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B'Midbar/Numbers 29:26 And on the fifth day: nine bulls ...
The commentators offer no particular wisdom for this day - it is simply one of the intermediate days of , the Feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles. The count of bulls offered on behalf of the nations (cf. b.Succah 55b) has decreased to nine and the feast is starting to draw towards a close. The Rabbis refer to Sukkot as "the time of our rejoicing" connecting Sukkot with the commands in D'varim 14:22-26 to bring a tithe of produce (or money, if people lived too far away to transport produce, to buy food locally) to eat and share in the presence of the L-rd. As one of the regalim, pilgrimage festivals, Jerusalem would have been packed with people, staying in the city itself, in the surrounding villages or camping on the Mount of Olives; all the people, whole families once the children were old enough to travel, eating, drinking, singing, dancing, worshipping before the G-d of Israel and rejoicing in His presence.
Yeshua and His disciples would have been in Jerusalem for Sukkot many times, since they were young boys, so would have been familiar with all the hustle and bustle, the noise and smells of the feast. But now, travelling together as rabbi and students, perhaps the disciples started to look at their surroundings with a slightly detached, critical or professional eye. Instead of feeling the excitement and directly participating, perhaps the twelve stood back a little and watched other people dancing and singing, while they themselves kept an eye on the Master and tried to work out what He might be thinking or what He might be going to teach from the things going on around them. The gospels tell us about the time He pointed out the widow putting two small copper coins into the Temple collecting boxes (Mark 12:42ff) or the time He spoke so ominously about the stones of the Temple (Matthew 24:1ff). What was He going to say today - the disciples had to keep their eyes open and their wits about them!
"Not until the festival was half over did Yeshua go up to the Temple courts and begin to teach" (John 7:14, CJB). Going to the feast late that year, Yeshua taught the people with the same authority He had shown teaching in the Galil (cf. Mark 1:21-22) - how did He do it, the people wanted to know. Yeshua told them, "My teaching is not My own, it comes from the One who sent Me. If anyone wants to do His will, he will know whether My teaching is from G-d or I speak on My own" (John 7:16-17, CJB). So far, so good, the disciples thought; any of Israel's prophets would have said so much. But Yeshua continued, "You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. I know Him; because I am from Him and He sent Me" (John 7:28-29, NASB). Then the authorities tried to arrest Yeshua, but couldn't because His time had not yet come. However, many of the crowd believed in Him because of His clear speaking and teaching. His boldness and authority won through.
Further Study: Isaiah 55:8-13; Hosea 6:1-3
Application: At this Sukkot, will you be singing and dancing with everyone else, or will you be keeping a professional distance, watching and waiting? Will you try to arrest Yeshua to stop Him being too bold, or will you be one of those who believe in Him?
© Jonathan Allen, 2005
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