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Tabernacles, Feast Of

TABERNACLES, FEAST OF, the autumn festival of the Israelites, beginning on the 15th of Tishri and celebrated by residing for the seven succeeding days in rustic booths (Heb. Sukkoth, in the Vulgate Tabernacula, whence the English name of the feast). Among the Hebrews it was the third and chief of the three annual pilgrimage festivals connected respectively with the harvesting of the barley (Passover), of wheat (Pentecost), and of the vine (Tabernacles). Hence it is referred to as " the Feast " par excellence (Heb. Hehag, cf. Arab. Hajj) even as late as 2 Chron. vii. 9. Being of the nature of a pilgrimage feast the booths were temporary erections for the accommodation of the pilgrims. But in early Jewish tradition, in both Yahvist and Elohist sources of the Pentateuch (Exod. xxxiv. 22, xxiii. 16) it is called simply the Harvest Feast (A.V. " Feast of Ingathering ") and is to be observed " at the end of the year," i.e. of the agricultural year. In Deut. xvi. 13 seq., it is termed the Feast of Tabernacles and is to be kept seven days after the produce of the threshing-floor and winepress has been gathered in. In the Holiness Code (Lev. xxiii. 39) it is to be kept for seven days after the first, the first of which is to be " a sabbath," and the eighth " a sabbath " (possibly originally a lunar quarterday): branches of four trees are to be taken. In the Priestly Code (Lev. xxiii. 33 seq.; Num. xxix. 12-38) the first and eighth day are to be days of holy assembly, and in the latter passage elaborate details are given of the sacrifices to be presented, including a series of bullocks, thirteen on the first day, twelve on the next, and so on down to seven on the seventh day. Only one is to be sacrificed on the concluding feast (Heb. %.$ereth) of the eighth day.

The higher criticism sees, in these successive enactments of the various codes included in the Pentateuch (q.v.), a development in the character of the festival. At first held at any of the local shrines, such as Gilgal, Bethel, Shiloh, as well as Jerusalem, it was held at an indefinite date during the harvest in the fall of the year. Then with the concentration of the cultus at Jerusalem represented by Deuteronomy, the celebration was restricted to the Judean capital, and its duration fixed at seven days, though its date was still left indeterminate. This was fixed in the Priestly Code at the 15th of the seventh month, and an eighth day of solemn assembly added after the return from the exile.

Against this hypothetical reconstruction is the fact that Solomon appears to have selected the occasion of the feast for the dedication of the temple, and that it lasted, even in his time, seven days (i Kings viii. 2, 65). Jeroboam arranged for a similar feast in the northern kingdom on the isth day of the eighth month, " like unto the feast in Judah" (ibid. xii. 32). The determination of a fixed date must therefore have been much earlier than Deuteronomy or the alleged period of the Priestly Code. A pilgrimage feast must be fixed in date to ensure the simultaneous presence of the pilgrims. There are, besides, seeming references to the feast in the early prophets, as Hosea xii. 9, Amos v. 21, as well as in Isaiah ix. 2 (Heb.). The concluding feast does not seem to refer to tabernacle* per se, but to be distinct from it, as is shown by the break in the descending series of the sacrifices of bullocks as given in Numbers. In Jewish practice the concluding feast is not held in booths, and Maimonides (Moreh, iii. 42) suggests that its object was to give opportunity for final proceedings in assembly halls.

The existence, therefore, of much variation in the practice of the festival in historic times is scarcely proved by the seeming variations of the enactments concerning it in the Pentateuch. It is possible, however, that there may have been differences of custom in the carrying out of the feast. In Neh. xiii. 15 the trees whose branches were used for making the booths appear to differ from those mentioned in Lev. xxiii. 40, though in Jewish tradition the latter passage was taken to refer to the Lulab, or a combination of twigs of willow and myrtle, with a palm branch, which, together with a citron, are held in the hand during processions in the synagogue. The Sadducees and Karaites did not carry these in their hand, but used them as decorations of the booths. In the second temple there was a water libation every morning of the festival, and on the evening of the first day the great golden candelabrum was lit up and the men danced a torch dance around it (Mishnah, Sukkah, v. 2-4). It is reported by Josephus that, when Alexander Jannaeus, in the year 95 B.C., was acting as high-priest in the temple on the Feast of Tabernacles, instead of pouring the water libation on the altar, according to the Pharisaic custom, he poured it at his feet, giving rise to a riot in which 6000 men are said to have lost their lives (Ant. xii., xiii., 5; Talmud, Sukkah, 48 b).

The festival is certainly an agricultural one, and is so termed in the Pentateuch. Whether it was derived from the Canaanites, who had similar festivals (Judges xxix. 27), is uncertain. All nations have similar harvest homes, especially with reference to the vintage feasts; as, for instance, the Athenian Oschophoria. The Syrians celebrated every three years a " Booth Festival." At the Hindu Festival of Dasara, which lasted nine days from the new Moon of October, tents made of canvas or booths made of branches were erected in front of the temples. The Spartans had a nine days' festival termed Carnea, during which they dwelt in pavilions and tents in memory of their old camp life (Athenaeus, iv. 19). The Feast of Tabernacles is one of the few Jewish festivals described in classical writers. Plutarch (Symposium iv., vi. 2) compares Tabernacles with the Bacchic rites. It was pre-eminently the period of exultation in ancient Jewish rite, and the Mishnah declares that " He who has not seen the joy of the libations of Tabernacles has never in bis life witnessed joy." So much importance was attributed to this festival that it was chosen as the occasion on which the Law should be recited during the sabbatical year (Deut. xxxi. 9-12), and the Messianic vision of Zecbariah xiv. 16 sees the remnant of all the nations coming up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

In later Jewish custom the one-year cycle of reading of sections from the Pentateuch ends on the concluding day of Tabernacles, which is therefore known as the Rejoicing of the Law (Simhat Torah). The custom of dwelling, for part of the day at least, in booths, is still kept up by orthodox Jews, who have temporary huts covered with branches erected in their courtyards, and those who are not in possession of a house with a backyard often go to pathetic extremes in order to fulfil the law by making holes in roofs, across which branches are placed. (J. JA.)

TABLE (Lat. tabula), a flat, oblong slab supported upon legs or pillars; originally anything flat. 1 As one of the few indispensable pieces of domestic furniture, the table is of great antiquity. It was known, in a small and rudimentary form, to the Egyptians, who used wood for its construction; the Assyrians certainly employed metal and possibly other materials in its manufacture. Grecian tables were also often of metal, with three or four legs and of considerable variety of form; they were small and low. By Roman times the table had apparently become somewhat more common. The favourite form was the tripod, but one and four legs were also used. Already the shape varied considerably, and in addition to wood, there were tables of marble, ivory, bronze and the precious metals. The more costly examples were carved, inlaid or otherwise ornamented; cedar and the finely marked or grained woods generally were much sought after. As in Greece the tables were low; they were intended for reclining, rather than sitting; their legs were those of wild beasts, or were formed of sphinxes, termini and other figures. Some of those which remain are of extreme grace and most delicate workmanship; to them the Empire style is enormously indebted. In antiquity tables of any kind can only have been the appanage of the rich. In the early middle ages, although there was variety of form the circular, semicircular, oval and oblong were all in use tables appear, save in rare instances, to have been portable and supported upon trestles fixed or folding, which were cleared out of the way at the end of a meal. The custom of serving dinner at several small tables, which is often supposed to be a very modern refinement, was certainly followed in the French chateaux, and probably also in the English castles, as early as the 13th century. For persons of high degree, fixed tables were reserved. Even at a period when domestic furniture was of a very primitive character and few modern conveniences had been evolved, costly tables were by no means unknown some dim traditions of Rome's refinements must necessarily have filtered through the centuries. Thus Charlemagne possessed three tables of silver and one of gold no doubt they were of wood covered with plates of the precious metals. Before the 16th century the number of tables properly so called was small; hence very few of earlier date than the middle of that century have come down to us. In the chapter-house of Salisbury cathedral is a restored 13th-century example which stands practically alone. In point of age it is most nearly approached by the famous pair of trestle tables in the great hall at Penshurst.

When the table became a fixed and permanent piece of furniture the word " board, " which had long connoted it, fell into disuse save in an allusive sense, and its place was taken by such phrases as " joyned table " and " framed table " that is, jointed or framed together by a joiner; sometimes people spoke of a " standing " or " dormant " table. They were most frequently oblong, some two feet or two feet six inches wide, and the guests sat with their backs to the wall, the other side of the table being left free for service. Sometimes they were used as side-tables, or furnished with a cupboard beneath the board; they were supported on quadrangular legs or massive ends and feet full of Gothic feeling, and were several inches higher than the dining-table of the 20th century. Heavy stretchers or foot-rails were fixed close to the floor for the avoidance, no doubt, of draughts. Oak was the usual material, but elm, cherry and other woods were sometimes used. Soon the legs became bulbous, and were gadrooned or otherwise ornamented, and the frame began to be carved. The introduction, before the 16th century closed, of the "drawing table" marked the rapidity with which this piece oi furniture was developed. This was the forerunner of the " extending diningtable." Of the three leaves of which these tables were composed two were below the other; they drew out and were supported by brackets, while the slab proper dropped to the same level. Somewhat later legs became excessively bulbous; 1 For mathematical tables see next article. This use of the word comes from the analogy of the laying out of objects on an ordinary table.

this ugly form gave place soon after the middle of the century to baluster-shaped legs. Hitherto tables had, generally speaking, been large and massive little in the nature of what is now called the " occasional table " seems to have been provided until some years after the Restoration. About that time small tables of varying sizes and shapes, but still of substantial weight, began to be made; many of them were flap-tables, which took up little room when they were not in use. These, however, had been known at an earlier date. Charles II. had not long been on the throne when the idea of the flap-table was amplified in a peculiarly graceful fashion. Two flaps were provided instead of one, the result being the rather large oval table of the " gate-leg " variety that has remained in use ever since, in which the open " gate " supports the flap. Towards the end of the reign tables began to have the graceful twisted legs joined to the flat serpentine stretchers, which produced, almost for the first time in English furniture, a sense of lightness and gaiety. The walnut tables of the end of the Stuart period were often inlaid with marquetry of great excellence. The number and variety of the tables in well-to-do households were now increasing rapidly, and the console-table was imported from the Continent contemporaneously with the common use of the mahogany side-table.

As mahogany came into general use, about the beginning of the second quarter of the 18th century, an enormous number of card-tables were made with plain or cabriole legs and spade or claw and ball feet, often with lions' heads carved upon the knees; the top folded up to half its size when open. The Chippendale school introduced small tables with carved openwork " galleries " round the edges (to protect china and other small objects), and clustered legs; Gothic forms and Chinese frets were for a time fashionable. Later in this century, so prolific in new forms of furniture, tables were frequently made cf rosewood and satinwood; side-tables, often highly elaborate, adorned with swags and festoons and other classical motives, supported by termini or richly carved legs, were gilded and topped with marble slabs or inlaid wood. The Pembroke table, of oblong form, with two semi-circular or oblong leaves, with edgings of marquetry, was a characteristic feature of late i8 th century English furniture, and still retains its popularity. Then came the Empire period; the taper was replaced by the round leg, rosewood grew commoner, and brass mountings the rule. For illustrations see FURNITURE.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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