Pilgrimage Holidays

Deuteronomy 16:1-17

In keeping with the theme of travelling to Jerusalem, Moses now brings up the three pilgrimage holidays. These three holidays are unique in as much as the people are commanded to come to Jerusalem in person to celebrate. Not only that, they must not arrive empty-handed. For each holiday, the males of the household must bring specific offerings according to the abundance with which God has blessed the family.


The three pilgrimage festivals are Passover (Pesach), the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). Passover is to be held for seven days, and all leavened products must be removed from the household for its duration. It commemorates the exodus from Egypt. Shavuot is held seven weeks later for the same reason. Sukkot, Moses, says, celebrates the gifts God gives.


Among the pilgrimage festivals, only Sukkot is not connected here with the exodus. The Israel Bible points out that it is also unique in that it is meant not just for the Jews, but for the nations of the world. 70 bulls offered throughout the holiday in the times of the Temple represent the 70 nations of the world, serving as a message of universal solidarity in the service of the one true God of Israel.


The Israel Bible points to the significance of having three pilgrimage festivals. The number three indicates a strong bond, as it says in Ecclesiastes (4:12), “A chain of three cannot be undone.” Perhaps for this reason, the Children of Israel are commanded to appear in Jerusalem before God three times a year: to forge a bond with Him so strong it cannot be severed.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think these three holidays, as opposed to Rosh Hashana (Jewish new year) or Yom Kippur, require celebration by the nation in Jerusalem?

Comments ( 7 )

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  • Koit Kranig

    That is Old Testament time where was not given yet newbirth and baptize with Holy Spirit. jews had to go 3 times a year to go to pray in the Temple reminding them they chosen nation from all nations to worship and serve God rather than serve sin and demons. man cannot serve God without unity with God. Thats why we need Holy Spirit. religious traditons do not save us.

    • Tessie Lester

      Yes its true, without the guidance of the holy Spirit, we ate empty. without God we are nothing.

  • The celebration in Jerusjalajim is a joint celebration. We are a small country and only together in unity we can be strong. What unites us is HaShem, serving Him. Why in Jerusjalajim? 1. Because there is the Holy Mountain the Eternal One choose for Himself and 2. because of the presence of His Holy Temple. Celebrating “together” means celebrating our solidarity with HaShem and the rest of our people.

  • I think Pesach, Shavout and Sukkot are the pilgrimage festivals because they are the most personal and most intimate — Yahweh redeems us personally (Pesach), He gives the Torah for us to observe personally (Shavout), and He tabernacles with each of us (Sukkot); it accordingly requires a personal trip to Yerushalayim to meet with the passionately loving Elohim.

  • Herman

    I forgot this one: Remarkable that the goj will join…something i cannot explain…

  • Herman

    Because there needs to be unity. In joining those pilgrimagefestivals you will meet and greet old acquaintances, celebrate together the sacrifices in the temple. Together we are strong and encourage eachother to participate.

  • Diana Brown

    Because the Lord our God was faithful to bring our forefathers out of Egypt as He promised. He kept the faithful through the Wilderness and brought them into the Land He promised. Sukkot reminds us that the prophets of God foretells of a time when the Lord’s Presence will return to Israel and He will dwell with His People and His Name will be One. See, our best days are ahead of us! Rejoice and be strengthened!

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