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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
Tabernacles, the Feast of
the third of the three great annual festivals, the other two being the feasts of the Passover and Pentecost, on which' the whole male population were required to appear before the Lord in the national sanctuary. It was a celebration of the ingathering of all the fruits of the year, and in general import as well as time corresponded to the modern Thanksgiving season. (See FESTIVAL).
I. Names and their Signification. — This festival is called —
1. חִג הִסֻּכּוֹת, Chag has-Sukkoth; Sept. ἑορτὴ σκηνῶν, the Festival of Tents; Vulg. feriae tabernaculorum; A.V. the Feast of Tabernacles (2 Chronicles 8:13; Ezra 3:4; Zechariah 14:16; Zechariah 14:18-19); σκηνοπηγία (John 7:2; Josephus, Ant. 8:4, 5); σκηναί (Philo, De Sept. § 24); ἡ σκηνή (Plutarch, Sympos. 4:6, 2); because every Israelite was commanded to live in tabernacles during its continuance (comp. Leviticus 23:43).
2. חִג הָאָסַי, ἑορτὴ συντελείας, the Feast of Ingathering (Exodus 23:16; Exodus 34:22), because it was celebrated at the end of the agricultural year, when the ingathering of the fruits and the harvest was completed.
3. It is κατ᾿ ἐξοχήν denominated חִג יְהוָֹה, the Festival of Jehovah (Leviticus 23:39), or simply חִג הָחִג, the Festival (1 Kings 8:2; 2 Chronicles 5, 3; 2 Chronicles 7:8-9; Mishna, Shekalim, 3, 1; Sukkah, 2, 6; Rosh ha- Shana, 1. 2; Megillah, 3, 5; Taanith, 1, 1, 2), because of its importance, and of its being the most joyful of all festivals. The assertion of Winer (Bibl. Realwö rterbuch, s.v. "Laubhü ttenfest"), repeated by Keil (Archä ologie, vol. 1, § 85, note 3) and Bahr (Symbolik, 2, 660), that the rabbins call this festival יום המרובה, dies multiplicationis, is incorrect. The Mishna, which Winer quotes in corroboration of this assertion, does not denominate this festival as such, but simply speaks of the many sacrifices offered on the first day thereof: "If any one vows wine [for the Temple] he must not give less than three logs; if oil, not less than one log. If he says, I do not know how much I have set apart, he must give as much as is used on the day which requires most" (Menachoth, 13:5) — i.e. as is used on the first day of the festival [of Tabernacles] when it happens to be on a Sabbath, for on such a day there are more libations used than on any other day in the year, inasmuch as 140 logs of wine are required for the different sacrifices.
The following are the principal passages in the Pentateuch which refer to this festival: Exodus 23:16, where it is spoken of as the Feast of Ingathering, and is brought into connection with the other festivals under their agricultural designations, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Harvest; Leviticus 23:34-36; Leviticus 23:39-43, where it is mentioned as commemorating the passage of the Israelites through the desert; Deuteronomy 16:13-15, in which there is no notice of the eighth day, and it is treated as a thanksgiving for the harvest; Numbers 29:12-38, where there is an enumeration of the sacrifices which belong to the festival; Deuteronomy 31:10-13, where the injunction is given for the public reading of the law in the Sabbatical year, at the Feast of Tabernacles. In Nehemiah 8 there is an account of the observance of the feast by Ezra, from which several additional particulars respecting it may be gathered.
II. The Time at which this Festival was celebrated. The time fixed for the celebration of this feast is from the 15th to the 22nd of Tishri when the season of the year is changing for winter (Josephus, Ant. 3, 10, 4); i.e. in the autumn, when the whole of the chief fruits of the ground — the corn, the wine, and the oil-were gathered in (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:39; Deuteronomy 16:13-15). Hence it is spoken of as occurring "in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labors out of the field." There were thus only four days intervening between this festival and the Great Day of Atonement. But though its duration, strictly speaking, was only seven days (Deuteronomy 16:13; Ezekiel 45:25), yet, as it was followed by a day of holy convocation, this festival is sometimes described as lasting eight days (Leviticus 23:36; Nehemiah 8:18).
III. The Manner in which this Festival was celebrated. As it is most essential, in describing the mode in which this feast was and still is celebrated, to distinguish between the Pentateuchal enactments and those rites, ceremonies, and practices, which gradually obtained in the course of time, we shall divide our description into three periods.
1. The Period from the Institution of this Festival to the Babylonian Captivity. — The Mosaic enactments about the manner in which this festival is to be celebrated are as follows: The Israelites are to live in tabernacles during the seven days of this festival, "that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in tabernacles when I brought them out of the land of Egypt" (Leviticus 23:42-43). The first day alone, however, is to be a holy convocation (מַקְרָא קָדשׁ ), and a Sabbath or day of perfect cessation of business, on which no manner of secular work is to be done (Leviticus 23:35; Leviticus 23:39); and all the able-bodied male members of the congregation, who are not legally precluded from it, are to appear in the place of the national sanctuary, as on the Passover and Pentecost (Exodus 23:14; Exodus 23:17; Exodus 34:23). On this day the Israelites are to take "the fruit of goodly trees, with branches of palm-trees, boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook" (Leviticus 23:40), most probably to symbolize the varied vegetation which grew in the different localities of their journey, through the wilderness— viz. the palm-tree of the plain where the Israelites encamped, the willow at the mountain stream, from which God gave his people water to drink; and the designedly indefinite thick bush on the mountain heights over which they had to travel; while the fruits of the goodly trees represent the produce of the beautiful land which they ultimately obtained after their pilgrimages in the wilderness (Pressel, in Herzog's Real-Encyklopadie, s.v. "Laubhü ttenfest").
As this, festival, however, though symbolizing by the several practices thereof the pilgrimage through the wilderness, was nevertheless more especially designed to celebrate the completion of the harvest in the Promised Land, as typified by the fruit of the goodly trees in contrast to the plants of the wilderness, the Israelites are enjoined "not to appear before the Lord empty, but every one shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the, Lord thy God which he hath given thee" (Exodus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:16-17). Hence they are to offer burnt offerings, meat- offerings, drink-offerings, and other sacrifices as follows: On the first day, the burnt-offering is to consist of thirteen bullocks, two rams, fourteen lambs, and one kid of the goats for a sin-offering, with the appropriate meat and drink-offerings; the meat-offerings being three tenths of an ephah of flour mingled with one half of a hin of oil to each bullock, two tenths of an ephah of flour mingled with one third of a hin of oil to each ram, and one tenth of an ephah of flour mingled with one quarter of a hin of oil to each lamb; the drink offering consisting of one half of a hin of wine to each bullock, one third of a hin of wine to each ram, and one quarter of a hin of wine to each lamb (Numbers 15:2-11; Numbers 28:12-14). The same number of rams and lambs, and one kid, are to be offered on the following days; the number of bullocks alone is to be reduced by one each day, so that on the seventh day only seven are to be offered (Numbers 29:12-38). There are accordingly to be offered during the seven days in all seventy bullocks, fourteen rams, ninety-eight lambs, and seven goats, with thirty-three and three-fifths ephahs of flour, sixty four and one-sixth bins of oil, and sixty- four and one, sixth hins of wine. Moreover, the law is to be read publicly in the sanctuary on the first day of the festival every Sabbatical year (Deuteronomy 31:10-13). The six following days, i.e. 15th-22nd of Tishri-are to be half festivals; they were most probably devoted to social enjoyments and friendly gatherings, when every head of the family was to enjoy the feasts from the second or festival tithe with his son, daughter, man-servant, maidservant, the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow (Deuteronomy 16:14). (See TITHE).
At the conclusion of the seventh day another festival is to be celebrated, denominated the concluding day (עֲצֶרֶתיוֹם ), the eighth concluding day (שְׁמַינַי עֲצֶרֶת; Sept. ἐξόδιον ). Like the first day, it is to be a holy convocation, and no manner of work is to be done on it. As it is not only the finishing of the Feast of Tabernacles, but the conclusion of the whole cycle of festivals, the dwelling in the tabernacle is to cease on it, and the sacrifices to be offered thereon are to be distinct, and unlike those offered on the preceding days of Tabernacles. The burnt-sacrifice is to consist of one bullock, one ram, and seven lambs one year old, with the appropriate meat and drink-offerings, and one goat for a sin-offering (Numbers 29:36-38). The sacrifices, therefore, were it to be like those of the seventh new moon and the Great Day of Atonement. Being, however, attached as an octave to the Feast of Tabernacles, the Sabbatical rest and the holy convocation, which properly belong to the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, are transferred to it, and hence the two festivals are frequently joined together and spoken of as one composed of eight days. There is only one instance on record of this festival being celebrated between the entrance into the Promised Land and the Babylonian captivity (1 Kings 8:2; 2 Chronicles 7:8-10 with Nehemiah 8:17). No trace of any exposition of the Pentateuchal enactments with regard to this festival is to be found until we come to the postexilian period.
2. The Period from the Return from Babylon to the Destruction of the Temple. — In the account of the first celebration of this festival after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, the concise Pentateuchal injunction is expanded. Not only are the localities specified in which these booths are to be erected, but additional plants are mentioned, and the use to be made of these plants is stated. The Jews, according to the command of Ezra, made themselves booths upon the roofs of houses in the courts of their dwellings, in the courts of the sanctuary, in the street of-the watergate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim, from the olive- branches, the pine-branches, the myrtle-branches, the palm-branches, and the branches of the thick trees, which they were told to gather, and dwelt in these booths seven days (Nehemiah 8:15-18). The Sadducees of old, who are followed by the Karaites, took these boughs and the fruits to be identical with those mentioned in Leviticus 23:39-40, and maintained that these were to be used for the construction and adornment of the booths or tabernacles. The Pharisees and the orthodox Jewish tradition, however, as we shall see hereafter, interpreted this precept differently.
When the Feast of Tabernacles, like all other festivals and precepts of the Mosaic law, began to be strictly and generally kept after the Babylonian captivity, under the spiritual guidance of the Great Synagogue, the Sanhedrim, and the doctors of the law— scribes, more minute definitions and more expanded applications of the concise Pentateuchal injunction were imperatively demanded, in order to secure uniformity of practice, as well as to infuse devotion and joy into the celebration thereof, both in the Temple and in the booths. Hence it was ordained that the tabernacle or booth (סֻכָּה, sukkah) must be a detached and temporary habitation, constructed for the sole purpose of living in it during this festival, and must not be used as a permanent dwelling. The interior of it must neither be higher than twenty cubits, nor lower than ten palms; it must not have less than three walls; it must not be completely roofed in. or covered with any solid material but must be thatched in such a manner as to admit the view of the sky and the stars; and the part open to the rays of the sun must not exceed in extent the part shaded by the cover. It must not be under a tree; neither must it be covered with a cloth, nor with anything which contracts defilement or does not derive its growth from the ground (Mishnsa, Sukkah, 1, 1-2, 7). The furniture of the huts was to be, according to most authorities, of the plainest description. There was to be nothing which was not fairly necessary. It would seem, however, that there was no strict rule on this point, and that there was a considerable difference according: to the habits or circumstances of the occupant (Carpzov, p. 415; Buxtorf, Syn. Jud. p. 451). (See curious figures of different forms of huts, and of the great lights of the Feast of Tabernacles, in Surenhusius, Mischnar, vol. 2; also a lively description of some of the huts used by the Jews in modern times in La Vie Juive en Alsdae, p. 170, etc.) Every Israelite is to constitute the sukkah his regular domicile during the whole of the seven days of the festival, while his house is only to be his occasional abode, and he is only to quit the booth when it rains very heavily. Even a child, as soon as he ceases to be dependent upon his mother, must dwell in the booth; and the only persons exempt from this duty are those deputed on pious missions, invalids, nurses, women, and infants (Mishna, Sukkah, 2, 8,9). The orthodox rabbins in the time of Christ would not eat any food which exceeded in quantity the size of an egg out of the booth (ibid. 2, 5).
The four species of vegetable productions to be used during prayer (Leviticus 23:39-40) are the next distinctive feature of this festival, to. which the ancient doctors of the law before the time of Christ devoted much attention. These are-
(1.) "The fruits of the goodly tree" (פְרַי עֵוֹ הָדָר ). As the phrase goodly or splendid tree (עֵוֹ הָדָר ) is too indefinite, and the fruit of such a tree may simply denote the fruit of any choice fruit-tree, thus leaving it very vague, the Hebrew canons, based upon one of the significations of הָדִר(to dwell, to rest; see Rashi on Leviticus 23:40), decreed that it means the fruits which permanently rest upon the tree— i.e. the citron, the paradise-apple (אֶתְרוֹג, ethrog). Hence the rendering of Onkelos, the so-called Jerusalem Targum, and the Syriac version of הָדָר by ethrog (=κίτριον, Josephus, Ant. 13:13, 5), citron. Josephts elsewhere (ibid. 3, 10, 4) says that it was the fruit of the persea, a tree said by Plily to have been conveyed from Persia to Egypt (Hist. Nat. 15:13), and which some have identified with the peach (Malus persica). The ethrog must not be from an uncircumcised tree (Leviticus 19:23), nor from tie unclean heave-offering (comp. Numbers 18:11-12); it must not have a stain on the crown, nor be without the crown, peeled of its rind, perforated, or defective, else it is illegal (Mishna, Sukkah, 3, 5, 6).
(2.) "Branches of palm-trees" (כִּפֹּת תְּמָרַים ). According to the Hebrew canons, it is the shoot of the palm-tree when budding, before the leaves are spread abroad, and while it is yet like a rod, and this is called lulá b (לוּלִב ), which is the technical expression given in the Chaldee versions and in the Jewish writings for the Biblical phrase in question (Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. col. 1143; Carpzov, App. Crit. p. 416; Drusius, Not. Maj. in Leviticus 23). The lulá b must at least be three hands tall, and must be tied together with its own kind (Mishna. Sukkah, 3, 1, 8; Maimonides, lad Ha- Chezaka, Rilchoth Lulá b, 7:1).
(3.) "The bough of a thick tree" (עָנִ עֵוֹ עָבֹת ). This ambiguous phrase is interpreted by the ancient canons to denote "the myrtle-branch (הֲדִס ) whose leaves thickly cover the wood thereof: it must have three or more shoots around the stem on the same level of the stem, but if it has two shoots opposite each other on the same level, and the third shoot is above them, it is not thick, but is called (עבות שוטה ) a thin myrtle" (Mishna, Sukkah, 32 b; Maimonides, ibid. 7. 2). This explanation accounts for the rendering of the Chaldee paraphrases of this phrase by hadds (הֲדִס ), myrtle-branch. If the point of this myrtle-branch is broken off, or if its leaves are torn off, or if it has more berries on it than leaves, it is illegal (Mishna, Sukkah, 3, 2).
(4.) "The willows of the brook" ( עִרְבֵי נִחִל = salix helix) must be of that species the distinguishing marks of which are dark wood, and long leaves with smooth margin. If any one of these four kinds has been obtained by theft, or comes from a grove devoted to idolatry, or from a town which has been enticed to idolatry (comp. Deuteronomy 13:12, etc.), it is illegal (ibid. 3, 1-5). Their legality having been ascertained,: the palm, the myrtle, and the willow are bound up together into one bundle, denominated lulá b.
It has already been remarked that the Sadducees in and before the time of Christ maintained that the boughs and fruit here mentioned (viz. Leviticus 23:40) are to be used for the construction and adornment of the booths, and that they appeal to Nehemiah 8:15-16 in support of this view. This view has not only been espoused by the Karaite Jews, the successors of: the Sadducees, (See SADDUCEE), but is defended by bishop Patrick Keil, and most modern Christian interpreters. Against this, however, is to be urged that—
(1.) The obvious sense of the injunction (Leviticus 23:40) is that these boughs are to be carried as symbols during the rejoicing, and that we should expect something more explicit than the single and simple word
וְלָקִחְתֵּם, and ye shall take, had it been designed that these boughs should be employed for the construction of the booths.
(2.) The fruit (פַּרַי ) as the margin of the A.V. rightly has it, and not boughs, as it is in the text with which this injunction commences-could surely not be among the materials for the construction of the booths.
(3.) The law about the booths is entirely separated from the ordering of the fruit and boughs, as may be seen from a comparison of Leviticus 23:40 with Leviticus 23:42.
(4.) The first day of this festival, as we have seen, was a holy convocation, on which all manner of work was interdicted. It is therefore against the sanctity of the day to suppose that the command to take the fruit and the boughs on the first-day meant that the Israelites are to construct with these plants the booths on this holy day.
(5.) The appeal to Nehemiah 8 is beside the mark, inasmuch as different materials are there mentioned — e.g. olive branches and pine-branches, which were actually mused for making the booths, while the hadâ r fruit and the willow specified in the Pentateuchal injunction, are omitted. With the regulations about the tabernacles and the boughs or lulá b before us, we can now continue the description of the mode in which this festival was celebrated in the Temple.
14th of Tishri was the Preparation Day ( טוֹב עֶרֶב יוֹם = παρασκευή ). The pilgrim's came up to Jerusalem on the day previous to the commencement of the festival, when they prepared everything necessary for its solemn observance. The priests proclaimed the approach of the holy convocation on the eve of this day by the blasts of trumpets. As on the Feasts of the Passover and Pentecost, the altar of the burnt-sacrifice was cleansed in the first night-watch (Mishna, Yoma. 1, 8), and the gates of the Temple, as well as those of the inner court, were opened immediately after midnight for the convenience of the priests who resided in the city, and for the people who filled the court before the cock crew to have their sacrifices and offerings duly examined by the priests (ibid. 1, 8). When the first clay of Tabernacles happened on the Sabbath the people brought their palm- branches or lulá b's on the 14th of Tishri to the synagogue on the Temple mount, where the servants of the synagogue (חזנים ) deposited them in a gallery, while the lulá b's of the elders of the synagogue (זקנים ) were placed in a separate chamber, as it was against the Sabbatical laws to carry the palms on the Sabbath from the booths of the respective pilgrims to the Temple.
15th of Tishri. — At daybreak of the first day of the festival a priest, accompanied by a jubilant procession and by a band of music, descended with a golden pitcher holding three logs to the pool of Siloam, and, having filled it with water from the brook, he endeavored to reach the Temple in time to join his brother priests who carried the morning sacrifice to the altar (Tosiphta Sukkah, c. 3). Following in their steps, he entered from the south through the water-gate into the inner court (Mishna, Middoth, 2, 6; Gemara, Sukketh, 48 a). On reaching the water-gate, he was welcomed by three blasts of the trumpet. He then ascended the steps of the altar with another priest who carried a pitcher of wine for the drink-offering. The two priests turned to the left of the altar where two silver basins were fixed with holes at the bottom; the basin for the water was to the west and had a narrower hole, while the one for the wine was to the east and had a wider hole, so that both might get empty at the same time. Into these respective basins they simultaneously and slowly poured the water and the wine in such a manner that both were emptied at the same time upon the base of the altar. To the priest who poured out the water the people called out, Raise thy hand! The reason for this is that when Alexander Jannai, who officiated as priest, was charged with this duty, being a Sadducee and rejecting the ordinances of the scribes, he poured the water over his feet and not into the basin, whereupon the people pelted him with their ethrô gs, or citrons. At this catastrophe, which nearly cost the life of the Maccabean king, Alexander Jannai called for the assistance of the soldiers, when nearly six thousand Jews perished in the Temple, and the altar was damaged, a corner of it being broken off in the struggle which ensued (Josephus, Ant. 13:13, 5; Mishna, Sukkah, 4:9; Gemara, ibid. 48 a; 51 a; Gratz, Geschichte der Juden [2nd ed. Leips. 1863], 3, 112, 473 sq.). See Scribes. The ceremony of drawing the water-was repeated every morning during the seven days of the festival.
At the same time that the priests went in procession to the pool of Siloam, another jubilant multitude of people went to a place outside Jerusalem called Motsâ (מוֹצִא ), which abounded in willows. These willows they gathered with great rejoicing, carried them into the Temple amid the blasts of trumpets, and placed them at the altar in such a manner that their tops overhung and formed a sort of canopy (Mishna, Sukkah, 4:5). The decorating process of the altar being finished, the daily morning- sacrifice was first offered, Musaph (מוּסָ ); then the additional or special sacrifice for this festival prescribed in Numbers 29:12-38, which, on the first day, consisted of a burnt-offering of thirteen bullocks, two rams, and fourteen lambs, with the appropriate meat- and drink-offering, and a goat for a sin- offering, and then the peace-offerings, the vows, and the free-will offerings, which constituted the repast of the people (Jerusalem, Sukkah, v). While these sacrifices were offered the Levites chanted the Great Hallel, as on the feasts of the Passover and Pentecost. On this occasion, however, each of the pilgrims held in his right, hand the lulá b, or palm, to which were tied the twigs of myrtle and willow as described above, and the ethrô g, or citron, in his left, while these psalms were chanted; and, during the chanting of Psalms 118, the pilgrims shook their palms three times— viz. at the singing of Psalms 118:1; Psalms 118:25; Psalms 118:29 (Psalms 118:1; Psalms 118:25; Psalms 118:29) (Mishna, Sukkah, 3, 9). When the Musâ ph chant was finished the priests in procession went round the altar once, exclaiming: Hosanna, O Jehovah; give us help, O Jehovah, give prosperity! (Psalms 118:25). Thereupon the solemn benediction was pronounced by the priests and the people dispersed, amid the repeated exclamations, "How beautiful art thou, O altar!" or "To Jehovah and thee, O altar, we give thanks!" (Mishna, Sukkah, 4:5; Gemara, ibid. 44 b, 45). Each one of the pilgrims then betook himself to his respective booth, there to enjoy his repast with the Levite, the stranger, the poor, and the fatherless who shared his hospitality. This practice explains the remarks of the evangelists (Matthew 21:8-9; Matthew 21:15; John 12:12-13). It is to be remarked that on the first day of the festival every Israelite carried about his lulá b, or palm, all day; he carried it into the synagogue, held it in his hand while praying, and only laid it down when called to the reading of the law, as he then had to hold the scroll, (See SYNAGOGUE); carried it with him when he went to visit the sick and comfort the mourners (Mishna, Sukkah, 41 a; Maimonides, clad Ha- Chezaka, lilchoth Lulá b, 7:24).
16th-20th of Tishri. — These days were half-holydays; they were called the middle days of the festival ( מועד חול = μεσούσης τῆς ἑορτῆς, John 7:14), or the lesser festival (מועד קטן ). Any articles of food or raiment required for immediate use were allowed to be ‘ purchased privately during these days, and work demanded by the emergencies of the public service or required for the festival, the omission of which entailed loss or injury; was permitted to be done. (See PASSOVER).
On the night of the 15th, and on the five succeeding nights, the rejoicing of the drawing of water (בית השואבה שמחת ) was celebrated in the court of the Temple in the following manner: The people assembled in large masses in the court of ‘ the women at night, after the expiration of the first day of the festival. The women occupied the galleries which were permanent fixtures in the court (Mishna, Middoth, 2, 15), while the men occupied the space below. Four huge golden candelabra were placed in the center of the court; each of these candelabra had four-golden basins and four ladders, on which stood four lads from the rising youths of the priests with jars of oil wherewith they fed the basins, while the cast-off garments of the- priests were used as wicks. The lights of these candelabra illuminated the whole city. Around these lights pious and distinguished men danced before the people with lighted flambeaux in their hands, singing hymns and songs of praise; while the Levites, who were stationed on the fifteen steps which led into the woman's court, and corresponded to the fifteen psalms of degrees=steps (Psalms 120-134), accompanied the songs with harps, psalteries, cymbals, and numberless musical instruments. The dancing, as well as the vocal and instrumental music, continued till daybreak. Some of these pious men performed dexterous movements with their flambeaux while dancing for the amusement of the people. Thus it is related that R. Simon II (A.D. 30-50), son of Gamaliel I, the teacher of the apostle Paul (See EDUCATION), used to dance with eight torches in his hands, which he alternately threw up in the air and caught again without their touching each other or falling to the ground (Tosiphta Sukkah, c. 4; Jerusalem, Sukkah, 5, 4; Babylon, ibid. 53 a). It is supposed that it was the splendid light of this grand illumination, which suggested the remark of our Savior— "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). Towards the approach of day two priests stationed themselves, with trumpets in their hands, at the upper gate leading from the court of the Israelites to the court of the women, and awaited the announcement of daybreak by the crowing of the cock. As soon as the cock crew, they blew the trumpets three times and marched out the people of the Temple in such a manner that they had to descend the ten steps, where the two priests again blew the trumpets three times, and when they reached the lowest step in the outer court they for the third time blew the trumpets three times. They continued to blow as they were marching across the court till they reached the eastern gate. Here they turned their faces westward towards the Temple and said, "Our fathers once turned their back to the sanctuary in this place, and their faces to the east, and worshipped the sun towards the east (comp. Ezekiel 8:15-16); but we lift up our eves to Jehovah." Thereupon they returned to the Temple, while the people who were thus marched out went to their respective booths. Some, however, formed themselves into a procession, and went with the priests to the pool of Siloam to fetch the water; while others returned to the Temple, to be present at the morning sacrifice (Mishna, Sukkah, 5, 2-4; Maimonides, Iad Ha-Chezaka, Hilchoth Sukkah, 8:12-15). The Talmud maintains that the ceremony of the drawing of water is anterior to the Babylonian captivity, and that Isaiah 12:3 refers to it (Sukkah, 48 b). Indeed, it is only on this supposition that the imagery in Isaiah 12:3 obtains its full force and- significance. As to the import of this ceremony, ancient tradition furnishes two explanations of it.
(1.) Since the Feast of Tabernacles was the time of the latter rain (Joel 2:23), the drawing and pouring out of the water was regarded as symbolical of the forthcoming rain which it was ardently desired might be blessed to the people. Hence the remark that he who will not come up to the Feast of Tabernacles shall have no rain (Sukkah, 48, 51; Rosh ha- Shanah, 16; Taanith, 2 a).
(2.) The Jews seem to have regarded the rite as symbolical of the water miraculously supplied to their fathers from the rock at Meribah. But they also gave to it a more strictly spiritual signification. It was regarded as typical of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Hence the remark: "It is called the house of drawing the water, because from thence the Holy Spirit is drawn in accordance with what is said in Isaiah 12:3, With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation" (Jerusalem Sukkah; 1). It is upon this explanation that our Savior's remark is based (John 7:37-39) in allusion to this ceremony on this last day of the festival when it was performed for the last time. The two meanings are, of course, perfectly harmonious, as is shown by the use which Paul makes of the historical fact— (1 Corinthians 10, 4) "they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and that rock was Christ."
The mode in which the sacrifices were offered in the middle days of the festival, the use of the palm and the citron, the procession round the altar, etc., were simply a repetition of the first day of the festival, with this exception, however, that the number of animals diminished daily, according to ‘ the prescription in Numbers 29:12-38, and that the Lesser Iallel was chanted by Levites instead of the Great Hallel (q.v.). A peculiarity connected with the sacrificial service of this festival must here be noticed. On all other festivals only those of the twenty-four orders of the priests officiated upon whom the lot fell (comp. 1 Chronicles 24:7-19), but on the seven days of Tabernacles the whole of the twenty-four orders officiated. On the-first day the thirteen bullocks, two rams, and-one goat were offered by sixteen orders, while the fourteen sheep were offered by the other eight. As there was one bullock less offered each of the seven days, one order of priests left each day the sixteen orders who offered these bullocks and joined those who offered the fourteen lambs. Hence, "on the first day six of these orders offered two lambs each, and the two other orders one lamb each. On the second day five orders of the priests offered two lambs each, and the four other orders one lamb each. On the third day four orders offered two lambs each, and six orders one lamb each. On the fourth day three orders offered two lambs each, and eight orders one lamb each. On the fifth day two orders offered two lambs each, and ten orders one lamb each. On the sixth day one order offered two lambs each, and twelve orders one lamb each; while on the seventh day, when the orders of priests who sacrificed the bullocks had diminished to eight, fourteen orders offered one lamb each" (Mishna, Sukkah, 5, 6).
21st of Tishri. — The seventh day, which was denominated the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (האהרון של חג יום טוב, Mishna, Sukkah, 4:8), was especially distinguished in the following manner from the other six days. After the Musâ ph, or special festival sacrifice of the day, the priests in procession made seven circuits round the altar (ibid. 4:5), whereas on the preceding days of the festival only one circuit was made. The willows (ערבה ) which surrounded the altar were then so thoroughly shaken by the people that the leaves lay thickly on the ground. The people also fetched palm-branches and beat them to pieces at the side of the altar (ibid. 4:6). It is from this fact that the last day of the festival obtained the names of the Day of Willows (יום ערבה, ibid. 4:1), the Great Hosanna Day (יום הושיעה נא רבה ), and the Branch-thrashing Day (יום חבוט חריות, ibid.4, 6). Herzfeld suggests that the thrashing of the willows and palms may have been to symbolize that after the last verdure of the year had served for the adornment of the altar the trees might now go on to cast off their leaves (Gesch. des Volkes Israel, 2, 125). A s soon as the thrashing process was over, the children who were-present, and who also carried about the festive nosegays, threw away their palms and ate up their ethrô gs, or citrons (Mishna, Sukkah; 4, 7); while the pilgrims, "in the afternoon of this day, began to remove the furniture from the Tabernacles in honor of the last day of the festival" (ibid. 4:8) as the obligation to live or eat in the booths ceased in the afternoon of the seventh day, inasmuch as the Feast of Tabernacles itself had now terminated. The eighth day, as we shall presently see, was a holy convocation, whereon no manner of work was allowed to be done, and the Hebrews could no more dismantle their huts on this day without desecrating it than on the Sabbath. It must also be remarked that this last day of the festival, this Great Hosanna day, was regarded as one of the four days whereon God judges the world (Mishna, Rosh ha-Shanah, 1, 2; Gemara, ibid.). There can, therefore, be but little doubt that when John records the memorable words uttered by Christ (ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾷ τῇ μεγάλῃ τῆς ἑορτῆς ), in the last great day of the festival (John 7:37), he meant this distinguished day.
22nd of Tishri. — The eighth day, which, as we have seen; was a separate festival-was a day of holy convocation whereon no manner of work was allowed to be done. After the daily morning sacrifice and the private offerings of the people, the sacrifices prescribed in Numbers 29:36-38 were offered, during which the Great Hallel was chanted by the Levites. At the sacrifices, however the twenty-four orders of priests were no longer present, but lots were cast as on other festivals, and that order upon whom the lot fell offered the sacrifices (Mishna, Sukkah, 5, 6). The Israelites dwelt no longer in the booths on this day, the joyful procession for the drawing of water was discontinued, the grand illumination in the court of the women ceased, and the palms and willows were not used any more.
It only remains to be added, that when the Feast of Tabernacles fell on a Sabbatical year (q.v.) the reading of portions of the law (Deuteronomy 31:10-13) was afterwards confined to one book of the Pentateuch. This arose from the multiplication of synagogues, in which the law was read every week, thus rendering it less needful to read extensive portions in the Temple during this festival, inasmuch as the people had now ample opportunities of listening in their respective places of worship to the reading of the law and the prophets. Hence also the reading of the law, which in olden days took place in the last hours of the forenoon of every day of this festival, was afterwards restricted to one day. It was at last assigned to the high-priest, and ultimately to the king.
It is said that the altar was adorned throughout the seven days with sprigs of willows, one of which each Israelite who came into the court brought with him. The great number of the sacrifices has already been noticed. The number of public victims offered on the first day exceeded those of any day in the year (Menach. 13:5). But besides these, the Chagigahs or private peace-offerings were more abundant than at any other time; and there is reason to believe that the whole of the sacrifices nearly outnumbered all those offered at the other festivals put together. It belongs to the character of the feast that on each day the trumpets of the Temple are said to have sounded twenty-one times. Though all the Hebrew annual festivals were seasons of rejoicing, the Feast of Tabernacles was, in this respect, distinguished above them all. The huts and the lulá b's must have made a gay and striking spectacle over the city by day, and the lamps, the flambeaux, the music, and the joyous gatherings in the court of the Temple must have given a still more festive character to the night. Hence it was called by the rabbins חג, the festival, κατ᾿ ἐξοχήν . There is a proverb in Sukkah (5, 1), "He who has never seen the rejoicing at the pouring-out of the water of Siloam has never seen rejoicing in his life." Maimonides says that he who failed at the Feast of Tabernacles in contributing to the public joy according to his means incurred especial-guilt (Carpzov, p. 4-19). The feast is designated by Josephus (Ant. 8:4, 1) ἑορτὴ ἁγιωτάτη καὶ μεγίστη, and by Philo ἑορτῶν μεγίστη . Its thoroughly festive nature is shown in the accounts of its observance in Josephus (ibid. 8:4, 1; 15:33), as well as in the accounts of its celebration by Solomon, Ezra, and Judas. Maccabaeus. From this fact, and its connection with the ingathering of the fruits of the year, especially the vintage, it is not wonderful that Plutarch should have likened it to the Dionysiac festivals, calling it θυρσοφορία and κρατηροφορία (Synmpos. 4).
3. From the Dispersion of the Jews to the Present Time. — Excepting the ordinances which were local and belonged to the Temple and its sacrificial service, and bating the exposition and more rigid explanation of some of the rites so as to adapt them to the altered condition of the nation, the Jews to the present day continue to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles as in the days of the second Temple. As soon as the Day of Atonement is over, every orthodox Israelite, according to the ancient canons, begins to erect his booth in which he and his family take up their temporary abode during this festival. Each paterfamilias also provides himself with a lulá b=palm, and ethrô g citron, as defined by the ancient canons. Oni the eve of the 14th of Tishri, or of the Preparation Day (ערב סכות ), the festival commences. All the Jews, attired in their festive garments, resort to the synagogue, where, after the evening prayer" (מעריב ) appointed in the liturgy for this occasion, the hallowed nature of the festival is proclaimed by the cantor (חזן ) in the blessing pronounced over the cup of wine (קדוש ). After the evening service, every family resorts to its respective booth, which is illuminated and adorned with foliage and diverse fruit, and in which the first festive meal is taken. Before, however, anything is eaten, the head of the family pronounces the sanctity of the festival over a cup of wine. This sanctification or Kiddush (קַדּוּשׁ ) was ordained by the men of the Great Synagogue (q.v.), and as there is no doubt that our Savior and his apostles recited it, we shall give it in English. It is as follows: "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast created the fruit of the vine! Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast chosen us from among all nations, hast exalted us above all tongues, and hast sanctified us with thy commandments. In love, O Lord, thou hast given us appointed times for joy, festivals, and seasons for rejoicing; and this Feast of Tabernacles, this time of our gladness, the holy convocation, in memory of the: exodus from Egypt; for thou hast chosen us, and hast sanctified us above all nations, and hast caused us to inherit thy holy festivals with joy and rejoicing. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who hast sanctified Israel and the seasons! Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and hast enjoined us to dwell in booths! Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast preserved us alive, sustained us, and brought us to the beginning of this season!" Thereupon each member of the family washes his hands, pronouncing the prescribed benediction while drying them, and all enjoy the repast. The orthodox Jews sleep in the booths all night.
The following morning, which is the first day of the festival, they again resort to the synagogue, holding the palms and citrons in their hands. They lay them down during the former part of the prayer, but take them up after the eighteen benedictions, when they are about to recite the Hallel. Holding the palm in the right hand and the citron in the left, they recite, the following prayer: "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and hast enjoined us to take the palm-branch! Thereupon each one turns his citron upside-down and waves his palm-branch three times towards the east, three times towards the west, three times towards the south, and three times towards the north. The legate of the congregation pronounces the following benediction: "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and hast enjoined us to recite the Hallel!" and the Hallel is chanted; when they come to Psalms 118, the waving of the palm-branch is repeated at the first, tenth, and twenty-fifth verses, just as it was done in the Temple. Two scrolls of the law are then taken out of the ark (ארון, תיבה ) and brought on the platform (בימה ), when the lessons for the first day of the festival are read out from the law-Leviticus 22:26 to Leviticus 23:44; and Numbers 29:12-16, as Maphtî r; and from the prophets, Zechariah 14:1-21. (See HAPHTARAH).
After this the Musâ ph prayer is recited, which corresponds to the Musâ ph or additional sacrifices in the Temple for this special festival. When the legate of the congregation in reciting the Musâ ph come to the passage where the expression priests (כהנים ) occurs, the Aaronites and the Levites arise, and, after the latter haves washed the hands of the former, the priests, with uplifted hands, pronounce the sacerdotal benediction (Numbers 6:24-27) upon the congregation, who have their faces veiled with the Talî th. (See FRINGE).
The ark of the Lord is then placed in the center of the synagogue, when the elders form themselves into a procession headed by the legate, who carries the scroll of the law, and all the rest carry the palm- branches in their hands and walk round the ark once, repeating the Hosanna, and waving the palms in commemoration of the procession round the altar in the Temple (Maimonides, lad Ha-Chezaka, Hilchoth Lulá b, 7:23). When the morning service is concluded the people betake themselves to their respective booths to partake of the festive repast with the poor and the stranger; In the afternoon, about five or six o'clock, they again resort to the synagogue to recite the Minchâ h (מנחה ) prayer, answering to the daily evening sacrifice in the Temple. As soon as darkness sets in or the stars appear, the second day of the festival commences, the Jews having doubled the days of holy convocation. The evening prayer as well as the practices for this evening resemble those of the first evening.
The ritual for the second day in the morning, as well as the rites, with very few variations, is like that of the first day. The lesson, however, from the prophets is different, for on this day 1 Kings 8:2-21 is read. After the afternoon service of this day the middle days of the festival begin, which last four days, when the ritual is like that of ordinary days, except that a few prayers, bearing on this festival are occasionally inserted in the regular formulae, lessons from the law are read on each day as specified in the article HAPHTARAH (See HAPHTARAH) , and the above-named procession goes round the ark. The seventh day, which is the Great Hosanna (רבה הושענא ), is celebrated with peculiar solemnity, inasmuch as it is believed that on this day God decrees the weather, or rather the rain, for the future harvest (Mishna, Rosh ha-Shanah, 1, 2; Gemara, ibid.). On the evening preceding this day every Israelite prepares for himself a small bunch of willows tied up with the bark of the palm; some of the pious Jews assemble either ‘ in the synagogue or in the booths to read the book of Deuteronomy, the Psalms, the Mishna, etc., all night, and are immersed before the morning prayer. When the time of morning service arrives, numerous candles are lighted in the synagogue, and after the Shachrî th (שחרית ) = morning prayer, which is similar to that of the previous day, seven scrolls of the law are taken out of the ark, and from one of them the lesson is read. The Musâ ph or additional prayer is then recited; thereupon a procession is formed, headed by the rabbi and the legate with the palms in their hands, and followed by those who carry the seven scrolls of the law.
This procession goes seven times round the ark, which is placed in the middle of the synagogue, or round the reading-desk, reciting the Hosannas, in accordance with the seven circuits around the altar which were performed in the Temple on this day, and waving their palms at certain expressions. The palms are then laid down, and every one takes up his bunch of willows and beats off its leaves at a certain part of the liturgy, in accordance with the beating off the leaves from the willows around the altar in the Temple, which took place on this day. On the evening of the seventh day the festival commences which concludes the whole cycle of festival (עצרת שמוני ). It is a day of holy convocation, on which no manner of work is done, and is introduced by the Kiddush (קדוש ) = proclamation of its sanctity, given in the former part of this, section. On the following morning the Jews resort to the synagogue, recite the morning prayer (שחרית ), as is the first two days of the Feast of Tabernacle
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Tabernacles, the Feast of'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/t/tabernacles-the-feast-of.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20