“These are the designated times of Adonai that you are to proclaim as holy convocations and bring an offering made by fire to Adonai — a burnt offering, a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, each on its own day.”-Leviticus 23:37
Let’s get our bearings and see where we’re at in our study of the 7 Biblical Feasts.
Altogether there are 3 spring feasts, 1 summer feast, and 3 fall feasts as follows:
3 Spring Feasts
1 Summer Feast
3 Fall Feasts
YOM TERUAH (Rosh Hasanah)
YOM KIPPUR (10 Days after Yom Teruah)
SUKKOT (Feast of Tabernacles)
We are currently focused on the last feast, SUKKOT, which starts on the 15th day of the 7th month of TISHRI and is a feast that is to last 7 days.
After the 7 days, on the 8th day we are told there is to be a “HOLY CONVOCATION” or a worship gathering.
Now as part of what occurs on the 8th day, there is a specific libation ritual (drink offering) introduced in verse 37 that I want to focus on today because of its connection with Yeshua.
In Hebrew, this Drink Offering is called NECEK.
It was poured out by a priest at the Temple during a special ceremony.
Remember that all the Biblical feasts were agricultural-based and SUKKOT took place at the FINAL HARVEST before the new crops were planted.
So this drink offering was a prayer request to YHVH for rain.
Israel’s rainy season is usually from late October to March and if rain was scarce during that season, the result would be a very poor spring harvest.
Given that the Israelites didn’t practice irrigation, they were very much dependent on God for rain.
Since the Torah tells us very little about exactly how the water libation ritual was done, we have to go to extra-biblical literature to find out how this ritual was performed.
Here’s what we find.
First, the High Priest would take a special golden pitcher and head down to the Pool of Siloam to fill it up with about a quart of water.
Second, he would go to a well-known gate located in the high walls that encircled the Holy City.
This entrance is actually called “Watergate” because of its connection to this water libation ceremony.
The High Priest would wait at this “watergate” entrance until the Levites blew their trumpets 3 times.
Third, after the trumpet blasts, the High Priest would go up to the Great Altar and in front of the large crowd pour out the water while exclaiming the following:
“Then you will joyfully draw water
from the springs of salvation.”
While the High Priest was pouring out the water libation, another priest would pour out wine from a pitcher.
Fourth, after both of these drink offerings were performed, the Levites would begin playing music and the crowd would sing the following:
“Save now, I pray, O Lord;
O Lord, I pray,
send now prosperity.”
This song was called HOSANNA and while it was being sung the priests would march around waving palm branches.
This description should I hope bring to memory an important event we find in the New Testament.
I want to remind you that pretty much every instance in the Bible of Yeshua going to Jerusalem was because he was making a pilgrimage for one of the feasts.
Remember, Yeshua lived in Galilee a long distance from Jerusalem.
So for him to make such a long journey, there had to be a good reason for him to be there.
Also keep in mind that we know from many of Yeshua’s statements, he wasn’t exactly a big fan of the Priesthood or the tradition-based Judaism that permeated every aspect of a Jew’s life.
Let’s take a look at a famous incident in the New Testament specifically centered around the Feast of Tabernacles.
“After this, Yeshua went around in Galilee.
He did not want to go about in Judea
because the Jewish leaders there were
looking for a way to kill him.
But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles
was near, Yeshua’s’ brothers said to him,
“Leave Galilee and go to Judea,
so that your disciples there
may see the works you do.
No one who wants to become
a public figure acts in secret.
Since you are doing these things,
show yourself to the world.”
For even his own brothers
did not believe in him.”
Verse 2 specifically says it was the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.
So we know for a fact that it was early fall around 30 A.D.
We’re told he was reluctant to go to Jerusalem because “the Jews were seeking to kill him“.
This is actually a misleading statement.
What it should say is “the Judeans were seeking to kill him”.
Here’s the thing.
It was only certain Jews who were against Yeshua, those who lived in the province of Judea where Jerusalem was located.
In those days, instead of the term “Jew” being applied to all Jews, a Jew from Galilee was called a “Galilean“, a Jew from Samaria was called a “Samarian“, and Jews from Judea were called “Judeans“.
And in general, there was animosity between these different groups.
Galileans generally didn’t like Judeans and vice versa and nobody seemed to like the Samarians because they had built their own temple outside of Jerusalem.
So we’re told that Yeshua didn’t show up to the Feast of Tabernacles until about midway through and then on the last day he did something utterly shocking.
Understand that the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles was considered to be the grand finale.
It had even had a special name: HOSHANNA RABBAH.
On this last day, all the rituals are longer and performed in a much more flamboyant manner than the other days.
Even the water libation ritual I mentioned is performed in an exaggerated manner.
On all the other days, the High Priest came out through the Watergate carrying his golden pitcher full of water on the cue of 3 trumpet blasts.
However, on the last day, the Levites blew 3 sets of 7 trumpet blasts!
This was always a very exciting moment because it signaled that the feast was about to come to a close.
So after the 3rd and final set of 7 trumpet blasts, the High Priest would pass through the watergate and steadily make his way up to the Altar with the whole crowd watching him with great anticipation.
When he reached the Altar, the High Priest would wait for the crowd to quiet down and then begin pouring the water out.
This would be the last time the water would be poured out until next year.
Well, while the water was being poured out, at that very moment, a moment so quiet and tense you could hear a pin drop, Yeshua suddenly shouted out the following:
“If any man is thirsty,
let him come to Me and drink!”
Imagine the stunned and shocked crowds after hearing this!
They must have been thinking, who in the heck does this Galilean think he is?!
Imagine the awkward silence that followed after Yeshua’s statement!
And imagine how offended and furious the Pharisees and priests must have been!!!
Yeshua had used the biggest event of the biggest Feast to proclaim himself the very son of God, the SOURCE of living water!
His fate was sealed right there and then on the last day of SUKKOT.