TABERNACLES, FEAST OF (Heb. Succoth, LXX. Ileorte skenon, Vulg. Ferice taber naculorum). a Hebrew feast of seven days' duration, beginning on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Tishri), and instituted principally in memory of the nomad life of the people in the desert, and the booths or tents used on their march. Besides this sig nification, it also had an agricultural one, like the other two pilgrimage festivals, the passah and the feast of weeks. It was emphatically the feast of " ingathering "—i.e., the close of the labors of the field—the harvest of all the fruits, of the corn, the wine, and the oil. During this feast, the great bulk of the people were enjoined to dwell in booths, which we learn from Nehemiah viii. 15, were made of olive, pine, myrtle, palm, and other branches, and were erected on the roofs of houses, and in the courts and streets. The scriptural injunction, to take trees and " boughs of goodly branches of palm trees," etc., was by tradition explained to mean a bunch made of palm, myrtle, and willow branches, and the esog-fruit, a species of citron which the faithful carried in procession during these seven days in the temple; while those who did not visit the temple only said a benediction over it on the first day. The Sadducees and Karaites, however, demurred to this explanation, taking the passage merely to refer to the construction of the booths. Special sacrifices, and a greater number of bnrnt-offerings than on any other festival, were offered'up on this; and on it also the law was to be read to the people every seventh year. It was emphatically called the festival, and was the most joyous of them all. There was especially, during the time of the temple, the " joy of the liba tion," consisting of the priest's fetching, during the morning sacrifice of each day, water from the well of Siloah, and pouring it out, with the accompaniment of music and hymns.
There was further a grand illumination in the evening in the court of women, which is said to have lighted up the whole city of Jerusalem; and during and after which, dancing and singing took place. On each day the trumpets were sounded 21 times. At the end of the seven days' joy, an eighth day of solemn rest was celebrated, which was perfectly distinct from the other days both in its sacrifices and in its general service. The bunch was laid aside, the booths were relinquished, and a sin offering—in expiation of trans gressions that might have taken place during the hilarity of the previous feast-days—was slaughtered.
Three distinct times we find the inauguration of the temple celebrated on this impor tant festival, by Solomon, Ezra, and Judas Maccabnus, although with regard to the festival itself it would seem from Nehemiah viii. 17, that it never had been properly celebrated before the exile. The observances of the booths and the harvest-bunches are still in force with the strict adherents of traditional Judaism, although the agricultural signification of the festival to them can only be a historical or poetical reminiscence. It has been well observed of old, that no festival could have been more apt to inculcate the fundamental principle of Judaism—viz., the equality of all men, than this, which enjoined that every one should live for a time in primitive dwellings, without distinction of rank, or station, or fortune, and should rejoice in the fruits ,of the last harvest on the hallowed spot, together with the whole people of the land, "before the Lord."