Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Festival of Sukkoth, Tishri 15-23

Sukkoth is a Biblical pilgrimage festival celebrating the harvest and commemorates the period after the exodus from Egypt during which the Jews wandered in the wilderness. It is celebrated for nine days by Orthodox and Conservative Jews outside of Israel, and for eight days by Reform Jews and by Jews in Israel. In Judaism it is one of the three major holidays known as the Shalosh Regalim, which mark the three times during the year that the Jewish populace traveled to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Sukkoth is the final and most important holiday of the year. The importance of this festival is indicated by the statement, “This is to be a lasting ordinance.” The divine pronouncement, “I am the Lord your God,” concludes this section on the holidays of the seventh month. Sukkoth begins five days after Yom Kippur on the fifteenth of Tishri (September or October). It is a drastic change from one of the most solemn holidays in the Jewish year to one of the most joyous. The word Sukkoth means “booths,” and refers to the temporary dwellings that Jews are commanded to live in during this holiday, just as the Jews did in the wilderness.

This holiday has a dual significance: historical and agricultural (just as Passover and Pentecost) and commemorates not only the Israelite's forty-year sojourn in the wilderness but also the autumn harvest, both of which emphasize God's continuing care for the people (either through the gift of manna or the bounty of the earth). Thus, the festival is variously referred to as "Ingathering" (i.e., "harvesting," Exodus 23:16, 34:22) and "Booths." Although the festival is sometimes called "Tabernacles" because the same Hebrew word also describes the "Tent of Meeting," or Tabernacle, at which they worshiped before the Temple in Jerusalem was built, the festival has no links to the Tabernacle itself). The festival marks eight days of special celebration (Leviticus 23:39-43), rejoicing, feasting, and (in ancient times) elaborate sacrifices (Numbers 29:12-38).

Sukkoth is also an important festival and theme for Luke. I plan to develop this idea further.

Copyrighted 2006


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