The Festival of the Water Libation
One of the main aspects of the holiday of Sukkot (Tabernacles) is the Biblical commandment, “And you shall be glad on your holiday, and you shall be only joyful” (Deut. 16:14). Indeed, the pilgrims who arrived in Jerusalem at the Temple’s courtyard came to rejoice. The focus of this rejoicing was the ceremony surrounding the commandment to pour water on the altar – the water libation. During this event, which mainly took place in the Women’s Court, the levites and played on many musical instruments.
The sages of Israel testify to the celebrations of the water libation from the days of the Second Temple, describing the great joy of the ceremony:
“Whoever has not seen the celebration of the water libation has never experienced the feeling of true joy – great lamps of gold were hoisted, with four golden bowls at the top of each lamp. Four young priests-in-training would climb to the top, carrying immense oil jugs with which they would fill the bowls. Once lighted, there was not a courtyard in all of Jerusalem that did not glow with the light that emanated from the celebration in the Temple courtyard.
As the people sang, the righteous and pious men would dance before them while juggling flaming torches. The levites, standing on the fifteen steps that descend from the Court of Israel to the Women’s Court, played on lyres, harps, trumpets and many other instruments. Two priests who blew silver trumpets stood at the top of the stairs on either side of the entrance to the great gate of the Court.
All this was done to honor the commandment of the water libation.”
(based on Mishna, Tractate Sukkah, Chapter 5)
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Devarim – Deuteronom y – Chapter 16 (13-15)
|13You shall make yourself the Festival of Sukkoth for seven days, when you gather in [the produce] from your threshing floor and your vat.||יגחַ֧ג הַסֻּכֹּ֛ת תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה לְךָ֖ שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֑ים בְּאָ֨סְפְּךָ֔ מִגָּרְנְךָ֖ וּמִיִּקְבֶֽךָ:|
|14And you shall rejoice in your Festival-you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levite, and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow, who are within your cities.||ידוְשָֽׂמַחְתָּ֖ בְּחַגֶּ֑ךָ אַתָּ֨ה וּבִנְךָ֤ וּבִתֶּ֨ךָ֙ וְעַבְדְּךָ֣ וַֽאֲמָתֶ֔ךָ וְהַלֵּוִ֗י וְהַגֵּ֛ר וְהַיָּת֥וֹם וְהָֽאַלְמָנָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר בִּשְׁעָרֶֽיךָ:|
|15Seven days you shall celebrate the Festival to the Lord, your God, in the place which the Lord shall choose, because the Lord, your God, will bless you in all your produce, and in all the work of your hands, and you will only be happy.||טושִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֗ים תָּחֹג֙ לַֽיהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ בַּמָּק֖וֹם אֲשֶׁר־יִבְחַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֑ה כִּ֣י יְבָֽרֶכְךָ֞ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֗יךָ בְּכֹ֤ל תְּבוּאָֽתְךָ֙ וּבְכֹל֙ מַֽעֲשֵׂ֣ה יָדֶ֔יךָ וְהָיִ֖יתָ אַ֥ךְ שָׂמֵֽחַ:|
Celebraras las fiesta de la cabañas (Sucot) durante siete días, una vez recogido el producto de tu era y de tu lagar.(14) Te regocijarás en la celebración tú, con tu hijo, tu hija, tu siervo, tu sierva, el levita, el forastero, el huérfano y la viuda que mora contigo. (15) Durante siete días harás la celebración al Eterno tu Dios en el lugar que Él escogerá porque el Eterno te bendecirá en todo cuanto hagas con tus manos.