Daily Word

Great Rejoicing  |  Nehemiah 8:16-18  (NASB)

16 So the people went out and brought them [the branches] and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. 17 The entire assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in them. The sons of Israel had indeed not done so from the days of Joshua the son of Nun to that day. And there was great rejoicing.

18 He read from the book of the law of God daily, from the first day to the last day. And they celebrated the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly according to the ordinance.

Nehemiah 8:16-18  (NASB)

Feast of Booths (tents)

Yesterday we read about the instructions given for the celebration of the Feast of Booths  (Leviticus 23:43). “The Feast of Tabernacles begins and ends with a special Sabbath day of rest. During the days of the feast all native Israelites were “to dwell in booths” to remind them that God delivered them out of the “land of Egypt” and to look forward to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, who would deliver His people from the bondage of sin.” (Gotquestions.org)

Whole-hearted response

How did the Jews respond to these instructions? Remember, they had just finished rebuilding the wall, heard Ezra read scripture and responded with weeping and mourning. Nehemiah and the elders told the people it was not a time to mourn, but to rejoice.

  • Immediate obedience – They responded immediately. Though they had never celebrated this feast (Jews hadn’t done it since Joshua) and didn’t know the details, they knew in general what to do and did it – right away. 
  • Whole-hearted action – They not only responded with, “Yes, we will do it”, they did it! – and with their whole heart. Everyone participated. Picture the little huts being built all over the place – even in the temple courts (Psalm 26:8) and the square where they had gathered to hear the word yesterday. Those who had decent homes built on their roofs.
    I have an Orthodox Jewish friend in Chicago who celebrated this event with a booth in his backyard. What fun for his kids! Below is a picture of modern-day booths in Jerusalem.
  • Great rejoicing – There was great rejoicing – for 7 days! They were so thankful to be back in the land, to have a wall around the city, to have the Word of God and God’s presence.

Let us join with them in giving thanks to the Lord – for who He is and for what He has done!

Bible joke: What person in the Bible had no father? Joshua, son of Nun. (v17) 😅

Modern day celebration of Feast of Booths Image from www.haaretz.com.

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