The Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, ended last week. Sukkot is one of the three primary festivals of the Jewish calendar. It was a “pilgrimage” festival during the time when the Temple stood in Jerusalem, when people would literally ascend to Jerusalem for this of remembering God’s provisions during the time of the Exodus and Sinai wandering.
It is a time when Jews live in a booth or sukkah, a hut-like structure. These temporary shacks are placed in back yards, on balconies, or on whatever space possible. Sukkot (known as the Feast of Tabernacles) was one of the three major Jewish festivals for which people would “go up to Jerusalem” during the days of the Temple
In Biblical times as today, it was a harvest holiday for summer crops and grapes. During Sukkot, four “species” are chosen as symbolic gift presented to God: an etrog (citron), a lulav (palm frond), three sprigs of hadas (myrtle) and two branches of arava (red willow). Carefully chosen and “certified” by the rabbis, these “species” are waved in six directions (east, west, north, south, up, and down), accompanied with the Hallel prayer.
It was also a time for praying for the winter rains and seek God’s blessing. In the days of Jesus, the Water Libation ceremony was carried out each year. It was a time when the High Priest, on the “last and greatest day of the fesitval,” see John 7:37), accompanied with great fanfare, would take an empty pitcher and walk south from the Temple Mount to the Pool of Siloam. Here, he would scope up a pitcher-full of water, take it back to the Temple, and pour it out on the altar. This was precisely the moment when Jesus said, “If anyone of you are thirsty, let him come to me (John 7:38).” It must have been an unbelievable encounter!
I found it quite amazing that this year in Jerusalem this historic Water Libation ritual was recently reenacted. HERE is the link to see it:
While Sukkot is over, let us take time to thank Jesus for quenching our spiritual thirst.