(c) 1997 Rabbi David Markel Hall
Succa means "temporary dwelling, shed or shelter." Succot is the plural form and is translated in the Bible, "Booths" or "Tabernacles".
Chag haSuccot (the Feast of the Tabernacles) is the time of year we celebrate our journey through the wilderness, out of our Egypt, to our promised land. We are all in our succa waiting for Messiah son of David to come and bring us into our final destination.
Who was it that brought Israel into Cana'an? Our Joshua has the same Hebrew name as His predecessor, Yeshua or Yehoshua. The meaning for both is "salvation of G-d".
HaRebbi Yeshua, of blessed memory, was born on Tishiri 15th. We can determine the date of his birth by several different means. He was thirty three and one half years old when He died at Pesach. His ministry began at thirty according to Jewish customs. He served for three and one half years, so you can subtract six months (one half year) from Nissan 15 (Pesach) and the answer is exactly Tishiri 15. In 1997, His birth date was October 16th. This would make the "eighth day" of Chag haSuccot, the anniversary of his Bris (circumcision). Shimini Atzeret (the eighth day of the feast of tabernacles), according to Jewish tradition, is also called Chag Brit Milah (feast of circumcision) because Bris is to be done on the eighth day. How fitting that all the significant events in His life were marked by G-dís holy days.
Another way to calculate His birth date is through Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptizer). His father was High priest the year he was born. He served during the course of Abia according to Luke 1:5. Abia was the eighth of the priestly courses of Temple ministry (1 Chron 24:10). Yochanan was conceived on or about Sivan 23, and the 1st of Tebeth (six months later) would be the conception of Yeshua. This would place His birth on Tishiri 15. (The Companion Bible, AP 179, III)
A third way to see the time of His birth is found in Luke 2. Caesar Augustus decreed that all the world should be taxed and census taken. The perfect time for this to be done is when the Jews are already traveling to their homeland to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles with their families, right after the fall harvest. When they arrived in Bet Lechem (Bethlehem), there were so many people traveling that there was no room for them at the local inn. This is why they went into a succa, (often constructed for animal shelters), to take refuge for the night, because Miriam (Mary) was already showing signs of delivering the child ("great with child"). The temperatures were very mild and it normally doesnít rain during that time of year in Israel.
Since everyone built succot, it would have been easy to find an empty one anywhere in the vicinity at this time of year.
Yom Tov Lecha (Happy Holiday to you).
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