Bible Review 12:6, December 1996

The Water Libation in the Festival of Booths

Nonbiblical rites, though originating in popular worship and rooted in magical practice, were ultimately assimilated into Israel’s official monotheism.

By Jacob Milgrom

Bible Review

As I write, the fall holiday season is ending in Jerusalem with two simultaneous but contrary activities. The locals are dismantling their sukkot, the booths, or tabernacles, of the Festival of Booths, which for a week stood on balconies and in gardens, where everyone dines and where the more intrepid also sleep. Palm fronds are stacked on pavements to be hauled away. Visiting Diaspora Jews, still in festival finery because they observe an extra day of the holiday,a stream toward the Liberty Bell Garden where they will dance into the night with Torah scrolls to celebrate the annual completion of the weekly lectionary cycle. The cycle will resume with Genesis immediately after the last portion is read.

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