“Tell the people of Israel, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of Sukkot for seven days to the LORD on the eighth day you are to have a holy convocation and bring an offering made by fire to the LORD; it is a day of public assembly; do not do any kind of ordinary work’” (Leviticus 23:34-36).
Simchat Torah is a joyful celebration with music, dancing, and flags which surpasses even the ‘season of our joy.’ On this day, the yearly cycle of reading the Torah concludes. The scroll is rolled from the end of Deuteronomy back to the beginning of Genesis in order to begin a new annual cycle of studying Torah.
In synagogues around the world, the Torah scroll is removed from the ark and given to a group in the congregation to hold. It is marched or danced around which is called hakafot meaning ‘spinning in circles.’ Hakafot is done multiple times as the scroll is given to different groups or individuals until everyone has taken danced with the Torah. After the Torah scroll is blessed by touching and kissing from the participants, it is returned to the ark. Everyone continues dancing in joyful praise of the Torah of God; children wave flags and hand out candy.
The Eighth Day
The number eight in the Bible symbolizes ‘new beginnings’ like the Simchat Torah celebration. Dedication ceremonies for the Temple, the anointing oil, and the Altar of Sacrifice also lasted eight days. This is why Hanukkah or the re-dedication of the Altar lasts for eight days. Jewish baby boys were, and still are, circumcised and named on the eighth day in a ceremony called a b’rit-milah.
A b’rit-milah is Hebrew terminology for ‘covenant of cutting’ or what is known as ‘circumcision.’ Circumcision was the covenant ‘sign,’ given to Abraham, a symbol of a blood covenant, with God’s promise to make him the father of many nations.
Because of Abraham’s faith, a b’rit-milah was always to be in unity with the ‘circumcision of the heart.’ When God told the Israelites to “circumcise the foreskin of your hearts” in Deuteronomy 10:16, He was directing them back to Abraham, the father of faith, to whom circumcision was given. He was also referring back even further to the Garden of Eden and the promise of the coming Seed who would become the blood sacrifice for sin.
According to the details given in the first two chapters of Luke, it can be determined that Yeshua was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. This means that on the eighth day, the Shemini Atzeret, while he was being circumcised in Bethlehem, the Jewish people were dancing and celebrating Simchat Torah in Jerusalem. As Israel and the priests rejoiced in the Torah that held all the prophecies of the coming redemption, a little baby boy, the living Torah, was being circumcised and given the name ‘salvation.’ What a b’rit-milah celebration Yeshua had with his entire family of Jewish brothers and sisters!
“On the eighth day, when it was time for his b’rit-milah, he was given the name Yeshua, which is what the angel had called him before his conception” (Luke 2:21).
In the modern Hebrew language, milah also means ‘word’ so b’rit-milah can also mean ‘the cutting of the Word‘ or ‘the covenant of the Word.‘ With a b’rit-milah every Jewish baby boy enters into a ‘covenant with the Word.’ Who is the Word? Whose blood became the ‘cutting of the covenant’? Yeshua!
Though circumcision of the flesh is commanded for Israel and is vitally important to the covenant made with Abraham, it is even more important to enter the ‘covenant of the Word’ by faith and receive a circumcised heart. Without faith it is impossible to please God; without a circumcised heart, it is impossible to obey God (Hebrews 11:6, Deuteronomy 30:6-8).-8).
Years ago I heard a Messianic rabbi explain that the circumcision of a baby boy was not for the infant as much as for the father who gives the child to be circumcised and witnesses the event. It is at the moment when his beloved son’s foreskin is ‘cut,’ that the father is ‘cut to the heart‘ and remembers the promises given to Abraham for descendants. It is this ‘sign’ of the covenant in the loins of a baby boy that is a generational reminder of the promised Seed that would redeem Israel.
“A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God” (Romans 2:28-29).
Simchat Torah is the joyful celebration of the Torah, the written covenant God gave to Israel so they would be a light to the nations. On the eighth day while everyone in Israel was celebrating the Torah of God, Yeshua had his b’rit-milah and entered into the ‘covenant of the Word.’ The Word had become flesh and was ‘cut.’ Yeshua became the Living Torah, that would bring the ‘circumcision of the heart’ to the people of Israel and the nations. As Yeshua’s Father watched his son’s b’rit-milah,’ He remembered His covenant with Abraham and witnessed the continued fulfillment of that promise.
©2014 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved. No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article, please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.