The feast of tabernacles was the last annual Jewish feast (Leviticus 23). It was also called the feast of ingathering because the people were to make booths for themselves in which to dwell during the feast (Lev. 23:33–36; Deut. 16:13–15; 31:10; John 7:2). A holy convocation marked its opening and close. And this eight-day festival started on the 15th of Tishri, which came late in October or in early November.
This special feast was observed at the end of the agricultural and civil year at the close of the harvest, when the grapes of the vineyard had been gathered and processed and the olives had been harvested. The wheat harvest had been gathered about four months earlier.
And the feast followed the observance of the great Day of Atonement, when the people received the confirmation that their sins were forgiven. Thus, all were at peace with God. So, now they can acknowledge His mercy and praise Him for His graciousness. It was a happy time (Isa. 16:10) a season of gladness and thanksgiving.
The feast of tabernacles commemorated the safe passage of the Israelites from Egypt to Palestine. And it not only pointed back to the wilderness experiences, but, like the feast of harvest, it looked forward to the final ingathering of the harvest of the saints at the second coming of Christ (Matt. 24:31; Mark 13:27). During the captivity, this feast was not kept, but in Nehemiah’s time it was again observed with gladness (Neh. 8:13–18).
While “all thy males” were obliged to attend, other members of the family were free to attend if they wanted (1 Sam. 1:1–23; Luke 2:41–45). The fact that Palestine is a small country, less than 145 mi. long by 75 mi. wide, coming to this feast was not a burden.
Such Joyous celebrations attracted people, for they were an important means of exchanging information and an opportunity for relatives and families to connect with each other. But most importantly, this feast had a unifying effect on the nation to unite the people together in the knowledge and service of God.
In His service,
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