Feast of Tabernacles drama
by Steve Maltz
This should take about 15-20 minutes and is suitable for a mixed audience (Jew/Gentile, adults/kids). There are three speaking parts: Actor 1 (comedy role) should be a Jewish male and dressed as a contemporary of Moses. Actor 2 (serious role) should also be a Jewish male and a contemporary of Jesus. The narrator should be female, in the way of contrast. The rest of the characters could be played by children, particularly in procession at end, for which they should wear bright clothes and perpare banners etc. It would be good to have professionals in Jewish dance involved with the procession.
Child walks across stage with large sign “A few thousand years ago … in the wilderness”
Read from LEVITICUS 23:33-43
The LORD said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: `On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the LORD’s Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present offerings made to the LORD by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to the LORD by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work. (” `These are the LORD’s appointed feasts, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing offerings made to the LORD by fire–the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. These offerings are in addition to those for the LORD’s Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the LORD.) ” `So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the LORD for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the LORD for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’ “
Actor 1 and ‘children of Israel’ (kids) should appear from inside a sukkah.
Shalom friends. My name is Ya’cov and I’m tired, so tired. I’m tired of tramping around this wilderness, going round and round in circles and getting nowhere. I’m tired of father Moses and his non-stop orders and instructions. Do this, don’t do this, eat this, don’t eat this. Oy, have you tried manna. Manna, manna, always manna. They say an army marches on its stomach – I feel like an army’s marched over mine! Just once can’t we wake up in the morning and find a nice kebab, instead of that boring manna. It’s so boring and I’m so tired. Tired of that Moses – who does he think he is, God’s second-in-command! So tired, so tired. I’m tired of my clansfolk, forever moaning and groaning. Always grumbling! Look at them, ‘the children of Israel’, ‘the kvetchers of Israel’ more like (the other characters shuffle around and mime their discontent). OK, so there’s plenty to moan about – but they go on and on and on. Never stop moaning and groaning and grumbling. Can’t they all be more like me … never catch me moaning, I’m easy going, me.
And look where we have to live! Could at least supplied us with a good canvas tent – it’s so cold at nights. But I suppose it’s better than nothing, better than sleeping out under the stars with the camels. Have you smelt a camel at night (wafting with hand!), I’d rather sleep with this lot, (points at others) despite the effects of the manna – tastes like honey but has the same effects on the digestion as baked beans, if you know what I mean.
This is our home, it’s been like that since our wanderings started. We call it a Sukkah. Quite well made, really. There’s a group in the tribe of Judah that make them. What was the clan name now, let me think …. Issachai? No! …. Haggai? No ….. I’ve got it now. It was MFI (NOTE FOR NON-UK PEOPLE – MFI IS A NATIONWIDE SHOP SELLING DO-IT-YOURSELF AND BUILDING MATERIAL – SUBSTITUTE WITH SHOP OF YOUR CHOICE, REMEMBERING TO KEEP THE RHYMING BUILD-UP). The fellow that did this one was a nice chap, tall, doesn’t say much, can’t remember his name – oh yes it was Michael Harris, – he left a card (reaches into pocket). Sukkahs-‘r’-us. Also does loft extensions – whatever they are! (JUST A JOKY ADVERT FOR MAN WHO BUILT OUR SUKKAH)
Anyway we might moan … just a little bit, but that’s just our way, it’s in our genes, though I expect in a few thousand years time that we’ll get all that out of our system and we’ll be known throughout the world for our good humour and perfect manners. (Looks around) ….. or maybe not!
But, seriously, we don’t know how well off we are. God has really looked after us all these years. He’s fed us (pause and shrugs), he’s led us and he’s even made sure our shoes haven’t worn down. Bought mine 35 years ago in Clarkes (BRITISH SHOE-SHOP)of Cairo, still as good as new. But we know, in our hearts, that he’s been looking after us in every way. We’re still alive after all! And we know that the Promised Land, the land of milk and honey is not far off now, though I’ve got an idea that I won’t be around to see it …. though they will (points to others) … as long as they STOP MOANING!
(walk away to side)
Child walks across stage with large sign “Just under 2000 years ago … outside Jerusalem”
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do.
Actor 2 walks onto stage from different area and talks while he walks.
Jerusalem is so crowded. Every time I come there seems to be more and more people. I come at Pesach, Shavuot and here now at Succot and it still amazes me how this place can hold so many of us. I’ve been told that there are more here this year because of that Rabbi they’re all talking about, Yeshua they call him, Jesus of Nazareth. I’ve heard so much about him, but never yet seen him in person. There’s a rumour that he’ll be here in Jerusalem, but I haven’t seen him yet. Perhaps I will see him today. Perhaps …
Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?” Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.
I’ve just been to the Temple courts. That rabbi Jesus was there. So was just about everyone else. The place was packed with scribes, rabbis, priests, it was like the whole Sanhedrin were there. They were surrounding him, goading the poor man. The rest of us had to make do watching from the back. But, never mind, I saw it all. And I’m so confused. If they hate him so much, why do they follow him everywhere? I just don’t understand. On the one hand we’re instructed to pay heed to our rabbis, our wise sages, but on the other hand, this Jesus, he spoke with such authority. He rattled them, you know, really rattled them. It was so bold of him to accuse them, our religious leaders, of not keeping the Laws of Moses! No wonder they tried to seize him. And that was strange because, however much they tried to get physical with him, they couldn’t get near to him. It was as if he were surrounded by angels … protecting him. And you can see that a lot were impressed by this. Some people are like that – you can preach to them until the cows come home and it leaves them cold, but perform a miracle and they’re like putty. That’s not for me. I’m a man who needs to be convinced by words. Not that his words were unconvincing, no he spoke things that warmed my heart, but still … why aren’t the rabbis convinced by his words too? Is there something wrong with me? … with them?
JOHN 7: 37-41
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Christ.”
I went back on the last day of the Feast. It was the happiest day of Succot. It’s the day when water is poured onto the altar and we praise God for his provisions. Jesus was there again and he said a strange thing. He pointed to the water that flowed all around, then seemed to say that he himself could quench our thirst. I know he wasn’t actually talking about really quenching our thirst in a drinking sense. He was talking about God’s spirit, I believe and how he, Jesus, can show us how to get closer to God. He’s given me much to ponder, though I could tell he really spoke to others who were there. Some even said that he was the Messiah. Well I don’t know about that. As I said, much to ponder, much to ponder …
Actor 2 walks away to side
Child walks across stage with large sign “In the future … after the return of Jesus”
Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
A noisy and colourful procession (Jews and Gentiles – from the nations – in national dress?) appears, lots of kids, banners, noise, Jewish dance music, etc. All actors join it. Mayhem ensues and everyone has a good time …