A rendering, in the English versions of the Bible, of the Hebrew word "sukkah"; also occasionally translated "pavilion" or "cottage." The ordinary habitation of the nomad is the tent, a rough textile fabric of goat's hair, stretched on poles (see Tent). This tent is distinguished in the Old Testament from the booths, or habitations formed of branches, foliage, etc., occasionally constructed with the aid of clay, examples of which may still be found among the Arabs of the Sinaitic peninsula. According to the law as given in Lev. xxiii. 42 et seq., the custom of dwelling in booths during the Feast of Tabernacles was instituted for the purpose of reminding the Israelites that, in the journey across the desert, their forefathers had also dwelt in booths. But the term here is undoubtedly employed in a general and not in a specific sense, and probably signifies every species of this form of habitation.
The passage Gen. xxxiii. 17 proves that the nomads also used their tents as shelters for their cattle, and it is probable that the peasant of fixed habitation did likewise. These huts were also erected for the watchmen in the field (Isa. i. 8), as well as for the soldiers encamped before the city (II Sam. xi. 11). But they served above all as a protection against the sun; and the prophet Jonah before Nineveh seeks shade under a booth (Jonah iv. 5). Even to-day it is customary in certain parts of Palestine to erect arbors of leafy branches upon the housetops as a protection against the heat; and during the harvests of the orchards and the vintage, for the villagers to go into their gardens, and dwell there for days in their leafy cottages. The Feast of Tabernacles, therefore, commemorates a very ancient custom; for it is the great harvest and thanksgiving festival. See Tabernacles, Feast of, and Feasts.