A week long celebration - the final and most important holiday of the year - It is a season of joy - knowing your sins are forgiven and the joy of walking with God, knowing God, and being obedient to God. It is a picture of the Millenium.
This festival has universal implications. It pictures a time when all the nations of the world will come under the rule of King Messiah in the Kingdom of God, and when peace will reign over all the earth.
It was also a traditon to pray for rain, not only for Israel but also for the 70 nations of the world. Israel was considered to be a nation that was required to intercede with God on behalf of the other nations, since the nations were cut off from God because of their idolatrous practices. The connection between Tabernacles and the nations of the world comes from Zech. 14:16-19.
Each day out of the temple, there was a special ceremony. The priests were divided into 3 divisions. The 1st division were the priests on duty for that festival. They would slay the sacrifices. At this time a 2nd group of priests went out of the Eastern gate of the temple to the Motzah Valley (about 30 minutes away). There they would cut willow. The willows had to be 25 ft. in length. After this they would form a line with all the priests holding a willow. About 25 to 30 ft. behind this row of priests,allowing room for the willows, would be another row of priests with willows. There would be row after row of willows.
There would be a signal and the priests would step out with their left foot and then
step to the right, swinging the willows back and forth. Meanwhile, a 3rd group of priests went out the gate known as the Water gate. They had gone to the pool known as Siloam,(John 9:7,11) which means gently flowing waters. There the high priest had a golden vase and drew the water known as the living water(Mayim) and held it in the vase. His assistant held a silver vase containing wine. Just as the priests in the Valley of Motzah began to march toward Jerusalem so did the priests in Siloam. As they marched toward the city of Jerusalem the willows made a swishing sound in the wind as they approached the city. The word wind in Hebrew is Ruach. The word spirit in Hebrew is also Ruach. This ceremony was symbolic and represented the Holy Spirt of God coming upon the city of Jerusalem. As each party reached their respective gates, a shofar was blown. Then one man would stand up and play the flute(the flute represents the Messiah) the flute player is called "the pierced one".
The flute player led the procession - the pierced one blows the call for the wind and the water to enter the temple.
Another ceremony was the Water Libation Ceremony
This was performed everyday during the Feast
This meant that everyday the priest would go to the Pool of Siloam with a golden pitcher and draw water which was poured into a bowl at the altar. With the approach of the rainy season Israel depended on God to send rain for the next season's crops. This was a time of serious praying, asking God to open the gates of heaven and send the necessary rain. As the priest poured out the water, he visually demonstrated God's continuing and faithful love in sending rain. This was a demonstration or sign of Israel's hope for the coming of Messiah as they looked forward to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which God had promised. The priest would teach on every passage of scripture dealing with water. Is 55:1 Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters, Is 58:11 And the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and you will be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. Is 44:3 For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground. I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants.
Hosea 6:3 explains Christ will come as the latter and former rain. The spring feasts are during the former rain and the fall feasts are during the latter rain.
When the water was poured into a basin on the altar the priests blew the shofar, people were singing and dancing, the levites were singing sacred songs and ordinary people were chanting Ps 113 - 118 - Adonai please save us, Adonai please prosper us, Blessed is he who comes in the name of Adonai - God is Adonai and He has given us light.
The Rabbis associate the custom with Is.12:3 With joy shall you draw water from the wells of salvatin. They believed a connection between the possession of the Holy Spirit and ecstasy or religious joy is found in the ceremony of the water drawing.
Thousands of worshippers had come to Jerusalem for this feast and during the pouring of the water Jesus stands up and shouts "If anyone is thirsty,let him keep coming to Me and drink...Whoever trusts- believes in Me as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from his innermost being." John 7:37-38
During the feast - great golden menorah lampstands with bases 50 yards high were set up in the Temple courtyard. Each menorah had 7 branches with large bowls for oil. Four youths of priestly descent stood at the top of the ladders holding 10gallon pitchers filled with pure oil which they poured into each bowl. They would light the wicks made from worn-out garments of the priests (called swaddling clothes). It is said that the light was so bright that all of Jerusalem was lit up by them. There was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that was not lit up with the light at the libation water ceremony. The light represented the Shekinah Glory that once filled the Temple. But the brightness of the holy city at the ceremony paled in the presence of Jesus. Jesus stands in front of the enormous menorahs and says "I am the light of the world, he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12