The Role of Water in the Ancient Sukkoth Ritual
You may be surprised to learn that water played a key role in the Feast of Sukkoth … first the natural, then the spiritual (1 Cor 15:46). Prayer was offered for rain every morning during the week-long event. The term ‘Torah’, which means “instruction,” comes from the primitive root ‘yarah’, meaning “to teach, point out (by the finger).” Yarah also means “to flow like water” or “to pour like rain.” Torah (and the complete Bible) is like refreshing rain to our spirits:
May He come down like rain upon the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. Ps 72:6
The concept of teaching and rain come together in the following verses:
“Let my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, as the droplets on the fresh grass and as the showers on the herb.” Deut 32:2
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Hab 2:14
Rain in due season, of course, is essential for survival. God solemnly warned Israel that she would lose the life-sustaining blessing of rain if she abandoned her first love:
“Beware that your hearts are not deceived and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. 17 Or the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you.” Deut 11:16-17
Water Libation Ceremony
A water libation ceremony featured prominently in the Sukkoth ritual. Not surprisingly, the ceremony was also prophetic in nature. The high priest (kohen hagadol) filled a golden pitcher with water from the pool of Siloam. The water libation was known as mayim chayim, meaning “living water,” a glorious description of Yeshua! Gold is a symbol of divinity in the Scriptures, and water represents the cleansing power of the Word. The high priest carried the water to the Temple through the Water Gate that was so named for the water libation ceremony. The priest’s entrance to the Temple was ceremoniously announced with three mighty blasts from the silver trumpet:
Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. Is 12:3
Water and wine were poured forth at this time, prophetic of Yeshua’s suffering: “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out” (John 19:34). The wine was poured forth from a silver vessel. Silver represents redemption in the Bible. Three more trumpet blasts followed the outpouring of water, while palm branches were waved toward the altar by jubilant worshipers singing:
O Lord, do save, we beseech You; O Lord, we beseech You, do send prosperity. Ps 118:25
Tradition dates the water libation ceremony to the Maccabean period when the Temple was cleansed of Gentile defilement in 165 B.C. An exuberant mood prevailed during the ritual, and strong Messianic zeal gripped the people. Some scholars maintain that it was at this point in the annual festival that Yeshua proclaimed Himself to be Mayim Chayim, the Fount of Living Water (John 4:14).
During the week of Sukkoth, 2014 C.E., the Temple Mount Institute in Jerusalem conducted the first water libation ceremony since 70 AD when the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple occurred. As in days of old, the water was drawn from the Pool of Siloam. Could this be a sign we are living in the last of the last days? Chag Sameach. (Happy Feast.)
*For additional information regarding the seven primary Feasts of the Lord, see my recently released 264 page book: By Divine Design – Celebrating the Feasts of the Lord and the Feasts of Israel, available from noreenjacks.com.