1. How did Jerusalem receive special illumination during the festival of booths, and how did Jews act under this illumination?
THE festival of booths was an occasion for special illumination of “the city of the great King,” Jehovah. (Matt. 5:35) Nightly in Herod’s temple, in the Courtyard of the Women that lay to the east of the altar, there was an unusual display. Four giant candelabra were installed there. Each had four large basins. In order to fill the basins with combustible oil, ladders had to be used to reach them. Castaway garments of the priests were used as wicks for the basins of oil. The light cast by these 16 basins of burning oil was strong enough to illuminate all Jerusalem by night. Under this magnified illumination, the Israelite men in the Courtyard of the Women would dance or do acrobatics, while the womenfolk looked down upon the scene from their balcony. Singers entoned the 15 Psalms of Ascent to musical accompaniment by the Levites. This rejoicing kept on till daybreak.
2. Where were the Gentiles who attended the festival located at this time?
2 Uncircumcised Gentiles attending the festival were restricted to the Courtyard of the Gentiles, separated from the Courtyard of Israel by the Stone Barrier and the Outer Courtyard.—Note Acts 21:28, 29, to illustrate restrictions on Gentiles at the temple.
3, 4. (a) How did Jesus attend the festival in autumn of 32 C.E., and what did he there say that could remind Jews of the water of Siloam? (b) According to John 7:39, to what was Jesus there referring?
3 In view of the prominent features that were added to the celebration of the festival of booths, we can appreciate some pertinent remarks of Jesus Christ at the festival. He celebrated this festival for the last time in the autumn of 32 C.E. Because Jews at Jerusalem were seeking to kill him, Jesus left Galilee by himself and went up inconspicuously to the festival. About the middle of it, say, Tishri 18, he stood forth openly and began to teach the people, the throngs of celebrators in the temple.
4 The last day of the festival, Tishri 21, was called “the great day of the festival.” On that day Jesus likely reminded the people of the pouring out of the water of Siloam when he said: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He that puts faith in me, just as the Scripture has said, ‘Out from his inmost part streams of living water will flow.’” On what Jesus there said, the apostle John makes this comment: “However, he said this concerning the spirit which those who put faith in him were about to receive; for as yet there was no spirit, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.”—John 7:37-39.
5. When did those marvelous words begin to come true, and how?
5 Those marvelous words began to come true on the day of Pentecost of the following year, when about 120 disciples, assembled in an upper room in Jerusalem, received the outpouring of the holy spirit. From them, indeed, streams of living water began to flow forth when, in many miraculously given languages, they spoke “the magnificent things of God” to the astonished thousands of Jews that gathered together to witness the spectacle.—Acts 2:1-41.
6. On the last festival day, what did Jesus say that may have reminded his disciples of the special temple illumination?
6 On the seventh and last day of the festival of booths, Jesus made a further remark that may have reminded his disciples of the special illumination that featured the celebration, namely, that of the four tall candelabra in the temple’s Courtyard of the Women. Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. He that follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light of life.”—John 8:12.
7. Why was Jesus’ calling himself the light “of the world” very fitting at the festival of the booths?
7 Jesus’ calling himself “the light of the world” was very appropriate at this festival of booths, inasmuch as the festival took on the characteristics of a world festival. How so? Because in God’s law the “alien resident” within the gates of the Israelites was named as having the right to take part in the festival, with rejoicing along with God’s chosen people.—Deut. 16:14.
8. (a) What was unique about the sacrificing of bulls at the festival of the booths? (b) As to number, how does this correspond with what is set out in Genesis chapter 10, indicating what?
8 According to Numbers 29:12-34, an unusual number of bulls were offered in sacrifice. On the first day 13 bulls were offered, and on the succeeding six days one less bull was offered each day, down to seven bulls offered on the seventh and last day, on which day Jesus said: “I am the light of the world.” Thus by the last day of the festival 70 bulls had been offered up. The number 70 is a multiple of 7 and 10, both of these numbers representing completeness, perfection, 7 spiritual perfection and 10 secular completeness. On Tishri 10, the Day of Atonement, only one bull had been offered up as an atonement sacrifice. But during the seven-day festival of booths, Tishri 15-21, 70 bulls were offered. As a type, these would provide enough blood for the cleansing and salvation of the whole world of mankind. This corresponds with what is set out in Genesis chapter 10. There the personal names of family heads and of nations are given, beginning with Noah and running down through his three sons to the names Mesha and Sephar. These amount to 70 designations, and they appear to cover the world population of that post-Flood period.
9. Of whom did Jesus say that he was “the light,” and what is it that all mankind needs for gaining life?
9 So, at the suitable time, it was most fitting for Jesus Christ to announce, “I am the light of the world,” not merely the light of his anointed footstep followers. As regards the benefit of light, we remember that it was after God said, “Let light come to be,” and after he created the sun, the moon and the stars and made it possible for them to beam light down upon our earth, that he created animals and finally the perfect man and woman, to enjoy the light of life. Today, in this world bedarkened by sin and alienation from God, all persons stand to benefit from the light that streams forth from Jesus Christ, “the light of the world.” All of them need “the light of life.”—John 8:12; Gen. 1:3.
ANTITYPICAL FESTIVAL OF BOOTHS
10. In what respect is the festival of booths like the two preceding festivals, and what factors do we here need to consider?
10 Like the two preceding festivals ordained by God for his chosen people, the festival of booths should have an antitypical meaning for our times. Happily it does have an antitypical fulfillment. Well, then, when did this begin? How are we to determine this? By means of factors typical and antitypical, historical.
11. What do the historical facts show as to whether the “harvest” mentioned in Matthew 13:39 began in the year 1914, or not?
11 In Matthew, chapter 13, Jesus Christ gave us a parable in which the ingathering of the fruitage of the field was featured. This was the parable of the wheat and the weeds or tares (darnel). In explaining the features of the parable, Jesus said: “The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things.” (Matt. 13:39) Bible prophecy and timetables, as well as historical events, establish that the conclusion of today’s system of things began in 1914 C.E., in the autumn of which year “seven times” ended for Gentile domination of the earth without interference by God’s Messianic kingdom. (Dan. 4:23-25) Did the “harvest” or ingathering of the “wheat” class of true Christians begin in that year? No, because history shows that Jehovah’s dedicated Christian worshipers were dispersed during World War I that began in 1914. Their worldwide organization was broken up by the enemies of Jehovah’s Messianic kingdom, the heavenly kingdom that was zealously being proclaimed by those spirit-begotten, anointed disciples of Jesus Christ, the reigning King. The organizational breakup finally reached even the headquarters of Jehovah’s dedicated people in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A., in 1918.
12. When did the gathering foretold by Jesus in Matthew 24:31 start, and the beginning of what festival was marked by this?
12 In Jesus’ prophecy on the “sign” of his presence and of the conclusion of this system of things, he said, in Matthew 24:31: “And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.” Those words foretold a gathering together of Christ’s “chosen ones” from all the places to which they had been scattered or isolated. This gathering began taking place in the postwar year of 1919, immediately after members of the headquarters staff of the Brooklyn center were released, after suffering nine months of imprisonment in the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A., on March 25, 1919. Thus it was in that memorable year that the antitypical festival of ingathering, or of booths, started going into effect. This was marked by tremendous joy on the part of the anointed remnant of Christ’s “chosen ones” world wide.
13. (a) When Jesus spoke of a harvest in Matthew 13:39, he was speaking about the harvesting of what persons? (b) Who of such ones were harvested after 1919?
13 To confirm this, we must recall a number of weighty things. When Jesus said, “The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things,” about what was he talking? About the ingathering of “the sons of the kingdom,” that is to say, the spirit-begotten heirs of the heavenly kingdom. That is a spiritual anointed class, symbolized by the wheat, and their ingathering did indeed start in the spring of 1919. In course of time more were gathered in besides those heirs of the Kingdom who were scattered by World War I events. In the period from 1919 onward thousands of others took their stand for God’s established kingdom and dedicated themselves to Jehovah, got baptized, were begotten spiritually and were anointed with God’s spirit, and these were added to the ranks of the original remnant. These newly added ones were, as a class, prefigured by outstanding characters in pre-Christian Bible dramas. These illustrious characters were Ruth the Moabitess, who became the loyal companion of the Jewess Naomi, her mother-in-law, and also Queen Esther, the cousin of the Jew Mordecai, who became the prime minister of the Persian Empire under Emperor Ahasuerus, or Xerxes.
14. Thus, what marks the opening of the antitypical festival of ingathering, or of booths?
14 Both Ruth and Esther became connected with the royal line of David and with its preservation down to the first coming of Jesus, the “son of David.” (Matt. 1:1, 5; Ruth 4:18-22; Esther 4:13, 14) The gathering in of the Ruth and Esther class, along with the original anointed remnant, marks the opening of the antitypical feast of ingathering, or of booths.
15. The autumn festival was whose festival, and who were commanded to dwell in booths during the celebration?
15 Another thing: In pre-Christian times it was the natural Jews who celebrated the typical festival of booths. They were the ones commanded by Jehovah through Moses to celebrate it. So at the time of the autumn ingathering they flocked to Jerusalem and dwelt there in booths. Even the permanent residents of Jerusalem did so. This festival of booths was a reminder of something earlier. What? Leviticus 23:42, 43 answers, saying: “It is in the booths you should dwell seven days. All the natives in Israel should dwell in the booths, in order that your generations may know that it was in the booths that I made the sons of Israel to dwell when I was bringing them out of the land of Egypt. I am Jehovah your God.” Native Jews did so.
16. (a) En route to the Promised Land, how did the “vast mixed company” live along with the Israelites? (b) In Herod’s temple in Jesus’ day, how was a distinction maintained between the Gentiles and the Israelites?
16 Of course, the “vast mixed company” of non-Israelites that threw in their lot with the Israelites and “went up with them” had to dwell in tents also on the way to the Promised Land. (Ex. 12:38) But the command to celebrate the festival of booths was not directed to the “vast mixed company” but was given to Israel. Neither was the Promised Land given to the “vast mixed company” to cultivate, but was divided up among the 12 non-Levitical tribes of Israel, and the law of the Jubilee restoration of land applied to the Israelites. So the festival of ingathering would be specially for the Israelites. Graciously the “alien resident” was allowed to join in. During the celebration in the days of Jesus Christ, the non-Jews, or Gentiles, were limited to the Courtyard of the Gentiles, the Stone Barrier and the Outer Courtyard dividing them off from the Courtyard of Israel. Their place was on the lowest level of the entire structure of Herod’s temple.
THE CELEBRATORS WHO CARRIED THE BRANCHES
17, 18. Who were the ones that carried the “lulabs,” and from what scripture is the idea of it said to be drawn?
17 In the celebration itself it was the Israelites who carried the so-called “lulabs” and the ethrogs (citrons). To gain some idea of what it must have been like in Jesus’ day, we may read the description of the Jewish celebration as given in Nehemiah 8:14-18. The lulab was a cluster of branches from various trees and was carried in the hand of the Jewish celebrator. The idea of it is said to be drawn from Leviticus 23:40:
18 “And you must take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, the fronds of palm trees and the boughs of branchy trees and poplars of the torrent valley, and you must rejoice before Jehovah your God seven days.”
19. (a) Of what was the “lulab” composed? (b) In what kind of procedure did the Israelites carry the lulab, and with what chant?
19 The components of the lulab were (1) a shoot of the palm tree in its folded state, (2) three twigs of the myrtle with whorls of leaves in these, and (3) two willow-tree branches, the wood of which is reddish and the branches of which are long and entire. The Israelites carrying the lulabs waved them and disposed of them at the close of the festival. The lulab and the ethrog (a citrus fruit like a lemon but without the nipple that the lemon has at one end) were carried in procession around the altar in the Courtyard of Priests, with one circuit on each of the first six days and seven circuits on the seventh and last day. After that the ethrog, or citron, was eaten. Along with the procession, Psalm 118:25 would be chanted: “Ah, now, Jehovah, do save, please! Ah, now, Jehovah, do grant success, please!” Gentiles, in their own courtyard, could not share in all of this.
20. In Governor Nehemiah’s day he told the Israelites at Jerusalem to be of what spirit at their festival of booths?
20 At the festival of booths in Nehemiah’s day, he as governor said to the Israelites who had returned from exile in Babylon: “This day is holy to our Lord, and do not feel hurt, for the joy of Jehovah is your stronghold.” (Neh. 8:10) The spiritual Israelites of today should have the same attitude as that since their being delivered from Babylon the Great in the year 1919 C.E.
21. (a) Why did the remnant of spiritual Israelites rejoice in the spring of 1919? (b) What kind of work did they think then lay ahead, but what did it turn out to be?
21 It is evident that the fulfillment of the festival of booths began in that postwar year. In view of their earlier expectations before that year, the spiritual “sons of the kingdom” were somewhat puzzled on being ushered into the postwar epoch. But they rejoiced exceedingly when deliverance from Babylon the Great came in the spring of 1919. They at once addressed themselves to the work of ingathering that now lay ahead of them. At first they thought it would be merely a “gleaning work.” Regarding this, see the Watch Tower of May 1, 1919, and its article “The Harvest Ended—What Shall Follow?,” page 138, paragraph 1. However, instead of a gleaning work, it turned out to be a full-scale harvest.
22. Did the anointed remnant plan on settling down in the paradise earth forever, and how do they view themselves amid this system of things?
22 The anointed remnant of harvesters lived, as it were, in “booths,” for they were not setting their affections on earthly things. They were not looking forward to living in an earthly paradise for all time to come. They were looking forward to entering their heavenly inheritance with the glorified Lord, Jesus Christ. Hence, their view of things was like that set out in Hebrews 13:13, 14: “Let us, then, go forth to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach he bore, for we do not have here a city that continues, but we are earnestly seeking the one to come.” In the face of that fact, they look upon themselves as being pilgrims, “aliens and temporary residents” amid this system of things, like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.—1 Pet. 2:11; Gen. 47:9; Ex. 6:4; Heb. 11:13; Ps. 119:54.
23. (a) Was the remnant’s celebration of the antitypical festival of booths brightened with spiritual illumination in 1923? (b) How was the parable of Matthew 25:31-46 seen to apply?
23 For the anointed remnant who had begun to enter into the modern antitype of the festival of booths, spiritual illumination from Jehovah’s heavenly temple beamed forth. It was during the gathering in of the spiritual class prefigured by Ruth and Esther that Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats, as recorded in Matthew 25:31-46, was given special illumination for the enlightenment of their understanding. At the 1923 general convention that was held in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., the president of the Watch Tower Society, now free for four years from imprisonment in the Atlanta (Ga.) penitentiary, discussed the illustration of the sheep and the goats. It did not have to wait until the millennial reign of Jesus Christ for fulfillment to begin. The sheeplike class was already then forming. Members of it were already on the scene and were doing good to the remnant of the spiritual “brothers” of the glorified Jesus Christ. The public lecture theme “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” used to be applied to them. They belonged to the “other sheep” whom Jesus mentioned in John 10:16.
24. Was there then any special effort made to gather in those doers of good to Christ’s spiritual “brothers”?
24 At the time of the explanation of the parable of Matthew 25:31-46, no special effort was made to gather in those “other sheep.” But appreciation was expressed for the kindnesses that they were rendering to the remnant of Christ’s spiritual “brothers.” Further spiritual illumination during the antitypical festival of booths was awaiting the due time.
[Diagram/Picture on page 17]
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Court of the Gentiles
Court of Women
Court of Israel
Court of Priests
[Picture on page 19]