John 7:2
Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand.
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(2) The Jews’ feast of tabernacles.—This began on “the fifteenth day of the seventh month” (Leviticus 23:34), i.e., the 15th of Tishri, which answers to our September. The interval, then, from Passover to Tabernacles is one of about five months. The feast continued for seven days, during which all true Israelites dwelt in booths, in remembrance of their dwelling in tabernacles when they came out of the land of Egypt. Like the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover) and the Feast of Harvest (Pentecost), this Feast of In-gathering was one of the “three times in the year” when every male Jew was required to appear before the Lord God (Exodus 23:14). Josephus speaks of it as the holiest and greatest of the feasts. It was at once a thankful memorial of the national deliverance, and a yearly rejoicing at the close of each succeeding harvest (Deuteronomy 16:13-16).

John 7:2-9. Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand — Instituted in commemoration of the Israelites dwelling in tents in the wilderness, and celebrated in booths erected for that purpose, with great solemnity and joy. For a particular account of the time, manner, and reason of this feast, see Leviticus 23:34-43. His brethren, therefore — So called, according to the Jewish way of speaking: namely, his near kinsmen, probably his cousins, the sons of his mother’s sister; said unto him, Depart hence — From this obscure place; and go into Judea — “As they did not believe on him, they condemned him in their own minds, and intimated that he acted altogether absurdly in passing so much of his time in Galilee, and the other remote corners of the country, while he pretended to so public a character as that of the Messiah; that it would be much more for his interest to make disciples in Jerusalem and Judea, the seat of power; and that he ought to work his miracles there as publicly as possible, before the great and learned men of the nation, whose decision in his favour would have great influence to induce others to believe on him.” Then Jesus said, My time is not yet come — Either to manifest myself or go up to Jerusalem. Jesus, knowing the malice of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, did not incline to be among them longer than was absolutely necessary, lest they should take away his life prematurely. But your time is always ready — You may go up with safety any time you please, since you have done nothing to make the Jews unfriendly to you as I have done; who by the strictness of my doctrine, and the freedom of my reproofs, have provoked their malice to the highest pitch. The world cannot hate you — Because you are of the world; but me it hateth — And all who bear the same testimony. Go ye up unto this feast — Whenever it suits you to go without waiting for me. I go not up yet — He does not say, I will not go up at all, but not yet. There may be reason for deferring a particular duty, which yet must not be wholly omitted. My time is not yet full come — Namely, the time of his sufferings, which the evangelist calls his hour; (chap. John 8:20;) or the time of his going up to the feast. When he had said these words, he abode still in Galilee — Namely, a few days longer.

7:1-13 The brethren or kinsmen of Jesus were disgusted, when they found there was no prospect of worldly advantages from him. Ungodly men sometimes undertake to counsel those employed in the work of God; but they only advise what appears likely to promote present advantages. The people differed about his doctrine and miracles, while those who favoured him, dared not openly to avow their sentiments. Those who count the preachers of the gospel to be deceivers, speak out, while many who favour them, fear to get reproach by avowing regard for them.The Jews' feast of tabernacles - Or the feast of tents. This feast was celebrated on the 15th day of the month Tisri, answering to the last half of our month September and the first half of October, Numbers 29:12; Deuteronomy 16:13-15. It was so called from the tents or tabernacles which on that occasion were erected in and about Jerusalem, and was designed to commemorate their dwelling in tents in the wilderness, Nehemiah 8:16-18. During the continuance of this feast they dwelt in booths or tents, as their fathers did in the wilderness, Leviticus 23:42-43. The feast was continued eight days, and the eighth or last day was the most distinguished, and was called the great day of the feast, John 7:37; Numbers 29:35. The Jews on this occasion not only dwelt in booths, but they carried about the branches of palms; willows, and other trees which bore a thick foliage, and also branches of the olive-tree, myrtle, etc., Nehemiah 8:15. Many sacrifices were offered on this occasion Numbers 29:12-39; Deuteronomy 16:14-16, and it was a time of general joy. It is called by Josephus and Philo the greatest feast, and was one of the three feasts which every male among the Jews was obliged to attend. 2. feast of tabernacles … at hand—This was the last of the three annual festivals, celebrated on the fifteenth of the seventh month (September). (See Le 23:33, &c.; De 16:13, &c.; Ne 8:14-18). The feast of tabernacles was a feast which God ordained the Jews to keep the fifteenth day of the seventh month, (which some make to answer our September, others our October), Leviticus 23:34,39, after they had gathered in the fruits of the land. It was to be kept seven days, the first and last of which days were to be kept as sabbaths; they were all the seven days to dwell in tents, or booths, in remembrance of the forty years they so dwelt in the wilderness, passing from Egypt to Canaan, as we read there, Leviticus 23:43. Now this festival was near at hand; so as we must understand the things following to have happened about the September or October before Christ’s suffering, which was at the next passover; that is, the March or April following, as we count the months.

Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand. Which began on the fifteenth day of the month Tisri, which answers to part of our September; when the Jews erected tents or booths, in which they dwelt, and ate their meals during this festival; and which was done, in commemoration of the Israelites dwelling in booths in the wilderness; and was typical of Christ's tabernacling in human nature; and an emblem of the saints dwelling in the earthly houses and tabernacles of their bodies, in this their wilderness and pilgrimage state. Some assign other reasons of this feast, as that it was appointed in commemoration of the divine command, for building the tabernacle; and others, that it was instituted in memory of the protection of the people of Israel under the cloud, as they travelled through the wilderness; by which they were preserved, as in a tent or booth; and to this inclines the Targum of Onkelos, on Leviticus 23:43, which paraphrases the words thus, "That your generations may know, that in the shadow of the clouds, I caused the children of Israel to dwell, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt": and one of the Jewish commentators (a) suggests, that the reason why the first place the Israelites pitched at, when they came out of Egypt, was called Succoth, which signifies "tents", or "tabernacles", is, because there they were covered with the clouds of glory: but the true reason of this feast is that which is first given, as is clear from Leviticus 23:43, and because they were obliged to dwell in tents, as soon as they came out of Egypt, therefore the first place they encamped at, was called "Succoth", or tabernacles, Exodus 12:37. This feast was not kept at the time of year the people came out of Egypt; for that was at the time of the passover; but was put off, as it seems, to a colder season of the year; and which was not so convenient for dwelling in booths; lest it should be thought they observed this feast for the sake of pleasure and recreation, under the shade of these bowers; which, as appears from Nehemiah 8:15, were made of olive, pine, myrtle, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees; and were fixed, some on the roofs of their houses, others in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God; and others in the streets: an account of the sacrifices offered at this feast, is given in Numbers 29:13, in which may be observed, that on the first day thirteen young bullocks were offered; on the second, twelve; on the third, eleven; on the fourth, ten; on the fifth, nine; on the sixth, eight; and on the seventh, seven; and on the eighth, but one. The Jews, in their Misna, have a treatise called "Succa", or the "Tabernacle", in which they treat of this feast; and which contains various traditions, concerning their booths, their manner of living in them, and other rites and usages observed by them, during this festival: they are very particular about the measure and form, and covering of their booths; a booth might not be higher than twenty cubits, nor lower than ten hands' breadth; and its breadth might not be less than seven hands' breadth by seven; but it might he carried out as wide as they pleased (b), provided it had three sides: they might not cover their booths with anything, but what grew out of the earth, or was rooted up from thence; nor with anything that received uncleanness, or was of an ill smell, or anything that was fallen and faded (c): into these booths they brought their best goods, their best bedding, and all their drinking vessels, &c. and left their houses empty; for here was their fixed dwelling; they only occasionally went into their houses (d); for here they were obliged to dwell day and night, and eat all their meals, during the seven days of the feast; and however, it was reckoned praiseworthy, and he was accounted the most religious, who ate nothing out of his booth (e); they were indeed excused when it was rainy weather, but as soon as the rain was over, they were obliged to return again (f) and besides, their dwelling and sleeping, and eating and drinking, in their booths, there were various other rites which were performed by them; as particularly, the carrying of palm tree branches in their hands, or what they call the "Lulab"; which was made up of branches of palm tree, myrtle, and willow, bound up together in a bundle, which was carried in the right hand, and a pome citron in the left; and as they carried them, they waved them three times towards the several quarters of the world; and every day they went about the altar once, with these in their hands, saying the words in Psalm 118:25, "Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord, O Lord I beseech thee, send now prosperity": and on the seventh day, they went about the altar seven times (g): also there were great illuminations in the temple; at the going out of the first day of the feast, they went down to the court of the women; they made a great preparation (i.e. as Bartenora explains it, they set benches round it, and set the women above, and the men below); and there were golden candlesticks there, and at the head of them four golden basins, and four ladders to every candlestick; and four young priests had four pitchers of oil, that held a hundred and twenty logs, which they put into each basin; and of the old breeches and girdles of the priests, they made wicks, and with them lighted them; and there was not a court in Jerusalem, which was not lighted with that light; and religious men, and men of good works, danced before them, with lighted torches in their hands, singing songs and hymns of praise (h); and this continued the six nights following (i): there was also, on everyone of these days, another custom observed; which was that of fetching water from the pool of Siloah, and pouring it with wine upon the altar, which was attended with great rejoicing; of which; see Gill on John 7:37, to which may be added, the music that was used during the performance of these rites; at the illumination in the court of the women, there were harps, psalteries, cymbals, and other instruments of music, playing all the while; and two priests with trumpets, who sounded, when they had the signal; and on every day, as they brought water from Siloah to the altar, they sounded with trumpets, and shouted; the great "Hallel", or hymn, was sung all the eight days, and the pipe was blown, sometimes five days, and sometimes six (k); and even on all the eight days; and the whole was a feast of rejoicing, according to Leviticus 23:40.

(a) Baal Hatturim in Numbers 33.5. (b) Misn. Succa, c. 1. sect. 1. Maimon. Hilch. Succa, c. 4. sect. 1.((c) Misn. Succa, sect. 4, 5, 6. Maimon. ib. c. 5. sect. 1, 2, &c. (d) Maimon. ib. c. 6. sect. 5. (e) Misn. ib. c. 2. sect. 5, 6. Maimon. ib. sect. 6, 7. (f) Maimon. ib. sect. 10. (g) Misn. ib. c. 4. sect. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Maimon. Hilch. Lulab, c. 7. sect. 5, 6, 9, 23. (h) Misn. Succa, c. 5. sect 2, 3, 4. (i) Maimon. ib. c. 8. sect. 12. (k) Misn. ib. c. 4. sect. 8, 9. & c. 5. 1, 4, 5. & Eracin, c. 2. sect. 3.

Now the Jews' {a} feast of tabernacles was at hand.

(a) This feast was so called because of the booths and tents which they made out of different types of boughs, and sat under them seven days altogether; and during this entire time the feast went on.

John 7:2. But occasion arose for His abandoning His purpose to remain in Galilee. ἦν δὲσκηνοπηγία. In Hebrew חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת (Leviticus 23:34), the Feast of Succoth, or Booths, in Greek σκηνοπηγία, the fixing of tents; so called because in this Feast the Jews commemorated how their fathers had dwelt in tents, and been fed and cared for as if in a settled condition. It was one of the great Feasts, and as it fell in October and Jesus had not attended the previous Passover, it might seem desirable that He should go up to Jerusalem now.

2. the Jews’ feast of tabernacles] Again an indication that the Gospel was written outside Palestine: see on John 6:1; John 6:4. An author writing in Palestine would be less likely to specify it as ‘the feast of the Jews.’ Tabernacles was the most joyous of the Jewish festivals. It had two aspects; (1) a commemoration of their dwelling in tents in the wilderness, (2) a harvest-home. It was therefore a thanksgiving (1) for a permanent abode, (2) for the crops of the year. It began on the 15th of the 7th month, Tisri (about our September), and lasted seven days, during which all who were not exempted through illness or weakness were obliged to live in booths, which involved much both of the discomfort and also of the merriment of a picnic. The distinctions between rich and poor were to a large extent obliterated in the general encampment, and the Feast thus became a great levelling institution. On the eighth day the booths were broken up and the people returned home: but it had special sacrifices of its own and was often counted as part of the Feast itself. The Feast is mentioned here, partly as a date, partly to shew what after all induced Christ to go up to Jerusalem.

Verses 1, 2 - And after these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he was not willing to walk in Judaea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Tabernacles, was at hand. The last clause supplies a valuable chronological datum. This great climacteric feast of ingathering and joyful memories of all the goodness of Jehovah was held on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:34-36). Consequently, according to John's own statement, six months had elapsed between the transactions at Bethsaida and Capernaum, and those which he now proceeds to describe. During these six months some of the most thrilling events in the synoptic narrative must have been enacted. The Lord "walked in Galilee." He had discussed the whole question of Pharisaic and ceremonial cleansing and food, and the entire principle of revelation and tradition (Matthew 15. and Mark 7.). He had given express illustration of his own teaching by venturing even into heathen cities, and there healing the Syro-Phoenician's child. He had journeyed towards the north of Palestine, into the Greek cities of Decapolis (Mark 7:31), and had made a great demonstration of his healing powers on the mountain heights above the Sea of Galilee. There too (Mark 7:1-9) he had once more fed multitudes by his word, on the second miraculous meal. It is probable that the multitudes were Gentiles, whose stock of food would have been exhausted by a three days' sojourn; that at least they were not excitable Galilaeans, who might come by force and make him a King. The Pharisees assailed him, asking for a sign. The disciples, by the mouth of Peter, had confessed their faith (Matthew 16:13-28) in more explicit form and force than before (John 6:68, 69), and Christ had explained in yet more definite terms than in the synagogue in Capernaum the needs be for his Passion, death, and resurrection. The Transfiguration on the mountain, with its ineffaceable impressions, had followed, with numerous miracles, parables, and connected instructions (Matthew 16, 17, 18.). Jesus walked for six months in Galilee, knowing, as we learn from these verses, that the authorities in Jerusalem were utterly hostile to him, and had neither forgotten nor forgiven the assertion of his special claims when he was on the last occasion in Jerusalem at the unnamed feast (be it the Feast of Passover or Tabernacles, the Feast of Purim or Trumpets). The outburst of hostility which kept him so long from Jerusalem was circulating in angry vibrations to the very borders of Galilee. The hour for the final conflict was in abeyance until he had preached more explicitly the Divine gospel of love and redemption, and had left the indestructible seed in human hearts. There was malice in Galileo as well as in Judaea, but it took a different form. Thoma regards the sixth chapter as the ideal treatment by the fourth evangelist of the events recorded in the synoptic narrative, and, strangely enough, treats the wonders on the sea and on the land as parallels to the synoptic account of the temptation! The objection to this is not so much the underlying dissimilarity of idea as the chronological position assigned by Matthew and Luke to the temptation before John was imprisoned, whereas these events occur after his execution. Further, the synoptists record these two miracles in their proper place in the biography as well as describe the temptation. That the deep inner meaning and teaching of ch. 6. corresponds with that of the last Supper, no reader can miss; nor that this confession of Peter is the highest point of the earlier and later narratives we do not question; but their striking resemblance to each other, instead of transforming this Gospel into a philosophical allegory, appears to us to prove that we have the same historic Christ in Both narratives. The Feast of Tabernacles, the σκηνοπηγία, or tent pitching, called by Philo σκηναί, was the last great feast of the sacred year. It had its relation to the natural and providential goodness of God. Just as the Passover commemorated the opening of the harvest and the first fruits of the grain, and as Pentecost celebrated the completion of the harvest, so the "Tabernacles" implied the ingathering of the fruit of the vine and of the olive, and summed up the joyful acknowledgments for the whole year. Again, as the "Passover" recorded the deliverance from Egyptian bondage by the destroying angel who spared the blood sprinkled home, and the "Pentecost" probably (Maimonides) commemorated the giving of the Law, so the "Tabernacles" recalled in a festive form the time of Israel's wandering in the wilderness, when they dwelt in tabernacles. Joyfulness and astonishing ceremonial characterized the festival. The city of palaces broke out into booths of trees and leaves in every possible space, on walls and housetops in courtyards, and even in waggons and on the backs of camels. The people carried their palm branches and citrons in their hands, and great merriment, almost suggestive of heathen rites, prevailed. It probably gathered up about it, as some Christian festivals have done, other ancient or surrounding customs. The number of bullocks sacrificed during the seven days - one fewer on each day, beginning with thirteen - amounted in all to seventy (13+12+11+10+9+8+7 = 70). This the rabbis regarded as referring to the seventy nations of heathendom. Additional peculiarities were conspicuous in the immense number of priests who were required to take part in the sacrifices. The blasts of priests' trumpets which regulated the ceremonial, the great musical procession employed in brining water from the Pool of Siloam, then within the city wall, added another noticeable feature. The water was brought in a golden goblet, and poured into a silver funnel, which conveyed it by pipes to the Kedron, and was thus supposed to bless the thirsty land. This act was accompanied by singing the great Hallel, and the shouts and songs of Zion were heard far over hill and valley. At night time universal illumination prevailed, and huge candelabra in the temple court shed a radiance over the whole city. These peculiarities of the feast rendered it the most popular, if not the most sacred, of all the feasts ('Ant.,' 8:04, 1, Ἐορτὴ ἁγιωτάτη καὶ μεγίστη). It was a time when the national sentiment often burst into fierce flame. Various historic glories of the past were called to remembrance, and spiritual privileges were symbolized in the ritual. The fact that the feast held this important place in the affections and enthusiasm of the people explains the anxiety of the family of Jesus that, whatever his claims really were, they should be canvassed in the metropolis and decided by the only authorities adequate to the task. John 7:2The Jews' feast of tabernacles

The Rev. brings out the defining force of the two articles: the feast of the Jews, the feast of tabernacles. This feast occurred in the early autumn (September or early October), and lasted for seven days. Its observance is commanded in Exodus 23:16; Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:39, Leviticus 23:42, Leviticus 23:43; Deuteronomy 16:13. Its significance was twofold. It was a harvest-home festival, and hence was called the Feast of Ingathering, and it comememorated the dwelling of Israel in tents or booths in the wilderness. Hence the name Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. The association of the latter event with harvest was designed to remind the people in their prosperity of the days of their homeless wandering, that their hearts might not be lifted up and forget God, who delivered them from bondage (Deuteronomy 8:12-17). Therefore they were commanded to quit their permanent homes and to dwell in booths at the time of harvest. The festival was also known as the Feast of Jehovah, or simply the Festival (Leviticus 23:39; 1 Kings 8:2), because of its importance, and of being the most joyful of all festivals. At the celebration of the feast at Jerusalem booths were erected in the streets and squares and on the housetops. The Greek word for this feast, σκηνοπηγία, construction of tabernacles, occurs only here in the New Testament.

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