Sukkot

סכות

The second last of YaHuWaH’s appointed times is Sukkot. In English it is called “the Feast of Tabernacles” or “the Feast of Booths”. This particular moed occurs on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, four days after Yom haKippurim/The Day of Atonement.  The moed pictures the day Messiah returns to dwell [tabernacle] among His people for a thousand years.  This “return of the King” is something for which believers have been yearning for almost two thousand years.

What does Scripture tell us about this festival and its related commandments?

As we begin our study of this special appointment with the Most High, we pray once more in the words of King David: oh, YaHuWaH, please “open our eyes that we might behold wonderful things from your Torah” and see our returning Messiah in this moed. Scripture was given to mankind to speak of Him and we should listen and hear its voice… His voice… especially during His appointed times.

What Scripture Says About Sukkot

Sukkot (סכות, Strong’s #5521) is a plural Hebrew word that means “booths” or “tabernacle”.  Sukkot is also sometimes transliterated into English as Sukkoth.  The singular version of the word is sukkah.

The very first use of this Hebrew word is found in the story of the patriarch, Yaakov.  Shortly after he encounters his brother, Esau, Scripture tells us this:

Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built for himself a house and made booths for his livestock; therefore the place is named Succoth.

“And Ya‛aqoḇ set out to Sukkoth, and built himself a house, and made booths for his livestock. That is why the name of the place is called Sukkoth.” Bereshith/Genesis 33:17

The “booths” [temporary shelters] described in this passage are in Hebrew called “sukkot“.

The last use of this word in Scripture is found in the writings of the prophet Zechariah.  In this passage, Zechariah is describing the world after Messiah’s return:

Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the Melech, YaHuWaH of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.  And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the Melech, YaHuWaH of hosts, there will be no rain on them.  If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which YaHuWaH smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.  This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.

“And it shall be that all who are left from all the nations which came up against Yerushalayim, shall go up from year to year to bow themselves to the Sovereign, YaHuWaH of hosts, and to celebrate the Festival of Sukkot. And it shall be, that if anyone of the clans of the earth does not come up to Yerushalayim to bow himself to the Sovereign, YaHuWaH of hosts, on them there is to be no rain. And if the clan of Mitsrayim does not come up and enter in, then there is no rain. On them is the plague with which YaHuWaH plagues the nations who do not come up to celebrate the Festival of Sukkot. This is the punishment of Mitsrayim and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to celebrate the Festival of Sukkot.” Zekaryah/Zechariah 14:16-19

If any nation does not go up to worship the Melech and celebrate the “Feast of Booths” [Sukkot] then that nation will not receive rain in the next year.

We see the perpetual nature of YaHuWaH’s moedim exemplified in this passage.

Particulars of the moed

Who:

The sons of Yisra’El (Leviticus 23:34)… specifically the “native-born in Yisra’El” (Leviticus 23:42).

“Speak to the children of Yisra’El, saying, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh new month is the Festival of Sukkot for seven days to YaHuWaH.” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:34

“Dwell in booths for seven days; all who are native born in Yisra’ĕl dwell in booths,” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:42

What:

Special commands

  • The first day is a set-apart gathering.

“On the first day is a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work.” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:35

  • For seven days you shall present an “offering by fire” [Heb: אשּׁה (isheh)] to YaHuWaH.

“For seven days you bring an offering made by fire to YaHuWaH. On the eighth day there shall be a set-apart gathering for you, and you shall bring an offering made by fire to YaHuWaH. It is a closing festival, you do no servile work.” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:36

  • The eighth day is a set-apart convocation, an assembly.

“For seven days you bring an offering made by fire to YaHuWaH. On the eighth day there shall be a set-apart gathering for you, and you shall bring an offering made by fire to YaHuWaH. It is a closing festival, you do no servile work.” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:36

  • On the eighth day you shall present an offering by fire to YaHuWaH.

“For seven days you bring an offering made by fire to YaHuWaH. On the eighth day there shall be a set-apart gathering for you, and you shall bring an offering made by fire to YaHuWaH. It is a closing festival, you do no servile work.” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:36

  • There is to be a rest [shabbaton] on the first day and a rest [shabbaton] on the eighth day.

“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you gather in the fruit of the land, celebrate the festival of YaHuWaH for seven days. On the first day is a rest, and on the eighth day a rest.” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:39

  • On the first day you shall take the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches, and boughs of the leafy trees and willows of the brooke and rejoice before YaHuWaH your Elohim for seven days.

“And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of good trees, branches of palm trees, twigs of leafy trees, and willows of the stream, and shall rejoice before YaHuWaH your Elohim for seven days.” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:40

  • You shall do “no laborious work” [Heb: כל-מלאכת עבדה, לא תעשו (kal melakhat avodah lo taasu) literally: “all servile work not shall you do”] on the first day or the eighth day.

“On the first day is a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work. For seven days you bring an offering made by fire to YaHuWaH. On the eighth day there shall be a set-apart gathering for you, and you shall bring an offering made by fire to YaHuWaH. It is a closing festival, you do no servile work.” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:36

  • You shall live in sukkot [booths] for seven days; all the native-born in Yisra’El shall live in booths.

“Dwell in booths for seven days; all who are native born in Yisra’El dwell in booths,” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:42

  • All the generations of Yisra’El should know that YaHuWaH had the sons of Yisra’El live in booths when He brought them out of the Land of Egypt.

“so that your generations know that I made the children of Yisra’El dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Mitsrayim. I am YaHuWaH your Elohim.” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:43

Offerings

Once again, the book of Numbers provides the list of offerings required for this moed.

“And on the fifteenth day of the seventh month you have a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work. And you shall celebrate a festival to YaHuWaH seven days, and you shall bring near an ascending offering, an offering made by fire, a sweet fragrance to YaHuWaH: thirteen young bulls, two rams, fourteen lambs a year old, perfect ones they are, and their grain offering: fine flour mixed with oil, three-tenths of an ĕphah for each of the thirteen bulls, two-tenths for each of the two rams, and one-tenth for each of the fourteen lambs, and one male goat as a sin offering, besides the continual ascending offering, its grain offering, and its drink offering.” Bemidbar/Numbers 29:12-16

The olah [burnt offering] for the first day of Sukkot:

  • Thirteen bulls (+ 3/10 ephah fine flour mixed with oil + 1/2 hin of wine for each bull)
  • Two rams (+ 2/10 ephah fine flour mixed with oil + 1/3 hin of wine for each each)
  • Fourteen male lambs one year old without defect (+ 1/10 fine flour mixed with oil + 1/4 hin of wine for each lamb)
  • One male goat for a sin offering

The continual olah (Numbers 28:3-8):

  • Two male lambs one year old without defect, one in the morning and one in the afternoon (+1/10 ephah fine flour mixed with 1/4 hin of oil + 1/4 hin of “strong drink” for each lamb)

The rest of the chapter is almost entirely dedicated to describing the offerings associated with the remaining days of the moed:

DayBullsRamsLambsMale Goat
Sin Offering
Verses
1132141Numbers 29:12-16
2122141Numbers 29:17-19
3112141Numbers 29:20-22
4102141Numbers 29:23-25
592141Numbers 29:26-28
682141Numbers 29:29-31
772141Numbers 29:32-34
81171Numbers 29:35-38

When:

In the seventh month on the fifteenth day of the month for seven days.

“Speak to the children of Yisra’El, saying, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Sukkot for seven days to YaHuWaH.” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:34

When you have gathered in the crops of the land.

“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you gather in the fruit of the land, celebrate the festival of YaHuWaH for seven days. On the first day is a rest, and on the eighth day a rest.”

Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:39

It is a perpetual statute throughout your generations.

“And you shall celebrate it as a festival to YaHuWaH for seven days in the year – a law forever in your generations. Celebrate it in the seventh month.” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:41

Where:

“In the place which YaHuWaH chooses”.  This phrase appears to be a shortened version of “in the place which YaHuWaH chooses to establish His Name” (Deuteronomy 12:21, 14:23-24, 16:2, etc.).

“For seven days you shall celebrate to YaHuWaH your Elohim in the place which YaHuWaH chooses, because YaHuWaH your Elohim does bless you in all your increase and in all the work of your hands, and you shall be only rejoicing!” Debarim/Deuteronomy 16:15

Nehemiah the prophet relates YaHuWaH’s words regarding this place:

“Please remember the word that You commanded Your servant Mosheh, saying, ‘If you trespass, I shall scatter you among the peoples, but if you shall turn back to Me, and guard My commands and do them, though you were cast out to the end of the heavens, I shall gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen, to make My Name dwell there.’” Nehemyah/Nehemiah 1:8-9

This place where YaHuWaH has chosen to place His Name is Yerushalayim, specifically, Mt. Zion.

Other Observations

Those who do not otherwise live in Sukkot should build their sukkah between the Yom haKippurim and the day before Sukkot so it is ready at twilight to enter into the moed.

The days between Yom haKippurim and Sukkot are the days when Solomon consecrated the altar in the first Temple (see 1 Kings 8).

Arba Minim – The Four Species

One of the unique commandments of the moed is found in Leviticus 23:40-

“And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of good trees, branches of palm trees, twigs of leafy trees, and willows of the stream, and shall rejoice before יהוה your Elohim for seven days.” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:40

H6529

פּרי

perı̂y

per-ee’

BDB Definition:

1) fruit

1a) fruit, produce (of the ground)

1b) fruit, offspring, children, progeny (of the womb)

1c) fruit (of actions) (figuratively)

From H6509; fruit (literally or figuratively): – bough, ([first-]) fruit ([-ful]), reward.

AHLB#: 1388-H (f) (פּרי P-RY) – Fruit: [freq. 119] |kjv: fruit, fruitful, bough, reward]

The Etrog tradition

The etrog was unique in the ancient period as a tree that required intense irrigation (hadar was even interpreted in the Talmud as “hydro,” the water tree), unlike native Israeli fruit trees such as the fig, date, grape, and pomegranate. This ritual coincides with the other water rituals of Succot, including the water libations, because both thanks and prayers are specifically offered for rain during this period. In fact, the history of the citrus fruit has its roots in the Far East. Botanical historians followed the etrog from its origins in the Far East westward. Jewish tradition holds that the etrog was transmitted from father to son from the time of the giving of the Torah.

There are “four species” of plant life contained in this passage:

  1. The foliage [literally fruit] of beautiful trees
  2. Palm branches
  3. Boughs of leafy trees
  4. Boughs of brook willows

We are commanded to take these and rejoice before YaHuWaH for seven days (Leviticus 23:40).

Native-Born

Leviticus 23 appears to narrow the commandment of Sukkot to the “native-born” in the Land of Yisra’El:

“‘Dwell in booths for seven days; all who are native born in Yisra’El dwell in booths, so that your generations know that I made the children of Yisra’El dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Mitsrayim. I am YaHuWaH your Elohim.’” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:42,43

In a very literal sense today, unless one is “native-born” in the Land this commandment is not binding upon them.

The Hebrew word translated as “native-born” is אזרח (ezrach  – Strong’s #249).  This word is used 16 times in the Tanakh to describe people-groups:

  • Exodus 12:19
  • Exodus 12:48
  • Exodus 12:49
  • Leviticus 16:29
  • Leviticus 17:15
  • Leviticus 18:26
  • Leviticus 19:34
  • Leviticus 23:42
  • Leviticus 24:16
  • Leviticus 24:22
  • Numbers 9:14
  • Numbers 15:13
  • Numbers 15:29
  • Numbers 15:30
  • Joshua 8:33
  • Ezekiel 47:22

Each of these instances appears to make a distinction between the “native-born” of the Land and the “foreigner” (ger) who dwells with Yisra’El.  This distinction is used to stress the application of a commandment regardless of one’s presence in one group or the other.  For example, no leaven shall be found in the houses of either the native-born [ezrach] or the alien [ger].  It is as if YaHuWaH were saying “I don’t care you who are… no leaven in your homes during this week.”

The prophet Ezekiel provides a glimpse of the world to come and the status of foreigners in the Land of Yisra’El:

“And you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Yisra’El. “And it shall be that you divide it by lot as an inheritance for yourselves, and for the strangers [ger] who sojourn in your midst and who bear children among you. And they shall be to you as native-born [ezrach] among the children of Yisra’El – with you they have an inheritance in the midst of the tribes of Yisra’El. “And it shall be that in whatever tribe the stranger sojourns, there you give him his inheritance,” declares the Master YaHuWaH.” Yehezqel/Ezekiel 47:21-23

This passage tells us that the gerim (foreigners/aliens) who reside with Yisra’El will be given an inheritance in the Land among tribes of Yisra’El.  There will be one flock with one Shepherd (John 10:16) living in unity.

Not Since the Days of Joshua

The prophet Nehemiah recounts one Sukkot when the Yisraelites were returning to the Land:

“And all the people went to eat and to drink, and to send portions and make a great rejoicing, because they understood the words that were made known to them. And on the second day the heads of the fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and Lewites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to study the words of the Torah. And they found written in the Torah, which YaHuWaH had commanded by Mosheh, that the children of Yisra’El should dwell in booths in the festival of the seventh new month, and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Yerushalayim, saying, “Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.” So the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, and in their courtyards and in the courtyards of the House of Elohim, and in the open space of the Water Gate and in the open space of the Gate of Ephrayim. And the entire assembly of those who had come back from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths, for since the days of Yeshua son of Nun until that day the children of Yisra’El had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing.” Nehemyah/Nehemiah 8:12-17

On its face this passage appears to state the that sons of Yisra’El had not lived in booths since the days of Joshua… almost 900 years earlier, including the days of King David and King Solomon!

Finding Messiah in Sukkot

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

“And I heard as the voice of a great crowd, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunders, saying, “Halleluyah, for YaHuWaH El Shaddai reigns! “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him praise, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife prepared herself.” And to her it was given to be dressed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the set-apart ones. And he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who have been called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true words of Elohim.” Hazon/Revelation 19:6-9

When Messiah returns there will be a great celebration when He is reunited with His bride.  The Feast of Booths provides a picture of that coming reunion.

YaHuWaH With Us

“Therefore YaHuWaH Himself gives you a sign: Look, the ‘almah’ conceives and gives birth to a son, and shall call His Name Immanu’ĕl [YaHuWaH with us].” Yeshayahu/Isaiah 7:14

When Messiah came in the first century He was indeed “YaHuWaH with us”.  As the gospel of John tells us:

“And the Word became flesh and pitched His tent among us, and we saw His esteem, esteem as of an only brought-forth of a father, complete in favour and truth.” Yohanan/John 1:14

Paul describes our earthly bodies as “tents” (2 Corinthians 5:1, 4) or tabernacles.  Some see YaHuWaH putting on flesh and dwelling among us as this: YaHuWaH put on a tabernacle and dwelt among us.  They translate John’s passage above as “And the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us…”

“For we know that if the tent of our earthly house is destroyed, we have a building from Elohim, a house not made with hands, everlasting in the heavens. For indeed, we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we wish to put it off, but to put on the other, so that what is to die might be swallowed up by life.” Qorintiyim Bet/2 Corinthians 5:1, 4

John’s choice of phrasing in John 1:14 along with other numerous other clues from Scripture (e.g. Luke’s “manger” in Luke 2:7 was likely a sukkah) have led many to believe the Yahusha was born on the first day of Sukkot (in a sukkah!) and circumcised at the end of Sukkot on the 8th day.

“And she gave birth to her first-born Son, and wrapped Him up, and laid Him down in a feeding trough, because there was no room for them in a lodging place.” Luqas/Luke 2:7

When Messiah came in the first century He was “YaHuWaH with us”.  Upon His triumphal return He will once and forever more be “YaHuWaH with us”.

Thousand Year Reign

“And I saw thrones – and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them – and the lives of those who had been beheaded because of the witness they bore to Yahusha and because of the Word of Elohim, and who did not worship the beast, nor his image, and did not receive his mark upon their foreheads or upon their hands. And they lived and reigned with Messiah for a thousand years” Hazon/Revelation 20:4

Many see the clear reference of the spring moedim to the first coming of Messiah.  Few, however, see the reference of the fall moedim to the second coming of Messiah.  He will return when nobody knows the hour or the day (Matthew 24:36) with a great trumpet (Matthew 24:31) likely on Yom Teruah.   He will judge the nations (Revelation 11:18) and then He will make atonement for those who are His on Yom haKippurim.  The time of YaHuWaH with us, of YaHuWaH tabernacling with us, reigning and ruling for a thousand years will likely begin on Sukkot.

“But concerning that day and the hour no one knows, not even the messengers of the heavens, but My Father only.” Mattithyahu/Matthew 24:36

“And He shall send His messengers with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” Mattithyahu/Matthew 24:31

“And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead to be judged, and to give the reward to Your servants the prophets and to the set-apart ones, and to those who fear Your Name, small and great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” Hazon/Revelation 11:18

The Body of Messiah

Paul tells us in Colossians 2 that nobody should act as our judge in regard to food or drink or “in respect to a festival” or a new moon or a Sabbath day.  These things are a shadow of what is to come and the substance (or the body) belongs to Messiah.  If Messiah’s body is casting a shadow that looks like the food laws, the moedim, new month festivals, and the Sabbath then they are all pointing to and are an outline of Him.

“Let no one therefore judge you in eating or in drinking, or in respect of a festival or a new month or Sabbaths – which are a shadow of what is to come – but the Body of the Messiah.” Qolasim/Colossians 2:16-17

As we celebrate this moed He is ever present in the words and images described in the passages of Scripture that describe the festival.  Consider again the offerings of Sukkot:

DayBullsRamsLambsMale Goat
Sin Offering
Verses
1132141Numbers 29:12-16
2122141Numbers 29:17-19
3112141Numbers 29:20-22
4102141Numbers 29:23-25
592141Numbers 29:26-28
682141Numbers 29:29-31
772141Numbers 29:32-34
81171Numbers 29:35-38

The symbology of the offerings for this moed is quite interesting:

  • There are thirteen bulls offered on the first day of Sukkot.   Seven is symbolic of fullness or perfection.  Six is symbolic of man.  This thirteen could mean the perfection of YaHuWaH (seven) unified with the imperfection of man (six) in the form of Messiah Yahusha.
  • The two rams could also be symbolic of His dual nature or perhaps of His first and second coming.
  • The fourteen lambs also picture His first and second coming as the perfect Lamb of YaHuWaH.
  • There is only a single male goat that is offered as a sin offering indicating that there is only one offering for sin: the singular work of Messiah (Romans 5:15).
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rYm Covenant

To the Torah and to the witness! If they do not speak according to this Word, it is because they have no daybreak [light]. Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 8:20

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