Next Wednesday is the start of the annual holiday of Tabernacles. In this post I review the holiday definition. I show where it was typically practiced in ancient times. I then explain modern adaptations. Finally I give our planned TT update schedule for next week for those who want to read along with us over the holiday.
There are 2 terms used for this holiday, Tabernacles and Booths. Different translations use these terms interchangeably. We generally call the holiday Tabernacles though our BRB text currently uses Booths.
The definition is given in Leviticus 23:33-43, with more details in Deuteronomy 31:10-13. This week long holiday is similar to Unleavened Bread in that it is a week long and commemorates leaving Egypt.
Unleavened Bread involves a week of fasting of yeast, and as such is like the women's holiday. Tabernacles involves camping and tent setup, and as such Tabernacles is like the men's holiday.
Of course everyone living in the western world is currently living in prophetic Egypt, so practicing either holiday is in the hope of leaving Egypt some day, not in commemoration of having left Egypt.
In certain years, Sabbath and Jubilee years, the Tabernacles holiday was likely 8 days long. Next year, not this year, is a Sabbath year and thus an 8 day version. In these Sabbath and Jubilee years only, the holiday definition is accompanied by required reading of the Testimony over those 8 days. There are 400 stories in the testimony, so 2 reading sessions of 25 stories each will fill those 8 days exactly.
So this year is 7 days long, and reading is not required. Our calendar app (cal.paleo.in) shows an extra day after the closing holiday if you want to extend and read for an extra day.
Tabernacles also seems to have had a preferred place for observation. Let me show that on Google Maps.
The link here is to Google Maps zoomed in on the Nablus area in what is now the West Bank. Nablus is the modern location of ancient Shechem, squeezed into an east-west valley between 2 mountains, 1 north and 1 south.
You can move around a little and find Jacob's Well Greek Orthodox Church. You can also find the 2 mountains where the text was once carved. Har Gerizim is south of Jacob's Well. The Altar of Mount Eival is north of Jacob's well. (On these maps modern Eival is in the text as Ebal and as Gebal. There is a B to V sound system change and the G in Aramaic became silent.)
If you look on the map to the east you can find Bayt Dajan. This is at the eastern edge of the road system that goes east from Jacob's well. Further east the roadless terrain drops dramatically down to the Jordan River.
Once you find Bayt Dajan turn on the Satellite layer in Google maps. You will find a cultivated valley between the area near Jacob's well and Bayt Dajan. Crop lines are generally planted north south, suggesting mild terracing as the valley drops to the east.
Visible on maps, but hard to make out is a large outcropping south and west of Bayt Dajan. This is not cultivated because it is a rocky mound.
We had a friend who scouted the area by taxi several years ago and took photos of that valley. That outcropping appears to be the natural platform for ancient gatherings. Imagine the nation camped both in that valley and perhaps on the hills around, especially north of the now cultivated area.
There is currently no place where the text is carved and there is no modern Shechem. So there is no particular place to go for this holiday.
In general we have gone somewhere from home for this holiday. In years past we were using Disneyland as a surrogate for Jerusalem, so we went there for Tabernacles.
Then we realized the practice of Booths at Jerusalem was most certainly an addition. Since that time we have generally gone camping for the holiday at some place Joshua has identified. This year not camping, but hanging out in eastern Tennessee.
Each year we also completely read our current working draft of the Testimony. Not because it is required each year, but because we use the Tabernacles holiday to review the current state of our text.
We will update all of our scripture apps as usual this evening, Friday, July 22, 2022. We will also update all the scripture apps again on Tuesday evening, July 26, 2022. This is the evening before the first day of reading for the Tabernacles holiday.
Unless we see something severe, we won't do a scripture update on Friday July 29, 2022. By not updating mid holiday we let lot set histories remain stable until after the close of the holiday week.
In most years we find a flurry of TT updates in the weeks ahead of Tabernacles. Even the TT app itself was first put online in the weeks ahead of Tabernacles in 2016.
This year is no different. The big changes in the TT ahead of this year's Tabernacles involve a compression of the Acts text in order to make room for more material from the Epistles. So this year's read is going to be longer than in recent years.
We have recently found that several of the Epistles carry subtle series of commentary against runs of the 25 walk-off Kings. Watch for that in this year's Tabernacles reads. Watch especially in Ephesians and Jacob.
Both of the annual holidays have a prophetic nature to them. Each day folds to a month across the time to the next holiday week. Time is not linear, nor evenly paced. Each day in these holidays is close in time to the months immediately ahead. They are a special time of encounter with Joshua. Our annual planners provide the details for the timing for these days.
In addition to reading sessions on each of these days we also do daily lot sets. These lot sets establish the prophetic tone for the next 7 months.
I encourage anyone reading this to practice as much of the holiday as living in prophetic Egypt may allow.