Last modified on 22 February 2011, at 02:22

Hebrew Roots/Holy Days/Hoshanna Rabbah

THE LAST DAY OF SUKKOT -- HOSHANNAH RABBAHEdit

The seventh day of the Feast of Sukkot is called "Hoshanah Rabbah," meaning "the many hoshanahs." This is a contraction of hoshiah na -- 'the Great Hoshana,' or "The Great Salvation" which comes from the closing words of Psalm 118:25, 26 “Save now (hoshiah na), I beseech You, O Yahweh... ”

This day was the last day of the seven-day festival and was concluded with a special ceremony in the night to conclude the festivities which symbolised the prophetic significance of the end of the feast of Sukkot proper.

"Speak to the children of Israel, saying: The fifteenth day of this seventh month (Tishrei) shall be the feast of Tabernacles for seven days to Yahweh. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it." (Leviticus 23:33-35)

The festivities of the seventh and final day actually went over into the night, which according to Biblical reckoning, was then the eighth day. The eighth day (called Shemini Atzeret) was a holy convocation as was the first day of Sukkot and was added to the Sukkot festival period, but this was a separate appointment with Yahweh God, with its own spiritual and prophetic significance. Leviticus 23:36

THE PROPHETIC TEMPLE RITUALEdit

On this last (7th) day, at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the High Priest would lead a procession off the Temple Mount and through the streets of Jerusalem down to the Pool of Siloam to fill the golden pitcher which he carried, with the Living Water (Mayim Chaim) from the pool. As on the other days of the feast, he led the procession back to the Temple. There he is handed a silver pitcher full of wine and he pours the water and the wine out together and he prays on this day for two things. First, for the rains, the former and the latter rains for the natural harvest. Then he prays “God in heaven, send Your Messiah soon and in our days. We cry out for our our Messiah now" (Psalm 118:25-26)

As part of this Feast which is also called the feast of Ingathering, palm branches, myrtle branches, and willow branches are collected and held in the right hand (Leviticus [Vayikra] 23:40). A fourth entity, the etrog, representing the Gentiles or non-Jewish believers, is also gathered. These four species are used in a ceremony for Sukkot to represent the ingathering of the nations into His barn.

Every other day of the Feast of Sukkot, the priestly procession would march around the altar one time, holding and waving the four species of lulav branches and shouting praises to Yahweh God. But on the seventh day, this circling procession was done seven times while singing with a loud voice the song of redemption and salvation in the Hoshanna prayers. At this time the people also waved their palm branches while the Levites chanted the Hallel (Psalms 113-118).

At the conclusion of the seventh circle, they took the willows which had been placed at the altar as part of the temple ritual for the day (Sukkah 45a), and struck the willows branches onto the ground around the altar, in the process separating the leaves from the branches to symbolize the casting away of the nation’s sins.

The broken willow leaves are symbolic of man's sins that are cast off on what was considered to be the last and final day of judgment when the decision on high, sealed on the Day of Atonement, was confirmed.

"On the final day, the entire congregation marches around seven times, carrying even more willow leaves with them. These seven times, a memorial of the circuits made by the ancient priests around the Temple altar during worship, remind us of God's goodness in destroying Jericho once Israel had circled it seven times.

"In contrast to the festive days of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah is observed solemnly, as an extension of the Day of Atonement. On this day, the rabbis tell us, the GATES OF JUDGMENT FINALLY CLOSE and the decrees pronounced by God on the Day of Atonement take effect" (The Fall Feasts of Israel, p.198-199).

This is symbolic typology drawn from an actual harvest. When the harvest is brought in, it is laid on the threshing floor to dry out. Then it is beaten and winnowed to remove the grain from the chaff. This is when the grain is gathered and the chaff is blown away or consumed in a fire. The beating symbolises the judgment process to harvest the grain.

The place of the temple altar was originally the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite which David purchased in order to have a place of sacrifice to remove the curse off Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:13-25) When David brought the ark back to Jerusalem it was placed in the city of David (1 Chronicles 16: 1) and afterward, when Solomon reigned, he brought up the ark and placed it in the temple which he built upon Mount Moriah, over that threshing floor. (2 Chronicles 3: 1; 5: 2-7)

The beating of the willow branches was a prophetic act of the winnowing of the harvest on the threshing floor. This all pictures the judgment process which He will initiate when the harvest of the earth is reaped (Revelation14:14-16). During this, He will separate the chaff from the wheat and burn the chaff with unquenchable fire (the lake of fire) in the Great White Throne judgment. (Matthew 3:11-12; Revelation 20:11-15)

Each night of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) there was a great ceremony called the "Illumination of the Temple," which involved the ritual lighting of four golden oil-fed lamps in the Court of Women. These lamps were huge menorahs/candelabras (seventy-five feet high) lighted in the Temple at night to remind the people of the pillar of fire that had guided them in their wilderness journey. All night long they shone in their brilliance, illuminating the entire city.

In celebration and anticipation of the return of the Shekinah glory to Israel, the holiest of Israel's men danced and sang psalms of joy and praise, before Yahweh God. This festival was a reminder that He had promised to send His Light, to a sin-darkened world. Yahweh God promised to send the Messiah to renew Israel's glory, release them from bondage, and restore their joy. This is the background for the impact of the words said by Y'shua in the Temple courtyard when he announced, "I am the Light of the world." John 8:12

He is the Light, the source of illumination, to bring the lost out of darkness. He had come up to Jerusalem for the feast and went into the Temple, to teach the people and illumine their hearts. (John 7: 1-9; 14-30).

Y'shua made His declaration that it was also through Him that the people would receive the living water which was typified in the feast, " On that last day, that great day of the feast, Y'shua stood up 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.' But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" John 7:37-39

During the time of Y'shua, the high point of the Sukkot celebration was the "drawing of water" (Simchat Bais HaShoava) ceremony. This expressed the messianic hope of the people at that time who in their oppression by their Roman overseers, and their understanding of the prophecies, were looking for the advent of their Messiah. So when Y'shua appeared on the scene, with the themes of light and water on their minds, they were ready to identify Him as the "Son of David" and hope for deliverance by Him from their oppressors. (John 7:14-30; 37-38; 8:12)

In His proclamations to the people He was appealing to their need for the true light which lightens every man and the real water of life which satisfies the thirsty soul. He combined two of the messianic symbols of the feast - the water libation and the light of the candlelabras in the Temple precinct, to illustrate the fulfillment in Himself of the promised restoration of Israel under Messiah in the age to come.

THE FULFILLMENT OF HOSHANNA RABBAHEdit

This final celebration of the harvest, pictures the final stage of God's plan of salvation. The "last great day of the feast" is the Last Great Day of the second resurrection and the "Great White Throne Judgment".

All those who did not qualify to be part of the first resurrection will rise up, to human life, after the 1,000 year period (Revelation 20:5-6) of the Millennium . They will be judged at that time -- the time of the "Great Salvation," or "Many Hoshannas." This judgment will be the sealing of those who are raised, some to eternal life and others to everlasting destruction (Revelation 20:11-15). It will be the separation of the wheat and the chaff and the end of sin on the earth.

Then the glory of God will illumine His city and the pure water of the river of life will flow from the throne of God and of the Lamb and the trees which grow by it shall be for the salvation of the nations. (Revelation 21:22-24; 22: 1-4)