The next festival we are going to discuss that is relevant to the New Testament is the festival of Sukkot (Lev 33-44). This festival starts on Tishri 15 and ends on Tishri 21, for a total of seven days. The next day is called Shemini Atzeret and it is considered the “concluding eighth day” and this concludes the festival season. Sukkot will celebrate “the harvest.” We have already established that Isa 9.2-7 is talking about Sukkot and Jerusalem, where the people are celebrating the defeat of an enemy at the time of this festival. We have many terms in these passages, and one of the main ones is “joy” or “gladness.” Now, the festivals are divided into “joyous” and “solemn” festivals. The festivals of joy are Passover, Hag Ha Matzah, Bikkurim, Shavuot and Sukkot. The solemn festivals are Rosh Ha Shannah (Yom Teruah) and Yom Kippur, and are called a Yom Ha Din or “Day of Judgment.” The most important “joyous” festival is Sukkot.
When we look at the terms in Isa 9.3-7 we have “gladness, glad, gladness and rejoice.” In Isa 4.1-6 we have a short chapter but it actually deals with the fall festivals of Rosh Ha Shannah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. So, we are going to break this short chapter down to give some idea of what is being communicated.
v 1…”For seven women will take hold of one man (in the literal level of the Peshat, this indicates that there is not enough men to go around because of the war with Assyria because so many are dead. In the Sowd level (hidden, secret meaning), seven alludes to the 7000 years, the women are the “bride” and the one man is the Messiah) in that day (when Assyria comes, but alluding to the “Day of the Lord” or the last 1000 year period when the Lord returns) saying ‘We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us (the bride) be called by your name (by marriage-Jer 23.5-6, 33.15-16), take away our reproach.'”
v 2…”In that day (The Day of the Lord) the Branch (a term for the Messiah) of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious (Man’s salvation, which God has so long worked for, will become obvious and will be seen in all it’s glory) and the fruit fruit of the earth (this salvation seen in the people) will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors (the exiles-Isa 66.18-22; Zech 13.8-9) of Israel.”
v 3…”And it will come about that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy (wedded), everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem (this is Rosh Ha Shannah terminology dealing with the wedding and judgment).”
v 4…”When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning (these are Yom Kippur terms-Joel 2.16; Matt 24.30; Eph 5.26-27; Matt 3.11-12).”
v 5…then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and her assemblies (Hebrew “mikra’ah” which has the same root as “mikrah” meaning rehearsal) a cloud (alluding to the Shekinah, the presence of God) by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night, for over all the glory (“kivod-over all the glory of God will be a covering) will be a canopy (chuppah-a wedding canopy).”
v 6…And there will be a shelter (sukkah) to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain (theses terms are alluding back to the time in the wilderness when God protected Israel and they lived in “sukkot.” The time in the wilderness is pictured by the festival of Sukkot which is being alluded to here).” So, as we can see, the fall festivals are being alluded to in these verses and give us some very valuable information, terms, phrases and idioms.
In Num 29.12-40, we have another passage about Sukkot. We see some of the korbanot that are offered, but notice as the days of Sukkot progress, the number of bulls being offered are reduced each day by one. The total number of bulls that are offered during Sukkot is 70, and 70 is the number of the nations based on Exo 1.1-5 and Deut 32.8. Sukkot is called the “Festival of the Nations.” In these passages in Numbers, we have the groundwork for another ceremony done at Sukkot. In Num 29.17, 19, 32, there are three extra Hebrew letters in these verses that spell the word “mayim” meaning “water.” Because the word for “water” is contained in the verses about what is to be offered on Sukkot, the scholars believed that water should also be poured out during the ceremony. This resulted in the ceremony called the “Beit Ha Shoevah” or “House of the Water-pouring.” This ceremony was only done in the morning service for the seven days of Sukkot (Tishri 15-21).
Water is drawn from the Pool of Siloam (or “Shiloach” meaning “sent” and yoy can see the similarity between the word for a “sent one” (Sh’liach) and Shiloach (sent). These waters were called the “eaters of salvation” (Isa 12.3). This water is brought into the Temple through the Shaar Ha Mayim (the Water Gate) with trumpets. Then they ascend the Altar, turn and pour water and wine at the same time through two holes, or conduits (this alludes to the blood and water that ran from Yeshua’s side on the cross, bringing salvation). This is the biggest ceremony of the year in the Temple. There was a second ceremony that day called the “Simchat Beit Ha Shoevah” meaning “Rejoicing in the House of the Water-pouring.” This ceremony is done at night when they move down to the Ezrat Ha Nashim (Court of the Women) for seven days. Four great poles are set up in this court and on each pole there were four vats of oil. The wicks for these vats were the “swaddling clothes” of the priests and these poles were 80 feet high. They were called the “Light of the World.” In the Mishnah, Sukkah 5.2, we have a description of this.
The first ceremony in the morning was controversial. There was an argument between the Pharisee’s and the Sadducee’s about an aspect of this ceremony. The Pharisee’s authored this ceremony, based on Num 29. The Sadducee’s said that if something is not literally written in the Torah it should not be allowed in the Temple. There view is very similar to the Karaites today. They said it had to be written, not alluded to, by some extra letters. However, Yeshua did say in Matt 17-18 that there would be extra letters and certain things in the Scriptures that will not disappear from the Law and the Prophets until they are fulfilled meaning “given meaning.” A “jot” is the letter “yod” in Hebrew and a “tittle” are “Taggin” or “crowns” over seven certain letters in Hebrew. The “mussaf” service is an additional service with korbanot being offered on certain Sabbath’s and festivals. This water-pouring ceremony would be part of the Mussaf service for Sukkot.
The letters in Num 29 needed to be explained, there was no question that the Lord put them there, so the question was, “What do they mean?” Why were they in these passages concerning Sukkot? During the festival of Sukkot in John 7, Yeshua stood during this water pouring ceremony and cried out, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'” He is alluding to Sukkot passages being read and taught during this period, such as Jer 17.13; Isa 12.3. This ceremony will be seen again.
There was a third ceremony during Sukkot called the “Willow ceremony.” Priests would go into a valley called Motza (also meaning “sent” and this was near Emmaus) at there same time the priests were going down the Pool of Siloam (Shiloach meaning “sent”). They would cut down willow branches over 20 feet high and then return back to the Temple in lines, like an advancing army. They would bring the willow branches down together, at the same time and the same direction, causing a “wooshing” sound like “wind” (the Ruach) coming into the Temple. They would come into the Temple and lay these branches against the Altar, forming a “sukkah” over the Altar. The Beit Ha Shoevah, the Willow and the Simchat Beit Ha Shoevah ceremonies are non-stop for seven days. There was dancing and great rejoicing at the Simchat Beit Ha Shoevah at night in the Ezrat Ha Nashim (Court of the Women). For these reasons, Sukkot was called “The Festival” (Zech 14.16). Yeshua was born at Sukkot. Josephus says that Herod died in the fall (September) of 4 BC. Herod died within forty days of his birth because Miram and Joseph come back from Egypt after hearing he was dead, and appear in the Temple 40 days after Yeshua was born to fulfill the Torah purification ceremony for woman who had given birth to a son (Lev 12.1-5; Luke 2.21-27).
In Part 19, we are going to discuss the concept of the “holy and the profane”, otherwise known as the “Concept of Kedusha.” This concept is very important in understanding the Torah as well as the New Testament.