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Feast of Tabernacles: Priests Perform Water Libation Ceremony

Author: Paul Lehr

Feast of Tabernacles, 2016 (5777)

Jews sing Isaiah 12:3 Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation, during the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot. The Jewish holiday is a reminder to the Jewish people they lived in tents after the Exodus from Egypt. In addition, the Feast of Tabernacles requires sacrifices of sin offerings and burnt offerings. At the time of preparation for the morning sacrifice, a priest descends to the Pool of Siloam amidst great music, celebration, and singing of Isaiah 12:3, and fills a pitcher with water. After dipping his pitcher in Siloam’s water, the priest returns to the Temple and pours the water into one of the silver basins by the altar (Wayne Stiles, Insight for Living).

During the Feast of Tabernacles, a seven day feast, the kohanim (Jewish priests) performed the sacred water libation.

During the days of Temple service, priests would pour out water and wine as part of the ceremony. Two silver vessels were utilized during the service. One priest would pour out water. A second priest would pour out wine. The liquids flow into holes on the altar.

John 19:34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.

Jesus was nailed to a cross. Blood flowed into the holes of the wood. The cross was Christ’s altar of sacrifice.

Jesus connects the dots for us in the Book of John. He is promising those who believe in Him the Holy Spirit. Jesus is making this proclamation on the last day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

John 7:37-39 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

This chapter of Isaiah is a universal promise to the entire world. The Holy One, Jesus is our salvation. Isaiah 12 refers to the promise of the Holy Spirit and the reign of Jesus. And He is going to live and dwell with us.

John 4:14 “…but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”-Jesus 

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