Did you know that the Feast of Booths is also called the Feast of Tabernacles? And yet, the celebratory days had nothing to do with Jesus being present in the Eucharist, in a Tabernacle, as we know a tabernacle to be today, for they did not have Jesus’ gift of His Body.
Way back when, a tabernacle was a literal tent. This is in the days before drywall and bricks were invented. Tabernacle simply means “dwelling place” or “to dwell in a tent”. It was called the Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths because the Jewish men would build makeshift booths to live in for the week at the end of their harvest. The Feast of Tabernacles, like all feasts at that time, was instituted by God as a way of reminding Israelites in every generation of their deliverance by God from Egypt. Of course, the feasts are also significant in that they foreshadow the work and actions of the coming Messiah. Much of Jesus’ public ministry took place in conjunction with the Holy Feast days set forth by God the Father.
Now, when we first read Leviticus 23, we read many dates. The entire passage is full of what one should do, how to do it, and when to do it by. It’s like a big list of due dates. But bear with it! With a bible dictionary, we can look up “Feast of Tabernacles” to see if there is any importance to this passage, or anything extra we should know, that we wouldn’t necessarily pick up on with our modern mindset. We know that everything in the Bible is in there for a reason and by looking up this feast, we learn that it is actually mentioned in the bible numerous times, under different names, and that many significant events happened during this feast over the years! How amazing!
So we use a bible dictionary to look up terms, words, people, places or phrases used in the Bible that are specifically defined for the context used within Bible. A "tabernacle" can be defined by a modern English dictionary very differently than how a Bible dictionary would explain it. With a modern dictionary we can get the basic information that it is a "dwelling place" or "residence", but with a bible dictionary, we also learn about the historical background behind a tabernacle. For this example, it can include information about the Israelites carrying around a special box, Mary being a tabernacle for the Lord Jesus when she carried Him in her womb, and how our hearts & bodies become a tabernacle when we receive Jesus in the Eucharist. The tabernacle in the Church gets its name because this is where Jesus dwells, in the Eucharist, within the “tent” of our drywall & support beams! That’s even more amazing!
Catholic bible dictionaries can be found online or in a book store.