As we continue our discussion regarding the connection between Passover and Pentecost, we discover that there were three other requirements attached to the Festival of Weeks:
(1) appearing and being worthy, (2) rejoicing, and (3) remembering.
• The first requirement was that all males should appear before Yahweh at the festival.1 Therefore the Festival of Weeks was, under the Torah of Moses, an annual pilgrimage festival to the Tabernacle (Temple) of Yahweh. When the males appeared they were not to be “ריקם (ryqam; unworthy).”2 Each was to provide a gift from his own hand, “according to the blessing of Yahweh your eloahi which he has given to you.”3
• The second requirement was to make the Festival of Weeks a time of rejoicing for everyone:
And you shall REJOICE before Yahweh your eloahi, you and your son, and your daughter, and your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is inside your gates, and the resident alien, and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place which Yahweh your eloahi shall choose to cause his name there to dwell.4
• Third, the Israelites were to “remember” during this festival that their families had once been slaves in Egypt.5 The connection with their former status as slaves in Egypt, and the accompanying knowledge that Yahweh had subsequently gained their freedom for them, once more speaks of the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread and couples the Festival of Weeks to it. The 50 days, as we shall demonstrate in a later post,6 represent the period during which the Israelites were led out of Egypt by Yahu Yahweh until they had reached Mount Sinai, at which time they were given the Torah of Moses and agreed to the Old Covenant.7
Dependent On Passover
The date for the Festival of Weeks is totally dependent upon the date for the omer wave offering. At the same time, the omer wave offering is totally dependent upon the timing of Passover and the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
This circumstance makes the 50 days of the Festival of Weeks an integral and inseparable part of the week of Passover.
What is revealed, as J. B. Segal stresses, is that Pentecost is “subordinate to” and an “appendage of” the Festival of Passover.8
J. Van Goudoever similarly comments, “The Feast of Weeks is not an independent festival, but depends upon the Passover season.”9
In the Jewish work titled Pesiִkta, Pentecost is referred to as the “עצרת (Atsarth; Closing Assembly) of Passover.”10
The connection between Passover and Pentecost is demonstrated in the following ways:
• First, these two festivals and their high Sabbaths are joined together as part of the celebrations coming after “the return of the year,” i.e., beginning with the first moon, the month of Abib, in the first half of the year.11
The Festival of Tabernacles and the remaining high Sabbaths, on the other hand, all come in the seventh moon, being the month of Tishri, at the “going out of the year”—i.e., in the second half of the year.12
• Second, in the various lists of the festivals, the Festival of Weeks is rendered second in time after the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread.13 One passage in Exodus, to demonstrate, follows a regulation dealing with the Passover meal with a command to bring the first of the firstfruits to the house of Yahweh.14
Yet, in the detailed explanation found in Leviticus 23, after describing Passover and the seven days of eating unleavened bread, and unlike the method used for all of the other khagi and high Sabbath days mentioned in that same chapter, there is no statement pinpointing exactly when to begin the seven weeks to Pentecost.
All that is said is that the omer wave offering shall be provided from ”the beginning of your harvest” and waved by the priest “on the day after the Sabbath.”15 When one adds to this report the statement that no one was to eat from the new year’s crop until after the omer was waved before the altar of Yahweh,16 there can be little doubt that the beginning crop of the year that was indicated was the spring barley corn.17
The Sabbath used as a basis for this counting, on the other hand, is not specifically identified or dated.
• Third, definition is added to our problem from the story found in the book of Joshua, which tells of the Israelite invasion of the land of Kanaan by Joshua the son of Nun. The omer wave offering was not commanded to begin until the Israelites entered the land of Kanaan (the Promised Land).18
Up until that time they had for 40 years been dwelling in the wilderness and consuming manna, a “bread from heaven” provided to them by Yahweh.19
The passage in question from Joshua reports the conversion from manna to grain breads just after the Israelites crossed the Jordan river and invaded the land of Kanaan. These events occurred over the first three days of the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread.
Abib 14. “And the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal and they prepared the Passover on the 14th day of the moon at arab (twilight), on the plains of Jericho.”20
Abib 15. “And they ate from the עבור (abur; stored grain)21 of the land ממחרת (ma-mokhorath; from the day after)22 the Passover, unleavened bread and roasted grain on this same day.”23
Abib 16. “And the manna ceased ממחרת (ma-mokhorath; from the day after) they had eaten from עבור (abur; stored grain) of the land; and there was no more manna to the sons of Israel, but they ate from the תבואת (tebuath; produce)24 of the land of Kanaan in that year.”25
The above evidence proves that the “stored grain,” that is, grain stored over from the previous year’s crop,26 was consumed by the Israelites on Abib 14 and 15.
On the other hand, since the sons of Israel began to eat “from the תבואת (tebuath; produce) of the land” grown “in that year” on the 16th of Abib, it demonstrates that the omer wave offering had been made on that same date.
The very fact that the manna, symbolic of the old bread, ceased on the 16th verifies that it was on this day in that particular year that the omer wave offering took place and the new grain from the field began to be harvested and eaten.
Yet, even if one were to translate עבור (abur) as “produce” in general, as has been popular,27 thereby placing the omer wave offering on the 15th, one important piece of evidence is created: the omer wave offering was made after the Passover of the 14th and within the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
The Sabbath after which the omer of the firstfruits of the beginning harvest was to be waved, therefore, cannot be the first Sabbath day of a new year, for by the 14th of Abib there had already been at least two weekly Sabbaths since the new year began.
Whether one uses the Aristocratic method, which counts the 14th as the Passover high Sabbath, or the Hasidic method, which makes the 15th the Passover high Sabbath, we can be sure of one more thing: the 50-day count to Pentecost must begin sometime after the Passover of the 14th and after a Sabbath ending within the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
As a result, as J. Van Goudoever notes, “In Israelite tradition there is a close relation between the keeping of the Sabbath and the counting of the 50 days.”28
From the evidence we have gleaned so far, several important facts about the Festival of Weeks have emerged.
To begin with, it is an appendage to Passover, coming 50 days after a Sabbath day falling within the week of Unleavened Bread.
In addition, there are three aspects to this festival under the handwritten Torah:
(1) The omer wave offering of the first day, falling after the Sabbath that occurs within the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
(2) The count of 49 days (seven complete Sabbaths).
(3) The Festival of Weeks and the pilgrimage coming on the 50th day, itself falling after a Sabbath day. All males were commanded to appear before Yahweh during the festival of the 50th day. They were to appear worthy, to have a rejoicing attitude, and to hold in remembrance the history that their families had once been slaves in Egypt.
That will wrap up the initial discussion regarding the Passover and Pentecost connection everyone. We will have more to say about Pentecost in a later post.
In the meantime we will continue with our investigation of the Passover with our next post titled 7. Passover – Jewish Factions.
For further reading see the publication by Qadesh La Yahweh press titled The Festivals and Sacred Days of Yahweh.
Click this link for Bibliography and Abbreviations.
1 Deut. 16:16-17. A requirement for all three festivals (cf., Exod. 23:14-17, 34:20, 23).
2 The Hebrew term ריקם (ryqam) means, “emptily; fig. (obj.) ineffectually, (subj.) undeservedly” (SEC, Heb. #7387). With this understanding in mind for all three festivals (Deut. 16:16; Exod. 23:14-17, 34:20-23), Saul warns Christians not to drink the cup or eat the bread of Passover “unworthily,” and those that did shall be “guilty of the body and blood of the sovereign” and a cause of “judgment to himself” (1 Cor., 11:26-29).
3 Herein is established the principle that the more Yahweh gives to you the more that is required from you (Luke, 12:48).
4 Deut., 16:11.
5 Deut., 16:12. In Scriptures, Egypt is used as a parable for our present world. The ultimate slavery is being a bondman to sin (John, 8:34-36) and being in bondage to fear (Rom., 8:15), especially the fear of death (Heb., 2:15), and being in bondage of corruption (Rom., 8:21) and to the elements of the world (Gal., 4:3). According to Scriptures, the truth from Yahweh’s word will set you free (John, 8:31-32). Freedom is to be a part of the New Covenant (Gal., 5:1, cf., 4:21-30) and being set free from sin, becoming righteous (justified), and receiving eternal life (Rom., 6:18-23, cf., 6:6-12). The parable of finding freedom from slavery in Egypt, therefore, is the escape from the present world with its sin, corruption, fear, and death and, in turn, the finding of freedom by attaining eternal life without sin.
6 To be covered in the future post titled Passover – Counting Pentecost.
7 NBD, p. 964; NCE, 11, p. 109; BCal, pp. 131, 139-144, 186-190; ACC, 2, p. 1160; JE, 9, p. 592.
8 THP, p. 129, “it [the Festival of Weeks] occurs at a fixed interval of time after the Passover and it is subordinate to it”; pp. 180, 235, “it is an appendage to the Passover”; p. 198, ”no more than an appendage of the Passover; and so it remained throughout its history in normative Israelite religion.”
11 1 Kings, 20:26; 2 Chron., 36:10; cf., Exod., 12:2, 13:4, 23:15, 34:18; Deut., 16:1. And see NBD, p. 178. The Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread and the Festival of Weeks properly fall between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice in the first quarter of the year.
12 E.g., Exod., 23:16. These festivals are the Day of Trumpets on Tishri 1, the Day of Atonement on Tishri 10, the Festival of Tabernacles from Tishri 15 to 21, and the Last Great Day on Tishri 22 (see Lev., 23:23-43).
13 Exod., 23:14-17, 34:18-22; Lev., 23:1-44; Num., 28:11-29:39; Deut., 16:1-15; 2 Chron., 8:13.
14 Exod., 34:25-26.
15 Lev., 23:10-11.
16 Lev., 23:14. Exod., 34:26, similarly states, “You shall bring the first of the firstfruits of your ground to the house of Yahweh your eloahi.”
17 As stated by Jos., Antiq., 3:10:5; Philo, Spec., 2:29 §175.
18 Lev., 23:9-10.
19 Exod., 16:4-35; Num., 11:4-9; Deut., 8:1-18; Josh., 5:10-12; Neh., 9:20-21; Ps., 78:21-25; John, 6:31-58.
20 Josh., 5:10.
21 The early Hebrew word עבור (abur), when used for grain, is only found in Scriptures at Josh., 5:11 and 12. It has been popular in recent decades to dismiss the early rendering of עבור (abur) as “old corn” and to interpret it by the much later usage found among the Pharisees and in the Aramaic language as “produce” in general (e.g. ADB, 3, p. 740). This has been a mistake. The word was correctly understood by earlier translators to mean, “passed, i.e. kept over; used only of stored grain:—old corn.” (SEC, Heb. #5669), “Old corn or produce” (YAC, p. 203); SRB and KJV, “old corn.” The term עבור (abur) is a form of עבר (abur), meaning, “passed on . . . passed away . . . passed a limit . . . passed away, disappeared” (HEL, pp. 185f), “prop. crossed, i.e. (abstr.) transit . . . to cross over” (SEC, Heb., #5668, 5674), and many times expresses the idea to “pass through or by” (cf., Num., 22:26; Josh., 4:1, 11; 2 Sam., 15:24, 17:16; Prov., 10:25; Lam., 3:44; Amos, 7:8, 8:2; Nah., 1:15). It is clear, therefore, that the two references in Josh., 5:11-12, were to the previous year’s crop that had passed over into the next year. That this grain was from the previous year’s crop is further indicated by the statement in Josh., 5:12, which states that, after the manna had ceased, “they ate מתבואת (ma-tebuath; from the produce) of the land of Kanaan in that year.” Josephus notes that, at the time they overthrew the city of Jericho, “they reaped the corn of the Kanaanites, now at its prime, and took any other booty they could. For it was also at that time that the supply of manna ceased which had served them for 40 years” (Jos., Antiq., 5:1:4).
Those who accept the Pharisaic view, on the other hand, translate and understand the term עבור (abur) from Josh., 5:11-12, by the much later Aramaic sense of their form עבורא (abura). In this form it generally means the “produce of the ground” or “grain,” including grain coming directly out of the field (HEL, p. 186; CHAL, p. 262). The LXX, for example, uses the rather innocuous term σίτου (sitou), meaning “corn, grain, comprehending both wheat (πυρός) and barley (κριθή),” either “at its ripening” or “public distribution of corn in Rome” (GEL, p. 730; GEL, 1968, p. 1602). Only in the latter sense does it imply that it came from storage. The Greek term σίτου (sitou), meanwhile, is also used to translate such sundry terms as דגן (dagan; grain) (Gen., 27:28, 37; Num., 18:12, 27; Deut., 7:13, 12:17, 14:23, 18:4); שבר (sheber; kernels of grain) (Gen., 42:26, 43:2, 44:2); and חטה (khittah; wheat) (Judg., 6:11; 1 Chron., 21:23; 2 Chron., 2:10), thereby diluting the meaning behind עבור (abur). This broader understanding is inappropriate. If the reference in Joshua had been to grain standing in the field, the word קמה (qamah; standing grain) would have been used. קמה (qamah) means, “standing corn, especially in the ear” (HEL, p. 229); “something that rises, i.e. a stalk of grain:—(standing) corn, grownup, stalk” (SEC, Heb. #7054); “standing grain” (CHAL, p. 319). In fact, the word קמה (qamah) is used in Deut., 16:9, as a direct reference to the cutting of the omer wave offering. Also the term דגן (dagan; grain) could have been used. But the ancient word עבור (abur) holds a much more specific meaning, one that goes beyond the idea of grain in general. Rather, it refers to grain that has “passed by” the year in which it was grown, therefore “stored or old grain.”
22 The Hebrew term ממחרת (ma-mokhorath), the initial מ (ma), a form of מן (min), meaning, “from . . . from out of . . . of . . . by . . . because of . . . besides . . . among” (HEL, pp. 137, 147), and מחרת (mokhorath) meaning, “the morrow or (adv.) tomorrow:—morrow, next day” (SEC, Heb. #4283); “the following day . . . adv. on the next day” (CHAL, p. 191); “to-morrow . . . ממחרת השבת the day after the sabbath” (HEL, p. 143). מחרת (mokhorath) is translated in the LXX as ἐπαύριον (epaurion) (CS, 1, p. 508), which also means, “on the next day” (ILT, Lex., p. 38), “occurring on the succeeding day, i.e. . . . to-morrow:—day following, morrow, next day (after)” (SEC, Gk. #1887), “on the morrow” (GEL, 1968, p. 612). That ממחרת (ma-mokhorath) means “the day after” is proven beyond any doubt by the parallelism found in 2 Sam., 11:12-13, and by the context of Lev., 7:15-18, 19:5-7.
23 Josh., 5:11
24 The term תבואת (tebuath) means, “income, i.e. produce (lit. or fig.):—fruit, gain, increase, revenue” (SEC, Heb. #8393); “produce, yield” (CHAL, p. 386).
25 Josh., 5:12.