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"Hear O' Israel, HaShem is our G-d, HaShem alone"

Jesus, Sukkot, and Zechariah


Note: The original concept of this post came from Hyam Maccoby's Revolution in Judea The research here came out of a discussion of a Havtorah in Zechariah which caused me to connect with things Maccoby said and things said in the NT. The words here are my own. --G. Haas

This is all connected to the prophecies of Zechariah, especially those in Zech 14. To understand this, you need a bit of background in what Sukkot is all about and some of the practices of Sukkot. Sukkot is a pilgrimage festival, meaning that every Jew was to come to Jerusalem for the, at least when the Temple still stood. Jerusalem was very crowded at that time. Many Sukkot (boths with roofs that provide shade, but no protection from the rain, since the you must be able to see the sky through the roof of the Sukkah), were raised all over Jerusalem. People came from all over the land of Israel to build their Sukkah in Jerusalem. We recall our wanderings in the desert, and give thanks for the harvest of the year. We also wave lulavim (plural for lulav), whose primary, most noticible component is PALM BRANCHES. During Sukkot, we sing HOSHANNAS (known as Hosannas in the NT).

Now that I have set the scene somewhat, you may have some idea of where I am going, or you may not. At any rate, you may be asking yourself, what does Jesus have to do with Sukkot and Zechariah? A great deal, actually, as you will soon see. Take a look in your NT, Matt 21:2-5, where Jesus is said to have ridden on no less than 2 donkeys! Well, at least Mark get is right in Mark 11:2, where he is pictured as riding only one donkey. Jesus did this because he was consciously trying to fulfill the prophecies of Zechariah, in this instance, Zech 9:9. Previous to this event, Jesus had been annointed with "costly perfume" (or after, depending on the gospel), poured on his head (or feet in some gospels). You may not be aware of this, but the kings of Israel were annointed with balsaam oil, a fragrant oil, one might even call it a perfume. He was, in fact, proclaiming himself to be king messiah.

Okay, back to the donkey. Jesus makes his entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. When he arrives there, people are waving PALM fronds and shouting HOSANNAs (an occasion marked by Palm Sunday, I believe). Now, the only holiday in the Jewish calender that involves both palms and hosannas is Sukkot. So, Jesus entered Jerusalem on Sukkot, following Zechariah's prophecies. Now, in Zech 8:12, it is prophecied that fruit would be abundant, so Jesus was sorely disapointed that the fig tree, which was out of season, refused to yield her fruit. Oh well, it was only one prophecy, there were others that he still could try and make happen.

The next thing Jesus does is to turn over the money changers tables (Matt21:12), in doing so, he is trying to fulfill Zech 14:21 "...in that day there shall be not more traders [to sell ritually pure vessels or animal] in the House of the L-RD of Hosts." This, of course, go the attention of the High Priest, who was always on the lookout for potential revolutionaries for the Romans to whom he owed his position. The meaning of Jesus' act could not have been more clear to him, Jesus was proclaiming himself messiah and king of Israel.

That done, Jesus spends some time speaking to his disiples/followers and has the "last supper", which in Matt 26:26 has them breaking bread, not matzot, not unleaven bread. Since this was during the Sukkot festival, there was no reason for matzot.

Jesus also asks his disiples to get swords Luke 22:36 "He said to them, 'But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.' " (NIV). You see, Jesus "knows" a big battle is about to occur, since he is following Zech, and Zech 14 spell out the battle in great detail. He also know that swords are not going to win the battle, G-d Himself will win the battle and the war, many swords are not necessary. That is why Jesus said 2 swords would be enough (Luke 22:38).

Two swords on hand, Jesus and his disiples head for the Mt. of Olives, where Zech 14 says the battle is to take place. The Romans and their collaborators, the Temple police, whom Jesus believes to be Gog, eventually make their appearance on the Mt. Jesus expects the Mt. to be cleaved in two at this point (Zech 14:4). Peter cuts the ear of one of the enemy soldiers (the Temple police), but no miracle is forthcomming, so Jesus stops Peter, saying "No more of this" (Luke 22:51) or "Put your sword back in its place" (Matt26:52).

Jesus is then tried by the High Priest, sent to Piliate, and months latter, executed for rebellion against Rome. None of the miracles of Zech 14 had come to pass, the messianic age had not begun, Jesus had failed. He thought G-d had forsaken him, which is what he cried out on the cross. Jesus' followers fled at first, demoralized, but then they came believe that Jesus was not really dead, and would finish what he started in THEIR LIFETIME. His original Jewish followers had vastly different ideas about Jesus then Paul and those who later would follow Pauline Christianity. Eventually, the Church declared those who continued to follow Jesus in the original, non-Pauline way to be heratics, and their group died out not long after.


Psalm 32:5 "Then I acknowledged my sin to You;
I did not cover up my guilt...
and You forgave the guilt of my sin."

Deut 4:12 "The L-RD spoke to you out of the fire;
you heard the sounds of words but perceived no shape--
nothing but a voice..."

Proverb 21:21 "He who strives to do good and kind deeds
Attains life, success, and honor"


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© Copyright 1997 by G. Shapiro