Jewish Holidays and Festivals Index

Harvest Festival (Succoth or Sukkot)
aka Feast of Tabernacles.

Succoth begins four days after the Day of Atonement. The Festival of Sukkot lasts 7 days.

The word "Sukkot" means "booths" and refers to the temporary dwellings that Jews are commanded to live in during this holiday.

When the children of Israel fled from the Egyptians, they lived in huts called "tabernacles", wandering for 40 years in the desert living in temporary shelters. The name of the holiday is frequently translated "The Feast of Tabernacles".

As a comment: A friend who spent time in the Sini desert told about how far apart the water was (40 miles, and they did NOT have jeeps!) and the temperature got to 130 degrees F. The scriptures said that during that 40 years, there was murmuring.... We haven't walked in those shoes.

During Sukkot, two important temple-related ceremonies took place.

1) The Hebrew people carried torches around the temple, illuminating bright candelabrum along the walls of the temple to demonstrate that the Messiah would be a light to the Gentiles.

2) The priest would draw water from the pool of Siloam and carry it to the temple where it was poured into a silver basin beside the altar. The priest would call upon the Lord to provide heavenly water in the form of rain for their supply. During this ceremony the people looked forward to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Some records reference the day spoken of by the prophet, Joel.

Sukkot with its lights is also the time to remember Solomon's dedication of the Temple, the Lord's house. The Temple became the symbol that set the people apart from others. They and their Temple were to be an "ensign" to the nations. That ensign was a "light" to the world in its day and would be so again in latter-days.

The process goes from one of the most solemn holidays in our year to one of the most joyous. Agriculturally, Sukkot is Israel's "thanksgiving," a joyous harvest festival to celebrate the ingathering of grain and wine. As an historical feast, the festival is a reminder that Israel was required to live in homemade tabernacles, not in their homes after the Exodus.

Like Passover and Shavuot, Sukkot has a dual significance: historical and agricultural. The holiday commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert living in temporary shelters. Sukkot is also a harvest festival, the Festival of Ingathering. Along with Passover, it is one of the holy (and happy) times that the Children of Israel were given to remind them of being delivered from bondage.

See Lev 23:39-43: 7th full moon of year, symbol of wilderness in Egypt at Exodus and Coming of Prince of Peace at sanctuary in wilderness

Stuffed cabbage is usually a special food eaten during this festival.

In the New Testament, Jesus attended the Feast of Tabernacles and spoke these amazing words on the last and greatest day of the Feast: "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:37-38 NIV)

The next morning, while the torches were still burning Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12 NIV)

From a spiritual perspective we remember God's sheltering presence and provision for us, and our deliverance from bondage, and the kingdom of the Messiah. Remember that in light of his work as the High Priest of the New Covenant we now have access to the Temple.

Teaching the law of God was an important part of this feast during the days of the children of Israel:. We can do that!

The Feast of Tabernacles is to be kept every year (Zechariah 14:16; Deuteronomy 16:16). Where? While some claim that the Feast of Tabernacles from the past through current times must only be kept in Jerusalem, the children of Israel were not even in Jerusalem for centuries after the commands for its observance in Leviticus 23. The Feast of Tabernacles can be kept in cities other than Jerusalem (Nehemiah 8:15; cf. Deuteronomy 14:23-24).