“It was two days
Before the Passover,
Of Unleavened Bread.”
Ἦν δὲ τὸ πάσχα καὶ τὰ ἄζυμα μετὰ δύο ἡμέρας
There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 26:2, and in Luke, chapter 22:1, where there was talk of the Passover in 2 days. There were 3 major annual pilgrimage festivals in Jerusalem, Pentecost, Booths, and Passover, with Passover the most popular. This Passover feast celebrated the Israelite Exodus from Egypt. Therefore, this festival reminded the Jewish people of their escape from a foreign country. Thus, the Roman leaders had a heightened alert with more troops in Jerusalem. Mark indicated that Jesus said to his disciples that it was 2 days (μετὰ δύο ἡμέρας), before the Passover (Ἦν δὲ τὸ πάσχα), the festival of Unleavened Bread (καὶ τὰ ἄζυμα) that lasted a whole week. Passover and Unleavened bread were one festival, not 2 separate ones.
“On the second day, the heads of the ancestral houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together with the scribe Ezra in order to study the words of the law. They found it written in the law that Yahweh had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should live in booths during the feast of the seventh month. They should publish and proclaim in all their towns and in Jerusalem as follows. ‘Go out to the hills! Bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.’ So the people went out and brought them. They made booths for themselves, each on the roofs of their houses. They made booths in their courts, in the courts of the house of God, in the square at the Water Gate, and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. All the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths. From the days of Jeshua son of Nun to that day, the people of Israel had not done so. There was very great rejoicing. Day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the book of the law of God. They kept the festival seven days. On the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the ordinance.”
Ezra the scholar wanted everyone to study the Law of Yahweh. The heads of the ancestral families, as well as the priests and Levites gathered around him. They found a passage in the Law of Yahweh as commanded by Moses about the feast of Tabernacles, booths, or tents. This could be based on Leviticus, chapter 23, Exodus, chapter 23, Numbers, chapter 29, and Deuteronomy, chapter 16, where there is a fall festival of ingathering, or the festival of booths, with a lot of sacrifices like a harvest festival. Usually, it followed the Yom Kippur or reparation day. Although there is nothing specific about the olive branches in Leviticus or the other books, it would be easy to make tents out of them. The original purpose of this feast day was to remember the time that they had lived in tents in the desert on the way from Egypt, but there is no mention of that here. Here they put the tents on top of houses, and in the court yards. Today, some Jews observe this feast with tents in their backyards. It could be an individual family or a communal tent gathering. During the 7 days of this festival they read from the book of the Law of God. Then on the 8th day, they had a solemn assembly. The reference to Jeshua son of Nun is probably Joshua son of Nun, which means that this festival of booths had fallen out of favor with the Jewish people.
“Now, the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall keep the festival of Yahweh lasting seven days. There is a complete rest on the first day and a complete rest on the eighth day. On the first day you shall take the fruit of the majestic trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook. You shall rejoice before Yahweh your God for seven days. You shall keep it as a festival to Yahweh seven days in the year. You shall keep it in the seventh month as a statute forever throughout your generations. You shall live in tents or booths for seven days. All that are citizens in Israel shall live in tents or booths, so that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel live in tents or booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh your God. Thus Moses declared to the people of Israel the appointed festivals of Yahweh.”
This is really the 7 day festival of tents or booths with more details. This is a 7 day joyful remembrance of the tent living in the desert. There is complete rest on the 1st and the 8th days. You take the fruit of the trees, the branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and the willows of the brook, probably to build your tent. You rejoice before Yahweh for 7 days. You live in these tents or booths for 7 days. Every citizen in Israel had to live in these tents or booths, so that future generations might know what it was like when the people of Israel lived in these tents or booths when they left Egypt. Thus Moses declared to the people of Israel the various festivals of Yahweh.
“Yahweh spoke to Moses. Speak to the people of Israel. ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month, and lasting seven days, there shall be the festival of tents or booths to Yahweh. The first day shall be a holy convocation. You shall not work at your occupations. Seven days you shall present Yahweh’s offerings by fire. On the eighth day you shall observe a holy convocation and present Yahweh’s offering by fire. It is a solemn assembly. You shall not work at your occupation.”
One week later, on the 15th day of this 7th month, and lasting 7 days there shall be a festival of tents or booths to Yahweh. The 1st and 8th days have holy convocations with a day of rest. During the 7 days in between you present offerings to Yahweh.