Saturday

“On the first day you shall take the fruit of majestic trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.” (v. 40)

Leviticus 23:23-44 Saturday 20 July 2013


Background

Three festivals take place in the seventh month of the Jewishyear. The first is the festival of the trumpet blasts (verses23-25) which announces the sacred month. In later times, this daybecame New Year's Day (Rosh Hashanah).

The second festival is the holiest of days; the great Day ofAtonement (verses 27-32). The regulations concerning this day, YomKippur, are set out in detail in Leviticus 16. In contrast to the surroundingfestivals this is a time of mourning and fasting. The command notto work is given in even stricter form than previously, withpunishment set for those who break it.

The third festival is Sukkot, the Festival of Booths (or theFestival of Tabernacles). Like others, this festival is doublyrooted in the agricultural cycle and in the story of the Exodus andtime of wandering in the desert (verses 34-36, 39-43). Over sevendays and nights the people are commanded to live in temporaryaccommodation. They are to build shelters made of tree branches,leaves and flowers (see Nehemiah 8:15). They are to feel once again thesunshine and starlight, to take a step away from their settled lifeand remember what it was to live unprotected from God's gaze, astheir ancestors did in the desert. This is a joyful time, a time offreedom from everyday routine. And their only task is to rejoicebefore God.


To Ponder

  • What places or people, stories or songs prompt you to rejoicebefore God?
  • How do you celebrate the natural world?
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