The Feast Of Tabernacles
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.” (Leviticus 23:33-36)
Starting five days after the day of atonement, Israel was to celebrate the feast of tabernacles. The first day was to be treated as a Sabbath, doing no servile work, or work for other people. They were to meet together for worship instead. Every day during the feast they were to offer special offerings to the Lord. The eighth day of the feast was to again be a special day of worship and meeting together.
“These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day: Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:37-38)
Each of these feasts were to celebrated in addition to the daily offerings and observances of Sabbaths that might fall on the same day. Gifts and vows proceeded just like any other day. There was no need to “fix” any of them, as originally designed.
“Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 23:39-43)
The feast of Tabernacles was to be a week long national campout to commemorate the forty years of camping in the wilderness after they escaped from Egypt to remind them again of God’s blessing and the need for obeying him. They were to build brush shelters and stay in them during that week and spend the days just rejoicing that they now had a lond of their own. They were to celebrate this feast every year for ever. Deuteronomy 16:13-15 makes it clear everyone was to participate.
“Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates. Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.” (Deuteronomy 16:13-15)
“And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD.” Leviticus 23:44)
Deuteronomy 16:16-17 commanded, “Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee.”
God’s intention was to continually remind the people of how they had been blessed and what their responsibilities were. Time after time Israel stopped celebrating these feasts, and before long they even forgot they were supposed to. As a result the people turned away from the Lord. Time after time, we find the people surprised when they read the law under a good king and found out how they were to celebrate these feasts.
Elaborate rituals for celebrating Sukkot have been developed for traditional Jews, but many less traditional Jews don’t celebrate the holiday.
In addition to the holidays God commanded, many Jews celebrate other holidays. Perhaps the best known, Hanukah, or Chanukah was started to celebrate the rededication of the temple after the Maccabean revolt and the defeat of the Selucid Empire about 166-167 BC, resulting in religious freedom being granted by Antiochus V.
Purim celebrates the defeat of Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews in Esther, It’s institution is found in Esther 9, during the reign of Cambyses, also known as Ahaseurus, about 530 BC. There are many other, less well known holidays celebrating other events, but they were not prescribed by God.