Most people, regardless of religion or background, know what the Passover and Hanukkah are. In Exodus 23, however God requires the Israelites to keep 3 feasts as a sign of their covenant with Him—none of which are the Passover or Hanukkah (well, ok, one is related to the Passover).
The Three Feasts
The Feast of Unleavened Bread
The first feast God requires of the Israelites is the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This feast occurs directly after the Passover and serves as a reminder of how they left Egypt in haste after the angel of death passed over the Israelites. My post on the Passover goes into more detail about the event itself. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was to occur directly after the passover on the 15th day of Abib—called Nisan in Babylon—which is the first month of the Israelite calendar. The feast was to last for 7 days. During these 7 days the Israelites were to eat only unleavened bread. Offerings to God were not to be given with leavened bread during feasts and any fat from the sacrifice was not to be left the next morning.
The Feast of Harvest (Pentecost)
The Feast of Harvest, Feast of Weeks or Feast of Pentecost is discussed in more detail in Leviticus 23, but mentioned as one of the feasts required by God in Exodus 23. This feast is associated with giving the first fruits of the harvest to God. This feast occurs 7 weeks after the Passover which would place it either in May or June of the Western calendar. During this feast, the Israelites were commanded not to cook a goat in its mother's milk.
The Feast of Ingathering (or Tabernacles)
The Feast of Ingathering or the Feast of Tabernacles is the third feast God commands the Israelites to keep. It is also known as the Feast of Booths or Sukkot. This feast occurred in the fall, specifically on the 15th day of the 7th month. Like the Feast of Unleavened Bread it was to last for 7 days. During those days the Israelites were to offer to the Lord. More detail is provided on this feast in Leviticus.
Angel of God
At the end of Exodus 23, God promises that He will send an angel to show the Israelites the way and deliver them safely to the promised land. God warns them not to provoke the angel, who will have God's name in him (this is an interesting phrasing that I will be digging into when I write a post on angels). If the angel's commands are followed, God promises to be an enemy to the Israelites' enemies. In this, God is promising to overthrow the cities and armies before them gradually so the land is still cultivated when the Israelites reach their destination. God strictly forbids the Israelites from taking part in the pagan culture of these people, reminding them not to bow down to idols and denying the Israelites the ability to allow those people to stay. The reason God gives for not allowing them to remain is that they will tempt the Israelites to idolatry. He depicts the land He promises to give them as being from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. Not surprisingly, when the U.N. reinstated Israel as a country after World War II the borders were set from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba (which pours into the Red Sea). That means almost 4,000 years after God told the Israelites they could have that land, they still have that land despite that region being overtaken (in terms of command/kingship) by Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, and the Ottomans. Kingdoms such as those in the New World and those that were colonized by European countries, cannot say the same thing of their conquering.
References and Footnotes
- "What is the Feast of Tabernacles / Booths / Sukkot?". GotQuestions.org. 2015
- Parsons, John J. "Sukkot - the Season of Our Joy. Hebrew for Christians. 2015
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