THE SEVEN-DAY FEAST OF THE SEVENTH MONTH

THE FESTIVAL WITH TWO NAMES

The  seven-day festival in the seventh month is clearly  referred to by two separate names. It is called the Feast of Booths/Shelters and the Feast of Ingathering. A distinct and separate   prophetic  and symbolic meanings of this festival is revealed through each  of these  names:

"And  the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the  children  of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall  be the  feast of shelters for seven days to the Lord" (Lev.23:33-34 Para.).

"Three  seasons in the year  you shall keep a feast to  me.   You shall  keep the feast of unleavened bread . . ., the feast  of  the harvest of first-fruits of your labors which you have sown in  the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of  the year,  when  you have gathered in your labors out of  the  field" (Ex.23:14-16 Para.).

THE FESTIVAL'S OBSERVANCE

This seven-day festival of the seventh sacred month is no different from the other Festivals, in that many  theories,  opinions, doctrines,  and  misconceptions  have developed as to  its  exact meaning and purpose. As with the other festivals,  much of its original meaning  and purpose has been lost to humanity through  the  centuries, and some new meanings and methods of  observance, which make its true meaning even more obscure, have been instituted  by  its observers with the passage of  time.

In his letter of exhortation and warning, Jude said to  earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). And in  reference to false teachings, Paul warned Titus not  to  give heed  to Jewish fables and the commandments of men that  turn people from the truth. See Tit.1:9-14; Mk.7:5-8; 2.Tim.3:13-17.

In  this study of the seven-day festival of the seventh month,  we will  attempt  to  discover much of its  original  meaning  and  intent and gain insight into its symbolic and prophetic meaning.

Because  of  the many distinct meanings of  this  festival,  this study will be separated into four basic sections:

1. Words and Misconceptions

2. The Festival of Hag Sukkot

3. The Festival of Ingathering

4. Comments Concerning the Feast of Shelters/Ingathering

WORDS AND MISCONCEPTIONS

Many  times, in order to determine the true concepts and  meanings that are hidden within certain scriptures, the false assumptions about what these scriptures say must be eliminated first. Once these assumptions are eliminated, it becomes much easier to understand what  is truly being taught.

Words That Do Not Describe This Festival

Because  of the misconceptions concerning the  use  of Hebrew words, it is  important to understand the meaning  of some Hebrew words that have been incorrectly  translated or  associated with this seven-day festival.

This festival is often referred to as the Feast of Tabernacles, because there  are  a number of Hebrew words that have  been  translated into  the English word 'tabernacle,' and it is a common assumption that the English word 'tabernacle'  is a direct translation of Hebrew  words that refer  to or  describe the seven-day feast  of  the  seventh month. However, the incorrect translation of many different  Hebrew words has lead to much confusion about the true meaning of this festival.

The Words 'Shakan', 'Sheken', and 'Mishkan'

The three Hebrew words 'shakan', 'sheken', and 'mishkan' mean 'dwell', 'dwelling', and 'tabernacle'. These words most often refer to the place where God dwells. Some people interpret scriptures containing these words as associated with the festival of the  seventh month.  However, a careful word study of the context where  these words are used shows these assumptions to be without merit.

The Word 'Ohel'

The Hebrew word 'ohel', which means 'tent' or 'dwelling', is normally used  in  scripture to indicate a tent of skins or cloth  and many  times it is  used  to refer to the Tent of Meeting  where  God's presence resided. It is also often translated into the  English  words 'dwelling', 'home', 'tabernacle', or 'tent'. As with the words  'shakan', 'sheken',  and 'mishkan', the word 'ohel' is never used in reference to the feast of the seventh month.

The Words 'Gerut' and 'Magor'

The  Hebrew words 'gerut' and 'magor' are  sometimes  used to express a temporary lodging. Neither of these words, which denote a temporary state of habitation, is ever used in connection with or to refer to the   Feast of Booths/Shelters or the Feast of Ingathering.

Because  none of the above Hebrew words or their derivations  are used  to  define specific meanings of this  seven-day  feast  or  to  express  the method of its observance, it can be safely assumed that this festival has a meaning outside of the meaning of these words.

More Misconceptions

Another misconception concerns the wilderness area into which the Israelites entered upon their exodus from Egypt.

The  picture that normally comes to mind when one thinks of  the wilderness  of  Sinai is one of a bleak,  desolate,  and  barren desert.  However, this was not the wilderness   environment  that the Israelites  entered into upon their exodus from  Egypt.  Although  this wilderness was  rugged, inhospitable,  and  not the  most desirable place to inhabit, it did have more vegetation than a desert. If it had been totally barren, the Israelites  and  their flocks and herds would have died quickly and they could  not have built shelters during the festival from of the boughs of trees, which the scriptures record.

While  the  Israelites lived in Egypt, they  lived  in  permanent dwellings (Ex.12:21-28); they were not nomads  who lived  in tents. More than likely, tent-dwelling for the  Israelites did not become a way of life until after God had established them  as  a nation  and they had rebelled against him. After their rebellion, they were made to wander in the wilderness of Sinai for 40  years  of punishment.

The Israelites did not live in shelters made  of  tree branches  and leaves for 40 years; they lived in tents made  from cloth  or  animal skins. These tents became  their  permanent homes,  which they carried with them throughout  their  years  of punishment.

Among other things, the festival of the seventh month was a memorial of the time when  the Israelites first left Egypt  and  stayed  in shelters  made from tree branches, but perhaps more importantly, it was a reminder of  the time when the sheltering presence of God in  the cloud and fire stood over the Israelites as a protective cover when they were in the wilderness.

Because of the historical meanings of this festival, perhaps more appropriate names for this  festival, given the two predominate Hebrew words used to describe  it, would  be 'The Feast of Shelters and Ingathering  of the seventh month'.

The Festival Rediscovered

The  history of national Israel is one of  religious chaos.  They would  often fall into wickedness and forget God's laws and his annual festivals. Then, after long periods of national punishment,  God would cause them to  rediscover his festivals. In  the Book of Nehemiah one of these periods of rediscovery that concerns the feasts of the seventh month is recorded:

Nehemiah 8:14-18 KJV

"And  they found written in the law which the Lord had  commanded by  Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths  in the feast of the seventh month: And that they should publish  and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go  forth to  the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine  branches,  and myrtle  branches, and palm branches and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written" (vs.14-15).

"So the people went forth, and brought them, and made  themselves booths,  every  one  upon the roof of his  house,  and  in  their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim.  And all  the  congregation of them that were come again  out  of  the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths:. . .. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn  assembly. . ." (vs.16-18). See also 2.Kgs.22:1-20.

Secular  and religious history, including the Bible, record  very little about the observance of these two festivals of the  seventh month; therefore, in order to understand these two interconnected festivals, one must search the Bible as Paul instructed Timothy:

"Study  to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that  needs not   to  be  ashamed, rightly dividing  the  word  of   truth" (2.Tim.2:15 Para.). See also 2.Tim.3:15-16.

By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w65