Feasts

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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

Ηag (from a root, "to dance") is the Hebrew applied to the Passover, and still more to the feast of tabernacles, as both were celebrated with rejoicings and participation of food ( Exodus 12:14;  Leviticus 23:39;  Numbers 29:12;  Deuteronomy 16:39). But Moed is the general term for all sacred assemblies convoked on stated anniversaries; God's people by His appointment meeting before Him in brotherly fellowship for worship. Their communion was primarily with God, then with one another. These national feasts tended to join all in one brotherhood. Hence, arose Jeroboam's measures to counteract the effect on his people ( 1 Kings 12:26-27). Hezekiah made the revival of the national Passover a primary step in his efforts for a reformation ( 2 Chronicles 30:1). The Roman government felt the feast a time when especial danger of rebellion existed ( Matthew 26:5;  Luke 13:1).

The "congregations," "calling of assemblies," "solemn meetings" ( Isaiah 1:13;  Psalms 81:3), both on the convocation days of the three great feasts, passover, Pentecost, and tabernacles, and also on the sabbaths, imply assemblies for worship, the forerunners of the synagogue (compare  2 Kings 4:23). The septenary number prevails in the great feasts. Pentecost was seven weeks (sevens) after Passover; passover and the feast of tabernacles lasted seven days each; the days of holy convocation were seven in the year, two at Passover, one at pentecost, one at the feast of trumpets, one on the day of atonement (the first day or new moon of the seventh month), and two at the feast of tabernacles. The last two solemn days were in the seventh month, and the cycle of feasts is seven months, from Nisan to Tisri. There was also the sabbatical year, and the year of Jubilee.

The continued observance of the three feasts commemorative of the great facts of Israelite history make it incredible that the belief of those facts could have been introduced at any period subsequent to the supposed time of their occurrence if they never took place. The day, the month, and every incident of Israel's deliverance out of Egypt are embalmed in the anniversary passover. On the three great feasts each Israelite was bound to "appear before the Lord," i.e., attend in the court of the tabernacle or temple and make his offering with gladness (Leviticus 23;  Deuteronomy 27:7). Pious women often went up to the Passover: as  Luke 2:41, Mary;  1 Samuel 1:7;  1 Samuel 2:19, Hannah. Those men who might happen to be unable to attend at the proper time kept the feast the same day in the succeeding month ( Numbers 9:10-11). On the days of holy convocation all ordinary work was suspended ( Leviticus 23:21-35). The three great feasts had a threefold bearing.

I. They marked the three points of time as to the fruits of the earth.

II. They marked three epochs in Israel's past history.

III. They pointed prophetically to three grand antitypical events of the gospel kingdom.

I. They Marked The Three Points Of Time As To The Fruits Of The Earth.

(I.) At the Passover in spring, in the month Abib, the first green ears of barley were cut, and were a favorite food, prepared as parched grain, but first of all a handful of green ears was presented to the Lord.

(2) Fifty days (as Pentecost means) after Passover came the feast of weeks, i.e. a week of weeks after Passover. The now ripe wheat, before being cut, was sanctified by its firstfruits, namely two loaves of fine flour, being offered to Jehovah.

(3) At the feast of tabernacles, in the end of the common year and the seventh month of the religious year, there was a feast of ingathering when all the fruits of the field had been gathered in. There was no offering of consecration, for the offerings for sanctifying the whole had been presented long before. It was not a consecration of what was begun, but a joyful thanksgiving for what was completed. See for the spiritual lesson  Proverbs 3:9;  Psalms 118:15.

II. They Marked Three Epochs In Israel'S Past History. Each of the three marked a step in the Historical progress of Israel.

(1) The Passover commemorated the deliverance out of Egypt when Jehovah passed over Israel, protecting them from the destroying angel and sparing them, and so achieving for them the first step of independent national life as God's covenant people.

(2) Pentecost marked the giving of the law on Sinai, the second grand era in the history of the elect nation. God solemnly covenanted, "If ye will obey My voice indeed and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people, and ye shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" ( Exodus 19:5).

(3) All the nation now wanted was a home. The feast of tabernacles commemorates the establishment of God's people in the land of promise, their pleasant and peaceful home, after the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, living in shifting tents. They took boughs of palm and willows of the brook, and made temporary huts of branches and sat under the booths. So in their fixed home and land of rest their enjoyment was enhanced by the thankful and holy remembrance of past wanderings without a fixed dwelling. Joshua especially observed this feast after the settlement in Canaan (as incidentally comes out in  Nehemiah 8:17).

Solomon (appropriately to his name, which means king of peace) also did so, for his reign was preeminently the period of peaceful possession when every man dwelt under his own vine and figtree ( 1 Kings 4:25); immediately after that the last relic of wilderness life was abolished by the ark being taken from under curtains and deposited in the magnificent temple of stone in the seventh month ( 2 Chronicles 5:3), the feast of tabernacles was celebrated on the 15th day, and on the 23rd Solomon sent the great congregation away glad in heart for the goodness that the Lord had showed unto David, Solomon, and Israel His people.

The third celebration especially recorded was after the Babylonian captivity, when the Jews were re-established in their home under Ezra and Nehemiah, and all gathered themselves together as one man on the first day of the seventh month, the feast of trumpets. Then followed the reading of the law and renewal of the covenant. Then finding in the law directions as to the feast of tabernacles, they brought branches of olive, pine, myrtle, and palm, and thick trees, and made booths on their roofs and in their courts, and in the courts of God's house, and sat under them with "great gladness" (Nehemiah 8).

III. They Pointed Prophetically To Three Grand Antitypical Events Of The Gospel Kingdom. Prophetically and typically.

(1) The Passover points to the Lord Jesus, the true paschal Lamb sacrificed for us, whose sacrifice brings to us a perpetual feast ( 1 Corinthians 5:7).

(2) Pentecost points to our Whitsuntide (Acts 2) when the Holy Spirit descending on Christ's disciples confirms Christ's covenant of grace in the heart more effectually than the law of Sinai written on stone ( 2 Corinthians 3:3-18).

(3) Two great steps have already been taken toward establishing the kingdom of God. Christ has risen from death as "the firstfruits of them that slept" ( 1 Corinthians 15:20), even as the green ears of barley were offered as firstfruits at Passover. Secondly, the Holy Spirit has not merely once descended but still abides in the church as His temple, giving us a perpetual Whitsun feast, One step more is needed; we have received redemption, also the Holy Spirit; we wait still for our inheritance and abiding home. The feast of tabernacles points on to the antitypical Canaan, the everlasting inheritance, of which the Holy Spirit is the "earnest" ( Ephesians 1:13-14;  Hebrews 4:8-9). The antitypical feast of tabernacles shall be under the antitypical Joshua, Jesus the Captain of our salvation, the antitypical Solomon, the Prince of peace ( Isaiah 9:6;  Revelation 7:9-17).

The zest of the heavenly joy of the palmbearing multitude (antitypical to the palmbearers at the feast of tabernacles), redeemed out of all nations, shall be the remembrance of their tribulations in this wilderness world forever past; for repose is sweetest after toil, and difficulties surmounted add to the delight of triumph. Salvation was the prominent topic at the feast. In later times they used to draw water from the pool of Siloam, repeating from Isaiah 12 "with joy shall ye draw water from the wells of salvation," referred to by Jesus ( John 7:2-37;  John 7:39). So Christ shall appear the "second time without sin unto salvation" ( Hebrews 9:28). The palm-bearing multitude accompanying Jesus at His triumphant entry into His royal capital cried "Hosanna," i.e. Save us we beseech Thee. So the prophetical  Psalms 118:25-26, implies that Israel shall say when in penitent faith she shall turn to her returning Lord ( Matthew 23:39).

So the thanksgiving song of eternity shall be, "Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb." Meanwhile on earth Israel, long finding no ease or rest for the sole of the foot, but having "trembling of heart, failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind" ( Deuteronomy 28:65), shall at length rest in her own land under Messiah reigning at Jerusalem as His holy capital and over the whole earth, and "everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles" ( Zechariah 14:9;  Zechariah 14:16; Revelation 7). That feast shall remind Israel of hardships now past, and of salvation and peace now realized on earth, so that "the voice of rejoicing and salvation shall be in the tabernacles of the righteous" ( Psalms 118:15).

There was in the Three Feasts a clear prefigurement of the Three Persons; the Father, in the work of creation, especially adored in the feast of tabernacles; the Son in the Passover sacrifice; the Spirit in the Pentecostal feast. The times of the feasts were those least interfering with the people's industry; the Passover just before harvest; Pentecost at its conclusion and before the vintage; tabernacles after all fruits were gathered in. The feast of Purim commemorated the baffling of Haman's plot for the Jews' destruction; the feast of Dedication the purification of the temple by the Maccabees, after its defilement by Antiochus Epiphanes. (See Esther ; Dedication, Feast Of )

In the New Testament Jude ( Judges 1:12, "feasts of charity"; also  2 Peter 2:13, mentions the Christian lovefeasts which often preceded the Lord's supper (1 Corinthians 11 end) just as the Passover preceded it in Christ's institution. (See Lord 'S Supper They ate and; drank together earthly, then heavenly food, in token of unity for time and eternity. The fervent love and fellowship which characterized the first disciples originated these feasts ( Acts 2:45-46;  Acts 4:35;  Acts 6:1). Each brought his portion, as to a club feast; and the rich brought extra portions for the poor.

From it the bread and wine were taken for the Eucharist. In it the excesses took place which Paul censures, and which made a true and reverent celebration of the Lord's supper during or after it impossible. Hence the lovefeasts were afterward separated from the Lord's supper, and in the fourth century forbidden by the Council of Laodicea A.D. 320, and that of Carthage A.D. 391, as excesses crept in, the rulers of the church receiving double portions (Tertullian, De Jejun., 17), and the rich courting the praise of liberality. Pliny, in his famous letter to Trajan, says the Christians met and exchanged sacramental pledges against all immorality, then separated, and met again to partake of an entertainment.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

FEASTS. —The religious Feasts of the Jews in our Lord’s time were not so many as the religious Feasts of the Christian Church of to-day as enumerated in the English Book of Common Prayer, but they meant very much more in the way of outward observance. In the first rank—like Christmas, Easter, Ascensiontide, and Whitsuntide—there stood out the three great Feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Not unlike the Holy Days of the Church’s Calendar, commemorating as they do various victories of the past, there were the annual Feasts of Dedication and of Purim, to which must be added the Feast of Trumpets together with its smaller counterpart in the monthly Feast of the New Moon. Corresponding to the Christian Sunday there was the weekly Feast of the Sabbath. Of these, Passover, Tabernacles, and Dedication are all specially mentioned in the Gospels, as well as the Sabbath, to which there are very many references, some merely incidental and some meant to show that it was our Lord’s purpose to free the observance of that day from the artificial rules that had grown up about it in tradition. The Feasts are most prominent in the Fourth Gospel, where they are so mentioned as to form a framework into which the events of our Lord’s Ministry fall. Three Passovers are there recorded: (1)  John 2:13, when our Lord cleansed the Temple almost at the beginning of His Ministry; (2)  John 6:4, just after the feeding of the 5000; (3)  John 13:1 (cf.  Matthew 26:2,  Mark 14:1,  Luke 22:1), at the time of the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

It has indeed been contended that the reference to Passover in  John 6:4 is a mistake, and that really there were only two Passovers in our Lord’s Ministry, the one at the beginning and the other at the end; it has also been contended that there may have been other Passovers, which are not mentioned, and that our Lord’s Ministry may have included so many as ten or twelve, lasting over 10 or 12 years; but neither of these contentions can be made good, and it seems more likely that the record as it stands is both accurate and complete (see Turner in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, art. ‘Chronology of NT’).

Besides these three Passovers, mention is made of the Feast of Tabernacles in  John 7:2, of the Feast of Dedication in  John 10:22, and of some Feast not particularized by name in  John 5:1. To these St. Luke adds mention of an earlier Passover, when our Lord was 12 years old and was for the first time (?) allowed to accompany Joseph and Mary as they went up to Jerusalem year after year for the Feast ( Luke 2:41 f.).

The Feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles were all of them Pilgrimage Feasts, that is to say. Feasts at which all male Jews above the age of 12 years were required to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem. It is noticed in  Luke 2:41 f. that Joseph and Mary were both in the habit of going up to Jerusalem for the Passover every year. There was no requirement that women should thus attend at the Feasts, but Hillel seems to have encouraged the practice, and it was adopted by other religious women besides Mary (Edersheim, Life and Times , vol. i. p. 236). St. Luke in the same passage speaks of our Lord as going up at the age of twelve; that, too, was in excess of what was required by law, but was apparently in accordance with custom (so Edersheim, op. cit. p. 235; but cf. Schürer, HJ P [Note: JP History of the Jewish People.] ii. ii. p. 51, who represents that, strictly speaking, every boy who could walk ought to have attended, and that it was only by custom that boys who lived at a distance were allowed to wait till their twelfth year before going). Attendance at the Feasts was not confined to those who lived within easy reach, but Jews came as well from great distances, although naturally they could not attend so often as three times a year.

Schürer writes ( op. cit. p. 290 f.): ‘There was nothing that contributed so much to cement the bond of union between the dispersion and the mother country as the regular pilgrimages which Jews from all quarters of the world were in the habit of making to Jerusalem on festival occasions.’ He quotes Philo ( de Monarchia , ii. 1) as saying: ‘Many thousands of people from many thousands of towns made pilgrimages to the Temple at every festival, some by land, some by sea, and coming from the east and the west, from the north and the south,’ and refers to Josephus’ estimate of the number of Jews in Jerusalem at the time of the Feasts as being so many as 2,700,000 ( BJ vi. ix. 3).

In accordance with this it is definitely stated in the Gospels that four times during His Ministry our Lord went up to Jerusalem to keep the Feasts, twice for Passover, once for Tabernacles, and once for an unnamed Feast. Possibly He went up quite regularly three times a year, for the notice that He was in Galilee shortly before the second Passover ( John 6:4) does not preclude the possibility of His having gone up a little later. At the first Passover mention is made of His disciples being with Him in Jerusalem ( John 2:17;  John 2:22), evidently having journeyed from Galilee with the same purpose as Himself, to keep the Feast. Similarly at Tabernacles it is stated that His brethren went up from Galilee to keep the Feast ( John 7:10). In all the Gospel references to Passover and Tabernacles the impression is given of large crowds of Jews in Jerusalem. At the Feast of Dedication also our Lord was in Jerusalem, but that was simply because His work at that time lay close by. He did not go up to Jerusalem on purpose for it, since no pilgrimages were made except at the three great Feasts; but being close at hand He liked to mark the occasion by a visit to the Temple, and there found a considerable number of Jews resident in the neighbourhood who had been attracted thither like Himself. See, further, the sep. artt. on Dedication, Passover, etc.

As regards the unnamed Feast of  John 5:1, it is impossible to reach any certainty as to what Feast is intended. If the correct reading were ἡ ἑορτή, it would most naturally he the Feast of Tabernacles, which was above all the Feast of the Jews (Cheyne on  Isaiah 30:29); but if the article be omitted, as almost certainly it should be, the expression is quite indefinite, and might refer to either Tabernacles or Passover or Pentecost, or to any of the smaller Feasts.

In attempting to decide between these, guidance may first he sought from the general sequence of events, so far as it is indicated by the following notes of time:

(1) Passover, i.e. March or April,  John 2:13.

(2) A reference to harvest,  John 4:35.

(3) This unnamed Feast,  John 5:1.

(4) A second Passover,  John 6:4.

Thus it appears that the unnamed Feast fell between the incident connected with the harvest in  John 4:35 and Passover. This does not, however, give very much help, because  John 4:35 may mean either that that was the actual time of harvest or that it was four months before harvest, so that it is impossible to tell whether the incident there described happened in the month of April or in midwinter. If that happened in midwinter, then Dedication (Dec.) and Purim (Feb.) are the only Feasts possible chronologically; but if, as is equally likely, that incident happened at harvest, then the chronology would admit almost any of the Feasts, either Pentecost (May), or Trumpets (Sept. [Note: Septuagint.] ), or Tabernacles (Sept. [Note: Septuagint.] ), or Dedication (Dec.), or Purim (Feb.). Thus the setting of the incident is quite indeterminate. In the description of the incident itself there are two points that need to be noticed. The one is that the introductory words are such as to suggest that the only reason for mentioning the Feast at all is to explain our Lord’s presence in Jerusalem,—‘After these things there was a Feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.’ Since there were only three Feasts at which even the strictest Jews went up to Jerusalem, it appears that this must be one of those three, i.e. must be either Passover, Pentecost, or Tabernacles. At the smaller Feasts many of those Jews who were in or near Jerusalem would naturally congregate in the Temple courts (cf.  John 10:22 ff.), but none were in the habit of going up on these occasions from other parts of the country. Accordingly, though Purim may seem suitable in other ways, it quite fails to explain the one fundamental fact, our Lord’s visit to Jerusalem, and the same objection lies against all the smaller Feasts. The second point to be noticed is that St. John’s use of so vague a phrase in reference to one of the three great Feasts can mean only that he was himself unable to recall the exact occasion. The events recorded were quite clear in his mind, and he remembered that they had happened on one of the occasions when our Lord went to Jerusalem to keep the Feasts, but at which particular one he could not recall. This being so, it is useless to try now to discover the secret from his writings, but there is no need to feel disappointment at the absence of information on this point, as if some part of the significance of the incident were lost through ignorance of its occasion, for the circumstances would not have dropped out of St. John’s memory as they did, if they had been essential to the understanding of our Lord’s words or actions. See also art. Ministry.

C. E. Garrad.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [3]

Israelites were largely a farming people, and their religious festivals, or feasts, were built into the agricultural cycle (see Farming ). There were three main annual festivals: Passover-Unleavened Bread and Pentecost-Harvest at the beginning of the year, and Tabernacles-Ingatherings in the middle of the year. (For the Israelite calendar see Month .) On these three occasions all adult males had to go to the central place of worship, which was originally the tabernacle and later the temple ( Exodus 23:14-17).

The Israelite festivals recalled the nation’s history, but they were also relevant to the people’s current experiences. Within the festivals there was a mixture of solemnity and joy, as the sinful people were humbled before their God yet thankful to him for his merciful salvation and constant provision ( Leviticus 23:2;  Leviticus 23:21;  Deuteronomy 16:11-12).

Passover and Unleavened Bread

God decreed that the month during which the Israelites escaped from bondage in Egypt should be the first month of their religious year ( Exodus 12:2). (This Jewish month fits somewhere into the period of March-April on our calendar.) In the middle of the month the people kept the Passover, followed by the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread ( Leviticus 23:5-8;  Mark 14:1). The Passover recalled God’s ‘passing over’ the houses of the Israelites when he killed the firstborn throughout Egypt ( Exodus 12:27). The accompanying Feast of Unleavened Bread recalled the people’s hasty departure from Egypt when they had to make their bread without leaven (yeast), cooking as they travelled in order to save time ( Exodus 12:8;  Exodus 12:34;  Exodus 12:39). (For details of the Passover rituals see Passover .)

Once the Israelites had settled in Canaan, the festival became an occasion to acknowledge God’s care in giving them their grain harvest. At Passover time the barley was ready for harvest, but before the people could reap it and use it for themselves, they had to acknowledge God as the giver. Therefore, on the third day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they presented the first sheaf of reaped barley to God. They accompanied this with animal sacrifices that expressed confession, gratitude and dedication ( Leviticus 23:10-14;  Numbers 28:16-25).

Feast of Harvest (Pentecost)

After the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the people returned home and for the next six weeks were busy harvesting, first the barley and then the wheat. At the end of the wheat harvest they showed their thanks to God for their food by presenting to him two loaves of bread such as they would eat in their normal meals. Again there were additional sacrifices ( Leviticus 23:15-21;  Numbers 28:26-31).

Since this festival fell on the fiftieth day after Passover, it later became known as the Feast of Pentecost (‘pentecost’ meaning ‘fifty’) ( Acts 2:1; see Pentecost ). It was also known as the Feast of Weeks, being a week of weeks after the offering of the first barley sheaf ( Deuteronomy 16:9-10). More commonly it was called the Feast of Harvest or Feast of Firstfruits.

Between the two festival seasons

After the cereal harvest there was much activity as the people threshed, winnowed and stored the grain. The hottest part of the year had now arrived, and over the next few months the figs, grapes, olives and dates ripened and were harvested. By the middle of the year, summer had almost gone, most farming activity was finished, and people began preparing for the mid-year festival season.

On the first day of the seventh month (within the period of September-October on our calendar) the ceremonial blowing of trumpets called the people together for a special day of rest and worship ( Leviticus 23:24-25). This was to prepare them for the solemn cleansing from sin that followed ten days later on the Day of Atonement ( Leviticus 23:26-32; for details see Day Of Atonement ).

Feast of Tabernacles (or Shelters)

Five days after the Day of Atonement was the Feast of Tabernacles. The name ‘tabernacle’ in this case does not refer to the Israelite place of worship, but to small shelters, or booths, made of tree branches and palm leaves. During the festival people lived in these shelters in remembrance of Israel’s years in the wilderness ( Leviticus 23:34;  Leviticus 23:39-43).

The festival was also known as the Feast of Ingatherings, because it marked the end of the agricultural year, when all the produce of the land had been gathered in and the people rejoiced in thanksgiving before God ( Leviticus 23:39;  Deuteronomy 16:13-15). The number of sacrifices at this feast was greater than at any other, though the number decreased a little each day ( Leviticus 23:36;  Numbers 29:12-38).

There are records of Israel’s celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles after Solomon’s completion of the temple and after the Jews’ return from captivity in Babylon ( 2 Chronicles 8:12-13;  Ezra 3:4). They still celebrated it in the time of Jesus ( John 7:2), and had introduced into it a water-pouring ceremony. Jesus referred to this ceremony when he addressed the people on the final day of the feast, offering to satisfy the spiritual needs of all who came to him for help ( John 7:37-39).

Feast of Purim

The Feast of Purim was not one of the feasts appointed by God through Moses. It was established in Persia in the fifth century BC by Mordecai, a leader of the large community of Jews that had grown up in Persia after the Babylonian captivity.

Haman, Persia’s chief minister, had gained the king’s approval for a plan to destroy the Jewish people. He determined the date to carry out his plan by casting lots, or purim (purim being the Hebrew plural of the Persian-Assyrian word pur, meaning ‘lot’) ( Esther 3:7). In the end, however, Haman was executed and Mordecai made chief minister in his place. When Haman’s ‘lucky day’ arrived, the Jews, instead of being slaughtered, took revenge on their enemies ( Esther 9:1). Mordecai then ordered that Jews celebrate the great occasion with feasting, exchanging gifts and giving to the poor ( Esther 9:20-28; see Esther ). Jews have celebrated the festival to the present day.

Feast of Dedication

During the second century BC, the Greek ruler of the Syrian sector of the Empire, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, used his military power to try to destroy the Jewish religion. In a brutal attack he invaded Jerusalem and slaughtered the Jews. He then defiled the Jewish temple by setting up an altar in honour of the pagan gods and sacrificing animals that the Jews considered unclean.

A group of zealous Jews, the Maccabees, began a resistance movement against Antiochus, and after three years of untiring fighting won back their religious freedom (165 BC). They promptly cleansed and rededicated the temple, in celebration of which the Jews established the annual Feast of Dedication. It was the Jews’ only winter festival ( John 10:22-23).

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [4]

God appointed several festivals among the Jews.

1. To perpetuate the memory of great events; so, the Sabbath commemorated the creation of the world; the passover, the departure out of Egypt; the pentecost, the law given at Sinai, &c.

2. To keep them under the influence of religion, and by the majesty of that service which he instituted among them, and which abounded in mystical symbols or types of evangelical things, to convey spiritual instruction, and to keep alive the expectation of the Messiah, and his more perfect dispensation.

3. To secure to them certain times of rest and rejoicings.

4. To render them familiar with the law; for, in their religious assemblies, the law of God was read and explained.

5. To renew the acquaintance, correspondence, and friendship of their tribes and families, coming from the several towns in the country, and meeting three times a year in the holy city.

The first and most ancient festival, the Sabbath, or seventh day, commemorated the creation. "The Lord blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it," says Moses, "because that in it he had rested from all his work,"  Genesis 2:3 . See Sabbath .

The passover was instituted in memory of the Israelites' departure out of Egypt, and of the favour which God showed his people in sparing their first-born, when he destroyed the first-born of the Egyptians,  Exodus 12:14 , &c. See Passover .

The feast of pentecost was celebrated on the fiftieth day after the passover, in memory of the law being given to Moses on Mount Sinai, fifty days after the departure out of Egypt. They reckoned seven weeks from the passover to pentecost, beginning at the day after the passover. The Hebrews call it the feast of weeks, and the Christians, pentecost, which signifies the fiftieth day.

The feast of trumpets was celebrated on the first day of the civil year; on which the trumpets sounded, proclaiming the beginning of the year, which was in the month Tisri, answering to our September, O. S. We know no religious cause of its establishment. Moses commands it to be observed as a day of rest, and that particular sacrifices should be offered at that time.

The new moons, or first days of every month, were, in some sort, a consequence of the feasts of trumpets. The law did not oblige people to rest upon this day, but ordained only some particular sacrifices. It appears that, on these days, also, the trumpet was sounded, and entertainments were made,  1 Samuel 20:5-18 .

The feast of expiation or atonement was celebrated on the tenth day of Tisri, which was the first day of the civil year. It was instituted for a general expiation of sins, irreverences, and pollutions of all the Israelites, from the high priest to the lowest of the people, committed by them throughout the year,  Leviticus 23:27-28;  Numbers 29:7 . See Expiation , Day of. The feast of tents, or tabernacle, on which all Israel were obliged to attend the temple, and to dwell eight days under tents of branches, in memory of their fathers dwelling forty years in tents, as travellers in the wilderness. It was kept on the fifteenth of the month Tisri, the first of the civil year. The first and seventh day of this feast were very solemn. But during the other days of the octave they might work,   Leviticus 23:34-35;  Numbers 29:12-13 . At the beginning of the feast, two vessels of silver were carried in a ceremonious manner to the temple, one full of water, the other of wine, which were poured at the foot of the altar of burnt offerings, always on the seventh day of this festival.

Of the three great feasts of the year, the passover, pentecost, and that of the tabernacles, the octave, or seventh day after these feasts, was a day of rest as much as the festival itself; and all the males of the nation were obliged to visit the temple at these three feasts. But the law did not require them to continue there during the whole octave, except in the feast of tabernacles, when they seem obliged to be present for the whole seven days.

Beside these feasts, we find the feast of lots, or purim, instituted on occasion of the deliverance of the Jews from Haman's plot, in the reign of Ahasuerus. See Purim .

The feast of the dedication of the temple, or rather of the restoration of the temple, which had been profaned by Antiochus Epiphanes, 1Ma_4:52 , &c, was celebrated in winter, and is supposed to be the feast of dedication mentioned in  John 10:22 . Josephus says, that it was called the feast of lights, probably because this happiness befel them when least expected, and they considered it as a new light risen on them.

In the Christian church, no festival appears to have been expressly instituted by Jesus Christ, or his Apostles. Yet, as we commemorate the passion of Christ as often as we celebrate his Supper, he seems by this to have instituted a perpetual feast. Christians have always celebrated the memory of his resurrection, and observe this feast on every Sunday, which was commonly called the Lord's day,  Revelation 1:10 . By inference we may conclude this festival to have been instituted by Apostolic authority.

The birth-day of Christ, commonly called Christmas-day, has been generally observed by his disciples with gratitude and joy. His birth was the greatest blessing ever bestowed on mankind. The angels from heaven celebrated it with a joyful hymn; and every man, who has any feeling of his own lost state without a Redeemer, must rejoice and be glad in it. "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace,  Isaiah 9:6 . For this festival, however, there is no authority in Scripture, nor do we know that it was observed in the age of the Apostles.

On Easter Sunday we celebrate our Saviour's victory over death and hell, when, having on the cross made an atonement for the sin of the world, he rose again from the grave, brought life and immortality to light, and opened to all his faithful servants the way to heaven. On this great event rest all our hopes. "If Christ be not risen," says St. Paul, "then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept,"  1 Corinthians 15:14;  1 Corinthians 15:20 .

Forty days after his resurrection, our Lord ascended into heaven, in the sight of his disciples. This is celebrated on what is called Ascension-day, or Holy Thursday. Ten days after his ascension, our Lord sent the Holy Spirit to be the comforter and guide of his disciples. This blessing is commemorated on Whit-Sunday, which is a very great festival, and may be profitably observed; for the assistance of the Holy Spirit can alone support us through all temptations, and guide us into all truth.

The pretended success of some in discovering the remains of certain holy men, called "relics," multiplied in the fourth century of the Christian church the festivals and commemorations of the martyrs in a most extravagant manner. These days, instead of being set apart for pious exercises, were spent in indolence, voluptuousness, and criminal pursuits; and were less consecrated to the service of God, than employed in the indulgence of sinful passions. Many of these festivals were instituted on a Pagan model, and perverted to similar purposes.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [5]

FEASTS . Introductory . The sacred festivals of the Jews were primarily occasions of rejoicing, treated as a part of religion. To ‘rejoice before God’ was synonymous with ‘to celebrate a festival.’ In process of time this characteristic was modified, and a probably late institution, like the Day of Atonement, could be regarded as a feast, though its prevalent note was not one of joy. But the most primitive feasts were marked by religious merriment; they were accompanied with dances (  Judges 21:21 ), and, as it seems, led to serious excesses in many cases (  1 Samuel 1:13 ,   Amos 2:7 ,   2 Kings 23:7 ,   Deuteronomy 23:18 ). Most of the feasts were only local assemblies for acts and purposes of sacred worship; but the three great national festivals were the occasions for general assemblies of the people, at which all males were supposed to appear (  Exodus 23:14;   Exodus 23:17;   Exodus 34:23 ,   Deuteronomy 16:16 ).

I. Feasts connected with the Sabbath. These were calculated on the basis of the sacred number 7, which regulated all the great dates of the Jewish sacred year. Thus the 7th was the sacred month, the feasts of Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles each lasted for 7 days, Pentecost was 49 days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Passover and Tabernacles each began on the 14th day of their respective months, and there were 7 days of holy convocation in the year.

1. The Sabbath and the observances akin to it were lunar in character (cf.   Amos 8:5 ,   Hosea 2:11 ,   Isaiah 1:13 ,   2 Kings 4:23 ). The Sabbath ordinances are treated in   Exodus 20:11;   Exodus 31:17 as designed to commemorate the completion of creation, but   Deuteronomy 5:14-15 connects them with the redemption from Egypt, and   Exodus 23:12 ascribes them to humanitarian motives. On this day work of all sorts was forbidden, and the daily morning and evening sacrifices were doubled. Sabbath-breaking was punishable with death (  Numbers 15:32-36 ,   Exodus 31:14-15 ). No evidence of Sabbath observance is traced in the accounts of the patriarchal age, and very little in pre-exilic records (  Isaiah 56:2;   Isaiah 56:6;   Isaiah 58:13 ,   Jeremiah 17:20-24 ,   Ezekiel 20:12-13;   Ezekiel 20:16;   Ezekiel 20:20 ). But after the Captivity the rules were more strictly enforced (  Nehemiah 13:15;   Nehemiah 13:22 ), and in later times the Rabbinical prohibitions multiplied to an inordinate extent. See art. Sabbath.

2 . At the New Moon special sacrifices were offered (  Numbers 28:11-15 ), and the silver trumpets were blown over them (  Numbers 10:10 ). All trade and business were discontinued, as well as work in the fields (  Amos 8:5 ). It appears also that this was the occasion of a common sacred meal and family sacrifices (cf.   1 Samuel 20:5-6;   1 Samuel 20:18;   1 Samuel 20:24 ), and it seems to have been a regular day on which to consult prophets (  2 Kings 4:23 ).

3. The Feast of Trumpets took place at the New Moon of the 7th month, Tishri (October). See Trumpets.

4. The Sabbatical year . An extension of the Sabbath principle led to the rule that in every 7th year the land was to be allowed to lie fallow, and fields were to be neither tilled nor reaped. See Sabbatical Year.

5 . By a further extension, every 50th year was to be treated as a year of Jubilee , when Hebrew slaves were emancipated and mortgaged property reverted to its owners. See Sabbatical Year.

II. Great National Festivals. These were solar festivals, and mostly connected with different stages of the harvest; the Jews also ascribed to them a commemorative significance, and traditionally referred their inauguration to various events of their past history. They were:

1. The Passover , followed immediately by the Feast of Unleavened Bread . These two feasts were probably distinct in origin (  Leviticus 23:5-6 ,   Numbers 28:16-17 ), and Josephus distinguishes between them; but in later times they were popularly regarded as one (  Mark 14:12 ,   Luke 22:1 ). The Passover festival is probably of great antiquity, but the Feast of Unleavened Bread, being agricultural in character, can scarcely have existed before the Israelites entered Canaan. For the characteristic features of the two festivals, see Passover.

2. Pentecost , on the 50th day after 16th Nisan (April), celebrated the completion of the corn harvest. See Pentecost.

3. The Feast of Tabernacles , the Jewish harvest-home, took place at the period when the harvests of fruit, oil, and wine had been gathered in. See Tabernacles.

III. Minor Historical Festivals

1. The Feast of Purim , dating from the Persian period of Jewish history, commemorated the nation’s deliverance from the intrigues of Haman. See Purim.

2. The Feast of the Dedication recalled the purification of the Temple after its desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes. See Dedication.

3. The Feast of the Wood-offering or of the Wood-carriers, on the 15th day of Abib (April), marked the last of the nine occasions on which offerings of wood were brought for the use of the Temple (  Nehemiah 10:34;   Nehemiah 13:31 ).

Besides these there were certain petty feasts, alluded to in Josephus and the Apocrypha, but they seem never to have been generally observed or to have attained any religious importance. Such are: the Feast of the Reading of the Law ( 1Es 9:50 , cf.   Nehemiah 8:9 ); the Feast of Nicanor on the 13th day of Adar (March) ( 1Ma 7:49; see Purim); the Feast of the Captured Fortress ( 1Ma 13:50-52 ); the Feast of Baskets .

A. W. F. Blunt.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [6]

In the Jewish church we find much said concerning the festivals observed; and what makes the subject important is, that they were of the Lord's own appointment. They had the constant feast of the Sabbath every seventh day, in commemoration of the Lord's resting on the seventh day from the works of creation. And when the church was formed in the wilderness, they had the several feasts as appointed in regular order. The feast of the Passover, typical of the Lord Jesus Christ, on their going out of Egypt. The feast of Pentecost, the fifteenth day from the Passover, in commemoration of the giving of the Law on mount Sinai, fifty days after the people left Egypt. They had also the feast of Tabernacles, which formed the third great feast of the year, in which all the males were enjoined to appear before the Lord. ( Deuteronomy 16:16) These were among the standing feasts appointed by the Lord in the church of Israel.

But beside these, they had others by the same appointment. The feast of Trumpets of the New Moon; the feasts of Expiation, or, as the Jews called it, Chippur; that is, pardon; because on this day it was considered, that an act of grace took place from heaven, for the cleansing the sins and infirmities of all the people through the year. What a striking allusion to that great day of the Lord Jesus, when "by the one offering of himself once offered, he perfected for ever them that were sanctified!" ( Hebrews 10:14) And what a beautiful correspondence to the same, was the prophet Zechariah's account of this glorious event, when hosts: "I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day." ( Zechariah 3:9)

In this account of the Jewish feasts we must not overlook the feast of Jobel, or Jubilee Trumpets, in the forty-ninth year, called the Sabbatical year, or seven times seven. For surely, nothing could be more striking as typical of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord made a blessed provision, by this feast, for the freedom of every poor captive in the land. I refer the reader to the account of it in the Scriptures themselves, ( Leviticus 25:1-55 throughout;) for it would not come within the limits of the present work, to go through the particulars. But of all the subjects in the Jewish church, which pointed in a direct allusion to the Lord Jesus Christ, there is not one more striking. And I venture to believe, that though this trumpet was never sounded but once in forty-nine years, and consequently few, if any, ever heard it before, or ever lived to hear it a second Jubilee, yet there was not a soul in the camp but understood the joyful sound, and felt the meaning (if I may be allowed the expression,) like the archangel's trumpet, as it will be understood by all flesh, when Jesus comes to judgment. The rigorous master on the morning of the Jubilee, whose tyranny then expired, understood by it his sentence. And what were the feelings of the poor oppressed servant, whom the Lord hath then made free, when the mor nirgshered in the sound of the blessed, though never before heard, trumpet!

I hope the reader will not overlook the sweetest and most interesting part of this feast of the Jubilee. It was the Lord Jesus in his great salvation who was thus proclaimed. Every poor sinner, captive to Satan, sin, and hell, who heard the sound, heard it in the sweet voice, "Ye have sold yourselves for nought, and ye shall be redeemed without money, saith the Lord." ( Isaiah 52:3)

I think it highly proper, before I dismiss this article concerning the Jewish feasts, to remark to the reader, the distinguishing privilege we enjoy in the Christian church, in having all in one the sum and substance of every feast in the person, work, grace, and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have our Christian Sabbaths weekly, in which we commemorate all the blessings of creation, redemption, and sanctification at once. And all believers in Christ truly find their sabbaths to be all this and more.

Doth not every regenerated child of God in honouring the Lord's day, honour at the same time the Lord's work; and while he celebrates God the Father's resting from the works of the old creation, celebrate also God the Father's work in the new creation of his precious soul in Christ Jesus? (See  Ephesians 2:10) And in the celebration of the sabbath in honour of God the Son, who by his triumph over death, hell, and the grave, when he arose on that day, and manifested himself to be the resurrection and the life; doth not every regenerated child of God thereby prove, "that he is risen with Christ from dead works, to serve the living and true God?" Yea, doth he not manifest his personal interest in that sweet promise, by those acts of giving honour to his Lord, where it said, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power." ( Revelation 20:5) And is not God the Holy Ghost glorified and honoured in the Christian sabbath, at the renewal of the sacred day, in that then is celebrated his first open and visible display of his love and mercy over the church, when at Pentecost he came down upon the people? Doth not every regenerated child of God here also, as in the other instances, testify, that it is by the sovereignty of his power and grace, he is quickened to a new and spiritual life, and now waits again on the Lord, in his holy ordinance of the sabbath, for the renewing of the Holy Ghost to be shed on him abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Lord? ( Titus 3:5-6)

Surely, these are very clear and incontestible evidences of the true commemoration of the Christian sabbath, when, in the observance, special and distinct acts of praise and honour, are given to each glorious person of the Godhead as they are represented to us in the Scriptures of truth, in the several character-offices of their divine agency. And thus while each and every one hath the special and distinct acts of praise given to them, for the special acts of grace and mercy shewn to the church in Christ, the whole form one and the same glorious object of adoration, love, and praise, as the eternal undivided JEHOVAH, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, both to the church on earth, and in heaven, to all eternity.

Reader it is most blessed thus to see and enjoy our privileges. The believer's feast is a continual feast; yea, an increasing everlasting feast, a daily sabbath. Jesus himself is indeed the Jubilee; yea, the very sabbath of the soul. And when at his house, at his table, at his ordinances, in his word, in every promise, and by every providence, the soul is kept alive by grace in him, the feast is not at stated periods only, but continual. Jesus is the life of the soul; and the portion for ever.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

God appointed several festivals, or days of rest and worship, among the Jews, to perpetuate the memory of great events wrought in favor of them: the Sabbath commemorated the creation of the world; the Passover, the departure out of Egypt; the Pentecost, the law given at Sinai, etc. At the three great feasts of the year, the Passover, Pentecost, and that of Tabernacles, all the males of the nation were required to visit the temple,  Exodus 23:14-17   Deuteronomy 16:16-17; and to protect their borders from invasion during their absence, the shield of a special providence was always interposed,  Exodus 34:23-24 . The other festivals were the Feast of Trumpets, or New Moon, Purim, Dedication, the Sabbath year, and the year of Jubilee. These are described elsewhere. The observance of these sacred festivals was adapted not merely to freshen the remembrance of their early history as a nation, but to keep alive the influence of religion and the expectation of the Messiah, to deepen their joy in God, to dispel animosities and jealousies, and to form new associations between the different tribes and families. See also Day of Expiation .

In the Christian church, we have no festival that clearly appears to have been instituted by our Savior, or his apostles; but as we commemorate his death as often as we celebrate his supper, he has hereby seemed to institute a perpetual feast. Christians have always celebrated the memory of his resurrection by regarding the Sabbath, which we see, from  Revelation 1:10 , was in John's time commonly called "the Lord's day." Feasts of love,  Jude 1:12 , were public banquets of a frugal kind, instituted by the primitive Christians, and connected by them with the celebration of the Lord's supper. The provisions were contributed by the more wealthy, and were common to all Christians, whether rich or poor, who chose to partake. Portions were also sent to the sick and absent members. These love-feasts were intended as an exhibition of mutual Christian affection; but they became subject to abuses, and were afterwards generally discontinued,  1 Corinthians 11:17-34 .

The Hebrews were a hospitable people, and were wont to welcome their guests with a feast, and dismiss them with another,  Genesis 19:3   31:27   Judges 6:19   2 Samuel 3:20   2 Kings 6:23 . The returning prodigal was thus welcomed,  Luke 15:23 . Many joyful domestic events were observed with feasting: birthdays, etc.,  Genesis 21:8   40:20   Job 1:4   Matthew 14:6; marriages,  Genesis 29:22   Judges 14:10   John 2:1-10; sheep shearing and harvesting,  Judges 9:27   1 Samuel 25:2,36   2 Samuel 13:23 . A feast was also provided at funerals,  2 Samuel 3:35   Jeremiah 16:7 . Those who brought sacrifices and offerings to the temple were wont to feast upon them there, with joy and praise to God,  Deuteronomy 12:6,7   1 Samuel 16:5   2 Samuel 6:19 . They were taught to invite all the needy to partake with them,  Deuteronomy 16:11; and even to make special feasts for the poor,  Deuteronomy 12:17-19   14:28   26:12-15; a custom which the Savior specially commended,  Luke 14:12-14 .

The manner of holding a feast was anciently marked with great simplicity. But at the time of Christ many Roman customs had been introduced. The feast or "supper" usually took place at five or six in the afternoon, and often continued to a late hour. The guests were invited some time in advance; and those who accepted the invitation were again notified by servants when the hour arrived,  Matthew 22:4-8   Luke 14:16-24 . The door was guarded against uninvited persons; and was at length closed for the day by the hand of the master of the house,  Matthew 25:10   Luke 13:24 . Sometimes very large numbers were present,  Esther 1:3,5   Luke 14:16-24; and on such occasions a "governor of the feast" was appointed, whose social qualities, tact, firmness, and temperance fitted him to preside,  John 2:8 . The guests were arranged with a careful regard to their claims to honor,  Genesis 43:33   1 Samuel 9:22   Proverbs 25:6,7   Matthew 23:6   Luke 14:7; in which matter the laws of etiquette are still jealously enforced in the East. Sometimes the host provided light, rich, loose robes for the company; and if so, the refusing to wear one was a gross insult,  Ecclesiastes 9:8   Matthew 22:11   Revelation 3:4,5 . The guests reclined around the tables; water and perfumes were served to them,  Mark 7:2   Luke 7:44-46; and after eating, the hands were again washed, a servant pouring water over them. During the repast and after it various entertainments were provided; enigmas were proposed,  Judges 14:12; eastern tales were told; music and hired dancers, and often excessive drinking, etc., occupied the time,  Isaiah 5:12   24:7-9   Amos 6:5 . See Eating , Food .

Morrish Bible Dictionary [8]

The feasts of Jehovah, as instituted under the lawas given by Moses, partake more of the character of commemorations, or assemblies of the congregation to celebrate special dealings of the Lord, and consequently special seasons in the history of His people, being called 'holy convocations.' A list of the yearly feasts is given in  Leviticus 23 . The first mentioned is the Sabbath, and if this is counted as one, by considering the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread as one there are seven in all — the perfect number. If the Sabbath is not included, as that was a weekly festival, being the rest of God, and on which the others were founded, then the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread may be counted as two, and still there are seven. There can be no doubt that these seven feasts were typical of the ways of blessing from the cross to the millennium. They stand thus:

Dates  Leviticus 23 . ANTITYPES.

The Sabbath.  Leviticus 23 :.  1-3 .

Christ our Passover

Abib 14th. Passover Feast.  Leviticus 23:5-8 .} is slain: "let us keep

" 15th. Feast of Unleavened Bread. } the feast," that is, of

unleavened bread.

First Fruits ( barley ), 'day after the } The Resurrection.

Sabbath.'  Leviticus 23:9-14 . }

Zif. [Seven Sabbaths intervene.]

Sivan. Pentecost: Feast of Weeks: First } Descent of the Holy

Fruits ( wheat ).  Leviticus 23:15-22 . } Spirit and the Church

formed.

Tammuz.

Ab. [The present interval.]

Elul.

Israel awakened:

Tisri 1st. Feast of Trumpets.  Leviticus 23:23-25 .} they afflict their souls,

10th. Day of Atonement.  Leviticus 23:26-32 .} receive their Messiah,

15th. Feast of Tabernacles: ingathering } and are brought into

of the vintage.  Leviticus 23:33-44 . } blessing in the millennium.

These seven are called 'the set feasts.'  Numbers 29:39;  1 Chronicles 23:31;  2 Chronicles 31:3;  Nehemiah 10:33 . Also 'holy convocations,' when the people assembled together to offer the various offerings, and thus be reminded of their association with the living God, to whom they owed all their blessings.To ensure this at least thrice in the year, it was enjoined that all the males should appear before the Lord three times in the year, and they must not appear empty. These times were at the Feast of Unleavened Bread (no doubt including the Passover); the Feast of Weeks, or of Harvest; and the Feast of Tabernacles, or 'of Ingathering.'  Exodus 23:14-17;  Deuteronomy 16:16 . See PASSOVER, etc.

There are two other Feasts mentioned as yearly which were not apparently ordered of God. The 25th of Chisleu, the Feast of Dedication, instituted by Judas Maccabeus when the temple was re-dedicated after being defiled by Antiochus Epiphanes, B.C. 165.  John 10:22 . The other, the Feast of Purim, on the 14th and 15th of Adar, when the Jews were delivered from the threatened destruction plotted by Haman.  Esther 9:21,26 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [9]

Feasts. Special thanksgivings and periods of rejoicing. The religious feasts mentioned in Scripture fall under three heads:( A) Those properly connected with the institution of the Sabbath; ( B) the historical or great festivals; ( C ) the day of atonement. ( A) Immediately connected with the Sabbath are: 1. The weekly Sabbath itself. 2. The seventh new moon, or feast of trumpets. 3. The sabbatical year. 4. The year of jubilee. ( B) The great feasts are—1. The passover. 2. The feast of pentecost, of weeks, of wheat harvest, or of the first-fruits. 3. The feast of tabernacles or of Ingathering. On each of these occasions every male Israelite was commanded to "appear before the Lord," that is, to attend in the court of the tabernacle or the temple, and to make his offering with a joyful heart.  Deuteronomy 27:7;  Nehemiah 8:9-12. On all the days of holy convocation there was to be an entire suspension of ordinary labor of all kinds,  Exodus 12:16;  Leviticus 16:29;  Leviticus 23:21;  Leviticus 23:24-25;  Leviticus 23:35; but on the intervening days of the longer festivals work might be carried on. The significance of the three great festivals is stated in the account of the Jewish sacred year.  Leviticus 23:1-44. The times of the festivals were evidently appointed so as to interfere as little as possible with the industry of the people. The religious festivals preserved the religious faith of the nation and religious unity among the people. They promoted friendly intercourse, distributed information through the country at a time when the transmission of news was slow and imperfect; and imported into remote provincial districts a practical knowledge of all improvements in arts and sciences. After the captivity the feast of purim,  Esther 9:20 ff. Seq., and that of the dedication,  1 Maccabees 4:56, were instituted. Jesus went up to Jerusalem at the latter feast.  John 10:22.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [10]

Feasts. See Festivals; Meals .

Holman Bible Dictionary [11]

Festivals

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [12]

The root-idea of the word is to be found in what we should term the pleasures of the table, the exercise of hospitality.

To what an early date the practices of hospitality are referable may be seen in . It was usual not only to receive persons with choice viands, but also to dismiss them in a similar manner; accordingly Laban, when he had overtaken the fleeing Jacob, complains , 'Wherefore didst thou steal away from me and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, and with tabret, and with harp?' See also;;; . This practice explains the reason why the prodigal, on his return, was welcomed by a feast . Occasions of domestic joy were hailed with feasting; thus, in , Abraham 'made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.' Birthdays were thus celebrated , 'Pharaoh, on his birthday made a feast unto all his servants' (;; comp. Herod. i. 133). Marriage-feasts were also common. Samson on such an occasion 'made a feast,' and it is added, 'for so used the young men to do.' So Laban, when he gave his daughter Leah to Jacob , 'gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.' These festive occasions seem originally to have answered the important purpose of serving as evidence and attestation of the events which they celebrated, on which account relatives and neighbors were invited to be present . Those processes in rural occupations by which the Divine bounties are gathered into the hands of man, have in all ages been made seasons of festivity; accordingly in , Absalom invites all the king's sons, and even David himself, to a sheep-shearing feast, on which occasion the guests became 'merry with wine' (, sq.). The vintage was also celebrated with festive eating and drinking . Feasting at funerals existed among the Jews . In , among other funeral customs mention is made of 'the cup of consolation, to drink for their father or their mother,' which brings to mind the indulgence in spirituous liquors to which our ancestors were given, at interments, and which has not yet entirely disappeared. To what an extent expense was sometimes carried on these occasions, may be learned from Josephus, who, having remarked that Archelaus 'mourned for his father seven days, and had given a very expensive funeral feast to the multitude,' states, 'which custom is the occasion of poverty to many of the Jews,' adding, 'because they are forced to feast the multitude, for if any one omits it he is not esteemed a holy person.'

As among heathen nations, so also among the Hebrews, feasting made a part of the observances which took place on occasion of animal sacrifices (;;;; ). These sacrificial meals were enjoyed in connection with peace-offerings, whether eucharstic or votive. To the feast at the second tithe of the produce of the land, which was to be made every year and eaten at the annual festivals before Jehovah, not only friends, but strangers, widows, orphans, and Levites, were to be invited, as well as the slaves. If the tabernacles were so distant as to make it inconvenient to carry thither the tithe, it was to be turned into money, which was to be spent at the place at which the festivals were held in providing feasts (;; ). Charitable entertainments were also provided, at the end of three years, from the tithe of the increase. The Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, were to be present (;; ). At the feast of Pentecost the command is very express . 'Thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy man-servant, and thy maid-servant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you.' The Israelites were forbidden to partake of food offered in sacrifice to idols , lest they should be thereby enticed into idolatry or appear to give a sanction to idolatrous observances .

References