Pentecost/Feast of Weeks/Feast of Harvest
Date in Hebrew calendar: month Nisan (March-April)
There are many names for the Feast of Weeks.
It is identified in the Old Testament as the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Harvest:
Feast of Weeks
Feast of Harvest
This is based on Leviticus 23:15-16, which points to "the morrow after shabbat after Passover" plus 50 days--in Greek, Pentecost.
Pentecost is one of only three of the seven feasts of Moses which was compulsory for every able male to attend.
The Feast of Weeks is associated with the birth of Israel and the giving of the Law/Torah in Exodus 19. The Torah was given when they came to Mount Sinai during their desert experience.
Rabbi Irving Greenberg* explains, "The covenant of Israel turns the Exodus into an ongoing process. On Passover, God committed to the covenant by an act of redemption. On Shavuot, standing at Sinai, the Jewish people responded by accepting the Torah. The teaching that guides the way of the Jews, the Torah, became the constitution of the ongoing relationship of God and the Jewish people."
Passover tells the story of Godís deliverance. The people were slaves in Egypt until God delivered them out of the house of bondage unto His great liberty.
Sukkot, that is, the Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths), is also one of the great pilgrimage festivals. Sukkot celebrates Godís provision for the people during their desert wanderings. They lived in temporary dwellings (sukkot, huts, or tabernacles) and they depended on the Lord for His provision each day. The cloud provided cover for the Israelites by day, the fire guided and protected them by night. God provided the manna as the necessary food provision for their journey. He brought them quail and gave them water. The tent dwellers in the wilderness experienced Godís miraculous care.
The pilgrim festivals, Passover and Tabernacles, recall Godís deliverance from slavery and providential care in the wilderness. Like Passover and Tabernacles, during the festival of Pentecost the people of God were commanded to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It was natural to view Pentecost as signifying the events associated with Passover and Tabernacles.
This pilgrimage festival of Pentecost was understood by the Jewish sages as the next stage in the journey of the ancient Israelites.
They had been saved from slavery at Passover. They had been preserved in their desert wanderings in Sukkot.
Now the people of Israel came to Mount Sinai. With peels of thunder and bursts of lightning, Godís awesome presence was made known as He revealed His will to the people He loved (Exodus 19-20). Godís revelation in Torah was given to His people. Pentecost is the "time in which God gave us our Torah" "zeman matan toratenu".
Shavuot is the anniversary of the giving of the Torah.
It is also the anniversary of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the first Messianic believers in Jerusalem:
It was on Firstfruits, the first Sunday after Passover, when the empty tomb of Yeshua was discovered. While Israel's risen Messiah was walking the streets of Jerusalem that day as the firstfruits of the Resurrection, Israel's priests were in the Temple waving the firstfruits of the barley harvest before a torn veil that now represented access to the Presence of God through the death of the Messiah. (See Mt. 27:51 and Heb. 10:19-22) Biblically speaking, the anniversary of the Resurrection should be called "First Fruits," not "Easter," a word derived from the name of the Anglo-Saxon pagan fertility goddess.
remained on earth for forty days after His Resurrection. On the day of His
ascension, He instructed His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the baptism
of the Holy Spirit. Ten days later, on Shavuot, the anniversary of the giving
of the Torah, Yahweh came again in blazing glory as He had done at Mount
Sinai. But this time He wrote His commandments not upon tablets of stone, but
upon the fleshly tablets of men's hearts, as the prophets had foretold.
On the day the Spirit was given, the preaching of Peter caused "about 3,000 souls" to find new life in the Messiah (Acts 2:41). This is an excellent illustration of the fact that "the letter [of the Law] kills, but the spirit gives life" (2 Cor.3:6).
The seven Feasts of Moses are not only commemorative, they are also prophetic.
The first three, in the month of Nisan, are predictive of the First Coming of Jesus. The last three, in the month of Tishri, are associated with His Second Coming. It is this one, in between, which is associated with the Church.
The Birth of the Church
The Birth of the Church appears to be a fulfillment of the Feast of Pentecost, or Shavout.
Jesus predicted it...
It was also fulfilled precisely on the Feast of Pentecost. Acts 2:1-47
It is interesting to carefully compare Acts 2 with Exodus 19.
Pentecost is the only Feast in which leavened bread is allowed, which seems to give it a Gentile flavor! (Leaven is always a "type" of sin. Jesus and Paul both used it this way. It corrupts by puffing up.)
Today in Israel the Feast of Shavuot is celebrated by decorations with a harvest theme and the reading of the account of the giving of the Law (Exodus 19-20). The Book of Ruth is also read, as it is a book of harvest and redemption, ending with the genealogy of King David who...according to tradition...was born and died on Shavuot.
For Christians, Pentecost marks the 'firstfruits' of the New Testament covenant...the first believers in the church of Jesus Christ. It also celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit so the law could be written...not on tablets of stone...but on our hearts.
Shalom and blessings
Bible Holidays http://biblicalholidays.com/pentecost.htm
Restoration Foundation http://www.restoremagazine.org/
Koinonia House http://www.khouse.org/
*Rabbi Irving Greenberg played a founding role in the establishment of Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation. From 2000-2002, Greenberg served as Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. An ordained Orthodox rabbi and a Harvard Ph.D. and scholar, Greenberg has been a seminal thinker in confronting the Holocaust as an historical transforming event and Israel as the Jewish assumption of power and the beginning of a third era in Jewish history.