|Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia|
FEASTS AND FASTS
fests (mo`edh, "an appointed day" or "an assembling," chagh, from chaghagh, "to dance" or possibly "to make a pilgrimage"; tsom, "fast," ta`anith, "a day of affliction"):
1. Passover, 15th-22d Nican
2. Pentecost, 6th Ciwan) Pilgrimage
3. Tabernacles, 15th-22d Tishri) Festivals
4. Shemini `Atsereth, 23d Tishri
5. New Year, Feast of Trumpets, 1st Tishri
6. Atonement, 10th Tishri
1. Weekly Sabbath
2. New Moon
3. Sabbath Year
4. Jubilee Year
1. Feast of Dedication, 25th Kiclew
2. Fast of Esther, 13th 'Adhar
3. Feast of Purim, 14th 'Adhar
4. Fast of the Fourth Month, 17th Tammuz
5. Fast of the Fifth Month, 9th 'Abh
6. Fast of the Seventh Month, 3rd Tishri
7. Fast of the Tenth Month, 10th Tebheth
8. Feast of Acra, 23d Iyar
9. Feast of Nicanor, 18th 'Adhar
10. Feast of Woodcarrying, Midsummer Day, 15th 'Abh
11. New Year for Trees, 15th ShebhaT
12. Bi-weekly Fasts, Mondays and Thursdays after Festivals
13. Second Days of Festivals Instituted
14. New Modes of Observing Old Festivals Instituted
The Nature of the Hebrew Festivals:
The Hebrews had an abundance of holidays, some based, according to their tradition, on agriculture and the natural changes of times and seasons, some on historical events connected with the national or religious life of Israel, and still others simply on immemorial custom. in most instances two or more of these bases coexist, and the emphasis on the natural, the agricultural, the national, or the religious phase will vary with different writers, different context, or different times. Any classification of these feasts and fasts on the basis of original significance must therefore be imperfect.
We should rather classify them as preexilic and post-exilic, because the period of the Babylonian captivity marks a complete change, not only in the kinds of festivals instituted from time to time, but also in the manner of celebrating the old.
The pre-exilic list includes the three pilgrimage festivals, the Passover week, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles, together with the Eighth Day of Assembly at the conclusion of the last of these feasts, and New Year and Atonement Days, the weekly Sabbath and the New Moon.
1. Observances Common to All:
The preexilic festivals were "holy convocations" (Leviticus 23 Numbers 28). Special sacrifices were offered on them in addition to the daily offerings. These sacrifices, however, varied according to the character of the festival (Numbers 28; Numbers 29). On all of them trumpets (chatsotseroth) were blown while the burnt offerings and the peace-offerings were being sacrificed (Numbers 10:10). They were all likened to the weekly Sabbath as days of rest, on which there must be complete suspension of all ordinary work (Leviticus 16:29; Leviticus 23:7, 8, 21, 24, 25, 28, 35, 36).
2. Significance of the Festivals:
The three pilgrimage festivals were known by that name because on them the Israelites gathered at Jerusalem to give thanks for their doubly joyful character. They were of agricultural significance as well as commemorative of national events. Thus, the Passover is connected with the barley harvest; at the same time it is the zeman cheruth, recalling the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:6 Leviticus 23:5, 8 Numbers 28:16-25 Deuteronomy 16:1-8).
Pentecost has an agricultural phase as chagh habikkurim, the celebration of the wheat harvest; it has a religious phase as zeman mattan Thorah in the Jewish liturgy, based on the rabbinical calculation which makes it the day of the giving of the Law, and this religious side has so completely overshadowed the agricultural that among modern Jews the Pentecost has become "confirmation day" (Exodus 34:26 Leviticus 23:10-14 Numbers 28:26-31).
The Feast of Tabernacles is at once the general harvest festival, chagh he-'aciph, and the anniversary of the beginnings of the wanderings in the wilderness (Exodus 23:16 Leviticus 23:33 Deuteronomy 16:13-15). The Eighth Day of Assembly immediately following the last day of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:36 Numbers 29:35 John 7:37) and closing the long cycle of Tishri festivals seems to have been merely a final day of rejoicing before the pilgrims returned to their homes.
New Year (Leviticus 23:23-25 Numbers 29:1-6) and the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:1; Leviticus 23:26-32 Numbers 29:7-11) marked the turning of the year; primarily, perhaps, in the natural phenomena of Palestine, but also in the inner life of the nation and the individual. Hence, the religious significance of these days as days of judgment, penitence and forgiveness soon overshadowed any other significance they may have had. The temple ritual for these days, which is minutely described in the Old Testament and in the Talmud, was the most elaborate and impressive of the year. At the same time Atonement Day was socially an important day of rejoicing.
In addition to these annual festivals the pre-exilic Hebrews celebrated the Sabbath (Numbers 28:9, 10 Leviticus 23:1-3) and the New Moon (Numbers 10:10; Numbers 28:11-15). By analogy to the weekly Sabbath, every seventh year was a Sabbath Year (Exodus 23:11 Leviticus 25:1-7 Deuteronomy 15:1), and every cycle of seven Sabbath years was closed with a Jubilee Year (Leviticus 25:8-18) somewhat after the analogy of the seven weeks counted before Pentecost.
For further details of all of these preexilic festivals see the separate articles.
In post-exilic times important historical events were made the basis for the institution of new fasts and feasts. When the first temple was destroyed and the people were carried into captivity, "the sacrifice of the body and one's own fat and blood" were substituted for that of animals (see Talmud, Berakhoth 17a). With such a view of their importance, fasts of all sorts were as a matter of course rapidly multiplied. (Note that the Day of Atonement was the only pre-exilic fast.) Of these post-exilic fasts and feasts, the Feast of Dedication (1 Maccabees 4:52-59; John 10:22; Mishna, Ta`anith 2 10; Mo`edh QaTon 3 9; Josephus, Ant, XII, vii; Apion, II, xxxix) and the Feast of Purim (Esther 3:7; Esther 9:24; 2 Maccabees 15:36); and the fasts of the fourth (Zechariah 8:19; Jeremiah 39; 52; Mishna, Ta`anith 4 6), the fifth (Zechariah 7:3, 1; Zechariah 8:19; Ta`anith 4 6), the seventh (Zechariah 7:5; Zechariah 8:19 Jeremiah 41:1 2 Kings 25:25; Cedher `Olam Rabba' 26; Meghillath Ta`anith c. 12), the tenth months (Zechariah 8:19 2 Kings 25), and the Fast of Esther (Esther 4:16; Esther 9:31) have been preserved by Jewish tradition to this day. (The Feast of Dedication, the Feast of Purim and the Fast of Esther are described in separate articles.)
The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months are based on historical incidents connected with one or more national calamities. In several instances the rabbis have by close figuring been able to connect with the dates of the fasts as well as the feasts other important national events than those for which the days were primarily instituted. Not less than four incidents are connected with the fasts of the fourth month (17th of Tammuz):
(a) on this day the Israelites made the golden calf;
(b) Moses broke the tables of law;
(c) the daily sacrifices ceased for want of cattle when the city was closely besieged prior to the destruction of Jerusalem; and
(d) on this day Jerusalem was stormed by Nebuchadnezzar.
The fast of the fifth month (9th day of 'Abh) receives its significance from the fact that the First Temple was destroyed upon this day by Nebuchadnezzar, and the Second Temple on the same day of the year by Titus. In addition it is said that on this day Yahweh decreed that those who left Egypt should not enter the land of promise; the day is also the anniversary of the capture of the city of Bether by the Emperor Hadrian. The fast of the seventh month (the 3rd day of Tishri) commemorates the murder of Gedaliah at Mizpah. That of the tenth month (10th day of Tebheth) commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.
Other fasts and feasts no doubt were instituted on similar occasions and received a local or temporary observance, for example, the Feast of Acra (1 Maccabees 13:50-52; compare 1:33), to celebrate the recapture of Acra ("the citadel") on the 23rd of 'Iyar 141 B.C., and the Feast of Nicanor, in celebration of the victory over Nicanor on the 13th day of 'Adhar 160 B.C. (1 Maccabees 7:49).
Several other festivals are mentioned in the Talmud and other post-Biblical writings which may have been of even greater antiquity. The Feast of Woodcarrying (Midsummer Day: Nehemiah 10:34; Josephus, BJ, II, vii, 6; Meghillath Ta`anith c.v, p. 32, Mishna, Ta`anith 4 8a), for example, is referred to as the greatest day of rejoicing of the Hebrews, ranking with Atonement Day. It was principally a picnic day to which a religious touch was given by making it the woodgatherers' festival for the Temple. A New Year for trees is mentioned in the Talmud (Ro'sh ha-Shdnah 1 1). The pious, according both to the Jewish tradition and the New Testament, observed many private or semi-public fasts, such as the Mondays, Thursdays and following Monday after Nisan and Tishri (the festival months: Luke 18:12 Matthew 9:14; Matthew 6:16 Mark 2:18 Luke 5:33 Acts 10:30; Meghillah 31a; Ta`anith 12a; Bdbha' Qama' 8 2). The day before Passover was a fast day for the firstborn (Copherim 21 3).
In post-Biblical times the Jews outside of Palestine doubled each of the following days: the opening and closing day of Passover and Tabernacles and Pentecost, because of the capheq, or doubt as to the proper day to be observed, growing out of the delays in the transmission of the official decree of the Sanhedhrin in each season. Differences in hours of sunrise and sunset between Palestine and other countries may have had something to do at least with the perpetuation of the custom. New Year's Day seems to have been doubled from time immemorial, the forty-eight hours counting as one "long day."
Many new modes of observance appear in post-exilic times in connection with the old established festivals, especially in the high festival season of Tishri. Thus the cimchath beth ha-sho'ebhah, "water drawing festival," was celebrated during the week of Tabernacles with popular games and dances in which even the elders took part, and the streets were so brilliantly illuminated with torches that scarcely an eye was closed in Jerusalem during that week (Talmud, Chullin).
The last day of Tabernacles was known in Talmudic times as yom chibbuT `arabhoth, from the custom of beating willow branches, a custom clearly antedating the various symbolical explanations offered for it. Its festivities were connected with the dismantling of the booth. In later times the day was known as hosha`na' rabba', from the liturgical passages beginning with the word hosha`na', recited throughout the feast and "gathered" on that day. The day after Tabernacles has been made cimchath Torah, the Feast of the Law, from the custom of ending on that day the cycle of fifty-two weekly portions read in the synagogues.
In general it may be said that although the actual observance has changed from time to time to meet new conditions, the synagogal calendar of today is made up of the same festivals as those observed in New Testament times.
Ella Davis Isaacs
INGATHERING, FEASTS OF
See FEASTS AND FASTS; BOOTH.
FASTS AND FEASTS
See FEASTS AND FASTS.
FEASTS, SEASONS FOR
Regulated by the sun and moon.
See ASTRONOMY, sec. I, 5.
Feasts (45 Occurrences)
Matthew 23:6 and love the place of honor at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS RSV)
Mark 12:39 and the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts: (WEB KJV ASV BBE WBS RSV)
Luke 12:36 and ye like to men waiting for their lord, when he shall return out of the wedding feasts, that he having come and knocked, immediately they may open to him. (YLT)
Jude 1:12 These are hidden rocky reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you, shepherds who without fear feed themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn leaves without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 34:15 So see that you make no agreement with the people of the land, and do not go after their gods, or take part in their offerings, or be guests at their feasts, (BBE)
Leviticus 23:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them,'The set feasts of Yahweh, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my set feasts. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 23:4 "'These are the set feasts of Yahweh, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their appointed season. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 23:37 "'These are the appointed feasts of Yahweh, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh, a burnt offering, and a meal offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, each on its own day; (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 23:44 Moses declared to the children of Israel the appointed feasts of Yahweh. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS RSV NIV)
Numbers 10:10 "Also in the day of your gladness, and in your set feasts, and in the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be to you for a memorial before your God. I am Yahweh your God." (WEB ASV BBE DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 15:3 and will make an offering by fire to Yahweh, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice, to accomplish a vow, or as a freewill offering, or in your set feasts, to make a pleasant aroma to Yahweh, of the herd, or of the flock; (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS RSV)
Numbers 25:2 For they sent for the people to be present at the offerings made to their gods; and the people took part in their feasts and gave honour to their gods. (BBE)
Numbers 29:39 "'You shall offer these to Yahweh in your set feasts, besides your vows, and your freewill offerings, for your burnt offerings, and for your meal offerings, and for your drink offerings, and for your peace offerings.'" (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS RSV NIV)
1 Chronicles 23:31 and to offer all burnt offerings to Yahweh, on the Sabbaths, on the new moons, and on the set feasts, in number according to the ordinance concerning them, continually before Yahweh; (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS NIV)
2 Chronicles 2:4 Behold, I am about to build a house for the name of Yahweh my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him incense of sweet spices, and for the continual show bread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the set feasts of Yahweh our God. This is an ordinance forever to Israel. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
2 Chronicles 8:13 even as the duty of every day required, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the Sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the set feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tents. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
2 Chronicles 31:3 He appointed also the king's portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of Yahweh. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS RSV NIV)
Ezra 3:5 and afterward the continual burnt offering, and the offerings of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of Yahweh that were consecrated, and of everyone who willingly offered a freewill offering to Yahweh. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS RSV NIV)
Nehemiah 10:33 for the show bread, and for the continual meal offering, and for the continual burnt offering, for the Sabbaths, for the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS RSV NIV)
Job 1:4 His sons regularly went to one another's houses, and every one on his day gave a feast: and at these times they sent for their three sisters to take part in their feasts with them. (BBE NIV)
Job 1:5 And at the end of their days of feasting, Job sent and made them clean, getting up early in the morning and offering burned offerings for them all. For, Job said, It may be that my sons have done wrong and said evil of God in their hearts. And Job did this whenever the feasts came round. (BBE)
Job 24:20 The womb shall forget him. The worm shall feed sweetly on him. He shall be no more remembered. Unrighteousness shall be broken as a tree. (See NIV)
Psalms 35:16 Like the profane mockers in feasts, they gnashed their teeth at me. (WEB KJV ASV WBS YLT)
Psalms 69:22 Let their table before them be for their destruction; let their feasts become a net to take them. (BBE RSV)
Isaiah 1:14 My soul hates your New Moons and your appointed feasts. They are a burden to me. I am weary of bearing them. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Isaiah 5:12 The harp, lyre, tambourine, and flute, with wine, are at their feasts; but they don't respect the work of Yahweh, neither have they considered the operation of his hands. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE WBS RSV)
Isaiah 29:1 Woe to Ariel! Ariel, the city where David encamped! Add year to year; let the feasts come around; (WEB JPS ASV BBE DBY NAS RSV)
Isaiah 33:20 Let your eyes be resting on Zion, the town of our holy feasts: you will see Jerusalem, a quiet resting-place, a tent which will not be moved, whose tent-pins will never be pulled up, and whose cords will never be broken. (BBE NAS RSV)
Jeremiah 51:39 In their heat I will make their feasts, and I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the LORD. (KJV WBS)
Lamentations 1:4 The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness. (KJV WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Lamentations 2:6 And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden: he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: the LORD hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest. (KJV WBS RSV NIV)
Ezekiel 36:38 As the flock for sacrifice, as the flock of Jerusalem in her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men; and they shall know that I am Yahweh. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Ezekiel 44:24 In a controversy they shall stand to judge; according to my ordinances shall they judge it: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all my appointed feasts; and they shall make my Sabbaths holy. (WEB ASV BBE NAS RSV NIV)
Ezekiel 45:17 It shall be the prince's part to give the burnt offerings, and the meal offerings, and the drink offerings, in the feasts, and on the new moons, and on the Sabbaths, in all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel: he shall prepare the sin offering, and the meal offering, and the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, to make atonement for the house of Israel. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ezekiel 46:9 But when the people of the land shall come before Yahweh in the appointed feasts, he who enters by the way of the north gate to worship shall go forth by the way of the south gate; and he who enters by the way of the south gate shall go forth by the way of the north gate: he shall not return by the way of the gate by which he came in, but shall go forth straight before him. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Ezekiel 46:11 In the feasts and in the solemnities the meal offering shall be an ephah for a bull, and an ephah for a ram, and for the lambs as he is able to give, and a hin of oil to an ephah. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Hosea 2:11 I will also cause all her celebrations to cease: her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her solemn assemblies. Zephaniah (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Hosea 9:5 What will you do on the day of worship, and on the day of the feast of the Lord? (See NIV)
Hosea 12:9 "But I am Yahweh your God from the land of Egypt. I will yet again make you dwell in tents, as in the days of the solemn feast. (See NIV)
Amos 5:21 I hate, I despise your feasts, and I can't stand your solemn assemblies. (WEB JPS ASV BBE DBY RSV NIV)
Amos 8:10 I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will make you wear sackcloth on all your bodies, and baldness on every head. I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and its end like a bitter day. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS RSV NIV)
Nahum 1:15 Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace! Keep your feasts, Judah! Perform your vows, for the wicked one will no more pass through you. He is utterly cut off. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV)
Zephaniah 3:18 I will remove those who grieve about the appointed feasts from you. They are a burden and a reproach to you. (WEB NAS NIV)
Zechariah 8:19 Thus says Yahweh of Armies: "The fasts of the fourth fifth, seventh, and tenth months shall be for the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace." (WEB KJV ASV WBS NAS RSV)
Malachi 2:3 Behold, I will rebuke your seed, and will spread dung on your faces, even the dung of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS)