6 OR 7 FEASTS?
ARE THERE SIX OR SEVEN FESTIVALS MENTIONED IN THE 23RD
CHAPTER OF LEVITICUS? IS THE SEVENTH ANNUAL SABBATH
A PART OF THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES? IS THAT FEAST 8
DAYS IN LENGTH? WHAT IS THE 7TH ANNUAL SABBATH CALLED
IN THE OLD TESTAMENT? ON WHAT DAY IS JOHN 7:37 TAKING
PLACE? THE BIBLE AND HISTORY GIVE US THE PLAIN TRUTH
TO THESE QUESTIONS.
The festivals of the Lord are all listed in the 23rd chapter
As a one time member of what at first was known as the Radio
Church of God, and later(about 1967) the Worldwide Church of God,
I am speaking from that experience and from their early teaching
on the topic we are about to study, and the questions we are
about to answer. I am not acquainted with what may have been the
understanding of these questions from other branches of the
Church of God that also observe the festivals of Lev.23.
During the last 50 years it became common within the
organization known as the Worldwide Church of God, to call the
7th annual Sabbath of Lev.23 verses 36,39, as "the last great
This phrase was taken from John 7:37 which states: "In the
last day, that great day of the feast."
It was a common teaching for many decades within the WCG that
verses 37,38, of John 7, took place on the 7th annual Sabbath,
the one spoken about in Lev.23:36,39. Because of this fact, it
was no doubt only natural that this 7th annual Sabbath became
known among the ministry and membership of the WCG as " the last
Yet when we look at the facts of the Bible only, there is NOT
ONE VERSE to connect John 7:37 with the 7th annual Sabbath of
It had been ASSUMED by the ministry of the WCG that the TWO
accounts (Lev.23:36,39 and John 7:37) were CONNECTED! No verse or
verses were ever brought forth to PROVE this was correct, it was
just assumed it was correct. And most Bible Commentaries also
assumed the same.
As I will proceed to show, this ASSUMPTION had no basis in
actual fact, and it was and is an error!
The assumption has led some to state that the 7th annual
Sabbath is a part of the feast of Tabernacles, or to put it
another way, the feast of Booths is NOT OVER until the END of
the 7th annual Sabbath.
Within the WCG for the same decades was also the teaching that
the Lord had 7 FEASTS, the 7th annual Sabbath of Lev.23 being the
7th FEAST, a single day long feast, like that of the feast of
Now do you begin to see that the TWO teachings did not really
"jive" together? If the 7th annual Sabbath of Lev.23 was also the
"last great day" of the feast, the feast of Tabernacles of John
7:37, then it was PART OF the feast of Tabernacles, and not a
separate feast at all, which would then make ONLY 6 feasts of the
Lord and not 7. There would still be 7 annual Sabbaths of God,
but only 6 feasts in actuality, because the feast of Booths
would be 8 days in length!
Making this clear to you, there would be these feasts of the
Lord in Lev. 23.
1. Passover (one day).
2. Days of Unleavened Bread (7 days - two annual Sabbaths).
3. Pentecost (one day - one annual Sabbath).
4. Trumpets (one day - one annual Sabbath).
5. Atonement (one day - one annual Sabbath).
6. Feast of Tabernacles (8 days - 2 annual Sabbaths).
The above gives us 6 feasts but 7 annual Sabbaths.
But it was taught by the old WCG that there were 7 FEASTS of
God - the number 7 is the number for PERFECTION or COMPLETION in
God's word. It was taught the 7th annual Sabbath was a FEAST of
ONE DAY, apart and separate from the feast of Tabernacles.
If that was and is true, then John 7:37 CAN NOT FIT! For the
"last great day" could not be a SEPARATE 7th feast from the feast
of Tabernacles AND AT THE SAME TIME the "last great day" of the
feast of Tabernacles, which would have been the 6th and final
feast of the Lord.
Do you see how all this conflicting teaching CAN NOT be
syncretized -something is AMISS - something is not being
We can know the truth, there is no contradiction in God's
word. But we will have to search the word, make sure we keep the
horse before the cart, and maybe do a little history research.
First, let's get some CLEAR verses of the word in our minds.
The PLAIN easy to understand verses MUST COME FIRST! They must
remain our foundation, and we must never loose sight of them. If
we keep that frame-work, our task will be much easier all the
THE PHRASE "LAST GREAT DAY"
OR, the words used by John in chapter 7 verse 37 of his
gospel. Can we find these words used ANYWHERE in the OT(Old
Testament) with reference to the 7th annual Sabbath of
What does Lev.23 CALL this 7th annual Sabbath? You will find
the answer in verses 36 and 39. It is "the EIGHTH day."
This 7th annual Sabbath is called the "eighth day" in Numbers
29:35. The same Sabbath is again called "eighth day" in 2
Chron.7:9. Also in Nehemiah 8:18 it is called "eighth day."
Using a CONCORDANCE or other Bible aids for research, you will
NOT find ONE SINGLE reference in the OT to this 7th annual
Sabbath EVER being called "the last great day" or "the last day,
the great day of the feast."
IT IS JUST NOT THERE! It is ONLY EVER called the "eighth
day." Ah, now we should be starting to question a little.
HOW MANY DAYS IS THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES?
Does the word of the Lord tell us? If it does, will it tell us
MORE than once?
Turn to Lev.23. Notice verse 34. "........The fifteenth day
of this seventh month shall be the feast of Tabernacles, F 0 R
SEVEN days unto the Lord."
Notice verse 39. "Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh
month....... you shall keep a feast unto the Lord SEVEN
Verse 41. "And ye shall keep it a feast unto the Lord SEVEN
days in the year ......."
Verse 42. "Ye shall dwell in booths SEVEN DAYS......."
Turn to Numbers 29. Notice verse 12. "And on the fifteenth day
of the seventh month ye shall keep a feast unto the Lord SEVEN
The feast of Tabernacles was for SEVEN days in 2 Chron.7:8-9.
The Jews under Nehemiah kept the feast of Booths or
Tabernacles for SEVEN days (Neh.8:14-18).
God instructed Israel to keep the feast of Tabernacles for
SEVEN days in Deut. 16:13.
Ezekiel's temple of the millennium as given in chapter 45 of
the book that bears his name, shows the feast that starts on the
15th day of the 7th month will still be, during that coming age,
SEVEN DAYS in length!
It is now VERY CLEAR from the OT, from God's specific words,
given not just once (yet that would be all that is needed coming
from God) but MANY times, the feast of Tabernacles HAS NEVER been
L 0 N G E R than SEVEN DAYS in length!
There is not one place in the entire Bible where the feast of
Tabernacles is said to be 8 days long! It is only said to be 7
The 7th annual Sabbath that comes immediately AFTER the feast
of Tabernacles is called "the eighth day." Never is it called the
feast of Booths or Tabernacles, or the "last day" of the feast of
Tabernacles, or "the last day of the feast."
Keeping the horse before the cart, reading and learning from
the OT first, we have no clear evidence or justification to
acquaint John 7:37 with the 7th annual Sabbath or the "eighth
day" of Lev.23. The word of the Lord from the OT plainly teaches
us that this "eighth day" or 7th annual Sabbath is NEXT TO the
feast of Tabernacles but it is not a PART OF that feast! It is
then SEPARATE FROM the feast of Tabernacles - it is ANOTHER FEAST
ALTOGETHER from the feast of Booths, with a different meaning,
and fore-shadowing events separate from those pictured by the
feast of Tabernacles.
It is then a 7th feast of God. So a complete or perfect number
of festivals of the Lord. The Eternal very carefully and plainly
shows us He has 7 not 6 festivals!
It is more than interesting to note how God begins and ends
His festival season. It starts with a ONE DAY feast - Passover,
followed by a 7 day feast (Unleavened bread). The festival season
ends with a 7 day feast (Tabernacles) followed by a ONE DAY feast
- the "eighth day."
Remember now, God has plainly shown us from Exodus to Malachi
that the feast of Tabernacles is 7 days in length NOT 8 days.
Nothing can be found in the NT(New Testament) to CHANGE that
clear truth and instruction of the OT.
Keeping the horse in front of the cart, we now see it is wrong
and incorrect to ever say the feast of Tabernacles is 8 days in
length, or is not over until after the "eighth day" or the
7th annual Sabbath is part of the feast of booths.
Now being clear on that point and on the one that shows the
"eighth day" is NEVER called in the OT "the last day" or "the
great day of the feast" or "the last great day" we have only ONE
final fence to jump in putting it all together for harmony. And
this is where a little Jewish HISTORY and TRADITION helps us over
the fence, and provides us with the answer.
WHEN AND WHAT IS JOHN 7:37 ALL ABOUT?
The scholars that compiled my New King James Version -
Personal Study Edition (Copyright 1990,1995 by Thomas Nelson,
Inc.) came upon the truth of the matter of John 7:37.
This is what their footnote says: 7:37, 38 great day of the
feast: Probably the seventh day. Water was poured out at the
altar as part of the ritual for the day. This furnished a fitting
framework for Jesus' call to come... and drink, and for His
promise of living water.
It is more than just probable. It is the historic fact. The
NKJV scholars did not elaborate any more, they said nothing about
where they acquired information to state what they wrote.
But with a "thank you" from the well known if not famous
Jewish Christian scholar ALFRED EDERSHEIM, D.D., Ph.D. we can
know the historical facts and reach complete harmony together
with some truth most have missed.
The following is taken from Edersheim's great work and book
"THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JESUS THE MESSIAH" chapter 7, entitled "In
The Last, The Great Day Of The Feast."
All emphasis is mine.
" It was 'the last, the great of the Feast,' and Jesus was once
more in the Temple. We can scarcely doubt that it was the
concluding day of the Feast, and NOT, as some modern writers
suppose, its Octave, which in Rabbinic language, was regarded as
'a festival by itself.' a (Comp. Yoma 3a, and often) 1 (1 -
Hence the benediction said at the beginning of every Feast is not
only said on the first of that of Tabernacles, but also on the
octave of it [Sukk.48 a]. The sacrifices for that occasion were
quite different from those for ' Tabernacles; ' the 'booths'
were removed; and the peculiar rites of the Feast of Tabernacles
no longer observed. This is distinctly stated in Sukk.4.1, and
the diverging opinion of R. Jehudah on this and another point is
formally rejected in Tos. Sukk. 3.16. For the six points of
difference between the Feast of Tabernacles and its Octave, see
notes at the end of ch.8.
But such solemn interest attaches to the Feast, and this
occurrence on its last day, that we must try to realize the
Not only did all the priestly families minister during that week,
but it has been calculated that not fewer than 446 Priests, with,
of course, a corresponding number of Levites, were required
for its sacrificial worship. In general, the services were the
same every day, except that the number of bullocks offered
decreased daily from thirteen on the first, to seven on the
seventh day....... But 'the last, the Great Day of the Feast, '
was marked by special observances.
Let us suppose ourselves in the number of worshippers, who on
'the last, the Great Day of the Feast,' are leaving their
'booths' at daybreak to take part in the service. The pilgrims
are in festive array. In his right hand each carries what is
called the Lulabh, which, although properly meaning 'a branch,'
or 'palm-branch,' consisted of a myrtle and willow-branch tied
together with a palm-branch between them.This was supposed to be
in fulfilment of the command, Lev.23:40. 'The fruit (A.V.
'boughs') of the goodly trees,' mentioned in the same
verse of scripture, was supposed to be the Ethrog....... a
species of citron. This Ethrog each worshipper carries in his
left hand....... this interpretation was given by the
Rabbis....... this was one of the points in controversy between
the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Thus armed with Lulabh in their right, and Ethroq in their left
hands, the festive multitude would divide into three bands. Some
would remain in the Temple to attend the preparation of the
Morning Sacrifice. Another band would go in procession 'below
Jerusalem' to a place called Moza....... At Moza they cut down
willow branches, with which, amidst the blasts of the Priests'
trumpets, they adorned the altar, forming a leafy canopy about
it. Yet a third company were taking part in a STILL MORE
INTERESTING SERVICE. To the sound of music a procession started
from the Temple. It followed a Priest who bore a golden pitcher,
capable of holding three log (rather more than two pints).
Onwards it passed.......down the edge of Tyropoeon Valley, where
it merges into that of the Kedron........ Here was the so-
called 'Fountain-Gate,' and still within the City-wall 'the Pool
of Siloam,' the overflow of which fed a lower pool....... When
the Temple procession had reached the Pool of Siloam, the
Priest filled his golden pitcher from its waters. Then went back
to the Temple....... towards the close of the ordinary Morning
A threefold blast of the Priests' trumpets welcomed the arrival
of the Priest, as he entered through the 'Water-gate,' which
obtained its name from this ceremony....... Here he was joined
by another Priest, who carried the wine for the drink offering.
There were two silver funnels here, with narrow openings, leading
down to the base of the altar. Into that of the east, which
was somewhat wider, the wine was poured, and, at the same time,
the water into the western and narrower opening.......
Immediately after 'the pouring of water,' the great 'Hallel,'
consisting of Psalms cxiii. to cxviii.(inclusive), was chanted
antiphonally, or rather, with responses, to the accompaniment of
the flute.......The festive morning-service was followed
by the offering of the special sacrifices for the day, with their
drink offerings, and by the Psalm for the day, which, on 'the
last, the Great Day of the Feast,' was Psalm lxxxii. from
verse 5.......In further symbolism of this Feast, as pointing to
the ingathering of the heathen nations, the public service closed
with a procession round the Altar by the Priests.......But on
the 'last, the Great Day of the Feast,' this procession of the
Priests made the circuit of the altar, not only once, but seven
times.......HENCE THE SEVENTH OR LAST DAY OF THE FEAST WAS ALSO
CALLED THAT OF 'THE GREAT HOSANNAH. ' As the people left
the Temole, they saluted the altar with words of thanks, and on
the last day of the Feast they shook off the leaves on the willow
branches around the altar, and beat their palm-branches to
pieces. ON THE SAME AFTERNOON THE 'BOOTHS' WERE DISMANTLED, AND
THE FEAST ENDED....."
" We can have little difficulty in determining at what part of
the services of 'the last, the Great Day of the Feast,' Jesus
stood and cried, 'If any one thirst, let him come unto Me and
drink! ' It must have been with special reference to the
ceremony of the out-pouring of the water, which, as we have seen,
was considered the CENTRAL PART of the service.
Moreover, all would understand that His words must refer to the
Holy Spirit, since the rite was universally regarded as
symbolical of His outpouring. The forthpouring of the water was
immediately followed by the chanting of the Hallel. But after
that there must have been a short pause to prepare for the
festive sacrifices (the Musaph). IT WAS THEN, immediately
after the symbolic rite of water pouring, immediately after the
people had responded by repeating those lines from Psalm cxviii.
- given thanks, and prayed that Jehovah would send salvation and
prosperity, and had shaken their Lulabh towards the altar, thus
praising 'with heart, and mouth, and hands, ' and then silence
had fallen upon them - that there rose, so loud as to be heard
throughout the Temple, the Voice of Jesus.
He interrupted not the service, for they had for the moment
ceased: HE INTERPRETED, AND HE FULFILLED THEM......."
There it is from the great scholar Edersheim, the words of
Christ in John 7:37,38 took place NOT ON the "eighth day," the
7th annual Sabbath of Lev.23, BUT TOOK PLACE ON THE 7TH DAY OF
THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES, which the Jews had by custom and
tradition made into a special ceremony day of water pouring and
Psalm chanting and processions, together with the dismantling of
the booths in the afternoon of that day.
Yes, of course, they would dismantle their booths on that day,
for the feast of booths was now over - 7 days in length, not 8.
To prove that the "eighth day" of Lev.23 was a DISTINCT and
SEPARATE feast of the Lord, Edersheim gives the following 6
points at the end of chapter 8 in his book "The Life and Times of
Jesus the Messiah."
"........The six points of difference which mark the Octave as a
separate feast are indicated by the memorial words and
letters....... (he gives the Hebrew - Keith Hunt) and are as
(1) During the seven days of Tabernacles the Priests of all the
'courses' officiated, while on the Octave the sacrificial
services were appointed, as usually, by lot. (2) The benediction
at the beginning of a feast was spoken again at the Octave. (3)
The Octave was designated in prayer, and by special ordinances,
as a separate feast. (4) Differences in the sacrifices. (5)
Differences in the Psalms - on the Octave (Soph.xix.2) probably
Ps.xii. (6) According to 1 Kings viii.66, differences as to the
blessing" (emphasis his).
Let me recommend - HIGHLY RECOMMEND - to the reader, the books
of Alfred Edersheim D.D., Ph.D.
Especially should all Elders in the Church of God, have his
books. The wealth of historic facts are profuse. Most Bible Book
Stores will be able to help you in obtaining Edersheim's books.
JOHN 8 TO 10:21 WAS ON THE "EIGHTH DAY"
The 7th annual Sabbath or "eighth day" of Lev.23 is the last
festival of the Lord in His festive season.
The Feasts of God show the overall plan of salvation for all
human kind that have and will live from Adam to the end of the
1,000 years of Revelation chapter 20.
What the White Throne Judgment entails is pictured or shadowed
by the "eighth day" or 7th annual Sabbath.
It is the time period when ALL who were not given an
opportunity to see and repent of their sins, to know about Christ
Jesus the savior (the ONLY name given whereby You can
be saved) will be RESURRECTED to physical life and have their
opportunity to repent and accept the truths and way of the Lord,
and enter the Kingdom of God.
Sins will be forgiven for those who will repent, and
spiritual BLINDNESS will be cast away from millions of minds and
THEY WILL SEE. They shall KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH WILL SET
THEM FREE! They shall be able to see WHO and WHAT the
FATHER really is and Jesus whom He sent to do His will.
They that be of God at that time, they who will repent, will
HEAR God's words and will obey and will not see the second death.
They shall come to understand that Jesus was the "I
AM" of Abraham's day and before.
Those born in spiritual blindness and remained that way all
their lives until death, shall be raised to life again, to have
their chance for Christ to touch their eyes and remove the
darkness so they may spiritually see and acknowledge that Jesus
is Lord and Savior, and BELIEVE on the Son of God.
It will be a time, a day, when millions will KNOW the only
TRUE SHEPHERD and DOOR WAY into the sheep fold. When MANY OTHER
SHEEP of all nations of the earth will hear the voice of the true
shepherd and BELIEVE. There will indeed be ONE FOLD and ONE
Ah, yes friend, read again all the words in John chapter 8
through to chapter 10:21.
After the feast of Tabernacles when every man went unto his
own house (John 7:53) and Jesus went unto the mount of Olives
(chap.8:1), He came AGAIN EARLY IN THE MORNING TO THE TEMPLE
WHERE HE SAT DOWN AND TAUGHT - verse 2.
This was the day AFTER the feast of Tabernacles, the day after
the last and great day of the feast (the 7th day of the feast of
Booths). It was the EIGHTH DAY - the 7th ANNUAL SABBATH of
Lev.23. Jesus returned to the Temple to TEACH the meaning of this
last festival of the Lord in the festival season.
A festival of the forgiveness of sins, the removal of
blindness, the voice of the only true shepherd calling all into
the one fold.
For those who would like an indepth study article on this
festival, please ask for my article called "The Great White
Throne Judgment" - it can be sent e-mail.
How great and wonderful is the word of the Lord, it contains
no contradictions, but with a searching of the scriptures, a
little help from history, all is complete harmony and truth.
The Greek in John 9:14 does not contain the definite article
"the" and so the NKJV corrects this. The giving of sight to the
blind man was not on THE Sabbath (7 day of the week) but
on "a" Sabbath - the 7th annual Sabbath, the "eighth day" - the
day after the 7th day of the feast of Tabernacles.
Written in December 1995
All articles and studies by Keith Hunt may be copied, published,
e-mailed and distributed as led by the Spirit. Mr. Hunt trusts
nothing will be changed without his consent.