Shemini Atzeret

Visualize yourself planning and organizing a seven day reunion for good old times and you nearly invite everyone. But this is no "regular" reunion: It is one solid week of food, music, dance and fun. Sooner or later, things are going to start winding down and people will begin to leave. Because you are the host, you quietly go over to a few of your best friends and whisper: "Stick around after everyone else leaves - that's when I'm breaking out the good stuff."

At the end of Sukkoth, God added a special day called Shemini Atzeret, literally the "Eighth Day of Assembly". On that great day, only one bull was offered -- reflecting the Jewish people. It is a day of great closeness with our Creator, as He asks His Jewish children to remain with him for extra personal time together. (Talmud - Sukkot 55b).

Tishrei 22, Shemini Atzeret, and Tishrei 23, Simchat Torah, in ancient times were considered one long day and celebration . Simchat Torah is a celebration of rejoicing in the Torah. (This is explained in a different article called “Simchat Torah”).As it is written in John 7:37, "In the last day, that great day of the feast [of Sukkot]...." This day would be known as Hoshana Rabbah, or Tishrei 21. In John 8:1-2, it is written, "Yeshua went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down, and taught them." This is the next day after Hoshana Rabbah, the day attached to Sukkot called Shemini Atzeret. In ancient times that day was also called Simchat Torah, the “rejoicing in the Torah”.

What does that show us? In John 8:5, it reads, "Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?"  Yeshua, the author of the Torah, is questioned about the Torah on the day referred to as "the rejoicing in the Torah"

In the days of Yeshua, there was a seven-year cycle of reading the Torah. In years one through three, the people would read from the Torah, the prophets and the writings. In years three through six, they would start over. In year seven, they would read from them all. While reading, the priest would stand on a podium (bema) and give the understanding and teaching (Nehemiah 8:1-12). This was done during the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) (Nehemiah 8:2, 13-14, 18).

Rain and Dew

Shemini Atzeret begins with a special prayer for rain. The entire life of Israel depends on rain. If the rains come down in their due season and in sufficient quantity, the rich soil will produce abundant crops and fruits; if not, the country is doomed to famine and starvation. The rain in the winter and the dew in the summer are vitally needed to sustain life.

The rain in the Bible speaks of two things:

  • The great outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and
  • An in-depth understanding of Yeshua and His Word - the Bible - in our lives.

Both the anointing of the Ruach HaKodesh, and great knowledge of spiritual truths will be present in our lives. Why?  So we may accomplish the purpose God has for every one of our lives. It is written in Hosea 6:3, "So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. Hisgoingforth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like thespringrainwatering the earth." It is written in Joel 2:23, “So rejoice, O sons of Zion, And be glad in the LORD yourGod ; For He has given you the earlyrain for your vindication. And He has poured downfor you the rain, The early and latter rain as before.” These verses in Hosea and Joel tell us that the coming of the Messiah, Yeshua, will be like the rain. Just as there are mainly spring rains and fall rains in Israel, God designed for two comings of the Messiah.

During the first coming of the Messiah, the Messiah would fulfill the role of Messiah ben Joseph, the suffering Messiah. During His second coming, the Messiah would fulfill the role of Messiah ben David, the King Messiah. Those who would receive the Messiah in the season of His first coming would, spiritually, be like the spring rains in Israel and God would pour out His Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) upon all people at this time.However, the greatest number of people who would accept the Messiah would be during the season of the fall rains in Israel, which speaks of the Messiah's second coming. The greatest outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) would be at this time.

The Adulterous Woman

This occurred on Shemini Atzeret – The 8th Day. It is written in John 8:2, “Now very early in the morning [Shemini Atzeret], he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him. He sat down, and taught them.”

Now consider this: It is written in John 8:6-8, “Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such: what then sayest thou of her? They said this testing him, that they might have something to accuse him of. But Yeshua stooped down, and wrote on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he looked up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her." Again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground.” The Pharisees were misapplying Moses' law here, since "stoning" was commanded for a betrothed girl before her marriage and the woman before them was married.

It is written in Deuteronomy 22:23-27, “If there is a girl who is a virginengaged to aman, and another manfinds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring themboth out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, becauseshe did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated hisneighbor'swife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.” They cared nothing for the law and were only interested in cooking up some charge against Yeshua.

What did they hope to gain?

(1) If Yeshua had concurred in asking a death penalty for the woman, they would have hailed him before the Romans who had made it illegal for the Jews to assess such a penalty.

(2) If the Lord had recommended mercy, they would have placed him at variance with Moses and made a lawbreaker out of him!

Verse 7 says, “But when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” This scripture has been misused to say that you should never judge anyone, yet, when applied in its context, it does not mean that. It is written in Deuteronomy 17:7, "The hand of the witness shall be the first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people." Yeshua demanded that the witness reveal himself and cast the first stone; but the Lord demanded something else - such a witness would himself have to be without sin in this case. Where was the man? That witness had to be the man the woman committed adultery with, or help set it up. He would not have been without sin in this case.

Again the Pharisees' trap had closed without taking Yeshua. The Lord had neither condoned any kind of sin nor contradicted Moses. He just turned the tables by an appeal to conscience, there being no coward like a guilty conscience. This is the only instance of Yeshua, in body form, writing. What did He write? Answer: The names of the people that was there, starting with the eldest and going down to the youngest.

Why is this known? Considering the cycle of the Torah at that time, The Haftorah in the Temple read that day may have been Jeremiah 17.  It talks about the Unrepentant Jew.  Read verse 13 “O Adonai, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be put to shame. They that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken Adonai, the fountain of living waters.” John 8:10-11 reads, “And Yeshua lifted up himself, and said unto her, Woman, where are they? Did no man condemn thee? And she said, No man, Lord. And Yeshua said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go thy way; from henceforth sin no more.”

Yeshua’s response showed four things:

  1. He was not against the Torah – Needed two witnesses to condemn her
  2. He was merciful towards the woman
  3. He opposed her sin
  4. He could silence people trying to trap Him and pot them to shame

The Miracle of the 8th Day

John recorded this Sukkot miracle in John 9:1-12. Yeshua' healing of the man born blind shocked the people of that day, not only because the act itself was so amazing, but also because the timing of the act was especially significant.It is no coincidence that Yeshua performed this miracle immediately after Sukkot, for he used both the healing and the holiday to make some earth-shattering statements about himself.

In the healing of the man born blind, Yeshua combined three very important themes of Tabernacles.

  1. He again stated that He was the light of the world. Verse 5 reads, “When I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
  2. It brought the Sabbath into question. Verse 6 reads, “When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes,”
  3. He emphasized water once more when He told the man to go wash in the pool of Siloam, as recorded in verse 7. All of Jerusalem's attention was on this pool during the Feast. “And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which is by interpretation, Sent). He went away therefore, and washed, and came seeing.”

Light of the World

Thousands of years later, people are still grappling with the meaning behind this miracle. A close look at the history of Sukkot, how it was celebrated in Yeshua' day and the meaning of light in the Hebrew Scriptures, will help us discover what Yeshua meant when he said he was the "light of the world." Sukkot—celebrating God's presence and provision. Prior to his encounter with the blind man, Yeshua was teaching in the court of women soon after the Temple illumination ceremony. Perhaps he was even standing right next to those magnificent candelabra when he declared to all who were gathered there, It is written in John 8:12 "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Light has always been a sign of God's revelation and his presence.

  • From the burning bush that Moses encountered to the pillar of fire that the Israelites followed, to the Shekinah glory that once rested in the Temple, the presence of light has long been equated with the presence of God.

Light was associated with the Messiah, God's Anointed One. It is written in Isaiah 9:1-3, “But there shall be no gloom to her that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the latter time hath he made it glorious, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased their joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.”

That day in the Temple, Yeshua said that he was the presence of God, right there, in their midst. At the same time, he was declaring that he was the Messiah. He was the Light that the people had been waiting for. A few days after Yeshua spoke these stunning words in the court of the women, he gave sight to a blind man.

There are different types of blindness.

  • There is a physical blindness that longs for physical light
  • There is another kind of blindness wherein a person shuts his or her eyes to things that they do not want to believe.

If you look at the accounts of Yeshua' life and death, you'll see that he came to take care of both kinds of blindness.

The Sabbath Question

According to the Talmud, there are 39 Categories of work that were prohibited on the Sabbath. These categories came from the work that was done in the building of the Tabernacle. One of these categories was kneading. Kneading was needed to take water and dirt and turn it into clay, and clay was a building material. According to the Oral Law, and Pharisaic understanding, this violated the Shabbat in two ways: Kneading and Building. When Yeshua put the mud in the man’s eyes, if this was intended for healing, then according to Luke 6:7 and John 7:22-23, it also violated the Sabbath according to the Oral Law.This miracle created a major doctrinal problem for the Pharisees. It is written in John 9:16, “Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, "This man is not from God,because He does not keep the Sabbath." But others were saying, "How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?" And there was a division among them”.

Water and the Pool of Siloam

Rewind your mind for the last seven days. During this time, after the burning of the daily sacrifice, a libation of wine is poured on the altar. Next would come a libation of water, with special ceremonies that everyone wanted to see. It was from Siloam that water was brought in a golden vessel to the Temple during the feast of Tabernacles. Yeshua probably pointed to it when He stood in the Temple and cried, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink" (John 7:37). When the water was taken from this pool, it would be with great joy. Priests carrying the Silver Trumpets blow the ceremonial calls, “Tekiah,” “Teruah,” “Tekiah” and other priests chant the words of the Prophet, “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3)

Yeshua told the blind man to go wash at the Pool of Siloam, and after doing it he received his sight. This was significant since the Hebrew word Siloam means "sent" and Yeshua was the Messiah "sent" from heaven. The English equivalent is the word "apostle."

Consider this: The waters of the pool flow from the Temple mount and, even in the Tanakh, are regarded as symbolic of the spiritual blessings that flow from the dwelling-place of God. The significance of the references to the pool and its supplying conduit is that, for spiritual cleansing, we must go to the true Siloam – the One “sent” by the Father, Yeshua.  He brings not just physical sight, but also spiritual sight to all who go there.

Sukkot and the Millennium

Tabernacles and Passover are the only holidays mentioned in the millennial worship (Ezekiel 45:21-25; Zechariah 14:16). Sukkot doesn't just look to the past; it also offers us a glimpse of the future, when God's promise to Abraham will be fulfilled and all nations of the earth will be blessed through the nation he first chose. There is a key passage in Scripture talking about this time to come:

Rabbis have called it the "Messiah's Feast" because of the following words of the prophet Zechariah.  It is written in Zechariah 14:4, 16, "And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to WORSHIP THE KING, the LORD of hosts and to KEEP THE FEAST OF TABERNCLES"