Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sukkot Ends

Today is the final day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Since, as I mentioned in a previous post, Sukkot is in part a harvest festival, it is appropriate that prayers for the spring rains be included as part of the festivities. In the first century, a rather interesting tradition had developed along these lines.

Every day, a priest would take a pitcher down to the pool of Siloam and fill it up, and the people would follow that priest up to the temple mount, chanting the Hallel Psalms (113-118) in a procession that ended in a circling of the temple altar.

On the final day of the feast, considered the greatest and most important, the procession would circle the altar six times and the water would be poured out at the base of the altar in a joyous thanksgiving offering. Additionally, this pouring out of water was a statement of faith that God would send the spring rains.

The rabbis in the Talmud applied deeper spiritual significance to the ritual, connecting it with the words of Isaiah 12:3, "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." (Messianic Jews like to point out at this juncture that the word translated "salvation" here is "yeshua," which is "Jesus" in Hebrew.)

The New Testament records what Jesus said and did during one such celebration of Sukkot:

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "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." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. On hearing his words, some of the people said, "Surely this man is the Prophet." Others said, "He is the Christ." John 7:37-41a

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