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Leviticus 23:33-44

Context
The Festival of Booths

23:33 The Lord spoke to Moses: 23:34 “Tell the Israelites, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Temporary Shelters 1  for seven days to the Lord. 23:35 On the first day is a holy assembly; you must do no regular work. 2  23:36 For seven days you must present a gift to the Lord. On the eighth day there is to be a holy assembly for you, and you must present a gift to the Lord. It is a solemn assembly day; 3  you must not do any regular work.

23:37 “‘These are the appointed times of the Lord that you must proclaim as holy assemblies to present a gift to the Lord – burnt offering, grain offering, sacrifice, and drink offerings, 4  each day according to its regulation, 5  23:38 besides 6  the Sabbaths of the Lord and all your gifts, votive offerings, and freewill offerings which you must give to the Lord.

23:39 “‘On 7  the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you gather in the produce of the land, you must celebrate a pilgrim festival of the Lord for seven days. On the first day is a complete rest and on the eighth day is complete rest. 23:40 On the first day you must take for yourselves branches from majestic trees 8  – palm branches, branches of leafy trees, and willows of the brook – and you must rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 23:41 You must celebrate it as a pilgrim festival to the Lord for seven days in the year. This is a perpetual statute throughout your generations; 9  you must celebrate it in the seventh month. 23:42 You must live in temporary shelters 10  for seven days; every native citizen in Israel must live in temporary shelters, 23:43 so that your future generations may know that I made the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’”

23:44 So Moses spoke to the Israelites about the appointed times of the Lord. 11 

1 tn The rendering “booths” (cf. NAB, NASB, NRSV) is probably better than the traditional “tabernacles” in light of the meaning of the term סֻכָּה (sukkah, “hut, booth”), but “booths” are frequently associated with trade shows and craft fairs in contemporary American English. The nature of the celebration during this feast (see the following verses) as a commemoration of the wanderings of the Israelites after they left Egypt suggests that a translation like “temporary shelters” is more appropriate.

2 tn Heb “work of service”; KJV “servile work”; NASB “laborious work”; TEV “daily work.”

3 tn The Hebrew term עֲצֶרֶת (’atseret) “solemn assembly [day]” derives from a root associated with restraint or closure. It could refer either to the last day as “closing assembly” day of the festival (e.g., NIV) or a special day of restraint expressed in a “solemn assembly” (e.g., NRSV); cf. NLT “a solemn closing assembly.”

4 tn The LXX has “[their] burnt offerings, and their sacrifices, and their drink offerings.”

5 tn Heb “a matter of a day in its day”; NAB “as prescribed for each day”; NRSV, NLT “each on its proper day.”

6 tn Heb “from to separation.” See BDB 94 s.v. בַּד 1.e for an explanation of this phrase. This phrase is repeated in front of each of the four items in this verse in the Hebrew text, but these have not been translated into English for stylistic reasons. Cf. KJV, NASB “besides”; NRSV “apart from.”

7 tn Heb “Surely on the fifteenth day.” The Hebrew adverbial particle אַךְ (’akh) is left untranslated by most recent English versions; however, cf. NASB “On exactly the fifteenth day.”

8 tn Heb “fruit of majestic trees,” but the following terms and verses define what is meant by this expression. For extensive remarks on the celebration of this festival in history and tradition see B. A. Levine, Leviticus (JPSTC), 163; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus (WBC), 389-90; and P. J. Budd, Leviticus (NCBC), 328-29.

9 tn Heb “for your generations.”

10 tn Heb “in the huts” (again at the end of this verse and in v. 43), perhaps referring to temporary shelters (i.e., huts) made of the foliage referred to in v. 40 (J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 389).

11 sn E. S. Gerstenberger (Leviticus [OTL], 352) takes v. 44 to be an introduction to another set of festival regulations, perhaps something like those found in Exod 23:14-17. For others this verse reemphasizes the Mosaic authority of the preceding festival regulations (e.g., J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 390).



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