Monday, October 09, 2006

Celebrate Succos the Old-Timey Way

From Nehemiah, Chapter 8:

13 On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the scribe to give attention to the words of the Law. 14 They found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month 15 and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: "Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make booths"-as it is written.
16 So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves booths on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim. 17 The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great.
18 Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the feast for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly.


A few comments.

One, check out passage 15, specificially the supposedly quoted portion, i.e. "'Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make booths' - as it is written."

Here it is in Hebrew:

צְאוּ הָהָר וְהָבִיאוּ עֲלֵי-זַיִת וַעֲלֵי-עֵץ שֶׁמֶן, וַעֲלֵי הֲדַס וַעֲלֵי תְמָרִים וַעֲלֵי עֵץ עָבֹת לַעֲשֹׂת סֻכֹּת, כַּכָּתוּב

Now, note how curiously they left out the whole 'pri etz hadar' section from Vayikra. The etrog has a pretty prominent place in modern observance of Succos, rather strange that they left it out, hmm? It seems to have been replaced here with olive branches. Could 'pri etz hadar' have meant olives in Nehemia's time? Think about it.

Also note how the Israelites are using those four species, not to shake about in a bundle, but to construct their Succot. The whole shaking ritual of the lulav and etrog is actually absent from the entire Tanach. It is not mentioned in Vayikra or here in Nehemiah or anywhere else in the Bible. Curious, no?

In fact, using the four species as building materials is the traditional understanding of the Biblical instructions as far as the Karaites are concerned. To this day, observant Karaites will build their Succah roofs with olive branches, along with myrtle, willow, and palm fronds. Typically they also reject the 'four wall' ideal of Rabbinic Judaism and build them tent-like as well.

Lastly, I'd like to point out passage 17, about how they had never celebrated like this and in passage 14 how they apparently discovered this festival in Ezra's Torah. For a group with a supposedly perfect transmission of data from the moment at Sinai, they seem to be awfully forgetful. What does this say to the Kuzari argument?


Just a few things to think over. And, of course, have a happy Succos.

29 comments:

manny said...

Your first point regarding the "four species" is specious. The passages are obviously talking only about building succot and not about arba mimin. It mentions commonly used plant material that can be used for scach.

Your second point vis a vis the Kuzari argument is valid. The whole Kuzari premise is flawed if one learns Jewish history in more detail and sees the many gaps of observance and subsequent re-(?)establishment. Could be why most frummies don't learn nach. How about the fact that the yidden didn't celebrate Pesach for the entire time in the midbar except for the first year. So the first time that the kinderlach observed Pesach there was only a select group of people that could have directly conveyed their experiences in Mitzrayim and Ha Sinai. OK, it's a large group (at least if one accepts all the midrashim) - Caleb, Yehoshua, the Priests and Levites, the women, original folks under 20 - but it certainly does affect the much touted "entire nation" thesis of the Kuzari. How many people could there have been to perpetuate the tradition if you started with - say - 50,000 folks? (3 million is totally untenable and I don't give that number any credibility. I prefer the thesis that "eleph" is a group or troop when used in the various countings, and not thousands.)

Orthoprax said...

Manny,

"The passages are obviously talking only about building succot and not about arba mimin."

Then I find it deeply peculiar that the passage in Nehemiah hit three out of the four minim that we know about leaving only 'pri etz hadar' unremarked, yet with olive branches seemingly in its place.

What makes you so sure that the passage in Vayikra wasn't meant as building materials? It says nothing about waving them about.

"Your second point vis a vis the Kuzari argument is valid."

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

One more very important tidbit: the commands in Lev 23 to take a lulav and build a sukkah show strong indication that they're a later insertion. See for yourself. Start at 23:1--that's the opening:

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, [Concerning] the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim [to be] holy convocations, [even] these [are] my feasts.

Keep reading, noting that it's listing holidays. The holiday now known as Sukkot is covered in verses 33-36--making no mention of its now familiar rituals.

It ends at verse 37-38, closing with the opening it began with ("eleh mo'adei YHWH aseh tikru osum mikra'ei kodesh"). If it had ended there it would be a neat section, with a beginning saying what it going to say, a middle saying it, and mirror bookend ending. Then POP! comes verse 39, with the awkward opening "ach," "but" or "also," and adds on the bits about the arba minim and booths.

IOW, verses 39-43, the very ones about lulav, sukkah, etc., show very strong indications of being a later addition to a text listing the holidays and what to do on them.

Enigma4U said...

Nice point, Opie.

No doubt Succot, and especially the Etrog, are a later invention. Infinitely more suspect of being a latter-day addition than Succot is Simhat Torah. Besides for not being mentioned in the Tanakh, the completion of the reading of the Torah was traditionally done in cycles of three years, not one. Obviously, Simhat Torah was thrown in there because nobody really knows what "Atzeret" means anymore.

I don't have a problem celebrating many of our holidays, and Succot happens to be a favorite. But it bugs me when people insist that the mesorah chain has never been broken when this is clearly not the case.

Billie Jean said...

Interesting.

I'm always interested not just in what's changed in Judaism, but how it's evolved. Why on earth would arba minim be inserted into the Torah and into our traditions?

Of course, sometimes it comes from nothing. I remember a couple of years back when Pesach started on Sunday. A Lubavitch family friend said that they were using matza on Shabbat because their kitchen was obviously kosher for Pesach already. This contradicted the minhag of not eating matza for the month before Pesach. They had just forgotten the minhag.

Orthoprax said...

Mis-nagid,

Yeah, good call. I was thinking about putting that in too, but I wanted to stick to just one passage series.


Enigma,

Yeah, I don't think Simchat Torah began until the Middle Ages. It's not even mentioned in the Talmud.


BJ,

"Why on earth would arba minim be inserted into the Torah and into our traditions?"

It's possible that these plants were used as festive wreaths and bouquets in honor of the season/holiday. It was originally a harvest season holiday. Maybe in addition to use as decoration of the succot, they were used by handling them at the festival. (Or alternatively, they actually were used by hand first and the Karaite interpretation is wrong.) As time went on, their use became codified and the waving service as performed in the Temple is reminiscint of other waving services of sacrifices and breads and so on.

alex said...

"in passage 14 how they apparently discovered this festival in Ezra's Torah."

Perhaps we should take verse 14 literally, that it means they found (not just any ol' Torah, but) the Torah that was written by Moshe's own hand.

Also, how do we know whether to translate alai as branches as opposed to leaves?

alex said...

"point out passage 17, about how they had never celebrated like this...they seem to be awfully forgetful"

I'm having a wonderful Succos this year. I've never celebrated like this, yet I've been celebrating Succos for several decades.

alex said...

Never mind my last comment. Scratch it. I was bouncing off _your_ words, and not using the Tanach's words.

Orthoprax said...

Alex,

"Perhaps we should take verse 14 literally, that it means they found (not just any ol' Torah, but) the Torah that was written by Moshe's own hand."

Why would you presume that? Especially given as the figurative understanding is a common phrase.

"Also, how do we know whether to translate alai as branches as opposed to leaves?"

Six of one, half a dozen of the other. What difference does it make? You need generalized foliage to make a thatched roof.

Just me said...

Mammash, beautiful post; matuk k'dvash!
For more on the same topic and how Ezra had the authority to introduce new laws/customs see:

http://recoveringorthojew.blogspot.com/2006/03/hijacked-holiday.html

and

http://recoveringorthojew.blogspot.com/2006/04/hijacked-holiday-ii.html

RebPropagandist said...

Another interesting observation is how implausible the meforshim get when dealing with the prospect that the Jews didn't keep sukkot till the times of Ezra. Most meforshim ignore the entire sequence of pesukim dealing with Ezra gathering the Ziknei Yisrael and the entire nation to reveal the Torah, after which they discover that they need to celebrate a upcoming holiday. Instead the meforshim deal with the very last posuk and twist it to mean that they didn't celebrate Sukkot with such happiness(!) (Personal rant:Absolutely incredible how they push this bullshit in yeshivahs.)

alex said...

My own Personal rant: Absolutely incredible how once one leaves yeshivah, he starts using language like b^(($#!+.

Yisrael Asper said...

The fact is the text is saying that they are to go according to the Law of Moses in the Torah so nothing is being claimed to have started then.

Yisrael Asper said...

Yisrael Asper (again) I see now how the name posting works.

Orthoprax said...

Yisrael,

"The fact is the text is saying that they are to go according to the Law of Moses in the Torah so nothing is being claimed to have started then."

I know that, but you have to read between the lines. How is it that these Jews were so ignorant of their own Torah? What happened to the mesorah?

Yisrael Asper said...

The same thing that happens to it in so many quarters of Jewry today.

Anonymous said...

It's not claimed Ezra was ignorant of it. A minority of Jews held fast to tradition.

Yisrael Asper said...

That last comment is mine too. Forgot to put my name.

Orthoprax said...

Yisrael,

"The same thing that happens to it in so many quarters of Jewry today."

Correct, but it is through these Jews of Ezra's time that the mesorah is supposed to have been related. How reliable can the mesorah be if most people were ignorant of it?

"It's not claimed Ezra was ignorant of it. A minority of Jews held fast to tradition."

Indeed, but this would have been an excellent opportunity for someone to introduce novelties into tradition. Because who would dare contradict Ezra saying, "My grandfather never told me about that." What do they know?

Yisrael Asper said...

>How reliable can the mesorah be if most people were ignorant of it?
Plenty reliable. People knew that Ezra was telling them that they were neglecting their faith. They knew that like any people they had traditions.
>Indeed, but this would have been an excellent opportunity for someone to introduce novelties into tradition. Because who would dare contradict Ezra saying, "My grandfather never told me about that." What do they know?
The people knew something as Ezra was condemning them for neglecting their faith not for never having learned it. He would have been contradicted by the others who knew their faith also as he wasn’t the only elder.

Further if you look at the following which I have divided up in order of Holiday and Book you will see that Passover and Sukkos were celebrated centuries before.

Sukkos

Kings I Chapter 8
1. Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the people of Israel, before king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the city of David, which is Zion.
2. And all the men of Israel assembled themselves to king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.
3. And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.
4. And they brought up the ark of the Lord, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy utensils that were in the tabernacle, those did the priests and the Levites bring up.
5. And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, who were assembled before him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude.
6. And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord to his place, to the sanctuary of the house, to the most holy place, under the wings of the kerubim.
7. For the kerubim spread out their two wings over the place of the ark, and the kerubim covered the ark and its poles above.
8. And they drew out the poles, so that the ends of the poles were seen out in the holy place before the sanctuary, and they were not seen outside; and there they are to this day.
9. There was nothing in the ark save the two tablets of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.
10. And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord,
11. And that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.
12. Then spoke Solomon, The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
13. I have surely built you a house to dwell in, a settled place for you to abide in forever.
14. And the king turned his face around, and blessed all the congregation of Israel; and all the congregation of Israel stood;
15. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who spoke with his mouth to David my father, and has with his hand fulfilled it, saying,
16. Since the day when I brought forth my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city from all the tribes of Israel to build a house, that my name might be in there; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.
17. And it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
18. And the Lord said to David my father, Because it was in your heart to build a house to my name, you did well that it was in your heart.
19. Nevertheless you shall not build the house; but your son who shall come forth from your loins, he shall build the house to my name.
20. And the Lord has performed his word that he spoke, and I have risen in place of David my father, and I sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and I have built a house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
21. And I have set there a place for the ark, where the covenant of the Lord is, which he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.
22. And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven;
23. And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keeps covenant and mercy with your servants who walk before you with all their heart;
24. Who have kept with your servant David my father what you promised him; you spoke also with your mouth, and have fulfilled it with your hand, as it is this day.
25. Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with your servant David my father what you promised him, saying, There shall not fail you a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that your children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as you have walked before me.
26. And now, O God of Israel, let your word, I pray you, be confirmed, which you spoke to your servant David my father.
27. But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built?
28. Yet have regard for the prayer of your servant, and for his supplication, O Lord my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer, which your servant prays before you today;
29. That your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which you have said, My name shall be there; that you may listen to the prayer which your servant shall make toward this place.
30. And listen to the supplication of your servant, and of your people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place; and hear you in heaven your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive.
31. If any man trespasses against his neighbor, and an oath is laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath comes before your altar in this house;
32. Then hear you in heaven, and do, and judge your servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.
33. When your people Israel are stuck down before the enemy, because they have sinned against you, and shall turn again to you, and confess your name, and pray, and make supplication to you in this house;
34. Then hear you in heaven, and forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them again to the land which you gave to their fathers.
35. When heaven is closed, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against you; if they pray toward this place, and acknowledge your name, and turn from their sin, when you afflict them;
36. Then hear you in heaven, and forgive the sin of your servants, and of your people Israel, and teach them the good way where they should walk, and give rain upon your land, which you have given to your people for an inheritance.
37. If there is in the land famine, if there is pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there is caterpillar; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatever plague, whatever sickness there might be;
38. Whatever prayer and supplication is made by any man, or by all your people Israel, who shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread out his hands toward this house;
39. Then hear you in heaven your dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart you know; for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of men;
40. That they may fear you all the days that they live in the land which you gave to our fathers.
41. And also concerning a stranger, who is not of your people Israel, but comes from a far country for your name’s sake;
42. For they shall hear of your great name, and of your strong hand, and of your stretched out arm; when he shall come and pray toward this house;
43. Hear you in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calls to you for; that all people of the earth may know your name, to fear you, as do your people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have built, is called by your name.
44. If your people go out to battle against their enemy, wherever you shall send them, and shall pray to the Lord toward the city which you have chosen, and toward the house that I have built for your name;
45. Then hear you in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.
46. If they sin against you, for there is no man who does not sin, and you are angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captive to the land of the enemy, far or near;
47. Yet if they take thought in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to you in the land of them that carried them captive, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;
48. And so return to you with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, who led them away captive, and pray to you toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city which you have chosen, and the house which I have built for your name;
49. Then hear you their prayer and their supplication in heaven your dwelling place, and maintain their cause,
50. And forgive your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions where they have transgressed against you, and give them compassion before those who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them;
51. For they are your people, and your inheritance, whom you brought forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron;
52. That your eyes may be open to the supplication of your servant, and to the supplication of your people Israel, to listen to them in all that they call for to you.
53. For you did set them apart from among all the people of the earth, to be your inheritance, as you spoke by the hand of Moses your servant, when you brought our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord God.
54. And it was so, that when Solomon had finished praying all this prayer and supplication to the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.
55. And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying,
56. Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised; there has not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.
57. The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers; let him not leave us, nor forsake us;
58. That he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.
59. And let these my words, with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as each day may require;
60. That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is no one else.
61. Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.
62. And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the Lord.
63. And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the Lord, twenty two thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. And the king and all the people of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord.
64. The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord for there he offered burnt offerings, and meal offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings; because the bronze altar that was before the Lord was too small to receive the burnt offerings, and meal offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.
65. And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entrance to Hamath to the brook of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven days, fourteen days.
66. On the eighth day he sent the people away; and they blessed the king, and went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people.


Chronicles II Chapter 5
1. Thus all the work that Solomon made for the house of the Lord was finished; and Solomon brought in all the things that David his father had consecrated; and the silver, and the gold, and all the instruments, put he among the treasures of the house of God.
2. Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the heads of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel, to Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the city of David, which is Zion.
3. And all the people of Israel assembled themselves before the king at the feast which is in the seventh month.
4. And all the elders of Israel came; and the Levites took up the ark.
5. And they brought up the ark, and the Tent of Meeting, and all the holy utensils that were in the tabernacle, these did the priests and the Levites bring up.
6. Also king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled to him before the ark, sacrificed sheep and oxen, which could not be told nor numbered for multitude.
7. And the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to his place, to the inner sanctuary of the house, into the most holy place, under the wings of the kerubim;
8. For the kerubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, and the kerubim covered the ark and its poles above.
9. And they drew out the poles of the ark, so that the ends of the poles were seen from the ark before the inner sanctuary; but they were not seen outside. And there it is till this day.
10. There was nothing in the ark save the two tablets which Moses put in at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel, when they came from Egypt.
11. And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place; for all the priests who were present were sanctified, and did not then keep to their duty watches;
12. Also the Levites who were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brothers, clothed in white linen, having cymbals and lyres and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them a hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets;
13. It came to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, sounding a note in unison, in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, lifting their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, praising the Lord, saying, For he is good, for his loving kindness endures forever, that then the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud;
14. And the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God.

Chronicles II Chapter 6
1. Then said Solomon, The Lord has said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
2. And I have built a house of habitation for you, and a place for your dwelling forever.
3. And the king turned his face, and blessed the whole congregation of Israel; and all the congregation of Israel stood.
4. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has with his hands fulfilled that which he spoke with his mouth to my father David, saying,
5. Since the day that I brought forth my people from the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build a house in, that my name might be there; nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over my people Israel;
6. And I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.
7. And it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
8. And the Lord said to David my father, Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well in that it was in your heart;
9. Nevertheless you shall not build the house; but your son who shall come forth from your loins, he shall build the house for my name.
10. The Lord therefore has performed his word that he has spoken; for I am risen up in the place of David my father, and am set on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built the house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
11. And in it have I put the ark, where inside is the covenant of the Lord, that he made with the people of Israel.
12. And he stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and stretched out his hands;
13. For Solomon had made a bronze scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and stretched out his hands toward heaven,
14. And said, O Lord God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or in earth; who keeps the covenant, and shows loving kindness to your servants, who walk before you with all their hearts;
15. You who have kept with your servant David my father that which you had promised him; and have spoken with your mouth, and have fulfilled it with your hand, as it is this day.
16. Now therefore, O Lord God of Israel, keep with your servant David my father that which you have promised him, saying, There shall not fail you a man in my sight to sit upon the throne of Israel, if only your children would take heed to their way, to walk in my Torah, as you have walked before me.
17. Now then, O Lord God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you have spoken to your servant David.
18. Will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain you; how much less this house which I have built!
19. Have regard therefore to the prayer of your servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to listen to the cry and the prayer which your servant prays before you;
20. That your eyes may be open upon this house day and night, upon the place about which you have said that you would put your name there; to listen to the prayer which your servant prays toward this place.
21. Listen to the supplications of your servant, and of your people Israel, which they shall make toward this place; hear from your dwelling place, from heaven; and when you hear, forgive.
22. If a man sins against his neighbor, and an oath is laid upon him to make him swear, and the oath comes before your altar in this house;
23. Then hear you from heaven, and do, and judge your servants, by requiting the wicked, by rewarding his way upon his own head; and by justifying the righteous, by giving him according to his righteousness.
24. And if your people Israel are defeated by the enemy, because they have sinned against you; and shall return and confess your name, and pray and make supplication before you in this house;
25. Then hear you from the heavens, and forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which you gave to them and to their fathers.
26. When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against you; yet if they would pray toward this place, and confess your name, and turn from their sin, when you afflict them;
27. Then hear you in heaven, and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you have taught them the good way, in which they should walk; and send rain upon your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance.
28. If there should be famine in the land, if there should be pestilence, if there should be blight, or mildew, locusts, or caterpillars; if if their enemies should besiege them in the cities of their land; whatever plague, whatever sickness should be;
29. Then whatever prayer, whatever supplication, shall be made by any man, or by all your people Israel, when every one shall know his own affliction and his own grief, and shall stretch out his hands in this house;
30. Then hear from heaven your dwelling place, and forgive, and render to every man according to all his ways, whose heart you know; for only you know the hearts of the sons of men;
31. That they may fear you, to walk in your ways, that they should live in the land which you gave to our fathers.
32. And also, concerning the foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, but has come from a far country for your great name’s sake, and your mighty hand, and your stretched out arm; if they come and pray in this house;
33. Then hear you from the heavens, from your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you for; that all the peoples of the earth may know your name, and fear you, as does your people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by your name.
34. If your people go out to war against their enemies by the way that you shall send them, and they pray to you toward this city which you have chosen, and the house which I have built for your name;
35. Then hear you from the heavens their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.
36. If they sin against you, for there is no man who does not sin, and you are angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives to a land far or near;
37. Yet if they take thought in the land where they are carried captive, and turn and pray to you in the land of their captivity; saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly;
38. If they return to you with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, and toward the city which you have chosen, and toward the house which I have built for your name;
39. Then hear you from the heavens, from your dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive your people who have sinned against you.
40. Now, my God, let, I beseech you, your eyes be open, and let your ears be attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.
41. Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into your resting place, you, and the ark of your strength; let your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let your pious ones rejoice in goodness.
42. O Lord God, turn not away the face of your anointed; remember the mercies of David your servant.

Chronicles II Chapter 7
1. Now when Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house.
2. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.
3. And when all the people of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his loving kindness endures forever.
4. Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the Lord.
5. And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty two thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep; and the king and all the people consecrated the house of God.
6. And the priests stood at their posts; the Levites also with instruments of music of the Lord, which David the king had made to praise the Lord, because his loving kindness endures forever, with the praises of David in their hands; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.
7. And Solomon consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord; for there he offered burnt offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the bronze altar which Solomon had made could not hold the burnt offerings, and the meal offerings, and the fat.
8. Also at the same time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entrance to Hamath as far as the river of Egypt.
9. And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly; for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days.
10. And on the twenty third day of the seventh month he sent the people away to their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the Lord had shown to David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people...

Passover

Joshua Chapter 5
1. And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, who were on the west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites, who were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the people of Israel, until they had passed over, so that their heart melted, nor was there any spirit left in them any more, because of the people of Israel.
2. At that time the Lord said to Joshua, Make sharp knives, and circumcise again the people of Israel a second time.
3. And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the people of Israel at the hill of Aralot.
4. And this is the cause why Joshua circumcised: All the people who came out of Egypt, who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness on the road, after they came out of Egypt.
5. Now all the people who came out were circumcised; but all the people who were born in the wilderness on the road as they came forth out of Egypt, those were not circumcised.
6. For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord; to whom the Lord swore that he would not show them the land, which the Lord swore to their fathers that he would give us, a land that flows with milk and honey.
7. And their children, whom he raised up in their place, them Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them on the road.
8. And it came to pass, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp, till they had recovered.
9. And the Lord said to Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day.
10. And the people of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening in the plains of Jericho.
11. And they ate of the old grain of the land on the next day after the Passover, unleavened cakes, and parched grain in the same day.
12. And the manna ceased on the next day after they had eaten of the old grain of the land; nor had the people of Israel manna any more; but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year...

Kings II Chapter 20
...20. And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and an aqueduct, and brought water to the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
21. And Hezekiah slept with his fathers; and Manasseh his son reigned in his place.

Kings II Chapter 22
1. Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty one years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath.
2. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.
3. And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the Lord, saying,
4. Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may count the silver which is brought to the house of the Lord, which the gatekeepers have gathered from the people;
5. And let them deliver it to the hand of the workmen, who supervise the house of the Lord; and let them give it to workers who are in the house of the Lord, to repair the breaches of the house,
6. To carpenters, and to builders, and to masons, and to buy timber and quarried stone to repair the house.
7. But there was no account made with them of the money that was delivered to their hand, because they dealt in good faith.
8. And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the Torah in the house of the Lord. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.
9. And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Your servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it to the hand of the workmen, who supervise the house of the Lord.
10. And Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest has delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.
11. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the Torah, that he tore his clothes.
12. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king’s, saying,
13. Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that was found; for great is the anger of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that which is written concerning us.
14. And Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah, went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; she lived in Jerusalem in the second quarter; and they talked with her.
15. And she said to them, Thus said the Lord God of Israel, Tell the man who sent you to me,
16. Thus said the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon its inhabitants, all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read;
17. Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my anger shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.
18. But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall you say to him, Thus said the Lord God of Israel, Concerning the words which you have heard;
19. Because your heart was tender, and you have humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard what I spoke against this place, and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and have torn your clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard you, said the Lord.
20. Behold therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought back word to the king.


Kings II Chapter 23
1. And the king sent, and they gathered to him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.
2. And the king went up to the house of the Lord, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant which had been found in the house of the Lord.
3. And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.
4. And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the gatekeepers, to bring out from the temple of the Lord all the utensils that were made for Baal, and for the Ashera, and for all the host of heaven; and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried their ashes to Beth-El.
5. And he deposed the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places around Jerusalem; also those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the constellations, and to all the host of heaven.
6. And he brought out the Ashera from the house of the Lord, outside Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to dust, and cast its dust upon the graves of the common people.
7. And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes, that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove covering for the Ashera.
8. And he brought all the priests from the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba, and broke down the high places of the gates that were in the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city.
9. Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they ate of the unleavened bread among their brothers.
10. And he defiled the Tophet, which is in the valley of Ben Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.
11. And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entrance of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-Melech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire.
12. And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord, did the king beat down, and broke them down from there, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron.
13. And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Kemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites, did the king defile.
14. And he broke in pieces the images, and cut down the Asherim, and filled their places with the bones of men.
15. Moreover the altar that was at Beth-El, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he broke down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the Ashera.
16. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchers that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones from the sepulchers, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words.
17. Then he said, What monument is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulcher of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that you have done against the altar of Beth-El.
18. And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. And they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria.
19. And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Beth-El.
20. And he killed all the priests of the high places who were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.
21. And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant.
22. Surely there was not celebrated such a Passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah;
23. But in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, when this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem...

Chronicles II Chapter 30
1. And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover to the Lord God of Israel.
2. For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the Passover in the second month.
3. For they could not keep it in its time, because the priests had not sanctified themselves sufficiently, nor had the people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem.
4. And the thing pleased the king and all the congregation.
5. And they established a decree to proclaim throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that they should come to keep the Passover to the Lord God of Israel at Jerusalem; for they had not done it for a long time as it was prescribed.
6. And the couriers went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, People of Israel, turn back to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria.
7. And do not be like your fathers, and like your brothers, who trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, who therefore made them a desolation, as you see.
8. Do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary, which he has sanctified forever; and serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce wrath may turn away from you.
9. For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children shall find compassion with those who led them away captive, so that they shall return to this land; for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.
10. And the couriers passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh as far as Zebulun; but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them.
11. Only a few men of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem.
12. The hand of God was also upon Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord.
13. And many people assembled at Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very great congregation.
14. And they arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense they took away, and threw them into the brook Kidron.
15. And they slaughtered the paschal lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month; and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought the burnt offerings into the house of the Lord.
16. And they stood in their place according to the form prescribed for them, according to the Torah of Moses the man of God; the priests sprinkled the blood, which they received from the hand of the Levites.
17. For there were many in the congregation who were not sanctified; therefore the Levites slaughtered the paschal lamb for every one who was not clean, to sanctify them to the Lord.
18. For a multitude of the people, many of them from Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, so that they ate the paschal lamb otherwise than what it was prescribed. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good Lord pardon every one
19. Who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, even though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.
20. And the Lord listened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.
21. And the people of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, singing with loud instruments to the Lord.
22. And Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the Lord; and they ate the food of the feast for seven days, offering peace offerings, and making confession to the Lord God of their fathers.
23. And the whole assembly took counsel to keep another seven days; and they kept another seven days with gladness.
24. For Hezekiah king of Judah gave to the congregation a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep; and the princes gave to the congregation a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep; and a great number of priests sanctified themselves.
25. And all the congregation of Judah, with the priests and the Levites, and all the congregation that came from Israel, and the foreigners who came from the land of Israel, and who lived in Judah, rejoiced.
26. And there was great joy in Jerusalem; for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.
27. Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people; and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, to heaven.

Chronicles II Chapter 35
1. And Josiah kept a Passover to the Lord in Jerusalem; and they killed the paschal lamb on the fourteenth day of the first month.
2. And he set the priests in their watches, and encouraged them to the service of the house of the Lord,
3. And he said to the Levites who taught all Israel, who were holy to the Lord, Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel built; it shall not be a burden upon your shoulders; serve now the Lord your God, and his people Israel,
4. And prepare yourselves by the houses of your fathers, according to your divisions, according to the writing of David king of Israel, and according to the writing of Solomon his son.
5. And stand in the holy place according to the divisions of the families of the fathers of your brothers the people, and according to the division of the families of the Levites.
6. And kill the paschal lamb, and sanctify yourselves, and prepare your brothers, that they may do according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses.
7. And Josiah gave to the people lambs and kids from the flock, all for the Passover offerings, for all who were present, to the number of thirty thousand, and three thousand bulls; these were from the king’s possessions.
8. And his princes gave willingly to the people, to the priests, and to the Levites; Hilkiah and Zechariah and Yejiel, rulers of the house of God, gave to the priests for the Passover offerings two thousand and six hundred small cattle, and three hundred oxen.
9. Cananiah also, and Shemaiah and Nethaneel, his brothers, and Hashabiah and Jeiel and Jozabad, chief of the Levites, gave to the Levites for Passover offerings five thousand small cattle, and five hundred oxen.
10. And the service was prepared, and the priests stood in their place, and the Levites in their divisions, according to the king’s commandment.
11. And they killed the paschal lamb, and the priests sprinkled the blood from their hands, and the Levites flayed them.
12. And they set aside the burnt offerings, that they might distribute them according to the divisions of the families of the people, to offer to the Lord as it is written in the Book of Moses. And so they did with the oxen.
13. And they roasted the paschal lamb with fire according to the ordinance; but the other holy offerings they boiled in pots, and in cauldrons, and in pans, and carried them speedily to all the people.
14. And afterward they made ready for themselves, and for the priests; because the priests the sons of Aaron were busy offering the burnt offerings and the fat until night; therefore the Levites prepared for themselves, and for the priests the sons of Aaron.
15. And the singers the sons of Asaph were in their place, according to the commandment of David, and Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun the king’s seer; and the gatekeepers were posted at every gate; they did not need to depart from their service, for their brothers the Levites prepared for them.
16. And all the service of the Lord was prepared the same day, to keep the Passover, and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar of the Lord, according to the commandment of king Josiah.
17. And the people of Israel who were present kept the Passover at that time, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days.
18. And there was no Passover like that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; nor did any of the kings of Israel keep such a Passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
19. In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah was this Passover kept...
25. And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah; and all the singing men and the singing women speak of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel; and, behold, they are written in the lamentations.
26. And the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his goodness, according to that which was written in the Torah of the Lord,
27. And his deeds, from first to last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.

Orthoprax said...

Yisrael,

"Plenty reliable. People knew that Ezra was telling them that they were neglecting their faith. They knew that like any people they had traditions."

But they didn't know...we've already established that.

"The people knew something as Ezra was condemning them for neglecting their faith not for never having learned it."

Well, that's how you gain legitimacy. By saying new stuff is really old stuff that they've forgotten.

"He would have been contradicted by the others who knew their faith also as he wasn’t the only elder."

Maybe. Or maybe not. It's very possible that he was seen as the authority about this stuff.

"Further if you look at the following which I have divided up in order of Holiday and Book you will see that Passover and Sukkos were celebrated centuries before."

I don't disagree. There was no need to post whole chapters on my blog. The point is, however, that the practices in those holidays could have changed.

Yisrael Asper said...

>Well, that's how you gain legitimacy. By saying new stuff is really old stuff that they've forgotten.

True but if he was so unconcerned as to what Jewish law said and made it up as he went along and could dupe with this those who knew less than him then this is not a situation we experience now. We may experience Rabbis who may say their opinion and it may be considered by lesser Rabbis as something that must be true even though they couldn't think of it but they could not be duped by having things simply made up. They would want to know the source. Further the religious situation presented at the time is of an established religion with Kohanim and Levites leading the people religiously who returned under King Cyrus command that the Temple be rebuilt. Ezra could not have the free leeway to make things up. He yet encountered resistance. If the Preists and Levites and religious amongst the Jews spotted something made up the resistance movement would have been even more stubborn. Nothing of what you said fits in well with it. Ezra may have given his opinions on difficult questions but the internal evidence points away from him forging laws. His frame of mind as that of the prophets was that the law came from Moses. You interpret it just like a judge has to interpret it to his best ability but that’s that. There's no evidence for any grand conspiracies.

Orthoprax said...

Yisrael,

"True but if he was so unconcerned as to what Jewish law said and made it up as he went along and could dupe with this those who knew less than him then this is not a situation we experience now."

Great, but we're not talking about now.

"If the Preists and Levites and religious amongst the Jews spotted something made up the resistance movement would have been even more stubborn."

That's a presumption that they knew enough to argue and that they were willing to argue with Ezra who had a lot of clout. Or even that they disagreed with Ezra's goals. Maybe they didn't think the rules were from Sinai, but they liked them for other reasons. And maybe the book of Ezra just isn't including all the details of the story. Who wrote the book after all?

"Ezra may have given his opinions on difficult questions but the internal evidence points away from him forging laws. His frame of mind as that of the prophets was that the law came from Moses."

Maybe. But I still think he added things. For example, what was once just a restriction of marriage between Israelites and the surrounding Cannaanite nations, he turned into a rule forbidding marriages to any non-Jewish people.

It's adding a rule through new interpretation.

Yisrael Asper said...

This is speculation. We need history. However it had indeed once been a valid halachic opinion that there’s only a prohibition of intermarriage with only certain Gentile nations. This is an opinion in Rabbinical circles. Even if you could show an historical Ezra different in kind still he as a spiritual figure would have a different story for believers, with the “historical” Ezra at best with a message for outsiders to our mesorah (we do share a Bible with textual variants with others). But that’s theoretical. Frankly I don’t see your radical Ezra. In any event traditionally we see Judaism through the eyes of Hillel and Shammai. From that point on I join the critical ranks.

Orthoprax said...

Yisrael,

I'm not married to the idea of Ezra specifically being an agent of change, but there was change made and Ezra was in an optimal position to do so. It is no coincidence that in rabbinic material Ezra is seen as worthy of receiving the Torah as Moshe, because for all intents and purposes the mesorah that we know of is linked to him.

Anyway, my point wasn't about Ezra specifically but about the weakened sense of mesorah since you had only a handful of Jews at most within the group of returnees in Ezra's time, who had an accurate conception of what Judaism was like before the Exile.

Yisrael Asper said...

>Ezra is seen as worthy of receiving the Torah as Moshe, because for all intents and purposes the mesorah that we know of is linked to him.

Yes it is but there always was an oral tradition. A very simple example is Ruth greatgrandmother of King David and a Moavite convert. If we go according to the letter of the Torah then it doesn't fit with the total approval given her marriage to a born Israelite King David's greatgrandfather Boaz by the book of Ruth. There certainly is no question that there were different practices that did not pass muster from Hillel and Shammai's points of view even amongst Pharisees. But I don't really see a revolution with Ezra's time. I see people trying their best to understand the Torah and later sectarianism starting. Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman has interesting evidence of the need to reappraise the standard view that the Rabbis were just busy inventing things out of thin air.

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perfume said...

wiki article

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukkot

The Talmud, a major work of commentary in Rabbinic Judaism, expands on many of the passages that refer to Sukkot in the Tanakh (Jewish Bible). For example, it reveals a new angle on the story of Sukkot observance in the Book of Nehemiah. The Book of Nehemiah describes how, after the Babylonian captivity, the Israelites celebrated Sukkot by making and dwelling in booths. Nehemiah reports that “the Israelites had not done so from the days of Joshua” (Neh. 8:13-17). However, the Talmud (Erkhin 32b) reasons that this cannot mean that the Israelites actually abstained from building booths for over nine hundred years, since "is it possible that the righteous King David never built a booth for Sukkot?". The Talmud concludes that Nehemiah would have referred to some specific characteristic of the booths in his time, rather than the booths themselves. The holiness that the Israelites had imparted to the land of Israel when they originally entered it with Joshua--which the land had lost once the tribes began to be exiled--was now returned to it forever by the returning exiles.[citation needed] (For this reason also, the laws of Shmita and Yovel, which are Mitzvot that are only in effect upon holy land, were newly reinstated by the returning exiles.[citation needed]) Malbim adds that Nehemiah's observation here was exclusive to the city of Jerusalem i.e. that Jerusalem had never been allowed to have booths built within it during the first temple era since--unlike the rest of Israel--it was not portioned exclusively to any one of the original thirteen tribes of Israel, rather it was the collective possession of all the tribes. Hence, Jerusalem was until now considered a public domain and was therefore not allowed to contain a booth, which can only be built, according to Halacha, within a private domain.[citation needed]