Assemblies and Festivals in the Old Testament

Featuring Worshipedia Posted on April 13, 2010

Biblical worship is corporate. The worshiper comes to God as a part of a larger community bound to the Lord in covenant and celebrating in festal assembly. The Pentateuch lays out a sequence of three major annual observances (Exodus 23:14–17; Leviticus 23; Deuteronomy 16:1–17), the “appointed times” (Leviticus 23:4; Numbers 29:39; Isaiah 1:14) of the Lord, when the people would gather at the sanctuary in a holy convocation or assembly (Leviticus 23:4). Beginning in the spring, the festivals include Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Harvest, the observance of Bread of the Firstfruits, the Day of Atonement or Covering, the Feast of Shelters or Booths, and the Feast of Ingathering. Some of these terms overlap one another and describe various aspects of the same major festival. Many scholars have suggested that the Day of Yahweh (Amos 5:18) may have been an annual festival of the enthronement and kingship of the Lord, perhaps coinciding with the observance of the new year. The remark in Nehemiah 8:17 suggests that the Feast of Shelters was not regularly celebrated during the period of the Israelite kingdoms.

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