What Is the Feast of Tabernacles in the Bible?

The Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot is an ancient Torah-commanded festival still practised today - find out about the traditions and rituals of relgious festival

By Petal Mashraki
Edited by Taj Schlebusch

Published November 16, 2021.

The Feast of Tabernacle (Festival of Booths, or Sukkot) is a celebration commanded in the Old Testament. Celebrated by Jews, it involves deep symbolism and precise rituals, all with roots in the Bible.

What Does the Feast of Tabernacles Represent?

Sukkot represents the 40-days Israelites spent in the desert after the Jewish exodus from Egypt. During Sukkot, Jews remember the deliverance from Egypt by the hand of God. The holiday coincides with the end of harvest and is also called the "Feast of Ingathering."

Where in the Bible Is the Feast of Tabernacles?

This festival is described in Leviticus 23 and referred to in Exodus 23:16, 34:22, Numbers 29:12-40, Deuteronomy 16:13-15, Nehemiah 8:13-18, and Ezra 3:4.

It is one of the three Old Testament pilgrimage festivals where all non-disabled men would make a pilgrimage to the sacred Temple in Jerusalem. Although the Temple was destroyed in 70AD, the traditional pilgrimage to Jerusalem is stil upheld by religious Jews in Israel.

Sukkot starts on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei and lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days outside of Israel. As the Jewish and Gregorian calendars differ, the Feast of Tabernacles date varies but is usually in September or October. When was the Feast of Tabernacles in Bible times? On the exact dates as we celebrate today.

How Was the Feast of Tabernacles Fulfilled in the New Testament?

During Christ's lifetime, Sukkot was celebrated with two ceremonies:

  1. Torches were lit along the walls of the Temple, representing the light the Massiah would bring.
  2. Priests filled a silver vessel next to the altar with water and prayed for God to send rain. Worshipers then anticipated the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus attended the Feast of the Tabernacles at the Temple in Jerusalem (John 7:37-38). For Christians, the Feast of Tabernacles represents how our redemption is in Jesus Christ and his forgiveness of our sins.

How Do You Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in 2022?

In 2022 the Feast of Tabernacle will be celebrated from the 6th to the 9th of October. Jews observe the following symbolism of the Feast of Tabernacles:

  • Sukkah (booth)

Jews build a simple temporary dwelling to represent the shelters constructed by Israelites during their time in the desert. Making a Sukkah should be done according to strict rules laid out in the Torah. Usually with fabric or canvas walls, on a metal or wood frame. The roof is covered with branches, leaving gaps through which you can see the stars. Meals are eaten in this dwelling, and religious Jews even sleep in the Sukkah during the festival.

  • Four Species

The four species (or Arba'a minim) are the palm branch, myrtle, willow, and citron. They are bound together and used in prayer rituals and to bless the Sukkah.

  • Prayers

Throughout the Feast of Tabernacles, prayers are held in the Sukka. In addition to the regular prayers, worshipers hold the four species in their hands and move them in a prescribed way during each prayer.

If you're interested in learning more about this biblical festival why not join a Feast of Tabernacles Bible study.