Articles on Shavuot

That Fateful Shavu'ot

Written by Ariel Berkowtiz
The principle of Biblical continuity, or progressive revelation, is an important factor to consider when we are attempting to understand how the revelation of the Brit Chadasha relates to the revelation in the period of the Torah. Progressive revelation is the theological way of describing the fact that God discloses His truths in a gradual and deliberate manner. Dr. Clarence E. Mason defines this concept, as follows: "It was not God's purpose to reveal all the truth concerning any one doctrine at one given time. Rather His method has been to unfold progressively the doctrine through successive writers. In light of this fact, later books may be expected to elaborate upon and elucidate the teachings of the earlier."

There are many examples that can illustrate the concept of progressive revelation. Perhaps one of the most exciting is comparing the concept of the Mishkan/Temple in the Tanakh with the Temple discussed in the Brit Chadasha. When we explore this comparison, we will be better equipped to understand one of the most important events in the history of God's people, the events that took place in Acts chapter 2 and that fateful Pentecost.

Evangelical scholars generally agree that "The Word teaches that the Church was founded on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2)." 1 We think that there might be another explanation for what happened in Acts chapter 2.

What we are about to say is merely a suggestion! We do not mean to propagate the following as if it is absolute truth. It is difficult to be a theological fish and attempt to swim upstream against the current fashions of biblical interpretation. In a sense, that is what we are about to do in presenting our theory below. What you are about to read is our attempt to practice the principle of progressive revelation and apply it to the biblical teaching concerning the nature of the body of Messiah. Please grant us the grace to be wrong, if necessary! At the same time, please give the following ideas a chance.....

Weak on the Feast of Weeks or Whatever Happened to Shavuot?

Written by Richard Robinson

Ellen Frankel calls Shavuot "a neglected stepchild" of the Jewish holidays. Other holidays have memorable traditions or customs to serve as a symbols: Passover/bitter herbs, Yom Kippur/fasting, Hanukkah/dreidels. The elements of association for Shavuot (dairy products, the book of Ruth, and the scroll of the Torah) are less familiar. Shavuot as a commemoration of the Giving of the Law and as an agricultural holiday has little dramatic appeal. Not many Jews live on farms today and not many believe that the Almighty literally carved the Law on tablets of stone. Perhaps because Shavuot is not tied directly to a biblical/historical event it does not get much attention.

After all, the Passover seder festivities recalls the dramatic events of the Exodus from Egypt. At Purim we have the reading of the scroll of Esther and the staging of plays and carnivals. The special synagogue readings and chants make Yom Kippur a holy day that stands apart from all others with its solemnity and quality of awe. But what can we say today about Shavuot?

The Original "Earth Day?"

There was a time when Shavuot occupied a most important position for our people. The Bible describes it as being an agricultural holiday--an occasion to present the first of the crops to God. In Bible times, agriculture was the basis of the economy; the basis of life. People's welfare and wealth were tied to the land. In an agrarian society, the "paycheck" was the harvest, and there could be "deductions" in pestilence, thievery and drought....


Written by Glenn Kay
First Fruits like most Biblical feasts it s best understood by the name. It is a day of bringing the First Fruits of the harvest as an offering to the Lord. Just prior to this festival is another called Sfirat Haomer - counting the omer - which is the early harvest of the season of barley. Bikkurim is the later harvest of wheat.

Shavuot - this word is the Hebrew word for Weeks. There is a set time period when it is celebrated. In (Lev 23:16) - its says to count 50 days after the seventh Sabbath. The seventh Sabbath of the year is at the time of Passover. So in addition to being tied to the harvest it is also connected to the Passover.

Pentecost - this is the name given to the feast in the New Coventant Scriptures. It is the same feast as Bikkurim or Shavuot. The difference in the name is that Pentecost is a Greek word meaning 50.

The Timing of Shavuot

Written by Adam J. Bernay

Last year, I got a frantic call from someone who heads a small Messianic house group, and he said to me, “The Jewish calendar I have says Shavuot is on Wednesday, May 19, but we scheduled it for Sunday, May 23, because you said that's when it is.”

“That is when it is.”
“But the Jewish calendar says it's Wednesday.”

This year, similar conversation, except the Jewish calendar says it's... well, that it was Wednesday, June 8, instead of Sunday, June 12. And because I'm such a stickler for keeping Torah-commanded festivals on the day in which they're commanded, this has been confusing for some people, so I thought I would clarify why Shavuot – some times known as Pentecost – is always on Sunday, and suggest some reasons why traditional Judaism keeps it incorrectly. Let's start by looking at the commandment for the timing of Shavuot as given in Leviticus. But we have to back it up to the previous commandment, which is the commandment for Yom HaBikkurim (Day of the First Fruits), following the commandments for Pesach (Passover) and Chag Matzah (Feast of Unleavened Bread) and I will intersperse some commentary in between:

Leviticus 23:9-16 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.

Here is the first point of differentiation. Traditional Judaism – following the opinion of the Pharisaic school – interprets the “Sabbath” in this commandment as meaning the Festival Sabbath that is the first day of unleavened bread.

The interpretation given by the Sadducees, the Essenes, and several other schools is that it means the weekly Sabbath. And if this statement stood alone, I would say there is room for either interpretation. However, as we continue, we see that one of these interpretations cannot work. We pick up at verse fourteen:

'Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete Sabbaths.'

Here is where we see a second point of differentiation. Traditional Judaism – again, following the opinion of the Pharisaic school – interpretively translates the last phrase in this commandment as “seven full weeks.” The Sadducees, the Essenes, and several other schools stick to what they say is a more literal translations, “seven complete Sabbaths,” as the translation we're using, the New American Standard, does. Which is correct? Well, let's look at the Hebrew. The wording is “sheva tahmeem Shabbatot.” Sheva means seven, tahmeem means complete, whole, or sound, and Shabbatot means Sabbaths. To mean seven full weeks, it would be “sheva tahmeem Shavuot.”


Shavuot: The Feast of Weeks - An Earthly and Spiritual Harvest

Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks, is one of the three "convocations of the Lord" that, along with Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, constitute the "appointed times" (Leviticus 23:4) for Israel to gather in Jerusalem. It may be thought of as a unit with Passover, as we will soon see, for a number of reasons-including the close connection between the life and ministry of Jesus the Messiah and the gift of the Holy Spirit that empowers the Lord's people to do His work.

Shavuot's Biblical Basis

As the Book of Leviticus describes, the first connection between Passover and Shavuot is that they move together on the Jewish calendar-"On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD's days you must eat unleavened bread.

The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD" (Leviticus 23: 5, 6, 8, 15-17).

Therefore, regardless of where Passover falls on our "modern" calendar, Shavuot is sure to follow fifty days after the second day of Passover. This fifty-day period is where another name for the feast comes from: Pentecost....


Written by D. Thomas Lancaster

Most Christians know the story of Pentecost in Acts chapter two: the mighty wind, the tongues of fire, Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) and the speaking in every language. Very few, however, are aware of the Torah background behind this event.

As believers return to an observance of the biblical festivals, they are always blessed and delighted by Shavuot. The church holiday they once knew only as a remembrance of Acts chapter two is actually a biblical appointment filled with a wealth of meaning and symbolism.

From the Barley Harvest to the Wheat Harvest

The Torah commands us to count the days of the Omer. On the day after the Sabbath during the week of the Festival of Unleavened Bread-the day on which the first fruits of the barley were harvested and offered up in the Temple-we are commanded to begin a countdown to the next festival.1 We are told to count forty-nine days, and upon their completion, the fiftieth day is the appointed time of the Festival of Pentecost. Both the English and Hebrew names for the festival reflect this counting. The English name, Pentecost, is from the Greek equivalent of "fiftieth day." The Hebrew name for the festival is Shavuot, which means "weeks." It is so named because of the seven full weeks (forty-nine days) of counting. The counting is a chain that links the Festival of Unleavened Bread to Shavuot. In this sense, Shavuot concludes the festival season that began with Passover.

Shavuot is a harvest festival. Just as the week of Unleavened Bread celebrates the ripening of the barley crop, in a similar way, Shavuot celebrates the ripening of the wheat crop. At Shavuot, the first fruits of the wheat harvest were brought to the Temple and baked into two loaves of leavened bread. The interim forty-nine days of counting are called "the counting of the Omer" because day one begins the harvest of a single barley sheaf (omer) and day forty-nine concludes the harvest of the wheat sheaves. In addition to wheat, the pilgrims celebrating Shavuot brought with them the first fruits of all their crops and offered them before the altar....

When Should Shavuot Be Celebrated?

Written by Nehemia Gordon


havuot (Feast of Weeks/ Pentecost) is the Biblical harvest-festival celebrated 50 days after the Sunday which falls out during Passover. These fifty days are called the Counting of the Omer. The Rabbis incorrectly celebrate Shavuoth on the 6th of Sivan.

What is Shavuot?

Hag Ha-Shavuot, is the second of the three annual Hagim [Pilgrimage-Festivals] in the Hebrew Calendar and is known in English as the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. Shavuot is also referred to in the Torah as Hag HaKatzir (Feast of Harvest) [Ex 23,16] and Yom HaBikurim (Day of Firstfruits) [Nu 28,26]. In Post-Biblical times Shavuot was believed to be the anniversary of the Revelation at Sinai, but there is no basis for this in the Tanach (Hebrew Bible). 1

When is Shavuot?

Unlike all the other Holidays in the Tanach, the Feast of Weeks is not given a fixed calendar date but instead we are commanded to celebrate it at the end of a 50-day period known as "The Counting of the Omer" (Shavuot being the 50th day). 2 The commencement of this 50-day period is marked by the bringing of the Omer Offering in the Temple as we read, "And you shall count from the morrow after the Sabbath from the day you bring the Omer [Sheaf] of Waving; seven complete Sabbaths shall you count... until the morrow of the seventh Sabbath you will count fifty days... and you shall proclaim on this very day, it shall be a holy convocation for you " (Lev 23,15-16.21). In late Second Temple times a debate arose between the Boethusians and the Pharisees about whether the "morrow after the Sabbath" [Heb. Mimohorat Ha-Shabbat] refers to the Sunday during Hag HaMatzot [Feast of Unleavened Bread] or the second day of Hag HaMatzot (i.e. the 16th of Nissan). Like the Boethusians and Ancient Israelites before them, the Karaites count the 50 days of the Omer from the Sunday during Hag HaMatzot and consequentially always celebrate Shavuot on a Sunday.

The Rabbanites claim that in the phrase "the morrow after the Sabbath" the "Sabbath" referred to is the first day of Hag HaMatzot. They argue that this day is referred to as a Sabbath because work is forbidden on it. However, the fact is that the Tanach never calls this day a Sabbath 3 and if we look at the actual commandment in the Torah, this Rabbanite interpretation is untenable. We are commanded in Lev 23,16 "Until the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall you count fifty days". While the first day of Hag HaMatzot could theoretically be called a Sabbath there is no way the 49th day of the Omer could be called a Sabbath, since (according to the Rabbanite theory) this day is neither a holiday nor a Sabbath. This being so, in the Rabbanite reckoning the 50th day of the Omer (=Shavuot) would NOT be on "the morrow after the seventh Sabbath" as commanded in Lev 23,16. Instead it would be on the morrow after the 7th Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday or whatever day it happened to fall out after (see chart). The only way for the 49th day of the Omer to be a Sabbath, thereby making the 50th day "the morrow after the Sabbath" as commanded in Lev 23,16, is if the 1st day of the Omer is on a Sunday.


The Shavuot Date Debate

Written by Baruch Ben Daniel

P erhaps you've come up against "the Great Controversy" regarding which Shabbat determines the Feast of First Fruits; the weekly Seventh Day Shabbat; or the annual Shabbat of Chag HaMatzah (Feast of Unleavened Bread)?  Yom Omer is the day that one begins to count the omer that leads up to Shavuot (Feast of Weeks -Pentecost is from Greek) fifty days later.  Scripture says that we are to begin counting on the "day after Shabbat" during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

"And you shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall you number fifty days;" ( Leviticus 23:15-16)

Shavuot is a Shabbat unto YHWH and no work is to be done, therefore it is very important to know which day we are to begin the count.  The Sadducees elected to follow the weekly Seventh Day Shabbat, but, the Pharisees opted for the first Shabbat of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the annual High day Shabbat.

We know that Mashiyach presented himself to the Father as the wavesheaf offering of Firstfruits the day after the weekly Shabbat. In fact it was on the first day of the week (a Sunday) when Y'shua said to Miriam in John 20:17 "do not touch me because I have not ascended to my Father," but later that day he had returned and appeared to other disciples.  Y'shua also stated that he would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  He was put in the grave on the eve of the preparation day, just before the first Shabbat of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, not a weekly Shabbat but the Shabbat of the Feast.  Pesach was on a Wednesday and he was put in the tomb just before sunset on Wednesday afternoon.  Three days and three nights later means that he resurrected before sundown on the end of the weekly Shabbat.  Y'shua said he would be in the tomb three days and three nights as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish, he said and meant three literal days and three literal nights.  A Tuesday or Thursday Pesach does not work.  Pesach would have had to fall on a Wednesday if Mashiyach was up out of the tomb before Firstfruits which was on Sunday, if it were a day or two after Wednesday we would not have a full three days and three nights.  Neither would Y'shua say "don't touch me" if he had already presented himself when he was first seen on Sunday morning.  Obviously Y'shua did this for a good reason, this testimony made it into the written record so we can understand that he fulfilled the Firstfruits offering on the appointed day.  But the thinking that Firstfruits has to be on a Sunday because of the resurrection, isn't the only strong argument that can be made.

It's certainly not a "goyish" thing either as some posture that Yom HaBikkurim must fall on the day after the weekly Shabbat.  Sadducees, Karaite and Essenes are as Jewish as the Pharisees and they concluded that Shavuot always falls on a Sunday.  The Essenes though, waited until the following Shabbat after the Chag, rather than the first weekly Shabbat during the Chag before they began counting the omer.

There are some good arguments on both sides of this issue, but it seems that Yom haBikkurim or the counting of the omer begins the day after the first weekly Shabbat after Pesach, not the Shabbat of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

If the Shabbat of Unleavened Bread were intended, it is more likely that miqra kodesh would have been noted in Torah, rather than "Shabbat".  Read Vayikra/Leviticus 23:3-11 and you will discover that "Shabbat" is NOT mentioned for either the first miqra kodesh of Unleavened Bread, nor the last, but in verse 11 the day after "Shabbat" is the word used for determining Yom HaBikkurim.


Emor "Say"

Written by: Rabbi Yaakov benYosef
Vayikra (Leviticus) 21:1- 24:23

The most notable aspect of Emor is its detailed explanations of the proper way to observe the Holy Days. One of the most detailed of these explanations describes how to properly observe the feast of Shavuot. Shavuot, also known as the Feast of Weeks, is set aside to honor the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. In the Brit Hadashah Shavuot is known to many Christians by its Greek title, which is Pentecost. When comparing the Shavuot references in the Torah with the references concerning Pentecost in the Brit Hadashah it becomes clear that the Torah and the Ruach HaKodesh were both received on Shavuot. Therefore, the receiving of the Ruach HaKodesh and the receiving of the Torah are accompanied by similar signs. Shemot 19:16 states "it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled." The parallel passage to this appears in Acts 2:2-4 and states "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Both the giving of the Torah and the Ruach HaKodesh were accompanied by fire, noise, and HaShem speaking. HaShem gave similar signs to the people so that they would equate the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh with the giving of the Torah. As messianic believers we should observe Shavuot and remember the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh as well as the giving of the Torah.

Unfortunately, there has never been a totally unified agreement on how to determine what day to celebrate Shavuot. The disunity arises as a result of this passage in Emor which states "you shall count unto you from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete:"(Vayikra 23:15) Some communities interpret the Shabbat mentioned in this passage as the Shabbat that is on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. While other communities interpret the Shabbat in this passage to be the weekly Shabbat that occurs during the week of unleavened bread. As believers in Yeshua we must look at the life of Yeshua to calculate how our community should determine the day that Shavuot occurs. To accomplish this we must reconcile Yeshua's actions with the Torah. The best place to start is 1Corinthians15:20 which states "now is Messiah risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept" Form the passage we can see that Yeshua is literally the first-fruits of those that sleep. According to Rav Shaul Yeshua is our first-fruit because He was the first to be raised from the dead. Therefore, it is imperative that we link his resurrection to the first-fruit offering. This is very easy to do when we realize that Yeshua promised to give His generation the sign of Jonah. Mathew 12:40 states "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."In this passage Yeshua makes it clear that He is going to be in the ground exactly three days and three nights. For Yeshua to remain in the ground for exactly three days and three nights His resurrection would need to occur three days and three nights after He died. Therefore, if Yeshua died on Passover, as most believe, He could not be resurrected on the day after the first Shabbat of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He could only be resurrected at a time when He had fulfilled His promise of the sign of Jonah. Mathew 28:1 clarifies the exact timing of Yeshua's resurrection by stating "In the end of the Shabbat, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher" According to this passage, it was just starting to become the first day of the week. The biblical day begins the night before. Therefore, dawning toward the first day of the week indicates that it was just becoming the first day. In other words, it was after the seventh day and just beginning the first day.

When Mary Magdalene and company visited the tomb Yeshua had already risen. We can see this in Mathew 28:6 which states "He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay." Yeshua was resurrected during the weekly Shabbat before it started to become the first day of the week. As a conformation we see that Yeshua's first duty after His resurrection was to present the wave offering to HaShem. In John 20:17 Yeshua states "Yeshua saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." It is clear that before anything else Yeshua was first required to ascend to the Father as the first-fruit offering. Therefore, to determine the day of Shavuot we must reconcile Yeshua's resurrection with Vayikra 23:16, which states, "Even unto the morrow after the seventh Shabbat shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD. You shall bring out of your houses two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD." Since Yeshua is the first-fruit offering it is clear that this passage is talking about beginning the countdown to Shavuot on the day after the seventh day Shabbat. Therefore, the proper time to observe Shavuot is fifty days after Yeshua ascended as the first fruit-wave offering. This reconciles with the Brit Hadashah since the day of Pentecost occurred fifty days after the resurrection....


Shavuot and its Impact upon a Messianic Soteriology

Written by Scott Nassau
Recent discussions within Messianic Judaism have addressed various aspects of soteriology.  Unfortunately, the relationship between Shavuot and the Messianic view of salvation is often missing from the dialogue.  Yet, in Luke-Acts, the events on Shavuot are the culmination of Messiah's redemptive work.  Therefore, this paper will explore the significance in the arrival of the Spirit on Shavuot and its impact upon the development of a Messianic soteriology.*

The Anticipation of Shavuot in Luke-Acts

Luke's portrayal of Yeshua's life continually anticipates the Father's promise of the Spirit and culminates with the pouring out of the Spirit on Shavuot (Acts 2:1-41). When Yohanan called the nation to repentance, he described the coming Messiah as one who would purify Israel by means of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and with fire (Luke 3:16).[1] Following his death and resurrection, Yeshua guaranteed he would send the Spirit and instructed his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received the power of the Ruach HaKodesh (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Thus, when the disciples gathered in Jerusalem for the observance of Shavuot, they received the Father's promise when they were filled with the Ruach HaKodesh (Acts 2:4).[2] Peter indicates the significance of this event when he shows the relationship between the forgiveness in Messiah and the gift of the Spirit (Acts 2:38). Therefore, the giving of the Spirit on Shavuot accompanied the message of salvation and was the "realization to the Messiah's promised work."[3] In the message of Luke-Acts, Yeshua's work is not complete until he pours out the Spirit on Shavuot, since God inaugurates his kingdom through the Messiah who imparts the Spirit (Matt 3:2, 11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16).....

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