Thursday, October 13, 2011

Succot, Tabernacles, and The Birth Of Christ

The cluster of holy days in the Tishri, the Hebrew seventh month have great prophetic meanings. On the first day of the seventh month, the shofar, a ram's horn, is blown, and it signifies a holy convocation. It represents remembrance of the victories which allowed the Israelites to enter the holy land, and God's faithfulness to promises that he makes to us.

It's a day of rest, a sabbath, and also marks the harvest season. Every seven years, when the festivities ensue, it designates a year of resting the land from planting. Every 49  years, when the ram's horn is blown, it represents the "Jubilee" which is a time of restoration of land, an end to servitude for debtors, and represents many spiritual metaphors that help us to understand God's grace.

For the next  week, other celebrations were observed, in the spirit of the season. It really invoked the kind of festivities that we associate with Christmas.

On the 8th day of the 7th month, the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, commences and it is a day of fasting and repentance for sins and for supplications to have received grace to be pardoned for transgressions.

The next week was a week of rest. When you consider that this probably followed the harvesting, and it was a time of being renewed and forgiven for sins, it was a special time for them to celebrate and thank God for their blessings and His infinite grace.

On the 15th day of the 7th month (around today) is the very festive holy day of Succot, also called Tabernacles. As a Jew, all I knew about this holiday is that some people put out little decorated shacks. They deck the little buildings, or booths, with gourds of many colors, fruits and other natural decorations. Again, it's a precursor to the decorative enjoyment of Christmas with stringing up lights and mementos.

This is the last of the mandated holy days, and it was always strange that it is mentioned in Zechariah as the one sabbath that will be retained in the Millennium Kingdom, following the return of the Lord. It states that the nations will be required to send representatives to Jerusalem to present themselves at Succot, The Feast of Tabernacles (succa) and there is a curse towards the nation that refuses to acknowledge it will be vulnerable to the plagues that will be otherwise gone from the world.

So, Succot, Tabernacles, as the third tier of a holy month of awe, is a big deal to the Israelites.

In close examination of Succot, it turns out that it was both a place, and it has the literal meaning of "tabernacle" or "booth":   סכה cukkah

 Most Jews were taught that it represents the booths or makeshift shelters the Israelites had to dwell in while camping in the wilderness, with Moses, for 40 years. This holy day was ordained by Moses, as well, so, originally, this is the most general remembrance.

With a little investigation, though, the first mention of Succot, was when Jacob traveled to the territory of  Succoth (Succowth), where he built housing booths for his cattle (called succah) and for himself.

Succoth, the place, was also the first campsite that the Israelites, led by Moses, were encamped, and built
tents/booths/temporary housing.

I've written many times about how Christ's birth can be definitively identified to be in the period between Rosh Hashana and Succoth, The Feast of Tabernacles. This formula is  valid and follows John the Baptist's birth story. Zecharias, his father, was a priest, and his term of service in the Temple for two weeks can be calculated as being in the Spring. When he returned, he impregnated his wife Elizabeth, as prophesied by Gabriel. Six months later, Gabriel announced to Mary and Joseph that Jesus would be born, and in the Fall, he was born.

Since I'm murdering the formula, due to fatigue, please read the link to learn the connection:
 Christ's Birthday

It explains in detail why Christ was born at Tabernacles.

But, here's the latest insight I had on the topic. In studying the etiology of the Hebrew word, I discovered that the first use of the word cucca (succa) of tabernacle or booth, referred to the housing for livestock and horses.

Then it dawned on me that Christ was put in a MANGER, which is the exact structure that would be decorated and present when Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem.


 I always felt that the only natural time for them to attend a mandatory census count was for the holy days, when people went back to their tribal land. We know that Mary and Joseph travelled there with Jesus, at Passover, when he was a kid, because, he stayed behind to teach in the Temple, and they had to travel back to find him. Their entire clan had to have been travelling, otherwise, they would have noticed he wasn't there sooner, like in "Home Alone."

So, they had a routine of going back to Bethlehem and Judea during the holy days. Even though it doesn't state it, it's not hard to see Succot in the season of Christ's birth.

She gave birth, and they put the baby in one of the booths, or other words, the MANGER, or succa, and I bet it was decorated with the fruits and gourds that were festive for the season.

 Think of how the magi found them there, and how even in the town, people were celebrating his birth. He was one of their kin, but, they were also waiting for the Messiah. The Messiah had to come from David's kin, and enough people took notice that Mary and Joseph had to flee to Egypt to prevent the paranoid Herod from killing Jesus, parallel to Moses's birth.

So, Shalom y'all. It's Messianic Christmas, the Feast of Tabernacles. Decorate your backyard tree, and gazebo, if you will, with pumpkins and brightly colored pomegranates and if you're blessed to live in a place where the leaves are turning, celebrate the birth of the Lord as the leaves explode in color and die.

There's always that flip sided dichotomy. At harvest, after reaping, there's new life, not death, as the New Year begins with the forgiveness of sins, and the hope of the Messiah.

At the beginning of planting the next season's crops, when the blood of the lamb was shed to mark the doorway of the homes of the redeemed of God, Christ's blood was shed to be a propitiation for our sins. .

There is a divine balance and lesson for it. There's so many more layers beneath this cursory study. I hope to get more depth this week and come back to it.

Luk 2:1  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
Luk 2:2  ([And] this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
Luk 2:3  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
Luk 2:4  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
Luk 2:5  To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
Luk 2:6  And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
Luk 2:7  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luk 2:8  And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Luk 2:9  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
Luk 2:10  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Luk 2:11  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Luk 2:12  And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
Luk 2:13  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Luk 2:14  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luk 2:15  And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
Luk 2:16  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
Luk 2:17  And when they had seen [it], they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
Luk 2:18  And all they that heard [it] wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
Luk 2:19  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered [them] in her heart.
Luk 2:20  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Luk 2:21  And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Luk 2:22  And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present [him] to the Lord;
Luk 2:23  (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
Luk 2:24  And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
Luk 2:25  And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name [was] Simeon; and the same man [was] just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
Luk 2:26  And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
Luk 2:27  And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
Luk 2:28  Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Luk 2:29  Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
Luk 2:30  For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Luk 2:31  Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
Luk 2:32  A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Luk 2:33  And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
Luk 2:34  And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this [child] is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
Luk 2:35  (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Luk 2:36  And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
Luk 2:37  And she [was] a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served [God] with fastings and prayers night and day.
Luk 2:38  And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
Luk 2:39  And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
Luk 2:40  And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
Luk 2:41  Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
Luk 2:42  And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
Luk 2:43  And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not [of it].
Luk 2:44  But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among [their] kinsfolk and acquaintance.
Luk 2:45  And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
Luk 2:46  And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
Luk 2:47  And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
Luk 2:48  And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
Luk 2:49  And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?
Luk 2:50  And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
Luk 2:51  And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
Luk 2:52  And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

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