“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there” (2 Chronicles 7:14-15).
Every year Christians in America celebrate a national day of prayer. They use 2 Chronicles 7 as their mantra and recite it with the hope that ‘God will heal their land.’ Yet, I have often wondered why and how they chose a Thursday in May. Have they never really studied the context in which the prayer was spoken and who it was for? Why don’t Christians who want a ‘healing for America’ recite this during the Biblical ‘appointed time’ of Yom Kippur? This prayer was a call for Israel’s national repentance, not the repentance of America or India or Russia.
When we recite these Scriptures, do we ever consider Jerusalem, the Jewish people and the reason the Temple is no longer there? Do we read the verses in their entirety or just choose the part that fits our national hope apart from Israel? God chose and consecrated ‘this temple’ [in Jerusalem] so that His name may be there forever, but there were conditions. Since Yahweh is the same yesterday and tomorrow, I have to wonder about the conditions and whether we truly understand how healing to ‘the land’ we call ‘ours’ will come.
“But if you turn away and abandon my regulations and mitzvot [commandments] which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, worshipping them; then I will pull them up by the roots out of the land I have given them. This house, which I consecrated for my name, I will eject from my sight; and I will make it an example to avoid and an object of scorn among all peoples. This house, now so exalted — everyone passing by will be shocked at the sight of it and will ask, ‘Why has the LORD done this to this land and to this house?’ But the answer will be, ‘It’s because they abandoned the LORD the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and took hold of other gods, worshipping and serving them; this is why [the LORD] brought all these calamities on them.’”
Like Israel, the Body of Christ has gone astray. God’s commandments have been abandoned for lawless grace negating obedience. Pagan gods and goddesses are worshipped in the ‘name of Jesus’ creating a very lukewarm culture of the Kingdom. What happened to Israel was written for our learning and conviction (1 Corinthians 10:11). Do we embrace that Scripture or judge the Jews because of ingrained anti-semitic doctrines.
As the day of Yom Kippur approaches, as ‘temples of God’s Spirit’, people called by His Name [Yahweh], we should be joining with the nation of Israel and the Jewish people around the world to corporately repent of abandoning the God of Israel for other gods, customs and traditions, and worship of our own making and desires. If we want to claim the Scripture “If my people who are called by my name”, we must also claim the consequences of our sins that have brought havoc on this country and the world. We must mourn for our unrighteous judgements and sins against God. If we truly desire a national day of prayer, Yom Kippur has stood the test of time and millennia of irreligious leadership. If we truly desire national repentance, Yom Kippur is God’s ‘appointed time’.
“In that day … I will pour out on the house of David and on those living in Yerushalayim a spirit of grace and prayer; and they will look to me, whom they pierced.” They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son; they will be in bitterness on his behalf like the bitterness for a firstborn son. When that day comes, there will be great mourning in Yerushalayim, mourning like that for Hadad-Rimmon in the Megiddo Valley. Then the land will mourn, each family by itself —“ (Zechariah 12:10-11).
©2016 Tentstake Ministries
“Our feet were already standing at your gates, Yerushalayim” (Psalm 122:2).
Nehemiah chapter 3 outlines the rebuilding of the gates and walls of Jerusalem in the days of Ezra. Its focus is on the names of those who set the gates and rebuilt the walls surrounding each gate. Biblical/Hebrew names have always fascinated me and, in Scripture, they always have prophetic significance. As I began researching the meanings of the names, I found incredible messages.
It is important to note that the boundaries of city of Jerusalem in the days of Nehemiah were very different, and much smaller, from modern times. Some gates had different names; other gates didn’t exist or exist now. The layout of the city went south into the City of David or Mount Zion rather than west towards what is known today as the Old City. Excavations of the Broad Wall are found near the center of the Jewish Quarter near the Hurva Synagogue.
“But the one who goes in through the gate is the sheep’s own shepherd” (John 10:2).
Nehemiah 3 begins with the restoration of The Sheep Gate. This gate was where the lambs were brought for examination and eventual sacrifice in the Temple. Today, the Sheep Gate is known as the Lion’s Gate and is the entrance to the Arab Quarter near Bethesda.
“Eliashib, the high priest along with the Levite priests rebuilt the Sheep Gate to the Tower of the Hundred and onto the Tower of Hanna’el. Next to the priests, the men of Jericho and Zakur, the son of Imri continued building” (Nehemiah 3:1-2).
The meanings of the names of those who restored the Sheep Gate:
“My God will return with a strong utterance [a shofar blast implying warfare].
The prophetic voice: “The LORD will roar from Tzion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the heavens will tremble. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel” (Joel 3:16).
“So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn” (John 21:11).
The Fish Gate was the next to be restored in the north wall of ancient Jerusalem near the modern-day Damascus Gate which is also in the Arab Quarter. The Fish Gate was the closest gate to the fish market and fishermen from the Galilee, whether Arab or Israeli, used this gate to bring their fish to market.
“The sons of Hasna’ah rebuilt the Fish Gate. Next to them M’remot the son of Uriyah, the son of Hakotz, made repairs. Next to them Meshulam the son of Berekhyah, the son of Mesheizav’el, made repairs. Next to them Tzadok the son of Ba‘ana made repairs. Next to them the men from T’koa made repairs” (Nehemiah 3:3-5).
The meanings of the names of those who restored the Fish Gate:
“Thorns, the myrrh of death, God is my Light, my shalom, my deliverer. My righteous one is blessed by Yah through a confirming Tekoa [trumpet blast].”
In John 21, the Hebrew numerology for the 153 fish with each number being represented by a letter means: “I Am Yahweh.”
The prophetic voice: “On that day [the day of the LORD],” declares the LORD, “a cry will go up from the Fish Gate, wailing from the New Quarter, and a loud crash from the hills. Wail, you who live in the [fish] market district; all your merchants will be wiped out, all who trade with silver will be destroyed” (Zephaniah 1:10-11).
“Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Yeshua is the Messiah” (Acts 9:22).
The Old Gate was known as the Sha’ar Yahshana meaning ‘ancient entrance/pathway.’ This ‘ancient’ gate was located on the north side of Jerusalem and may have been what is known today as the Damascus Gate. The Damascus Gate leads out to the Nablus Road and, in ancient days, led directly to Damascus, Syria.
“Yoyada the son of Paseach and Meshulam the son of B’sodyah made repairs to the Old City Gate…. Next to them M’latyah the Giv‘oni, Yadon the Meronoti and the men from Giv‘on and Mitzpah made repairs; they worked for the people associated with the governor of the territory beyond the [Euphrates] River. Next to them ‘Uzi’el the son of Harhayah, goldsmiths, made repairs” (Nehemiah 3:6-8).
The meanings of the names, places, and vocation of those who repaired the Old Gate:
“Yahweh favors, passing over, sparing. Shalom in the counsel of Yah. Men of the ‘hill city’, watch[tower] for the deliverance of the LORD who will judge the great stream. God is my strength. Yah protects and tests the heart.”
Gibeon or Giv’on was conquered by Joshua just like Jericho. Gibeon means ‘hill country’. Mitzpah means ‘watchtower’ and was a city in Benjamin located near Jerusalem. The word ‘Euphrates’ is an Assyrian word meaning ‘the great stream’.
Goldsmiths are mentioned twice in Nehemiah 3 as those who worked on repairing the wall.
“The crucible [tests] silver, and the furnace [tests] gold, but the one who tests hearts is the LORD” (Proverbs 17:3).
The ways of Yahweh are described by the prophet Jeremiah as ‘ancient paths’ (Jeremiah 6:16). These ‘ancient pathways’ in Jerusalem that so many have walked on over the centuries are accessed through ‘ancient gates’ like the Sha’ar Yahshana.
The prophetic voice: “I will break down the gate of Damascus; I will destroy the king who is in the Valley of Aven and the one who holds the scepter in Beth Eden. The people of Aram will go into exile to Kir,” says the Lord” (Amos 1:5).
One other job description mentioned in this group of men is a perfume maker who helped repair the way to the Broad Wall. The Broad Wall was a defensive wall about 23 feet thick built during the reign of King Hezekiah. It is believed that the city of Jerusalem at this time was confined to the fortified, narrow hill running to the south of the Temple Mount known as the City of David. There are remnants of this wall in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter.
“Next to him Hananyah, one of the perfume-makers, made repairs; they renovated Yerushalayim as far as the Broad Wall” (Nehemiah 3:8).
His name means:
“Grace and mercy are a sweet-smelling gift of the LORD.”
“Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples” (John 11:54).
The Ephraim Gate is not mentioned in Nehemiah 3 as needing repairs, however, it is mentioned in Nehemiah 8 when the people built their sukkot (booths) at this gate and Nehemiah 12 as part of the processional walk of choirs during the dedication of the wall at Feast of Tabernacles. According to 2 Kings, the distance between the Ephraim Gate and the Corner Gate was 400 cubits, or 200 yards long. Ephraim was the name of second-born son to Joseph in Egypt. In Hebrew Ephraim means ‘fruitfulness.’
“Next to them Refayah the son of Hur … made repairs. Next to him Y’dayah the son of Harumaf made repairs opposite his own house. Next to him Hatush the son of Hashavn’yah made repairs” (Nehemiah 3:10-11).
These are the meanings of the names of the men who repaired the wall to the Tower of the Ovens:
“Yah has cured, examined, guided, assembled. Yah has imputed to me.”
Prophetic voice: “See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son” (Jeremiah 31:8-9).
Tower of the Ovens
“They [the Levites] were in charge of the bread set out on the table, the special flour for the grain offerings, the thin loaves made without yeast, the baking and the mixing, and all measurements of quantity and size” (1 Chronicles 23:29).
The Tower of the Ovens, or in Hebrew tannurim, was located at Bakers’ Street off the western wall of Jerusalem. This area was considered the baking district of Jerusalem. The Sabbath showbread for the Temple was baked here by Levite bakers (1 Chronicles 9:31-32). Zedekiah had his guards feed Jeremiah a daily loaf of bread from Bakers’ Street (Jeremiah 37:21). This is the only place Scripture mentions that women worked on the wall – the daughters of HaLochesh.
“Malkiyah the son of Harim and Hashuv the son of Pachat-Mo’av [Sheik of Moab] made repairs on another section and on the Tower of the Ovens. Next to him Shalum the son of HaLochesh … he and his daughters, made repairs” (Nehemiah 3:9-12).
The meanings of the names of those who worked on the Tower of the Ovens and the nearby wall:
“God is my King, dedicated to God, important, honored, considerate, one who whispers.”
Prophetic vision: “Those who walk righteously and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who stop their ears against plots of murder and shut their eyes against contemplating evil— they are the ones who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress.
Their bread will be supplied, and water will not fail them” (Isaiah 33:15-16).
“‘Uziyahu [Uziah] built towers in Yerushalayim at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate and at the Angle, and fortified them” (2 Chronciles 26:9).
The Valley Gate gate was most likely on the southwestern side of the city between the Tower of Ovens and the Dung Gate. It doesn’t exist in modern-day Jerusalem. It was through the Valley Gate that Nehemiah left the city to inspect the wall that had been broken down and the gates which had been burned by fire (Nehemiah 2:13).
“Hanun and the people living in Zanoach repaired the Valley Gate … and they rebuilt 1,500 feet of the wall, as far as the Dung Gate” (Nehemiah 3:13).
The meanings of the name of the man who repaired the Valley Gate along with those living in Zanoah:
“Rejected, stinking; gracious and merciful.”
There are several valleys around Jerusalem. The Kidron Valley, the Tyropoeon Valley, and the Hinnom Valley. The Kidron Valley is dotted with thousands of burial sites and is known as ‘the valley of the shadow of death.’ The Tyropoeon Valley, called the ‘valley of cheesemakers’, separates Mount Moriah with the Temple Mount from Mount Tzion also known as the City of David. The Hinnom Valley is on the south and west of Jerusalem. In Hebrew, the Hinnom is gehenna. Scripture calls this place the ‘valley of slaughter’ because of the sacrifices to Molech which took place there (Jeremiah 32:35). It is most likely that the Valley Gate led out to the Hinnom Valley.
Prophetic voice: “A voice cries out: “Clear a road through the desert for the LORD! Level a highway in the ‘Aravah for our God! Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill lowered, the bumpy places made level and the crags become a plain. Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed; all humankind together will see it, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 40:3-5).
The Dung Gate
“The bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, is to be carried outside the camp; there they are to burn up completely their hides, meat and dung” (Leviticus 16:27).
The Dung Gate in Hebrew is Sha’ar Ha’ashpot or “Gate of Garbage”. It received its name from the refuse and ash that was removed from the Temple and taken out out of the city into the Valley of Hinnom where it was burned. The Dung Gate is mentioned in Nehemiah 12:30 when the priests and the Levites dedicated the gates and the wall. There was a ramparts walkway on which the people could walk around the city and offer their praise and worship to Elohim (Nehemiah 12:13).
“Malkiyah the son of Rechav, leader of the district of Beit-Hakerem, repaired the Dung Gate … (Nehemiah 3:14).
The meanings of the names of the men who repaired the Dung Gate from the district of Beit-Hakerem:
“God is my King. He enlarges the people, the house of his vineyard.”
The present-day Dung Gate was built during the Ottoman Empire and is probably not in the same place as it was in Nehemiah’s day. The gate was widened in 1948 to allow cars to enter. In the days of the Temple, it was a gate where refuse was taken; today it is the main gate into the Jewish Quarter where tourists visit the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.
““For my people have committed two evils: they have abandoned me, the fountain of living water, and dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water!” (Jeremiah 2:13).
The Fountain Gate was on the ophel or the part of the eastern hill that sits between the City of David and the Temple Mount. It was near the Pool of Siloam and was used by the people for a cleansing immersion before proceeding to the Temple. It was at the pool of Siloam that Yeshua told a blind man to go and wash the mud out of his eyes. ““Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing” (John 9:7).
“Shalun the son of Kol-Hozeh, leader of the district of Mitzpah, repaired the Fountain Gate; … he also rebuilt the wall of the Pool of Siloam, by the royal garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the City of David. After him Nechemyah the son of Azbuk, leader of half the district of Beit-Tzur, made repairs from the place opposite the tombs of David as far as the artificial pool and the soldiers’ barracks” (Nehemiah 3:15-16).
The meanings of the names of the men who repaired the Fountain Gate and the areas around the pool and tombs:
“Prosper, all prophets, the watchtower. Yahweh comforts, sends. Strong devastation, House of Rock.
Prophetic voice: “And he [Yeshua] said to me, “It is done! I am the ‘A’ and the ‘Z,’ the Beginning and the End. To anyone who is thirsty I myself will give water free of charge from the Fountain of Life” (Revelation 21:6).
Gate of the Guard
“He stationed guards at the gates of the house of the LORD, so that no one who was unclean in any respect could enter” (2 Chronicles 23:19).
From the Fountain Gate, a number of priests repaired the wall sections attached to their homes until they reached the Gate of the Guard. It was in this section that Eliashib, the high priest lived. Like the Ephraim Gate, the Gate of the Guard needed no repairs.
“After him the Levites made repairs: Rechum the son of Bani; next to him Hashavyah, leader of half the district of Ke‘ilah, made repairs for his district. After him their colleagues, Bavai the son of Henadad … made repairs. Next to him ‘Ezer the son of Yeshua, leader of Mitzpah, made repairs on another section, opposite the ascent to the armory at the Angle. After him Barukh the son of Zakkai worked diligently … to the door of the house of Elyashiv the high priest. After him M’remot the son of Uriyah made repairs on another section, from the door of the house of Elyashiv to the end of the house of Elyashiv.
The meanings of the names of the Levites who repaired the wall to the high priest’s house:
“Merciful and compassionate to the one whom God sees building the ‘little city’. With the desire of the LORD, the grace of the beloved, help and salvation are ‘the witness between two’. The pure blessing, my God will restore from bitterness, the myrrh of death to the Light of the Lord.”
The priests from the plains continued the repairs from the high priest’s house to the Courtyard of the Guard.
“Binyamin and Hashuv made repairs opposite their house. After them ‘Azaryah the son of Ma‘aseiyah, the son of ‘Ananyah, made repairs next to his house. After him Binui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of ‘Azaryah to the Angle and to the Corner. Palal the son of Uzai made repairs opposite the Angle and the tower that projects out from the upper part of the royal palace near the Courtyard of the Guard” (Nehemiah 3:17-25).
The meaning of the names of the priests who repaired the wall:
“Consider, the Son of the Right Hand, Yah’s helper, the work of the LORD, the cloud [glory] of the LORD, building up the grace of the beloved.”
Prophetic voice found in the Millennial Temple of Messiah shown to the prophet Ezekiel: “ He [the angel] went to the east gate, climbed its steps and measured one of the gate’s doorposts at ten-and-a-half feet wide and the other one the same. There were guardrooms, each ten-and-a-half feet square; the distance between the guardrooms was eight-and-three-quarters feet” (Ezekiel 40:6-7).
The Water Gate
“All the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel” (Nehemiah 8:1-3).
The Water Gate led down to the Gihon Spring which was located near the Kidron Valley. It was at this gate the people of Israel gathered to hear Ezra read the Torah on the ‘first day of the seventh month’ or the Feast of Trumpets.
“Next to him, Pedaiah son of Parosh and the temple servants living on the hill of Ophel made repairs up to a point opposite the Water Gate toward the east and the projecting tower. Next to them, the men of Tekoa repaired another section, from the great projecting tower to the wall of Ophel” (Nehemiah 3:26-27).
The meanings of the names of those who repaired the wall to the Water Gate:
“Redemption of the LORD, a flea [come to seek my life], a confirming trumpet.”
Prophetic voice from Ezekiel’s vision of the Millennial city of Jerusalem: “He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side” (Ezekiel 47:2).
The Horse Gate
“The whole valley of corpses and ashes, including all the fields as far as Vadi Kidron, and on to the corner of the Horse Gate to the east, will be separated out for Adonai; it will never be uprooted or destroyed again” (Jeremiah 31:39).
The Horse Gate was close to the king’s stables and the men of Jerusalem would ride their horses out of this gate to war.
“Above the Horse Gate the priests made repairs, each one opposite his own house. After them Tzadok the son of Immer made repairs opposite his house” (Nehemiah 3:28-29).
The meaning of the names of those who repaired the wall around the Horse Gate:
“A righteous lamb speaks.”
The prophetic voice: “Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the one called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that he passes judgment and goes to battle” (Revelation 19:11).
“Kore the son of Yimnah the Levi, gatekeeper at the East Gate, was responsible for the voluntary offerings to God; he had to distribute the offerings made to Adonai and the especially holy gifts” (2 Chronicles 31:14).
The East Gate was part of the Eastern Wall and had an entrance directly to the Temple area and courtyards. It is believed that Yeshua used this gate to ride into Jerusalem; however, the actual East Gate is now underground. The Eastern or Golden Gate faces the Mount of Olives. It is closed and waiting for the Messiah’s return to Jerusalem and the glory of the LORD to be restored in the Temple.
“After him Sh’ma‘yah the son of Sh’khanyah, the keeper of the East Gate, made repairs. After him Hananyah the son of Shelemyah and Hanun the sixth son of Tzalaf made repairs on another section. After him Meshulam the son of Berekhyah made repairs opposite his own room” (Nehemiah 3:29-30).
The meanings of the name of the keeper of the East Gate and those who repaired the walls:
“He who hears or obeys the LORD, the divine presence settles. Grace and mercy are a gift of the LORD. God is my perfection, gracious and merciful, human paid for friends. Yahweh blesses.”
The prophetic voice: “The LORD’s glory entered the house through the gate facing east” (Ezekiel 43:4).
The Inspection Gate
“He [King Hezekiah] appointed military commanders over the people, then gathered them before him in the open space at the city gate and spoke these words of encouragement to them: “Be strong! Take courage! Don’t be afraid … we have Adonai our God to help us and fight our battles!” (2 Chronicles 32:608).
The Inspection Gate is also called the Muster Gate and is also perhaps the Gate of the Guard. The Hebrew word for this gate is miphkad and means ‘appointed place.’ It was at this gate where King David would inspect his troops before heading into battle. It is most likely the gate where King Hezekiah mustered his military commanders to remind them that the LORD fights Israel’s battles.
“After him Malkiyah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and the merchants, opposite the Mustering Gate and on to the upper room at the corner. Finally, between the upper room at the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and merchants made repairs” (Nehemiah 3:31-33).
The meaning of the name of the goldsmith who worked on the Inspection Gate:
“Yahweh is King”.
The prophetic voice: “For we must all appear before the Messiah’s court of judgment [an appointed time called Yom Kippur], where everyone will receive the good or bad consequences of what he did while he was in the body” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
©2016 Tentstake Ministries
“It was the first day of the seventh month” (Nehemiah 8:2).
After our family began celebrating the ‘appointed times’ found in the Leviticus 23, days, times and seasonal cycles stood out on the pages of the Scriptures. This specific verse in Nehemiah is no different. It sets the time for the events to follow as the ‘first day of the seventh month’ or Yom Teruah – the Feast of Trumpets. This ‘appointed time’ of God begins His season of the fall feasts which are about repentance, atonement and a vision of the coming Millennial Kingdom.
The events in Nehemiah 8 are not some random occurrences in the history of Israel. They are a testimony to the restoration of the Feasts of Elohim to a people who had lived in exile for over 160 years. Though there was a first wave of Jewish return to Jerusalem 70 years after being taken captive, Ezra and Nehemiah were in the second wave 90 years later. It was during this time that the priests gathered the people together on the ‘first day of the seventh month’.
Yom Teruah 445 B.C.E.
A wooden platform was made on which Ezra, the priest, stood and could be seen and heard by all of the men and women who came to listen to the reading of the Torah. As he opened the Torah scroll, everyone stood. Then Ezra blessed Yahweh, the great God. As the people answered with “Amen”, they lifted up their hands, bowed their heads and fell prostrate before Elohim with their faces to the ground.
“Amen” has a very interesting root history. It comes from the Hebrew word aman meaning ‘to nourish, support, make sure and strong’. The word emunah or faithfulness also has its root in aman. The Jewish sages say that amen is an acronym for el melek ne’eman or “God is a faithful King’. According to Revelation 3:14, Yeshua is the “the amen, the faithful and true witness …; he is the faithful King.” Thus the people were saying as they were about to hear the Torah read, “God is a faithful King.”
Days of Awe and Repentance
The Levites, whose responsibility it was, explained the Torah to the people. After being in a foreign country for several generations, they needed to translate the Hebrew so that the returning ‘Persian’ Jews would understand what was being read. When they heard the teachings and instructions that God gave them through Moshe, the people began to weep.
Repentance or ‘turning back to God’ is central to the fall ‘appointed times.’ With the hearing of the Torah for the first time standing in Jerusalem, the people wept. They grieved. They understood they had lost the very essence of their national heritage from the LORD and had not lived accordingly.
Ezra, along with the rest of the Levites told them not to weep, not to be sad for this day was ‘set apart to Elohim their God.’ It was an ‘appointed time’ of Yahweh. They were told to go out, eat rich food, drink sweet drinks and give portions to those who couldn’t provide for themselves. Even today sweet foods are eaten on Feast of Trumpets with apples and honey being the traditional foods evolving from Psalm 119:103 “How sweet to my tongue is your promise, truly sweeter than honey in my mouth!”
Mouth of God
Yeshua said in Matthew 4:4 “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God.” What does the mouth or ‘voice of God’ sound like?
When John was exiled on the island of Patmos, he has a revelation of Messiah. He says, “I came to be, in the Spirit, on the Day of the LORD; and I heard behind me a loud voice, like a shofar ….” The voice of the LORD sounded like the blowing of a shofar. A shofar, or the horn from a ram, is blown on the Feast of Trumpets. Obviously, it is only when breath goes through the shofar that it can make a sound. Being vessels of Elohim’s Spirit, it is taught that the ‘breath of God’ or ruach ha kodesh blows through a shofar when it sounds.
(Note: John heard the voice that sounded like a shofar on the Day of the LORD. This is in reference to the events surrounding the coming Millennial Kingdom and a time of judgment, not the first day of the week. The events for the Day of the LORD will begin on ‘the first day of the seventh month’ or Yom Teruah.)
The Spring of Living Water
The original city of Jerusalem had very different boundaries than modern-day Jerusalem. In fact, remnants of the city are found in what is known today as the City of David. Within the ‘older’ city of Jerusalem, the Water Gate led down to the Gihon Spring which was located in the Kidron Valley. This spring was the main source of water for the Pool of Siloam. The priests would go to the Pool of Siloam collect the water for each day’s water libation ceremony. During this event, they would pour water over the altar in the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles. On the last and greatest day of this feast, Yeshua stood and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to me and drinking! Whoever puts his trust in me, as the Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being!” (John 7:37-39).
As the people gathered at the Water Gate, it is symbolic of the pathway to the living water of the Word of God. With the reading of the Torah by Ezra, the Jewish people had been ‘washed in the water of the Word’ and began preparing themselves as a pure and holy bride (Ephesians 5:25-26).
On the second day, the heads of the clans of the people joined the Levites and Ezra to study the words of the Torah again. They found that Elohim had ordered through Moshe that the people of Isra’el were to live in booths or sukkot during the ‘appointed time’ in the seventh month known as the Feast of Tabernacles. They were to announce the festival of Sukkot in all of their cities and in Jerusalem.
“Go out to the mountains, and collect branches of olives, wild olives, myrtles, palms, and other leafy trees to make sukkot, as prescribed” (Nehemiah 8:15).
According to Jeremiah 11:16, God calls Israel an olive tree. In Romans 11, Sha’ul speaks about branches of olives and wild olives that make up the Olive Tree of Israel. The natural branches represent the 12 Tribes of Israel and the wild branches of the nations that join with them. Both receive the same living water of the Word through the same Spiritual root. Though both branches will continue to produce either natural olives or wild olives, they both will continue to produce olives.
“A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).
Myrtle trees are considered an evergreen and are very hardy. They produce a purplish-black berry called the mursins. This fruit can be dried then ground and used as a flavoring. It is one of the four leafy trees bound together for sukkot that have over time has been given the symbolism of ‘good smell, but no taste’, like a person who has ‘good deeds, but does not study the Torah.’
The prophet Zechariah lived during the time between the first and second returning remnants. He has a vision of God, angels and horsemen standing in the midst of a myrtle tree. This vision was given to him to reinforce God’s promise that the exiles who would return to Jerusalem would be prosperous. In order for the Jewish people of Zechariah’s time to prosper, they would need to repent and serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, rebuild the Temple, and learn Torah. In the time of Nehemiah 8 and Yom Teruah, the repentance had begun.
“Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 1:16).
Palms, or lulav in Hebrew, were also part of the branches collected to make a sukkah. It is known for its uprightness, fruit and its beauty. The Jewish sages say that the palm tree, which has taste but no smell, can be compared to a person who studies Torah, but has no fruit of good works.
The first mention of palm trees in Scripture is when the Israelites are camped at the oasis of Elim during their trek in the wilderness. It is during the Feast of Tabernacles that palm branches are waved signifying the coming Messianic kingdom. This is why palm branches were waved when Yeshua entered Jerusalem during the Passover season. The people believed that the kingdom of God had arrived; however, it was the wrong ‘appointed time’ and season. In Revelation 7:9, multitudes from every tribe and nation will be waving palm branches and giving glory to the King of Kings. Today, the lulav is a special binding of three species of branches along with an etrog (a type of citrus fruit). It is used to worship the LORD during Sukkot and to remind everyone that one day the nations of the world will gather in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16).
The people went out from the city, collected branches from specific trees and made sukkot for themselves on the roofs of their homes, in their courtyards, in the Temple courts and in the open spaces by the Water Gate and the Efrayim Gate. The entire community of those who had returned from the exile made sukkot and lived in them for the commanded time of eight days. They had not done this since the days of Joshua and they celebrated Sukkot with great joy. They also read the Torah every day from the first day until the last day of the ‘appointed time.’
In Our Day
The Feast of Trumpets begins on the first day of the seventh month and Sukkot begins on the fourteenth day. In our Gregorian calendar these fall festivals occur in our months of September/October. They are a vision of the coming Kingdom of God when Israel, the natural branches of the Olive Tree will gather in Jerusalem along with the nations, the wild branches of the Olive Tree, to worship the King of Kings. Everyone will wave olive, palm and myrtle branches for they will not just study Torah, they will bear righteous fruit of the etrog in the Kingdom of the Most High God.
The Jews in the days of Nehemiah prepared for this coming Kingdom by repenting and returning to the Torah of God and celebrated the ‘appointed times’ on their commanded days. As wild olives, we can also embrace the vision of the coming Kingdom millennia later through the same ways: repentance and turning back to God, learning Torah, and proclaiming the ‘appointed times’ to those who stand by the Water Gate desiring spiritual nourishment from the spring of living water. Amen. “Yah is the faithful King.”
©2016 Tentstake Ministries Book Nosh
From the Koren Siddur:
“How beloved is your rest, Sabbath Queen, we run to greet you: Come, royal bride, dressed in fine robes. We light the light with blessing. All labors end [as is said] “You shall do no work.” To savor the delights of fowl, quail and fish.
In advance all kinds of tasty food have been prepared, fattened chicken made ready while it was still day. Varied dishes set out, and fragrant wines to drink, and special delicacies all three times. To savor the delights of fowl, quail and fish.
They shall inherit Jacob’s heritage, a heritage unbounded, rich and poor will honor [the Sabbath] and be worthy of redemption. If you keep the Sabbath day you will be My special treasure, six days shall you labor – and on the seventh let us rejoice. To savor the delights of fowl, quail and fish.
Your secular concerns are forbidden; so too are calculations. Reflections are permitted, and arranging matches for girls, and teaching a child a book, and singing songs of praise, and meditating on fine words at every place and gathering. To savor the delights of fowl, quail and fish.
Your walk shall be unhurried; you shall call the Sabbath a delight. Sleep too is praiseworthy, for it refreshes the spirit. Therefore my soul yearns for you, to rest in you in love, as if within a fence of roses: on it son and daughter rest. To savor the delights of fowl, quail and fish.
A foretaste of the World to Come is the day of Sabbath rest. All who take delight in it will be worthy of great joy. They will be delivered with relief from the birthpangs of the Messiah. May our redemption spring forth, and sadness and sighing flee away. To savor the delights of fowl, quail and fish.”
©Koren Siddur, Jerusalem 2012