Scripture Reading: Leviticus 23:39.
Shemini Atzeret means “eighth day of assembly.” For all practical purposes it is considered to be part of the 7 day Festival of Sukkot. However, it is its own solemn day. Booths are not to be dwelt in on this day.
The Eighth Day is a High Sabbath. No work is to be done. On this day the celebration of Sukkot came to an end but the people were commanded to stay around with Him for one more day. Rabbi's have not traditionally understood its purpose. No particular demands were given for the day except that it was to be a Sabbath to Yahweh.
Traditionally on this day Hebrews began their prayers for rain. Sukkot having ended, the need for rain now began. The last of the crops were harvested by Sukkot and now the early rains were needed so that they could plant for the spring crops.
It was also called the "great day" or the “last great day” of the Feast. The Apostle John makes mention of this Festival in John 7: 1-39. It was on the eighth day (Shemini Atzeret) that Yeshua stood and declared; “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believes on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”. This is a direct reference by Yeshua to Isaiah 12:2-3:
"Behold, El is my salvation (Yeshua); I will trust, and not be afraid; for Yah YHWH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation (Yeshua). Therefore with joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation (Yeshua)."
It has been long understood that this verse is speaking of the out pouring of the Holy Spirit which was prophesied by the Prophets, specifically Joel. Rabbi's believed this would happen when the Messiah comes.
In Revelation chapter 21 we read about the New Heaven and Earth coming down out of Heaven, in verse 6 it states:
"And he said unto me, I am Aleph and Tav, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely"
This is a clear reference to the "eighth day" analogy. In Hebrew, the number 8 means “new beginnings”. When Yeshua has completed His mission then all things will have been restored as it was in the beginning before the fall of mankind. In future fulfillment we know that Yeshua will make all things re-newed. When the New Heavens and New Earth appear, along with the New Jerusalem, then the book will flip back over to the beginning of Genesis, before the fall of mankind. This event is likely going to happen on a Shemini Atzeret in the future. The day of “new beginnings”.
It is on this day that the Torah scroll is re-rolled back to Genesis and the Torah portion readings start all over again for the next year.
Many Messiaic Jews see Shemini Atzeret as the day that Yeshua would have been circumcised. They believe that Yeshua would have been born on the 1st day of Sukkot, a Sabbath, and then He would have been circumcised on the 8th day, Shemini Atzeret, a Sabbath. Some of them say that it was like Yahweh was saying, “hang around for the circumcision of my son” which would come in the future on this day. Circumcision was a joyful event in the life of Hebrews. (Brit Milah)
We do know that all of Yahweh's Appointed times point to Yeshua. So, this seems likely to me.
Whatever the Sabbath day's full meaning, I am sure that Yeshua will somehow complete that meaning in the future. In the meantime, just rejoice in its celebration!
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