Section Four of Biblical Holy Days
Written by: Richard C. Nickels article link
Section Four of Biblical Holy Days covers Pentecost, the festival with many names. As with the other sections, our purpose is not to convince others to observe the Sabbaths of the Almighty. It is to provide resource material and in-depth instruction for those who already observe these sacred times. Even though I personally observe a Monday Pentecost, our material on Pentecost is not intended to be a comprehensive proof that a Monday Pentecost is correct. Our study material gathers resource material from a wide variety of sources as a research source for serious students.
Here is a summary collection of Pentecost data:
Feast of Weeks (Chag Shavuot)
Feast of Harvest (Chag Qatsiyr)
Day of Firstfruits (Yom Bikkurim)
Festival of the Covenant
Closing Sabbath (Shavuot Atzeret)
Season of the Giving of God's Law
Holy Spirit Day
Birthday of the Church
An Ordinance Forever (Chuqqah Olam)
Count a full fifty days, then keep Pentecost. Begin counting on the day after the weekly Sabbath which falls during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Incorrect Pentecost dates are any fixed calendar date (Sivan 6, 7, etc.), and Whitsunday, which was brought into the Catholic Church from paganism.
Proper keeping of Pentecost involves the following:
Being in Holy Convocation on the correct date,
at one accord with God's people,
in the attitude of prayer and supplication,
with obedience to the Laws of the Covenant,
exhibiting the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Of all the Biblical Holy Days, Pentecost is the one most recognized by the professing Christian world. The Pentecost of Acts 2 marked the birth of the New Testament Church. However, as soon as 60-70 years after that epochal Pentecost, the Church was undergoing a radical doctrinal change from its original roots. Since then, much of the Biblical understanding of Pentecost has been lost. Pentecost indeed has a forgotten message for Christians today. Although many Catholics and Protestants take note of Pentecost (Whitsunday), the Biblical basis for the Feast is largely absent.
Yet paradoxically, the "Pentecostals" think they truly understand the meaning of Pentecost. Our study of "Tarry for Pentecost" indicates a deeper meaning that they have missed.
In the Church of God, much effort has been expended to prove which day is the correct Pentecost. Our articles address these issues, and show that there is a gold mine of understanding of the meaning of Pentecost that results from this discussion.
Pentecost: Its Message for Christians Today
Pentecost has a great deal of meaning for Christians today. The first part of this study deals with the Biblical words relating to this important Feast Day. The second part contains reference material relating to Pentecost. All word numbers refer to those given in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance.
From the Greek #4005 pentekoste, pronounced "pen-tay-kos-tay'," feminine of #4004 pentekonta, (fifty), fiftieth from Passover, the festival of Pentecost.
Church Founded at Pentecost
Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Paul Wanted to be at Jerusalem for Pentecost
Acts 20:16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia, for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.
Paul Wanted to Stay at Ephesus Until Pentecost
I Corinthians 16:8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
His reason for staying at Ephesus until Pentecost? Verse 9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.
FIRSTFRUITS -- Bikkuwr
Hebrew #1061 bikkuwr, "bikkoor'," from #1069 bakar (to burst the womb, bear or make early fruit, firstborn, firstling), the firstfruits of the crop, hasty fruit.
Pentecost One of Two Harvest Feasts
Exodus 23:16 And the feast of harvest [Pentecost], the firstfruits of thy labors, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering [Tabernacles], which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labors out of the field.
Exodus 34:22 And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks [Pentecost], of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end [margin: revolution of the year].
See also Leviticus 23:10.
Sacrificial Offering of Firstfruits
Exodus 23:19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.
See also Exodus 34:26.
Leviticus 2:14 And if thou offer a meat offering of thy firstfruits unto the LORD, thou shalt offer for the meat offering of thy firstfruits green ears of corn dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears.
Leviticus 23:17, 20 [on Pentecost] Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD . . . . And the priest shall wave them [the special sacrifices for the feast] with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.
Day of Firstfruits, No Work, A Holy Convocation Forever
Numbers 28:26 Also in the day of the firstfruits, when ye bring a new meat offering unto the LORD, after your weeks be out, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work.
Leviticus 23:21 And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
Firstfruits Given to Elisha Fed One Hundred Men
II Kings 4:42, 44 [during a severe drought, verse 38] And there came a man from Baal-shalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people that they may eat . . . . So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof . . . .
Firstfruits Brought to God's House at Appointed Times
Nehemiah 10:34-35 . . . at times appointed year by year . . . . And to bring the firstfruits of our ground, and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the LORD.
Nehemiah 13:31 . . . at times appointed, and for the firstfruits.
Sons of Zadok To Receive Firstfruits
Ezekiel 44:30 And the first [chief] of all the firstfruits of all things . . . shall be the priest's.
FIRSTFRUITS -- Re'shiyth
Hebrew #7225 re'shiyth pronounced "ray-sheeth'," from the same root as #7218 ro'sh (the head, captain, chief, first), the first, in place, time, order or rank; beginning, chief, firstfruits; principal.
Firstfruits and Sacrificial System
Leviticus 2:12-13 As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the LORD: but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savor. And every oblation of thy meat offering, shalt thou season with salt, neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering.
Firstfruits were thus not burnt.
Wavesheaf Offering of Firstfruits
Leviticus 23:10-11, 14 When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and reap the harvest . . . then ye shall bring a sheaf [Hebrew: omer] of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it . . . . And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
Priests Given Tithes and Firstfruits
Numbers 18:12 All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which they shall offer unto the LORD, them have I given thee [Aaron and his sons].
II Chronicles 31:5 . . . the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things they brought in abundantly.
Firstfruits a Reminder of Exodus and Promised Land
Deuteronomy 26:1-11 . . . when thou art come in unto the land which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance . . . thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth . . . and put it in a basket, and go to the place . . . unto the priest . . . and say . . . the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand . . . [therefore] I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou O LORD, hast given me . . . . And thou shalt rejoice . . . thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.
Nehemiah Reinstituted Tithing and Firstfruits
Nehemiah 10:37 And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites . . . .
Nehemiah 12:44 And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes . . . .
Honor God With Your Firstfruits -- You'll Be Blessed
Proverbs 3:9-10 Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
Israel Is Special -- God's Firstfruits
Jeremiah 2:3 [JPS] Israel is the LORD's hallowed portion, His first-fruits of the increase; all that devour him shall be held guilty, evil shall come upon them . . . .
Firstfruits Are Holy Unto God
Ezekiel 48:14 And they shall not sell of it, neither exchange, nor alienate the firstfruits of the land: for it is holy unto the LORD.
Firstfruits Will Be Required in the World Tomorrow
Ezekiel 20:40 For in mine holy mountain . . . there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things.
Firstfruits Remind of Second Exodus
Ezekiel 20:41-43 I will accept you with your sweet savor, when I . . . . gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered . . . . And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel . . . . And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled . . . and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.
Note: Compare with Acts 2:36-38, where Peter exhorted the Jews to repentance by remembering their part in the death of the Savior.
FIRSTFRUITS -- Aparche
Greek #536 aparche pronounced "ap-ar-khay'," from a composite of #575 apo (separation, departure) and #756 archomai (to commence, begin), a beginning of sacrifice, firstfruits.
Christians Are Firstfruits
Romans 16:5 Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
I Corinthians 16:15 . . . the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia . . . .
James 1:18 Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
Christians Have Firstfruits of God's Spirit
Romans 8:14, 23 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God . . . which have the firstfruits of the Spirit . . . .
Christ the Firstfruits of the Dead
I Corinthians 15:20, 22-23 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept . . . in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming.
144,000 Are a Firstfruits Unto God
Revelation 14:1, 4 And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father's name written in their foreheads . . . . These were redeemed from among men, being the [a] firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
Hebrew #7620 shabuwaor shabua or shebuah pronounced "sheb-oo-aw'," seven, a week. This is distinct from the Hebrew word for Sabbath, #7676, and does not mean "Sabbath."
Pentecost Also Called Feast of Weeks
Exodus 34:22 And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest . . . .
Deuteronomy 16:9-12 Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn. And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the LORD thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the LORD thy God, according as the LORD thy God hath blessed thee. And thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to place His name there. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes.
Deuteronomy 16:16 Three times in a year shalt all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which He shall choose: in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:
II Chronicles 8:13 . . . on the Sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in a year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks and in the feast of tabernacles.
Pentecost Is Feast of Weeks Because It Must Be Counted
Numbers 28:26 Also in the day of the firstfruits, when ye bring a new meat offering unto the LORD, after your weeks be out, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work:
Deuteronomy 16:9 Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn.
Leviticus 23:15-16 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days . . . .
Feast of Weeks Offering Given God
Deuteronomy 16:10, 16-17 And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks . . . with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the LORD thy God, according as the LORD thy God has blessed thee in the feast of weeks . . . and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which He hath given thee.
Feast of Weeks a Feast of Rejoicing at a Special Place
Deuteronomy 16:10-12 And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks . . . . And thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God . . . in the place which the LORD thy God has chosen to place His name there. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes.
Passover to Pentecost a Type of the Spiritual Harvest
Jeremiah 5:15, 17, 24-25 Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far . . . . And they shall eat up thine harvest . . . . Neither say they [Israel] in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that given rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest . . . . your sins have withholden good things from you.
USE OF FIFTY IN THE BIBLE
Ark Fifty Cubits Wide, It Rained a Hundred Fifty Days
Genesis 6:15 The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.
Genesis 7:24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.
Genesis 8:3 . . . and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.
Sodom Would Have Been Spared For Fifty Righteous Persons
Genesis 18:24, 26, 28 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: . . . . And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous . . . . I will spare all the place for their sakes . . . . Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty . . . .
Moses Placed Judges Over Fifties
Exodus 18:21-22 [Jethro speaking:] . . . thou shalt provide . . . able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, and rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: and let them judge the people at all seasons . . . .
Deuteronomy 1:15 So I took . . . wise men and known, and made them captains over thousands, . . . hundreds . . . fifties . . . tens . . . .
Fifty Loops On the Ten Curtains of the Tabernacle
Exodus 26:1, 5-11 Fifty loops shall you make in one curtain . . . fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains one to another with the clasps, that the tabernacle may be one whole [JPS].
Tabernacle Court Fifty Cubits Wide
Exodus 27:13, 18 The length of the court shall be a hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty every where . . . .
Pentecost Fifty Days From Wavesheaf Day
Leviticus 23:15-16 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye 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 . . . [KJV].
And you shall count unto you from the morrow after the day of rest, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the waving; seven weeks shall there be complete; even unto the morrow after the seventh week shall you number fifty days . . . [JPS].
Levites Had to Retire at Age Fifty
Numbers 4:3 From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.
Numbers 8:25-26 And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more: But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service.
Jubilee the Fiftieth Year
Leviticus 25:10-11 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a Jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A Jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself . . . .
Fifty in a Company of Soldiers
I Kings 1:5 . . . and fifty men to run before him.
II Kings 1:9 . . . a captain of fifty with his fifty . . . .
God's Fifty Prophets and Disciples
I Kings 18:4 . . . when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.
Luke 9:14 . . . for they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, make them sit down by fifties in a company.
PENTECOST -- THE THIRD MONTH
Israel Came to Sinai in the Third Month
Exodus 19:1-2 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 . . . and there Israel camped before the mount.
Asa's Covenant With God in the Third Month
II Chronicles 15:3, 10-13 Now for a long season Israel has been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law . . . . So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa . . . . And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their soul; That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death . . . .
Hezekiah Brings Firstfruits and Tithes in Third Month
II Chronicles 31:7 In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month.
Jews Permitted to Defend Selves in Third Month
Esther 8:9-11 Then were the king's scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof . . . . Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life . . . .
Ezekiel's Third Month Prophecy for Egypt and Assyria
Ezekiel 31:1-2 And it came to pass . . . in the third month, in first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, son of man, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt . . . .
NOTE: Some "scholars" have noted that Pentecost is not mentioned in Ezekiel 45 and 46, although Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Tabernacles are specified. This does not show the invalidity of Pentecost in the World Tomorrow, because the general term "feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths" is used in these chapters to refer to all the feast days.
Greek #4845 sumpleroo pronounced "soom-play-ro-o," from #4862, sun, (completeness) and #4137, pleroo, (accomplish; complete, expire, fill up, make full, perfect), to accomplish completely, fill up, fully come.
Pentecost Was Fully Come When Holy Spirit Given
Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come . . . .
Ship of Jesus and Disciples Filled With Water
Luke 8:23 . . . and there came down a storm of wind on the lake, and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.
Jesus Knew When His Time Was Come
Luke 9:51 . . . when the time was come that He should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.
NOTE: The Englishman's Greek New Testament translates Acts 2:1 literally as "and during the accomplishing of the day of Pentecost . . . ." The spiritual meaning of Pentecost was accomplished in the morning (around the third hour, nine o'clock) when the wave loaves were offered in 31 A.D. when God's Holy Spirit came.
WITH ONE ACCORD
Greek #3661 homothumadon pronounced "hom-oth-oo-mad-on'," unanimously, with one accord or mind, from #3674, homou, (at the same place or time, together) and #2372, thumos, (passion, as if breathing hard, fierceness, indignation, wrath) which comes from #2380, thuo, (to rush or breathe hard, blow; to sacrifice, kill slay).
Just Before Pentecost the Apostles Were With One Accord
Acts 1:14 These all [eleven apostles, verse 13] continued with one accord in prayer and supplication . . . .
At Pentecost, the Disciples With One Accord in One Place
Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
After Pentecost, Christians Continued With One Accord
Acts 2:44-46 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.
Church Prayed for Peter and John with One Accord
Acts 4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord . . . .
Verses 31-32 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
Miracles and Converts Because Christians With One Accord
Acts 5:12, 14 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch . . . . And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
Fighters Against God Were With One Accord
Acts 7:57-58 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him [Stephen] with one accord . . . . and stoned him . . . .
Acts 12:20 And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him . . . .
Acts 18:12 . . . the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat.
Acts 19:29 And the whole city [Ephesus] was filled with confusion . . . they rushed with one accord into the theatre.
Samaritans Gave One Accord to Philip's Preaching
Acts 8:6 And the people [of Samaria] with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
Ministers With One Accord at Jerusalem Conference
Acts 15:25 . . . being assembled with one accord . . . .
Glorify God With One Mind
Romans 15:5-6 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to [margin: after the example of] Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God . . .
This section gives summaries from various references on Pentecost, along with our comments.
The phrase, "the morrow of the Sabbath," Leviticus 23:15, is interpreted by the rabbis as Nisan 16. Reasons supporting their position are: (1) Leviticus 25:2 shows that the Bible uses the word "Sabbath" to indicate not a seventh day but a period of rest or a festival. (2) The Septuagint (c. 300 B.C.) translates the disputed phrase as "the morrow of the first day," while the modern JPS renders it "the morrow of the day of rest." (3) Some feel that Joshua 5:11 should be translated so that Israel ate of the new produce of the land on the morrow of the Passover. (The JPS translation of Joshua 5:11 is "and they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the Passover . . . .") (4) Josephus wrote that "The offerings of the sheaf (omer of barley) took place on the 16th (of Nisan), the first busy work-day of the harvest, in relation to which the preceding day might well be called a Sabbath or rest day."
The Sadducees, the party dominated by the high priestly family, took the phrase "the morrow of the Sabbath" literally, and began counting with Sunday as the first day. For them, Shavuoth (Pentecost) falls on a Sunday. Shavuoth could thus fall anywhere from the 6th to the 13th of Sivan. The Talmud, slanted to the Pharisee position, records Pharisee-Sadducee debates on the subject, and infers that the Sadducees themselves felt very uncertain about the validity of their own arguments.
Centuries later, the Karaite sect (of the Crimea) rejected all rabbinic interpretation and held that the Scriptures alone are the only valid authority. They received their name because they emphasized the literal meaning of the Bible (Hebrew word kara means "to read"), and they too began counting from Sunday.
The "negro Jews" or Falashas of Ethiopia began their count from Nisan 22, because they interpreted "morrow after Sabbath" as after the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The underlying reason of the Pentecost date conflict between the Pharisees and Sadducees is that the Pharisees (rabbis) felt that Shavuoth was the date of the giving of the commandments, and thus had to have a fixed date, while the Sadducees found no Bible evidence that the Revelation was given at Shavuoth, and thus saw no reason for a fixed date. (See A Guide to Shavuoth by Chaim Pearl. Jewish Chronicle Publications, London: 1959.)
[Comment: We believe that Pentecost is the anniversary of the giving of the commandments, but that this does not dictate it being a fixed calendar date.]
The vague Biblical references to the dating of Pentecost have provoked disputes among scholars. Sadducees and the Samaritans believe the word "Sabbath" in Leviticus 23:15 is to be taken as the weekly Sabbath. They count Sunday as the first day, and always observe Pentecost on a Sunday. The Pharisees interpret "Sabbath" as the annual Sabbath, and they keep Pentecost fifty days from Nisan 15, or Sivan 6 ("The Feast of Weeks" from Festivals of the Jewish Year by Theodor H. Gaster, William Morrow & Company, New York: 1953).
Both Jews and traditional Christianity count only seven weeks, not 50 days. Jews mistakenly use Deuteronomy 16:9 for instructions on how to number these days. Deuteronomy 16:9 states: "Seven weeks shall you number unto you: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as you begin to put the sickle to the corn." Thus, it would seem from this passage that you would begin to count from Nisan 16, the first real harvest day of the season (The Sabbaths of God, by James L. Porter, Exposition Press, New York: 1966). [Comment: See section 4.1 for an explanation of Deuteronomy 16.]
Modern Jews hold Pentecost on Sivan 6, which never falls on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. Orthodox Jews have added a day, making two days of Shabu'ot.
Regarding the expression "on the morrow after the Sabbath," Leviticus 23:11, the Pharisees held that "the Sabbath" referred to Passover (Nisan 15, the first Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread). But the Sadducees (Boethusians), and later the Karaites, held that it meant the weekly Sabbath, and began counting "seven weeks" from the morrow after the first Saturday during Passover, "so that Pentecost would always fall on Sunday." Thus, they felt that Moses gave them an extended holy day by tying Pentecost with the Sabbath. The Septuagint translates the phrase to support the Pharisees ("on the morrow of the first day"), and Talmudists substituted the word "Azeret" (solemn assembly) for "Shabuot." The Sadducees' contention that Pentecost was on a Sunday was one of the reasons used by the Catholic Church in fixing Easter on Sunday, in 325 A. D.
The Book of Jubilees (part of the Apocrypha), written about 135 B.C., interprets "on the morrow after the Sabbath" as Nisan 21, the last day of Passover; consequently some Jews kept Pentecost on Sivan 12 or Sivan 15. Jubilees maintains that the covenant with Abraham, the birth of Isaac, Abraham's death, Judah's birth, and the vows between Jacob and Laban, all occurred on the Feast of Weeks (Jewish Encyclopedia, 1904 edition, article "Pentecost").
Sadducees held that the beginning of the ecclesiastical year was so arranged that the Passover (Nisan 15, first high day) always fell on the Sabbath, so that the "morrow after the Sabbath" would always be a Sunday. (This would make Nisan 1 on a Sabbath.)
Keil's argument against "the morrow after the Sabbath" referring to the weekly Sabbath is that "if the Sabbath was not fixed, but might fall upon any day of the seven days' feast of Mazzoth [Unleavened Bread], and therefore as much as five or six days after the Passover, the feast of Passover itself would be forced out of the fundamental position which it occupied in the series of annual festivals" (Lange's Commentary on Leviticus 23 relating to Pentecost).
Time of the Giving of the Law
Some rabbis interpret "the same day" of Exodus 19:1 as meaning the same day of the month, hence they [incorrectly assert that] Israel came to Sinai on Sivan 1. They believe that Moses ascended the mount on the second day, came down on the third and warned the people and received their willing reply to obey God. He then made another ascent on the fourth and was commanded to institute three days of preparation, the last of which the Revelation (giving of 10 Commandments) took place, Sivan 6 (see Pearl).
COMMENT: If three additional days is meant, it would be Sivan 7, the day reached if you count fifty days from Nisan 16. By their own reckoning, the Jews are keeping Pentecost a day early. Some Jews have added a day and keep both Sivan 6 and 7. Exodus 19:1 shows that Israel reached Sinai in the third month, on the same day of the week (Thursday) that they left Egypt. Further calculations show that Pentecost was the day the Ten Commandments were given. It is thus the birthday of Israel, and is known as "the season of the giving of Our Law."
Jews believe two important events occurred at Sinai: (1) the giving of the Law, and (2) the Covenant (contract) relationship between God and Israel.
Physically, Pentecost marks the end of seven weeks collaboration between God and man in the reaping of the barley harvest. Spiritually it is the end of the first spiritual harvest, which began with Israel's deliverance from Egypt. Just as Israel had to gather the crops to ensure prosperity in the coming year, so Sinai was necessary for Israel's spiritual continuance. Physically, Israel offered to God two loaves of the new bread as a symbol of cooperation. Spiritually, God offers to man two tablets of the Law. As the harvest is renewed year by year, so is the event at Sinai recalled (Gaster).
A feast celebrated by Asa in the third month of the fifteenth year of his reign to renew the Covenant, II Chronicles 15:10-12 may refer to Pentecost. The first unequivocal statement that the giving of the Law was on Pentecost is given in the late noncanonical Book of Jubilees. The Qumran community followed the Jubilees calendar and celebrated Pentecost as the chief feast because of its association with the Covenant. Ezekiel 45:18-25 does not mention Pentecost. Orthodox Jews after the Exile relegated it to a secondary feast. Not until the Second Century, A. D. was the connection with the giving of the Ten Commandments generally admitted by most Jewish rabbis (New Catholic Encyclopedia, article "Pentecost, Hebrew Feast of").
"The Feast of Pentecost was instituted, first, to oblige the Israelites to repair to the temple of the Lord, there to acknowledge His dominion over their country, and their labours, by offering to Him the first fruits of all their harvests. Secondly, to commemorate, and to render thanks to God for, the law given from Mount Sinai, on the fiftieth day after their coming out of Egypt" (Calmet's Dictionary of the Bible, 1801 edition, article "Pentecost").
A possible reason for the Pentecost custom of eating dairy foods is that it is in honor of the Law, which is likened to "honey and milk" in Song of Solomon 4:11 (Jewish Encyclopedia, "Pentecost").
There are seven days of Pesach and seven days of Sukkot, why not seven days of Shabuot? "Because Shabuot commemorates the day when all Israel was as one heart in accepting the Torah." -- Zohar, iii, 96a
There are 613 letters in the Decalogue, equal to the number of commandments. -- Bemidbar Rabbah, 13:15
How the Patriarchs kept every one of the Ten Commandments: (1-2) Jacob accepted the Lord as God and ordered removal of strange gods, (3) Joseph swore by the life of Pharaoh and not by God, and (4) prepared a Sabbath table before his brethren, (5) Isaac honored his father and made no protest when led to the sacrifice, (6) Judah opposed the murder of Joseph, (7) Joseph was opposed to adultery, (8) Judah identified Joseph's bloody shirt and did not lie, (9-10) Abraham refused to plunder Sodom. -- Pesikta Hadashah, Otzar Midrashim, p. 489
The ten sayings with which the world was created correspond to the Ten Commandments: (1) Let there be light corresponds to the first commandment, for God is the Eternal Light. (2) "Let there be an expanse," reminds us that all heavenly bodies are creatures only. (3) "Let the waters assemble," reminds us that the sea does not hold lightly the name of God, and does not overflow its bounds. (4) "Let the earth bring forth grass," reminds us of God's bounty to him who honors the Sabbath. (5) "Let there be lights," reminds us of two lights in the life of man, his father and mother. If he honors them he will walk next to the Eternal Light. (6) "Let the waters bring forth fowl, etc.," reminds us that we may slay these creatures for our use, but not men. (7) "Let the earth bring forth creatures after their own kind," reminds us that only beasts may multiply promiscuously, but man must not commit adultery. (8) "Let us make man . . . who shall have dominion," reminds us that man should make use only that over which he has dominion, and not steal that which others have dominion. (9) "I have given . . . every tree on which is the fruit," reminds us that as the tree truthfully grows, so should man's lips speak the truth. (10) "It is not good that man should be alone," reminds us that just as Adam did not covet another's wife, we also should not covet (Jewish Talmud).
A Harvest Festival
Passover and Tabernacles are each observed for seven days. Why not Pentecost? Because it is a time of labor, and the others are not, thus God is considerate and does not keep His people from the necessary work of the harvest. -- Sifri, Re'eh
Shavuoth, in addition to being the end of the grain harvest, is also the beginning of the fruit harvest. Before Shavuoth, the farmer would inspect his fruit and indicate his choice for the bikkurim, or firstfruits offering of the best and earliest of his crop. All the inhabitants of a district assembled in that district's chief city, to gather together the firstfruits and go to Jerusalem. Those who lived near brought fresh figs and grapes, while those from a distance brought dried figs and raisins. Each man as he brought his offering to the Temple priest said the benediction prescribed in Deuteronomy 26:5. It was permissible to bring the bikkurim offering at any time between Shavuoth and Succoth (Pearl).
Pentecost represents the consummation of the first harvest, after seven weeks of backbreaking labor, and also commemorates the arrival of the Israelites at Mount Sinai after seven weeks of weary wandering, the giving of the Law and the conclusion of the Covenant between God and His people.
Pentecost was the end of the barley harvest and the presentation to God of an offering of two loaves made out of new grain Leviticus 23:17. It takes place seven full weeks after the sickle has been first applied to the standing grain, Deuteronomy 16:9.
The presentation of the firstfruits to God is a kind of payment to God, who owns everything. It is also a recognition that God is one's partner, not just a lord and boss (Gaster).
The grain harvest in Palestine lasted seven weeks. It began with the barley harvest during Passover and ended with the harvesting of wheat at Pentecost. Wheat is the last cereal to ripen. Pentecost was thus the concluding festival of the grain harvest, just as the Last Great Day concluded the fruit harvest (Jewish Encyclopedia, "Pentecost")
There are three designations of the term, "firstfruits" (Hebrew: bikkurim): (1) the "firstfruits of the harvest," or wavesheaf, which the Pharisees offered on Nisan 16 and deliberately made a ceremony out of, to counteract the Sadducees, (2) the "bread of the first-fruits," or the two baked loaves of new wheat offered on Pentecost, and (3) the firstfruits of all the land (Hebrew: reshit), Exodus 23:19, Deuteronomy 26:2, which according to interpretation, was only of the seven famous products of Palestine: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olive oil, and honey. The amount of this reshit was a ma'aser, or tithe. Thus the concept of the firstfruits is closely related to that of the tithe (Jewish Encyclopedia, article "Firstfruits").
Modern Jewish Shavuoth Observance
The first night of Shavuoth, devout Jews stay up in an all night vigil [like Catholics do on Whitsunday], and read a special abbreviated portion of the whole Bible termed the Tikkun. Most synagogues are decorated with flowers and plants which are supposed to indicate the harvest festival, the Bikkurim, and that Sinai was covered with vegetation in honor of the great event of the Revelation. And dairy foods, especially cheese, are associated with Shavuoth because it is a late spring festival (Pearl).
Parallels between the "Jewish" Pentecost and "Christian" Pentecost: (1) tongues of fire were over the heads of the Apostles, while " . . . all the people saw the thunders and the flames" Exodus 20:18; (2) Christians emphasize Christ the resurrected Savior, while Jews hold that Pentecost was the date of David's death, and the book of Ruth ends with David's genealogy (Gaster).
Reform Jews have made Pentecost their annual confirmation day. The young conferments having previously received many months of thorough instruction in the Law, are confirmed as "sons of the covenant" on Pentecost by the laying on of hands by the rabbi, in accordance with the Jewish custom of the ordination of rabbis and judges, that by the laying on of hands they are ordained to a spiritual priesthood (Jewish Laws and Customs, by A. K. Glover, 1900).
Pentecost is the concluding day of the Passover season, from which Jews derive its most common current name, Atzeret (solemn closing day) (Biblical Cyclopedia by McClintock and Strong, article "Pentecost").
Pentecost is called the Feast of Weeks, Feast of Firstfruits, the Festival of the Covenant and by the Jews Shabuoth (Weeks).
Pentecost, like all festivals, is a living experience. It signifies not just the confirmation of the covenant with Israel then, but with all Israel forever. Pentecost is an annual reaffirmation of the bond of covenant between the chosen people and their God (Gaster). As noted previously, the Book of Jubilees states that the covenant with Abraham occurred on the Feast of Weeks.
"Among the early Jewish Christians, observance of the Hebrew feasts continued, doubtless with fresh significance derived from the new revelation." By the Second Century Pentecost was an established Church feast (Hastings' Bible Dictionary, article "Pentecost"). [But by this time it had become paganized.]
Traditional Christianity holds that Whitsun, or Pentecost, is the birthday of the Church, as shown in Acts 2.
Pagan customs have been copied by traditional Christian churches, as well as Judaism, and applied to Pentecost. In Europe it is customary to deck the churches at Whitsun with wreaths and bunches of flowers. In Italy, rose leaves are often scattered from church ceilings during services, supposed to represent "tongues of fire." In many Latin countries, the festival is called Pascha Rosatum, which is a "Christian transformation" of the pagan Roman festival of Rosalia, celebrated about a month earlier, in which Venus was worshipped by decorating her images with roses. Jews also adorn their synagogues with flowers on Pentecost.
Another Pentecost custom is that of eating dairy dishes [compare the U. S. custom of "June is dairy month"], especially those made from cheese. In Psalms 68:15, the mountain on which the Law was given is described as "a mount of gabnunim, a Bashan-like mount." Gabnunim means "gibbous, many-peaked," but the Jews connected it with the word gebinah, "cheese," and thus it was maintained that the eating of cheese was a reminder of the giving of the Law at this season. A strange connection indeed!
Ancient pagan festivals, such as the Roman rural festival of Parilia (April 21), parallel Pentecost. Parilia fell at the same time of year as the beginning of Palestine's barley harvest, on which milk and must were drunk and sprinkled on the image of the pastoral god Pales.
Seething a kid in his mother's milk was part of the Canaanite equivalent of Pentecost, which is inferred by the fact that in the two passages where this is forbidden to Israelites, Exodus 23:19 and 34:26, it is mentioned in connection with the offering of firstfruits. A recently discovered Canaanite text refers to seething a kid in milk in connection with a spring festival (Gaster). [COMMENT: Satan has his counterfeits!]
Whitsunday derives its name from the custom of newly baptized persons presenting themselves for service all dressed in white. The Catholic festival originally lasted seven days, but in 1094 was by Papal decree limited to three days. Tuesday was abolished in 1711 and in 1911 Pope Pius X excepted Monday as a day of holy obligation. Nevertheless, most European countries still observe the Monday following Whitsunday as a legal holiday (Concise Dictionary of Holidays, by Raymond Jahn, article, "Whitsunday").
Whitsunday commemorates the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ. It is called Whitsunday from the white garments worn by those who were baptized during the vigil on the preceding Saturday night (Catholic Encyclopedia, article "Whitsunday").
Pentecost (Whitsuntide) was not established as one of the great church festivals until the Fourth Century. The entire period from Easter to Pentecost is termed the Pentecostal season (McClintock and Strong, article "Pentecostal Effusion").
Sacrifices on Pentecost included seven yearling male lambs, two young bullocks, and one ram (or one bullock and two rams, as shown in Leviticus) as a burnt offering, cereal offerings of flour and oil, libations of wine and blood from the slain animals, a he-goat slain as a sin offering, and two additional male yearling lambs as a thanksgiving sacrifice (New Catholic Encyclopedia, article "Pentecost").
In Temple times, each individual was expected to bring a free-will offering, a portion of which was given to the priests and Levites and the rest eaten by the respective families, who invited the poor and strangers to share it. Pentecost more than Passover was a family gathering, resembling Tabernacles. Deuteronomy 16:11 shows that at Pentecost the Levite, stranger and fatherless are not to be forgotten. This is why Leviticus 23:22 (about leaving corners of the field) is part of the passage on Pentecost: at Pentecost we are reminded to be liberal to others, because God was liberal to us in freeing us from bondage in Egypt, Deuteronomy 16:12 (McClintock and Strong, article "Pentecost").
Later Jews regarded the Leviticus and Numbers Pentecost sacrifices as supplementary, not contradictory. On Pentecost, there were three series of sacrifices: (1) the daily burnt-offerings, (2) the special offerings for a feast day (from Numbers) and (3) the waving of the loaves and lambs, and connected sacrifices (from Leviticus). Finally, "sacrifices" of freewill offerings of individuals were given to the sanctuary and to the poor, Deuteronomy 16:10-11 and Leviticus 23:22.
Notice the parallel between Passover and Pentecost: (1) one sheaf of barley was waved during Passover, versus two loaves of wheat on Pentecost; (2) one lamb was slain on Passover, versus two at Pentecost, with accompanying burnt and sin offerings. Pentecost fulfills the harvest begun during Passover season. No voluntary offerings of firstfruits could be made before Pentecost (see Exodus 23:19).
How Pentecost was celebrated in Temple times: A portion of the best wheat, previously selected, was cut, thrashed, brought to the Temple, ground, and passed through twelve sieves to ensure its fineness. On the day before Pentecost, two omers of flour were baked into loaves. According to the Mishna, the loaves were four handbreadths wide, seven long, and four fingers high. Soon after midnight the Temple gates were opened that offerings for the next morning might be examined by the priests. At sunrise of Pentecost morning, was the regular daily sacrifice, soon followed by the feast offerings of Numbers 28:26-31. Amid the singing of the Hallel, the two lambs were waved alive, sacrificed, and their breasts and shoulders were laid beside the loaves and "waved." Then followed the other sacrifices of Leviticus 23, and the freewill offerings. The rest of Pentecost was spent in festive gatherings to which the poor, stranger, and Levite were invited. Attendant festivities often continued for several days, as multitudes attended the Feast and could not all give their firstfruits on the same day (Hastings, article "Pentecost").
The list of grain and animal offerings for Pentecost in Numbers 28:26-31 differs somewhat from those in Leviticus 23:15-22. These offerings were in addition to the fixed daily offering. In the Talmud (Menahot 4:5, x.4) the Leviticus list is said to be the sacrifices directly connected with the loaves, and was designated for the journeyings in the desert; and the Numbers list gives special Pentecost sacrifices added after Israel entered Palestine (Jewish Encyclopedia, article "Pentecost").
The difference in the Pentecost sacrifices of Leviticus 23 and Numbers 28 is that those in Leviticus are especially connected with the wave loaves, and were in addition to the regular feast day sacrifices in Numbers. It is noticeable that the Pentecost offering of two young rams is the only peace offering required of the whole congregation (Lange's Commentary).
Importance of Pentecost
Why count out Pentecost? Maimonides said that God wants us to count every day from Passover until Pentecost, as one reckons the days of an important personal event. The fact that Pentecost has to be counted out emphasizes its importance. (See Ben M. Edidin, Jewish Holidays and Festivals, page 166.)
In the Talmud, Pentecost is compared to a king who riding one day found an important personage bound in a pit. The king said: "I will loose your bonds, take you from the pit, and after a set time give you my daughter to wife." The man was overjoyed, and began to count the days. So it was that God freed Israel from Egypt and promised to give them His law at a certain time (Minhagei, Mahari Tirna). They were also prepared for the day three days in advance. Pentecost is thus the festival most prepared for in advance. It is likened to the marriage of Israel with God (Israel said, "all that God has commanded we will do").
The three main festivals are Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Passover is the festival of political freedom, Tabernacles of economic freedom, and Pentecost, the central and most important, is a festival of spiritual freedom. See Harris L. Selig, Links to Eternity, page 370.
"The Festival of Shavuot [Pentecost], when we commemorate our receiving the Torah, is considered by our Sages the greatest event in Jewish history. They say that when three great people walk together, the greatest must walk in the center. So it is with the three major festivals." The nation of Israel was not born at the Red Sea, but at Sinai. It was the Torah which made them a distinct people (Selig., pages 377-379).
Jewish Readings on Pentecost
A standard element of the traditional Jewish liturgy on Pentecost is a recital of rhymed versions (Azharoth) of the 613 commandments in the Law.
Also read at Pentecost are the following: (1) Ezekiel 1, which shows the glory of God, His awesome power which was demonstrated on Mount Sinai, (2) the Prayer of Habakkuk -- Habakkuk 3-- written during difficult days of the Assyrian Exile, recalling God's revelation at the time of the Exodus and the conviction He will deliver His people and His promises will never fail; (3) Psalms 68, the "Pentecost anthem," shows that the events of the Exodus and Revelation assure God's continuing providence and bounty; (4) the book of Ruth, which is set in the background of the barley harvest and relates how a former pagan woman came to embrace the faith of Israel and God's law -- Ruth 1:16 (Gaster).
Ruth -- Exodus -- Psalms 42-72
From Dr. Ernest L. Martin's The Design and Development of the Holy Scriptures we learn that Ruth was read at Pentecost, and the book has a late springtime theme (1:22, 2:23), and tells how Ruth (a Gentile) married Boaz (a Jew) and how she gave up her religion and worshipped the true God. It shows that both Gentiles and Israelites can be united together and be part of the firstfruits.
Exodus and the Second book of Psalms (Psalms 42-72) parallel Ruth. Exodus describes the beginning of the Old Testament Church, in which Israel was to be the firstfruits of nations, and relates the giving of the Law at Pentecost. The Second Book of Psalms shifts from the personal happenings of David to what happens to Israel -- God's Church -- as a whole. And it too tells about the beginning of the Old Testament Church.
Why is Ruth read on Pentecost? Not just because the book tells of David's descent or that it has a harvest setting, but that it took place during the time of the judges, when Israel was disunited, went their own way, and did evil, intermarrying with gentile nations and forgetting God. Samuel, who wrote Judges (and Ruth) saw this demoralization, and the Book of Ruth is the result.
Abimelech (husband of Naomi) and his family were rich aristocrats of Ephraim. When the famine broke out, he thought the poor would beg him to death, so he left and settled in Moab, and married his two sons to Moabite princesses. He and his sons soon died, and Naomi was left in poverty. The only thing to do was to go back home and hope her kin would help her. Why was Abimelech's family so punished? "Because they left their homeland and religion to live in a foreign land."
Thus, Jews read the book of Ruth on Pentecost "to demonstrate that in Judaism there must be combined both elements -- Torah and land" (Selig, pages 383-385).
COMMENT: And for Christians, the Pentecost lesson of Ruth is that one must keep God's law and be IN His Church to be blessed with eternal life.
Psalms 68, "The Pentecost Anthem"
This psalm is a prayer at the removing of the ark of the covenant, see Numbers 10:33-36. Thus Psalms 68 reminds us of God's covenant and His laws, for the two tables of stone containing the ten commandments were in the ark.
Verse 5, as God is the father of the fatherless and judge of the widows, we too are to include them in our day of Pentecost, see Deuteronomy 16:10-11.
Verses 6 and 7 remind us that God took us out of Egypt and He goes before us, just as the ark went before Israel. Verse 8 reminds us of Sinai which shook when God thundered His ten commandments, Exodus 19:18 and 20:18. Also, Psalms 68:8, "the earth shook, and the heavens also dropped at the presence of God" reminds us not only of what happened at Sinai, but that on the Monday, the second day of creation week, the firmament and the waters were divided, as the Heaven -- atmosphere -- was created. Also, the heavens dropped on the day of Pentecost in 31 A.D. as the rain of God's Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles.
Verses 15 and 17 show that at Sinai God was present, and He "gave the word," there, verse 11.
Verses 29 through 31 speak of the World Tomorrow when all nations, Egypt, even Ethiopia, will bring their tithes and firstfruits (which Pentecost pictures) to God at His temple at Jerusalem.
Verse 35 ties the whole idea of Pentecost together, as the season of the giving of God's law and the giving of the Holy Spirit to keep that law: "the God of Israel is He that gives strength and power unto His people." Throughout Psalms 68, the strength of God is emphasized, especially in verses 33-34. In verse 35, God shows He will give His strength and power to His people if we remember to obey the laws given on that Pentecost day at Sinai.
Habakkuk 3, A Pentecost Message
Habakkuk 3 (and sometimes Habakkuk 2:20) is read by Jews in the synagogue during Pentecost. Habakkuk prophesies of the time when the modern Chaldeans (people of northern, industrial Italy) will be used by God to judge (invade and conquer) Israel.
Chapter 3 is a prayer of Habakkuk during shigionoth, or turbulent times. Shigionoth can also refer to a mournful dirge, indicating that this prayer or song is read, or played, with great emotion.
Verse 2 shows that God's work needs to be revived in these turbulent times when our nation is spoiled by the Chaldeans. Mount Paran is in the area of Sinai, see Deuteronomy 33:1-4, where the ten commandments, "a fiery law," were given in God's awesome power, because He loves His people.
God's great power is emphasized throughout the chapter. The point is, as the Living Bible translates it, that "the Lord is in His Holy Temple" (2:20) and "His power is just the same as always" (3:6). Even though there is no new fruit and all the cattle die so we can't bring God any firstfruits, verse 17, we should rejoice in God because He
gives us His strength, verses 18 and 19, and when God's work comes to fruition, the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of God (2:14).
In Acts 2, the word "cloven tongues" is better translated "parting asunder," or "distributing themselves" (Hastings, article "Pentecost").
Why did Peter say that the apostles were not drunk, since it was only the third hour of the day (nine o'clock in the morning)? Because on festival days, Jews did not eat before noon, and especially tasted nothing before nine in the morning, the hour of prayer (Calmet).
Richard C. Nickels - Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849 USA
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