We are picking up in our study of the Sukkot ceremonies in Sukkah 4.8 of the Mishnah.
4.8…The Hallel and the Rejoicing, eight days-this is to teach us that man is bound to recite the Hallel and observe the Rejoicing and give the honor due to the Feast on the last festival day of the Feast as on all other days of the Feast. The Sukkah seven days-thus, after a man has finished eating the last meal of the Feast he could not pull down the Sukkah, but he should bring down the contents thereof only in the afternoon and later, because of the honor due to the last Festival day of the Feast (originally they set the Sukkah up in the Temple-Neh 8.13-18).
4.9…The Water Libation, seven days-what was the manner of this? They used to fill a golden flagon (because of kedusha, the High Priest is wearing street clothes. The road for this procession from the Temple to Siloam has been found) holding three logs (1 1/2 pints) with fresh water from Siloam (Shiloach in Hebrew, meaning “sent” and it was the size of three Olympic-sized pools south of the Temple). When they reached the Water Gate (Shaar ha Mayim, this gate went through Beit Avtinas and it was here that the High Priest changed clothes) they blew on the shofar a sustained (tekiah), a quavering (teruah) and another sustained (tekiah) blast. The priest whose turn of duty it was went up to the Altar ramp and turned right where were two silver bowls. R. Judah says: They were of plaster, but their appearance was darkened because of the wine. They had each a hole like to narrow snout, one wide and the other narrow, so that both bowls emptied themselves together. The bowl to the west was for water and that to the east was for wine. But if the flagon of water was emptied into the bowl for wine or the flagon of wine into the flagon of water, that sufficed (this ceremony alludes to the blood and water that was poured out at the crucifixion of Yeshua. This is probably the where Yeshua cried out in a loud voice at Sukkot in John 7.37). R. Judah says: with onelog they could perform the libations throughout the eight days. To the priest who performed the libation they used to say, “Lift up thy hand!” for once a certain one poured the libation over his feet, and all the people threw their citrons at him (this “one” was Alexander Jannaeus, a Hasmonean king who also officiated as High Priest, and a Sadducee. The Sadducee’s did not recognize the Water Pouring ceremony because it was not in the Torah, but it is in the Torah. There are extra letters in Num 29 where it talks about Sukkot offerings. The extra letters spell “Mayim” or “water.” Yeshua said in Matt 5.17-18 that not even the smallest letter will disappear from the Torah until all is fulfilled, meaning, every letter means something).
4.10…As was the rite on a weekday so was the rite on a Sabbath save that on the eve of the Sabbath they used to fill with the water from Siloam a golden jar that had not been hallowed (no kedusha) and put it in a special chamber. If it was upset or uncovered, they refilled it from the laver (Kior), for wine or water which has been uncovered is invalidated for the Altar.
5.1…The flute playing (as the water was being poured out, people were silent. He is called the “Chaylil” or pierced one, and it is an allusion to Yeshua who was pierced), sometimes five and sometimes six days-this is the flute playing at the Beit ha Shoevah, which overrides neither a Sabbath nor a Festival day. They have said: He that never has seen the joy of the Beit ha Shoevah has never in his life seen joy (this is referring to the Simchat Beit ha Shoevah that happened at night, “Simchat” meaning rejoicing).
5.2…At the close of the first Festival day of the Feast they went down to the Court of the Women where they had made a great amendment (they built a special women’s gallery or balcony made-Talmud, Sukkah 51b). There were golden candlesticks there with four golden bowls on the top of them and four ladders to each candlestick and four youths of the priestly stock and in their hands jars of oil holding a hundred and twenty logs (about 15 litres) which they poured into all the bowls (these lights were called “the light of the world”).
5.3…They made wicks from the worn out drawers and girdles of the priests (called “swaddling clothes” and this is familiar. The light of the world (Yeshua) was wrapped in swaddling clothes at Sukkot, too) and with them they set the candlesticks alight, and there was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that did not reflect the light of the Beit ha Shoevah (Isa 9.2-3).
5.4…Men of piety and good works used to dance before them with burning torches (“lapidot” in Hebrew, and the torch was an idiom for the Messiah) in their hands, singing songs and praises. And countless Levites playing on harps, lyres, cymbals and trumpets and instruments of music, on the 15 steps leading down from the Court of the Israelites to the Court of the Women, corresponding to the 15 Psalms of Ascent in the Psalms (Psa 120-134); upon them the Levites used to stand with instruments of music and make melody (this took all night for them to descend down into the Court of the Women). Two priests stood at the upper gate (Nicanor Gate) which leads down from the Court of the Israelites to the Court of the Women, with two trumpets in their hands. At cock-crowing (when the Temple Crier would make a three-fold cry for the kohanim, the Levi’im and Ma’amad to get ready for the morning Tamid) they blew a sustained (tekiah), a quavering (teruah) and another sustained (tekiah) blast. When they reached the tenth step they again blew a sustained (tekiah), a quavering (teruah) and another sustained (tekiah) blast. They went on until they reached the gate that leads out to the east (the east end of the Court of the Women). When they reached the gate that leads out to the east, they turned their faces to the west and said (along with everyone else that was there, “Our fathers when they were in this place turned their backs toward the Temple of the Lord and their faces turned toward the east, and they worshipped the sun toward the east, but as for us, our eyes are turned toward the Lord” (this incident is recorded in Ezek 8.16). R. Judah says: They used to repeat the words “We are the Lord’s, and our eyes are turned to the Lord.”
This ended the Simchat Beit ha Shoevah ceremony at sunrise. They have been dancing and singing all night. During Sukkot, there were ceremonies starting before dawn and going 24 hours in the Temple. Depending on when the Sabbath was, these ceremonies were done for the whole festival. In Part 34, we are going to look at the Messiah and Sukkot and look into this festival a little deeper, connecting this festival with major prophecies concerning the coming of Messiah.