"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Yeshua stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Yeshua was not yet glorified.)"
According to the Hebrew diaspora calendar, tonight at sundown begins the the Feast of Tabernacles. This is a blessed feast and a blessed time of the year. It is a time of celebration and partying before the Lord our God. This eight day celebration known as the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, or Booths, will conclude 8 days from now on 'Simchat Torah'. It is the culmination of the Fall Feasts and the fall harvest. Again, tonight at sundown the celebration begins.
Tabernacles is the third of a set of three fall holy feasts specified in the Torah for the month of Tishri, the 7th month. The Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) is a one day event on Tishri 1 with the sounding of shofar. It is also regarded as the "turning of the year" and the beginning of the Jewish New Year (Rosh HaShanah). The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is observed not as a feast, but as a fast on the 10th of Tishri. Then on the 15th of Tishri, tonight at sundown, the Feast of Tabernacles is observed.
In ancient times, the fall feasts were very significant in the Temple ceremonies. The Feast of Tabernacles was one of three pilgrimage festivals. The men of Israel were required 3 times a year to travel to Jerusalem and to the Temple. Once in Jeruasalem during the fall pilgrimage, they would erect booths, or 'sukkahs' to abide, or 'tabernacle' in. This was to remind them of the time their ancestors spent in the widerness. It was also a time just to refect on the natural things in life, and the supernatural.
It is estimated that during the days of Yeshua that over two million pilgrims would make their way to the City of David during the feasts 3 times each year.
The Fall Feasts were special. The greatest number of Temple sacrifices were offered at the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles. It was a huge celebration ordained of God. Four great lights were erected to light the Temple at night for this Feast. They were said to have been elevated at the tops of the walls of the Temple. It was said that the lights could be seen all the way down to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. King Solomon used the Feast of Tabernacles for the dedication of the Temple when its construction was completed. It was a big deal to Israelites then, and still is.
On the first day of Sukkot, or Tabernacles, thirteen bulls, two rams, fourteen lambs, and one male goat were offered in sacrifice in addition to a meal offering and the other daily offerings. On the second day of Sukkot, it was the same except the number of bulls was reduced by one to twelve. Each day of Sukkot they would continue to reduce the bulls by one until on the seventh day when only seven would be offered. At the end of seven days of Sukkot a total seventy bulls, fourteen rams, ninety-six lambs, and seven male goats were sacrificed.
Today, with no Temple in Jerusalem, we know the 8th day of Tabernacles as Simchat Torah. Simchat Torah is a festive time where Jews celebrate and mark the conclusion of the annual cycle of the public readings of the Torah. The scrolls are rolled backwards to begin a new cycle and it is all a part of the final celebration of the Fall Feasts.
During the Temple period though, the 8th day of the Tabernacles feast saw a special water ceremony for the altar. This day was called Hoshanah Rabah (the Great Salvation). It was known as the great day of the feast. The special water ceremony served as the highest ceremonial element of the Temple worship. Everything that had happened previously built up to this day and to this particular ceremony. The renowned men of Israel – every priest, teacher, scribe and leader – were in the Temple to observe this one ceremony. You can imagine how important this day was to everyone because it was a rare moment to see all of the leaders of the land assembled, and at the Temple!
The sequence of the water ceremony involved a single priest being dispatched from the Temple down to the Pool of Siloam. Siloam means 'sent'. The priest was referred to as 'he who is sent', a reference to the One sent from heaven (the Temple Mount) down to Siloam, the lowest part of Jerusalem (the earth). Dispatched with a golden pitcher, the priest would draw water from the pool. These waters were called the 'Waters of Salvation' (literally, 'the waters of Yeshua'). The prophet Isaiah describes this moment.
"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Yahweh is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation"