Fun Facts About The Feast Of Tabernacles


The hidden message behind the four species is very interesting. 

Leviticus 23: 39-40 tells us, “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have brought your crops in from your fields, celebrate the Feast of God for seven days. The first day is a complete rest and the eighth day is a complete rest. On the first day, pick the best fruit from the best trees; take fronds of palm trees and branches of leafy trees and from willows by the brook and celebrate in the presence of your God for seven days—yes, for seven full days celebrate it as a festival to God.”

We will start with the etrog. We are commanded to take fruit from the citrus tree, a tree lovely to look at, a new leaf from a palm tree,  boughs of a leafy tree, and willow branches, and shake them with joy as we celebrate the feast. 

So what is all this really about ?  Well, this takes us back to another time, and that time is in the Garden of Eden. Exodus 3:6 says,  “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband with her, and he ate.”

This resulted in great sadness for Adam and Eve. The four species create a picture of the Garden. God told Adam that he could eat from any tree, except the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.   So now God has us  putting things back together, with the fruit, the leaves, the branch, and the trunk (symbolized by the willows that grow in water.) If you continue the progression you then come to the Creator. By taking these in your hand and waving them in celebration, you now have joy and not sorrow. God is a redeemer, He is a restorer, reconciliator  and renewer of all things. Yeshua redeemed us from the sin of the Garden and He restored us to the joy of our salvation by renewing us as Titus 3:5-7 says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,  whom He richly poured out upon us through Messiah Yeshua our Savior,  so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  Also in  2 Corinthians 5:17-19 it says, “Therefore if anyone is in Messiah , this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Messiah and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Messiah reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their wrongdoings against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”

Why Palm Branches?

The Bible records in Matthew 21 Yeshua riding on a donkey into Jerusalem and when the people saw this they got very excited. Why? Zechariah 9:9 gives us the answer. “Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is righteous and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The people saw this prophecy being fulfilled right before their eyes, and they believed that Yeshua was their coming King, their Messiah whom they were waiting for. 

Matthew 21:8-9 records this, “Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road.  Now the crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!”

So why the palm branches? Because the Jewish people have always believed that their Messiah would come during the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). But it was not Tabernacles,  but Passover that was before them, so all they knew was to cut down the palm branches, which were used during the Feast of Tabernacles, and wave them like part of the four species, waving them in joy.

In retrospect- The Spring Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, First-Fruits and Pentecost all have been fulfilled by Yeshua, that is why we celebrate in remembrance, like when we celebrate an anniversary,  but the Fall Feasts have not yet been fulfilled, for they all have to do with Messiah’s second coming. The Jewish people did not realize that Messiah would come twice, once as a suffering servant and once as the true coming King, but they are nonetheless waiting for the Messiah. 

The Water Drawing Ceremony

The water drawing ceremony was held on the 7th or last day of the Feast. One of the names for this day is “Hoshana Raba”, which means Great Salvation. This is the meaning of Yeshua’s name – God’s Salvation. Shimcha Torah is on the 7th day of Sukkot, it means the joy in the Torah. Isaiah 12 says,  with joy you will draw water from the wells of Yeshua! Yeshua is the Word made flesh, He is our joy!

Isaiah 12: 2-4 says, “ Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation. And on that day you will say, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; make them remember that His name is exalted.”

The water pouring ceremony was the most joyous occasion of the Feast, and this is how the Talmud describes the ceremony:

It was called the “Simchat Beit Hashoavah” – the water-drawing festival. The priests would go down to the pool of Siloam in the City of David (just south of where the Western Wall is today) and they would fill a golden vessel with the water there. They would go up to the temple, through the Water Gate, accompanied by the sound of the shofar, and then they would pour the water so that it flowed over the altar, along with wine from another bowl.  

They also had a light ceremony as it tells us this, “He who has not seen the rejoicing at the place of the water-drawing has never seen rejoicing in his life. At the conclusion of the first festival day of Tabernacles they descended to the court of the women where they had made a great enactment. There were there golden candlesticks with four golden bowls on the top of each of them and four ladders to each, and four youths drawn from the priestly stock in whose hands were held jars of oil… there was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that was not illumined by the light of the place of the water-drawing. Men of piety and good deeds used to dance before them with lighted torches in their hands, and sing songs and praises. And Levites without number with harps, lyres, cymbals and trumpets and other musical instruments were there upon the fifteen steps leading down from the court of the Israelites to the court of the women, corresponding to the fifteen songs of ascents in the psalms…” (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sukkah 51a and 51b)

Those three golden candelabras stood about 75 feet high.

The priests would also carry large palm branches up to the altar waving them as they walked, reciting Psalm 118:25 “Save now (hoshanah), I beseech thee, O LORD! O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity!” and the sound of the large palm branches was like the sound of a mighty blowing wind.  Acts 2:2 tells us this about the day of Pentecost. “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind and it filled all the house where they were sitting.”

The priests  would then place the branches against the altar, and they would form a sukkah. It was on this last day, during the water ceremony that John 7 :37-38 says, “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Yeshua  stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 

The light ceremony which was called the Great light symbolized God who is light. The candelabra in the Temple was called the Light of the World. Yeshua tells us in John 8: 12 this, “I am the Light of the world; the one who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

We could go on and on with the symbolism as we could with everyone of God’s Appointed Times, but we will end with this from Zechariah 14.

“On that day there will be no light; the luminaries will die out. For it will be a unique day which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at the time of evening there will be light. And on that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter. And the Lord will be King over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one.”

“Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of armies, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.  And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of armies, there will be no rain on them.  And if the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.  This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. On that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the Lord.” And the cooking pots in the Lord’s house will be like the bowls before the altar.  Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the Lord of armies; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of armies on that day.”

What was great sorrow and sadness in the Garden of Eden will turn to great joy when the Messiah returns and restores all things like in the day of the Garden of Eden. This is why we celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles as we wait for our King.

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