Study of the law of Yahweh with Ezra (Neh 8:13-8:18)

“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.

The gathering with Ezra (Neh 8:1-8:3)

“All the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the Law of Moses which Yahweh had given to Israel. Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women, and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand it. The ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.”

All of a sudden, out of nowhere Ezra himself shows up to read the Law of Moses. Ezra had not come with the original settlers. He came to Jerusalem about 70 years later, a few years before Nehemiah. The first person narrative of Nehemiah seems to end. This also assumes that the Water Gate is complete or that there is some kind of gate where people can meet. Perhaps this was after the rebuilding of the wall and the gates. This was on the southeast side of Jerusalem. At this assembly were both men and women, as well as those who could understand, which may refer to children who could reason. Ezra faced the square and read from early morning to midday. Everyone was attentive to the Law of Moses. We are not sure what part of the Pentateuch he read, probably not Genesis or Exodus. More than likely it was Deuteronomy that seems to be their favorite book. This was the 1st day of the 7th month or the New Year gathering time. This author noted that they were all attentive.

 

The Feast of Trumpets (Lev 23:23-23:25)

“Yahweh spoke to Moses.  Speak to the people of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of complete rest, a holy convocation commemorated with trumpet blasts.  You shall not work at your occupations.  You shall present Yahweh’s offering by fire.’”

The Festival of Trumpets takes place on the 1st day of the 7th month.  This is a rest day with a holy convocation commemorated with trumpet blasts.  The 7th month maybe considered important or lucky.  This was the beginning of the civil New Year, but it clearly is in the 7th month.  Contemporary Jewish people celebrate this feast at Rosh Hashanah, usually in September as a New Year festival.  This feast can also be found in Exodus, chapter 12. Perhaps the Christian calendar of starting Advent in November/December is based on th