Monday, July 9, 2012

Three Festivals!

Rabbi Menachem Leibtag explains, that Torah narrates the story of Jacob out of its chronological sequence. He teaches that Jacob and his family had met his brother Esau with his army on the way back to Jacob’s parents traditional home in Hevron. If we accept the sequence of events as they are told in the Torah, which leaves the reader with the impression Jacob first lived in Shechem (in the north), we must struggle to explain why Jacob did not immediately proceed to Beit-El to fulfill his vow and then to Hevron to reunite with his parents.

Torah tells us that Jacob made shelters for his livestock in Sukkot, a word that means ‘temporary dwellings’ and could express a place known for gatherings of people who lived in tents. Much confusion exists about the timing of Jacob and his family’s arrival in Sukkot, however Rabbi Leibtag goes to great length to bring all the sources that support his chronological correction.

A reordering of the events would therefore be;

1. Jacob and family leave Haran (home of his father-in-law) in the north
2. Jacob encounters Esau at the Yabbok river
3. Jacob moves south passing through Shechem on his way to Sukkot
4. Jacob anoints the matzevah, builds a mizbeach (altar) at Sukkot the place he originally named Beit-El that was Luz
5. Jacob moves south to his parents home in Hevron
6. Rachel dies on the way during Benjamin’s childbirth at Bethlehem
7. Jacob arrives in Hevron
8. Jacob moves to Shechem
9. Dina is raped by Shechem
10. Shimeon and Levi slaughter the male residents of Shechem
11. Joseph is sold into slavery
12. Isaac dies in Hevron

The order suggests Sukkot is located on the route of Jacob’s travel between Haran and Hevron. Shalem, the holy place of high priest Malchitzedek or Shem was located in the middle of this route in modern day Jerusalem. It was also the likely site Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice.

The Torah phrase ‘Shalosh Regalim’ is used to describe the beating by Bilam of his donkey in his attempt to curse Israel and the same phrase is used for the three pilgrimage festivals. Pesah corresponds to Abraham, who hosted the three angels in his tent on Pesah, on the same day he discovered the water aquifer in the cave of Machpelah connecting Hevron to Shalem. On Shavuot, when Israel received the Torah at Mount Sinai a Shofar was sounded, the Shofar was the horn of the ram that Abraham offered in place of Isaac, thus establishing a connection between Shavuot and Isaac. When Jacob returned to the Land of Israel from exile he built a house and booths for his cattle, the place became known as “Sukkot” , thus the holiday of Sukkot corresponds with Jacob.

Bilam’s prophecy describes a messianic future where the world ascends to Jerusalem during these festivals. The water source, the sacrifice of Isaac and Sukkot are one location where sacrifices for these three festivals are offered.

The convincing evidence being discovered in the City of David reveals that the site of Jacob’s focus has been discovered and is presently being excavated. The image above describes the present discoveries including the matzevah or monument and provides an indication of the booths Jacob may have constructed in the bedrock for his animals.

The matzevah which can be seen in the second booth from the left was erected by Jacob on his exit from Israel and anointed by him ~21 years later on his return to Israel. The monument, around 45cm wide, 30 cm high stands erect in an elevated frame sitting ~6 cm above the bedrock.

No artifact like it has been discovered anywhere in Israel in a location that is also directly associated with artifacts of worship.

The evidence in the three festivals hints directly at the place Jacob memorialized his entry and exit point from Israel, Pesah marks Abrahams discovery of living waters that flow to the Gihon Spring, Shavuot marks the sacrificial place of Isaac at the living waters of the Gihon Spring and Sukkot is the festival of living waters originating at the Gihon Spring.

These holy days are thought to be a correction for the Israel’s sin of the golden calf that caused Moses to break the first set of tablets on which the Ten Statements were transcribed. That event took place on the Hebrew date 17th Tammuz, which is also the date the walls of Jerusalem were breached and the day temple services officially stopped. Those services cannot be restarted until the location at which Isaac was offered as a sacrifice is re-discovered.