Old Testament Feasts: Shabbat, Sukkot, Rosh Hashannah, etc...

Any Jewish Folks out there who can better help me understand the Jewish feast days?

I have been trying to better understand the meaning of the Old Testament (Jewish) Feasts because I wonder how much they prefigure the New Testament Feasts.

I’ll explain what I mean.

The easiest one seems to be Passover. Passover commemorated the the Exodus, when people had to paint there doorways with the blood of a lamb, so God wouldn’t kill them. Then basically they fled Egypt and were free. In Christian New Testament terms - Jesus is considered the paschal lamb who shed his blood to set us free from our sins, so we have a sort of “Exodus” occurring at Easter time.

The sabbath is the next easiest one. In Jewish terms the Sabbath is Friday evening through Saturday - that is the day of rest, as when God created the world he rested on that day that he finished. But Christians celebrate the Sabbath starting on Saturday evening through til Sunday because that is the day that Christ re-created the world when he was resurrected.

So you can see how the Old Testament prefigures the New Testament, and the New Testament similarly fulfills those traditions in the Old Testament.

Now… I am interested in understanding some of the harder ones that I am less familiar with…

The first is the Shavot, or the feast of weeks, which is Pentecost in Christian terms. This was a festival commemorating the giving of the Torah and the harvest of the first fruits. In Christian terms it happens 50 days after Easter, but I’m not sure of how it it carried out in Hebrew terms, or how it actually was for people back then. I mean, I can understand celebrating the gift of the Torah, but how did the gift of the Torah come to be associated with the harvest of the first fruits? Can someone help me out here? I think there’s also supposed to be a few ancillary feast days in there too, no?

And for the Christians and Catholic reading - how would such a Jewish feast come to prefigure Pentecost? The language in Acts is clearly related to the Shavot, as we have a new law, and the apostles became the first fruits of Christ’s mission. But there still seems to be something missing, although I am not sure of what.

The second is Sukkot. This is perhaps the most interesting to me because - if I understand it correctly - it begins with Rosh Hashanna, the Jewish new year. The Sukkot Feast, also called the Feast of Booths, is supposed to celebrate the wandering in the desert and the final harvest, as a sort of “in gathering”, but I dont understand the importance of the holiday. We don’t really have a Christian Holiday around that time of year - our New Year starts at Advent - so I’m trying to figure out why it is celebrated. Is it just a time to come together, finish up the harvest, and then move on? Why would that designate a New Year?

Also, I know this may sound a little weird, but I have always wondered what kind of foods they were harvesting? We have two feasts mentioned: Shavot and Sukkot - one the earlier and one the final. So I just kind of wondered if that time between Pentecost and Rosh Hashanna was spent reaping, so I’ve always wondered what they were reaping?

I hope my questions aren’t too forward. I think this is fascinating stuff. Please lend me some insight, if you have anything helpful to say.


This is an audio study of feasts.


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