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The Harvest of Shavuot and the Ten Commandments

In giving the laws for His people, God set several appointed “feasts of the Lord” for Israel to observe at specific times during the year (Leviticus 23). These feasts were holy convocations or assembly meetings for the Hebrew people. The seven seasonal Feasts of the Lord are Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. The weekly Sabbath is also considered a” holy convocation” but it is not seasonal; rather, it is to be observed weekly.


When God gave Moses the law (ten commandments), statutes, and ordinances on Mount Sinai, He commanded the children of Israel to observe and keep the Sabbath, both the weekly Sabbath (seventh day of the week) and the Sabbath of the seventh year (every seventh year). The weekly Sabbath is mentioned repeatedly throughout the Torah. The Sabbath of the seventh year is first introduced in Exodus 23:10-11. “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner, you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.” Every seventh year is known as a Shemitah year. The 50th year is known as a Jubilee and is described in Leviticus 25.


THE FEASTS OF THE LORD


Most Bible scholars believe these feasts of the LORD have a dual fulfillment. One was historically fulfilled by Israel in the past during the time of the Exodus and the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. The other fulfillment is divided into two parts. The first four spring feasts (Shavuot comes in late spring/early summer) were fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ at his first advent (Pentecost occurred 10 days after His heavenly ascension). Jesus will fulfill the last three fall feasts during his second advent. His is the ultimate fulfillment. That is why they are called the feasts of the Lord and not the feasts of Israel. They could very well have been called the feasts ‘about’ the Lord. “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17). We will examine this more thoroughly later in the follow-up article.


The feasts of the Lord all revolve around the harvest seasons. Barley is harvested in early spring, wheat in the late spring/early summer, and fruit and olives in the fall season. God required all Jewish men to gather before the Lord during these three harvest seasons. “You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread: (you shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it you came out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty. And the feast of harvest, the first fruits of your labors, which you have sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when you have gathered in thy labors out of the field. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the LORD God” (Exodus 23:14-17).


In the above passage, Passover and Firstfruits are included in the feast of Unleavened Bread. The feast of harvest (or the feast of weeks) is known as Shavuot (in Hebrew) to the Jews and Pentecost (in Greek) to Christians. Shavuot, the plural of a word meaning "week" or "seven" alludes to the fact that this festival happens exactly seven weeks (i.e. "a week of weeks") after Passover/Unleavened Bread. Hellenistic Jews gave it the name "Pentecost" (Koine Greek: “fiftieth day”). The feast of ingathering is the seventh feast of the Lord known as Tabernacles.


It’s not until Leviticus 23 that we see all seven individual feasts of the Lord. Passover occurs on the 14th day of the first month (Abib or Nisan). The second feast, Unleavened Bread, occurs from the 15th of Nisan to the 21st of Nisan. The first and seventh days of the F.U.B. are holy convocations where no work is permitted. The third feast, Firstfruits, is not given a specific date but occurs on the day after the Sabbath following Passover according to Leviticus 23:11. “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.” There is some discrepancy regarding the timing of the “sabbath” mentioned in this verse, as we will discuss below.


The fourth feast of the Lord, Shavuot, is celebrated 50 days after the Sabbath 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; and you shall offer a new grain offering unto the Lord” (Leviticus 23:15-16). Shavuot is also considered a holy convocation where no work is permitted according to verse 21.

The three fall feasts occur in the seventh month of Tishri on the Jewish calendar. Trumpets occurs on Tishri 1 and is a no-work holy convocation day. The Day of Atonement occurs on the 10th day of Tishri and is a no-work holy convocation day as well. The Feast of Tabernacles starts on Tishri 15 and ends on Tishri 22. The first and eighth days are considered no-work holy convocation days. In this study, we will mainly focus on Shavuot. For a more detailed study on the seven feasts of the Lord and how they are a typology of Jesus’ two advents, see Ancient Calendars, Feast Days, & Daniel 12:11 - Part 2 :: By Randy Nettles (raptureready.com) and Ancient Calendars, Feast Days, & Daniel 12:11: Part 3 :: By Randy Nettles (raptureready.com).


God certainly loves the number 7, and what it represents…perfection, completion, and rest. In the Torah, God has given the children of Israel the weekly Sabbath of the seventh day, the 50 days of the feast of weeks (which includes 7 weekly Sabbaths), the Shemitah year (the Sabbath of the seventh year), the 50 year Jubilee (7 Shemitah years + 1 year), and the seven feasts of the Lord which include three feasts occurring in the seventh month.


THE FEAST OF WEEKS/SHAVUOT


The feast of Firstfruits and the feast of Weeks were to be first observed when the children of Israel entered the Promised Land according to Leviticus 23:10, when you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest.” Leviticus 23 gives a detailed description of the feast of Weeks, “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. You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord.


And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be as a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the Lord. Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering. The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 23:15-22).


Modern-day Jews believe the first day of Passover is Nisan 15 and not Nisan 14. Nisan 14 is merely the day the Passover Seder is eaten and is a day of Preparation for the Passover. The Feast of Unleavened Bread is now called the Passover. There is an ongoing debate, which started centuries ago, on when the feast of Firstfruits actually begins. This is significant as the day/date of Firstfruits will determine when Shavuot begins. The Sadducees who controlled the Temple administration prior to 70 AD believed the “sabbath” of Leviticus 23:11 & 15 referred to the weekly Sabbath after Passover. Karaite Jews and many Christian scholars also agree with the Sadducees in this regard. This author is in agreement with this interpretation.


After the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD and the Sadducees were no longer in control, historical records were updated to include the Pharisees’ counting method which is now included in the Talmud. They believed the “sabbath” mentioned in Leviticus 23:11 occurred on the first day of Passover/Unleavened Bread, Nisan 15 when no work was to be done. The Pharisees evolved into the Rabbinic Jews of modern times. So, according to Rabbinic Jews, the day after this special “sabbath” day is Nisan 16. This is their date for the Feast of Firstfruits and is when the counting of the 49 days (Nisan 16 -Sivan 5) begins, in their view.


THE COUNTING OF THE OMER


These 49 days are called the “counting of the omer.” The omer is an old Biblical measure of volume of unthreshed stalks of grain. When the barley crops became ripe, the Hebrews were required to bring an omer or sheaf of barley to the priest. He would then wave it before the Lord, and He would accept it on their behalf. Their crop was then considered good for harvesting and consumption. The 50th day, Shavuot would therefore be on Sivan 6 (or Sivan 7 depending on 29 or 30 days in the months), so it is always celebrated for two days. On this day of Shavuot, there would be another wave offering consisting of wheat and sacrificial animals as described in Leviticus 23:17-20. So, there would be 50 days (inclusive reckoning) between the two wave offerings of barley and wheat.


Chabad.org has this to say about the counting of Omer: “Along with the Written Torah, G-d gave us the Oral Torah to ensure the correct interpretation of the law. The Talmud cites an oral tradition, sourced from Moses, who received it from G-d Himself, that the “day of rest” in this verse refers not to Shabbat, but to the first day of Passover. (Indeed, it is common for Scripture to refer to holidays as “days of rest” or “appointed times.”). Hence, the omer offering was always brought on the second day of Passover, no matter which day of the week it was, and Savuot is 50 days later, be it a Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday.” 11 Shavuot Myths and Misconceptions - Chabad.org


However, there is the matter of correctly interpreting verses 15 and 16 regarding the feast of weeks. Verse 15 says the counting of the omer begins on the day after the Sabbath of Unleavened Bread until seven Sabbaths are complete. Verse 16 says to count 50 days to the day after the seventh sabbath. The day after the seventh Sabbath should always be Sunday. Sunday always follows Saturday.

*Let’s look at a few examples of the counting of the Omer from the Rabbinic Jewish view and the Karaite Jewish view. Both examples correspond (with the days of the week and the dates on the Jewish calendar) to the year 1446 BC when the Exodus from Egypt occurred (on Nisan 15).


According to Astro Pixels (NASA) calculations, there was a full moon on Wednesday, March 25, 1446 BC (Julian calendar) of that year. The date on the Jewish calendar would have been Nisan 15, the first day of Unleavened Bread.


RABBINIC VIEW OF THE COUNTING OF THE OMER


Wed. Thur. Fri. Sat. Sun. Mon. Tue.

Nisan 15 Nisan 16 Nisan 17 Nisan 18 Nisan 19 Nisan 20 Nisan 21

Nisan 22 Nisan 23 Nisan 24 Nisan 25 Nisan 26 Nisan 27 Nisan 28

Nisan 29 Nisan 30 Iyyar 1 Iyyar 2 Iyyar 3 Iyyar 4 Iyyar 5

Iyyar 6 Iyyar 7 Iyyar 8 Iyyar 9 Iyyar 10 Iyyar 11 Iyyar 12

Iyyar 13 Iyyar 14 Iyyar 15 Iyyar 16 Iyyar 17 Iyyar 18 Iyyar 19

Iyyar 20 Iyyar 21 Iyyar 22 Iyyar 23 Iyyar 24 Iyyar 25 Iyyar 26

Iyyar 27 Iyyar 28 Iyyar 29 Sivan 1 Sivan 2 Sivan 3 Sivan 4

Sivan 5 Sivan 6


*If Nisan 15 is the “special” sabbath in verse 15 and it occurs on a Wednesday, then the counting will begin the next day on Thursday, Nisan 16. The 50th day will be on Thursday, Sivan 6. The seventh Sabbath will be on Saturday, Sivan 1. However, this is only the 45th day of counting. The day after the seventh Sabbath is Sunday, Sivan 2. But what about verse 16 which says, “to the day after the seventh Sabbath?” Instead, you have to keep counting four more days until you reach the 50th day. In other words, the 50th day doesn’t follow sequentially after the seventh Sabbath. In this scenario, there are only 6 complete seven-day weeks (from Sunday to Saturday). It’s not a week of weeks. Deuteronomy 16:9 says “You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain.


KARAITE VIEW OF THE COUNTING OF THE OMER


Wed. Thur. Fri. Sat. Sun. Mon. Tue.

Nisan 15 Nisan 16 Nisan 17 Nisan 18 Nisan 19 Nisan 20 Nisan 21

Nisan 22 Nisan 23 Nisan 24 Nisan 25 Nisan 26 Nisan 27 Nisan 28

Nisan 29 Nisan 30 Iyyar 1 Iyyar 2 Iyyar 3 Iyyar 4 Iyyar 5

Iyyar 6 Iyyar 7 Iyyar 8 Iyyar 9 Iyyar 10 Iyyar 11 Iyyar 12

Iyyar 13 Iyyar 14 Iyyar 15 Iyyar 16 Iyyar 17 Iyyar 18 Iyyar 19

Iyyar 20 Iyyar 21 Iyyar 22 Iyyar 23 Iyyar 24 Iyyar 25 Iyyar 26

Iyyar 27 Iyyar 28 Iyyar 29 Sivan 1 Sivan 2 Sivan 3 Sivan 4

Sivan 5 Sivan 6 Sivan 7 Sivan 8 Sivan 9


* If you take the opposing view, that the sabbath after Passover is the weekly Sabbath (Saturday), and use the same days and dates as the example above, then the first day of counting would be Sunday, Nisan 19. The 50th day would be on Sunday (one day after the seventh Sabbath), Sivan 9. Even though verses 15 & 16 mention seven Sabbaths, they never mention 49 days. However, it seems logical to me that the seventh Sabbath should be the 49th day with the following day being day number 50, Shavuot. In this scenario, there are 7 complete weeks (from Sunday to Saturday), a.k.a. a week of weeks.


So why isn’t the feast of Unleavened Bread described like the feast of Tabernacles with the word “sabbath” mentioned for the first and last days? I believe it’s not mentioned because the LORD did not want to confuse the children of Israel into believing the sabbath mentioned in verses 11 and 15 was the first day of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15) instead of the weekly Sabbath (Saturday). Unfortunately, this is exactly what they have done.


Yes, Nisan 15 and Nisan 21 are sabbath days of rest as we see with the fall feasts of Trumpets (Tishri 1), Day of Atonement (Tishri 10), and Tabernacles (Tishri 15 & 22), but Nisan 15 is not the sabbath of verse 11. The day the counting of the omer starts is the day after the weekly Sabbath, Sunday, and not Nisan 16 (unless Nisan 15 occurs on a Saturday). The feast of Firstfruits and Shavuot are day-specific feasts and not date-specific feasts. I believe the Pharisees and Rabbinic Jews wanted Shavuot to have its own specific date in order that this feast would be celebrated on the same date every year, which in their mind is Sivan 6. If God wanted the Feast of Unleavened Bread to be on Nisan 16 and Shavuot to be on Sivan 6, He would have said so. These are the only two feasts of the Lord that do not have specific dates ascribed to them in Scripture.


THE GIVING OF THE LAW/TORAH ON SHAVUOT?


It is popularly assumed that the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai occurred on Shavuot just as the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the believers in Acts 2 occurred on Shavuot or the Day of Pentecost. There are many notable parallels or typologies between the two, as well as notable differences. Many theologians believe Shavuot represents a new revelation of God’s will or a transitioning of dispensations from the dispensation of the Law (old covenant) in 1446 BC, to the dispensation of Grace (new covenant) in 33 AD.


Although it can’t be proven by scripture (Exodus 19-34), the Jews (and many Christian theologians) believe the day God gave the Torah (Law of Moses) was calculated as falling exactly on the day of Shavuot (50 days after Nisan 15). The key verse for when the children of Israel came to Mount Sinai is found in Exodus 19:1, “In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.” There are two views (aren’t there always?) on when the Hebrews arrived at Mt. Sinai. The first view is that it is Sivan 1 which is the beginning of the third month (the new moon of the third Jewish month). The other view is that it took place on Sivan 15 since the children of Israel left Egypt on Nisan 15. The way I interpret this scripture, for the Hebrew’s arrival at Mt. Sinai, is Sivan 15.


As I indicated in the charts for 1446 BC, the feast of Shavuot occurred on Sivan 6 (Rabbinic view) or Sivan 9 (Karaite view). I believe it’s more likely Sivan 9. If the children of Israel arrived at Mt. Sinai on Sivan 15 then it would have been too late for them to have received the law on Shavuot. If, however, they arrived at Mt. Sinai on the first day of Sivan, then they would have had to receive the Torah sometime between the 6 – 10th day of Sivan. It appears to me by reading Exodus 19 and 20 that God gave Moses the 10 Commandments orally on the 3rd day after the Hebrews arrived at Sinai.

I believe the answer to when God wrote the 10 Commandments on the two tablets of stone is possibly found in Exodus 24. “The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them. Now the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights” (Exodus 24:12, 16-18).


From these scriptures, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact timeline of when Moses received the written law from God. If the Hebrews arrived on Mt. Sinai on Sivan 1 and if we are talking about the written law and not the oral law, it’s possible the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses occurred on Shavuot. Those are two big “ifs.” However, on the other hand, why isn’t the giving of the law not mentioned in the sections regarding the feast of weeks in Leviticus 23: 15-22 or Deuteronomy 16:9-12? The review of the feast of weeks in Deuteronomy 16 only mentions the timing of the agricultural aspects of Shavuot and not the monumental event of the giving of the law.


From the 40 years of wandering in the desert to entering the Promised Land to the First Temple era to the Second Temple era (including Jesus’ time), the giving of God’s law to the children of Israel was never linked to Shavuot. Philo, a Jewish philosopher in the time of Jesus, and Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian, both wrote about Shavuot. Neither of them connected it to the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai. During the Second Temple era, Shavuot was re-shaped as the Festival of Revelation and the establishment of the Covenant between God and Israel by different Jewish sects, according to written evidence found in the Book of Jubilees and Qumran Scrolls. They named the holiday “Shevuot” (Vows) – a day of restoring the ancient commitment between Israel and God.


“Preliminarily, it must be observed that neither the parallels between the giving of the Law and the pouring out of the Spirit, nor the typological connection between the two, nor the connection by contrast, constitutes proof that the giving of the Law took place on Shavuot. On the other hand, considering that there is no biblical command in the Tanach to commemorate the giving of the Law on Shavuot, nor any Old or New Testament passage naming Shavuot as the day that the Law was given, and that neither Josephus nor Philo connected the event and the day, and most conclusively because it is chronologically impossible for the giving of the Law to have occurred on any Shavuot, one must conclude that the giving of the Law did not occur on any Shavuot (Day of Pentecost). The claim that the giving of the Law occurred on Shavuot is erroneous. It is a rabbinic development popularized by Maimonides some 2600 years later.” {1}


This year, the Jewish feast of Shavuot begins on Thursday, May 25, and ends on Saturday, May 27, while Christians celebrate Pentecost on Sunday, May 28. In my next article, we will examine the giving of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and the symbolism/typology of the Jewish agricultural harvest of Shavuot in relation to the spiritual harvest of Pentecost.


Randy Nettles

Endnotes:

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I have not the ability to deal with the complexity of the actual vs the Rabbinic/Pharisee calendar dates. I have watched some Ken Johnson calendar stuff and it is interesting. I do believe that all dates and feasts and events are types and shadows of things that God wants to declare.


As I read and re-read The Word I can hazily see patterns. I specifically refer to Numbers and the giving of the Levites as first fruits and the actual ceremony with the mention of the gifts given by the various tribes, their leaders/princes and the references to the trumpets (the whys and future occasions to be blown).


at this point, my understanding is: After Jesus' condemnation and killing by…


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Wonderful! By the way it was Ruckman who started it, I take no credit. I will try and find the tape from you tube.


So, still left with the 2 camps of Brides - one to God (12 Tribes of Israel) and one to Jesus (New Testament saints) and the 144,000 as first fruits to both God and the Lamb (Tribulation and Millennial saints as the harvest during the time of the 144,000 so maybe belong to God and the Lamb?) (a new bride?). Forgive me, not trying to be difficult just trying to understand.


In Revelation 21, just wondering, when John describes the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven "prepared as a new bride adorned for her husband." Is…

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Bogda
Bogda
Mar 17, 2023

Thanks so much. I loved it. Blessings to you 🙏

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Reggie O
Reggie O
Mar 17, 2023

I come here hungary, and leave here full; thank you for another substantial feeding of my soul!


I look forward to reading what you have on the Fall Feasts, especially concerning the Feast of Tabernacles!


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Eat up brother! That was just an appetizer.

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trishfrazier00
trishfrazier00
Mar 16, 2023

I always thought the Ten Commandments were given to Moses on Shavuot. I didn’t even know it was up for debate.


And Randy doesn’t debate it in the usual sense of the word. He masterfully lays out each piece of the argument with such precision that you don’t even know for sure where he’s going until BOOM!! He destroys the Shavuot/Law on Mt Sinai story!


I fully admit that it took my brain longer than 14 minutes to absorb each bit so as not to lose the flow. But at the grand conclusion I wanted to cheer Randy’s art in pattern of language!

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Thank you Trish. That's very kind of you. I also used to believe Shavuot was the day the Ten Commandments was given to Moses, until I re-read Exodus 19:1 and then started doing some research. Even my old mentor Grant R. Jeffrey, in his book "Appointment with Destiny, Armageddon," believed this as well. I believe the next to the last paragraph in this article sums up the reasons why this belief is erroneous. It's just another thing the Jews got wrong and was then perpetuated by Rabbis and Christian theologians throughout the ages until it became a "fact."

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Very interesting article, thank you. I’m intrigued by the distinction you make between these being feasts of the Lord (not Israel). Because many classical Dispensationalists view these feasts as applying to Israel only, they discount the possibility of the rapture of the Church being a fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets, and all hyper-Dispensationalists discount the birth of the Church as a fulfillment of the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost. I’ve always seen the Church as seemingly having a connection to Pentecost and Trumpets, but the Israel-only argument relative to the feasts has always been a nagging concern for me in holding this view. Are you suggesting that by designating them as feasts of the Lord, an application beyond the nation of…

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Yes, many learned men believe these feasts only apply to Israel, but they have a dual fulfillment. One was fulfilled historically by Israel, but the ultimate fulfillment was and will be by Jesus Christ. Of course, the ancient Hebrews couldn't have known this as they weren't familiar with Jesus. They were expecting the Messiah to come eventually though. The Hebrews just knew these feasts were "from the Lord" and were to be obeyed liked the Law. I don' believe they were aware of the deeper meaning or symbolism behind these feasts.


The only feast that I am not certain of that was not fulfilled historically by Israel is Trumpets. The only thing I am aware of is it was a…


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