22nd of Tishri (the eighth day), there was a high Sabbath (cf. John 19:31), which was a day of rest characterized by much rejoicing. (3) But this eighth day, though closely connected with the Feast of Booths, formed no part of that feast, as clearly shown by the difference in the sacrifices, the ritual, and by the circumstance that the people no longer lived in “booths.” (4)

The Feast of Booths had two aspects associated with it:

First, it looked back to the forty years when the Jews wandered in the desert, living in shelters or booths. They were always reminded that their forefathers’ wanderings were brought about by unbelief and disobedience, but they were only temporary. Even during their wanderings, God was in their midst, providing for their every need and eventually bringing them into the land of rest He had promised them. As a constant reminder, God commanded the Hebrews to build booths or shelters to live in during this feast. So, every year at the Feast of Booths. The Hebrews would gather the necessary wood and branches and build a shelter where they would live during the feast. Many Jews still do this today. (3)

Second, the Feast of Booths also had a forward look. The shelter was loosely constructed so the Hebrews could see through its roof into the heavens. This would remind them that they were pilgrims passing through this life and that God had an even greater rest for them in the future when He would come and live among them permanently. This final rest was the hope of their ancestor, Abraham. (3)

The writer of Hebrews referred to this and said,

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, and he went out without understanding where he was going. By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land as though it were a foreign country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:8–10 NET)

Five Important Things to Understand of the Feast of Shelters:

I. It was a seven-day festival with an eighth day added to it.

II. It was to be observed by the building of booths or tabernacles to commemorate the forty years of Wilderness Wanderings. During those forty years, the Jews had to live in booths or tabernacles, emphasizing their temporary abodes. Each year, in remembrance of those forty years, Jews were to live in booths for these seven days. (2)

The booth or tabernacle became a symbol of the wasted national hope. At the same time, it provided hope for a future restoration based on the promised day when the hut, booth, or tabernacle of David would be restored. (2)

“In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David And wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins And rebuild it as in the ancient days, (Amos 9:11 LSB)
‘AFTER THESE THINGS I will return, AND I WILL REBUILD THE FALLEN BOOTH OF DAVID, AND I WILL REBUILD ITS RUINS, AND I WILL RESTORE IT, SO THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, AND ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME,’ SAYS THE LORD, WHO MAKES THESE THINGS KNOWN FROM LONG AGO. (Acts 15:16–18 LSB)

By Jewish practice, the booth is made of flimsy material to give the feeling of a temporary abode and a sense of the insecurity the Jewish people felt during the Wilderness Wanderings. The roof, which is made of branches, should have a density that provides more shade than sunlight; at night, the stars should still be visible through it. The inside of the booth or tabernacle is decorated with fruits, nuts, and other things. (2)

However, there was disagreement at the outset by a controversy between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. (4)

The law stated:

On the first day you must take for yourselves branches from majestic trees—palm branches, branches of leafy trees, and willows of the brook—and you must rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. (Leviticus 23:40 NET)

The Sadducees understood to refer to the materials whence the booths were to be constructed, while the Pharisees applied it to what the worshippers were to carry in their hands. The latter interpretation is borne out by the festival’s account at the time of Nehemiah when the booths were constructed of branches of trees other than those mentioned in Leviticus 23. It was universally adopted in practice at the time of Christ. (4)

They discovered written in the law that the LORD had commanded through Moses that the Israelites should live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month, and that they should make a proclamation and disseminate this message in all their cities and in Jerusalem: “Go to the hill country and bring back olive branches and branches of wild olive trees, myrtle trees, date palms, and other leafy trees to construct temporary shelters, as it is written.” So the people went out and brought these things back and constructed temporary shelters for themselves, each on his roof and in his courtyard and in the courtyards of the temple of God and in the plaza of the Water Gate and the plaza of the Ephraim Gate. So all the assembly which had returned from the exile constructed temporary shelters and lived in them. The Israelites had not done so from the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day. Everyone experienced very great joy. Ezra read in the book of the law of God day by day, from the first day to the last. They observed the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day they held an assembly as was required. (Nehemiah 8:14–18 NET)

The Mishnah (5) gives the most minute details on the height and construction of these “booths,” the main object being to prevent any invasion of the law. Thus, it must be a real booth constructed of branches of living trees and solely for the purposes of this festival. Hence, it must be high enough, yet not too high—at least ten handbreadths, but not more than thirty feet; three of its walls must be of branches; it must be fairly covered with branches, yet not so shaded as not to admit sunshine, nor yet so open as to have not sufficient shade, the object in each case being neither sunshine nor shade, but that it should be a real booth of branches of trees. It is needless to enter into further details, except to say that these booths, and not their houses, were to be the regular dwelling of all in Israel during the week and that, except in very heavy rain, they were to eat, sleep, pray, study—in short, entirely to live in them. The only exceptions were in favor of those absent on some pious duty, the sick and their attendants, women, slaves, and infants who were still depending on their mothers. Finally, the rule was that ‘whatever might contract Levitical defilement (such as boards, cloth, etc.), or whatever did not grow out of the earth, might not be used’ in constructing the “booths.” (4)(6)

III. It is to be celebrated with the four species: a fruit and three types of branches: the palm branch, the myrtle branch, and the willow branch. (2)

And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. (Leviticus 23:40 ESV)

The Rabbis ruled that “the fruit of the splendid trees” meant the citron (ʾetrog) and “the boughs (branches) of leafy trees” the myrtle, provided it had “not more berries than leaves.” However, the citron is a much later addition to the Sukkot celebration. (8)

The citron is a citrus fruit that symbolizes the fruit of the Promised Land. It is considered the most important symbol of the four species because of its fragrance and fruit. The palm branch has fruit but no fragrance. The myrtle has fragrance but no fruit. The willow has neither fragrance nor fruit. (2)

The citron and palm, with the myrtle and willow branch on either side

According to the view universally prevalent at the time of Christ, the direction on the first day of the feast to “take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and branches of leafy trees and willows of the brook” was applied to what the worshippers were to carry in their hands. (2)

Citron (The Fruit of Splendid Trees) (9)
Palm Tree (9)
(Date Palm)
Myrtle Tree (9)
Willow Tree (9)

The citron must be without blemish or deficiency of any kind; the palm branches at least three handbreadths high and fit to be shaken; and each branch fresh, entire, unpolluted, and not taken from any idolatrous grove. Every worshipper carried the citron in his left hand (1 each), and in his right, the palm (1 each), with myrtle (3 each) and willow branch (2 each) on either side of it, tied together on the outside with its own kind, though on the inside, it might be fastened even with gold thread. There can be no doubt that the palm was intended to remind Israel of the different stages of their wilderness journey, as represented by the different vegetation—the palm branches recalling the valleys and plains, the “branches of leafy,” the bushes on the mountain heights, and the willows those brooks from which God had given His people drink; while the citron was to remind them of the fruits of the good land which the Lord had given them. The palm was used in the Temple on each of the seven festive days; even children were bound to carry one if they could shake it. If the first day of the feast fell on a Sabbath, the people brought their palms on the previous day into the synagogue on the Temple Mount and fetched them in the morning so as not needlessly to break the Sabbath rest. (4)(11)

IV. It was to be a time of rejoicing after the affliction of the Day of Atonement. (2)

The Feast of Booths followed closely on the Day of Atonement. Both took place in the seventh month; the one on the 10th, the other on the 15th of Tishri. What the seventh day, or Sabbath, was in reference to the week, the seventh month seems to have been in reference to the year. It closed the sacred cycle and the agricultural or working year. It also marked the change of seasons, the approach of rain and the winter equinox, and determined the commencement and the close of a sabbatical year. (4)

Coming on the 15th of this seventh month—that is, at full moon, when the “sacred” month had, so to speak, attained its full strength—the Feast of Booths appropriately followed five days after the Day of Atonement, in which the sin of Israel had been removed, and its covenant relation to God restored. Thus, a sanctified nation could keep a holy feast of harvest joy unto the Lord, just as in the truest sense it will be in the future “On that day” when the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles shall be really fulfilled. (4)

Ultimately, the Feast of Tabernacles is to be fulfilled by establishing the Messianic Kingdom.

Then all who survive from all the nations that came to attack Jerusalem will go up annually to worship the King, the Lord who rules over all, and to observe the Feast of Tabernacles. But if any of the nations anywhere on earth refuse to go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord who rules over all, they will get no rain. If the Egyptians will not do so, they will get no rain—instead there will be the kind of plague which the Lord inflicts on any nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and of all nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. On that day the bells of the horses will bear the inscription “Holy to the Lord.” The cooking pots in the Lord’s temple will be as holy as the bowls in front of the altar. Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah will become holy in the sight of the Lord who rules over all, so that all who offer sacrifices may come and use some of them to boil their sacrifices in them. On that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord who rules over all. (Zechariah 14:16–21 NET)

Under the Mosaic Law, the Feast of Tabernacles was obligatory only for the Jewish people. Under the future Kingdom Law, the Feast of Tabernacles will be obligatory for all Gentile nations in the Messianic Kingdom. Once a year, every Gentile nation will be required to send a delegation to Jerusalem to observe this particular festival.

Then all who survive from all the nations that came to attack Jerusalem will go up annually to worship the King, the Lord who rules over all, and to observe the Feast of Tabernacles. But if any of the nations anywhere on earth refuse to go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord who rules over all, they will get no rain. If the Egyptians will not do so, they will get no rain—instead there will be the kind of plague which the Lord inflicts on any nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and of all nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. On that day the bells of the horses will bear the inscription “Holy to the Lord.” The cooking pots in the Lord’s temple will be as holy as the bowls in front of the altar. Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah will become holy in the sight of the Lord who rules over all, so that all who offer sacrifices may come and use some of them to boil their sacrifices in them. On that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord who rules over all. (Zechariah 14:16–21 NET)

Verses 17–19 state that there will be punishment for those who disobey. If a nation fails to send a delegation to Jerusalem to observe this feast, they will be punished by a drought. Just as the Feast of Tabernacles was a time of rejoicing following the affliction of the Day of Atonement, even the Messianic Kingdom will be a time of rejoicing following the affliction of the Day of the Lord. (2)

Special emphasis is placed on the issue of rejoicing during the Feast of Booths.

You must celebrate the Festival of Temporary Shelters for seven days, at the time of the grain and grape harvest. You are to rejoice in your festival, you, your son, your daughter, your male and female slaves, the Levites, the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows who are in your villages. You are to celebrate the festival seven days before the Lord your God in the place he chooses, for he will bless you in all your productivity and in whatever you do; so you will indeed rejoice! (Deuteronomy 16:13–15 NET)

Again, what is significant about this is that Judaism has connected this feast with the Gentiles, something that is not true with the other festivals. (4)

Required Sacrifices

“ ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month you are to have a holy assembly; you must do no ordinary work, and you must keep a festival to the Lord for seven days. You must offer a burnt offering, an offering made by fire as a pleasing aroma to the Lord: thirteen young bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs each one year old, all of them without blemish. Their grain offering must be of finely ground flour mixed with olive oil, three-tenths of an ephah for each of the thirteen bulls, two-tenths of an ephah for each of the two rams, and one-tenth for each of the fourteen lambs, along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and its drink offering. “ ‘On the second day you must offer twelve young bulls, two rams, fourteen lambs one year old, all without blemish, and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number as prescribed, along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and their drink offerings. “ ‘On the third day you must offer eleven bulls, two rams, fourteen lambs one year old, all without blemish, and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number as prescribed, along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and its drink offering. “ ‘On the fourth day you must offer ten bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs one year old, all without blemish, and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number as prescribed, along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and its drink offering. “ ‘On the fifth day you must offer nine bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs one year old, all without blemish, and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number as prescribed, along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and its drink offering. “ ‘On the sixth day you must offer eight bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs one year old, all without blemish, and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number as prescribed, along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and its drink offering. “ ‘On the seventh day you must offer seven bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs one year old, all without blemish, and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number as prescribed, along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and its drink offering. “ ‘On the eighth day you are to have a holy assembly; you must do no ordinary work on it. But you must offer a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, as a pleasing aroma to the Lord, one bull, one ram, seven lambs one year old, all of them without blemish, and with their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bull, for the ram, and for the lambs, according to their number as prescribed, along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and its drink offering. “ ‘These things you must present to the LORD at your appointed times, in addition to your vows and your freewill offerings, as your burnt offerings, your grain offerings, your drink offerings, and your peace offerings.’ ” (Numbers 29:12–39 NET)

Three things are remarkable about these burnt offerings.

1) They are evidently the characteristic sacrifice of the Feast of Tabernacles. As compared with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the number of the rams and lambs is double, while that of the young bull is fivefold (14 during the Passover week, 70 (5 × 14) during that of Tabernacles). (4)

2) The number of the burnt sacrifices, whether taking each kind by itself or all of them together, is always divisible by the sacred number seven. We have for the week 70 young bulls, 14 rams, and 98 lambs, or altogether 182 sacrifices (26 × 7), to which 336 (48 × 7) tenths of ephahs of flour (739.2 liters), 256 (36.5 x 7) quarters of hins of olive oil (235.1 liters), and 256 (36.5 x 7) quarters of hins of red wine (235.1 liters) must be added for the meal and wine offering.

Whereas the sacred number 7 appeared at the Feast of Unleavened Bread only in the number of its days, and at Pentecost in the period of its observance (7 × 7 days after Passover), the Feast of Tabernacles lasted seven days, took place when the seventh month was at its full height, and had the number 7 impressed on its characteristic sacrifices. (4)

3) Altogether, a total of seventy young bulls are offered during this period. According to Judaism, these seventy young bulls represent the seventy Gentile nations of Genesis 10. What is significant about this is that Judaism has connected this feast with the Gentiles, something that is not true with the other festivals. (4)

These sacrifices and offerings were in addition to those required daily (1)

  • ceremonially clean, 
  • utilitarian, meaning “usable for food” or sustenance, 
  • domesticated (i.e., those that obeyed their master’s will and more or less were endeared to the offerer), and
  • types of animal sacrifices (see “Sacrifices and Offerings of the Old Covenant” table immediately below)
Sacrifices and Offerings of the Old Covenant

In addition, the animal to be sacrificed had to meet the following three criteria:

  • Condition – perfect without spot, blemish, disease, or deformity (cf. Malachi 1:8)
  • Gender – Male (6) and
  • Age – generally, the lamb or kid had to be one year old (i.e., a lamb or kid at the peak of life and health). Sometimes, it could be as young as eight days old (Leviticus 22:27) or as old as three years (Genesis 15:9). The young bull and ram must be older than seven days (Leviticus 22:27) or as old as three years. (Genesis 15:9)(2)

The festive pilgrims had all arrived in Jerusalem on the day before the Feast of Tabernacles—the 14th of Tishri. The “booths” on the roofs, in the courtyards, in streets and squares, as well as roads and gardens, carefully located within a Sabbath day’s journey (a little more than half a mile), must have given the city and neighborhood an unusually picturesque appearance. The preparation of all that was needed for the festival—purification, the care of the offerings that each would bring, and friendly communications between those who were to be invited to the sacrificial meal occupied their time.

The First Festival Day (Saturday, September 30th, 30 A.D.)(Tishri 15, 3791)(16)

When the early autumn evening set in, the blasts of the Shofar and priests’ silver trumpets (1) on the Temple Mount announced to Israel the arrival of the feast. (4) In 30 A.D., the First and Eighth days were not only days of rest of the festival (i.e., high Sabbaths) but were also weekly Sabbaths. (16)

As at the Passover and at Pentecost, the altar of burnt offering was cleansed during the first night watch, and the gates of the Temple were thrown open immediately after midnight. The time until the beginning of the ordinary morning sacrifice was occupied with examining the various sacrifices and offerings that were to be brought during the day. (4)

Drawing of Spring Water from the Pool of Siloam

While the morning sacrifice was being prepared, a priest, accompanied by a joyous procession with music, went down to the spring-supplied Pool of Siloam, where he drew “living” water into a golden pitcher capable of holding a little more than a quart or liter. Living water is water that is flowing (e.g., from a stream) juxtaposed to an accumulation of stagnant water (e.g., in a cistern).

“ ‘I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries; then I will bring you to your land. I will sprinkle you with pure water and you will be clean from all your impurities. I will purify you from all your idols. (Ezekiel 36:24–25 NET)

This differed from the weekly Sabbaths when they fetched the water from a golden vessel in the Temple itself, into which it had been carried from the Pool of Siloam on the preceding day. (4)

At the same time that the procession started for the Pool of Siloam, another went to a place in the Kedron valley, close by, called Motza, where they brought willow branches, which, amidst the blasts of the priests’ silver trumpets, they stuck on either side of the altar of burnt-offering, bending them over towards it, to form a kind of leafy canopy. Then, the ordinary sacrifice proceeded, and the priest who had gone to Siloam timed it so that he could return just as his brethren carried up the pieces of the sacrifice to lay them on the altar.

Priest Entering by the Water Gate with Siloam Water

As he entered via the “Watergate,” which obtained its name from this ceremony, he received a threefold blast from the priests’ trumpets. (4)

The priest then went up the rise of the altar and turned to the left, where there were two silver basins with narrow holes – the eastern a little wider for the wine drink offering and the western somewhat narrower for the water libation. (4)

The Second Temple Altar of Burnt Offering was 48 feet by 48 feet and was 15 feet high, including the four 1.5-foot tall “horns,” which were straight, square, hollow prominences. (4)

The southwest “horn” had two openings on top, into whose silver funnels the drink offerings, and, at the Feast of Tabernacles, the water from the Pool of Siloam was poured. (4)

Morning Water Pouring Ceremony and Evening Water Pouring Celebration

As the high priest raised the golden pitcher to pour out the water offering, the people shouted, “Raise your hand!” In response, the high priest lifted his hand higher and poured, allowing the people to verify his action. (11)

This tradition arose around 95 B.C. in response to an uprising in the days of Alexander Jannaeus, the king-priest grandson of Simon the Maccabee. The Maccabees were a family of priests led by their father, Mattathias, who, in 165 B.C., were instrumental in overthrowing Greco-Syrian rule of Israel. However, their descendants became a kingly line, wrongfully merging the offices of king and priest. (11)

According to Scripture, Israel’s kings were to be from the tribe of Judah and lineage of David, and her priests from the tribe of Levi and lineage of Aaron. As a result, Alexander Jannaeus was hated by many of his Jewish brethren. As a Sadducee, he viewed the water pouring with contempt because it was not commanded in the Law of Moses but was a tradition. So, instead of pouring the water into the basin, he poured it on the ground. The worshipers rioted, pelting him with the citron fruits from their branches, and sought to kill him. In a great rage, Alexander Jannaeus called the foreign mercenary troops of his standing army to quell the riot. When the violent insurrection was finally subdued, six thousand people lay dead, and a horn was broken from the holy altar. After that, the pouring ceremony was always closely scrutinized. (11)

As the high priest poured out the water libation before the Lord, a drink offering of wine was simultaneously poured into the other basin, leading to the base of the altar. Three blasts of the silver trumpets immediately followed the pouring and signaled the start of the Temple music. The people listened as a choir of Levites sang the Hallel (i.e., the praise Psalms, 113-118). (11)

The Levites were now chanting the “Hallel.” Since this was the first day of the Feast (a High Sabbath), and also because it was a weekly Sabbath, the chanting would not be accompanied by the music of a single flute, which, when played, would begin and end the song to give it a sort of soft sweetness. Flute playing was not allowed on the Sabbath and on the first day of the feast on account of the sanctity of the days. The round, ringing treble of selected voices from the children of Levites, who stood below their fathers, gave richness and melody to the hymn while the people either repeated or responded. (4)

At the proper time, the congregation waved their palm branches toward the altar and joined in singing:

"Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity" (Psalms 118:25 NKJV)
Please Lord, deliver! Please Lord, grant us success! (Psalm 118:25 NET)

At the same time, the priests, with palm branches in hand, marched one time around the altar. (4)

This water-pouring ceremony was conducted on all seven days (2)

In addition, on a sabbatical (every seventh) year (1), the Law was to be publicly read on the first day of the Feast of Booths.

Then Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the Levitical priests, who carry the ark of the Lord’s covenant, and to all Israel’s elders. He commanded them: “At the end of seven years, at the appointed time of the cancellation of debts, at the Feast of Temporary Shelters, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place he chooses, you must read this law before them within their hearing. Gather the people—men, women, and children, as well as the resident foreigners in your villages—so they may hear and thus learn about and fear the Lord your God and carefully obey all the words of this law. Then their children, who have not known this law, will also hear about and learn to fear the Lord your God for as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” (Deuteronomy 31:9–13 NET)

A foreshadowing of the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles was during the Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21:1–11, 14–17; Mark 11:1–11; Luke 19:29–44; John 12:12–19). The people’s actions, both by what they said and what they did, showed that they also expected the Kingdom to be established then in fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles. According to John 12:12–13, they broke off palm branches in keeping with the Feast of Booths but not in keeping with the Feast of Passover, which was then occurring.

Furthermore, according to Matthew 21:8–9 and Mark 11:8–10, it was then that they cried out: Hoshana in the highest, the Hoshana Rabba of the Feast of Tabernacles. (2)

When the multitudes in Jerusalem, upon meeting Jesus at His triumphal entry during The Feast of Passover, “cut branches from trees and spread them on the road” and declared, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord”

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those following kept shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:8–9 NET)
The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him. They began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!” (John 12:12–13 NET)

Note they were quoting from the aforementioned verses:

Please LORD, deliver! Please LORD, grant us success! May the one who comes in the name of the LORD be blessed! We will pronounce blessings on you in the LORD’s temple. (Psalm 118:25,26 NET)

They applied to Christ, what was regarded as one of the chief ceremonies of the Feast of Booths, praying that God would now from “the highest” heavens manifest and send that salvation in connection with the Son of David, which was symbolized by the pouring out of water. For though that water pouring ceremony was considered by the Rabbis as bearing a subordinate reference to the dispensation of the rain, the annual fall of which they imagined was determined by God at the Feast of Booths, its main and actual application was to the future outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as predicted (probably in allusion to this very rite) by Isaiah the prophet. (4)

Thus, the Talmud says distinctly: “Why is the name of it called, The drawing out of water? Because of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, according to what is said: “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Hence, the feast and its peculiar joyousness are also designated as those of “the drawing out of the water,” for, according to the same Rabbinical authorities, the Holy Spirit dwells in man only through joy. (4)

A similar symbolism was expressed by another ceremony that took place at the close, not of the daily, but of the Feast of Booths’ sacrifices. On every one of the seven days, the priests formed in procession and made the circuit of the altar, singing:

Please Lord, deliver! Please Lord, grant us success! (Psalm 118:25 NET)

They did not yet understand that Passover had to be fulfilled by the death of the Messiah before the Feast of Tabernacles could be fulfilled.

Another foreshadowing was at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–8; Mark 9:2–8; Luke 9:28–36). When Jesus (Yeshua) was transfigured, Peter suggested that he be allowed to build three tabernacles: one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus (Matthew 17:4). When Jesus was transfigured, Peter saw the glory that the Messiah will have in the Kingdom and assumed that the Kingdom was about to be set up. Peter knew that the Kingdom was the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles, and the fact that he wanted to build three booths shows that he thought the Kingdom would be set up immediately. (2)

However, he did not yet realize that the Feast of Passover must be fulfilled before the Feast of Tabernacles could be fulfilled. While the Feast of Tabernacles will indeed be fulfilled by the Kingdom, the Feast of Passover was to be fulfilled by the death of the Messiah. (2)

The Intermediate Festival Days (Sunday – Thursday, October 1-5, 30 A.D.)(Tishri 16-20, 3791)(16)

Only the first of the seven days of this feast was “a holy convocation” or high Sabbath. However, the other six days were “intermediate festival days” or, in Hebrew, Chol Hamoed. Besides the ordinary morning and evening sacrifices, the festive offerings prescribed in Numbers 29:12–38 were brought on each minor festival day. The Psalms sung at the drink-offering after the festive sacrifices (or Musaph, as they are called) were, for the first day of the feast, Psalms 55.; for the second, Psalms 29.; for the third, Psalms 50 from verse 16; for the fourth, Psalms 94, from verse 16; for the fifth, Psalm 94, from verse 8; for the sixth, Psalm. 81, from verse 6; for the last day of the feast, Psalms 82, from verse 5.

As the people retired from the altar at the close of each day’s service, they exclaimed,

“How beautiful art thou, O altar!”

or, according to a later version,

“We give thanks to Jehovah and to thee, O altar!”

All twenty-four divisions of the priests were engaged in the festive offerings, which were apportioned among them according to definite rules, which also fixed how the priestly dues would be divided among them. (4)

The Great Day of the Feast (Friday, October 6, 30 A.D.)(Tishri 21, 3791)(16)

The festivities of the Week of Tabernacles were drawing to a close with the Seventh Day, called the “Great Day of the Feast” or, in Hebrew, Hoshana Rabbah.

On the last day of the feast, the greatest day... (John 7:37 a NET)

It obtained the name Hoshana Rabbah or Great Hosanna, even though it was not one of “holy convocation” (i.e., not a high Sabbath) partly because it closed the feast and partly from the circumstances which procured it in Rabbinical writings the designations of “Day of the Great Hosannah” on account of the sevenfold circuit of the altar with “Hosannah;” and “Day of Willows,” and “Day of Beating the Branches,” because all the leaves were shaken off the willow branches, and the palm branches beaten in pieces by the side of the altar. (4)

Recall the priests made but one circuit around the altar on the first six days of the feast. However, on the seventh, “that great day of the feast,” they made the circuit of the altar seven times, singing the Hosanna verse, and the people waved palm branches.

Please Lord, deliver! Please Lord, grant us success! (Psalm 118:25 NET)

Thus remembering how the walls of Jericho had fallen in similar circumstances and anticipating how, by the direct interposition of God, the walls of heathenism would fall before Yahweh, and the land would lie open for His people to go in and possess it. (4)(11)

The silver trumpets gave three blasts on the other six days of the feast. It was on that day, after the priest had returned from Siloam with his golden pitcher and for the last time poured its contents to the base of the altar, after the “Hallel” had been sung to the sound of the flute, the people responding and worshipping as the priests seven times drew threefold blasts from their silver trumpets – just when the interest of the people had been raised to its highest pitch, that, from amidst the mass of worshippers, who were waving towards the altar quite a forest of leafy branches as the last words of Psalms 118. were chanted—a voice was raised which resounded through the Temple, startled the multitude, and carried fear and hatred to the hearts of their leaders. (4)(11)

Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.”

On the last day of the feast, the greatest day, Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’ ” (John 7:37–38 NET)

Then, by faith in Him, should each one truly become like the Pool of Siloam, and from his inmost being, “rivers of living waters flow.” “Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were going to receive.”

(Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were going to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:39 NET)

Thus, the mystery of the ceremony in which they had just taken part was thoroughly explained by Jesus, and the mode of its fulfillment was pointed out. (4)

This water represents the Holy Spirit promised to those who believe in the Messiah. Just as the water from the Pool of Siloam flowed from within, the Holy Spirit will indwell believers permanently. The rabbis interpreted the outpouring of water as referring to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Israel. Jesus (Yeshua) interpreted the ceremony as symbolizing the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer. (2)

Jesus was not dealing with the Old Testament ministry of the Holy Spirit but with the New Testament ministry that began in Acts 2. The text states in verse 39b: for the Spirit was not yet been given; because Jesus was not yet glorified. (2)

The permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit began in Acts 2, only after the Messiah’s Ascension. Therefore, one proper application for the Church Age is that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer is an individual fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles, not the national one. (2)

Earlier in His ministry, Jesus made a similar promise to the Samaritan Woman at the Well.

Jesus replied, “Everyone who drinks some of this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks some of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13–14 NET)
When they heard these words, some of the crowd began to say, “This really is the Prophet!” Others said, “This is the Christ!” But still others said, “No, for the Christ doesn’t come from Galilee, does he? Don’t the scriptures say that the Christ is a descendant of David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So there was a division in the crowd because of Jesus. Some of them were wanting to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. (John 7:40–44 NET)

The effect was instantaneous. It could not but be that in that vast assembly, so suddenly roused by being brought face to face with Him in whom every type and prophecy is fulfilled, “some of the crowd began to say, “This really is the Prophet! Others said, “This is the Christ!.” (4)

The crowd was referring to God’s promise to Moses, recorded in the Law, that He would raise up a messianic prophet who would authoritatively speak for Him. (1)

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you—from your fellow Israelites; you must listen to him. This accords with what happened at Horeb in the day of the assembly. You asked the Lord your God: “Please do not make us hear the voice of the Lord our God any more or see this great fire any more lest we die.” The Lord then said to me, “What they have said is good. I will raise up a prophet like you for them from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth and he will speak to them whatever I commandu. I will personally hold responsible anyone who then pays no attention to the words that prophet speaks in my name. (Deuteronomy 18:15–19 NET)

Many in the crowd expressed their ignorance of Jesus’ lineage and His place of birth.

When they heard these words, some of the crowd began to say, “This really is the Prophet!” Others said, “This is the Christ!” But still others said, “No, for the Christ doesn’t come from Galilee, does he? Don’t the scriptures say that the Christ is a descendant of David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So there was a division in the crowd because of Jesus. Some of them were wanting to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. (John 7:40–44 NET)

They summoned the officers to give an account as to why they had not arrested Jesus. The officers were Levites who patrolled the Temple compound and enforced Temple law. They were the security forces, the Temple guard, whose responsibility it would have been to arrest Jesus for interrupting the service. A few days earlier, the officers had been commanded to arrest Jesus (John 7:14, 30-32), but now they had missed the perfect occasion to do so.

Even the Temple guard, whose duty it would have been in such circumstances to arrest one who had interrupted the day’s services and had presented himself to the people in such a light, was riveted by His words and dared not to lay hands on Him. “No one ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46) was the only account they could give of their unusual weakness in answer to the reproaches of the chief priests and Pharisees. After being rebuked in great rage, the officers were sent away. (11)

Then the officers returned to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why didn’t you bring him back with you? ”The officers replied, “No one ever spoke like this man!” Then the Pharisees answered, “You haven’t been deceived too, have you? None of the rulers or the Pharisees have believed in him, have they? But this rabble who do not know the law are accursed!” (John 7:45–49 NET)

Only one of their number had been deeply moved by the scene witnessed in the Temple. Nicodemus, yet he only laid hold of one point, that the Pharisees had traced the famous confession of Jesus to their ignorance of the law, to which he replied, in the genuine Rabbinical manner of arguing,

Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before and who was one of the rulers, said,“ Our law doesn’t condemn a man unless it first hears from him and learns what he is doing, does it?” They replied, “You aren’t from Galilee too, are you? Investigate carefully and you will see that no prophet comes from Galilee!” (John 7:50–52 NET)

The Pharisees further revealed their ignorance of where Jesus was born and the scripture by saying that “no prophet comes from Galilee.” (4) In reality, the prophets Jonah, Hoshea, Nahum, and perhaps Elijah, Elisha, and Amos were born in Galilee. (14)

The Temple-Lighting Ceremony, including The Celebration of the Water Pouring

The celebration of the water pouring (not the water pouring ceremony which occurred in the morning) was observed during the evenings of the feast with an impressive light ceremony. It was known as “The Rejoicing of the House of [Water] Drawing” or, in Hebrew, Simchat Beit Hashoevah.

Evening Water Pouring Celebration (The Rejoicing of the House of [Water] Drawing)

They said: “Our fathers who were in this place, they turned their back upon the Sanctuary of Yahweh, and their faces toward the east, and they worshipped towards the rising sun; but as for us, our eyes are towards the Lord.”

A fragment of one of the hymns sung that night has been preserved. It was sung by the distinguished Elders and by those who did penance in their old age for the sins of their youth:

The Distinguished Elders:

“Oh joy, that our youth, devoted, sage,

Doth bring no shame upon our old age!

The Penitents:

“Oh joy, we can in our old age

Repair the sins of youth, not sage!”

Both in unison:

“Yes, happy he on whom no early guilt doth rest,

And he who, having sinned, is now with pardon blest.” (14)

This celebration was repeated every night until the final night as a prelude to the water drawing in the morning. Nothing in ancient Israel compared to this water-light celebration. (11)

In fact, it was such a joyous occasion that the rabbis said the person who had not been to Jerusalem during the Feast of Booths did not know what rejoicing really meant. (Sukkah 5:1) (3)

It seems clear that this illumination of the Temple was regarded as forming part of, and having the same symbolical meaning as, “the pouring out of water ceremony” that occurred in the morning. The light shining out of the Temple into the darkness around and lighting up every court in Jerusalem must have been intended as a symbol not only of the Shechinah, which once filled the Temple, but of that “great light” which “the people that walked in darkness” were to see, and which was to shine “upon them that dwell in the land of the shadow of death.” (4)

The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in the land of the shadow of death, The light will shine on them. (Isaiah 9:2 NET)
The people walking in darkness see a bright light; light shines on those who live in a land of deep darkness. (Isaiah 9:2 NET)

It also looked forward to the return of the Shekinah in the days of the Messiah.

Then he brought me to the gate that faced toward the east. I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east; the sound was like that of rushing water; and the earth radiated his glory. It was like the vision I saw when he came to destroy the city, and the vision I saw by the Kebar River. I threw myself face down. The glory of the Lord came into the temple by way of the gate that faces east. Then a wind lifted me up and brought me to the inner court; I watched the glory of the Lord filling the temple. I heard someone speaking to me from the temple, while the man was standing beside me. (Ezekiel 43:1–6 NET)

At any rate, it seems most probable that Jesus had referred to this ceremony in words spoken by Him in the Temple at that very Feast of Tabernacles:

The two most important ceremonies of the Feast of Tabernacles – the pouring out of water and the illumination of the Temple—were of post-Mosaic origin. According to Jewish tradition, the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night first appeared to Israel on the 15th of Tishri, the first day of the feast. On that day, Moses was also said to have come down from the Mount and announced to the people that the Tabernacle of God was to be reared among them. We know that Solomon’s Temple’s dedication and the Shechinah’s descent that lit the fire on the Brazen Altar (1) took place at this feast. Perhaps there is an allusion to it in this description of heavenly things:

After these things I looked, and here was an enormous crowd that no one could count, made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb dressed in long white robes, and with palm branches in their hands. They were shouting out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, to the one seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9–10 NET)

The Eighth Day (Shmini Atzeret) (Saturday, October 7, 30 A.D.)(Tishri 22, 3791)(16)

On the afternoon of the seventh day of the feast, the people began to remove from the “booths.” At the Octave (i.e., the eighth day), on the 22nd of Tishri, they no longer lived in booths, nor did they use the lulav (LOO-lahv). But it was observed as “a holy convocation (i.e., a Sabbath). The festive sacrifices that were prescribed in Numbers 29:36–38 were offered, although no longer by all twenty-four divisions of priests, and finally, the “Hallel” was sung at the drink offering. (4)

After being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the believer is now able to “walk in the light” because he has the light of life. This is the second proper application of the Feast of Tabernacles in this age. Walking in the light is fulfillment for the individual, but not the fulfillment for the nation of Israel. (2)

Let nobody deceive you with empty words, for because of these things God’s wrath comes on the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them, for you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light—for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth—trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For the things they do in secret are shameful even to mention. But all things being exposed by the light are made evident. For everything made evident is light, and for this reason it says: “Awake, O sleeper! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!” (Ephesians 5:6–14 NET)
In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it. (John 1:4–5 NET)

Jesus returned from the Mount of Olives to teach in the Temple (John 8:2; cf. John 7:2,37). As the Pharisees came to entrap Him… (11)

Then Jesus spoke out again, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NET)

The Pharisees did not question the meaning of His statement. They knew it was a messianic claim, for they immediately called Him a liar.

So the Pharisees objected, “You testify about yourself; your testimony is not true!” (John 8:13 NET)

They were familiar with the many titles in Scripture which ascribe light to the Messiah. He is called the “Star out of Jacob,” the “light of Israel,” the “light of the nations [Gentiles),” a “refiner’s fire,” a “burning lamp,” and the “Sun of righteousness.” (11)

But matters were not to end with the wrangling of priests and Pharisees. The proof that Nicodemus had invited them to seek the teaching and the miracles of Christ was about to be displayed before the people and their rulers. Later that day, the Messiah reinforced this truth when He healed the blind man. (11)

The statement of John 8:12 is illustrated by the story of the man born blind in John 9:1–41.

Then Jesus spoke out again, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NET)
Now as Jesus was passing by, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who committed the sin that caused him to be born blind, this man or his parents?”Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but he was born blind so that the acts of God may be revealed through what happens to him. We must perform the deeds of the one who sent me as long as it is daytime. Night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said this, he spat on the ground and made some mud with the saliva. He smeared the mud on the blind man’s eyes and said to him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated “sent”). So the blind man went away and washed, and came back seeing. (John 9:1–7 NET)

As He did so, He repeated, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

The story takes place at the Pool of Siloam, which was the most important water source for this feast because the first ceremony began at this pool. Here, the golden flasks were filled with water and taken up to the Temple Mount, where they were poured out. For the second time, Yeshua declared that He was the light of the world in verses John 9:1–5. This is first illustrated physically in that the man born blind moved from the darkness of physical blindness to the light of physical sight in verses John 9:6–7.

The Pharisees were again angered at Jesus. (11)

This time, however, they chose to find fault in that He had healed the blind man on the eighth day, which was a Sabbath.

They brought the man who used to be blind to the Pharisees. (Now the day on which Jesus made the mud and caused him to see was a Sabbath.) (John 9:13–14 NET)

Note that the day the blind man was healed was a weekly Sabbath, not just a high day or festival Sabbath. (cf. John 19:31)

Although there were no Mosaic laws against the act of healing on the Sabbath, the traditions of the Pharisees classified it as work and, therefore, forbade it.

Then some of the Pharisees began to say, “This man is not from God, because he does not observe the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such miraculous signs?” Thus there was a division among them. So again they asked the man who used to be blind, “What do you say about him, since he caused you to see?” “He is a prophet,” the man replied. (John 9:16,17 NET)

In the wake of these disturbing events, the religious leadership called an emergency security meeting. It was a meeting of the chief priests, those twenty-four priests who were head over the twenty-four divisions of the priesthood (1 Chronicles 24:1-19). They were aristocratic Sadducees who controlled the Temple worship. Also present were the Pharisees. They were the perpetrators of the oral, extrabiblical traditions within Israel. They controlled the synagogue worship. These two groups, usually at great odds over theology and engaged in religious power struggles, were united in their hatred of Jesus. (11)

The issue continued to be His messiahship.

(His parents said these things because they were afraid of the Jewish religious leaders. For the Jewish leaders had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is a mature adult, ask him.”) Then they summoned the man who used to be blind a second time and said to him, “Promise before God to tell the truth. We know that this man is a sinner.” He replied, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. I do know one thing—that although I was blind, now I can see.” (John 9:22–25 NET)

Later, Jesus illustrated that He is the spiritual light of the world in that man healed of physical blindness moved from the darkness of sin and spiritual blindness to the light of salvation and spiritual light. (2)

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, so he found the man and said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man replied, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus told him, “You have seen him; he is the one speaking with you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that those who do not see may gain their sight, and the ones who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and asked him, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus replied, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin, but now because you claim that you can see, your guilt remains.” (John 9:35–41 NET)

More than just a messianic claim, Jesus’ claim to be the “light of the world” carried a reference to the Temple light celebration. The celebration was still vivid in their minds. They had just celebrated it seven nights in a row. The light that He offered was salvation (deliverance) that would light not just the Temple, it would light the whole world, for He himself was the source.

So now the Lord says, the one who formed me from birth to be his servant— he did this to restore Jacob to himself, so that Israel might be gathered to him; and I will be honored in the Lord’s sight, for my God is my source of strength— he says, “Is it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant, to reestablish the tribes of Jacob, and restore the remnant of Israel? I will make you a light to the nations, so you can bring my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:5–6 NET)

The Feast of Booths in the Scriptures

The altar was rebuilt on this occasion. When the altar was rebuilt, the sacrifices were resumed before the Temple was completed in 516 B.C.

It is evident from Nehemiah 8:14 that the building of Booths was neglected in this celebration of the Feast of Booths. Therefore, this was an incomplete celebration of the Feast of Booths.

At that time Solomon and all Israel with him celebrated a festival before the Lord our God for two entire weeks. This great assembly included people from all over the land, from Lebo Hamath in the north to the Brook of Egypt in the south. On the fifteenth day after the festival started, he dismissed the people. They asked God to empower the king and then went to their homes, happy and content because of all the good the Lord had done for his servant David and his people Israel. (1 Kings 8:65–66 NET)
At that time Solomon and all Israel with him celebrated a festival for seven days. This great assembly included people from Lebo Hamath in the north to the Brook of Egypt in the south. On the eighth day they held an assembly, for they had dedicated the altar for seven days and celebrated the festival for seven more days. On the twenty-third day of the seventh month, Solomon sent the people home. They left happy and contented because of the good the Lord had done for David, Solomon, and his people Israel. (2 Chronicles 7:8–10 NET)

The dedication of the first Temple was scheduled for the time of the feast of Booths (Tabernacles), Sukkot, eleven months after its completion. (13)

In the month Ziv of the fourth year of Solomon’s reign the foundation was laid for the Lord’s temple. In the eleventh year, in the month Bul (the eighth month) the temple was completed in accordance with all its specifications and blueprints. It took seven years to build. (1 Kings 6:37–38 NET)
All the men of Israel assembled before King Solomon during the festival in the month Ethanim (the seventh month). (1 Kings 8:2 NET)

At that ancient observance of the Feast of Booths, the Shekinah glory of the Lord descended from Heaven to light the fire on the Brazen Altar of Burnt Offerings (1) and fill the Holy Place (1) and Most Holy Place (1) of the Temple (2 Chronicles 5:2-10; 2 Chronicles 7:1-10). (11)

While the dates of the dedication of the First Temple coincided with the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Tabernacles was not actually observed, only the dedication of the Temple. They celebrated for two seven-day periods, in keeping with the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles, and then doubled. This fourteen-day celebration was unique to this occasion only. There was also the added eighth day (i.e., the fifteenth day after the festival started) in which the people were sent away, and the people blessed the king in verse. (2)

On this occasion, Ezra read the Law of Moses before the Jewish people. A Jewish custom arose to stand up and read the entire Mosaic Law.

On the second day of the month the family leaders met with Ezra the scribe, together with all the people, the priests, and the Levites, to consider the words of the law. They discovered written in the law that the LORD had commanded through Moses that the Israelites should live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month, and that they should make a proclamation and disseminate this message in all their cities and in Jerusalem: “Go to the hill country and bring back olive branches and branches of wild olive trees, myrtle trees, date palms, and other leafy trees to construct temporary shelters, as it is written.” So the people went out and brought these things back and constructed temporary shelters for themselves, each on his roof and in his courtyard and in the courtyards of the temple of God and in the plaza of the Water Gate and the plaza of the Ephraim Gate. So all the assembly which had returned from the exile constructed temporary shelters and lived in them. The Israelites had not done so from the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day. Everyone experienced very great joy. Ezra read in the book of the law of God day by day, from the first day to the last. They observed the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day they held an assembly as was required. (Nehemiah 8:13–18 NET)

This was the first time this feast was observed since the Babylonian captivity.

Nehemiah 8:13–18 reveals the startling fact that this feast was kept for the first time since the Babylonian captivity. In fact, this is the first time it has been kept since the days of Joshua. In other words, after Joshua, the Feast of Tabernacles was not observed properly for centuries, not even during the righteous reigns of David and Solomon. (2)

It is very clear that this account in Nehemiah chapters 7 & 8 was the first observance of the Feast of Tabernacles with the building of booths since the days of Joshua. (2)

The Fulfillment of the Feast of Booths

Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. (John 1:14 NET)
For in him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form, (Colossians 2:9 NET)
For where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20 NET)
My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then, when my sanctuary is among them forever, the nations will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel.’ ” (Ezekiel 37:27–28 NET)
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. (Revelation 21:3 NET)

The sign of God’s presence, the Shekinah glory, will be seen in Zion again.

“Arise! Shine! For your light arrives! The splendor of the Lord shines on you! (Isaiah 60:1 NET)
The sun will no longer supply light for you by day, nor will the moon’s brightness shine on you; the Lord will be your permanent source of light— the splendor of your God will shine upon you. (Isaiah 60:19 NET)
But I (the Lord says) will be a wall of fire surrounding Jerusalem and the source of glory in her midst.’ ” (Zechariah 2:5 NET)

It will appear as a shining fire over the whole of Mount Zion. It will be like a tabernacle, providing protection and refuge for the nation after centuries of persecution and the time of Jacob’s sore trouble. Isaiah prophesied:

Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over its convocations a cloud and smoke by day and a bright flame of fire by night; indeed a canopy will accompany the Lord’s glorious presence. By day it will be a shelter to provide shade from the heat, as well as safety and protection from the heavy downpour. (Isaiah 4:5–6 NET)

The Israel of God

Out of His sovereign desire to reveal Himself to us, the Creator of the universe needed a people through whom He could make Himself known. He could not reveal Himself to us in the fullness of His glory without destroying us with His manifested presence. He needed a people group. God could have chosen any people group. As we learn in the Bible, He chose Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants as the ethnic people through whom He would reveal His redemptive plans and purposes on the earth. (21)

God did not choose the Jewish people because they were better than any other group. He chose them because He found in Abraham a man who believed in the One True God and followed Him. Abraham’s descendants, later known as the Jews, were not unique because of some inherent superiority but because of their high calling:

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. He has chosen you to be his people, prized above all others on the face of the earth. It is not because you were more numerous than all the other peoples that the LORD favored and chose you—for in fact you were the least numerous of all peoples. Rather it is because of his love for you and his faithfulness to the promise he solemnly vowed to your ancestors that the LORD brought you out with great power, redeeming you from the place of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So realize that the LORD your God is the true God, the faithful God who keeps covenant faithfully with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, but who pays back those who hate him as they deserve and destroys them. He will not ignore those who hate him but will repay them as they deserve! So keep the commandments, statutes, and ordinances that I today am commanding you to do. (Deuteronomy 7:6–11)

While the Jews were the first of God’s people, the Creator made it clear that He would also call a people to Himself from among the Gentiles. In all three divisions of the Hebrew Bible, the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nevi’im), and the Psalms (K’tivim), the Lord revealed that He would include Gentiles as part of “My people.”

From the moment God called Abraham, He told Abraham that he would be a blessing to all the families of the earth.

I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name.” (Genesis 12:3 NET)

God’s covenant people would include “whosoever will” as they responded to the revelation He gave through Abraham.

Before God even brought the Hebrews into the Promised Land, He reached out to the Gentiles and said,

Cry out, O nations [Gentiles], with his people, for he will avenge his servants’ blood; he will take vengeance against his enemies, and make atonement for his land and people. (Deuteronomy 32:43 NET)

The psalmist calls the Gentiles to worship the Lord:

Praise the Lord, all you nations! Applaud him, all you foreigners! (Psalm 117:1 NET)

Isaiah spoke of the Messiah who would come from the seed of Jesse, the father of King David. (21)

He prophesied that the Gentiles would seek Him:

At that time a root from Jesse will stand like a signal flag for the nations. Nations will look to him for guidance, and his residence will be majestic. (Isaiah 11:10 NET).

Luke tells the story of Simeon, a devout Jewish man waiting for the Messiah to appear. The Lord told him he would not die until he saw the Messiah.

When Jesus was presented at the Temple, Simeon prophesied:

“Now, according to your word, Sovereign Lord, permit your servant to depart in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples: a light, for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32).

Simeon was referring to Isaiah’s prophecy where the Lord said of the Messiah:

he says, “Is it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant, to reestablish the tribes of Jacob, and restore the remnant of Israel? I will make you a light to the nations, so you can bring my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6 NET)

It is evident, from the writings of Paul, that God has not called two separate peoples but one people. Paul says that true Israel is made up of those who are the children of faith in Christ, not merely those who are born of Jewish descent:

Now this secret was not disclosed to people in former generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, namely, that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3:5–6 NET)
Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh—who are called “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” that is performed on the body by human hands—that you were at that time without the Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, the one who made both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility, when he nullified in his flesh the law of commandments in decrees. He did this to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace, and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11–22 NET)

As Western believers, we must understand that Christians are part of “the Israel of God” and have become “one new man” with them. The Church is not Israel but is joined with Jews as the “one new man,” also known as the new “Israel of God.”

But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new creation! And all who will behave in accordance with this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:14–16 NET)

Speaking symbolically, Jewish believers are not grafted into the Christians’ wild olive tree, but Christians are grafted into the cultivated Jewish olive tree. Furthermore, the Jewish branches that were broken off will be grafted back into the Jewish olive tree.

Now if some of the [Jewish] branches were broken off, and you, a [Gentile] wild olive shoot, were grafted in among them and participated in the richness of the [Jewish] olive root, do not boast over the [Jewish] branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the [Jewish] root, but the [Jewish] root supports you. Then you will say, “The [Jewish] branches were broken off so that I [a Gentile] could be grafted in.” Granted! They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but fear! For if God did not spare the natural [Jewish] branches, perhaps he will not spare you [a Gentile branch]. Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God—harshness toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And even they [Jewish branches]—if they do not continue in their unbelief—will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a [Gentile] wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated [Jewish] olive tree, how much more will these natural [Jewish] branches be grafted back into their own [cultivated Jewish] olive tree? (Romans 11:17-24 NET)

While Abraham is the natural father of the Jewish people, he is the spiritual father of all true believers.

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26–29 NET)

He is “Our Father Abraham.”

For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace, with the result that the promise may be certain to all the descendants—not only to those who are under the law, but also to those who have the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (Romans 4:16 NET)
It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all those who are descended from Israel are truly Israel,
 nor are all the children Abraham’s true descendants; rather “through Isaac will your descendants be counted.” This means it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God; rather, the children of promise are counted as descendants. (Romans 9:6–8 NET)
But you, brothers and sisters, are children of the promise like Isaac. (Galatians 4:28 NET)
But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new creation! And all who will behave in accordance with this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:14–16 NET)

All Christians are spiritually Jews:

For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something that is outward in the flesh, but someone is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit and not by the written code. This person’s praise is not from people but from God. (Romans 2:28–29 NET)

Zechariah saw this “One New Man” company of people when he wrote:

The Lord who rules over all says, ‘In those days ten people [a representative number] from all languages and nations will grasp hold of—indeed, grab—the robe [tzitzit] of one Jew and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” ’ ” (Zechariah 8:23)

Through Messiah, God has made way for all people to be His people, regardless of ethnic or national background, skin color, gender, economic status, social position, education, life achievements, age, language, customs, or traditions. No human barriers keep us from being in God’s Kingdom family. All of His people will be forever in His glorious presence.

Only those who have faith in Christ are considered God’s people. According to Paul, if one is born Jewish and rejects Christ, he is not considered part of God’s people. This is the same for a Gentile who also rejects Christ.

No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known. (John 1:18 NET)
All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27 NET)
So Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, the Son can do nothing on his own initiative, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does, and will show him greater deeds than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. Furthermore, the Father does not judge anyone, but has assigned all judgment to the Son, so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. “I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the solemn truth, a time is coming—and is now here—when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, thus he has granted the Son to have life in himself, and he has granted the Son authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. (John 5:19–27 NET)
Everyone who denies the Son does not have the Father either. The person who confesses the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:23 NET)
Everyone who goes on ahead and does not remain in the teaching of Christ does not have God. The one who remains in this teaching has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:9 NET)

God has only provided one way of salvation: through the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. (1)

I tell you, many will come from the east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, but the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:11–12 NET)
Then one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is more to your advantage to have one man die for the people than for the whole nation to perish.” (Now he did not say this on his own, but because he was high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the Jewish nation, and not for the Jewish nation only, but to gather together into one the children of God who are scattered.) So from that day they planned together to kill him. (John 11:49–53 NET)
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! Look, your house is left to you desolate! For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” (Matthew 23:37–39 NET)

The seven holy seasons of Israel contain the outline of the entire redemptive program. The first cycle of four festivals was fulfilled by the program of the First Coming. The Feast of Passover was fulfilled by the death of the Messiah. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was fulfilled by the sinlessness of His offering. The Feast of Firstfruits was fulfilled by the Resurrection of the Messiah. The Feast of Weeks was fulfilled by the birthday of the Church. Then came a four-month interval between the first and second cycles of feasts. This four-month interval is now being fulfilled by the insertion of the Church Age. (2)

The Feast of Trumpets (1) is the first feast of the fall season or the latter rains. This festival was to be celebrated on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishri (Leviticus 23:23-25). The feast commemorated the beginning of the Messianic kingdom and the disastrous fate of the unbelieving Gentile nations. From the beginning of Rosh Hashanah until the Day of Atonement are ten days. These ten days are known as “the days of awe,” and according to Jewish tradition, are the final period of time that the world and Israel have to repent before God’s final judgment is unleashed. The Feast of Trumpets is also believed to be the world’s birthday, the beginning of the Messianic kingdom, and the day in which the Messiah will reveal Himself and re-gather Israel back to the land. Since the first day of Tishri was when God created the earth, it seems very appropriate that Jesus, as the Angel of the Lord, stands upon the earth on this same day, reclaiming its possession for His kingdom (1). (17)

The next feast, which takes place ten days after the Feast of Trumpets, is the Day of Atonement (1). This is to occur on the tenth day of the month of Tishri. As previously stated, the ten days between the two feasts are for the repentance of national Israel and the rest of the world (1). When the Day of Atonement has been reached, those who have not repented and have not placed their trust in Jesus as the Messiah will be judged along with the rest of the world. This is confirmed in Leviticus, where God states that those who do not afflict their soul or repent will be cut off from His people.

Indeed, any person who does not behave with humility on this particular day will be cut off from his people. (Leviticus 23:29 NET). 

The Day of Atonement is considered to be the holiest day of the Jewish year. This was the only day in which the high priest was allowed to enter the inner temple. On this day, God would grant or deny redemption to the nation of Israel. On this same day, God will accept the repentance of the nation of Israel and return for their deliverance. It is this period that Daniel refers to in his prophecy of the seventy weeks. (17)

“Seventy weeks have been determined concerning your people and your holy city to put an end to rebellion, to bring sin to completion, to atone for iniquity, to bring in perpetual righteousness, to seal up the prophetic vision, and to anoint a most holy place. (Daniel 9:24 NET)

The Seventieth Week will come to a close as Israel repents and is grafted back into the family of God.

“I will pour out on the kingship of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me, the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10 NET)
And even they—if they do not continue in their unbelief—will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree? For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:23–27 NET)

This final redemption of Israel fulfills the Day of Atonement, in exact chronology, precisely ten days after Jesus takes possession of the earth on the Feast of Trumpets. (17)

The last and final feast, which will be fulfilled on the fifth day following the end of the Seventieth Week, will be the Feast of Tabernacles (Feast of Booths) (Leviticus 23:33-43). This feast occurred on the fifteenth day of the month of Tishri (1). It commemorated the time when the Lord led his people through the wilderness to the land of Israel. In remembrance of this period, the Jews were to erect tiny makeshift booths and live in them. This reminded them that their forefathers had little shelter during their wilderness trek. This feast also celebrated the Messianic kingdom’s commencement and the fall harvest’s end. It was traditionally observed atop Mount Zion. (17)

It was previously revealed by Isaiah that Jesus would head toward Mount Zion as He returns for the salvation of Israel.

“And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 59:20 ESV)

Obadiah also prophesies that,

Those who have been delivered will go up on Mount Zion in order to rule over Esau’s mountain. Then the Lord will reign as King! (Obadiah 21 NET)

The 144,000 are on Mount Zion in Israel, fulfilling the Feast of Tabernacles (Hb. Sukkot) (aka, Feast of Booths). Israel has repented and accepted her Messiah, and Jesus has triumphantly led her through the wilderness. Again, the Feast of Tabernacles commemorates when Moses led Israel through the wilderness to the Promised Land. It will now be fulfilled with the Lord’s leading of the 144,000 and the rest of the Jewish remnant out from Edom to Israel. As the 144,000 ascend Mount Zion, they may very well sing Psalm 118, known as the Psalm of Ascension. This psalm speaks of Israel’s chastening by the Lord, their final salvation, and the recognition of Jesus as their Messiah. It was commonly sung by Israel during the celebration of this great feast. (17)

On top of Mount Zion, the 144,000 will also sing a new song. This song is first sung by the redeemed church that sings before the throne of God, the four living creatures, and the elders. Again, this shows the great multitude’s distinction between the elders and the living creatures, who do not join in this song. No one could learn this song except the 144,000 who were on Mount Zion with Jesus. This group seen with Jesus consists of virgins who are said to follow Jesus wherever He goes. They are also said to be the first fruits of the redeemed of Israel and are without fault before God. Since they have now trusted Jesus, their sins are no longer remembered before God. This is a great truth for all who believe in Christ’s atoning work at Calvary. (17)

The Feast of Tabernacles concludes the fulfillment of the seven feasts of Leviticus. As seen, they will each be fulfilled exactly as they were fulfilled in our Lord’s first advent. (17)

Feasts, Festivals, and Important Occasions of the Biblical Covenants Series:
– The Spring Festivals:
– Seven Church Conditions during the Church Age:
– The Fall Festivals:
Biblical Typologies, Metaphors, & Similes Series:


Shalom
(Security, Wholeness, Success)
Peace

Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. 
(3 John 1:2 NET)


(1) Select the link to open another article with additional information in a new tab.

(2) Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Bible Study Collection, vol. 181 (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1983).

(3) Richard Booker, Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts Expanded Edition: Discovering Their Significance to You as a Christian (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2016).

(4) Edersheim, A. (1959). The Temple, its ministry and services as they were at the time of Jesus Christ. James Clarke & Co.

(5) https://thecontentauthority.com/blog/mishna-vs-talmud

The Mishna, compiled by Rabbi Judah the Prince in the third century CE, represents the core legal code of Jewish oral tradition. It consists of six orders, each containing numerous tractates that delve into various aspects of Jewish law. On the other hand, the Talmud encompasses both the Mishna and the Gemara, which is a commentary on the Mishna. The Gemara, compiled by multiple rabbis over several centuries, provides in-depth discussions, debates, and interpretations of the Mishna. It is a comprehensive compendium of Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, and folklore.

(6) Neusner, J. (2007). A History of the Mishnaic Law of Appointed Times: Sheqalim, Yoma, Sukkah: Translation and Explanation (J. Neusner, Ed.; Vol. 3, p. 132-175). Wipf & Stock Publishers.

(7) Booker, R. (2017). The miracle of the scarlet thread expanded edition: revealing the power of the blood of Jesus from genesis to revelation. Destiny Image.

(8)  Levine, B. A. (1989). Leviticus (p. 163). Jewish Publication Society.

(9) Pictures of Israel from: Bolen, T. Pictorial Library of Bible Lands, Israel Collection, Volumes 1-5 Purchased from https://www.bibleplaces.com and used with permission.

(10) Neot Kedumim, the Biblical Landscape Reserve in Israel https://www.neot-kedumim.org.il/

(11) Kevin Howard, Marvin Rosenthal, (1997) The Feasts of the Lord: God’s Prophetic Calendar from Calvary to the Kingdom. Thomas Nelson

(12) https://unitedwithisrael.org/watch-celebrating-sukkot-in-jerusalem/

(13) Berlin, A., Brettler, M. Z., & Fishbane, M., eds. (2004). The Jewish Study Bible (p. 689). Oxford University Press.

(14) Abbott, E. A. (1906). Johannine Grammar (p. 358). Adam and Charles Black.

No one has satisfactorily explained the extraordinary statement attributed to the Pharisees in 7:52 “Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet (ἐκ τῆς Γ. προφήτης οὐω ἐγείρεται).” On this, Westcott remarks, “Jonah, Hoshea, Nahum, and perhaps Elijah, Elisha, and Amos were of Galilee.” How then could the Pharisees first say to Nicodemus, “Search and see,” that is, in effect, “Look at the Scriptures [for you know nothing about them]” and then make such an astounding statement, inviting from Nicodemus an obvious refutation, “Search ye the Scriptures—and ye will learn that prophets do ‘arise from Galilee’ ”? The only approach to an explanation is that the present “arises” means “arises as a rule.” But this—besides being forced—would expose the Pharisees to the charge of impiety, “Would you lay down ‘a rule’ for God and assert that He cannot do anything but what you say He does ‘as a rule’?” As it stands, the text seems inexplicable. And there is no variation of the text sufficient to afford a solid ground for emendation[1]. Otherwise the conjecture would be obvious that, after the final ⲥ in “Galilee,” ⲟ has dropped out. The result of this would be to convert “the prophet” (mentioned just before in 7:40) to “prophet.” Concerning “the prophet,” the Pharisees might have traditions identifying His birthplace with that of the Messiah so that they might say “the prophet ariseth not from Galilee.” In that case the present would be prophetic—“is not to arise.”

(15) Rusten, S. with E. Michael. (2005). The complete book of when & where in the Bible and throughout history. Michael E Rusten.

(16) http://www.cgsf.org/dbeattie/calendar/?roman=30+ad

30 A.D. was selected as the date of this celebration of the Feast of Booths based on the date of Jesus’ crucifixion in 31 A.D. (1)

 (17) Salerno, Jr., Donald A., (2010). Revelation Unsealed. Virtualbookworm.com Publish-ing, Inc.

Hal has taught the Bible for over three decades. Through an interdenominational ministry dedicated to helping the local church build men for Jesus, Hal trained men, the leaders of men’s ministries, and provided pulpit supply. Before that, he was a Men’s Ministry Leader and an Adult Bible Fellowship teacher of a seventy-five-member class at a denominational megachurch. Presently, Hal desires to honor Jesus Christ through this Internet teaching ministry, thereby glorifying the Heavenly Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He believes, second to cultivating his relationship with God that raising his family unto the Lord is the most significant task for him while on Earth. Furthermore, Hal believes that being a successful leader in the church or workplace is no substitute for failing to be a successful leader at home.  DOULOS HAL'S TOPICAL INDEX

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