- Leviticus 23:34-36
- Thankfulness, gladness, and expectancy
- Celebrating the Seasons of Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot
דבר אל־בני ישראל לאמר בחמשה עשר יום לחדש השביעי הזה חג הסכות שבעת ימים ליהוה׃ ביום הראשון מקרא־קדש כל־מלאכת עבדה לא תעשו׃ שבעת ימים תקריבו אשה ליהוה ביום השמיני מקרא־קדש יהיה לכם והקרבתם אשה ליהוה עצרת הוא כל־מלאכת עבדה לא תעשו׃
דַּבֵּ֛ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לֵאמֹ֑ר בַּחֲמִשָּׁ֨ה עָשָׂ֜ר יֹ֗ום לַחֹ֤דֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי֙ הַזֶּ֔ה חַ֧ג הַסֻּכֹּ֛ות שִׁבְעַ֥ת יָמִ֖ים לַיהֹוָֽה׃ בַּיֹּ֥ום הָרִאשֹׁ֖ון מִקְרָא־קֹ֑דֶשׁ כָּל־מְלֶ֥אכֶת עֲבֹדָ֖ה לֹ֥א תַעֲשֽׂוּ׃ שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֔ים תַּקְרִ֥יבוּ אִשֶּׁ֖ה לַיהוָ֑ה בַּיֹּ֣ום הַשְּׁמִינִ֡י מִקְרָא־קֹדֶשׁ֩ יִהְיֶ֨ה לָכֶ֜ם וְהִקְרַבְתֶּ֨ם אִשֶּׁ֤ה לַֽיהוָה֙ עֲצֶ֣רֶת הִ֔וא כָּל־מְלֶ֥אכֶת עֲבֹדָ֖ה לֹ֥א תַעֲשֽׂוּ׃
Speak to the children of Israel, saying, on the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is Chag HaSukkot (חג הסכות) to Adonai. On the first day shall be a mikra-kodesh (מקרא־קדש-holy assembly); you shall not do any ordinary work. On each of the seven festival days you must present offerings to Adonai by fire. On the eighth day you must gather again for holy assembly and present another offering to Adonai by fire. It is a solemn closing assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work.
The Feast of Booths:
In the Jewish calendar there are seven ecclesiastical months and five secular months. The seventh and final month of the most sacred time of our year is Tishri (תִּשְׁרֵי-Tishrei; also אֵתָנִים-Ethanim). This sabbatical month corresponds to the end of the harvest season in the Holy Land. During the fall month of Tishri there are five festivals of Israel:
Festival #1. Rosh Hashanah & Yom Teruah (Tishri 1-2);
Festival #2. Yom Kippur (Tishri 10);
Festival #3. Sukkot, the Feast of Booths (Tishri 15-21);
Festival #4. Shemini Atzeret, Eighth [Day] of Assembly (inside Israel Tishri 22; outside Israel Tishri 22); and
Festival #5. Simchat Torah, Joy of Torah (inside Israel Tishri 22; outside Israel Tishri 23).
The importance of the festival of Sukkot (Booths) is indicated by the statement, “This is to be a lasting ordinance.” The Divine pronouncement (אני ה’ אלהיכם), “I am Adonai Eloheikha” (Your G-d) is a fitting summary to what our (Israel’s) existence is all about—-serving and worshiping Adonai Eloheinu (Our G-d).
The Festival of Sukkot represents the latter period in a time of dramatic change extending from the most somber and solemn holiday in the year, the Day of Atonement, to the most joyous, the Feast of Booths. The principle purpose of observing the Feast of Sukkot (Booths) is for future generations of Israel (and yet to come: the international Commonwealth of Israel) to remember that we once lived in a wilderness in temporary shelters and that it was Adonai Eloheinu (our G-d) who had preserved and delivered us as a people to ultimately become His royal and priestly favored nation—–His Servant-leader nation of all the nations of the world.
Thankfulness, gladness, and expectancy:
As the Festival approaches, the entire Jewish nation starts making preparations.
In the time of the Temple (destroyed in 70 CE) work crews were sent to repair or build roads and bridges to prepare for hundreds of thousands of pilgrims coming to Jerusalem. During the Festival the people ate and *slept in booths or shelters that were built in the five days between Yom Kippur and the festival.
*As many still do today.
The Festival of Booths occurs at a time of the year when the hearts of the people of Israel should naturally be full of thankfulness, gladness, and expectancy. At Sukkot the crops have been long stored, all the fruits have been gathered, and the grape harvest is complete. At the Festival the land is “rested” from its labors. All that remains is for our people to await the appearance of the “latter rains,” to prepare G-d’s Beautiful Land for yet another season of harvest.
Celebrating the Seasons of Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot:
In temple times it was appropriate that when the spring commencement of the harvest season had been consecrated by offering the first ripe sheaf of barley at Habikkurim (Firstfruits) and in the summer the full in-gathering of the wheat by the two wave loaves at Shavuot that there also should be in the fall a feast of thanksgiving and of gladness dedicated to Adonai Eloheinu (our G-d):
Celebration #1. The beginning of the harvest (barley) in the spring points back to the birth of Israel in our exodus from Egypt and sojourn forward to the true Pesach sacrifice of the Suffering Messiah. He is the Lamb of G-d who died as a ransom for all of us who repent of our sins that we might receive forgiveness and the gift of the permanent Indwelling Presence of the Spirit of the Holy One (the Gift of the Father).
Celebration #2. The wheat harvest in the summer was connected with the giving of the law on Mount Sinai in the past and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Living Torah) on Shavuot (the Festival of Weeks).
Celebration #3. The thanksgiving harvest in the autumn, the Feast of Booths, reminds Israel of our dwelling in booths in the wilderness and it points to the final harvest when our (Israel’s) mission will be completed and all the nations of the world will peaceably assemble before the *Presence of the Lord our G-d and M’shicho (His Messiah) who shall rule the world on behalf of Adonai.
*The Presence of the Glory Cloud (Shekinah) of Adonai shall return to Israel and the Messiah Ben David will rule Israel and the world as our Melekh HaMelakhim, King of kings, and Adonei Ha-Adonim, Lord of lords (מלך המלכים ואדון האדונים).