Easton's Bible Dictionary
The third of the great annual festivals of the Jews (
Leviticus 23:33 - 43 ). It is also called the "feast of ingathering" ( Exodus
23:16 ; Deuteronomy 16:13 ). It was celebrated immediately after the harvest,
in the month Tisri, and the celebration lasted for eight days ( Leviticus 23:33
- 43 ). During that period the people left their homes and lived in booths formed
of the branches of trees. The sacrifices offered at this time are mentioned in
Numbers 29:13 - 38 . It was at the time of this feast that Solomon's temple was
dedicated ( 1 Kings 8:2 ). Mention is made of it after the return from the Captivity.
This feast was designed (1) to be a memorial of the wilderness wanderings, when
the people dwelt in booths ( Leviticus 23:43 ), and (2) to be a harvest thanksgiving
( Nehemiah 8:9 - 18 ).
The Jews, at a later time, introduced two appendages to the original festival,
viz., (1) that of drawing water from the Pool of Siloam, and pouring it upon the
altar ( John 7:2 , 7:37 ), as a memorial of the water from the rock in Horeb;
and (2) of lighting the lamps at night, a memorial of the pillar of fire by night
during their wanderings.
"The feast of Tabernacles, the harvest festival of the Jewish Church, was the
most popular and important festival after the Captivity. At Jerusalem it was a
gala day. It was to the autumn pilgrims, who arrived on the 14th (of the month
Tisri, the feast beginning on the 15th) day, like entrance into a silvan city.
Roofs and courtyards, streets and squares, roads and gardens, were green with
boughs of citron and myrtle, palm and willow. The booths recalled the pilgrimage
through the wilderness. The ingathering of fruits prophesied of the spiritual
harvest.", Valling's Jesus Christ, p. 133.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
( Exodus 23:16 ) ("the feast of ingathering"), the third
of the three great festivals: of the Hebrews, which lasted from the 15th till
the 22d of Tisri.
The following are the principal passages in the Pentateuch which refer to it:
( Exodus 23:16 ; Leviticus 23:34 - 36 ; 39 - 43 ; Numbers 29:12 - 38 ; 16:13 -
15 ; 31:10 - 13 ) In Nehemiah 8 , there is an account of the observance of the
feast by Ezra.
The time of the festival fell in the autumn, when the whole of the chief fruits
of the ground, the corn, the wine and the oil, were gathered in. ( Exodus 23:16
; Leviticus 23:39 ; 15:13 - 15 ) Its duration was strictly only seven days, (
Deuteronomy 16:13 ; Ezekiel 45:25 ) but it was followed by a day of holy convocation,
distinguished by sacrifices of its own, which was sometimes spoken of as an eighth
day. ( Leviticus 23:36 ; Nehemiah 8:18 ) During the seven days the Israelites
were commanded to dwell in booths or huts formed of the boughs of trees. The boughs
were of the olive palm, pine, myrtle and other trees with thick foliage. ( Nehemiah
8:15 , 8:16 ) According to rabbinical tradition each Israelite used to tie the
branches into a bunch, to be carried in his hand to which the name lulab was given.
The burnt offerings of the Feast of Tabernacles were by far more numerous than
those of any other festival. There were offered on each day two rams, fourteen
lambs and a kid for a sin offering. But what was most peculiar was the arrangement
of the sacrifices of bullocks, in amounting to seventy. ( Numbers 29:12-38 ) The
eighth day was a day of holy convocation of peculiar solemnity. On the morning
of this day the Hebrews left their huts and dismantled them, and took up their
abode again in their houses. The special offerings of the day were a bullock a
ram, seven lambs and a goat for a sin offering. ( Numbers 29:36 , 29:38 ) When
the Feast of Tabernacles fell on a sabbatical year, portions of the law were read
each day in public, to men, women, children and strangers. ( Deuteronomy 31:10
- 13 ) We find Ezra reading the law during the festival "day by day, from the
first day to the last day." ( Nehemiah 8:18 )
There are two particulars in the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles which
appear to be referred to in the New Testament, but are not noticed in the Old.
These were the ceremony of pouring out some water of the pool of Siloam and the
display of some great lights in the court of the women. We are told that each
Israelite, in holiday attire, having made up his lulab , before he broke his fast
repaired to the temple with the lulab in one hand and the citron in the other,
at the time of the ordinary morning sacrifice. The parts of the victim were laid
upon the altar. One of the priests fetched some water in a golden ewer from the
pool of Siloam, which he brought into the court through the water-gate. As he
entered the trumpets sounded, and he ascended the slope of the altar. At the top
of this were fixed two silver basins with small openings at the bottom. Wine was
poured into that on the eastern side, and the water into that on the western side,
whence it was conducted by pipes into the Cedron. In the evening, both men and
women assembled in the court of the women, expressly to hold a rejoicing for the
drawing of the water of Siloam. At the same time there were set up in the court
two lofty stands, each supporting four great lamps. These were lighted on each
night of the festival. It appears to be generally admitted that the words of our
Saviour, ( John 7:37 , 7:38 ) --"If a man thirst, let him come unto me drink.
He that believeth on me as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow
rivers of living water" --were suggested by the pouring out of the water of Siloam.
But it is very doubtful what is meant by "the last day, that great day of the
feast." It would seem that either the last day of the feast itself, that is, the
seventh, or the last day of the religious observances of the series of annual
festivals, the eighth, must be intended. The eighth day may be meant and then
the reference of our Lord would be to an ordinary and well-known observance of
the feast, though it was not, at the very time, going on. We must resort to some
such explanation if we adopt the notion that our Lords words ( John 8:12 ) --"I
am the light of the world "-- refer to the great lamps of the festival.
Though all the Hebrew annual festivals were seasons of rejoicing, the Feast of
Tabernacles was, in this respect, distinguished above them all. The huts and the
lulabs must have made a gay end striking spectacle over the city by day, and the
lamps, the flambeaux, the music and the joyous gatherings in the court of the
temple must have given a still more festive character to the night.
The main purposes of the Feast of Tabernacles are plainly set forth in ( Exodus
23:16 ) and Leviticus 23:43 It was to be at once a thanksgiving for the harvest
and a commemoration of the time when the Israelites dwelt in tents during their
passage through the wilderness. In one of its meanings it stands in connection
with the Passover. as the Feast of Abib, and with Pentecost, as the feast of harvest;
in its other meaning, it is related to the Passover as the great yearly memorial
of the deliverance from the destroyer and from the tyranny of Egypt. But naturally
connected with this exultation in their regained freedom was the rejoicing in
the more perfect fulfillment of Gods promise in the settlement of his people in
the holy blessing. But the culminating point of was the establishment of the central
spot of the national worship in the temple at Jerusalem. Hence it was evidently
fitting that the Feast of Tabernacles should be kept with an unwonted degree of
observance at the dedication of Solomons temple, ( 1 Kings 8:2 , 8:65 ) Joseph.
Ant. viii. 4,5; again, after the rebuilding of the temple by Ezra, ( Nehemiah
8:13 - 18 ) and a third time by Judas Maccabaeus when he had driven out the Syrians
and restored the temple to the worship of Jehovah. 2 Macc. 10:5-8.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
See From FEASTS AND FASTS, I, A, 3.
fests (mo'edh, "an appointed day" or "an assembling," chagh, from chaghagh, "to
dance" or possibly "to make a pilgrimage"; tsom, "fast," ta'anith, "a day of affliction"):
The Feast of Tabernacles is at once the general harvest festival, chagh he-'aciph,
and the anniversary of the beginnings of the wanderings in the wilderness (Exodus
23:16 ; Leviticus 23:33 ; Deuteronomy 16:13 - 15). The Eighth Day of Assembly
immediately following the last day of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:36 ; Numbers 29:35
; John 7:37) and closing the long cycle of Tishri festivals seems to have been
merely a final day of rejoicing before the pilgrims returned to their homes.
Ella Davis Isaacs
bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, chagh he-'aciph, define, harvest festival (jewish), feast of ingathering, feast of tabernacles, wanderings of the wilderness memorial