When Balaam raised his eyes and saw Israel dwelling according to its tribes, and the spirit of God rested upon him - Did God confirm through Balaam that Sukkot were good “Tents”?

[Bamidbar | Numbers 24:5] “How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!” ( מַה־טֹּ֥בוּ אֹֽהָלֶ֖יךָ יַֽעֲקֹ֑ב מִשְׁכְּנֹתֶ֖יךָ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל )

Ohaley-kha אֹֽהָלֶ֖יךָ “your-Tents”? Shouldn’t Israelites be in Sukkot “Booths” based on Leviticus 23:42-43?

When God speaks through Moshe instead of Balaam, we learn Israelites lived in סֻּכּ֗וֹת Booths instead of Tents?

[Vayiqra | Leviticus 23:42-43] “For a seven day period you shall live in booths. Every resident among the Israelites shall live in booths” (בַּסֻּכֹּ֥ת תֵּֽשְׁב֖וּ שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֑ים כָּל־הָֽאֶזְרָח֙ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל יֵֽשְׁב֖וּ בַּסֻּכֹּֽת) “in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I YHVH your God.” (לְמַ֘עַן֘ יֵֽדְע֣וּ דֹרֹֽתֵיכֶם֒ כִּ֣י בַסֻּכּ֗וֹת הוֹשַׁ֨בְתִּי֙ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בְּהֽוֹצִיאִ֥י אוֹתָ֖ם מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲנִ֖י יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶֽם)

Were Israelite Sukkot סֻּכּ֗וֹת “Booths” simply Ohalim אֹהָלִים “Tents”?

  • Did Balaam give this prophecy durring Sukkot? I always assumed he just saw the tents of the tribes as they were moving through the land.
    – Robert
    Sep 25, 2021 at 2:53
  • Have you asked this question at מי יודע?
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 25, 2021 at 20:13

1 Answer 1


Balaam's view of the children of Israel encamped by tribe, each tribe around its banner, stands at odds with an observance of the Sukkot festival (feast of tabernacles).

What Balaam Saw

And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him. (Numbers 24:2, KJV)

The feast of tabernacles was not a time when the people would dwell in tents. They were supposed to make shelters for themselves of natural materials.

Instructions for Observance of Sukkot

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD. (Leviticus 23:34, KJV)

On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. (Leviticus 23:35, KJV)

Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: 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. (Leviticus 23:36, KJV)

. . .

And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. (Leviticus 23:40, KJV)

And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. (Leviticus 23:41, KJV)

Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: (Leviticus 23:42, KJV)

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 the LORD your God. (Leviticus 23:43, KJV)

The passage indicates that the children of Israel dwelt in booths made of boughs from trees. They did not dwell in tents during this week; therefore, Balaam could not have observed them during the feast of tabernacles.


Booths were not tents, but were shelters made of tree branches, and, since he saw their tents, Balaam cannot have observed the Israelites during Sukkot.

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