Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

Festival of Weeks (Pentecost)

Posted by Chris on July 19, 2008

This is part of a series. See the description and introduction and glossary.

The Festival of Weeks, aka Pentecost, is described (and named- ‘pent’ means five right?) as taking place 50 days after Passover. The precise timing is that it occurs 50 days after the Sabbath day (Saturday) that follows Passover. Passover was not tied to a day of the week but rather a day on the calendar so it would have varied as far as days of the week [WARNING: if somehow the Hebrew calendar worked out that the 14th of the month was always a certain day, I’d be wrong. I don’t know of this being the case]. Anyway, as with many things in the Old Testament, knowing the context helps to understand how something can be “incorrect” but still “right.” Sabbaths represented a HOLY day every week. It doesn’t surprise me that they would count from the Sabbath as it was celebrated amidst other holidays because it was the day God ordained for rest and asked for regular dedication.

Known less commonly as the “Day of Firstfruits” (Num 28:26), the Festival of Weeks was an occasion to honor God with the first crops of the fields as thanks for Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and an opportunity to enjoy God’s rest (they took a Sabbath rest from work, and by reaching the Promised Land were in a more permanent state of rest).

Festival of Weeks: Timeline

  • Takes place on 6th day of 3rd month, Sivan.
  • 50 days after passover; starts day after Sabbath, count off seven weeks and the day after the 7th Sabbath (Lev 23:15-16);
    • The 7 weeks are from the “time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain” (Dt 16:9)

Nature of celebration

  • On 50th day, hold a sacred assembly; do no work (Lev 23:21; Num 28:26)
  • Thankfulness is important: Israel commanded to give freewill ofg’s and to rejoice for the Temple and remember they had been brought out of Egypt (Dt 16:11-12)

What to Offer

  • Grain: on 50th day, an ofg of new grain (Lev 23:16)
    • 2 loaves made from 2/10ep flour, w/yeast (Lev 23:17)
  • Burnt: (with their grain and drink ofg’s) (Lev 23:18; Num 28:27-31):
    • 7 male lambs, 2 rams, 1 bull
    • 1 young bull (Num says 2 young bulls)**
  • Sin (Lev 23:19; Num 28:30): one male goat
  • Fellowship (Lev 23:19): 2 lambs
  • Wave: the grain and fellowship ofg’s (Lev 23:20)
  • Freewill: give in proportion to blessings the Lord has given you (Dt 16:11)

**Here is a discrepancy between biblical texts. Is it one young bull or two? John Gill refers to the Jewish historians Maimonides and Josephus. They both wrote that the sacrifice that included one bull in Leviticus 23 was distinct from the burnt offering given for the Festival of Weeks. Thus, there would be a total of 3 bulls. For more info, here is the link to the commentary.


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