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The festival of Sukkot is the background for Chapters 7-8 of John's Gospel. In John 7:2, that is the Feast of Tabernacles (temporary dwellings). When Jewish males were required to go to Jerusalem. Leviticus 23:33-43, Numbers 29:12-39 and Deuteronomy 16:13-16 prescribe details of Sukkot. It commences on the 15th day of Tishri, five days after the Day of Atonement (Yom-Kippur), and lasts seven days, with an eighth day, an added day of rest; this means it comes during late September or October. Families build booths of palm branches, partly open to the sky, to recall God's providence toward Israel during the forty years of wandering in the desert and living in tents.

The festival also celebrates the harvest, coming, as it does, at summer's end, so that it is a time of thanksgiving. To observe the festival people brought to the Temple a 'citron', a citrus fruit representing the fruit of the Promised Land, and waved a palm branch, a myrtle and a willow bound together: today the same is done in the synagogues.

The festival is prophetically connected with the fate of the Gentiles, for Zechariah writes:

"It shall come about that everyone left of all the nations who came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. For whoever does not come up front all the families of the earth to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt does not go up, if it does not come, then they will have no overflow [from the Nile River]. This will be the plague with which the Lord will smite the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and of all nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles" (Zechariah 14:16-19).

This refers to the Messianic Age, after the whole world has come against Jerusalem and been defeated: in the light of the New Testament it should be understood as taking place after the second coming of Jesus the Messiah. The rabbis of the Talmud recognized the connection of this festival with the Gentiles: speaking of the seventy bulls required by Numbers 29:12-34 to be sacrificed during the seven days of the festival. Rabbi El'azar said, “To what do these seventy bulls correspond? To the seventy nations"(Sukkah 55b). In rabbinic tradition, the traditional number of Gentile nations is seventy: the seventy bulls are to make atonement for them.