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What are the…
religious festivals

There were daily (Leviticus 23), weekly, monthly, and yearly festivals, and great stress was laid on the regular observance of them in every particular (Numbers 28:1-8; Exodus 29:38-42; Leviticus 6:8-23; Exodus 30:7-9; 27:20).

  1. Festivals related to the number 7 are…

    1. The weekly Sabbath (Leviticus 23:1-3; Exodus 19:3-30; 20:8-11; 31:12, etc.).

    2. The 7th new moon, or the Feast of Trumpets (Numbers 28:11-15; 29:1-6).

    3. The 7th year (the Sabbatical year) (Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:2-7).

      “You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, 11 but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.” —Exodus 23:10-11 NASB

    4. The year of jubilee (Leviticus 23-35; 25:8-16; 27:16-25).

  2. The great feasts were:

    1. The Day of Atonement, the 10th day of the 7th month (Leviticus 16:1, 34; 23:26-32; Numbers 29:7-11). (See DAY OF ATONEMENT (Yom Kippur).)

    2. The Passover.

    3. The feast of Pentecost, or of weeks.

    4. The Feast of Tabernacles—or of ingathering.

      On each of these occasions every male Israelite was commanded “to appear before the Lord” (Deuteronomy 27:7; Neh. 8:9-12). The attendance of women was voluntary. (Compare Luke 2:41; 1 Samuel 1:7; 2:19.) The promise that God would protect their homes (Exodus 34:23, 24) while all the males were absent in Jerusalem at these feasts was always fulfilled.

      “During the whole period between Moses and Christ we never read of an enemy invading the land at the time of the three festivals. The first instance on record is thirty-three years after they had withdrawn from themselves the divine protection by imbruing their hands in the Savior’s blood, when Cestius, the Roman general, slew fifty of the people of Lydda while all the rest had gone up to the feast of Tabernacles, A.D. 66.”

      [ALSO SEE: What about the Psalm 91 promises? Answer (“…no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent…”)]

      These festivals, besides their religious purpose, had an important bearing on the maintenance among the people of the feeling of a national unity. The times fixed for their observance were arranged so as to interfere as little as possible with the industry of the people. The Passover was kept just before the harvest commenced, Pentecost at the conclusion of the corn harvest and before the vintage, the feast of Tabernacles after all the fruits of the ground had been gathered in.

Of the post-Exile festivals, reference is made to the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22). This feast was appointed by Judas Maccabaeus in commemoration of the purification of the temple after it had been polluted by Antiochus Epiphanes.

The “feast of Purim”, Esther 9:24-32, was also instituted after the Exile. (Cf. John 5:1.)

Article Version: December 30, 2017

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