SUKKOT – Yeshua and the Festival of Lights

We are reposting this article by James Trimm about the connection between Sukkot and Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights.

Originally posted at: SUKKOT: Yeshua and the Festival of Lights

by James Scott Trimm

From the Hebraic Roots Commentary to Yochanan (John)

8:12 I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will find for himself the light of life.

The occasion was Sukkot (see Jn. 7:1). Sukkot was known as the “Festival of Light”. The entire city of Jerusalem was filled with light from giant 75 feet tall menorahs. (m.Sukkah 5:2–4; b.Sukkah 52b). With this backdrop Yeshua makes this beautiful proclamation.

Yeshua’s statement here may be aimed as Essenes because it draws from the language of certain of the Dead Sea Scrolls which read:

…Thus will grow and understand and be glad in the light of the world; you will not be a disowned vessel…
(The Words of Levi 4Q541; Frag. 24 line 7)

For only through the spirit pervading God’s true society can there be atonement for a man’s ways, all of his iniquities; thus only can he gaze upon the light of life and be joined to His truth by His holy spirit, purified through all iniquity. …

He created humankind to rule over the world, appointing for them two spirits in which to walk until the time ordained for His visitation. these are the spirits of truth and falsehood. Upright character and fate originate with the Habitation of Light; perverse, with the Fountain of Darkness. The authority of the Prince of Light extends to the governance of all righteous people; therefore, they walk in paths of light. Correspondingly the authority of the Angel of Darkness embraces the governance of all wicked people, so they walk in the paths of darkness. (Manual of Discipline 1QS col. 3, 6-7; 17-21)

This is a reference to Isaiah 8:20-9:2:

To the Torah and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them…

…the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…

For a deeper understanding of this passage in relation to Yeshua see comments to Matthew 4:14-16. For more comments on “light” see comments to Jn. 1:4

There is a spiritual battle taking place between light and darkness. Paul writes:

…what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Messiah with Belial…
(2Cor. 6:14b-15a)

Throughout the New Testament there are extended metaphores revolving around light and darkness. Believers are called “sons of light” (Lk. 16:8; Jn. 12:36; Eph. 5:8; 1Thes. 5:5 see comments to Jn. 12:36). The full armor of Elohim is also called the “armor of light” (Rom. 13:12). The New Testament speaks of those “who walk in darkness” (Jn. 8:12; 12:35; 1Jn. 1:6; 2:11).

But what does this idiomatic use of the terms light and darkness mean? For the answer let us turn to the Tanak:

For the commandment is a lamp; and the Torah is light… (Prov. 6:23)

Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

To the Torah and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20)

…for a Torah shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people. (Isaiah 51:4)

So according to the Tanak the Torah is a light for our paths. Those that walk in the Torah walk in the light. This is why the New Testament speaks of those who walk in darkness (Jn. 8:12; 12:35; 1Jn. 1:6; 2:11). These are those who do not walk by the light of Torah. Of these John writes:

And if we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we are liars and we do not walk in truth. (1Jn. 1:6)

Notice that John equates “walking in truth” with walking in the light. As we noted previously “the Torah is truth” (Ps. 119:142) thus if “walking in the light” means “walking in truth” then both phrases refer to walking in the Torah. This takes us back to our passages from the Tanak given above. John also confirms this by writing the parallel statements:

…walking in truth. …walk according to his commandments. (2Jn. 1:4, 6)

As we have noted Paul also calls the armor of Elohim the “armor of light” (Rom. 13:12). According to Paul we are involved in a spiritual battle with “the rulers of the darkness of this world.” (Eph. 6:12) and thus he instructs us to put on this “armor of light” (see comments to Eph. 6:13 & Rom. 13:12)

Nazarene Judaism
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053

Blog post Comments:


I thought John 8:12 was in reference to Channukah, the Festival of Lights.

Comment by James Trimm on September 22, 2010 at 11:21am

Sukkot was the original Festival of Lights. The first Channukah was a belated Sukkot observance (2Macc. 10:1-9) which is how Channukah also became a festival of lights.

The occasion here is introduced at 7:2 as being Sukkot and 7:37 specifies the Last Day.

While 8:2 implies that it was the next day, we know that 7:53-8:11 do not actually belong in that location (see note on this in the HRV) 8:12 then takes place at Sukkot.

There may be some questions here. For example is 7:37 referring to the seventh day of Sukkot or to the eighth great day (which is appended to the seven) The water libation ceremony implies that the Last Day was the eighth day. In this case the Sukkot lights were probably still lit that evening because of Simchat Torah.

Channukah does not start until John 10:22.

Comment by לגשר on September 22, 2010 at 12:05pm

Than you so much.

Comment by לגשר on September 22, 2010 at 1:15pm

Wasn’t the water libation ceremony done every day, not just on the eighth day?

Comment by James Trimm on September 22, 2010 at 1:45pm

Correct, I mean to say that it was still Sukkot and not Simchat Torah.

Comment by לגשר on September 22, 2010 at 9:04pm

If Yeshua stood in the Temple in the early evening of the end of the 7th day declaring John 8:2, then, the beginning of the 8th day (actually evening), could have been the “next day” spoken of in John 7:53. This would make it the Last Great Day when he spoke John 8:12.


Print pagePDF page