Leviticus 23:40
And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(40) And ye shall take you on the first day.—The four species of vegetable production here ordered are a distinctive feature of this festival. They have been most minutely defined during the second Temple.

Boughs of goodly trees.—Better, the fruit of goodly trees, as the margin rightly renders it. As this phrase is too indefinite, and may simply denote the fruit of any choice fruit-tree, there can hardly be any doubt that in this instance, as in many other cases, the lawgiver left it to the administrators of the Law to define its precise kind. Basing it therefore upon one of the significations of the term here translated “goodly,” which is to dwell, to rest, the authorities during the second Temple decreed that it means the fruit winch permanently rests upon the tree—i.e., the citron, the paradise-apple. If it came from an uncircumcised tree (see Leviticus 19:23), from an unclean heave-offering (comp. Numbers 18:11-12), or exhibited the slightest defect, it was ritually illegal.

Branches of palm trees.—During the second Temple this was defined as the shoot of the palm-tree when budding, before the leaves are spread abroad, and whilst it is yet like a rod. It is technically called lulab, which is the expression whereby it is rendered in the ancient Chaldee version. The lulab must at least be three hands tall, and must be tied together with its own kind.

The boughs of thick trees.—This, according to the same authorities, denotes the myrtle branch, whose leaves thickly cover the wood. To make it ritually legal it must have three or more shoots round the stem, and on the same level with it. If it is in any way damaged it is illegal. This accounts for the ancient Chaldee version rendering it by “myrtle branch.”

Willows of the brook.—That species, the distinguishing marks of which are dark wood and long leaves with smooth margin. The palm, the myrtle, and the willow, when tied together into one bundle, constitute the Lulab. Whilst the psalms are chanted by the Levites during the sacrifices, the pilgrims, who held the Lulabs or palms, shook them thrice, viz., at the singing of Psalm 118:1, then again at Leviticus 23:25, and at Leviticus 23:29. When the chant was finished, the priests in procession went round the altar once, exclaiming, “Hosanna, O Lord, give us help, O Lord! give prosperity !” (Psalm 118:25). Whereupon the solemn benediction was pronounced by the priests, and the people dispersed amidst the repeated exclamations, “How beautiful art thou, O altar !” It is this part of the ritual which explains the welcome that the multitude gave Christ when they went to meet Him with palm-branches and shouts of hosanna (Matthew 21:8-9; Matthew 21:15; John 12:12-13).

Leviticus 23:40. Of goodly trees — Namely, olive, myrtle, and pine, mentioned Nehemiah 8:15-16, which were most plentiful there, and which would best preserve their greenness. Thick trees — Fit for shade and shelter. And willows — To mix with the other, and in some sort bind them together. And as they made their booths of these materials, so they carried some of these boughs in their hands, as is affirmed by Jewish and other ancient writers.

23:33-44 In the feast of Tabernacles there was a remembrance of their dwelling in tents, or booths, in the wilderness, as well as their fathers dwelling in tents in Canaan; to remind them of their origin and their deliverance. Christ's tabernacling on earth in human nature, might also be prefigured. And it represents the believer's life on earth: a stranger and pilgrim here below, his home and heart are above with his Saviour. They would the more value the comforts and conveniences of their own houses, when they had been seven days dwelling in the booths. It is good for those who have ease and plenty, sometimes to learn what it is to endure hardness. The joy of harvest ought to be improved for the furtherance of our joy in God. The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; therefore whatever we have the comfort of, he must have the glory of, especially when any mercy is perfected. God appointed these feasts, Beside the sabbaths and your free-will offerings. Calls to extraordinary services will not excuse from constant and stated ones.The boughs of goodly trees - Or, the fruit (see the margin) of the citron trees. It is said that every Israelite at the Feast of tabernacles carried in one hand a bundle of branches and in the other a citron. The branches seem to have comprised the boughs of palm-trees, "thick trees" and willows here named. See the note to Leviticus 23:42; Nehemiah 8:15-16. 34-44. the feast of tabernacles, for seven days unto the Lord—This festival, which was instituted in grateful commemoration of the Israelites having securely dwelt in booths or tabernacles in the wilderness, was the third of the three great annual festivals, and, like the other two, it lasted a week. It began on the fifteenth day of the month, corresponding to the end of our September and beginning of October, which was observed as a Sabbath; and it could be celebrated only at the place of the sanctuary, offerings being made on the altar every day of its continuance. The Jews were commanded during the whole period of the festival to dwell in booths, which were erected on the flat roofs of houses, in the streets or fields; and the trees made use of are by some stated to be the citron, the palm, the myrtle, and the willow, while others maintain the people were allowed to take any trees they could obtain that were distinguished for verdure and fragrance. While the solid branches were reserved for the construction of the booths, the lighter branches were carried by men, who marched in triumphal procession, singing psalms and crying "Hosanna!" which signifies, "Save, we beseech thee!" (Ps 118:15, 25, 26). It was a season of great rejoicing. But the ceremony of drawing water from the pool, which was done on the last day, seems to have been the introduction of a later period (Joh 7:37). That last day was the eighth, and, on account of the scene at Siloam, was called "the great day of the feast." The feast of ingathering, when the vintage was over, was celebrated also on that day [Ex 23:16; 34:22], and, as the conclusion of one of the great festivals, it was kept as a sabbath. Boughs, Heb. the fruit, i.e. fruit-bearing boughs, or branches with the fruit on them, as the word fruit seems to be taken, 2 Kings 19:30 Ezekiel 19:12. Goodly trees, to wit, the olive, myrtle, and pine, as they are mentioned, Nehemiah 8:15,16, which were most plentiful there, and which would best preserve their greenness or freshness.

Thick trees, fit for shade and shelter.

Willows of the brook, which might do well to mix with the other, and in some sort to bind them together. And as they made their booths of these materials, as is apparent from Ne 8, so it seems they did also carry some of these boughs in their hands, as is affirmed by Jewish and other ancient writers.

Ye shall rejoice; which joy they testified by feasting, thanksgiving, &c.

And ye shall take you the boughs of goodly trees,.... Which the three Targums interpret, of citrons; and so Jarchi and Aben Ezra; and the Jews are so tenacious of observing this, that in those countries where this fruit grows not, they will send for it from Spain, where there is plenty of it: the Targum of Jonathan, paraphrases it, "ye shall take of yours"; suggesting these boughs must be their own, or the bundle of them, with others they call the "lulab", must be their own property, and not another's; though it is said (u), if it is a gift it will do, even though it is given on condition to be returned again:

branches of palm trees: which were very common in the land of Judea, and especially about Jericho; see John 12:13; the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem call them "lulabs", which is the name the Jews give to the whole bundle they carried in their hands on this day:

and the boughs of thick trees; which the Targums and Jewish writers in general understand of myrtles, being full of branches and leaves:

and willows of the brook; a sort of trees which delight to grow by brooks and rills of water: these, according to the Jewish writers, were not taken to make their booths of, though that seems to be the use of them, from Nehemiah 8:15; but to tie up in bundles, and carry in hands; the citron in their left hand, and a bundle made of the other three sorts of boughs of trees in the right hand, which they called the "lulab":

and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days; because of the blessings of his goodness bestowed upon them in the plentiful harvest and vintage they had been favoured with, and in remembrance of past mercies, showed to their fathers in the wilderness, giving them food and drink, and guiding and protecting them with the pillar of cloud and fire; and at the same time, also, thankful for the different circumstances they were in, having cities, towns, and houses to dwell its, and fields and vineyards to possess, when their fathers lived in a wilderness for forty years together; and especially such of them expressed their joy before the Lord, who had any knowledge of this being a type of the Messiah tabernacling in human nature, they had the promise of, to be their spiritual Redeemer and Saviour: these seven days are kept by the Jews now, chiefly in carnal mirth, and so for ages past, as by carrying the above boughs in their hands, and going round about the altar with them, and, shaking them, and crying Hosanna, and by making use of all sorts of music, vocal and instrumental, piping, dancing, leaping, skipping, and various gestures, even by persons of the highest rank, and of the greatest character for sobriety (w); and particularly by fetching water from Siloah, when in their own land, and pouring it with wine upon the altar, which was attended with such expressions of joy, that it is said, that he who never saw the rejoicing of drawing of water, never saw any rejoicing in his life (x): the Jews give this reason of the ceremony, because at this feast was the time of the rains, see Targum of Jonathan on Leviticus 23:36; and therefore the holy blessed God said, pour water before me, that the rains of the year may be blessed unto you (y); but others have thought there was something more mysterious in it, and that it had respect to the pouring out of the Holy Ghost; for, they say (z), the place of drawing water was so called, because they drew the Holy Ghost, as it is said, "ye shall draw water with joy out of the wells of salvation", Isaiah 12:3; to this our Lord is thought to allude; see Gill on John 7:37, John 7:38, some of the ceremonies used at this feast have been imitated by the Heathens: Strabo (a) says, the carrying branches of trees, dances, and sacrifices, were common to the gods, and particularly to Bacchus; and there was such a likeness between these and the rites of Bacchus, that Plutarch (b) thought the Jews at this time kept two feasts to the honour of him; whereas, as Bishop Patrick observes, the profane Bacchanalia of the Gentiles were only a corruption of this festival.

(u) Misn. Succah, c. 3. sect. 13. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. R. Alphes, par. 1. Succah, c. 2. fol. 376. 1.((w) Maimon. Hilchot Lulab. c. 7. sect. 10. c. 13, & c. 8. sect. 12, 13, 14, 15. (x) Misn. Succah, c. 5. sect. 1. 4. (y) R. Alphes, par. 1. Roshhashanah, c. 1. fol. 346. 2.((z) T. Hieros. Succah, fol. 55. 1.((a) Geograph. l. 10. p. 322. (b) Sympos. l. 1. prob. 3.

And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
40. fruit of goodly trees] i.e. fruit of goodly (ornamental, beautiful) trees, or goodly tree fruit (so Dillm.).

boughs of thick trees] According to Onkelos, myrtle branches, but the expression may have a more general signification. It has been doubted whether this various material was to be used for the construction of the booths, or for the purpose of making a lûlâb or festal bouquet. Among the later Jews the lûlâb (Jos. Ant. iii. 10. 4) consisted of a myrtle, willow, and palm branch, and an ethrôg (orange or citron) carried in the hands. In Nehemiah’s time (Nehemiah 8:15) there is found no more than a general agreement with the text here as to materials. See further in Jos. Ant. xiii. 13. 5, and the Mishna Sukkah iii. 1 ff.

Leviticus 23:40"Beside the Sabbaths:" i.e., the Sabbath sacrifices (see Numbers 28:9-10), and the gifts and offerings, which formed no integral part of the keeping of the feasts and Sabbaths, but might be offered on those days. מתּנות, gifts, include all the dedicatory offerings, which were presented to the Lord without being intended to be burned upon the altar; such, for example, as the dedicatory gifts of the tribe-princes (Numbers 7), the firstlings and tithes, and other so-called heave-offerings (Numbers 18:11, Numbers 18:29). By the "vows" and נדבות, "freewill-offerings," we are to understand not only the votive and freewill slain or peace-offerings, but burnt-offerings also, and meat-offerings, which were offered in consequence of a vow, or from spontaneous impulse (see Judges 11:31, where Jephthah vows a burnt-offering). - In Leviticus 23:39. there follows a fuller description of the observance of the last feast of the year, for which the title, "feast of Tabernacles" (Leviticus 23:34), had prepared the way, as the feast had already been mentioned briefly in Exodus 23:16 and Exodus 34:22 as "feast of Ingathering," though hitherto no rule had been laid down concerning the peculiar manner in which it was to be observed. In connection with this epithet in Exodus, it is described again in Leviticus 23:39, as in Leviticus 23:35, Leviticus 23:36, as a seven days' feast, with sabbatical rest on the first and eighth day; and in Leviticus 23:40. the following rule is given for its observance: "Take to you fruit of ornamental trees, palm-branches, and boughs of trees with thick foliage, and willows of the brook, and rejoice before the Lord your God seven days, every native in Israel." If we observe that there are only three kinds of boughs that are connected together by the copula (vav) in Leviticus 23:40, and that it is wanting before תם כּפּת, there can hardly be any doubt that הדר עץ פּרי is the generic term, and that the three names which follow specify the particular kinds of boughs. By "the fruits," therefore, we understand the shoots and branches of the trees, as well as the blossom and fruit that grew out of them. הדר עץ, "trees of ornament:" we are not to understand by these only such trees as the orange and citron, which were placed in gardens for ornament rather than use, as the Chald. and Syr. indicate, although these trees grow in the gardens of Palestine (Rob., Pal. i. 327, iii. 420). The expression is a more general one, and includes myrtles, which were great favourites with the ancients, on account of their beauty and the fragrant odour which they diffused, olive-trees, palms, and other trees, which were used as booths in Ezra's time (Nehemiah 8:15). In the words, "Take fruit of ornamental trees," it is not expressly stated, it is true, that this fruit was to be used, like the palm-branches, for constructing booths; but this is certainly implied in the context: "Take...and rejoice...and keep a feast...in the booths shall he dwell." בּסּכּת with the article is equivalent to "in the booths which ye have constructed from the branches mentioned" (cf. Ges. 109, 3). It was in this sense that the law was understood and carried out in the time of Ezra (Nehemiah 8:15.).

(Note: Even in the time of the Maccabees, on the other hand (cf. 2 Macc. 10:6, 7), the feast of the Purification of the Temple was celebrated by the Jews after the manner of the Tabernacles (κατὰ σκηνωμάτων τρόπον); so that they offered songs of praise, holding (ἔχοντες, carrying?) leafy poles (θύρσους, not branches of ivy, cf. Grimm. ad l.c.) and beautiful branches, also palms; in the time of Christ it was the custom to have sticks or poles (staves) of palm-trees and citron-trees (θύρσους ἐκ φοινίκων καὶ κιτρέων: Josephus, Ant. xiii. 13, 5), or to carry in the hand a branch of myrtle and willow bound round with wool, with palms at the top and an apple of the περσέα (peach or pomegranate?) upon it (εἰρεσιώνην μυρσίνης καὶ ἰτέας σὺν κράδῃ φοίνικος πεποιημένην τοῦ μήλου τοῦ τῆς Περσέας προσόντος). This custom, which was still further developed in the Talmud, where a bunch made of palm, myrtle, and willow boughs is ordered to be carried in the right hand, and a citron or orange in the left, has no foundation in the law: it sprang rather out of an imitation of the Greek harvest-feast of the Pyanepsia and Bacchus festivals, from which the words θύρσοι and εἰρεσιώνη were borrowed by Josephus, and had been tacked on by the scribes to the text of the Bible (v. 40) in the best way they could. See Bδhr, Symbol. ii. p. 625, and the innumerable trivial laws in Mishna Succa and Succa Codex talm. babyl. sive de tabernaculorum festo ed. Dachs. Utr. 1726, 4.)

The leading character of the feast of Tabernacles, which is indicated at the outset by the emphatic אך (Leviticus 23:39, see at Leviticus 23:27), was to consist in "joy before the Lord." As a "feast," i.e., a feast of joy (חג, from חגג equals חוּג, denoting the circular motion of the dance, 1 Samuel 30:16), it was to be kept for seven days; so that Israel "should be only rejoicing," and give itself up entirely to joy (Deuteronomy 16:15). Now, although the motive assigned in Deut. is this: "for God will bless thee (Israel) in all thine increase, and in all the work of thine hands;" and although the feast, as a "feast of ingathering," was a feast of thanksgiving for the gathering in of the produce of the land, "the produce of the floor and wine-press;" and the blessing they had received in the harvested fruits, the oil and wine, which contributed even more to the enjoyment of life than the bread that was needed for daily food, furnished in a very high degree the occasion and stimulus to the utterance of grateful joy: the origin and true signification of the feast of Tabernacles are not to be sought for in this natural allusion to the blessing of the harvest, but the dwelling in booths was the principal point in the feast; and this was instituted as a law for all future time (Leviticus 23:41), that succeeding generations might know that Jehovah had caused the children of Israel to dwell in booths when He led them out of Egypt (Leviticus 23:43). סכּה, a booth or hut, is not to be confounded with אחל a tent, but comes from סכך texuit, and signifies casa, umbraculum ex frondibus ramisque consertum (Ges. thes. s. v.), serving as a defence both against the heat of the sun, and also against wind and rain (Psalm 31:21; Isaiah 4:6; Jonah 4:5). Their dwelling in booths was by no means intended, as Bhr supposes, to bring before the minds of the people the unsettled wandering life of the desert, and remind them of the trouble endured there, for the recollection of privation and want can never be an occasion of joy; but it was to place vividly before the eyes of the future generations of Israel a memorial of the grace, care, and protection which God afforded to His people in the great and terrible wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:15). Whether the Israelites, in their journey through the wilderness, not only used the tents which they had taken with them (cf. Leviticus 14:8; Exodus 16:1; Exodus 18:7; Exodus 33:8.; Numbers 16:26., Leviticus 24:5, etc.), but erected booths of branches and bushes in those places of encampment where they remained for a considerable time, as the Bedouins still do sometimes in the peninsula of Sinai (Burckhardt, Syrien, p. 858), or not; at all events, the shielding and protecting presence of the Lord in the pillar of cloud and fire was, in the words of the prophet, "a booth (tabernacle) for a shadow in the day-time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain" (Isaiah 4:6) in the barren wilderness, to those who had just been redeemed out of Egypt. Moreover, the booths used at this feast were not made of miserable shrubs of the desert, but of branches of fruit-trees, palms and thickly covered trees, the produce of the good and glorious land into which God had brought them (Deuteronomy 8:7.); and in this respect they presented a living picture of the plenteous fulness of blessing with which the Lord had enriched His people. This fulness of blessing was to be called to mind by their dwelling in booths; in order that, in the land "wherein they ate bread without scarceness and lacked nothing, where they built goodly houses and dwelt therein; where their herds and flocks, their silver and their gold, and all that they had, multiplied" (Deuteronomy 8:9, Deuteronomy 8:12-13), they might not say in their hearts, "My power, and the might of mine hand, hath gotten me this wealth," but might remember that Jehovah was their God, who gave them power to get wealth (Leviticus 23:17, Leviticus 23:18), that so their heart might not "be lifted up and forget Jehovah their God, who had led them out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage." If, therefore, the foliage of the booths pointed to the glorious possessions of the inheritance, which the Lord had prepared for His redeemed people in Canaan, yet the natural allusion of the feast, which was superadded to the historical, and subordinate to it, - viz., to the plentiful harvest of rich and beautiful fruits, which they had gathered in from this inheritance, and could now enjoy in peace after the toil of cultivating the land was over, - would necessarily raise their hearts to still higher joy through their gratitude to the Lord and Giver of all, and make this feats a striking figure of the blessedness of the people of God when resting from their labours.

Links
Leviticus 23:40 Interlinear
Leviticus 23:40 Parallel Texts


Leviticus 23:40 NIV
Leviticus 23:40 NLT
Leviticus 23:40 ESV
Leviticus 23:40 NASB
Leviticus 23:40 KJV

Leviticus 23:40 Bible Apps
Leviticus 23:40 Parallel
Leviticus 23:40 Biblia Paralela
Leviticus 23:40 Chinese Bible
Leviticus 23:40 French Bible
Leviticus 23:40 German Bible

Bible Hub






Leviticus 23:39
Top of Page
Top of Page