Barb’s dad was legendary for using one word when he meant another, or completely messing up the pronunciation of words he meant to say, which caused great amusement for all.
One time he was working on something and couldn’t get it fixed, and I walked up to ask how it was going. “I can’t figure out what’s wrong, I’m constipated over this whole thing!” he said in exasperation, not realizing he had meant to say “I’m frustrated!” (I think, but we never knew exactly what he meant when he said such things) I just chuckled to myself as he was at that time, my future father-in-law.
Barb inherited that word-mix-up gene which has provided me (and her) no end of amusement over the 50 years we’ve known each other. (We go back to when we were about 7 years old)
The other day I made some Chorizo (choe-rees’-oh) sausage. Chorizo is a Mexican sausage that is fairly spicy, reddish in color due to paprika and chili powder, and is often served with eggs or chicken. Not trusting sausage in general as I don’t want any ears, oinks, moo’s or tongues in my sausage (I don’t want to taste anything that can taste me back, lol), I make it myself so I know what goes into it. I especially like it with eggs in the morning or I add it to Huevos Rancheros (look that one up up if unfamiliar).
The trouble is, Barb can’t pronounce Chorizo (choe-rees’-oh). When she asks if we have some, she asks for ‘Cho-Zorro’, which makes my sausage sound like a 19th century Mexican folk hero who carves a big ‘Z’ on his meal! (Zorro is a Mexican hero of literary fame, with several movies made about him as well)
Chorizo or Cho-Zorro, we both know we are talking about my home made Mexican sausage.
But that isn’t always the case with Bible passages
In this series I will set many passages to their Jewish and Roman culture and history, because many people haven’t been taught scripture in context, and therefore believe a passage, let’s say, is about ‘Cho-Zorro’ when in fact it is talking about Chorizo.
What Jesus wrote in the dust
We are told in John 7:2 Jesus went up to Jerusalem to the Feast of Tabernacles. Tabernacles celebrates God living with man and is the last of the 7 Biblical festivals found in Leviticus 23. John 7:37-39:
“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, ‘If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. He that believes on me as the scripture has said, out of his belly will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, which those who believe on Him would receive, for the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
While this is beautiful in its own right, it takes on greater meaning when we understand the cultural context. A ceremony within the Feast of Tabernacles is the “Beit Hashoevah” or “House of the Waterpouring”, and it was conducted daily for the full week of the feast.
While sacrifices were being made in the Temple, a group of priests went out the Eastern Gate of the temple to a nearby valley to cut willow tree branches. These branches were believed to be about 25 feet in length (7.5 m) and the priests made a column, each with a branch. As they in made their way to the temple, they walked in unison and swung the branches back and forth as they walked.
This swinging of the branches in unison created a rushing wind symbolic of the Spirit of God. As this was going on, the High Priest and Assistant went out of the temple via the Water Gate to the Pool of Siloam and filled a gold pitcher with water known as “Mayim Hayim”, or “Living Water”. The Assistant filled a silver pitcher with wine. Note: Silver in the OT always stands for righteousness, gold for purity and holiness.
The priests with the willow branches would circle the altar 7 times as animals were sacrificed, then lay their branches over the top of the sacrifice, forming a tent or sukka over the top. As this happened the High Priest poured out the Living Water at the sacrifice as his Assistant poured out the wine, and the people gathered sang together Isaiah 12:3:
“Therefore with joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation.” (Hebrew word for ‘salvation’ used here is Yeshua, for that is what Jesus or Yeshua means).
And that is why Jesus, Yeshua, cried out that He was the Source of the true Living Water on that last day of the feast. To everyone listening, they would have understood He was saying He was that celebration in the flesh before their very eyes. That is why they wanted to arrest Him (7:44), and yet marveled.
But wait, there’s more!
During the week long festival of Tabernacles and Living Water, the priests read multiple passages about Living Water, and on the day after the Feast ended which was the 8th day (Shemini Atzeret), there was a celebration on that 8th day called “Simchat Torah” or “Rejoicing in the Torah (Word)”.
All week long the whole nation celebrated Tabernacles, living in tents, celebrating God living with man. Everyone of those 7 days they also celebrated that He is the Living Water by the Spirit shown in the wind created by the willow branches, and on the 8th day they tied it all together to rejoice in the Word.
John 8:1-2 tells us after the feast, the next morning, or the 8th day while they were celebrating the ‘Rejoicing in the Word’ day, Jesus came into the temple and a woman caught in adultery was brought to Him, and He was asked:
“Now Moses in the law commands us that such a one should be stoned to death, but what do you say?” This they said to tempt Him that they might have something to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He hadn’t heard them.”
“So when they continued asking Him, He stood up and said to them, ‘He that is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her.’ And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. And those who heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one beginning at the oldest, even to the youngest, and Jesus was left alone and the woman standing before Him.” John 8:5-9
What did He write?
People have asked that questions for centuries, but I think the answer is revealed in the Feast itself. For all 7 days of the Feast of Tabernacles one of the passages read was Jeremiah 17:12-13:
“A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary, O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be ashamed, and those who depart from you shall be written in the earth (their names), because they have forsaken the Lord, the Fountain of Living Waters.”
The writing of names in the dust of the earth stands in contrast to writing the names of believers in the Book of the Living, and Jeremiah makes the point their names, or their lives, being written in the earth means they are doomed and will be forgotten as easily as a puff of wind blows away the dust of the earth.
This explains why they went out convicted by their own conscience (all who forsake you will be ashamed), from the eldest (who had the most authority, sins, and would have been the ones initiating the execution order for the woman) to the youngest.
But notice the verses right after these in Jeremiah, verses 14-15, for this is what the woman received when Jesus told her He didn’t condemn her:
“Heal me O Lord, and I will be healed; Save me, and I will be saved, for you are my praise! Behold they say to me, ‘Where is the Word of the Lord?’ Let it come to me now.”
If that doesn’t bring you to awe of our Lord, wait, there’s more
The Feast of Tabernacles was also known as the ‘Feast of Dedication’, the ‘Feast of Lights’, and ‘The Season of our Joy’ because Solomon concluded the dedication of his temple at this feast. The custom was to place 4 big lamps in the temple, the main one was called ‘The Light of the World’.
That is why Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the Light of the world”. Now His statements about being the Source of Living Water, the Light of the World, and Him writing in the earth seem so much more vivid. Hope that is a blessing to you, I get excited everytime I read those chapters and wanted to share that with you.
Next week, veils, braiding hair, and cutting off the hem of a robe…how exciting! But for now, I’m hungry for some Cho-Zorro. Blessings,