If one counts the Passover and Unleavened Bread as one festival, then the second of Israel’s festivals is the Pentecost. The word Pentecost means ‘count fifty,’ but count fifty from what? What is the starting point to this ‘count to fifty’? The answer lies in the interplay between Leviticus 23 and Joshua 5.
10 “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 first fruits of your harvest to the priest.
11 He shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.
|(10) דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם כִּי תָבֹאוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לָכֶם וּקְצַרְתֶּם אֶת קְצִירָהּ | וַהֲבֵאתֶם אֶת עֹמֶר רֵאשִׁית קְצִירְכֶם אֶל הַכֹּהֵן:
(11) וְהֵנִיף אֶת הָעֹמֶר לִפְנֵי יְהוָה לִרְצֹנְכֶם | מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת יְנִיפֶנּוּ הַכֹּהֵן:
Verse 10 tells us that when the children of Israel dwell in the Land of Israel, they are to bring a sheaf of the first fruits of their barley harvest (called an ‘Omer’, עֹמֶר) to the priesthood. The priesthood then waves this Omer (Wave Sheaf) before Yahweh on the day after the weekly Sabbath (מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת).
Next, verse 14 tells us we are not allowed to eat any of the produce of the land until after we have brought this Omer to Yahweh.
14 “‘You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your Elohim; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
|(14) וְלֶחֶם וְקָלִי וְכַרְמֶל לֹא תֹאכְלוּ עַד עֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה עַד הֲבִיאֲכֶם אֶת קָרְבַּן אֱלֹהֵיכֶם | חֻקַּת עוֹלָם לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם בְּכֹל מֹשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם|
If we will think about Leviticus 23:14 for a moment, we should be able to see why it is so important to declare the Aviv when the very first complete shocks of barley (either wild or domestic) in the Land of Israel become aviv. Israel has many different microclimates, and barley ripens at different times in each of them. While in the warmer regions barley is considered a spring crop, barley does not ripen at the higher elevations until fall. If the Aviv and the Head of the Year could not be declared until all of the barley in the Land of Israel was Aviv, then the Passover could not be held until fall. Likewise, the Wave Sheaf could also not be offered until the fall. However, this would mean that while the farmers could harvest their crops, they would not be able to eat or sell any part of them until the fall. This would result in severe hardship for the farmers. Because of this it only makes sense to declare the Aviv based on the first of the firstfruits to come ripe.
Next, verses 15 and 16 tell us to count fifty days from the Wave Sheaf offering which was made the day after the weekly Sabbath (מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת), and then to bring a new grain offering to Yahweh. This new grain offering is the Pentecost (also called the Feast of Weeks).
15 ‘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.
16 Count fifty days, to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to Yahweh.’”
|(15) וּסְפַרְתֶּם לָכֶם מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת מִיּוֹם הֲבִיאֲכֶם אֶת עֹמֶר הַתְּנוּפָה | שֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת תְּמִימֹת תִּהְיֶינָה:
(16) עַד מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת הַשְּׁבִיעִת תִּסְפְּרוּ חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם | וְהִקְרַבְתֶּם מִנְחָה חֲדָשָׁה לַיהוָה
These two verses show us that the Wave Sheaf and the Pentecost always fall on the first day of the week.
- By definition, the weekly Sabbath (הַשַּׁבָּת) is always the seventh day of the week.
- By definition, the day after the weekly Sabbath is always the first day of the week.
- Since the Wave Sheaf is offered the day after the weekly Sabbath (הַשַּׁבָּת), the Wave Sheaf is always offered on the first day of the week.
- Verse 16 tells us the Pentecost comes fifty days (the day after the seventh weekly Sabbath), after the Wave Sheaf on the first day of the week.
- Therefore, both the Wave Sheaf and Pentecost always fall on the first day of the week.
On average, Passover falls on the weekly Sabbath only once every seven years. However, when this happens, the First Day of Unleavened Bread also falls on the first day of the week. This happened in Joshua 5:10-12.
10 Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evening on the plains of Jericho.
11 And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day.
12 Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.
|(10) וַיַּחֲנוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּגִּלְגָּל | וַיַּעֲשׂוּ אֶת הַפֶּסַח בְּאַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ בָּעֶרֶב בְּעַרְבוֹת יְרִיחוֹ:
(11) וַיֹּאכְלוּ מֵעֲבוּר הָאָרֶץ מִמָּחֳרַת הַפֶּסַח מַצּוֹת וְקָלוּי | בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה:
(12) וַיִּשְׁבֹּת הַמָּן מִמָּחֳרָת בְּאָכְלָם מֵעֲבוּר הָאָרֶץ וְלֹא הָיָה עוֹד לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מָן | וַיֹּאכְלוּ מִתְּבוּאַת אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן בַּשָּׁנָה הַהִיא:
Since the children of Israel ate the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, yet since Leviticus 23:14 (above) tells us that they could not eat the produce of the land until after they brought the Wave Sheaf, that means they must have offered the Wave Sheaf on the First Day of Unleavened Bread.
|8 Om.||9 Om.||10||11||12||13||14|
Pass. = Passover (Pesach)
Omer = The Wave Sheaf and the start of the 50 Count.
2ULB = Second Day of Unleavened Bread
Om. = Abbreviation for the day of the Omer Count.
Pent. = Pentecost (fiftieth day)
When Passover falls on the afternoon of the weekly Sabbath, as it did in Joshua 5:10-12, the Omer falls on the First Day of Unleavened Bread. When this happens, the first seven days of the Omer coincide with the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
Verse 12 tells us the manna stopped falling the day after they ate the produce of the land, which was also the day after the Wave Sheaf, and the Second Day of Unleavened Bread. It may be that Yahweh decided to continue to provide manna until the Second Day of Unleavened Bread, so that no one would feel the need to harvest anything until after the high day was past.
However, since the Passover only falls on the Sabbath once in every seven years (on average), Joshua 5:10-12 is a special case. For this reason we also need to know what to do when the Passover does not fall on the weekly Sabbath. Take for example 2008 CE, when Passover fell on the second day of the week.
|Omer||7ULB||3 Om.||4 Om.||5 Om.||6 Om.||7 Om.|
|8 Om.||9 Om.||10||11||12||13||14|
Pass = Passover
1ULB = First Day of Unleavened Bread
Omer = Wave Sheaf and beginning of the Omer count
Om. = Abbreviation for the day of the Omer Count.
Pent = Pentecost (always on the first day of the week)
Because Passover on the Torah Calendar did not fall on the weekly Sabbath in 2008 CE, the First Day of Unleavened Bread did not fall on the first day of the week (when the Omer was to be waved). Therefore, the first seven days of the Omer did not match the seven Days of Unleavened Bread; yet the Wave Sheaf was still offered on the first day of the week.
Some believers take exception to the idea that the Wave Sheaf and Pentecost fall on the first day of the week, perhaps because the Christian Church has long designated the first day of the week as its primary day of rest. Perhaps for this reason and perhaps for others, some believers prefer to use the Rabbinical (Hillel II) Calendar version of the Omer Count, which tells us that the reference in Leviticus 23:15-16 (above) to the day after the weekly Sabbath (מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת) is actually a reference to the day after the Passover (מִמָּחֳרַת הַפֶּסַח). However, there are many problems with this substitution, some of which are listed below.
1. Yahweh does not tell us to offer the Omer on the day after the Passover (מִמָּחֳרַת הַפֶּסַח), but the day after the weekly Sabbath (מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת).
2. If Yahweh wanted the Omer offered the day after the Passover no matter when the Passover fell, the instructions for offering the Omer would be included in the instructions for the First Day of Unleavened Bread. However, the instructions for the Wave Sheaf are listed separately.
3. If we substitute the word ‘Passover’ for the word ‘Shabbat’ uniformly throughout Leviticus 23:15-16, then we find ourselves instructed to wait seven completed Passovers (i.e., seven complete years) before offering the Pentecost.
Nonsensical Uniform Substitution:
15 ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Passover, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Passovers shall be completed.
16 Count fifty days, to the day after the seventh Passover; then you shall offer a new grain offering to Yahweh.’”
4. Reference verse 16 (above), it is not possible to count fifty days until the seventh Passover.
5. Finally, Yahweh gives a set date for every other festival in Scripture (e.g., Passover is on the 14th day of the first month). However, Yahweh never gives a set date for the Wave Sheaf, or Pentecost. This is because even though these festivals always fall on the first day of the week, year by year, the calendar dates are different.
When we reach the fiftieth day of the Omer Count (on the first day of the week), Numbers 28:26 tells us to bring an offering of new grain to Yahweh. This “Feast of Weeks” (Pentecost) is a rest day, and we are to do no customary work on it.
Bemidbar (Numbers) 28:26
26 ‘Also on the day of the First Fruits, when you bring a new grain offering to Yahweh at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a set-apart gathering. You shall do no customary work.
Like the Passover, when we live in the Land of Israel, we are to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost in the place Yahweh chooses to put His name.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:9-12
9 “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.
10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to Yahweh your Elohim with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as Yahweh your Elohim blesses you.
11 You shall rejoice before Yahweh your Elohim, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where Yahweh your Elohim chooses to make His name abide.
12 And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.”
As we saw in the last chapter, that place is Jerusalem (e.g. First Kings 14:21, Second Chronicles 12:13). We also saw that Shaul did not go up to Jerusalem for fourteen years when he was out on his missionary voyages (e.g., Galatians 2:1). This shows us we are not required to make the pilgrimages up to Jerusalem when we do not live in the Land. However, even if we do not live in the Land, it is still good to go up to Jerusalem for the festivals, as the devout also did in the first century.
Ma’asei (Acts) 2:1-2
1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
However, this brings up an interesting if difficult point. Yahweh fulfills prophecy on His Calendar, not man’s. In order to receive the gift of the Spirit when it was poured out in Jerusalem, the faithful had to be in Jerusalem when the Torah said to be there.
We have already seen that Leviticus 23:15-16 (above) tells us to begin the Omer count on the first day of the week that comes after the Passover. We have also seen how Pentecost must also take place on the first day of the week. However, in contrast to this, both Josephus and Philo tell us that in the first century, the Wave Sheaf was offered on the day after the Passover.
Here is Josephus’ testimony:
The feast of Unleavened Bread succeeds that of Passover and falls on the 15th of the month and continues seven days, wherein they feed on unleavened bread, on every one of which days two bulls are killed and one ram and seven lambs. Now these lambs are entirely burnt beside the kid of the goats which is added to all the rest for sins, for it is intended as a feast for the priest on every one of these days. But on the Second Day of Unleavened Bread, which is the 16th day of the month, they first partake of the fruits of the earth, for before that day (the 16th of Aviv) they do not touch them. And while they suppose it proper to honor God [sic] from which they obtain this plentiful provision in the first place, they offer the first fruits of their barley.
[Antiquities of the Jews, iii, 10:5]
Here is Philo’s testimony, which confirms that in the first century, the rabbinical practice was to bring the Wave Sheaf to the altar the day after the Passover.
There is also a festival on the day of the paschal feast, which succeeds the first day, and this is named the sheaf, from what takes place on it; for the sheaf is brought to the altar as a first fruit both of the country which the nation has received for its own, and also of the whole land; so as to be an offering both for the nation separately, and also a common one for the whole race of mankind; and so that the people by it worship the living God [sic], both for themselves and for all the rest of mankind, because they have received the fertile earth for their inheritance; for in the country there is no barren soil but even all those parts which appear to be stony and rugged are surrounded with soft veins of great depth, which, by reason of their richness, are very well suited for the production of living things.
[Philo: De Specialibus Legibus 2:162]
Most believers accept that Yeshua was cut off in the middle of the week, based partly on the Renewed Covenant (which we shall examine below), and partly on Daniel 9:26-27, which tells us that in the middle of the week, the Messiah would be cut off, bringing a (temporary) end to the sacrifices.
26 “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.”
|(26) וְאַחֲרֵי הַשָּׁבֻעִים שִׁשִּׁים וּשְׁנַיִם יִכָּרֵת מָשִׁיחַ וְאֵין לוֹ | וְהָעִיר וְהַקֹּדֶשׁ יַשְׁחִית עַם נָגִיד הַבָּא וְקִצּוֹ בַשֶּׁטֶף וְעַד קֵץ מִלְחָמָה נֶחֱרֶצֶת שֹׁמֵמוֹת:
(27) וְהִגְבִּיר בְּרִית לָרַבִּים שָׁבוּעַ אֶחָד | וַחֲצִי הַשָּׁבוּעַ יַשְׁבִּית זֶבַח וּמִנְחָה וְעַל כְּנַף שִׁקּוּצִים מְשֹׁמֵם וְעַד כָּלָה וְנֶחֱרָצָה תִּתַּךְ עַל שֹׁמֵם:
Matthew 12:40 tells us that Yeshua would be in the grave for three days and three nights.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 12:40
40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
We know that Yeshua was resurrected either on the Sabbath, or at the start of the first day of the week (when the Sabbath ends and the first day of the week begins). Either way, He was fully risen on the first day of the week (when the Wave Sheaf is to be offered).
Yochanan (John) 20:1
1 Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
Seventeen verses later, Yeshua tells Miriam not to cling to Him, as He still had to ascend to His Father. This was in fulfillment of how the Wave Sheaf must be waved before Yahweh on the first day of the week.
Yochanan (John) 20:17
17 Yeshua said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My Elohim and your Elohim.'”
All of this fits perfectly with the Torah Calendar, which calls for the Messiah to be cut off in the middle of the week, raised three days and three nights later (either on the Sabbath, or at the end of Sabbath, as the first day of the week begins), and then to ascend to His Father on the first day of the week as the prophetic fulfillment of the First Fruits of Barley (the Omer).
|Omer||5ULB||6ULB||7ULB||5 Om||6 Om||7 Om|
|8 Om||9 Om||10||11||12||13||14|
Pass. = Passover in the middle of the week
3ULB = Yeshua raised on the third day (or at end)
Omer = Yeshua ascends as the Wave Sheaf
Pent. = Pentecost (always first day of the week)
Yeshua was raised not just ‘on the third day’, but that He was raised on the third day of Unleavened Bread.
The record fits so perfectly with the Torah Calendar that we could easily move on without further comment, except for the fact that Josephus, Philo, and the Talmud all inform us that during the first century, the rabbis did not follow the Torah Calendar method either for the Wave Sheaf or for the Pentecost. Rather, they used the rabbinical method of determining the Omer count, which has the Wave Sheaf being offered on the day after the Passover, which would put the Pentecost on the fifth day of the week. Here is how these events would have fallen out on the Rabbinical Calendar:
Pass. = Passover
1 Omer = Rabbinic Wave Sheaf offered
3ULB = Yeshua raised on the third day (or at end)
4ULB = Yeshua waived before Yahweh
R.Pent.= Rabbinical Pentecost
Note how Yeshua’s resurrection and ascension equate to nothing prophetic on the Rabbinical Calendar.
Our purpose is not to establish exactly what may have happened back in the first century, but rather to establish what the Torah tells us to do today. However, it appears reasonable that instead of pouring out the Spirit on the Rabbinical/Pharisaical Pentecost, Yahweh likely poured it out on the true Pentecost, on the first day of the week. This scenario makes sense when one considers that there would have been only one day in between the rabbinical Pentecost and the coming Sabbath. Rather than head for home right after the rabbinical Pentecost was over (and then have to stop traveling a day later, to rest on Sabbath), it would have made more sense for the pilgrims to tarry in Jerusalem until after the Sabbath, and then go to morning services at the Temple before heading for home, on the first day of the week. This is likely when Yahweh poured out His Spirit, and yet this is recorded simply as the day when Pentecost was ‘fully’ come, perhaps because the disciples did not think of the Rabbinical Pentecost as the true Pentecost. This scenario also makes sense when one considers that the Sadducees were a major sect in first century times, and that Caiaphas the High Priest was also a Sadducee (with a large following).
Ma’asei (Acts) 5:17
17 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation….
While Caiaphas had to uphold the Rabbinical Calendar as High Priest, the Sadducees believed that the Wave Sheaf and the Pentecost were only correctly observed on the first day of the week. Therefore it may be that many Sadducees were there in the Temple on that particular first day morning, as it was their Pentecost.
In addition to the many first century Sadducees, there would also have been larger numbers of devout Pharisees dwelling in Jerusalem, having come up from throughout all Judea, and all of the nations of the earth. These would likely also have been in the Temple for the regular morning service on the first day of the week following the Rabbinical/Pharisaical Pentecost.
Ma’asei (Acts) 2:5-6
5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.
Again, the purpose of this study is not to exhaustively determine in exact detail what happened in the first century, but only to show what the Torah commands, so that we can keep the Torah Calendar correctly in the present day, no matter how our ancestors (whether Jewish or Ephraimite) may have kept it.
Let us consider some of the many parallels between the Pentecost that took place in the Wilderness of Sinai, and the Pentecost in Acts Chapter 2. According to tradition, fifty days after Israel crossed the Reed (Red) Sea, Yahweh gave Israel the Torah. Parallel to that, fifty days after Yeshua’s resurrection, Yahweh poured out the gift of the Set-apart Spirit.
At the Pentecost in Sinai, the Ten Commandments were written on two tablets of stone. At the Pentecost in Acts Chapter Two, Yahweh wrote His Torah on the tablets of our heart, by His Spirit.
When the Ten Commandments were given at Mount Sinai, three thousand men were slain (Exodus 32:28). When the Spirit was poured out in Acts Chapter Two, about three thousand men received salvation.
Ma’asei (Acts) 2:41
41 Then those who gladly received his word were immersed; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
While the Passover symbolizes our redemption from physical bondage in Egypt, the Pentecost symbolizes our spiritual redemption and renewal in Yeshua.
There are many verses which tell us that Yeshua was the First Fruits. First Corinthians 15:20 tells us that Yeshua is the First Fruits of all those who have died.
Qorintim Aleph (1st Corinthians) 15:20
20 But now Messiah is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Yeshua was the first born of Miriam (Mary).
Mattityahu (Matthew) 1:24-25
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the messenger of Yahweh commanded him, and took to him his wife,
25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Yeshua.
Yeshua is also the first-born of Yahweh the Father.
Ivrim (Hebrews) 1:6
6 But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the messengers of Elohim worship Him.”
Yeshua was also the first one to be raised from the dead.
Hitgalut (Revelation) 1:5
5 and from Yeshua Messiah, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.
As the first born of the dead, Yeshua is also the first born of many brethren.
Romim (Romans) 8:29
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Scripture also tells us that Yeshua is the first fruits of those who will be resurrected unto eternal life.
Qorintim Aleph (1 Cor.) 15:20-23
20 But now Messiah is risen from the dead, and has become the First Fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah all shall be made alive.
23 But each one in his own order: Messiah the First Fruits, afterward those who are Messiah’s at His coming.
Surely Yeshua was the First Fruits of all of these things on His Father’s Torah Calendar.