Shemini Atzeret

Shemini Atzeret
Rabbi Robert. O. Miller

Immediately following the last and 7th day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah, is Shemini Atzeret (the Eighth Day of Assembly). Shemini Atzeret along with Simchat Torah is celebrated together on 22nd Tishri. As it is written, “On the eighth day hold an assembly and do no regular work..” (Numbers 29:35)

The Sages interpreted this verse to mean that Yahweh asks all who made the pilgrimage of Sukkot to “tarry” based on the word “atzeret”, which comes from the Hebrew root word “atsar” meaning “to stay”. Shemini Atzeret speaks of Yahweh asking for us to spend one more day with Him.

The Targum Yonatan paraphrases Numbers 29:35as “On the eighth day move from your sukkot to your homes so there is rejoicing.”  On Sukkot you have been encompassed by the presence of Yahweh for seven days. By Shemini Atzeret the presence is absorbed in your soul. This is the reason that moving from the sukkah back to the house, from a temporary dwelling to a permanent one, arouses joy. The move signifies that all the spiritual revelations you received on Sukkot has been permanently absorbed into your life.

To fully understand Shemini Atzeret, we must revisit the other pilgrimage festivals. Passover (Pesach) and the Seven Days of Unleavened Bread are followed by a 49-day period of Counting the Omer, which climaxes with the fiftieth day of Shavuot (Pentecost). Thus, the personal salvation and liberation of Passover is linked with the revelation and giving of the Torah at Mount Horeb at Shavuot and the ultimate descending of the Spirit. If we look at the festival cycle, Shemini Atzeret is similar to Shavuot, which is understood to be the conclusion or atzeret to Passover. Just like Shavuot, a one-day festival, is the conclusion to Pesach, a seven-day festival, so Shemini Atzeret, a one-day festival, is the conclusion to Sukkot, a seven-day festival.

Therefore, we see that Shemini Atzeret is the eighth day — that is the day after “seven.” Seven, being a perfect number in the Holy Scriptures, signifies a complete unit of time as each week ends with the seventh day called the Shabbat (Sabbath). Thus, the eighth day is the day after time. It is the end of both kinds of time. It is thus not just the promise of redemption, but the actual moment of it. Yahweh said, “Remain (atzeret) with Me an extra day,” in a time beyond time.

“You may compare it to a king who had a festival for seven days and invited all the nations of the world to the seven days of feasting. When the seven days were over and the guests had gone, he said to his lover (Israel), ‘Let us now have an intimate meal together, just you and I.’” (Bamidbar Rabbah 21, Sukkah 55b)
King Messiah YahShua and Shemini Atzeret

Rebbe YahShua was born in Bethlehem on the 1st day of the Festival of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles).  On 22nd Tishri, known as Shemini Atzeret or the “Eighth day,” Rebbe YahShua was circumcised as was commanded by Torah. “Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites: “A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised.”’ (Leviticus 12:1-3).” On Shemini Atzeret King Messiah YahShua took the sign of Covenant upon His body. “You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. (Genesis 17:11)”

 “On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named YahShua, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. (Luke 2:21)”

From then on, Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret had special meaning to Rebbe YahShua.

In John 7:37 we read, “In the last day, that great day of the Feast [of Sukkot]….” the day known as Hoshana Rabbah, during the water libation ceremony, “Rebbe YahShua stood (in the Temple Courts) and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, asthe Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Rebbe YahShua had not yet been glorified. On hearing his words, some of the people said, ‘Surely this man is the Prophet.’ (John 7:37-40)”

Then the next day, the day called Shemini Atzeret which in ancient times was also called Simchat Torah, the rejoicing in the Torah.

Shemini Atzeret  and a Prayer for Rain

                During the liturgy of Shemini Atzeret we insert  the “Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGeshem” into the “Amida” blessing that extols Yahweh’s Might as the Healer, the One Who gives life and takes it, and Who does not forget those who have died, and Who ultimately will bring about the resurrection of the dead.

“You are eternally mighty, my Adonai, the Resurrector of the dead are You; abundantly able to save, Who makes the wind blow and makes the rain descend; Who sustains the living with kindness, resurrects the dead with abundant mercy, supports the fallen, heals the sick, releases the confined, and maintains His faith to those asleep in the dust. Who is like You, O Master of mighty deeds, and who is comparable to You, O King Who causes death and restores life and makes salvation sprout! And You are faithful to resurrects the dead. Blessed are You, Yahweh, Who resurrects the dead.”

“He causes the wind to blow and the rain to descend.” This can be connected to the coming of Moshiach (Messiah).  Remember what Messiah YahShua said, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. ( John 3:8)”

The phrase “he causes the wind (ruach) to blow” uses the same word as the verse “The spirit (ruach) of Elohim hovered on the surface of the waters,” and our Sages say “This is the spirit of King Moshiach.”  “He is the image of the invisible Elohim, the firstborn over all creation. For through Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Colossians 1:15-17)”

When someone surrenders their life to the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Yahweh and makes King Messiah YahShua their sovereign so that they may have Him as Savior, he fulfills Passover (Pesach) in their lives. “…Messiah, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7, 8)”

We apply the precious blood of the Lamb to the doorpost of our hearts.  “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Messiah, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. (1 Peter 1:18-20)” This liberates us from the power of Death, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? (Hosea 13:14)“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is revealed to us in the Torah. Baruch HaShem Yahweh! He gives us the victory through our King Messiah YahShua. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)”

We escape the land of oppression (Egypt – Mitzrayim) committed to a life of victorious holiness. “Yahweh, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Messiah …and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Messiah YahShua,that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Messiah YahShua.For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of Yahweh,not of works, lest anyone should boast.For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah YahShua for good works, which Yahweh prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:4-10)”

We then can be immersed (mikveh) in the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) and have the power of Yahweh (the anointing) in our lives moving us from the individual into the corporate. “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Messiah. For by one Spirit we were all immersed into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink intoone Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)”

When we reach this point, we spiritually have experienced the spring harvest of Yahweh in our lives.

Yahweh will begin to take us on a spiritual journey of sanctification through the wilderness of preparation. Spiritually, we will begin to experience the dry summer heat of life’s bitter disappointments and struggles, if we keep our eyes upon Yahweh, He will refine our faith and reveal Himself to us in a greater way, then our spiritual journey will not end in the wilderness. Instead Yahweh will take us forward to spiritually experience the autumn festivals and our spiritual inheritance.

This time is signaled by the blasting of trumpets. “[Yahweh] chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved…Elohim has ascended amid shouts of joy, Yahweh amid the sounding of trumpets. Sing praises to Elohim, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. (Psalm 47:4-6)”

Messiah YahShua is now acting as our Advocate in the Court of Yahweh accomplishing corporate atonement for the whole Commonwealth of Israel. “Even now my witness is in Heaven; my Advocate is on high. (Job 16:19)”

“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Messiah Yahshua the righteous. (1 John 2:1)”

 Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah speaks of us entering into our spiritual cohabitation with the divine.

“Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am Yahweh your Elohim, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed. (Sukkot – intimate dwelling)

And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. (Shemini Atzeret) Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. (Joel 2:27-29)”

“He causes the rain, ‘geshem’ ,  to descend” means that the coming of Moshiach actually occurs, in the physical world (gashmiut – related to geshem).  Not only “the spirit of Moshiach,” but He is physically returning literally. “See, the King is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Jude 1:14, 15)”

He will literally set up His government. “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of Yahweh and of Messiah and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)”

And after the thousand year probation is over we will be sealed to Yahweh for eternity. “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from Yahweh, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of Yahweh is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and Yahweh himself will be with them and be their Elohim. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ (Revelation 21:2-4)”

What is the seal of Yahweh?  “Now it is Yahweh who makes both us and you stand firm in Messiah. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2Cor. 1:21,22)”

“…you also were included in Messiah when you heard the word of truth, the Full Messianic Message of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are Yahweh’s possession (Eph. 1:13,14).”

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of Yahweh, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Messiah Yahweh forgave you. Be imitators of Yahweh, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Messiah loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to Yahweh. (Eph. 4:29-5:1)”

Yahweh’s seal of ownership, His sign of affirmation is the Holy Spirit. It is the sign or deposit “guaranteeing our inheritance” or salvation until “the day of redemption.”

Rabbi Sha’ul asks the Believers “. . . Have ye received the Holy Spirit since ye believed? . . . (Acts 19:2).” 

“On the land of my people will come up thorns and briers, yes, on all the happy homes in the joyous city; because the palaces will be forsaken, the bustling city will be deserted. The forts and towers will become lairs forever, a joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.  The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places, when hail comes down on the forest, and the city is brought low in humiliation.  Blessed are you who sow beside all waters, who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey. (Isaiah 32:13-20)”

Once the Spirit is poured out on you, THEN justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.  THEN judgment will be in the “wilderness” (symbolic of the world).  “Righteousness will remain the fruitful field” until it becomes a forest (symbolic of the Commonwealth of Israel).  The effect of this righteousness will be the quiet assurance of forever.  “The work of the Righteous will be peace.” Yahweh’s people will dwell in the “peaceful habitation.”

“He who dwells in the secret place of El Elyon (the Most High) shall abide under the shadow of El Shaddai (the Almighty). I will say of Yahweh, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my Elohim, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowlerand from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. (Psalm 91:1-8)”

“Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of Yahweh which is in Messiah YahShua our King. (Romans 8:35-39)”

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation. (Psalm 91:14-16)”

Tishri is the 7th Hebrew Month, the Sabbath Month, King Messiah YahShua is the “Lord Of The Sabbath” born during the Sabbath Month.  He came the first time in the Sabbath Month, he’s coming again to bring the Sabbath Millennium or Messianic Age! “He which testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I come quickly. Amein. Even so, come, King YahShua.” Revelation 22:20

Originally written by Rabbi Robert O. Miller on Oct. 14th 2008
(Robert Owen Miller 1957-2021)

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