New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Lev 23:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
There are connections between the various sections of Revelation and the Jewish feasts. Here's a summary:

Revelation 5 Passover Rev. 5:6,9 = Ex. 12:13

Revelation 7 Tabernacles Rev. 7:9,15,16 RV = Ex. 23:16; 34:22; Zech. 14:16-20

Revelation 8,9 Day Of Atonement Lev. 16:31; more detailed links in Harry Whittaker, Revelation: A Biblical Approach pp. 104,105.

Revelation 11 Dedication & Purim The Torah readings for these feasts were Num. 7 and Zech. 2- 4 about the dedication of the temple; Rev. 11:10 = Esther 9:19,22. The period from Tabernacles to Purim is exactly 5 months- as mentioned in Rev. 9:5

Revelation 12 Pentecost & Passover The Jews traditionally ask: "On this Sabbath, shall I reap?"

Revelation 14 Tabernacles
Revelation 15 + 16 Atonement & Passover Lev. 16; Ps. 118 the Hallel Psalm

Revelation 19 Passover Ps. 113,114 Passover Psalms

Revelation 21,22 Tabernacles
Laying out the material chronologically, we have:
Chapter 5: Passover
6 months

Chapter 7: Tabernacles
Chapters 8 & 9: Atonement and Tabernacles
1 year
Chapter 11: Dedication 5 months (Rev 9:5)
Chapter 11: Purim
Chapter 12: Passover and Pentecost
Chapter 14: Tabernacles
1 year
Chapter 15: Atonement
Chapter 16 & 19: Passover
Chapter 21 & 22: Tabernacles
1 year
The conclusion would therefore be that we have in the book of Revelation a literal account of the three and a half years tribulation, with the Jewish feasts being the key marker points. And it would appear there will be an especial period of five months tribulation as described between Revelation chapters 9 and 11.

Lev 23:2 Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘The set feasts of Yahweh, which you shall proclaim to be holy assemblies, even these are My set feasts-
"Convocation" or "assembly" is LXX ekklesia. This is the word rendered "church" in the New Testament. We could reason from this therefore that "church" specifically refers to a gathering of God's people. At that time and during those moments, they are a church. When the entire community of believers is referred to as "church", this is how God views them- as if they are all gathered together at a gathering or convocation before Him. The word in its Biblical usage therefore doesn't refer to what we might call a denomination or fellowship.

Lev 23:3 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy assembly; you shall do no kind of work. It is a Sabbath to Yahweh in all your dwellings-
The Lord Jesus invites those who follow Him to accept the “rest” which He gives (Mt. 11:28), using the word which is used in the Septuagint for the Sabbath rest. Jesus was offering a life of Sabbath, of rest from trust in our own works (cp. Heb. 4:3,10). We shouldn’t, therefore, keep a Sabbath one day per week, but rather live our whole lives in the spirit of the Sabbath. Just as we are to live the "eternal life" now, the type of life we will eternally live in the Kingdom is to be lived and experienced now. In this sense, as Hebrews makes clear, we "have entered into rest", and yet in another sense we labour now to enter into that rest at the Lord's return. This is a classic case of the "now but not yet" theme of the Bible.

We note that the Sabbath was one of the ten commandments. But the Sabbath was specifically "a sign between them (Israel) and Me (God), that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them" (Ez. 20:12). As such, it has never been intended to be binding on Gentiles (non-Jews). “... the Lord has given you [not all mankind] the Sabbath (Ex. 16:29); “... You [God] made known to them [Israel] Your holy Sabbath” (Neh. 9:14). The Old Covenant refers to the Law of Moses, which was replaced on the cross by the New Covenant. God "declared to you (Israel) His covenant which he commanded you (Israel) to perform, that is the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone" (Dt. 4:13). God "wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments" (Ex. 34:28). If we argue that keeping the covenant made in the ten commandments is necessary, we must also observe every detail of the entire Law, seeing that this is all part of the same covenant. It is evidently impossible to do this. “There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb ... the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:9,21). Those tablets, on which were the ten commandments, were the covenant. Heb. 9:4 speaks of "the tablets of the covenant". The ten commandments were written on the tablets of stone, which comprised "the (old) covenant". Paul refers to this covenant as "written and engraved on stones", i.e. on the tablets of stone. He calls it "the ministry of death... the ministry of condemnation...” that which is “... passing away" (2 Cor. 3:7-11). However, nine of the ten commandments have been reaffirmed, in spirit at least, in the New Testament: 1st. - Eph. 4:6; 1 Jn. 5:21; Mt. 4:10; 2nd. - 1 Cor. 10:14; Rom. 1:25; 3rd. - James 5:12; Mt. 5:34,35; 5th. - Eph. 6:1,2; Col. 3:20; 6th. - 1 Jn. 3:15; Mt. 5:21; 7th. - Heb. 13:4; Mt. 5:27,28; 8th. - Rom. 2:21; Eph. 4:28; 9th. - Col. 3:9; Eph. 4:25; 2 Tim. 3:3; 10th. - Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5. Numbers 3,5,6,7,8 and 9 can be found in 1 Tim. 1 alone, and numbers 1,2 and 10 in 1 Cor. 5. But never is the fourth commandment concerning the Sabbath repeated in the New Testament as obligatory for us.

Lev 23:4 These are the set feasts of Yahweh, even holy assemblies, which you shall proclaim in their appointed season-
Paul alludes here when he says that the breaking of bread meeting- the only ‘feast’ we have under the New Covenant- is a proclaiming of Christ’s death (1 Cor. 11:26).

Lev 23:5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening, is Yahweh’s Passover-
Israel both kept Passover and went through the Red Sea at night. Indeed, it is stressed six times in Ex. 12 that it was “night", and hence Dt. 16:1 reminds them to carefully keep the Passover (i.e. at night), “for... your God brought you forth out of Egypt by night". Other latter day prophecies speak of the events of the second coming being at "night": Lot left Sodom in the very early hours of the morning; and it was "at midnight (that) there was a cry made" informing the virgins of their Lord's return (Mt. 25:6).

Lev 23:6 On the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to Yahweh. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread-
These seven days were to recall the seven days of creation; for the exodus was a new creation of Israel, out of the water of the Red Sea.

Lev 23:7 In the first day you shall have a holy assembly. You shall do no regular work-
Work was obviously required in order to keep the Passover; the "work" in view is therefore secular work. But the Hebrew phrase "regular work" is that repeatedly used for "the work of the service" of the tabernacle, performed by the Levites (Ex. 35:21,24; 36:1,3,5; 1 Chron. 9:13,19; 23:24; 25:1 etc.). Perhaps this command in Leviticus was specifically addressed to the Levites, and the idea was that at the times of the festivals, the Levites were to focus upon keeping them in their own families and not be unduly taken up with the work of the sanctuary beyond what was required by the Mosaic law. The principle is that we must not be so taken up with religious duty that we neglect our own personal worship, especially in our own families.

Lev 23:8 but you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh seven days. In the seventh day is a holy assembly: you shall do no regular work’-
The sacrifices on each of the seven days were two young bullocks, one ram and seven lambs for a burnt offering, with the accompanying meat offerings, and one goat for a sin offering (Num. 28:19-24). This explains why the Jews at the time of the Lord's death were careful about not being defiled so that they might eat the Passover (Jn. 18:28). The reference is not to the Passover lamb, but to these sacrifices which began the seven day feast of unleavened bread which followed the Passover feast, which only last one day.

Lev 23:9 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
We wonder whether the following commandment about the feast of ingathering was therefore given at a slightly different time to the preceding material about Passover; or whether the inspired recording of it wished to emphasize a subdivision.

Lev 23:10 Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘When you have come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest, then you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest-
It could be argued that the following ritual was specific to the first generation who entered the land. But see on :14. But there is no historical record of their obedience to it. Constantly Israel were reminded that God would indeed give them the promised Kingdom, even though at that time as they wandered in the wilderness it must’ve seemed merely a nice idea. He encourages us likewise.

Lev 23:11 and he shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh, to be accepted for you. On the next day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it-
The portion to be waved was placed on the priests hands (Ex. 29:25), and then 'waved' or 'swung' towards the altar and then back- not from right to left. The idea was that the offerings were first given to God, recognizing they should be consumed on the altar to God; but then given back to the priest by God. So they ate them having first recognized that their food was really God's, all was of Him, and He had given it back to them to eat. This should be our spirit in partaking of any food, as we are the new priesthood. Our prayers of thanks for daily food should include this feature. All things are God's and anything we 'offer' to Him is only giving Him what He has given to us (1 Chron. 29:14,16). Joseph was likened to a sheaf (Gen. 37:7), as a type of the Christ who was the wave sheaf.

Lev 23:12 On the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb without blemish a year old for a burnt offering to Yahweh-
This looked ahead to the unblemished character of the Lord Jesus. The offering of sacrifices "without blemish" uses a word which is used about Abraham and Noah being "without blemish" (AV "perfect") before God (Gen. 6:9; 17:1). Although the word is used about the sacrifices, it is really more appropriate to persons- "you shall be perfect with Yahweh your God" (Dt. 18:13), "serve Him in sincerity (s.w. "without blemish")" (Josh. 24:14). The idea, therefore, was that the offerer was invited to see the animal as representative of himself. Our lives too are to be as "living sacrifices" (Rom. 12:1). And yet in practical terms, no animal is without blemish. They were to give the best they could, and God would count it as without blemish; as He does with us. David frequently uses the term in the Psalms about himself and the "upright", even though he was far from unblemished in moral terms.

Lev 23:13 The grain offering with it shall be two tenth parts of an ephah of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire to Yahweh for a pleasant aroma; and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, the fourth part of a hin-

The mention of bread and wine looked ahead to the breaking of bread meeting. But they were accessory sacrifices; they imply that there must be an offering which they accompany. And that speaks of the Lord Jesus, and of ourselves in response to Him.

“A pleasant aroma” is a very common phrase. This concept is important to God. It first occurs in Gen. 8:21 where it means that God accepted Noah's sacrifice and vowed that the pole of saving mercy in His character was going to triumph over that of necessary judgment. Under the new covenant, it is persons and not sacrifices or incense which are accepted as a "pleasant aroma" (Ez. 20:41). The word for "pleasant" means strong delight; this is how God's heart can be touched by genuine sacrifice. Those pleasing offerings represented us, the living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1). And so it is applied to us in 2 Cor. 2:15- if we are in Christ, we are counted as a pleasant aroma to God. The offering of ourselves to Him is nothing of itself, but because we are in Christ and counted as Him, we are a delight to God. Hence the colossal importance of being “in Christ”. "Aroma" or "smell" is a form of the Hebrew word ruach, the word for spirit or breath. God discerns the spirit of sacrifices, that was what pleased Him rather than the burning flesh of animals. Our attitude of mind in sacrifice can touch Him. Sacrifice is therefore accepted, Paul says, according to what a person has to give, but the essence is the attitude of mind behind it. We think of the two coins sacrificed by the widow.

Lev 23:14 You shall eat neither bread, nor roasted grain, nor fresh grain, until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God. This is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings-
The following ritual was specific to the first generation who entered the land. But there is no historical record of their obedience to it. And yet subsequent generations were to keep this, feeling each year as if they had just entered the land. In this sense Biblical history becomes alive; we live in newness of life, as the historical records come alive for us time and again. History is not therefore bunk for us.

Lev 23:15 ‘You shall count from the next day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be completed-
This sheaf represented the Lord Jesus; see on :16. This came to the feast of Pentecost, around 50 days after Passover. After the Lord's death there was to be a great harvest celebration- and that is the significance of the mass baptisms on the day of Pentecost, the greater harvest after the harvesting of the Lord Jesus in His resurrection. All those baptized chose to do so of their own freewill, but things worked out wonderfully in fulfilling the feasts in spiritual terms. We see here the interplay between Divine sovereignty and human volition.

Lev 23:16 even to the next day after the seventh Sabbath you shall number fifty days; and you shall offer a new grain offering to Yahweh-
Dt. 16:9 adds: "You must count for yourselves seven weeks: from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain you shall begin to number seven weeks". These 50 days led to the Greek term "Pentecost". The putting of the sickle to the barley harvest was therefore at Passover (Ex. 9:31). The wheat harvest was seven weeks after this. The Lord's death at Passover was as the barley harvest, and we recall that barley was the food of the poor. He died on 13 / 14 Nissan, and resurrected on 16/17 Nissan, which was when the 50 days to Pentecost began to be counted from; for that was the time when the sickle was put to the grain and the firstfruits harvested (Lev. 23:15). But at the feast of Pentecost 50 days later, there were the baptisms of 3000 people. This was as it were the wheat harvest, of which the Lord's resurrection was a foretaste and firstfruit (1 Cor. 15:20,23). That great multitude represented all who would afterwards believe, and be finally harvested at the last day. 

Lev 23:17 You shall bring out of your habitations two loaves of bread for a wave offering made of two tenth parts of an ephah of fine flour. They shall be baked with yeast, for first fruits to Yahweh-
Yeast represents human sin (1 Cor. 5:8), and was often banned from being offered. But here it was required- to remind the people that they were sinners, and yet God still accepts the offerings of sinners. On the morning after the Passover Sabbath a sheaf of firstripe barley must be waived (i.e. passed to and fro) before the Lord; this represents the resurrection of Christ and the fact He is a firstfruits of us; but so encouragingly, a few weeks later at Pentecost the corresponding wave offering before the Lord was two loaves baked with leaven. Leaven always represents sin or corruption. They represent Jews and Gentiles who because of Christ's resurrection and triumph can come into the presence of God despite their leaven, our natural wretched man of the flesh, not having been completely purged out of them. Personally I feel that the N.T. indicates that it is God's desire that we should break bread weekly; if so, then the seven days of unleavened bread afterwards then represent our restrained lives in the coming week until we come to break bread again.

Lev 23:18 You shall present with the bread seven lambs without blemish a year old, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be a burnt offering to Yahweh, with their grain offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of a sweet aroma to Yahweh-
No animal actually is without blemish. God recognizes that we will not attain perfection in this life, but we are to do our best towards it; and His love imputes righteousness to us, counting us as unblemished because of our status in Christ. For only Christ was the sacrifice totally without moral blemish (1 Pet. 1:19).

Lev 23:19 You shall offer one male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old for a sacrifice of peace offerings-
This was to remind them that the Passover deliverance through the lamb was effectively ongoing. The Passover lamb was likewise to be a year old (Ex. 12:5). We too are to live constantly under the impression of the Lord's sacrifice and redemption of us. Israel were asked to use a lamb of the first year to record various times when they should be thankful for God's redemption of them in the events which comprise life (Lev. 9:3; 12:6; 23:12,18,19; Num. 6:12,14; 7:15,17,21; 28:3,9,11,19; 29:2,8,13). This was to continually recall to them the events of their great redemption through the Red Sea. And the essence of our redemption, our baptism and salvation through the blood of the lamb, must likewise be brought ever before us.

Lev 23:20 The priest shall wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering before Yahweh, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to Yahweh for the priest-
The two lambs offered for a burnt offering at the end of harvest contrast with the single lamb offered at the start of it (:12). This was to underline that the receipt of blessing from God must be responded to in dedication to Him- which is what the burnt offering represented.

Lev 23:21 You shall make proclamation on the same day: there shall be a holy assembly to you; you shall do no regular work. This is a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations-
The celebration of harvest was typically a celebration of the fruits of human labour. But God's people were to be careful to realize that any harvest blessings were ultimately of God and not of their labour.

Lev 23:22 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap into the corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest: you shall leave them for the poor, and for the foreigner. I am Yahweh your God’-
The Israelites were reminded of this principle at this point in the legislation lest they become so caught up with realizing their own material blessings that they forgot that others were not so blessed. Whenever we reflect upon our material blessings we are to immediately remind ourselves that others somewhere are not so blessed, and we have a duty towards them. The idea was that the poor could come after the field had been harvested and glean. By allowing gleaners to come and pick up dropped grain, Boaz's grace was going far beyond the letter of the law. This was taking that law way beyond what it said, in a spirit of grace. This would account for the hint in Ruth 2:22 that not every landowner allowed such gleaning in their fields. Likewise he extrapolates from the law of Levirate marriage to marry Ruth. So we see that the law of Moses was not a chain, a leash binding and tethering man to reluctant obedience; for Israel is God's partner, not His dog. But rather was it designed as a springboard towards a culture of grace, kindness and taking initiatives of grace in practice.

Lev 23:23
Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
The feast of trumpets is mentioned separately to that of the day of atonement, but it was clearly intended to prepare for it. To blow trumpets was to proclaim a King, or to rejoice in his kingship. Yahweh was Israel's King. Ps. 81:2,4 interprets the feast as jubilation that God is king and judge of Israel- and this thought of judgment leads to the soberness of the day of Atonement. Yahweh is indeed proclaimed as judge, but we can jubilate in that because He will judge with grace and forgiveness.

Lev 23:24 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest to you, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy assembly-
Neh. 8:2 records that this feast was used in order to teach the law to the assembled people. It was a lead up to the affliction of souls on the tenth day of that month at the day of atonement.

Lev 23:25 You shall do no regular work; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh’-
There is repeated emphasis upon not working whilst remembering God's saving work. Throughout the Mosaic law, there was the clear teaching that it was God's work and not that of man which was to be celebrated and was to be the basis of relationship with God.

Lev 23:26 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
The feast of trumpets featured both conviction of sin and also joy in God's salvation and forgiveness; the same strange mixture of emotions we see in the record of its observance in Neh. 8:1-10, and which we experience in our own lives. And this was all to prepare for the same mixture of emotions at the day of Atonement which followed straight on.

Lev 23:27 However on the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement: it shall be a holy assembly to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh-
"Afflict your souls" is the word used of how the Egyptians had afflicted the Hebrews (Ex. 1:11,12). Repeatedly, Israel were taught that they were to remember the state they had been in prior to their redemption from affliction; and redeem others from their affliction on that basis, and never to afflict people as Egypt had done to them. All this is an abiding principle for us. True redemption of others has to be rooted in an awareness of our own affliction. This is particularly necessary for those who were as it were schooled into Christ by reason of their upbringing. The details of the offerings are given in Num. 29:7-15.

We note from Zech. 8:19 that the fast of the seventh month, which clearly refers to this fasting at the day of atonement, was to be a time of joy and cheerful feasting once Israel were assured of their forgiveness. And this was fulfilled to a limited extent when the exiles [apparently on the day of atonement] mourned in conviction of their sins, and then with their eyes streaming with tears, were told to go and rejoice with a feast (Neh. 8:10). It was this spirit which was to be found in the subsequent feast of tabernacles, which was to commemorate and rejoice in sin forgiven. But there is reason to think that the exiles on that occasion were told to in fact celebrate on that very day of atonement; another indication that God never intended His law to be eternally fixed and literally unchanging. Although it is worth considering whether in fact the law was actually requiring fasting; rather was the emphasis upon affliction of souls after conviction of personal sin.

Lev 23:28 You shall do no kind of work in that same day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before Yahweh your God-
The Hebrew definitely reads as if it is the day of atonement which made atonement. This verse has been clung on to by Judaism at times when the temple was not standing and the sacrifices associated with the day of atonement were not offered. Their argument was and is that it is the day of atonement which makes atonement, because the atonement is from God's sovereign grace. And indeed there is some truth in this. For it was ever impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin, and Paul's argument in Hebrews is based upon the implications of the day of Atonement. It indeed looks ahead to another and more ultimate atonement, by God's grace through His pronouncement. And that pronouncement was made regardless of the Levitical priesthood and sacrifices; it was made over the blood of His crucified Son.

Lev 23:29 For whoever it is who shall not bow himself down in that same day shall be cut off from his people-
But only God could see which soul did not afflict itself (see AV). So many of these laws were not able to be judged by men; and indeed Yahweh was Israel's judge and not any human judiciary. Hence in Is. 58:3-5 we read of God's judgment of an insincerely kept day of Atonement. The people fasted and bowed down their heads- but God saw that it was an affliction of soul, and in fact they did this for the sake of their own egos. They were to afflict their souls and on this basis give practical help to the afflicted souls (Is. 58:3,5,10). And this was to be the spirit of the subsequent feast of booths. Our generosity to others who are afflicted is to be upon the basis of our own conviction of personal sin and self affliction because of it.  

Being "cut off from Israel" may not mean that the person must be slain. For then the phrase "cut off from the earth" would have been used (as in Prov. 2:22 and often). The idea is that the person who ate leaven (Ex. 12:15) or was not circumcised (Gen. 17:14) was excluded from the community of God's people because they had broken or despised the covenant which made them His people. But there is no record of Israel keeping a list of 'cut off from Israel' Israelites and excluding them from keeping the feasts. So we conclude this means that God would consider such persons as cut off from His people. He would do the cutting off, and not men. In His book, they were "cut off". But there was no legal nor practical mechanism provided to Israel to manage the 'cutting off from Israel' of those who despised the covenant. The cutting off was done in God's eyes, in Heaven's record, and the Israelites were intended to continue to fellowship with such persons at the feasts. This is a strong argument for an open table, and for not seeking to make church excommunication the equivalent of this cutting off of the disobedient from the people of Israel. This explains why being "cut off from Israel" is the punishment stated for doing things which man could not see and judge- secretly breaking the Sabbath (Ex. 31:14), eating peace offerings whilst being unclean (Lev. 7:20- for how were others to know whether someone had touched the unclean, or was experiencing an unclean bodily emission), eating meat with blood still in it (Lev. 17:10,14), not adequately humbling the soul (Lev. 23:29), not keeping Passover (Num. 9:13), being presumptuous (Num. 15:30,31- only God can judge that), not washing after touching a dead body (Num. 19:13,20). This is why Lev. 20:6 makes it explicit that "I [Yahweh personally] will set My face against that person, and will cut him off from among his people". It is Yahweh who does the cutting off and not men (also 1 Sam. 2:33).

Lev 23:30 Whoever it is who does any kind of work in that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people-
As explained on :29, the emphasis is upon how God Himself, and not His people, would cut off or destroy such a person. Whilst work was forbidden during the other feasts, this threat is added only here concerning the Day of Atonement. This was how important it was for them to realize that atonement for our sins is in the end by God’s grace through the sacrifice of the animals who represented Christ; and not according to our works.

God in the prophets complains that His people don’t keep the Sabbath. He didn’t cut off the individuals as He threatened. The Lord (Mt. 12:5) said that the priests " profaned" the Sabbath; He didn't say that because they kept the spirit of it, that was acceptable. By using a word as extreme as " profaned" He seems to be even emphasizing the point. This isn’t to say that God says but doesn’t do. It’s just that His grace and patience is beyond His law.

Lev 23:31 You shall do no kind of work: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings-
We note how God so wished the people to cease from their own works, and to believe in justification by faith through grace, rather than by their own works.

Lev 23:32 It shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall bow down yourselves. In the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall keep your Sabbath-
The Sabbath is always called God's Sabbath, celebrating His rest from His works; here, the Sabbath associated with the day of Atonement is called Israel's Sabbath. The need to rest from their own works is so strongly stressed.

Lev 23:33 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
The material about the feasts is clearly split up into clearly defined sections, probably to assist memorization in a largely illiterate society.

Lev 23:34 Speak to the children of Israel, and say, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of tents for seven days to Yahweh-
This was to celebrate the joy of forgiveness received at the day of Atonement. The communal nature of it was in order to provide an opportunity for the generosity to others which was intended to arise from personal experience of God's gift of salvation and forgiveness. See on :29.

Lev 23:35 On the first day shall be a holy assembly: you shall do no regular work-
This huge stress upon not working is to be noted. The feast was celebrating God's forgiveness of His people on the day of Atonement, and it was critical for Israel to realize that it was His grace and not their works which was the basis of their salvation. It is therefore quite wrong to think of the Mosaic law as teaching salvation by works; it taught the very opposite.

Lev 23:36 Seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh. On the eighth day shall be a holy assembly to you; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh. It is a solemn assembly; you shall do no regular work-
The details of the offerings are given in Num. 29:12-38. 13 bullocks were to be sacrificed on the first day, and the number of bullocks decreased by one every day until seven bullocks on the last day. Additionally there were to be two rams and fourteen iambs. The sin offering on each day was one kid of the goats. On the eighth day the burnt offering consisted of one bullock, one ram, seven lambs, and the sin offering of one kid of the goats. Over the eight days, this made a total of seventy-one bullocks, fifteen rams, one hundred and five lambs and eight kids plus meat and drink offerings.

Lev 23:37 These are the appointed feasts of Yahweh, which you shall proclaim to be holy assemblies, to offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh, a burnt offering, and a grain offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, each on its own day-
This is the word used in Ex. 5:13 of the 'daily work quota' of Israel under Egyptian abuse. But the phrase is used of their daily work for Yahweh, in collecting manna (Ex. 16:4) and serving in the tabernacle (Lev. 23:37). They were being reminded that they had changed masters when they crossed the Red Sea, just as Paul says happens when we are baptized (Rom. 6). And the Red Sea crossing represented baptism into Jesus (1 Cor. 10:1,2). Like us, Israel were not radically free to do as they pleased. What happened was that they changed masters; hence the appeal to Pharaoh to let God's people go, that they may serve Him rather than Pharaoh. We too will only find ultimate freedom through this servitude to God's ways, and will finally emerge into the radical liberty of the children of God in the Kingdom age (Rom. 8:21).   

Lev 23:38 besides the Sabbaths of Yahweh, and besides your gifts, and besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to Yahweh-
The repeated use of the word “besides” emphasized that times of special commitment to God shouldn’t lead us to forget the regular sacrifices and devotions which we are to make. An example of this would be that if one spends some days away at a church gathering, we are not to forget our own personal quiet time with God, prayer and Bible reading.

The Hebrew word here for "freewill" carries the idea of spontaneity. This is the clear implication of its usage in places like Ex. 35:27; 36:3; Jud. 5:2,9; 1 Chron. 29:5,9; 2 Chron. 35:8; Ps. 54:6. There is a strong sense of immediate emotion attached to the word (Hos. 14:4). And there was a major emphasis in the law of Moses upon freewill offerings (Lev. 7:16; 22:18,21,23; 23:38; Num. 15:3; 29:39; Dt. 12:6,17; 16:10; 23:23). The other legal codes of the nations around Israel were all about rituals; whereas Yahweh's law encouraged spontaneous giving as part of the way of Yahweh. For He is not a God of rituals, but of relationship. The way of the Spirit is the same today; spontaneous, emotional, personal response to God's grace, responding to Him on our own initiative and in our own way, in addition to obeying His specific requirements.        

Lev 23:39 So on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruits of the land, you shall keep the feast of Yahweh seven days: on the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest-
Leviticus was given at the beginning of the wilderness journey (see on Lev. 1:1). There was continual encouragement that they would indeed possess the promised kingdom and eat the fruits of that land. Just as we are given such continual encouragement by the same God whose greatest will is that we should inherit the Kingdom. This feast would not therefore have been kept whilst Israel lived in tents all the time in the wilderness. Sadly they would have likely considered it an irrelevancy, as in their hearts they returned to Egypt. The solemn rest was ultimately the "rest" of the Kingdom which Joshua didn't give Israel, but the Lord Jesus will. Rev. 7:9-17 uses the imagery of the feast of tabernacles to describe the entire Kingdom of God upon earth; then we will spend eternity in joyful fellowship, celebrating the gift of atonement made possible by the Lord Jesus. The ingathering of fruits of the land / Kingdom would then refer to the time when all the people of God have been gathered in. The firstfruits of that harvest were ultimately the Lord Jesus, but the image also appears to refer to a specific group of Jews saved during the last tribulation (see on Rev. 14:4).

Lev 23:40 You shall take on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your God seven days-
The image of rejoicing Israelites with palms in their hands is the image of Rev. 7:9, used of the final joy of the Kingdom, when forgiveness of sins and atonement comes to its ultimate term. Neh. 8:15 records the fulfillment of this "as it is written" by taking "olive branches". But the olive branches are not listed here; we conclude that obedience "as it is written" still involves keeping the spirit rather than the letter of the law. God is not a literalist nor a legalist, and to interpret the Mosaic law in such a casuistic way is to miss the spirit of the entire law.

Lev 23:41 You shall keep it a feast to Yahweh seven days in the year: it is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall keep it in the seventh month-
The seven days looks forward to the eternity of God's Kingdom. For this feast celebrated the atonement received on the day of atonement.

The whole Law of Moses is described as an everlasting covenant (Is. 24:5; Dt. 29:29), but it has now been done away (Heb. 8:13). The feasts of Passover and Atonement were to be “an everlasting statute unto you” (Lev. 16:34; Ex. 12:14); but now the Mosaic feasts have been done away in Christ (Col. 2:14-17; 1 Cor. 5:7). The Levitical priesthood was “the covenant of an everlasting priesthood” (Ex. 40:15; Num. 25:13), but “the priesthood being changed (by Christ’s work), there is made of necessity a change also of the law” (Heb. 7:12). There was an “everlasting covenant” between God and Israel to display the shewbread in the Holy Place (Lev. 24:8). This “everlasting covenant” evidently ended when the Mosaic Law was dismantled. But the same phrase “everlasting covenant” is used in 2 Samuel 23:5 concerning how Christ will reign on David’s throne for literal eternity in the Kingdom. In what sense, then, is God using the word olahm, which is translated “eternal”, “perpetual”, “everlasting” in the Old Testament? James Strong defines olahm as literally meaning “the finishing point, time out of mind, i.e. practically eternity”. It was God’s purpose that the Law of Moses and the associated Sabbath law were to continue for many centuries. To the early Israelite, this meant a finishing point so far ahead that he couldn’t grapple with it; therefore he was told that the Law would last for ever in the sense of “practically eternity”. For all of us, the specter of ultimate infinity is impossible to intellectually grapple with. We may glibly talk about God’s eternity and timelessness, about the wonder of eternal life. But when we pause to really come to terms with these things, we lack the intellectual tools and linguistic paradigms to cope with it. Therefore there is no Hebrew or Greek word used in the Bible text to speak of absolute infinity. We know that death has been conquered for those in Christ, therefore we have the hope of immortal life in his Kingdom. But God speaks about eternity very much from a human viewpoint.

Lev 23:42 You shall dwell in booths seven days. All who are native-born in Israel shall dwell in booths-
The dwelling in booths / tents is not specifically recorded in the historical record, but we do read that on leaving Egypt, Israel camped at Succoth- a related word to "booths" in Hebrew (Ex. 12:37; 13:20 cp. Gen. 33:17). They camped there in tents; but they camped there in fear of their own vulnerability before Egypt / the world, as well as relief that they had left Egypt / the world. And God wanted His people to always remember that spirit. The booths were not strictly tents, but as it were miniature replicas of the tabernacle. And it was Yahweh who dwelt in the tabernacle. Their dwelling in the mini tabernacles was therefore in order to encourage them to manifest Him, and His generous spirit. Therefore Dt. 16:14 commands that the Gentiles and marginal people should be entertained at this time. So the idea was that they should be generously entertained within the booths erected by the Israelites. This would be an appropriate way of reflecting the generosity shown to them in personal forgiveness (see on :29) and at the deliverance from Egypt (:43).

Lev 23:43 that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh your God’-
It’s not recorded in the account of the Exodus that God made Israel dwell in booths; but see on :42. Often later Scripture gives us extra information about what happened at a historical event. This is why we need to use the entire Bible in order to get the correct picture about what happened in the historical sections.

Israel were "brought forth" from Egypt by God; they had been unwilling to leave Egypt, preferring to serve the Egyptians rather than Yahweh (Ex. 14:12). God had as it were forced through His project of saving Israel by bringing them out of Egypt. And He had done so largely for the sake of Moses, by whose faith the Red Sea parted and they were delivered (Heb. 11:28,29). Therefore Yahweh's bringing Israel out of Egypt was what He did for Moses, and only thereby for His people. We too are brought out of this world towards God's Kingdom by His grace alone, with His consistently taking the initiative in our hearts and life circumstances, in accord with the loving intercession of the Lord Jesus [represented by Moses]. Thus Yahweh brought Israel out of Egypt (Ex. 18:1; 19:1; Lev. 23:43; 25:55; Num. 26:4; 33:1,3,38; Dt. 4:45,46; ), but Moses did (Ex. 3:10,11).

Lev 23:44 Moses declared to the children of Israel the appointed feasts of Yahweh-
The Hebrew for "feasts" means literally an assembly, and the same word is translated "synagogue". The essence of the feasts was therefore the gathering together of God's people, and it is in this spirit that all assemblies of God's people are kept under the new covenant. The Old Testament feasts were therefore by their nature not intended to be kept individually. And it has ever been God's intention that His people should not serve Him in total isolation from each other.