Attendance at the Festival of Tabernacles was mandatory for able bodied males living in Israel, not in exile. People lived in booths with thin walls and roofs for seven days. The 7-8 day harvest festival is in memory of the story about Israel living in tents and booths in the desert (Leviticus 23). Charles Doughty, a 19th century British writer, journeyed through the Sinai, Syrian and Arabian deserts. He lived with a tribe of Bedouin in the Arabian desert. This tribe kept livestock. They owned a date grove. Once a year they returned to their grove and lived in tents and booths to harvest the dates. The time of the desert date harvest coincides with the Hebrew Festival of Tabernacles - Sukkot. 

World English Bible, Public Domain:

John 7:10 But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly, but as it were in secret. 11 The Jews therefore sought him at the feast, and said, “Where is he?” 12 There was much murmuring among the multitudes concerning him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others said, “Not so, but he leads the multitude astray.” 13 Yet no one spoke openly of him for fear of the Jews. 14 But when it was now the middle of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple and taught. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How does this man know letters, having never been educated?” 16 Jesus therefore answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone desires to do his will, he will know about the teaching, whether it is from God, or if I am speaking from myself. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory, but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. 19 Didn’t Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The multitude answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel because of it. 22 Moses has given you circumcision (not that it is of Moses, but of the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a boy. 23 If a boy receives circumcision on the Sabbath, that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me, because I made a man completely healthy on the Sabbath? 24 Don’t judge according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

In this passage Jesus indicates Moses did not give them the law of circumcision, but some people before the books of Moses were written handed this ritual down. Many years later archaeologists learned that circumcision was practiced by the ancient Egyptians before Israel was a people. Putting too much trust in the Bible may result in bad judgment. One is supposed to try to find a righteous way through Bible study that may invariably lead to learning more than the Bible alone. The verses differ in quality according to the skill of the writers of the book. 

During the Feast of the Tabernacles Jesus healed a blind man:

John 9 (WEB): 9 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither did this man sin, nor his parents; but, that the works of God might be revealed in him. 4 I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day. The night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground, made mud with the saliva, anointed the blind man’s eyes with the mud, 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means “Sent”). So he went away, washed, and came back seeing. 8 The neighbors therefore, and those who saw that he was blind before, said, “Isn’t this he who sat and begged?” 9 Others were saying, “It is he.” Still others were saying, “He looks like him.” He said, “I am he.” 10 They therefore were asking him, “How were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “A man called Jesus made mud, anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash.’ So I went away and washed, and I received sight.”

The blind man did not argue with Jesus, he went and washed his face and was healed. 

Siloam East -- March 2016

Roman era Siloam was rediscovered a few years ago. It is the lowest point of the Roman walled city. The pool was supplied by a water tunnel dug by King Hezekiah (c. 715-686 BCE) before the Babylonian exile. During the Festival of Booths, water was drawn from the Pool of Siloam in a gold pitcher and carried to the temple altar where it was poured out as a libation offering into a silver bowl at the side of the altar. At the same time, a pitcher of wine was poured out as a libation offering into a silver bowl on the other side of the altar. Every day there were bulls offered to YHWH. There was singing and dancing. To this days Jews all around the world lived in booths for during this festival. Those who lived in the city pitched tents in their condos. 

Siloam West -- March 2016


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Written by David Q. Hall






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