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Exodus xxiii. 14
Deuteronomy xxxi.6 95
Luke xiii. 24
Matthew vi. 5
Matthew vi. 9
SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION.
1 Corinthians xv. 55 1 Corinthians xv. 58 Ephesians iv. 32 Hebrews iii. 19
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NO. III.THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES.
F all the Scripture-warranted customs which prevail among the Jews-colouring their domestic life with a touch of antique simplicity-none are more striking than those with which they celebrate the feast of tabernacles.
The day of atonement having come and gone, the "son of the covenant believes and hopes his sins are forgiven him, and that he is in a condition of regeneration. The five following days he devotes to the preparation of the "fruits of goodly trees," and to the construction of a hut or tabernacle in his yard, or garden if he have one; here he is supposed to dwell during the period of the feast.
When the chosen people-freed at last from centuries of galling servitude-in the dead of night hurried from the plaguesmitten Egyptian land, there went before them the pillars of fire and of cloud. As they travelled onward, far away from the homes of civilized men-wanderers used to the rule, and in some sense, the protection as well as the oppression of Egypt,-surrounded by all the terrors of the desert, they felt no fear, for God, in His infinite grace, watched over them with a Father's tender care, making their wild and irksome pathway safe as the enclosure of the tabernacle. It might be supposed that a festival in commemoration of this mercy would be celebrated about the time of year when first it originated—that is to say, in the month of Nisan, or about the beginning of the Eastern summer; but had that been so, men might after a time have thought the dwelling in booths but a change of residence natural to the season; it was therefore ordained to be held in the month of Tisri (the seventh month), and the fifteenth day of the month, or about the beginning of the rainy season, that all the world might see how Israel dwelt in tents, not for pleasure or from custom, but in obedience to God, and in grateful remembrance of His special favour.
Every orthodox Jewish householder possessed of the facility of an open space in the rear or neighbourhood of his dwelling at the time of these holy days erects therein a hut, built, as far VOL. V., SECOND SERIES.
THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES.
up as the roof, of wood, and covered with the boughs of trees interlaced in such a manner as not to be closely covered, but leaving spaces for the rain to drip and the stars to shine through. It must be built in the open air, away from the shelter of trees, and must neither be covered with skins of beasts, woven cloth, or tiles of any sort. From this roof of boughs gilded fruits are sometimes suspended, giving to the interior a gay and glittering appearance somewhat resembling the Christmas-tree of modern Germany-one might almost say of modern England too. Jewish families are supposed to eat, drink, and sleep in these huts, but, as a matter of fact, they seldom do so. The law permits many exemptions. First, women and children are not obliged to reside in them. Secondly, invalids are excused. Thirdly, if the weather be too wet or too cold it is permitted to return to the houses; so that we generally find, in this country at least, the tabernacle is used for study, for refreshment, and for the reception of visitors; but my experience of the ordinary Jewish population does not warrant me in saying they are often used as sleeping-chambers. It is at this feast they make use of the "fruit of goodly trees," as mentioned in the twenty-third chapter of Leviticus; these consist of the citron, date, myrtle, and willow, and are used at the morning service of the synagogue in the manner following:-After the special prayers for the festival have been recited, each male member of the congregation takes in his right hand the myrtle and the willow of the brook fastened to the branch of the palm tree, whilst his left hand is engaged holding the citron. In this position, robed in the scarf of the synagogue, threaded with the mystical threads of the garment of four corners, he repeats, "Blessed art Thou, O Lord, our God, King of the universe, who sanctified us with Thy commandments, and commanded us to take the palm-branch" (and again)," who hast maintained us and preserved us to enjoy this season. Towards the conclusion of the service, when the law is taken out of the ark and carried to the altar, the members of the congregation bearing the palm branches, &c., march in procession round the altar, at the same time calling on God to save them. This ceremony of the goodly fruits is omitted on the Sabbath day, as carrying the branches from home to the synagogue would be counted an act of labour. The feast of tabernacles, according to Leviticus (chap. xxiii. 42), lasts seven days, the entire festival lasting nine days, of which the first two are kept as days of holy convocation, strictly as the Sabbath, excepting so far as the kindling of fire and cooking of food are concerned; these are accounted servile work on the Sabbath, but at taber
THE MISSION OF THE SPIES.
nacles—as I have noticed elsewhere-are not prohibited. The five days following are called common days of the feast, and— at least on four of them (excepting so far as the synagogue service is special) the English Jews act pretty much as on ordinary days of the week. The seventh or concluding day is called HoSHANNA RABBA-Rabba signifying grand, and Hoshanna “ Save, we beseech thee!". '—a form of prayer by which they supplicate forgiveness. On this day are taken from the ark seven of the scrolls of the law, which with much pomp and ceremony are deposited on the altar. Then the congregation-every man with his palm branch and his willow, his citron and his myrtle-headed by the reader of the law, march in solemn procession seven times round and about the altar, in commemoration of the seventh or sabbatical year; after which the trees of goodly fruit are no more used, the service of the feast of tabernacles proper being ended.
The whole of this festival, with its many curious rustical ceremonies-giving to the synagogue the likeness of a flower-bed swept by the wind-remind us in a pointed manner of the intense hold the Biblical narrative has taken of the Jewish imagination. On some quiet, sunlit Sunday afternoon in October, you may chance to be wandering amid the streets and squares of a city where a teeming stream of Christian life is wending church and chapelward. Will you spare a thought to consider that on the other side of a garden wall olive-faced Judaism may be praying in the tabernacle,—not in the familiar tongue of our native land, but in foreign voices, chanting God's praises according to the grand sonorous Hebrew ritual, old as Ezra the scribe ?
D. J. ANDERSON.
THE MISSION OF THE SPIES.
WITH the best authorities we may conclude that the crowning rebellion of the Israelites (seemingly the fourth general outbreak of discontent) occurred in the summer of the second year from the Exodus. The host was marching in a northern direction, and all promised fair. An effective plan of organization had been carried out; and under Moses' leadership, the management of the people by the method of subdivision proposed by Jethro (Exod. xviii. 21-23) would work satisfactorily. Of these captains and sub-captains there were probably about 78,000; and more