Please read Matthew 15:39, Mark 8:9b-10 & John 7:1-36
After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan. Matthew 15:39 NIV
After He had sent them away, He got into the boat with His disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha. Mark 8:9b-10 NIV
Having fed the 4,000 men, plus women and children, in the Gentile dominated region of the Decapolis on the eastern side of Lake Gennesaret (the Sea of Galilee) Yeshua and His talmidim got into a boat and crossed the Sea again. Whereas the original readers of these Gospels would have known where Magadan and the region of Dalmanutha were, their locations have been lost to us over the passage of time. Most scholars believe them to be referring to the same area back in Galilee on the western side of Lake Gennesaret and some think it might be around the region of Magdala.
After this [after His dispute with the Pharisees and Scribes from Jerusalem in the Capernaum synagogue (John 6)], Yeshua travelled around in the Galil (Galilee), intentionally avoiding Y’hudah (Judea) because the Judeans were out to kill him.
But the festival of Sukkot in Y’hudah was near. John 7:1-2 CJB
Each year to prepare for the fall festivals, and the prophetic foreshadowing of the coming of the King, all of Israel would begin repenting from the beginning of the sixth month in the Jewish calendar, Elul, for 30 days up to Yom Hateruah/Rosh Hashanah, and then 10 final days leading up to Yom Kippur. This tradition comes from the 40 days Moses pleaded with God at the top of Mount Sinai to forgive the Jewish people for worshipping the Golden Calf. That 40 day period began on the first day of Elul and culminated on Yom Kippur, when Moses came down with the second set of tablets, signifying that God had forgiven the Jewish people and was entering into covenant with them. It was during these 40 days of teshuvah (repentance) that Yeshua had preached His Sermon on the Mount to prepare the people for Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) the year before.
The last three holy convocations or “festivals” that the Lord commanded the Jewish people to observe are Yom Hateruah (the Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and the festival of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). Each occurred in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, Tishrei. Of these three, only Sukkot was a pilgrimage festival where the Torah required all the men to travel to Jerusalem for the celebration. While significant things happened in the temple on Yom Hateruah and Yom Kippur, the rest of the population was not required to be there to witness them but rather to Shabbat at home and repair relationships within their own family and community during this time of teshuvah (repentance – turning back to God).
Yom Hateruah has become known as Rosh Hashanah, which literally means “head of the year” and is colloquially referred to as the Jewish New Year. Traditionally, Rosh Hashanah is a celebration of creation, specifically the day God created Adam and Eve. As such, God the Creator is hailed and crowned as “our King” on that day even as the Jew’s covenant with creator God is remembered and they work on turning from everything they have done in breach of this covenant. In the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah Psalm 47 is read seven times before the blowing of the shofar. Verse five of Psalm 47 reads as follows: “God goes up to shouts of acclaim, Adonai to a blast on the shofar.” The arrival and splendour of Almighty God are marked by the blowing of the shofar in the Scriptures. A festive meal at the start of the holy day includes eating apples dipped in honey for a sweet new year, in hope that God will be merciful towards His people and favourable toward them in judgment; dates—that their enemies would be consumed; pomegranate seeds—that they would bear much fruit; eating round hallah, symbolizing the circle of life and the crown of God’s Kingship; and eating a fish or ram’s head, symbolic of being the head and not the tail in the year to come. The common expression on Rosh HaShanah is “L’shannah tovah tikatev v’tachatem” – meaning “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year!”
God instructed Israel on Yom Hateruah (the Feast of Trumpets) thus:
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’ ” Leviticus 23:23-25 NKJV
The first if these holy convocations is called, in Hebrew, Yom Hateruah in Leviticus 23:24 – the day of the blowing of trumpets or ram’s horn (shofar) , “a memorial of blowing trumpets”. The only other reference to this festival in the Torah is Numbers 29:1 “On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets, (ESV). The blowing of the trumpet (or shofar) carries with it significant meaning in the Bible being used both to gather the people and send them to war and to herald the appointed time of their feasts (Num. 10:1-10) and new moons. The blowing of trumpets was a reminder of God’s presence with the people during war and during days of joy. It was also used to signify judgment and the coming of the LORD (Joel 2:1).
The word “memorial” indicates that the event to be remembered had taken place prior to this ordinance. There was a spiritual event involving trumpet (sopher) blasts that was of such great importance that God commanded the people to remember it every year. God invited the children of Israel into covenant amidst the sound of a trumpet that caused the people to tremble.
When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain. So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. Exodus 19:13b, 16-19
This resounding event was to be stamped indelibly upon the memory of the people of Israel. Every year, at Yom Hateruah (the Feast of Trumpets), those same-sounding trumpet blasts heralded the arrival of the Jewish seventh month with a reminder that they were a people under covenant; a nation who had accepted the responsibilities of being God’s people. Such a covenant with God requires ongoing repentance, a continual turning to God and away from our sins in order to receive His atonement. The piercing blast of the shofar reminds the hearer to repent of their sins and make things right with their brothers and sisters, and with God. The rabbis say that reconciliation with God and man will confound the enemy.
Yom Hateruah (the Feast of Trumpets) thus begins what is known as aseret yemei teshuvah (Ten Days of Awe) between the Yom Hateruah and Yom Kippur, wherein the penitent humble themselves in preparation for Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).
On the afternoon of the first day it is customary for the Jewish people to perform a rite known as Tashlik. To do this, they usually walk to a river, spring or body of water and recite special penitential prayers and Psalms, while at the same time emptying their pockets and the hems of their garments, or casting bread crumbs onto the water. All this is symbolic of casting away their sins into the deep (Mic.7:18-20) as they begin these intense days of repentance and forgiveness leading up to Yom Kippur when they believe the final judgment is made as to that person’s life for the coming year.
The Torah gave instructions for the people concerning Yom Kippur in Numbers 29:7 and Leviticus 23:26-32 that they were to do no work, have it as a a day of sabbath rest, and deny themselves (generally interpreted as fasting). Yom Kippur is dedicated to introspection, prayer and asking God for forgiveness.
Full instructions for what was to take place in the Temple to make atonement for all the sins of the Israelites that year were provided in Leviticus 16. It was the only day of the year in which the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies (Most Holy Place), and it was the day on which all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites – all their sins – were placed on the scapegoat’s head to carry on itself all their sins away to a remote place. So it was, this year, that the Father had led Yeshua away from Galilee to remote places, symbolising that all the sins of Israel were to be placed on Him to be removed from the nation.
The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the Lord. The Lord said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.
“This is how Aaron is to enter the Most Holy Place: He must first bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on.
“From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.
“Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household.
“Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.
“Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household, and he is to slaughter the bull for his own sin offering. He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the Lord and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain. He is to put the incense on the fire before the Lord, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the tablets of the covenant law, so that he will not die. He is to take some of the bull’s blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover; then he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover.
“He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the tent of meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness. No one is to be in the tent of meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel.
“Then he shall come out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement for it. He shall take some of the bull’s blood and some of the goat’s blood and put it on all the horns of the altar. He shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times to cleanse it and to consecrate it from the uncleanness of the Israelites.
“When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.
“Then Aaron is to go into the tent of meeting and take off the linen garments he put on before he entered the Most Holy Place, and he is to leave them there. He shall bathe himself with water in the sanctuary area and put on his regular garments. Then he shall come out and sacrifice the burnt offering for himself and the burnt offering for the people, to make atonement for himself and for the people. He shall also burn the fat of the sin offering on the altar.
“The man who releases the goat as a scapegoat must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp.
“The bull and the goat for the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp; their hides, flesh and intestines are to be burned up. The man who burns them must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp.
“This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work—whether native-born or a foreigner residing among you— because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins. It is a day of sabbath rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father as high priest is to make atonement. He is to put on the sacred linen garments and make atonement for the Most Holy Place, for the tent of meeting and the altar, and for the priests and all the members of the community.
“This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”
And it was done, as the Lord commanded Moses.
In the Torah, the root kpr has two levels of meaning. On the one hand, it denotes the “price of life” as reflected in the term kofer – a ransom. A second meaning of kpr is “to wipe off or to cleanse”. The timeless message of the scapegoat ritual was that to truly achieve kapparah (atonement), there must be both aspects – the payment of a price and a cleansing of our sins. That is why there are two goats in the scapegoat ritual – one that is sacrificed to God as a sin-offering paying the price as a kopher (a ransom or substitute), and one that is sent to the wilderness bearing the sins of the people as a reminder that sin must be fully confessed and removed so that it is no longer part of our being or our space.
Now Yeshua had returned to Galilee even as the pilgrimage festival of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) was soon to begin in Jerusalem. Sukkot begins on Tishri 15, the fifth day after Yom Kippur. It was quite a drastic transition, from one of the most solemn holidays in the year to one of the most joyous. Sukkot is so unreservedly joyful that it is commonly referred to in Jewish prayer and literature as Z’man Simchateinu – the Season of our Rejoicing. It is in mid-autumn, when the weather is cooling down but the ground can be dry and dusty awaiting the onset of the winter rains.
the festival of Sukkot in Y’hudah (Jerusalem) was near; so His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Y’hudah, so that Your talmidim can see the miracles You do; for no one who wants to become known acts in secret. If You’re doing these things, show Yourself to the world!”
(His brothers spoke this way because they had not put their trust in Him.)
When we, like Yeshua’s brothers, try to tell Messiah what to do and how to do it we demonstrate that we likewise have not yet put our trust in Him.
Yeshua said to them, “My time has not yet come; but for you, any time is right. The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me, because I keep telling it how wicked its ways are. You, go on up to the festival; as for me, I am not going up to this festival now, because the right time for me has not yet come.”
There is one way to guarantee being hated by the world – keep telling them how wicked their ways are. Those who conform to the ways and standards of the world are loved by the world but those who declare God’s righteous standards are both hated by the world and called “haters” by the world. Yeshua’s reference to “the world” here refers as much to the religious establishment as to the irreligious or the pagans, all were part of a system in rebellion against God, even during this time of great displays of repentance.
Having said this, He stayed on in the Galil. But after His brothers had gone up to the festival, He too went up, not publicly but in secret. John 7:2-10 CJB
During the 7 days of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) the Jews commemorate the journey of the children of Israel towards the promised land, following God through the desert to the unknown, dependent entirely on Him for survival:
“You shall dwell in Sukkot for seven days… so that your future generations shall know that I had the children of Israel live in Sukkot when I brought them out of Egypt….” Leviticus 23:42-43
Sukkot is also a harvest holiday, celebrating the fullness of the harvest having been gathered in and thus the end of the agricultural year in Israel.
On the first day, you will take for yourselves a fruit of a beautiful tree, palm branches, twigs of a braided tree and brook willows, and you will rejoice before the LORD your G-d for seven days. Leviticus 23:40
Another observance during Sukkot involves what are known as the Four Species. The four species in question are an etrog (a citrus fruit similar to a lemon native to Israel; in English it is called a citron), a lulav (palm branch), two aravot (willow branches) and three hadassim (myrtle branches). The six branches are bound together with dried palm leaves, the willow positioned on the left, the palm in the middle and the myrtle on the right. They are referred to collectively as the lulav, because the palm branch is by far the largest part. The etrog is held separately and collectively they are used to “rejoice before the Lord.”
The Hebrew word “sukkah” (plural=sukkot) is a temporary walled structure covered with s’chach (plant material such as overgrowth or palm leaves). This is the type of dwelling in which the farmers of ancient Israel would live during harvesting and that which the children of Israel used during their forty years in the desert, following the Exodus. Sukkot celebrates the gathering of the harvest and commemorates the miraculous protection God provided for the children of Israel when they left Egypt. There is a triple commandment in the Torah to rejoice during Sukkot: “…you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days” (Leviticus 23:40). “And you shall rejoice in your feast…” (Deuteronomy 16:14). “…the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice” (Deuteronomy 16:15).
Each Sukkot streams of Jewish families—farmers, vintners, shepherds, merchants, craftspeople, and scholars—flooded in from every part of Israel, Syria, Babylonia, Egypt, and other nearby lands, converged upon Jerusalem and celebrated joyously day and night, non-stop for eight days. At the close of the first day of Sukkot, Temple workers furiously began inserting sturdy poles into their brackets in the walls of the Temple courtyard. Over the poles they lay wooden boards, creating cascades of bleachers so that women could stand on the higher bleachers, with the men below. Torch-laden boys scrambled up ladders scaling massive candelabras 25-50m tall to light the thick wicks of the candelabras’ four enormous lanterns so that all of Jerusalem was filled with light like day. The kohanim (priests) sounded their trumpets, the levi’im (Levites) played their flutes, lyres, cymbals, and every sort of instrument in thunderous, heavenly music, while all the people joined in song and dance. Even distinguished elders, with their long white beards, sang at the top of their lungs, dancing wildly, performing acrobatic feats, and even juggling acts.
At dawn fresh water was drawn from a wellspring called Mayan Hashiloach, just outside Jerusalem. As the flasks of water were ushered in through the Water Gate of the Temple, trumpets sounded and fanfare ensued. On a regular morning, the offering in the Temple was the meat of one sheep accompanied by a flour-and-oil mix, both thrown into the fire of the altar, along with one flask of wine poured by a kohen (priest) at the altar’s corner. But on the days of Sukkot, there was another flask, filled with this water freshly drawn from the Mayan Shiloach, poured by the same kohen together with that flask of wine – and the joyous celebrations would begin again as the Jews believed that the Holy Spirit only rests upon a joyous heart.
There was a special regimen of sacrifices that were brought to the altar in the Temple. On the first day, no less than 13 bulls, two rams, and 14 lambs were to be sacrificed. Every day, the number of bulls was depleted by one. All in all, 70 bulls were brought, corresponding to the 70 nations of the world. Talmudic
writings attributed this to God’s concern for the Gentiles, and Israel’s role in world redemption. As the Feast of Ingathering, Sukkot looks forward to the ingathering of all nations to the God of Israel—a final harvest of souls for His Kingdom. The traditional Bible reading on the second day of Sukkot is taken from Zechariah 14 and highlights the role of the Gentile nations during Yeshua’s future earthly reign. All nations will be required to go up to Jerusalem to worship the King and to celebrate Sukkot: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16; see also verse 17).
After the morning offerings, the communal prayers, the priestly blessings, the additional offerings, and more prayers and priestly blessings, the people parted to the study halls to review their Torah knowledge and hear the talks of great scholars. It was at these times they expected Yeshua to make Himself known and start teaching the people, but for the first half of the festival He kept hidden.
At the festival, the Judeans were looking for Him. “Where is He?” they asked. And among the crowds there was much whispering about Him. Some said, “He’s a good man”; but others said, “No, He is deceiving the masses.” However, no one spoke about Him openly, for fear of the Judeans. John 7:11-13 CJB
After listening to the great scholars the people returned to their sukkah throughout Jerusalem to feast, sing and celebrate some more until returning to the Temple Mount for the afternoon offerings, followed by, once again, a night of music, dance, acrobatic spectacles, and celebration. One of the sages, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, is said to dance with ecstasy juggling eight flaming torches with great skill at these celebrations.
Jerusalem was full of Israelite pilgrims from many regions. They expected Yeshua, as a Torah observant Jew, to be there with them – and indeed He was, even though at this time He was remaining hidden from them. God’s protection of His Son until the appointed time was on occasion through miraculous intervention and on occasion simply through direction to remain hidden from the masses so the authorities would be caught off-guard and not have time to execute a murderous plan. In place of the traditional Jewish open debate and testing of ideas the authorities had instilled fear of even speaking about Yeshua.
Not until the festival was half over did Yeshua go up to the Temple courts and begin to teach. The Judeans were surprised: “How does this Man know so much without having studied?” they asked. John 7:14-15 CJB
Yeshua had not studied under the schools of Hillel or Shammai, who dominated the teachings in the Temple. His teaching was not the wisdom of man but the revelation of God.
So Yeshua gave them an answer: “My teaching is not My own, it comes from the One who sent Me. If anyone wants to do His will, he will know whether My teaching is from God or I speak on My own. A person who speaks on his own is trying to win praise for himself; but a person who tries to win praise for the One who sent Him is honest, there is nothing false about Him. Didn’t Moshe give you the Torah? Yet not one of you obeys the Torah! Why are you out to kill me?”
“You have a demon!” the crowd answered. “Who’s out to kill you?”
Yeshua answered them, “I did one thing; and because of this, all of you are amazed. Moshe gave you b’rit-milah (circumcision) – not that it came from Moshe but from the Patriarchs – and you do a boy’s b’rit-milah on Shabbat. If a boy is circumcised on Shabbat so that the Torah of Moshe will not be broken, why are you angry with Me because I made a man’s whole body well on Shabbat? Stop judging by surface appearances, and judge the right way!” John 7:16-24 CJB
The “one thing” Yeshua was talking about here was the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda on Shabbat (John 5) during celebrations for the Feast of Weeks (Shavu‘ot) – Pentecost (Healing at the Pool of Bethesda – Renewal Blog). The response of the Jewish religious leaders had been that they: “sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” (John 5:18 NKJV) They were still harbouring such thoughts in their hearts, and thinking it was from God and in obedience to His word. Yeshua showed them the fallacy of their thinking but pride would not let them concede their error so their hatred of Him only grew.
Some of the Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) people said, “Isn’t this the Man they’re out to kill? Yet here He is, speaking openly; and they don’t say anything to Him. It couldn’t be, could it, that the authorities have actually concluded He’s the Messiah? Surely not – we know where this Man comes from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where He comes from.”
Whereupon Yeshua, continuing to teach in the Temple courts, cried out, “Indeed you do know Me! And you know where I’m from! And I have not come on my own! The One who sent Me is real. But Him you don’t know! I do know Him, because I am with Him, and He sent Me!” John 7:25-29 CJB
These religious Jerusalem Jews claimed to be doing God’s will but most of them did not know Him. If they had truly known the Father they would have recognised His Son.
At this, they tried to arrest Him; but no one laid a hand on Him; because His time had not yet come. However, many in the crowd put their trust in Him and said, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more miracles than this Man has done?” John 7:30-31 CJB
God kept His son safe during the first half of the feast by instructing Him to stay hidden, and through the second half by thwarting all plans to lay hold of Him. The crowd gathered for these pilgrimage festivals came from throughout Israel and beyond. Different sections of the crowd had formed different opinions and responded to Messiah in different ways. So we see contradictory responses from the crowds to Yeshua. Those from regions further afield were not so heavily influenced by the Judean religious leaders in the temple as those living in Jerusalem.
The P’rushim (Pharisees) heard the crowd whispering these things about Yeshua; so the head cohanim (Priest) and the P’rushim sent some of the Temple guards to arrest him.
Yeshua said, “I will be with you only a little while longer; then I will go away to the One who sent Me. You will look for Me and not find Me; indeed, where I am, you cannot come.”
The Judeans said to themselves, “Where is this man about to go, that we won’t find him? Does He intend to go to the Greek Diaspora and teach the Greek-speaking Jews? And when He says, ‘You will look for Me and not find Me; indeed, where I am, you cannot come’ — what does He mean?” John 7:32-36 CJB
Yeshua responded to the threat of arrest with a riddle that left them questioning.
He still had a lot more to teach them during His last Sukkot with them.
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In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…
*What can we learn from the Jewish festival of Yom Hateruah (the Feast of Trumpets) ?
* What can we learn from the Jewish ten Days of Awe?
* What can we learn from Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement)?
* Describe any festivals in your culture that focus on repentance and being reconciled to God.
* In what ways is the goat that is sacrificed representative of Jesus?
* In what ways is the scapegoat representative of Jesus?
* What can we learn from the Jewish celebration of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)?
* Describe any festivals in your culture – how are they like the festivals that Jesus participated in and how are they different?
* What evils was Jesus identifying in “the world” of His time, and what would He identify in “the world” of your area? The purpose of identifying evil was to lead to repentance and forgiveness, atonement. How would things be different in your region if people truly repented?