Monday, September 20, 2021

YHVH'S Succot


When our ancestors exited Egypt, their very first stop (even before they crossed the Reed Sea) was at a place called Succoth, where it appears that they also picked up Joseph’s bones (ref. Ex. 13;19-20). No doubt on their first night away from their Egyptian “home” they stayed in make shift booths, and hence the name of this location – Succot-booths-tabernacles. Many other nights that followed were spent in such structures, as it says when giving the reason for the command to celebrate Succot: “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…” (Lev. 23:43). With this said, we need to ask, why is it that YHVH chose for us to commemorate this booth dwelling situation on the seventh month? Why has He chosen the seventh month for the the Day of the Blast, which is also declared to be a “memorial” (Yom Zich’ron Truah)? And likewise, why is the most solemn day of the year, Yom Hakkipurim (Day of Atonements) to take place on the seventh month, as well as the beginning of the seventh year shmita and of the 49th  year yovel (jubilee)? Obviously the seventh month is accorded a very unique place, although unlike the first and third months, no special historic events appear to have taken place on this month.


There is another such seventh, one that we are reminded of on a weekly basis that has no connection to a purely natural cycle (in this case). Unlike the individual days, the months and years, the unit of the week is YHVH’s special and ‘non natural’ choice for marking time, with the Shabbat being its climax – singled out for Elohim and used as a template for His other set apart days and for the great one that is yet to come. Similarly, the seventh month has been selected “arbitrarily” by YHVH for His unique and set apart “markers”, beginning with a “blast” that cannot be predetermined and culminating with a 22nd day called Shmini Atzeret – which is an eighth day that is not to be celebrated inside the succah, as the latter is to last for seven days only. This eighth day is awaiting its full and great fulfillment (as do the rest of the seventh month’s special days).


The gathering of all the fruit is another reason mentioned for the feast: “You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress” (Deuteronomy 16:13). We are also commanded to rejoice at this time: “Because YHVH your Elohim will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice” (Deut. 16:15). Yes, YHVH certainly marks the course of the natural processes which He has set in place, and calls His people to be cognizant of them and mindful of the natural blessings which He bestows. How wonderful that He communicates with us via those things which He created, things which we can relate to through our senses, while at the same time He also teaching us to see beyond them, and through them, into His eternal truths!


The seventh month celebration in the flimsy booths commemorating His sole protection and care for His people Israel does not stop with the latter’s progeny. As we know, in Zechariah 14:16 it says very plainly: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, YHVH of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles”. And for those who will not do so, there await very severe punishments. “In that day ‘HOLINESS TO  YHVH’ shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in YHVH’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar”, is just one illustration of the solemnity of THAT feast of Succot. Is this the same event described by Isaiah in 4:2-6?  ”In that day the Branch of YHVH shall be beautiful and glorious; and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent [NOTICE FRUIT – HARVEST OF THE INGATHERING] and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped.  And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy -- everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem.  When YHVH has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then YHVH will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night [CLOUD BY DAY, PILLAR OF FIRE BY NIGHT]. For over all the glory there will be a covering [CHUPA –WEDDING CANOPY]. And there will be a tabernacle [SUCCAH] for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain”.


There is much more that can (and maybe should) be said about this text, and other excerpts that could be connected to it, but let us end here with one more question: Is it to a wedding feast that the nations are invited (in Zech. 14:16) with serious ramifications should they decline? (cf. Matthew 22:3-13). 

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