What is Sukkot?
The festival of Sukkot, lso known as “The Feast of Tabernacles” or the “Festival of Shelters, is the final of the feasts called upon by God in the book of Leviticus to be celebrated by His people. It is a very exciting and meaningful celebration that actually lasts a full seven days.
When is Sukkot?
Itt’s celebration timing is dictated, like all of the feasts and observances, by the Hebrew Calendar. Sukkot takes place on the fifteenth day of Tishrei, the seventh month. In 2020, it will be celebrated from October 2-October 9.
What Does the Bible Say about Sukkot?
The Bible speaks of Sukkot in Leviticus 23:33-44:
33 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 34 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. 35 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. 36 For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.
37 ‘These are the feasts of the Lord which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day— 38 besides the Sabbaths of the Lord, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the Lord.
39 ‘Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. 40 And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.’ ”
44 So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the Lord.
Jesus and Sukkot
As recounted in John Chapter 7, Jesus celebrated the Festival of Tabernacles. The feast marked a pivotal moment in Jesus’ ministry and life, as he quietly attended in secret, to observe and listen to what others were saying about him.
Halfway through the festival, therefore three or four days, Jesus began to teach at the Temple and was accused of being possessed. It is an exciting chapter of Jesus’ ministry!
How is Sukkot Celebrated Today?
Today, Sukkot is still celebrated in Israel and by Jewish people around the world every year. Since Temple worship no longer exists, the sacrifices are no longer made, but many other practices are still observed.
First of all, the country shuts down on the first day of Sukkot and largely again on the final day.
The use of “tabernacles” or “booths” continues for the entire week. All meals are consumed in and time is spent in the tabernacles constructed outside of the homes. Festive meals are served and often sharing of meals and time with others is spent in each other’s booths. The holiday is one of the most festive, thanking God for his provision of not only dwellings, but agricultural bounty, and is actually in many ways the blueprint for the American Thanksgiving celebration. Many people try to do all living in the booths during this time, and some even sleep in them!
Another ritual is the “taking of the four kinds”. This includes etrog (citron), lulav (palm frond), hadas (myrtle) and aravah (willow). These items were added, except for the palm, later on, most likely while in Babylonian captivity. These items are shaken each day in order to show rejoicing.
Sukkot in 2020
Sukkot, like everything else in 2020, is somewhat different this year. You are not allowed to mix with other households or leave outside of a certain distance of your home, which will make booth dwelling difficult for many. If you are interested in learning more about current restrictions in Israel, visit our link here.