According to the Jewish calendar, we are now into the early days of the biblical holiday of Sukkot. Also called the Feast of Tabernacles, this fall holy festival begins on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei (September or October, depending on the year). It is a time to remember God’s provision to the ancient Israelites in the Sinai following the Exodus from Egypt.
During this week-long celebration, our Jewish friends live in a sukkah, a hut-like structure placed in back yards, balconies, or any space available as a free-standing unit. The sukkah is built in a manner that allows for seeing, in part, the stars in the sky. The roof must be made with an organic material while the sides of the sukkah are typically made with any material available. In Leviticus 23:40-43 the sukkah is referred to as booths in English translations.
Four specific species are used during Sukkot: an etrog (a citrus fruit similar to a lemon), a palm branch (in Hebrew, lulav), two willow branches (aravot) and three myrtle branches (hadassim). The six branches are bound together and referred to collectively as the lulav. The etrog is held separately. With these four species in hand, one recites a blessing as they wave the species in all directions.
It is likely that the unfolding of the story of John 8 regarding the woman caught in adultery takes place in the context of Sukkot. With Sukkot ending in John 7 with Jesus referring to himself as “Living Water” at the moment the High Priest pours the water brought from the Pool of Siloam on to the Temple altar (as part of the Water Libation celebration), Jesus meets this adulterous woman in John 8. Some suggest that she was someone who got carried away in the Tabernacle festivities and was caught in the act in a sukkah with a man sometime during the week of Sukkot. Jesus’ grace prevails.
For believers in Christ, ultimately Sukkot is a time to celebrate the fact that Jesus came to tabernacle among us (John 1:14), sent to earth with the purpose of providing us salvation.