246 – Numbers 29 – Feast of Tabernacles

As the above chart demonstrates Yahweh commanded the Israelites to observe eight different “feasts”.

Last time I noted the following.

According to the New King James pericopes (section headings), Numbers 29 is about three main things:

  1. Offerings at the Feast of Trumpets (verses 1-6)
  2. Offerings on the Day of Atonement (verses 7-11)
  3. Offerings at the Feast of Tabernacles (verses 12-40)

Noticing the chart, the three feasts in Numbers 29 take place in the seventh Hebrew month of Tishri, sometime in September-October on our calendar.

Today I’d like to discuss the third and final feast mentioned in Numbers 29.

Numbers 29:12 (LEB)

      12       “ ‘Then on the fifteenth day of the seventh month you will have a holy convocation; ⌊you will not do any regular work⌋, and you will hold a religious feast for Yahweh for seven days

I’ve bolded the words that are not necessarily the most important words in the verse, otherwise the words Yahweh and holy would certainly need to be bolded. But rather I’ve bolded the words that are foundational to our understanding of the whole section on the Feast of Tabernacles.

The fifteenth day, the seventh month (September/October) is significant at least because this time of year would be at the end of their harvest. You’ll notice the Feast is seven days long and begins with a Sabbath day, which is the reason it is on the fifteenth day. If we read almost to the end of the section, verse 35 informs us the eighth day, or the first day after the seventh and final feast day, is another Sabbath. The feast in the “seventh” month is bookended by Sabbaths. (Exodus 23:16)

Next, we notice Yahweh commands them to “…have a holy convocation”. You may remember we discovered convocation is מִקְרָא summons; assembly; reading, recitation.

Now we come to a word with which we are very comfortable. It would never enter our minds that we may need to define the word feast. Consulting the first definition from the internet we read:

“Feast – A large, elaborately prepared meal, usually for many persons and often accompanied by entertainment; a banquet.” And we respond, “yep, that’s exactly what it means!

Stop right there. What could it hurt to spend a few minutes confirming our understanding of this seemingly uncomplicated word? Let’s start by getting the Hebrew glosses (possible range of meaning) for the word.

[חָגַג S2287 TWOT602 GK2510] vb. make pilgrimage, keep a pilgrim-feast (Arabic حَجَّ (ḥajja) betake oneself to or towards an object of reverence; make a pilgrimage to Mecca; Sab. חגג make pilgrimage

Brown, Francis, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon 1977: 290. Print.

Is it merely a coincidence that the Hebrew word for “feast” has its origins in the concept of pilgrimage? Was not the Exodus and the whole forty-year journey through the wilderness, one prolonged pilgrimage?

And finally, for our bolded words above, seven days seems significant in that this feast, like the sabbath, is an observance of something completed.

I’d like to make another observation, not just about this particular feast, but all of the Old Testament feasts, to say nothing of the New Testament feast (communion). Even though this observance is referenced as the Feast of Tabernacles, you will notice nothing is said of the people eating. The focus is on the sacrifices made to Yahew. Each of the days has its own list of what is to be offered to Yahweh. The feast isn’t about what the people consume because the focus is not on the people. But rather the text is specific about what Yahweh consumes! 

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting that God needs to eat and He certainly did not eat the sacrifices. The idea of God consuming here has more to do with Yahweh’s judgment of sin. The implied question in every feast observance is what does it take to satisfy God’s wrath against the sin and the sinner. Remember, the feasts and their sacrifices are not ultimately about Israel – they are about Jesus, their and our Messiah!

Maybe Hebrews 12:28-29 gives us the perspective by which we are to understand the Hebrew feasts and Jesus’ relationship to them.

Hebrews 12:28-29 (NKJV)

28       Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 

           29       For our God is a consuming fire.

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