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Hag Sukkot / Feast of Tabernacles

The Fifteenth thru the Twenty-first Day of the month Tishrei - beginning at sundown on Friday October 6, 2006

"On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to Yahweh. On the first day is a solemn assembly; you shall do no laborious work of any kind."
. . .
"You shall dwell in tabernacles for seven days." (Leviticus 23:34-42)


Observing Hag Sukkot - the Feast of Tabernacles, means having a seven-day (hag) feast, dwelling in a (sukkah) tabernacle, and keeping the first day holy (dedicated to worship).


For seven nights we sleep in a sukkah - a temporary shelter made from tree branches and leaves, not a hotel room or cabin. One may work during the day except on the first day.

For seven days we eat a festive meal of symbolic foods - including tree fruit and nuts: this is the final-harvest festival. The evening festive meal is eaten in the sukkah, as well as any other meals eaten 'at home'.


Drawing Out Living Waters

"Whoever did not see the rejoicing of (this water drawing ceremony) never saw rejoicing in his lifetime." (Mishnah: Sukkah 5:1)

On each of the seven days of Sukkot, the High Priest took a golden pitcher and filled it with water drawn from the Pool of Siloam. It was brought into the Temple through the Water Gate (hence the name), and poured into a bowl at the Altar, alongside the pouring of the wine, during the daily burnt-offering (Talmud: Sukkah 4:9).  This water libation was performed only during Sukkot.

The Talmud states, "Why is the name of it called the Drawing Out of Water? Because of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, according to what is said: ‘With joy shall ye draw out of the wells of salvation’ " (Isaiah 12:3).

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Yeshua stood and cried out, saying, "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.’" But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified (John 7:37-39).

Light of the World

At the end of the first day of the Feast, three eighty foot high golden candlesticks were set up in the Temple’s Court of Women. Four golden bowls were placed on each candlestick, and four ladders rested against each. A youth of priestly descent stood at the top of each ladder, pouring oil from a ten-gallon pitcher into the bowl (Talmud: Sukkah 5:3)  The worn-out liturgical garments of Priests were used for wicks. The light from these candlesticks was so bright that it was state, "There was no courtyard in Jerusalem that was not lit up with the light at the water-well ceremony" (Talmud: Sukkah 5:3).

Yeshua spoke publicly on Sukkot, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)

The Birth of Yeshua (Jesus) on Sukkot

Messiah’s birth, about AM 3750 - 3756 (10 - 4 BC), was expectantly awaited (Matthew 2:1-18)  because within about 40 years Daniel’s prophecy concerning Him must be fulfilled.

The prophet Micah wrote that He was destined to be born in Beth-Lechem (Bethlehem) — the House of Bread (Micah 5:2).  (God called Him the Bread from Heaven (John 6:32-36),  though men say Manna (Exodus 16:31)  — What is It?) It was because of this prophecy that King Herod had the children of Bethlehem killed, to protect his throne against the coming promised king.

The rabbis who translated the Septuagint taught from the prophet Isaiah that He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) and would be called Immanuel — God with Us.

In the expected time and place, on the Festival of Sukkot,* in a succah (tabernacle, temporary dwelling) where Passover lambs were raised in the city of the shepherd David, a Son was born to a virgin descended from that Messiah David (Matthew 1, Luke 3:23-38).     At an angel’s command (Matthew 1:21), He was named Yeshua, meaning " Salvation." God would dwell with us in a sukkah of humanity that would be bruised by the serpent, then crush that old serpent!

The apostle Yochanan (John) tells us that the Word (of God) became flesh and "dwelt in a sukkah" (tabernacled) among us (John 1:14). The author views Sukkot as figurative of Messiah"s coming to dwell among His people; this reference is not submitted as proof of a dogmatic date.

When Zekharya (Zechariah) was ministering in the temple, he received an announcement from God of a coming son. The second course of Abia,12  when Zekharya was ministering, was a week in the middle of Sivan. If Zekharya’s promised son Yochanan (John the baptizer) were conceived soon thereafter, then Yeshua’s conception, which was six months later, would be late Chislev to early Tevet, near Chanukah (the Feast of Dedication); His birth would thence be at mid Tishri, the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles).

The month of Tishri (in the fall) also fits with the season of shepherds being out with their flocks by night, as they were when Yeshua was born; during winter the lambs are kept indoors.

Later in His life, Yeshua celebrated His birthday on a mountain with three of His disciples (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:1-10).  In contrast to birthday parties, such as Herod’s (Matthew 14:6-12),  where people were killed for entertainment, His was a celebration of life. On the Festival of Sukkot, Moses and Elijah, from centuries past, representatives of the Torah and the Prophets, appeared and talked with Yeshua. One disciple, Kepha (Peter), suggested building three sukkot for Yeshua, Moses, and Elijah, because it was required for the festival, but he did not understand (Mark 9:6) that these three were fulfilling that which the festival symbolized: they were dwelling in their sukkot (temporary tabernacles) of flesh, awaiting their eternal resurrection temples.

 The Seven-Day Wedding Feast

(to be installed) see COMMENTARY Y1-28

The Biblical Etrog

          One year after picking

The etrog is Biblically known as “the fruit of beautiful trees” and “the fruit that dwells”.

“Now on the first day (of the Feast of Tabernacles) you shall take for yourselves (Heb. - pri etz hadar) the fruit of beautiful trees, (lulav) date-palm branches, and boughs of braided (Myrtle) trees and (arava) willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your God for seven days” – Leviticus 23:40.

"Pri etz hadar" can mean the fruit tastes the same as the tree, or the fruit dwells on the tree from year to year (Mesechet Sukkah 35a), from the basis of fruit that is a continuance of (the taste or part of) the tree.

The etrog is a citrus fruit that grows on a broadleaf evergreen tree. It is known for its taste and fragrance. Other fruits fall from their trees in one season – after ripening; the etrog continues to hold on more tightly – it “dwells” on the tree, taking years to ripen. Fruit from several years, at various stages of ripening, hang on a tree at one time.

The entire tree, including branches, leaves, and fruit, is edible. All of it tastes like the fruit. The fruit, which is similar to a lemon in appearance, has a deep yellow skin covering a thick white pithy portion, and a small amount of juicy fruit toward the center.

When the picked fruit is kept, either refrigerated or open in a room, it does not rot. It dries, and becomes smaller and smaller over many years, until finally disappearing (presumably by evaporating).

The etrog has both a flavor and a scent, like one who is both learned and observant of the commandments.  The lulav is from a date palm, and so it has a taste but no scent.  It is likened to one who is learned but does not apply that knowledge in action.  A myrtle has a pleasant odor but there is nothing tasty about it, and it parallel’s one who has little book learning behind his or her observance.  Finally the willow lacks both fragrance and food value, just like one who neither studies the Torah nor keeps the commandments – (From a midrash in Vayikrah Rabba 30:12).



Readings for Hag Sukkot


1st Day     Num 29:12-16          Lev 22:26 - 23:44          Haftara: Zech 14:1-21
2nd Day    Num 29:17-19
3rd Day     Num 29:20-22
4th Day     Num 29:23-25
5th Day     Num 29:26-28
6th Day     Num 29:29-31
7th Day     Num 29:32-34


For Eighth Day, see SHIMINI ATZERET


© 2003  Beikvot HaMashiach
(Followers of the Messiah)