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work, and to be a standing memorial, in every age of the Jewish economy, of that peculiar residence which he had among them.
Such were the reasons for the Feast of Tabernacles, and the season of its observance was answerable to these ends ; for it was appointed to be held on the 15th day of the moon which appeared in the 7th month,' or Tizri; corresponding with the latter part of our September and the beginning of our October. It is obvious, therefore, that the Feast of Tabernacles was in a certain degree ambulatory: for as the moon, in that month, appeared earlier or later, so would its observance be in proportion. Calculations in that case must of course be arbitrary; but we may suppose, for the sake of illustration, as we did when treating of the passover, that the new moon of the first month appeared, in one of the years, on the 21st of March, or the vernal equinox. On such a supposition, the new moon of the 7th month would appear on the 13th of September, allowing twenty-nine days and a half between every change,) and the 15th day of the 7th month, or the feast of Tabernacles, would fall to be observed on the 28th of September. This calculation, however, is only given for one year; for, as formerly remarked, it would change annually with the change of the moon.
Having thus considered the time ordained for it, the next circumstance which naturally presents itself to our consideration, is the mode of its observance in the different periods of the Jewish history. Let us begin then with its observance under the existence of the Tabernacle. This is described by Moses in the following manner:-On the first day of the feast, which was accounted a sabbath, they were to abstain from all servile, or or
* Lev. xxiji. 34. Num. xxix. 12.
6 Lev, xxiii. 39. Num. xxix, 12.
dinary work, in order that they might have time to construct themselves booths, made of the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook :" within which, they were ordered to dwell during the seven days of the feast, that their generations might know that God made their fathers to dwell in booths when he brought them out of Egypt. And when this was done, they were .
, to attend the public worship on the several days, and offer in their order the appropriate, peculiar, and daily decreasing sacrifices. Thus, besides the daily morning and evening sacrifices, which were never to be dispensed with, they had to offer, on the first day, thirteen bullocks, two rams, fourteen lambs, and a kid of the goats, with their meat and drink-offerings : on the second day, twelve bullocks, two rams, fourteen lambs, and a kid of the goats, with their meat and drink-offerings:d on the third day, eleven bullocks, two rams, fourteen lambs, and a kid of the goats, with their meat and drink-offerings : on the fourth day, ten bullocks, two rams, fourteen lambs, and a kid of the goats, with their meat and drink-offerings : on the fifth day, nine bullocks, two rams, fourteen lambs, and a kid of the goats, with their meat and drink-offerings :8 on the sixth day, eight bullocks, two rams, fourteen lambs, and a kid of the goats, with their meat and drink-offerings : on the seventh day, seven bullocks, two rams, fourteen lambs, and a kid of the goats, with their meat and drink-offerings : but on the eighth day, which was accounted a sabbath, there were only one bullock, one ram, seven
a Lev. xxiii. 40.
b Lev. xxiii, 42, 43.
Num. xxix. 12–16. f Ib. xxix, 23–25. i Ib. xxix. 32-34.
lambs, and a kid of the goats, with their meat and drinkofferings.
Various reasons have been assigned by the Jews, for this daily decrease, but all of them are conjectural; some having imagined, that the whole number of bullocks was reduced to seventy, " in reference to the seventy nations” of the world, which they thus distinguished from the Jews, and, " which should be abating and decaying; while Israel, like the number of rams, lambs, and goats, remained fixed.” Others supposed
b that they were reduced to seventy, to suit the life of man, which was gradually shortened till it came to that sum. Others, that it pointed to the gradual decay of sacrifice; or was intended merely to have seven bullocks on the seventh day; or to reduce the number of animals slain on that day to twenty-four, which was the number of the courses: whilst others, again, have considered the abatement on each day, as suiting the people who abated daily, and withdrew to their own homes. But whatever might have been the reasons, it is worthy of observation, that if we add the morning and evening sacrifices for the eight days, which were never dispensed with, to the number of sacrifices prescribed for these days, we have precisely two hundred and fifteen, which was the exact number of years that the Israelites were in Egypt. As the Feast of Tabernacles, therefore, was intended to commemorate the residence of the Israelites in the wilderness, where they lived in booths, and saw his wonders in their daily preservation ; might not these sacrifices have been so ordered, as to bring to their remembrance also the number of the years, when their fathers dwelt in that land of bondage ?
a Num, xxix. 36-38. • Rabbi Solomon on Numb. xxix. 12, &c. and Abarbinel on the same place. • Numb. xxix, 16. 19. 22. 25. 28. 31. 34. 38.
Such was the manner in which they observed this annual feast during the times of the Tabernacle: let us next see how they observed it under the first Temple; although on this part we can say but little. We find indeed Solomon dedicating the Temple, immediately before the Feast of Tabernacles ; but we have nothing particular concerning the way in which that feast was observed. It is probable, however, that they partly dwelt in booths without their cities, and partly erected them on the flat tops of their houses. Yet there is reason to suppose that, afterwards, especially under the wicked kings, they had become very remiss. For at the first observance of that festival after the captivity, we find them reviving the primitive practice, and casting a reflection on the conduct of their forefathers. We shall transcribe the words of Nehemiah viii. 13, as the best commentary on these observations. 66 And on the second day (of the seventh month, verse 2,) were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law. 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 unto 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. 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, (which lay between the east or principal front of the Temple, and the gate in the city wall of that name,) and in the street of the gate of Ephraim, (which Lightfoot places near the south-west corner of the city.) And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths ; for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun, unto that day had not the children of Israel done so; and there was very great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God: and they kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth was a solemn assembly according unto the manner.”
* 2 Chron, v. 3; vii. 9, 10.
It appears unnecessary at this time to trace the gradual influence of the traditions of the fathers (which be-. gan after the captivity) on the feast of which we are now treating. It will be sufficient for our present purpose, if we hasten at once to the days of our Saviour, and shew their accumulated influence in the manner in which the Jews at that time kept the Feast of Tabernacles. Perhaps it will add likewise to the elucidation of the subject, if we keep each of the eight days distinct, and explain the duties of each in its order.
Let us begin then with the first. In the original appointment of the Feast of Tabernacles, the people were commanded to dwell in booths; but, a dispute having arisen between the Pharisees and Sadducees on that point, the Sadducees were for adhering to the words of Scripture; but the Pharisees explain the branches used, not as intended for booths, but for branches to carry in their hands during their solemnity. Common sense certainly was on the side of the Sadducees; but the Pharisees had by that time become the more popular sect, and therefore prevailed. Accordingly, by their traditions, the first thing the Jews did, on this first day of the feast, was to get some palm and myrtle branches