Redemption Mile-Marker: Record-Breaking Crowd at Reenactment of Temple Libation Ceremony [WATCH]

October 18, 2019

3 min read

Thousands of people in Jerusalem witnessed a joyous full-dress reenactment of the water libation ceremony that was held during the last six days of Sukkoth in the Temple.

Though not explicitly mandated in the Torah, the water libation is part of the oral tradition passed down from Moses. Sukkot is a joyous holiday and the water libation was the focal point of this joy. In the Temple, the ceremony would take fifteen hours with accompanying celebrations lasting all night until the Temple service began again the next morning. Nations came from around the world to take part in the Sukkoth celebrations making it international worship of  God.

Led by a group of Kohanim (Jewish men descended from Aaron the Priest), the group of over 500 people set out from the Dung Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem in the early evening, making its way down the steep steps leading to the Shiloah Spring.  Many of the celebrants were visitors to Israel, creating a visible reminder that the words of the prophets are materializing today.

And the many peoples shall go and say: “Come, Let us go up to the Mount of Hashem, To the House of the God of Yaakov; That He may instruct us in His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.” For instruction shall come forth from Tzion, The word of Hashem from YerushalayimIsaiah 2:3

The Kohanim were dressed in the Biblically mandated garb but for the first time, they were accompanied by Levites wearing a special uniform set of clothes designed to be worn in the third Temple. Musically gifted Levites led the ceremony with joyous music on drum, violin, guitar, and clarinet. The crowd sang and danced as they passed from the archaeological remains of the ancient City of David, through an Arab village, to the Shiloach (Siloam) Spring which was used in Temple times. The procession was punctuated by stops during which four-foot-long pure silver trumpets were sounded.
Levites playing music libation ceremony Sukkoth (Photo courtesy Adam Propp)

At the head of the parade was the gold vessel, the water jug, which had been inaugurated last year.

At the Shiloach Pool, the jug was filled. In Temple times, a libation of water was made together with the pouring out of wine at the morning service on the last six days of the week-long Sukkot holiday. Kohanim descended from the Temple to the Shiloach Spring at the base of the Mount Moriah, where they filled the flask with three log of spring water (approximately two pints) and returned to the Temple.

On a sad note, the pool was quite low with barely enough water to immerse the jug.


Kohen with gold vessel for libation ceremony (Photo courtesy Adam Propp)
(Photo courtesy Adam Propp)









(Photo courtesy Adam Propp)

The procession climbed back up to the top of the mountain. A model altar and its utensils had been set up in an open area adjacent to the Western Wall. The altar was decorated with large leafy willow branches as was done in the Temple.

The ceremony culminated in the priestly blessing.


Priestly blessing (Photo courtesy Adam Propp)

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