Bar Kochba and Succot

by Alan Tunkel

TIKKUN LEIL SHAVUOT 5778/2018

ALAN TUNKEL

 

Below are 5 zuzim of the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome (132-135 CE) led by Bar Kochba.

Note the images used – the flask, the grapes, the trumpets, the lyre and the palm branch.

The question we shall be considering is: why were these images chosen? 

The first part of the answer comes from an understanding of Sukkot in the Holy Temple and the Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah: The Water-Drawing Festival.

One of Sukkot’s most joyous observances was known as Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah, the Celebration of the Water-Drawing. When the Temple stood, every day of the year after the sacrifice was burned, an offering of wine was poured on the altar. During Sukkot, there was also a water libation (nisukh hamayim). Water was poured over the altar in a special ceremony. This ritual engendered such joy that it was celebrated with music, dancing and singing all night long.

 

Every morning of Sukkot at daybreak, a group of Levites and priests went down to the Shiloach stream (Silwan), which ran south of the Temple Mount, and drew three log (a Talmudic liquid measurement) of fresh water to fill a golden flask and to be poured on the altar after the daily morning sacrifice. Their arrival at the Temple with the water was accompanied by trumpet blasts. (For Shabbat, the water was collected before the onset of Shabbat and stored in the golden flask in the Temple.)

 

There were two holes in the altar into which liquid was poured. One hole was for the wine that accompanied every sacrifice, and a second, smaller one was reserved for the Sukkot water. The holes were different sizes to allow the wine and water, which have different consistencies, to drain at the same speed.

 

Based on Isaiah’s promise “With joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation” (12:3), rejoicing began at the end of the first day and took place every night except Shabbat. The Talmud recorded that “one who had never witnessed the Rejoicing at the Place of the Water Drawing had never seen true joy in his life.”

 

Although the celebration was for the libation that would be made the next morning, it was named for the preparation for the ritual — the water drawing — which the rabbis said showed that getting ready was sometimes of greater merit than the mitzvah, or commandment, itself because of its positive effect on the person doing it.

 

The Talmud describes the celebrations of Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah in detail:

  • Priests kindled fires on immense candelabra set in the Temple courtyard (each holding gallons of oil and fit with wicks made from priests’ worn‑out vestments), which generated such intense light that they illuminated every courtyard in the city.

  • A Levite orchestra of flutes, trumpets, harps, and cymbals accompanied torchlight processions throughout the night and men who had earned the capacity for real spiritual joy through their purity, character and scholarship danced ecstatically to the hand‑clapping, foot-stomping, and hymn‑singing crowds of lay people watching with excitement.

  • The Temple courtyard was specially furnished to accommodate this event, and a balcony was erected for women so they could observe the revelry.

     

Though not explicitly mandated in the Torah, the water libation is part of the oral tradition passed down from Moses. For this reason, the Sadducees, who rejected the Oral Law, bitterly disputed the practice. Once the priest honoured to do the libation was sympathetic to the Sadducees and, instead of pouring the water into the hole in the altar, he spilled it on his own feet. The onlookers were horrified and pelted him with their etrogim. From that time on, whoever poured the water libation lifted the jug of water high in the air, so that all could see him perform the mitzvah properly.

The source for the above is the Talmud - Mas. Sukkah 51a-b (highlighted in red below) after the debate about using musical instruments on Shabbat on the preceding pages.

 

 

Talmud - Mas. Sukkah 50a

MISHNAH. THE FLUTE-PLAYING [TOOK PLACE] SOMETIMES [ON] FIVE DAYS AND SOMETIMES ON SIX. THIS REFERS TO THE FLUTE-PLAYING AT BETH HA-SHO'EBAH [THE PLACE OF THE WATER-DRAWING]15 WHICH OVERRIDES NEITHER THE SABBATH NOR ANY FESTIVAL DAY.16

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(15) [בית השואבה. The exact meaning of the term which also appears in the form שאובה (v. D.S. a.l.) is not clear. For a full discussion of the ceremony v. Feuchtwanger S., MGWJ. LIV-45]. For the details v. infra.

(16) Therefore when one of the Intermediate Days was a Sabbath it was performed on five days only.

Talmud - Mas. Sukkah 50b

GEMARA. It was stated, Rab Judah and R. Ina differ, one of them taught Sho'ebah1 and the other taught Hashubah.2 Mar Zutra observed, He who teaches, Sho'ebah is not in error, and he who teaches Hashubah is not in error. He who teaches Sho'ebah1 is not in error, since it is written, And ye shall draw water in joy,3 and he who teaches Hashubah is not in error, since R. Nahman stated, It is an important precept, dating from the very Creation.4

Our Rabbis taught, The flute-playing overrides the Sabbath; so R. Jose b. Judah; but the Sages ruled, It does not override even the Festival. R. Joseph explained, The dispute5 concerns only the song that accompanied the sacrifices,6 since R. Jose is of the opinion that the essential feature of the [Temple] music is the instrument, in consequence of which it is a Temple service which overrides the Sabbath, whereas the Rabbis are of the opinion that the essential feature of the [Temple] music is the vocal singing, in consequence of which the [playing of the instruments] is not a Temple service and does not, therefore, override the Sabbath; but with regard to the singing at the Festival of Water-Drawing, all agree that it is a mere expression of rejoicing and does not, therefore, override the Sabbath.

Whence, said R. Joseph, do I derive that the dispute concerns only that?7 From what has been taught, If vessels of ministry were made of wood, Rabbi declares them invalid and R. Jose b. Judah holds them to be valid.8 Now do they not differ on this principle, that he who declares them valid is of the opinion that the essential feature of the [Temple] music is the instrument9 and [its validity may, therefore,] be deduced from that of the reed-flute of Moses,10 while he who holds them to be invalid is of the opinion that the essential feature of the Temple music is the vocal singing11 and its validity, therefore, cannot be deduced from that of the reed-flute of Moses? — No; both of them may agree that the essential feature of the [Temple] music is the instrument, but in this case they differ on the question whether we may deduce what it is possible [to manufacture from another material] from that which it is impossible [to manufacture from another material].12 He who declares them valid is of the opinion that we do deduce that which it is possible [to manufacture from another material], from that which it is impossible [to manufacture from another material],13 whereas he who holds them to be invalid is of the opinion that we do not deduce the possible from the impossible.14 And if you wish you may say that all are in agreement that the essential feature of the [Temple] music is the vocal singing,15 and that16 we do not deduce the possible from the impossible,15 but in this case they differ on the question whether, in making the deduction concerning the candlestick,17 we apply the principle of ‘the general and the particular’ or the rule of ‘extension and limitation’.18 Rabbi applies the principle of ‘the general and the particular’ while R. Jose b. Judah applies the principle of ‘extension and limitation’. Rabbi applies the principle of the ‘general and particular’ [thus:] And thou shalt make a candlestick19 is a general statement, of pure gold19 is a particular, of beaten work shall the candlestick be made19 is again a general statement; [the instruction thus consists of] two general [statements] with a particular [statement between], in which case it includes only such things as are similar to the particular [statement],20 so that as the particular is specified to be of metal, so must all [vessels] be of metal. R. Jose b. Judah applies the principle of ‘extension and limitation’ [thus:] And thou shalt make a candlestick19 is an extension, of pure gold19 is a limitation, of beaten work shall the candlestick be made19 is again an extension. The text thus gives two extensions with a limitation between in which case it includes everything [and excludes but one thing]. What does it include? All materials, and what does it exclude? [Only]21 earthenware. R. Papa stated,

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(1) ‘Water-drawing’.
(2) ‘Important’. The phrase would thus mean ‘The Important Rejoicing of the Temple’. [This reading would support the variant hashe'ubah השאובה (v. n. 1) with which it could easily be confused].
(3) Isa. XII, 3.
(4) When, as stated supra 49a, the Pits were created to receive the libations.
(5) Between R. Jose and the Sages.
(6) When the libation of wine was offered in connection with the continual morning and evening offerings (cf. ‘Ar. 10a).
(7) Whether the vocal organs or the instruments are the essential features of the Temple music.
(8) Sot. 14b.
(9) And it may, therefore, be regarded as a Temple vessel.
(10) Which was made of wood (cf. ‘Ar.10b). Tradition dated this reedpipe from Moses. As that pipe was made of wood so may all musical instruments of the Temple be made of wood.
(11) So that the instrument cannot be regarded as one of the Temple vessels.
(12) It was impossible (as explained in ‘Ar. 10b) to make the best of pipes of anything but reeds. All other vessels, however, can be made from metal.
(13) Hence he allows all vessels to be made from wood as was the reed-pipe of Moses.
(14) Hence it is only the pipe, which
(as stated supra) cannot be satisfactorily made of other materials, that may be made of wood, but not any other vessels which can well be made of metal.
(15) No deduction, therefore, may be made from Moses’ reed-pipe.
(16) Even if it were to be insisted that the essential feature of the music was the instrument.
(17) Of the sanctuary, which is regarded as the prototype of all the other vessels.
(18) Two methods of homiletics, the former employed by R. Ishmael, the latter by R. Akiba. Cf. Sanh., Sonc. ed., vol I, p. 301, n. I.
(19) Ex. XXV, 31.
(20) Cf. P.B. p. 13.
(21) Since according to the principle of extension and limitation, only the most remote is excluded.

 

Talmud - Mas. Sukkah 51a

[This dispute1 is] on the same principle as the one between the following Tannas concerning which we have learnt,2 [The instrument players in the Temple] were the slaves of the priests; so R. Meir. R. Jose says, They were the families of Beth Ha-Pegarim, and Beth Zipporia who hailed from Emmaus3 and were married into the priestly stock.4 R. Hanina b. Antigonus says, They were Levites.5 Now do they6 not differ on the following principles: He who says that they were slaves is of the opinion that the essential feature of the [Temple] music was the vocal singing,7 while he who says that they were Levites holds the opinion that the essential feature of the [Temple] music was the instrument?8 — But do you understand this? What then is the opinion upheld by R. Jose? If he is of the opinion that the essential feature of the [Temple] music was the singing, then even slaves [should be allowed to play the instruments],9 and if he is of the opinion that the essential feature was the instrument, should not then only Levites [be allowed to play] but not Israelites?10 But the fact is that all agree that the essential feature of the [Temple] music was the vocal singing, but it is on this that they differ: One Master holds that the practice was as he stated11 while the other Master holds that the practice was as he stated.11 In what respect could this12 matter? — In respect of taking the fact that a man stood upon the platform13 as proof of honourable descent14 or [as proof that he is eligible for] tithes.15 He who says that they were slaves is of the opinion that the fact that [one's ancestor] stood upon the platform is proof neither of honourable descent nor that [he is eligible for] tithes;16 he who says that they were Israelites [of honourable family] is of the opinion that we accept the standing upon the platform as proof of honourable descent, but not [of eligibility for] tithes;17 while he who says that they were Levites is of the opinion that the standing upon the platform is accepted as proof in regard to both honourable descent and [eligibility for] tithes.18

R. Jeremiah b. Abba, however, maintains19 that the dispute20 concerns only the music21 at the Water-Drawing, since R. Jose b. Judah is of the opinion that even an added expression of Rejoicing22 overrides the Sabbath, while the Rabbis are of the opinion that an added expression of Rejoicing does not override [either] the Sabbath [or the Festival], but as regards the music which accompanied the sacrifices, all agree that it is [an integral part of] the Service and overrides the Sabbath.

An objection was raised:23 [It was taught,] The music which accompanied the Water-Drawing overrides the Sabbath. So R. Jose b. Judah. The Sages, however, rule that it does not override even the Festival. Is not this a refutation of R. Joseph?24 — It is indeed a refutation.

Can we also say that they25 dispute only concerning the music which accompanied the Water-Drawing, but that with regard to the music that accompanied the sacrifices all26 agree that it overrides the Sabbath, and this27 would, therefore, constitute a double refutation of R. Joseph?28 — [No.] R. Joseph could answer you, They dispute concerning the music that accompanied the Water-Drawing and the same applies also to [that which accompanied] the sacrifices, and the reason that they expressed their different views with regard to the Water-Drawing was in order to acquaint you with the extent of the view of R. Jose b. Judah, viz., that even the music of the Water-Drawing overrides [the Sabbath]. Was it not, however, stated, THIS REFERS TO THE FLUTE-PLAYING AT THE PLACE OF THE WATER-DRAWING, WHICH OVERRIDES NEITHER THE SABBATH NOR ANY FESTIVAL DAY, [from which we can infer that] this [playing] does not override the Sabbath, but the playing which accompanied the sacrifices does override [the Sabbath]?29 Now whose view is it? If you were to say that it is that of R. Jose b. Judah, did he not state that the playing which accompanies the Water-Drawing also overrides the Sabbath?30 Consequently it must be, [must it not,] the view of the Rabbis, and thus31 arises a double refutation of R. Joseph?32 It is indeed a refutation.

What is the reason of him who stated that the essential feature of the [Temple] music was the instrument? — Because it is written, And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt-offering upon the altar. And when the burnt-offering began, the song of the Lord began also, and the trumpets together with the instruments of David, King of Israel.33 What is the reason of him who stated that the essential feature of the Temple music was the vocal singing? — Because it is written, It came even to pass, when the trumpeters and the singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard.34 As to the other also,35 is it not written, ‘and Hezekiah commanded etc.’?36 — It is this that was meant: The song of the Lord began’ vocally ‘together with the instruments of David, King of Israel’, which were but to sweeten the voice. And as to the other one too,37 is it not written, ‘it came even to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one’?38 — It is this that was meant: ‘The singers’ performed in the same manner as ‘the trumpeters’. Just as the trumpeters [performed] with instruments, so did the singers [perform] with instruments.

MISHNAH. HE39 WHO HAS NOT SEEN THE REJOICING AT THE PLACE OF THE WATER-DRAWING HAS NEVER SEEN REJOICING IN HIS LIFE. AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE FIRST FESTIVAL DAY OF TABERNACLES THEY40 DESCENDED41 TO THE COURT OF THE WOMEN42 WHERE THEY HAD MADE A GREAT ENACTMENT.43 THERE WERE THERE GOLDEN CANDLESTICKS WITH FOUR GOLDEN BOWLS ON THE TOP OF EACH OF THEM AND FOUR LADDERS44 TO EACH, AND FOUR YOUTHS DRAWN FROM THE PRIESTLY STOCK IN WHOSE HANDS WERE HELD JARS OF OIL CONTAINING ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY LOG WHICH THEY POURED INTO THE BOWLS.45

FROM THE WORN-OUT DRAWERS AND GIRDLES OF THE PRIESTS THEY MADE WICKS AND WITH THEM THEY KINDLED THE LAMPS; AND46 THERE WAS NOT A COURTYARD IN JERUSALEM THAT WAS NOT ILLUMINED BY THE LIGHT OF THE PLACE OF THE WATER-DRAWING.

 

MEN OF PIETY AND GOOD DEEDS47 USED TO DANCE BEFORE THEM

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(1) Whether the vocal singing or the instrumental playing was the essential feature of the Temple service.
(2) Cur. edd. in parenthesis ‘it was taught’.
(3) Near Tiberias.
(4) Because they were Israelites of pure and honourable descent (cf. Kid. IV, 5).
(5) V. ‘Ar. 10a.
(6) The three Tannas just mentioned.
(7) As this was done by the Levites, slaves were allowed to play the instruments.
(8) Hence only the Levites were allowed to play it.
(9) Supra n. 5.
(10) Why then does he allow Israelites.
(11) Lit., ‘thus’.
(12) The type of the instrument players.
(13) Dukan, the platform upon which the Levites stood in the Temple during the singing of the Psalms (cf. ‘Ar. II, 6).
(14) Lit., ‘whether we raise one from the dukan to (an honourable) pedigree’. The Jews were proud of their lineage and investigated the descent of the women whom they wished to marry for four generations back. (V. Kid. IV, 4 and 5).
(15) I.e., that he is a Levite.
(16) Hence it is permitted even for slaves to take part.
(17) Honourable Israelites only were, therefore, allowed to participate.
(18) Levites only were, therefore, allowed to ascend the platform.
(19) Contrary to the view of R. Joseph supra 50b.
(20) Of R. Jose b. Judah and the Rabbis.
(21) Sc. the instrument playing.
(22) Even if it is not an integral part of the Service.
(23) To R. Joseph's view.
(24) Who stated that R. Jose agreed that the music at the Water-Drawing did not override the Sabbath.
(25) R. Jose and the Sages.
(26) Even the Sages.
(27) Since he submitted that the Sages hold that this music does not override the Sabbath.
(28) Both with regard to the Water-Drawing and the sacrifices. In the case of the former he maintained that R. Jose holds that it does not override the Sabbath, while here it is shown that according to R. Jose it does override it; while in the case of the latter he maintained that the Sages hold that it does not override the Sabbath, from here it might be inferred that according to their view it does.
(29) Apparently we can.
(30) While here it is stated that it does not override it.
(31) Since the Rabbis here admit that the music at the sacrifice overrides the Sabbath while R. Joseph maintained that according to their view it does not override it.
(32) V. p. 240, n. 11.
(33) II Chron. XXIX, 27. Thus the other instruments no less than the trumpets sounded at the time of sacrifice, make ‘the song of the Lord’; v. next note.
(34) II Chron, V, 13, where no instrumental music is mentioned. ‘The trumpeters’ refers not to the players of the instruments that accompanied the singing, but to those who sounded the trumpets at the time of sacrifice. Hence it was ‘the singers’ alone who made here the music (V. Rashi).
(35) Who holds that the vocal music was an essential feature of the Temple service.
(36) Which proves that the instruments were an essential.
(37) Who stated that the instruments were an essential feature.
(38) Which, as shown supra,implies that the music was only vocal.
(39) Separate edd. of the Mishnah read, ‘They said: He who’ etc.
(40) The priests and Levites.
(41) The fifteen steps (mentioned later in our Mishnah) that led from the Court of the Israelites.
(42) Cf. Mid. II, 5.
(43) The Gemara infra explains this.
(44) To ascend to the top, since they were fifty cubits high (v. infra).

(45) This is explained in the Gemara infra.
(46) Owing to the considerable height of the lamps (cf. prev. n.) and the high altitude of the Temple mount on which the court was situated.
(47) Or ‘miracle workers’, lit., ‘men of work’ (cf. Sot. IX, 15).

Talmud - Mas. Sukkah 51b

WITH LIGHTED TORCHES IN THEIR HANDS,1 AND SING SONGS AND PRAISES. AND LEVITES WITHOUT NUMBER WITH HARPS, LYRES, CYMBALS AND TRUMPETS AND OTHER MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS WERE THERE UPON THE FIFTEEN STEPS LEADING DOWN FROM THE COURT OF THE ISRAELITES TO THE COURT OF THE WOMEN, CORRESPONDING TO THE FIFTEEN SONGS OF ASCENTS2 IN THE PSALMS.3 IT WAS UPON THESE4 THAT THE LEVITES STOOD5 WITH THEIR INSTRUMENTS OF MUSIC AND SANG THEIR SONGS. TWO PRIESTS STOOD BY THE UPPER GATE WHICH LEADS DOWN FROM THE COURT OF THE ISRAELITES TO THE COURT OF THE WOMEN, WITH TWO TRUMPETS IN THEIR HANDS. WHEN THE COCK CROWED THEY SOUNDED A TEKI'AH [LONG DRAWN-OUT BLAST], A TERU'AH [TREMULOUS NOTE] AND AGAIN A TEKI'AH.6 WHEN THEY REACHED THE TENTH STEP THEY SOUNDED A TEKI'AH, A TERU'AH AND AGAIN A TEKI'AH. WHEN THEY REACHED THE COURT7 THEY SOUNDED A TEKI'AH, A TERU'AH AND AGAIN A TEKI'AH.8 AND WHEN THEY REACHED THE GROUND9 THEY SOUNDED A TEKI'AH, A TERU'AH, AND AGAIN A TEKI'AH.10 THEY PROCEEDED, SOUNDING THEIR TRUMPETS, UNTIL THEY REACHED THE GATE WHICH LEADS OUT TO THE EAST. WHEN THEY REACHED THE GATE WHICH LEADS OUT TO THE EAST, THEY TURNED THEIR FACES FROM EAST TO WEST11 AND PROCLAIMED, OUR FATHERS12 WHO WERE IN THIS PLACE [STOOD] WITH THEIR BACKS TOWARD THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD, AND THEIR FACES TOWARD THE EAST, AND THEY WORSHIPPED THE SUN TOWARD THE EAST,13 BUT AS FOR US, OUR EYES ARE TURNED TO THE LORD’. R. JUDAH STATED, THEY USED TO REPEAT [THE LAST WORDS] AND SAY ‘WE ARE THE LORD'S AND OUR EYES ARE TURNED TO THE LORD’.

GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught, He who has not witnessed the rejoicing at the place of the Water-Drawing has never seen rejoicing in his life. He who has not seen Jerusalem in her splendour, has never seen a desirable city in his life. He who has not seen the Temple in its full construction has never seen a glorious building in his life. Which Temple?14 — Abaye, or it might be said, R. Hisda, replied, The reference is to the building of Herod.15 Of what did he build it? — Rabbah16 replied, Of yellow and white marble. Some there are who say, With yellow, blue and white marble. The building rose in tiers17 in order to provide a hold for the plaster. He18 intended at first to overlay it with gold, but the Rabbis told him, Leave it alone for it is more beautiful as it is, since19 it has the appearance of the waves of the sea.

It has been taught, R. Judah stated, He who has not seen the double colonnade20 of Alexandria in Egypt21 has never seen the glory of Israel. It was said that it was like a huge basilica, one colonnade within the other, and it sometimes held22 twice the number of people that went forth from Egypt.23 There were in it seventy-one cathedras of gold, corresponding to the seventy-one members of the Great Sanhedrin,24 not one of them containing less than twenty-one25 talents of gold, and a wooden platform in the middle upon which the attendant of the Synagogue stood with a scarf in his hand. When the time came to answer Amen,26 he waved his scarf and all the congregation27 duly responded. They moreover did not occupy their seats promiscuously, but goldsmiths sat separately, silversmiths separately, blacksmiths separately, metalworkers separately and weavers separately, so that when a poor man entered the place he recognized the members of his craft and on applying28 to that quarter obtained a livelihood for himself and for the members of his family.29

Abaye stated, Alexander of Macedon30 slew them all. Why were they so punished? — Because they transgressed this verse: Ye shall henceforth return no more31 that way,32 and they did return. When he33 came and found them reading from The Book, ‘The Lord will bring a nation against thee from afar’,34 he remarked, ‘I35 should have brought my ships in a ten days’ journey, but as a strong wind arose the ships arrived in five days’! He, therefore,36 fell upon them and slew them.

AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE FIRST FESTIVAL DAY etc. What was the GREAT ENACTMENT? — R. Eleazar replied, As that of which we have learnt. Originally [the walls of the Court of the Women] were smooth,37 but [later the Court] was surrounded with a gallery, and it was enacted that the women should sit above and the men below.38

Our Rabbis have taught, Originally the women used to sit within [the Court of the Women] while the men were without, but as this caused levity, it was instituted that the women should sit without and the men within. As this, however, still led to levity, it was instituted that the women should sit above39 and the men below.

But how could they do so?40 Is it not written, All this [do I give thee] in writing as the Lord hath made me wise by His hand upon me?41 — Rab answered, They found a Scriptural verse and expounded it:

 

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(1) Throwing them up and catching them again, and performing this feat with four or eight torches throwing up and catching one after the other (Rashi).
(2) So with sep. edd. of the Mishnah. Cur. edd. omit ‘SONGS OF’ and insert ‘ASCENTS’ in parenthesis.
(3) Pss. CXX-CXXXIV.
(4) And not at the side of the altar where they performed at the time of the offering of the sacrifices.
(5) At the festivities of the Water-Drawing.
(6) This was a call to proceed to draw the water of libation from Siloam.
(7) Sc. the floor of the Court of the Women.
(8) The last sentence is deleted by Elijah Wilna.
(9) Elijah Wilna adds, ‘of the court’.
(10) Cur. edd. enclose the last sentence in parenthesis.
(11) Thus facing the Temple.
(12) In the days of the first Temple.
(13) Cf. Ezek. VIII, 16.
(14) Lit., ‘what is it (to which the reference is made)’. There were the Temples of Solomon, Nehemiah and Herod.
(15) Herod rebuilt the Temple. For a full description cf. Josephus, Ant. XV, 11 v. also B.B. 4a.
(16) Cur. edd. in parenthesis, ‘Raba’.
(17) Lit., ‘he brought out an edge and brought in an edge’.
(18) Herod.
(19) On account of the variegated hues of the marble.
(20) ** i.e., the basilica-synagogue.
(21) From the foundation of the city by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.E., the Jews formed an important section of the population with their own places of worship and other rights and privileges.
(22) Cur. edd. in parenthesis, ‘600,000 X 600,000’.
(23) I.e., 1,200,000.
(24) Bah read ‘elders’ for ‘members of... Sanhedrin’.
(25) The reading ‘twenty-one myriads’ of cur. edd. is deleted by Elijah Wilna.
(26) When e.g., the Reader concluded a benediction.
(27) To whom owing to the huge size of the Synagogue, the reader's voice was inaudible.
(28) For employment.
(29) [Whether this is to be identified with the beautiful Synagogue mentioned by Philo is not certain. Krauss S., Synagogale Altertumer, p. 261ff argues that this basilica was no Synagogue but a trading mart where the Jews would also hold services.]
(30) Var. lec., Trajan (Elijah Wilna). [Trajan is the name given in J. Suk. V, I, and the reference is to the massacre of the Jews in Alexandria under Trajan in 116 recorded by Eusebius. V. Derenbourg, Essai, p. 410ff and Graetz, Geschichte IV, p. 117ff.]
(31) Sc. to Egypt.
(32) Deut. XVII, 16.
(33) The tyrant.
(34) Ibid. XXVIII, 49.
(35) Lit., ‘that man’.
(36) Finding in the Scriptural verse and in the kindness of the elements that his expedition was providential.
(37) [So Rashi on basis of reading חלקה; var. lec. חלוקה ‘(the floor spacing) was divided (into two sections)’. V. D.S.].
(38) Cf. Mid. II, 5.
(39) On the gallery.
(40) Alter the original structure of the Temple.
(41) I Chron. XXVIII, 19, referring to the construction of the First Temple.

 

Having seen that Bar Kochba chose symbols linked to Succot and to the Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah, the next question to ask is: why did he choose these? A possible answer can be found in Zecharia Chapter 14, which deals with the coming of the Messiah. Verse 16 (highlighted in red below) suggests that he will be recognised by the world on Succot. And it should be remembered that Rabbi Akiva was the rebbe of bar Kochba and believed for a time that he might be the Messiah.

 

זְכַרְיָה Zechariah Chapter 14

ז  וְהָיָה יוֹם-אֶחָד, הוּא יִוָּדַע לַיהוָה--לֹא-יוֹם וְלֹא-לָיְלָה; וְהָיָה לְעֵת-עֶרֶב, יִהְיֶה-אוֹר.

7 And there shall be one day which shall be known as the LORD'S, not day, and not night; but it shall come to pass, that at evening time there shall be light.

ח  וְהָיָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, יֵצְאוּ מַיִם-חַיִּים מִירוּשָׁלִַם, חֶצְיָם אֶל-הַיָּם הַקַּדְמוֹנִי, וְחֶצְיָם אֶל-הַיָּם הָאַחֲרוֹן:  בַּקַּיִץ וּבָחֹרֶף, יִהְיֶה.

8 And it shall come to pass in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem: half of them toward the eastern sea, and half of them toward the western sea; in summer and in winter shall it be.

 

ט  וְהָיָה יְהוָה לְמֶלֶךְ, עַל-כָּל-הָאָרֶץ; בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, יִהְיֶה יְהוָה אֶחָד--וּשְׁמוֹ אֶחָד.

9 And the LORD shall be King over all the earth; in that day shall the LORD be One, and His name one.

י  יִסּוֹב כָּל-הָאָרֶץ כָּעֲרָבָה מִגֶּבַע לְרִמּוֹן, נֶגֶב יְרוּשָׁלִָם; וְרָאֲמָה וְיָשְׁבָה תַחְתֶּיהָ לְמִשַּׁעַר בִּנְיָמִן, עַד-מְקוֹם שַׁעַר הָרִאשׁוֹן עַד-שַׁעַר הַפִּנִּים, וּמִגְדַּל חֲנַנְאֵל, עַד יִקְבֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ.

10 All the land shall be turned as the Arabah, from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; and she shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananel unto the king's winepresses.

יא  וְיָשְׁבוּ בָהּ, וְחֵרֶם לֹא יִהְיֶה-עוֹד; וְיָשְׁבָה יְרוּשָׁלִַם, לָבֶטַח.  {ס}

11 And men shall dwell therein, and there shall be no more extermination; but Jerusalem shall dwell safely. {S}

יב  וְזֹאת תִּהְיֶה הַמַּגֵּפָה, אֲשֶׁר יִגֹּף יְהוָה אֶת-כָּל-הָעַמִּים, אֲשֶׁר צָבְאוּ, עַל-יְרוּשָׁלִָם; הָמֵק בְּשָׂרוֹ, וְהוּא עֹמֵד עַל-רַגְלָיו, וְעֵינָיו תִּמַּקְנָה בְחֹרֵיהֶן, וּלְשׁוֹנוֹ תִּמַּק בְּפִיהֶם.

12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the peoples that have warred against Jerusalem: their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their sockets, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.

יג  וְהָיָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, תִּהְיֶה מְהוּמַת-יְהוָה רַבָּה בָּהֶם; וְהֶחֱזִיקוּ, אִישׁ יַד רֵעֵהוּ, וְעָלְתָה יָדוֹ, עַל-יַד רֵעֵהוּ.

13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.

יד  וְגַם-יְהוּדָה--תִּלָּחֵם, בִּירוּשָׁלִָם; וְאֻסַּף חֵיל כָּל-הַגּוֹיִם סָבִיב, זָהָב וָכֶסֶף וּבְגָדִים--לָרֹב מְאֹד.

14 And Judah also shall fight against Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the nations round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance.

טו  וְכֵן תִּהְיֶה מַגֵּפַת הַסּוּס, הַפֶּרֶד הַגָּמָל וְהַחֲמוֹר, וְכָל-הַבְּהֵמָה, אֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה בַּמַּחֲנוֹת הָהֵמָּה--כַּמַּגֵּפָה, הַזֹּאת.

15 And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in those camps, as this plague.

טז  וְהָיָה, כָּל-הַנּוֹתָר מִכָּל-הַגּוֹיִם, הַבָּאִים, עַל-יְרוּשָׁלִָם; וְעָלוּ מִדֵּי שָׁנָה בְשָׁנָה, לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֺת לְמֶלֶךְ יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת, וְלָחֹג, אֶת-חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת.

16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.

יז  וְהָיָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יַעֲלֶה מֵאֵת מִשְׁפְּחוֹת הָאָרֶץ, אֶל-יְרוּשָׁלִַם, לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֺת, לְמֶלֶךְ יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת--וְלֹא עֲלֵיהֶם, יִהְיֶה הַגָּשֶׁם.

17 And it shall be, that whoso of the families of the earth goeth not up unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, upon them there shall be no rain.

יח  וְאִם-מִשְׁפַּחַת מִצְרַיִם לֹא-תַעֲלֶה וְלֹא בָאָה, וְלֹא עֲלֵיהֶם; תִּהְיֶה הַמַּגֵּפָה, אֲשֶׁר יִגֹּף יְהוָה אֶת-הַגּוֹיִם, אֲשֶׁר לֹא יַעֲלוּ, לָחֹג אֶת-חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת.

18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, they shall have no overflow; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the nations that go not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.

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