TISHREI 21, 4280* The seventh day of Sukkot (Oct. 17, 520 BCE) 2:1-9
* The actual Hebraic date is unclear, this is an estimated calculation.
1 In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying,
2 Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying,
3 Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?
4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:
5 According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.
We are not to judge and make decisions on things based on our physical sight alone. Looks can be deceiving and we are not to judge a book by its cover. The ornate entrapments of a Temple are just icing on the cake, but not necessary for such a Temple to be greater. It’s what’s inside that counts. The Shekinah can fill a skin and cloth tent just as much as it did Solomon’s Temple, so a 2nd Temple without visual pizzazz was no obstacle for God.
This second Temple would end up being greater than Solomon’s. Why? After all, the Shekinah never came down on this one as it did when Solomon built the first. I’ll try to tell why, because it was the one Messiah Himself walked into, cleansed, ministered and taught in and proclaimed Himself as Messiah in during Sukkot.
“He who has not witnessed the rejoicing at the water-drawing huts has, throughout the whole of his life, witnessed no real rejoicing.” (Sukkah 53b).
So what, that’s not in the Torah right? So what does it have to do with us or Yeshua for that matter? This is just a man-made tradition!
Hold up! Yeshua wasn’t against man made traditions or Oral Torah as long as it didn’t nullify the Written Torah. For in the Brit Chadasha we find Yeshua keeping holidays and traditions not commanded in the Written Torah.
During the “Last Supper” Yeshua went by the Haggadah, the liturgy of the Passover Seder. We find Him at the Temple during Chanukah, the “Feast of Dedication” and in John chapter seven we find Him at this Water Pouring Ceremony (Simchat Beit HaShoava) during the last day of Sukkot ('Hoshana Rabbah' - 'The Great Salvation’) mentioned in the Talmud in the text above!
“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."” John 7:37- 38 (NKJ)
If one carefully studies Talmud and Jewish traditions you will find where Yeshua even added himself into those things as well as the prophecies in the Torah and Tanak.
So how did this water pouring ceremony become such a fixed part of Judaism, even to this day?
“When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, one of the special Sukkot observances was to pour water on the Altar. The drawing of water for this purpose was preceded by all-night celebrations in the Temple courtyard; on the 15 steps leading to the azarah (inner courtyard) stood Levites while playing a variety of musical instruments, sages danced and juggled burning torches, and huge oil-burning lamps illuminated the entire city. The singing and dancing went on until daybreak, when a procession would make its way to the Shiloach Spring which flowed in a valley below the Temple to "draw water with joy." "One who did not see the joy of the water-drawing celebrations," declared the sages of the Talmud, "has not seen joy in his life."
While water was poured each day of the festival, the special celebrations were held only on Chol Hamoed since many of the elements of the celebration (e.g., the playing of musical instruments) are forbidden on Yom Tov.
Today, we commemorate these joyous celebrations by holding Simchat Beit HaShoeivah ("joy of the water drawing") events in the streets, with music and dancing. The Lubavitcher Rebbe initiated the custom of holding such celebrations on Shabbat and Yom Tov as well -- without musical instruments of course. The fact that we cannot celebrate as we did in the Temple, said the Rebbe, means that we are free to celebrate the joy of Sukkot with singing and dancing every day of the festival.” – www.chabad.org
And why was this ritual so significant, especially in Yeshua’s time?
Well, first off the Kohanim (Levitical Priests) had a special schedule during Sukkot:
The Kohanim were divided into three divisions and each day of Sukkot there was a special ritual. Division one sacrificed the animals and items prescribed out in Numbers 29. Division two went to the East Gate of the Temple and headed to the Motzah Valley where they would discard the sacrificial ashes at the start of Shabbat. While there they would cut 25 foot willows and they would line up across the road holding the willows. About 30 feet behind them would be another row of priests with willow branches. They would then begin to march waving the willows in a swooshing motion creating the sound of the Ruach (Wind), symbolizing the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit. Division three in the meantime would be heading down to the pool of Siloam, meaning “peaceful flowing waters” (John 9:7, 11). The Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) was in this third group and he had a golden flask and drew the water called mayim chayim (living waters) because any water that was flowing was considered “living”. The High Priests assistant had a silver flash of wine. Both Groups would return to the Temple with the sound of the Shofar upon their arrival. One man would play the flute, the flute player was called “the pierced one” and symbolizes the Messiah (Psa. 22:16, Zech. 12:10, John 19:34-37, Rev. 1:7) and the flute players led the procession of the “wind” and “water” carrying priests. The Willow carriers would circle the Brazen Sacrificial Altar seven times while singing Psalm 118:25-26; the sacrificial division of priests would lay the slain sacrifices on the altar. Then the Cohen HaGadol and his assistant the ascended the altar and all Israel gathered into the Temple courts and sang a song called “Mayim (Water)” based on Isa. 12:3 according to Mishnah Sukkot 5:1. Then the High Priest poured out the water on the southwest corner of the altar on the horn, and then the wine was poured out as the Willow holders leaned their branches against the altar and made a sort of Sukkah.
According to the Mishnah Rosh HaShannah 1:2f says that it is during Sukkot that God decides who gets rains for next year and how much. Sukkot is also that time after Yom Kippur when it is said that the fate of each human is decided for the next year and the books in heaven are closed. So this is probably another reason for the water pouring ceremony, a type of supplication for rains.
These rituals and ceremonies are nowhere commanded in the Torah but the Rabbis and Sages feel by the spelling inconsistencies in Numbers 29 that spell the word ‘mayim” they nonetheless base the tradition of the water pouring ceremony on the Torah itself.
Rabbi Akiva (Ta'anit 2b) asserted that the water libation was alluded to in the Torah with the use of the plural form nesakhehah ("drink-offerings thereof") on the sixth day (Numbers 29:31), reflecting that one of the two libations consists of water.
“On Succoth even the humblest of all has its place on the Altar: water. The Midrash tells us that at the time of creation, the waters cried out to G-d that everyone has a place on the Altar -- oxen, sheep, wheat, barley, oil, wine. All except for water. The waters threatened to engulf the world until G-d promised them that on the festival of Succoth, Israel would offer a libation of humble water on the Altar, accompanied by SIMCHAS BEIS HASHOEVA, "the Joy of the Water Drawing", which was so great that it brought people to prophecy.
The water libation on Succoth is not written explicitly in the Torah but only allusively. Three seemingly minute anomalies in the Hebrew phrasing of the laws of the offerings of the second, sixth and seventh days of the festival of Succoth, enable us to trace the letters of the word Hebrew word MAYIM -- WATER -- running through the Hebrew text (see Rashi on Numbers 29:18).” – Gil Marks
Three anomalies are derived from looking at how words are rendered differently on the second, sixth, and seventh days of the Festival:
1. Second day - "their libations" (Heb. niskeyhem םהיקסנ ,(where there is an extra "yod" (י (and an extra "final mem" (ם (in the usual rendering of "its libation" (Heb. niskah הקסנ .
2. ( 2. Sixth day - "its libations" (Heb. niskeyhah היקסנ ,(where the usual rendering of "its libation" (Heb. niskah הקסנ (has an extra "yod" (י .
3. ( 3. Seventh day - "after the manner" (Heb. KaMishpatam םטפשמכ ,(which has an extra "final mem" (ם (when compared to the other instances of "after the manner" (Heb. KaMishpat טפשמכ (in this passage. These anomalies actually gives us two extra "mems" and two extra "yods", however the Hebrew word for "water" (Heb. "mayim" םימ (only needs one of the "yods". What are we to do with the extra "yod"? That lies in the realm of the Kabbalah and we will not delve into that here.
And obviously Yeshua had NO PROBLEM with it and included Himself with in the derived tradition.
A custom, a tradition, something that the Pharisees and Sadducees did; something that made it into the Talmud that Yeshua did not oppose but participated in and used to proclaim His divine Messiahship! Therefore it stands to reason His own talmidim were there and participated too and the believers that came after his resurrection and ascension.
We see now why He said:
"If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."
A further fulfillment was when Yeshua was executed on the Roman cross and blood (symbolizing the wine) and water flowed (John 19:34).
ADONAI the Father obviously didn’t have a problem with this man made ritual for HE told Yeshua to go and deliver such a message, for Yeshua speaks only what the Father bids Him to (John 5:19, 30; 8:28; 14:28).
6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;
Rashi tells us in this verse that, “One more nation will subdue you, the Greeks; but their domination will last only a short time.”
This in turn refers to the Maccabeean (Hasomonean) revolt where Judah and his brothers took back and restored this very Temple that the returning exiles built and which Yeshua the Messiah walked and ministered in.
7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.
This verse is a reference that Haggai said and thus told the people that this is the Temple that Messiah would visit and because of this, nations would join themselves to Israel in the Commonwealth and or convert and visit the Temple.
The Key Word Study Bible helps clarify what I am trying to say:
“The interpretation of the phrase “the desire of all nations” is much disputed. Some versions translate the clause “they will come with the wealth of all nations.” This is explained by the construction of the sentence in Hebrew. The verb “shall come” is plural, and thus can support the idea of an individual person being represented by the word “desire.” It is best understood as a reference to the nations that will one day bring their offering to God to be consecrated for His service.”
I say precisely because of the coming of Messiah, because why would the nations come and convert to Judaism!? Judaism after the time of Messiah ministering on earth would stop evangelistic and missionary activities, so how would people know or be convinced to come? I still firmly believe that one can apply this verse to the coming of Messiah, because one day it is prophesied that Gentiles will celebrate Sukkot and bring an offering!