The seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth) is referred to as Hoshanah (Hoshanah Harabbah, Great Hosanna, Hoshanna Rabbah or Festival of Willows). It was technically the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. On this day the people would go to the synagogue and take a bundle of willows and some palm branches with them. The Hoshanot, The Psalms that begin with the word hoshana, were recited each of the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles. It is from the word hoshana that the word hosanna. Hosanna is based on a Greek word of the New Testament that was derived from a combination of two Hebrew words of the Old Testament, pronounced yaw-shah, meaning to save or deliver, and naw, meaning pray. Originally intended as “Save/deliver us, I/we pray,” hosanna is now more often used as an exclamation of praise.
Psalm 118:25-26 NKJV
“Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.”
In the center of the synagogue the elders would march around the ark that held their torah scrolls. The people would march around the ark waving the palm branches seven times, crying, “Hoshana.” After the seventh time, the palm branches are laid down and the willows are beaten. This symbolized the casting away of sin.
The beating of the willows is also associated with the Geshem, or rain prayers. This physical act points to what happens in the spiritual realm. Succoth is a time of harvest, so literal rain is very much needed for the crops.
Joel 2:23-29 NKJV
“Be glad then, you children of Zion, And rejoice in the Lord your God; For He has given you the former rain faithfully, And He will cause the rain to come down for you— The former rain, And the latter rain in the first month. The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil. “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame. Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the Lord your God And there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame. “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days”
A great spiritual harvest is also coming, so we must pray for the rain of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit creates a spiritual thirst, convinces the world of sin, draws the sinner to Christ, and empowers us to be a witness for Christ.
John 16:7-11 NJKV
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
Without the Holy Spirit the believer cannot be an effective witness, and there will not be a harvest of souls into the kingdom of God.