Speak unto the children of Israel, saying
Giving them directions about keeping a feast, in which the whole body of them had a very special and particular concern:
the fifteenth day of this seventh month;
the month Tisri or September:
[shall be] the feast of tabernacles [for] seven days unto the Lord;
the design of which was, partly to give thanks for the fruits of the earth, now all gathered in, ( Leviticus 23:39 ) ; but chiefly to commemorate the dwelling of the children of Israel in tents and booths, during their forty years' abode in the wilderness, ( Leviticus 23:43 ) ; whereby their posterity in later times would be led to observe the difference between them and their forefathers, who lived in tents or booths, pitched sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another, in the open fields, in wastes, and deserts; whereas they dwelt in spacious cities, fortified towns, and magnificent houses; and were possessed of various kingdoms and nations, as was the land of Canaan: the reason, the Jews say F19, why this feast was kept at this time of the year and not at the season when they went out of Egypt and first dwelt in booths, as at Succoth which had its name from thence, ( Exodus 12:37 ) , was this; because then the summer season began when men commonly used to build tabernacles to shelter them from the heat of the sun, wherefore, if the feast had been kept at that time, it would not have been known that it was kept at the command of God, and in remembrance of the above circumstance; but the month Tisri or September being usually a cold and rainy season in those parts, men were wont to leave their tabernacles and go into their houses; and so it was a plain case that the feast was observed not for convenience or through custom, but that it was at the command of God they went out of their houses into tabernacles at this season of the year, in commemoration of the miraculous benefit of dwelling in tents under the clouds of glory: and they also say, that for this reason it was ordered to begin on the fifteenth day, because it was on the fifteenth day of the month (though of another month) they went out of Egypt, and the clouds began to protect and accompany them; and this was enjoined them seven days, to teach them that the miraculous benefits of God are always and every day to be remembered: the Jews have a whole treatise in their Misnah, called "Succah", the "booth" or "tabernacle"; in which they give an account of the form and fabric and measure of their tabernacles, and of their dwelling and dining in them; and of the branches they carry in their hands, and of the manner of carrying and shaking them; and of the pouring out of water at this time, and of their piping and singing and other rites and ceremonies attending this feast; (See Gill on John 7:2); besides, the uses of this feast before mentioned, it was typical of spiritual and evangelical things, and especially of the incarnation of Christ, whose human nature is the true tabernacle, in distinction from those typical ones, and in which he is expressly said to "tabernacle" among us, ( John 1:14 ) ; and it is highly probable that his incarnation or birth was at the time of this feast; at which time the temple of Solomon, a type of Christ's body, was also dedicated; and this season of the year suits better than that in which it is usually placed; and his baptism and the time of his death show it; see ( Luke 1:1 Luke 1:8 ) ( 3:22 ) ; and as Christ, our passover, was sacrificed for us at the exact time of the passover, and the firstfruits of the Spirit were given on the very day of Pentecost, or feast of firstfruits; so it is most likely, that Christ was born, or first began to tabernacle in human nature at the feast of tabernacles, which we, in Gospel times, are to keep, by believing in the incarnate Saviour, and by attending to the Gospel ordinances he has appointed, to commemorate the benefits of his incarnation, sufferings, and death, ( Zechariah 14:16 Zechariah 14:17 ) ; moreover, the dwelling of the children of Israel in booths in the wilderness, and so at this feast in commemoration of it, may be an emblem of the tabernacles of the saints in their present wilderness state: this world, through which they are passing, is like a wilderness to them; their bodies are called tabernacles, which are pitched for a while; and their state and condition here is that of sojourners, pilgrims, and travellers; yea, these tents and tabernacles may be figures of the several particular churches of Christ, in the present state of things, which are set up for a while for the convenience, comfort, refreshment, and joy of the spiritual Israel of God; see ( Psalms 46:4 ) ( 84:1 ) .
F19 Buxtorf. Synagog. Jud. c. 21. p. 447.