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Water Libation

 The Rejoicing in the House of the Water Pouring (Simchat Beit HaShoevah) is a ceremony included in Sukkot. It is mentioned in the Mishnah and not in the Torah. The water pouring became a focus of joy. The Talmud states, "He who has not seen the rejoicing at the place of the water-drawing has never seen rejoicing in his life." So, the water pouring ceremony became the occasion for an outpouring of intense joy.

Sukkot is the only Feast in which God commanded the people to be joyful. As a result, Sukkot became known as The Season of Our Joy. Passover is the Season of Our Freedom whereas Pentecost is the Season of the Giving of the Torah.

Waters were drawn from the Pool of Siloam. They were referred to as the waters of salvation. The festivities were held in the courtyard of the outer Temple. Though it was a relatively small area, many thousands of happy people were able to crowd in miraculously. There was dancing and singing in this celebration of the drawing of the water from the wells of salvation.

Why was the Water Libation such a happy occasion? It is as if God says to Israel, "All your offerings are precious to Me, but this offering of the water which you pour on the altar during the festival is especially precious. Water requires neither planting nor reaping nor pressing nor purifying. Let it be joined with the wine libation, which requires all sorts of preparations. In My eyes, your wine and water are equal, those that require great effort and those that don’t, so long as you rejoice in Me without any mixture of foreign thoughts or ulterior motives."

The Daily Sukkot Ceremony

The celebration was held every day of the Feast, with the exception of Sabbath and the first day, for then the water libation was not accompanied by music and song. Men, women and children would took part in the celebration which lasted for fifteen and a half consecutive hours, from the time when the daily afternoon sacrifice was offered until the next morning. Such heavenly divine joy!

Each day, there was a special ceremony outside the temple. The priests were divided into three divisions.

Division One

The first division was the priests on duty for that festival. They would slay the sacrifices at the altar as instructed in Numbers 29.

Division Two

At this time, a second group of priests went out the East Gate of the temple and went to the Motzah Valley where the ashes were dumped at the beginning of the Sabbath.

There they cut willows. The willows had to be 25 feet in length. After this, all the priests would form a line, each holding a willow. About 25 or 30 feet apart allowing room for the willows, another line of priests was formed. In due time, there would be rows after rows of the priests holding willows.

After that, a signal was given. The priests would step out with their left feet and then to the right, swinging the willows back and forth.

Division Three

Meanwhile, a third group of priests, headed by the high priest, went out the gate known as the Water Gate.

They had gone to the Pool of Siloam (John 9:7), which means gently flowing waters. There the high priest had a golden vase and drew the water known as the living waters (mayim hayim) and held it in the vase. His assistant held a silver vase containing wine.

Division Two & Division Three Returning To Temple

The whole road back to the temple would be filled with pilgrims. These pilgrims went to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival. They were commanded by God to appear before Him thrice a year during the Feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:16).

Then the priests in the valley of Motzah and the priests at the Pool of Siloam began to march toward Jerusalem. The willows made a swishing sound in the wind as they marched towards the holy city. The Hebraic word Ruach means both wind and spirit. Therefore, this ceremony is symbolic of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) coming upon the city of Jerusalem.

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. John 7:37-39

As each of the party reached their respective gates, a shofar was blown. Then one man would stand up and play the flute. The flute player was called the pierced one which was a type of the Messiah. As the flute was pierced, so was Yeshua. He was pierced during the crucifixion (Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34-37; Revelation 1:7).

The flute player led the procession, blowing and calling for the wind and the water to enter the temple. The priests from Motzah (Division Two) swishing the willows entered into the temple and circled the altar of sacrifice seven times. The priests, who had slain the sacrifices (Division One), then ascended the altar and began to lay the sacrifices on the fires.

The high priest and his assistant (Division Three) ascended the altar as all the people of Israel were gathered into the courts around there. The people started singing the song Mayim, saying, "With joy shall ye draw out of the wells of salvation" (Isaiah 12:3).

The high priest took his vase and poured its contents on one of the corners of the altar where the horns were. There were two bowls built into the altar. Each bowl had a hole in it. The water and the wine were poured out over the altar as the priests who had the willow start laying the willows against the altar, forming a sukkah. This was the covering of God.

Hereby, we have a picture of Yeshua as He was dying on the tree. He was on the altar (tree) when His heart was pierced (John 19:34). The water and wine poured out by the high priest and his assistant represented the water and blood that flowed out of Yeshua's body on the cross. Yeshua said that He was the living water being poured out during this ceremony (John 7:37-38).

Wine is representative of marriage, blood, covenant, joy, and the Messiah in Scripture. The priests took the willows to the altar and set them upright on the side of the altar, forming a wedding canopy (chupah). Through Yeshua, God provides a covering (sukkah) for all those who believe in Him.

Rain is essential to the growing of crops in Israel. It is a blessing from God, and it is a prominent feature in Sukkot. But the ceremony of the water drawing holds a spiritual significance much greater than its agricultural importance.

The rain represents the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh). The water drawing points to that day when God would rain His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28-29). As God pours out rain, we draw the waters. As God pours out His Holy Spirit, we receive His Holy Anointing.

In the Talmud we read, "Why is the name of it called the drawing out of water? Because of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, according to what is said, 'With joy shall ye draw out of the wells of salvation'" (Isaiah 12:3).

The earth will experience the greatest revival and outpouring of God's Spirit in the Millennium Reign of Christ in Jerusalem when God tabernacles with man. It will be Sukkot everyday.