10 Fascinating Facts about Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) September 20-27, 2021

  1. The word Sukkot is plural for sukkah, referring to a booth or hut. Sukkah stems from the Hebrew root sakak, meaning to cover over or protect. During the Feast of Sukkot, we live in booths (sukkot) for seven days to remember God’s protective covering and provision during Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness and to celebrate His goodness. (Lev. 23:42-43)
  1. Sukkot was observed only twice in the Tenach (Hebrew Scriptures) 1 Kings 8 indicates Solomon’s Temple was probably dedicated during a Sukkot celebration. A second celebration took place during the revival described in Nehemiah 8:13-18. The Nehemiah passage refers to a possible earlier celebration in “the days of Joshua,” but could alternatively refer to the events of 1 Kings 8.
  1. Sukkot is the only mo’ed (feast) during which God commands us to rejoice. (Lev. 23:40; Deut. 16:14) Recall that a mo’ed is a set time to meet with Him. This means our King wants to rejoice with us at Sukkot — even during a time of intense global shaking. (Purim is considered the most joyful biblical holiday of the year, but it is not a mo’ed.)
  1. To celebrate Sukkot, Leviticus 23:40 says to “take choice fruits from trees, palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the Lord for seven days.” Different Jewish traditions interpret the purpose and function of these natural elements differently. But by any interpretation, God wants us to see the fruit of the land as a visual reminder of all He has provided in covenant love. Even in uncertain times, we can rejoice that He is with us as the God who Provides. (Gen. 22:14)
  1. Yeshua was very possibly born during Sukkot, based on a combination of Scriptures and simple arithmetic. (Joy to the world!) John 1:14 tells us the Word was made flesh and tabernacled among us, perhaps hinting that Messiah was born during this feast. The verse also contains a subtle, prophetic reference to the coming Millennial kingdom when He will again tabernacle physically with us, reigning from Zion.
  1. According to traditional Jewish interpretation, Sukkot is the only feast in which Israel served an intercessory role for the nations. The rabbis reasoned that since 70 bulls were sacrificed during the feast, and the number 70 represented the nations in Scripture, the sacrifices were being made on behalf of the Gentiles. (Num. 29:12-34) Perhaps this is related to the prophetic warning that nations failing to observe Sukkot in the Messianic Age will not receive divine sakah, specifically, protection from pestilence or plague and the provision of rain. (Zech. 14:16-19)
  1. The seventh and greatest day of Sukkot is known as Hoshana Raba (“Great Salvation”). According to rabbinic tradition not based clearly on Scripture, certain judgments decreed in heaven on Yom Teruah and sealed on Yom Kippur, are dispatched for delivery on Hoshana Raba.
  1. On Hoshana Raba a climactic water libation ceremony took place during Temple times. In a type of prophetic intercessory act, Israel’s priests would draw water from the Pool of Siloam. Then they carefully poured it out, praying for rain for the next year’s harvest. This is why it was on Hoshana Raba that Yeshua said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38)
  1. The day after Hoshana Raba is known as Shmini Atzerot (Solemn Assembly of Eighth). Numbers 29:35 instructs, “On the eighth day hold an assembly and do no regular work.” Additional sacrifices were to be made on Shmini Atzeret, but mostly it was a day of lingering sweetly in God’s presence. In Israel, Simchat Torah is celebrated on Shmini Atzeret. Outside of Israel, Simchat Torah occurs the following day. A postbiblical holiday, Simchat Torah celebrates the completion of the traditional, annual cycle of reading through the Torah and starting the cycle all over again.
  1. Sukkot is called the Feast of Final Ingathering (Chag haAsif) in Exodus 23:16 and 34:22. An aspect of the prophetic fulfillment of Sukkot involves a great and final ingathering, a spiritual harvest of souls, in connection with Yeshua’s return. Then He will tabernacle among us in unimaginable glory in the Messianic Age – and forever. “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and be their God.” (Rev. 21:3, KJV) Rejoice!