Sukkot Observances Through the Second Temple Period
Observances are associated with the land.
In his vision of messianic times, Zechariah presents lack of rain as punishment for the nations that fail to make pilgrimage to Jerusalem on Sukkot to worship God, which would show that they accept His sovereignty [14:16]. This prophecy, and those of Isaiah and Micah calling on all nations to show their acceptance of God's sovereignty by going to His Temple-‑combined with the connection between Sukkot and fulfillment, the ultimate being messianic redemption‑-encouraged many proselytes to join the pilgrims in Jerusalem.
Therefore, the final day of the festival, when last sacrifices were offered on behalf of the other nations, was identified as the occasion when the earth is judged regarding replenishment of water, and consequently, when mankind's fate, collectively and individually, is sealed. (Rabbinic literature identifies this Yom Darvata, Day of the Willow, as Yom Hachitum, Day of Sealing, an extension of Yom Kippur): Striking the willows then had the added connotation of casting away of sin or symbolizing the thrashings one would receive in punishment for sin.
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