The Feast of Tabernacles was the last of the 7 feasts of the Lord in a year and it occurred for eight days starting on the 15th day of the seventh month and in the Hebrew it was and is still called Sukkot. It was also the last of the 3 fall or harvest festivals. It occurred in what is late September or early October in the western calendar. It was probably the most joyful of the 7 Feasts of the LORD. Both the first and last day of the 8 days were to be sabbath days. The Israelites were to take boughs or branches of trees including if they were available palm trees and, willow trees and make booths or tabernacles to dwell in for the 8 days of this Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. The palm tree in the Bible is always a symbol of great victory probably referring to God delivering the Israelites from Egypt and bringing them to the promised land. The willow tree in the Bible is a symbol of sorrow and separation. In this context it probably refers to the fact that the Israelites were still in the wilderness and were not yet in the promised land but were on their way there. The Jews or Israelites were even commanded to rejoice before the LORD especially at this time.
One of the alternate current names for this feast is the Feast of Ingathering because by this time all the harvest of crops, fruits and vegetables has been harvested of gathered in for the year and there could be a time to thank or rejoice in or before the LORD for a good harvest. The branches of the trees and the Israelites dwelling in them also signifies their harvest and their identifying with their harvest. The original meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles was that God or the LORD had the Israelites dwell in tabernacles or booths in the wilderness after God brought them out of the land of Egypt. The meaning has come to signify more the Jewish people's or Israelites stating a claim and looking forward to continued dwelling in the promised land of Israel or Canaan. This festival also looks forward to when their Messiah comes to rule over them and they are enjoying peace and prosperity under Him in their own land in the Messianic Age or Millenial Kingdom. A scripture reference of the background of the Feast of Tabernacles can be found in Leviticus 23 as follows:
Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye(you) shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs(branches) of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 23:39-43
In the guidelines for the Feast of Tabernacles in Deuteronomy 16 additional information is given. In this scripture passage there is more clear reference that this feast was to be a time of thanksgiving to God for the final harvest of the year "all your increase". The Feast of Tabernacles was also to be a time to include everyone together in this Feast of thanksgiving to God including the servants of families, widows, the fatherless (orphans) and strangers (non Jewish people living in Israel). The command for all the Jewish males not to appear before the LORD empty meant that they were to bring an animal to give as a sacrifice at the Temple at the Feast of Tabernacles to dedicate some of the blessing God had given them earlier in the year.
The instruction to Israel to keep the Feast of Tabernacles "in the place which the LORD shall choose" meant it was to be kept in the House of the LORD or the Jewish Temple. This was first a Jewish Temple in Shiloh, then the Jewish Temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem, then Zerubbabel's Temple which became known as Herod's Temple after king Herod built substantial additions to this Temple in the time of the first life and ministry of Jesus Christ on Earth. The Temple Mount Faithful - the Orthodox Jewish group now trying to built the Third Jewish Temple in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount would like to provide a place where the people of Israel can again keep the Feast of Tabernacles in the House of the LORD and could succeed very soon. This will be the Jewish Temple in the 70th Week of Daniel or the Great Tribulation. However the Temple Mount Faithful and other Orthodox Jews who reject Jesus Christ as their Messiah and the New Testament as the Word of God think they are going to soon build the Jewish Temple for the Messiah in the Millenial Kingdom or Messianic Age. When the New Testament (New Covenant) and Jesus Christ as the Jewish Messiah are taken into account, the Feast of Tabernacles could still relate to the time of the building of the Temple of God or House of the LORD at the beginning of the Messianic Age or Millennial Kingdom. However in this case it would be the 4th and not the 3rd Jewish Temple or House of the LORD and would be the one described in Ezekiel chapters 40 to 48. It would start to be built after Jesus Christ the Messiah comes in power and great glory to set up His among God's Kingdom at the end of the Great Tribulation or 70th week of Daniel. The scripture passage about the Feast of Tabernacles in Deuteronomy 16 is as follows:
Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: And thou(you) shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are in thy gates. Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice. Three times in a year shall all the males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks(Pentecost), and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee. Deuteronomy 16:13-17
In 2 Chronicles 7 there is an account of the dedication of the then just built Solomon's Temple. This started on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles or the 15th day of the seventh month. In this chapter verses 9 and 10 it is mentioned that King Solomon sent the people of Israel back to their homes on the eighth day of keeping of the Feast of Tabernacles after they kept it for seven days. God's glory came at the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles when the House of the LORD or Jewish Temple had just been built and dedicated by King Solomon and the priests. This is a major reason why the Temple Mount Faithful and some other Orthodox or Old Testament scripture believing Jews think and try to start the building of the next or third Temple on the Temple Mount on the Feast of Tabernacles each year for the last several years. This year or some year very soon they will probably be successful as they won and are using more authority they gained to go on top of the Temple Mount since they won a court battle in the Israeli Supreme Court on August 20, 2003 for non-Moslems to have freer access to the Temple Mount. Solomon's dedicating the building of Solomon's Temple at the Feast of Tabernacles could also indicate that the Millenial or 4th Temple built at the end of the Great Tribulation or 70th week of Daniel could also start at or near the Feast of Tabernacles. This could be as well as the 3rd or Tribulation Temple starting construction at the Feast of Tabernacles. The glory of the LORD coming to Solomon's Temple on the Feast of Tabernacles after it was built and Solomon just finished a prayer of dedication of the temple to God was a sign. This sign was that God (the LORD) was pleased or satisfied with this temple as a place for Him to dwell among His chosen Earthly people the Jews. The response of the people to God's presence and glory is also a good lesson for Jews and Christians today that we should worship God with reverence and praise. The reference to God's glory coming to the new built Solomon's Temple on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles in 2 Chronicles 7 is as follows:
Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD's house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshiped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. 2 Chronicles 7:1-3
King Solomon started the dedication of the then just finished Solomon's Temple or House of the LORD by offering thousands of oxen and sheep to the LORD(God). This was on the Feast of Tabernacles that started on the 15th of the seventh month and lasted eight days altogether. The Jewish priests did their part in dedicating the new Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by preparing and carrying out the ceremony of offering all these animal sacrifices to the LORD (God). At that time it was also to dedicate the Temple or House of the LORD to the LORD or God. The priests also performed the music in dedicating the House of the LORD including using musical instruments and music (such as some of the Psalms) that King David had (then just recently) made and written. The Temple Mount Faithful in our generation (since 1967) has called and trained Jewish men to again be Jewish priests in preparation for worshipping the LORD in the soon to be built third Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. This construction could start this year or some year very soon at the Feast of Tabernacles. The construction of the Millennial or Messianic Kingdom Jewish Temple or House of the LORD at the end of the Great Tribulation or 70 th week of Daniel could also be at or near the Feast of Tabernacles. This would be in the year the LOrd Jesus Christ returns to set up God's Kingdom according to a Christian interpretation of the Bible. This would also involve the setting up of the Jewish Temple worship with the Jewish sacrifical system as in Ezekiel 40 - 48. True Christians at that time would have access to Earth and would rule over the Earth with the Lord Jesus Christ with our resurrection bodies but would have our homes in Heaven then. The scripture reference to the dedication of Solomon's Temple by King Solomon the priests and the people of Israel in 2 Chronicles 7 is as follows:
Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD. And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God. And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of music of the LORD, which David the king had made to praise the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood. 2 Chronicles 7:4-6The feast that Solomon is said to have kept at the same time was the Feast of Tabernacles. In saying he kept it at the same time the writer is saying he combined elements of the Feast of Tabernacles with the ceremony surrounding the dedication of the new Solomon's Temple. Since that time there has been an element of dedicating the Temple or House of the LORD especially at the Feast of Tabernacles. The entering in of Hamath is in the far north of Israel even north of the Sea of Galilee or the Sea of Tiberias or Lake Chinnereth while the river of Egypt was part of the south west boundary of the promised land of Israel. This verse is saying that there was a full representation of the Jewish people from all of the land of Israel at the dedication of Solomon's Temple. This passage says clearly that King Solomon and the priests and people of Israel kept the dedication of the altar (temple) seven days and the Tabernacles seven days. It then says on the eighth day they had a solemn assembly (meeting) probably to hear a message and make a committment to be faithful to the LORD and His Temple including coming up to the Temple to offer sacrifices and worship God especially at the three feast times each year. One of these times was the Feast of Tabernacles but most of the Jewish people who went up to Jerusalem and the Temple at the Feast of Tabernacles would probably come up early. This would be so they could also observe the Feast of Trumpets what we call Rosh Hashanah and the Day of Atonement what we call Yom Kippur on the 1st to the 10th of the seventh month as well. In verse 10 it says of the eighth day that it was the 23rd of the seventh month which would be the last day of the eight day long Feast of Tabernacles that that year was also the period of dedication of the new Solomon's or 1st Temple in Jerusalem. King Solomon then sent everyone home in a joyful mood because of God's goodness in building and blessing with His presence the new Jewish Temple or House of the LORD. The scripture reference to the people of Israel keeping the Feast of Tabernacles and the dedication of the new Jewish Temple or House of the LORD in Jerusalem in 2 Chronicles 7 is as follows:
Also at the same time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt. And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly: for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days. And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the LORD had showed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people. 2 Chronicles 7:8-10
Although they were then without a temple and still under the authority of the Persian Empire the Jews under their leader Zerubbabel had a common and united determination to work to rebuild the Jewish Temple or House of the LORD. This occured in the seventh month in the Jewish calendar when the Jewish fall or harvest Feasts of the LORD occured. The Jews then had godly, committed and inspiring leadership under Zerubbabel and Jeshua and other Jewish priests. Zerubbabel was of the royal line of Judah and would have been king if Israel was independent and still under the monarchy of Judah at that time. They led the Jews' efforts to build the altar of God (or the Temple) according to the specifications of the Law of Moses and then they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD (God). They offered the commanded morning and evening sacrifices on this altar. This building of this altar itself as well as providing a symbol of their determination to soon build the rest of a new Jewish Temple (the 2nd Temple) occured around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. The Jews then kept the Feast of Tabernacles on this altar as well as using that time as an expression of their committment to build the rest of the 2nd or Zerubbabel's Temple or House of the LORD as soon as possible. They were careful to offer the number of burnt offerings as the Law of Moses required on each day of the Feast of Tabernacles showing their willingness to faithfully serve God according to His Word. The Law of Moses stated that the Jews were to offer one of an animal the first day, two the second day up to eight the eighth and last day of the Feast of Tabernacles which they were careful to do that year. The statement fear was upon them(the Jews) because of the people of those countries was probably at least in part because some of the people of those other countries had become established in Israel. This establishment of these non-Jewish or Gentile people in Israel was since the destruction of Jerusalem and the 70th year Babylonian captivity of the Jewish people. Today for some of the same reasons there is a fear with many Jewish people to build the next or 3rd Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This is particularly in relation to the Arabs including the Palestinians who are quite established in the land of Israel and have built the Moslem mosques on the Temple Mount. Prominent among these Temple Mount mosques is the Dome on the Rock which is most likely right over the site of the previous Jewish Temples. Orthodox Jews like the Temple Mount Faithful want to honour God by building the 3rd Jewish Temple over the sites of the previous Jewish Temples and the Holy of Holies. This is even if that means somehow bringing about the destruction of the Moslem Dome of Rock that is in the way. The Temple Mount Faithful like courageous Jews in Ezra's time such as Zerubbabel and Jeshua are challenging Jews of today just to trust God will protect and fight for Israel His chosen Earthly people against their enemies in their land if the Jewish people fully trust God and His Word and Law. As Christians we are convinced the New Testament scriptures are also part of the inspired word of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob(Israel). We therefore believe that God could establish both the 3rd or Tribulation Temple and about 7 years later the 4th or Millenial Kingdom Temple around at the Feast of Tabernacles. The dedication or committment to build the 2nd or Zerubbabel's Jewish Temple or House of the LORD in Jerusalem occured at the Feast of Tabernacles. This probably gives Orthodox Jews such as the Temple Mount Faithful more reason to start building the next or 3rd Jewish Temple or House of the LORD at the Feast of Tabernacles in the 7th month in late September or early October in the western calendar. The scripture for the beginning of the Temple worship and committment to complete it for the 2nd or Zerubbabel's Jewish Temple at Jerusalem from Ezra 3 is as follows:
And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man in Jerusalem. Then stood up Jeshua the son Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. And they set the altar upon the bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening. They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required; Ezra 3:1-4
After the Feast of Tabernacles when the Altar of the new 2nd Jewish Temple or House of the LORD was built in the seventh month around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles the Jews continued to offer burnt offerings and freewill offerings on the altar. This occurred on the following daily burnt offering, the new moons and the set feasts (the Feasts of the LORD) as these occasions came up. The Jews hired or offered among themselves people to build the stone and wood and other parts of the 2nd or Zerubbabel's Temple and they raised money to pay for these workers to build the new 2nd or Zerubbabel's Jewish Temple or House of the LORD and to pay for the materials. This was all with the permission and authorization of Cyrus the king of Persian that was the ruler of Israel and that part of the world at that time and that God had raised up in part to allow the Jews to build a temple to worship God (the LORD) again. The scripture reference to the continuing temple worship and preparation to complete the 2nd Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by the Jews is described in Ezra 3 as follows:
And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD. From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid. They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia. Ezra 3:5-7
For comments, questions, advice or more informationContact Doug at Spirit and Truth Ministries