The Feast of Weeks - Pentecost (Shavuot)

The Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22; Numbers 28:26-31; Leviticus 23:15-21) is the second of the three major Jewish festivals (the other two are Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles). All adult males were required to travel to the sanctuary to take part. This festival was observed 7 weeks from the second day of Passover, on which was the offering of barley sheaf, hence the name of the festival. It is also known as Pentecost (Pentecost is Greek for 50 days), because it falls on the 50th day (7 weeks is 49 days so the day after is the 50th).

The Feast of Weeks was observed after the Israel people settled in the Promised Land. On this day, no work was permitted. The people would gather at the Tabernacle to thank God for the harvest. It marked the time when the first fruits of the wheat harvest were gathered and offered to the Lord, and was also known as the Feast of the Ingathering. It also commemorated the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.

Offerings

This was one of the seven high days, which were to be treated like Sabbaths. Therefore two additional lambs were to be offered as burnt offering after the morning service. In addition, the offerings on this day consisted of:

* Numbers 28:27 recorded 2 bulls and 1 ram, but Leviticus 23:18 recorded 1 bull and 2 rams.

The First Pentecost after Christ's Resurrection

Acts 2 recorded the descent of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. The custom required all the males to travel to Jerusalem and gather at the temple. While gathering in the temple, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. Then Peter stood up to address the crowd. On that day, 3,000 accepted his message and became believers. That was probably the largest group of people accepting Christ in one meeting in the history of mankind.

Pentecost was the only festival that leavened bread was used. It was very unusual because leaven represents something that is false, impure, sinful. Here it signifies the offering of sinners, that is, bringing them to Christ. The 3,000 new believers were the first fruits of the harvest and were presented to God on the first Pentecost after Christ was resurrected.

Related Topics

The Jewish Calendar - Presents an overview of the Jewish Calendar and Festivals. Also provides links to online tools.

The Five Offerings - Presents an overview of the sacrificial system.

References

Jewish 101. "Shavu'ot." http://www.jewfaq.org/holidayc.htm

The Wild Olive. "Sha Vu Ot - Pentecost." http://fp.thebeers.f9.co.uk/shavuot.htm