The Eighth Day
by Rabbi Yaakov
A verse in the Torah which is hard to understand states: “Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath.” (Le 23:39). The reason why this verse causes confusion is because of the command to have the feast for seven days, and then to set the eighth day apart. Some Believers try to reconcile this passage by attempting to make the eighth day part of the seven days of Sukkot. The problem with making the Eighth Day part of Sukkot is that according to the Torah the Eighth Day is to be a separate day. In fact, Torah is even adamant that the Eighth Day is separate when it states, “Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths” (Le 23:42). Since the Torah makes it clear, Israel is only to dwell in Sukkot for seven days; the Eighth Day must be separate. As a result, many Messianics that see the eighth day is a separate day have come to the conclusion that the Eighth Day is actually a day of new beginnings. In truth both positions are fairly accurate; the Eighth Day is separate, yet is inseparable from the other seven. Therefore, to fully understand the Torah in this passage we must look into all of the layers of revelation surrounding the passage. To do this we must understand other passages of Torah relating to the Eighth Day. What is revealed is that the Eighth Day always represents covenant, purification, and acceptance.
The first and most important relationship described in the Torah relating to the Eighth Day is covenant. For example, a male child is brought into covenant on the eighth day. It is on the eighth day that the naming ceremony and the Brit Milah (circumcision) are conducted. This is significant because without circumcision, the child is not considered fully Israel. For this reason when David committed the adulterous sin with Bethsheba, the repercussions of his action caused him to lose the child before the Eighth Day. This loss resulted in David not being able to bring his child into covenant the way he and his forefathers had been brought into covenant as commanded by the Torah (Gen 17:10-15). With David unable to perform his duty because of his uncleanness of sin, his child never reached the age naming in Israel. However, because of HaShem’s mercy, David’s sin was reconciled, but the consequences of his sin would still be in his memory.
The second relationship that is described in the Torah, regarding the eighth day involves purification. For example, the significance of the eighth day in Hanukkah relates to the purification of the oil and of the Holly vessels. The only consecrated vial of oil found needed to burn for seven days until the purification of the priests and the new oil was complete. And in fact, the oil lasted for eight days, which was ample time for the priests, the temple, and the new oil to have been purified. Because of this eighth day miracle HaShem was able to rebuild the priesthood and purify them so they could return to their duties. Using the Torah as the guide we can see other accounts of the priest secluding themselves for seven days until the completion of purification process. In fact, this practice of secluding themselves for purification is spoken of in Lev 8:33-35. There is also a similar passage relating to the future in Eze 43:26-27 where HaShem says: “Seven days shalt thou prepare every day a goat for a sin offering: they shall also prepare a young bullock, and a ram out of the flock, without blemish. Seven days shall they purge the altar and purify it; and they shall consecrate themselves. And when these days are expired, it shall be, that upon the eighth day, and so forward, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar, and your peace offerings; and I will accept you, saith the Lord GOD.”
The final Torah relationship to the Eighth Day deals with acceptance for the purpose of fulfilling HaShem’s will. For example, when the Torah states: “When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the LORD” (Leviticus 22:27). The passage makes it clear that sacrificial animals were to be left with the mother for a complete cycle of seven days. Then after the seventh day, and from that day forward they would be considered acceptable to be offered to HaShem. So literally on the Eighth Day they became acceptable.
Using these three examples it becomes clear that HaShem intended for the eighth day to be a day of becoming part of the covenant, and emerging purified and acceptable. Therefore, one could say that the Eighth Day is the perfect end to dwelling in booths for seven days. The booths are to remind us that we dwell in temporary dwellings during this lifetime. The purpose of dwelling in this temporary existence is to realize it is possible for us to become part of the covenant, purified, and acceptable. In short, dwelling with HaShem in temporary dwellings is to teach us to walk in His covenant, to become Holy, and to emerge on the Eighth Day as acceptable in His sight.