Hebrew Highlights 96 Thanksgiving
Shalom, this is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
In 1492: Louis de Torres, a Spanish Jew became the first white man to set foot in the Western Hemisphere, when he landed with Christopher Columbus in the West Indies on his first voyage.
In his exploration of the islands, de Torres saw a bird he believed to be a peacock and called it a "tuki,", the Biblical Hebrew word for peacock. Today, that bird is known as a “turkey”, and while native to North America, it is the most popular meat eaten in Israel, year round.
The tradition of Thanksgiving, as Americans celebrate it today, did not originate with the wonderful historical event of the Pilgrims' landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620. The idea of giving thanks for a bountiful fall harvest stems from Biblical times, specifically, to the land of Canaan around 1200 B.C. The Hebrews obeyed God’s command to celebrate a Feast of Tabernacles, so named because the then new immigrants to the land which would become Israel erected tents and booths, using olive, myrtle, and palm branches in the courtyards of their homes in order to remember the former times when they had been a people without a national identity or homeland.
This holiday is found in Deut. 16:13-15, "You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat; and you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your towns. "Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you shall be altogether joyful.”
Interestingly, if you research the names of the attendees of the first Thanksgiving Feast on America’s shores, you will find, men and women, widows, orphans, sons and daughters.
Pilgrim Edward Winslow described the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving celebration of 1621in these words:
"Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling [bird hunting] so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as... served the company almost a week... Many of the Indians [came] amongst us and... their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought... And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet BY THE GOODNESS OF GOD WE ARE... FAR FROM WANT."
I find it interesting that the Holiday of Thanksgiving has not suffered the wanton commercialism, which has beset the Christmas season. Try as they may, secular humanists have not managed to erase either God or the family from this great Holy Day!
One of my favorite Thanksgiving passages comes from PSA 116:12-19, “What shall I render to the Lord For all His benefits toward me? I shall lift up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the Lord. I shall pay my vows to the Lord, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His godly ones. O Lord, surely I am Thy servant, I am Thy servant, the son of Thy handmaid, Thou hast loosed my bonds. To Thee I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, And call upon the name of the Lord. I shall pay my vows to the Lord, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people, In the courts of the Lord's house, In the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!”
Of course, Thanksgiving should not be confined to any one day, as we see in PHI 4:4-7, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Shalom, Shalom from Jerusalem.