Eighth Day: a solemn assembly or a day of rejoicing?

Picture for Eighth Day Article - Artist Odilon Redon - And the Devil That Deceived Them was Cast into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone, Where the Beast and the False Prophet Are
Et le diable qui les séduisait, fut jeté dans l’étang de feu et de soufre, où est la bête et le faux prophète (1899) Odilon Redon

There are seven appointed times throughout the year that the LORD wants us to keep. Each of them gives us a glimpse into his plan to bring mankind into his kingdom—his family. The final appointed time is called the Eighth Day.

. . . on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.

Lev 23:36 KJV

This is what the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says about the Eighth Day:

The Eighth Day of Assembly immediately following the last day of Tabernacles (Le 23:36; Nu 29:35 ff; Joh 7:37) and closing the long cycle of Tishri festivals seems to have been merely a final day of rejoicing before the pilgrims returned to their homes.

ISBE 1844-1913 ed.

These references indicate clearly that the Feast of Tabernacles is seven days and the Eighth Day is a separate appointed day.

To understand the significance of the Eighth Day, we will examine in the scripture two instances of what happens on an eighth day, and we will examine the word translated as solemn assembly in the King James translation. We might be surprised to see how poorly it’s been understood.

There are two events that must occur on an eighth day: circumcision and the presenting of the cleansed leper.

Table of Contents

Circumcision on the eighth day

This is My covenant which ye keep between Me and you, and thy seed after thee: Every male of you is to be circumcised; and ye have circumcised the flesh of your foreskin, and it hath become a token of a covenant between Me and you. And a son of eight days is circumcised by you; every male to your generations, born in the house, or bought with money from any son of a stranger, who is not of thy seed;

Gen 17:10-12 YLT

Paul clearly tells us what that circumcision on the eighth day represents–the true circumcision of putting off the body of sins of the flesh. “. . . in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.” Col 2:11

Not only was circumcision for ancient Israel, it is still for believers today, although performed in the spirit by Christ for the purpose of putting off the body of the sins of the flesh.

The cleansed leper on the eighth day

The second event that takes place on an eighth day concerns the cleansed leper being presented and made to stand before the the LORD.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest: And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper;

Lev 14:1-3:

Next the priest performs some sacrifices and uses the blood to sprinkle the leper. Further down in verse 10 it continues.

And on the eighth day … the priest that maketh him clean shall present the man that is to be made clean, and those things, before the LORD, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:

Lev 14:10-11 KJV

The Strong’s number for the word “present” in verse 11 is No.5975. Gesenius’ Hebrew Lexicon shows it to be of the Hiphil verb stem, which means to cause to stand and to remain firm. We get a sense of this word in Psalm 31 where this same verb stem is translated as set my feet. “And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room.” Ps 31:7-8 KJV

So in summary of these two events that occur on an eighth day, we have in circumcision, the removing of flesh (aka sins of the flesh), and in the cleansing law of a leper, we have the priest presenting and causing the cleansed leper to stand, that is to remain firm, to be set before the LORD at the doorway of the tabernacle.

A solemn assembly?

Most translations use the two words solemn assembly in Leviticus 23:36. Some use the words restrained (a much closer translation). Many people, and obviously many translators, think that the day is to be kept by restraining oneself emotionally. In an attempt to answer why we should be solemn (meaning quite and serious), some have said it is because we will be sad over the death of those who have not “accepted Christ”. Really? Let’s examine the Hebrew word translated as solemn assembly in Leviticus 23:36 and look at some other scriptures to find out if this is so.

. . . on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.

Lev 23:36

Solemn assembly is one Hebrew word, Strong’s No. 6116. It is a noun. Gesenius’ Lexicon says that the word means assembly. Gesenius then directs us to the root word from which it is derived, Strong’s No. 6113, which is a verb, not a noun. (Many words in English are also derived from verbs, and vice-versa.) He directs us specifically to the Niphal verb-stem definition No. 3.

  • Niphal No. 1: to be shut up.
  • Niphal No. 2: to be restrained, hindered.
  • Niphal No. 3: to be gathered together (from the idea of restraining, compelling).

From Niphal definition No. 3, Gesenius directs us to I Samuel 21:7 where this verb stem is used.

Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the LORD; and his name was Doeg, an Edomite, the chiefest of the herdmen that belonged to Saul. [emphasis added]

1 Sam 21:7 KJV

The Douay-Rheims Bible translates it this way: “Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, within the tabernacle of the Lord: and his name was Doeg, an Edomite, the chiefest of Saul’s herdsmen. 1 Sam 21:7 KJV

Doeg was detained before the LORD. That is to say he was within the tabernacle of the LORD.

Another use of this Niphal verb-stem is in Judges 13 verse 15: “And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.

The idea of this verb, the one from which the noun assembly is derived, is to abide in, to be shut up in, to be compelled to be gathered together, to be detained in a particular place—as in a place of assembly or a tabernacle.

However, the word in Leviticus 23 is not the verb 6113; rather, it is a detained assembly (noun). From the noun’s verb-stem root, we understand the meaning is that we are being gathered together and detained by an external compelling source, namely the LORD.

Noah and the Ark: A detained assembly

Let’s now look at a situation in which an assembly of people were shut up in, restrained (detained) in a particular place. Although the phrase “shut him in” is not from No. 6116, this is a good example of people (and animals) being compelled to gather together for the purpose of being saved from destruction.

And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; . . .Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. . . . For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. . . . [dropping down to verse 16] And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.

Gen 7:1-16 KJV

Why were they all assembled within the ark? Because the LORD was going to destroy “every living substance” that he made. And we are told in Genesis Chapters 8 and 9 the reasons God caused the flood, and we are also told a promise he made: “And I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you, and every living soul in all flesh. And the waters shall not again become a flood to destroy all flesh. Lev 9:15

The LORD promised to never again destroy all flesh with a flood. However, the apostle Peter talks about a new form of destruction to come—that is to say, an ending of all flesh, not by water but by fire.

. . .that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition [destruction] of ungodly men. . . . But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

2 Peter 3:5-10 KJV

The second death and the eighth day

So there is a day coming in which all the wicked will be destroyed by fire—a removal of all flesh. John talks about that day. It’s called the second death. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Rev 20:14

The Eighth Day celebrates the end of all flesh when all the wicked will perish.

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Rev 21:8 KJV

But outside are the dogs and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and everyone loving a lie, and making it. Rev 22:15 LITV

It is also the day when the devil, the beast, and the false prophet will be cast into the lake of fire. Rev 20:10

In contrast, the Eighth Day celebrates eternal life for all those within the city, where the LORD is their God and they are his people—when the cleansed leper is made to stand before the LORD.

Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to come to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city. Rev 22:14 ASV

. . .To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” Rom 14:4

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. Rev 2:11 KJV

A time of rejoicing—not sadness

For those who have received the inheritance of eternal life, the Eighth Day will be a time of great rejoicing and not sadness.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. . . .The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. Ps 46:4, 6 KJV

Let them melt away as waters which run continually: when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in pieces. . . . The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. . . . So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth. Ps 58:7-11

Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. Ps 68:1-3

It would also be safe to say that no one is going to be sad over the devil, the beast, the false prophet, and death and hades being cast into the lake of fire.

In summary

Circumcision on the eighth day represents a removing of all flesh; and on the eighth day a cleansed leper is made to stand before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle; and the word assembly means a detained assembly, the idea being that the LORD has assembled and detained us together within.

On the Eighth Day we are gathered together by the spirit of the LORD within the city of New Jerusalem. But outside are the wicked—including the devil, the beast and the false prophet—who will perish. So on the next Eighth Day: Let us rejoice! And be exceedingly glad!