Shmini Atzeret

The 8th Day of Assembly


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The Feast of Tabernacles
Water scooped up in the Water Libation Ceremony in Jerusalem in 2016

Picture courtesy of

Today is Shemini Atzeret. It is called in the Bible simply “the 8th day of Assembly.” Sukkot is one of the 3 great festivals that everyone went to Jerusalem to celebrate and it is said that God enjoys the rejoicing and celebration of Sukkot so much that he asked everyone to hold back one more day before leaving to return home. So unofficially Sukkot is one day longer and some celebrate Shemini Atzeret in the Sukkah still as with Sukkot, others do not, but all still do the candle-lighting, it is considered a separate holiday.

Shemini Atzeret is most famous for the “prayer for rain” which is said after the morning service. In Israel crops planted in the spring depend on rainfall that occurs in the autumn, and autumn is just beginning for them. The word ‘Atzeret’ comes from ‘atzar’ which means ‘to collect or store’. This is a time to reflect and store the memories of the good time you have had celebrating Sukkot.

Be Hopeful

Remember that the feast of Sukkot holds a number of traditions which powerfully demonstrate that God is faithful to keep His promises, that His timing is perfect and that His plans for us are good, to give us a future and a hope.

During the festival in the Temple in Jerusalem, Very early each morning, the priests, followed by the entire congregation at the Temple, would descend down to the Pool of Siloam and fill a golden flask with pure water. They ascended back up to the Temple with much joy, dancing and song, met by trumpet blasts in fulfilment of Isaiah 12:3.

Oh, the joy of drinking deeply from the Fountain of Salvation!” – Isaiah 12:3.

The water was then carried up the altar ramp and poured onto the altar, accompanied by great rejoicing and celebration. In fact, it has been said “Whoever has never seen the celebrations of the Festival of the Water Libation – has never experienced true joy in his life.” The people experienced such joy because the water poured out upon the altar was prophetically symbolic to them of a future messianic redemption when God’s “Millennial” kingdom is established over the whole earth under the Messiah’s reign.

This was the exact time and setting at the Temple when Jesus declared:

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water shall flow from the inmost being of anyone who believes in me.” - John 7:37b-38

Coincidence or God’s perfect plan and timing? We are blessed in that we can know already the joy of Salvation through Jesus Christ and the infilling of the living water of the Holy Spirit; while awaiting his return as King.