The Joy of Sukkot - Feast of Tabernacles

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Fall is in the air. The days are shorter, the mornings and evenings crisper, and all around the country, Israeli families are preparing to celebrate Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, according to the commandment in the Book of Leviticus.

"Then 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 Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord.'" (Leviticus 23:33-34)

CBN News Mideast Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell has more on the Feast of Tabernacles celebration. Click play to watch.

This year, the seven-day holiday begins on Friday evening, coinciding with the weekly Shabbat (Sabbath), making it even more special, if that were possible.

Springing up in every neighborhood - on balconies and sidewalks - are small temporary huts, with thatched roofs usually made of palm fronds, as described in the book of Leviticus.

"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.

"You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 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.'" (Leviticus 23: 42-43)

A special blessing refers to dwelling in the sukkah.

Blessed are you, Lord, our God, King of the universe
Who has sanctified us by Thy commandments
and commanded us  to dwell in the sukkah, amen

At at the Mahane Yehuda shuk (open air market), religious Jews can be seen carefully scrutinizing the etrog, a fragrant lemon-like citrus fruit, which along with the lulav, are used in the holiday prayers.

Blessed are you, Lord, our God, King of the universe
Who has sanctified us by Thy commandments
and commanded us to take up the lulav, amen

A bough from a myrtle tree (Hebrew: hadas) and a willow tree (Hebrew: aravah) are bound together with a lulav (closed date palm frond), which along with the etrog, make up the four species used in the Sukkot prayer.

The fall harvest festival not only reminds the Jewish people of God's bountiful provision, it also speaks of the fragility of life and looks forward to the day when the Lord Himself will tabernacle with His people.

"And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles."  (Zechariah 14:16)

The New Testament also speaks about the Feast of Tabernacles in chapter seven of the Gospel of John.

"Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand…On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" (John 7:2, 37-38)

Today, some 10,000 Messianic Jews make up the indigenous Israeli Body of Messiah.

"These feasts are a delight to celebrate especially because I now understand their full meaning and because I live here in the land of Israel, where I identify with my Jewish people," one Israeli believer told CBN News.

"As Messianic Jews, we worship the One whom this feast foretells - Yeshua, our tabernacle - who will one day, hopefully soon, bring all Israel into His sukkah," she said.

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CBN News
Tzippe Barrow

Tzippe Barrow

CBN News Internet Producer - Jerusalem

From her perch high atop the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, Tzippe Barrow helps provide a bird’s eye view of events unfolding in her country.

She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) several years ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.