The Feast of Weeks, also known as Pentecost was a celebration of thanksgiving at the end of the barley, grain and wheat harvests. In the Jewish faith, the Feast of Weeks also known as Shavuot commemorated the anniversary of Moses bring the law down from Mount Sinai in the tables of stone. You will find in this article that the timing of this holy feast day has been tampered with for many generations. The count to Pentecost/Shavuot in the bible is completely different than the count to Pentecost practiced by Jews and Christians today. To begin gaining an understanding of this statute of God, let’s look to scripture:
“And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.” ~ Exodus 34:22
“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; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord. Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord. And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the Lord. Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings. And the priest shall wave them 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. 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.” ~ Leviticus 23:15-21
- This involves two wave loaves “baked with leaven“
- They would offer 7 first year lambs, 1 bulls, and 2 ram
- It also included meat offerings and drink offerings
- They would offer 1 kid goat for a sin offering
- They would offer 2 lambs of the first year for a peace offering
- The priest would wave these 2 lambs along with the wave loaves of the firstfruits as an offering before the Lord
- This is to be observed forever, throughout our generations
So you can see that this was a day of thanksgiving at the end of the wheat harvest. What you may be puzzled by is the leaven in these loaves. As you probably know, leaven is representative of “sin” (See Feast of Unleavened Bread page). Why would they offer two loaves of the firstfruits of the harvest to include something that symbolizes sin? This couldn’t be understood until the fulfillment of the Feast of Weeks after the death of Christ, when His disciples on the day of the Feast of Weeks/ Pentecost received the Holy Spirit. Though they were full of sin, just as these two loaves of bread were full of leaven, they received the Spirit and blessing of God. These two loaves represented the Jew and Gentile who would be made one in Jesus Christ. The church today, the body of believers- still carries the sin of the flesh as we all fall short of God’s requirements, also symbolized in the leaven.
There has however been some misunderstanding in calculating the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost over the past many centuries. To find this misunderstanding we have to simply consult with God’s word itself. As mentioned earlier, according to the Jewish faith, this celebration is a commemoration of the giving of the Law by Moses at Mount Sinai. This understanding goes back thousands of years, yet today there is a problem. When you calculate the actual date that Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the Torah, this occured well after 50 days from the Day of Firstfruits (which falls on the 16th Day of the 1st Month). How can this be? All of Christianity, and the Jewish faith calculate Pentecost to be 50 days from the Day of Firstfruits, yet this doesn’t align with the purpose and history of the Feast? The reason for this, is that this feast has been miscalculated for hundreds of years. To calculate the exact date of Pentecost, one must use God’s lunar calendar, and obey the count given in Leviticus 23. Below is the count instructed:
“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“ ~ Exodus 34:22
You can see here, that the count doesn’t only require “50 days”. The count begins the day after the sabbath (aka the high sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which would fall on the 16th day of the 1st month), 7 sabbaths shall be complete…..THEN unto the morrow (day after) of the 7th sabbath shall you number 50 days. This is a considerably longer period of time between the Day of Firstfruits and Pentecost than has been ackowledged by mainstream Christianity and Judaism. What is even more revealing is that when you correctly count the Pentecost, it comes to the exact day when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the Torah/Law. To explain in detail, you can follow along with the below Luni-Solar Calendar:
Calculated on the Lunar calendar, 7 sabbaths complete after the day of Firstfruits will always fall on the 8th day of the 3rd month. Counting 50 days from the 8th day of the 3rd month will always fall on either the 28th or 29th day of the 4th month depending on the number of days of the 3rd month of course determined by the moon. The Pentecost will always fall on the 28th or 29th day of the 4th month (June/July). Now let’s consider the story of Moses giving the law.
According to Exodus 19:1, the Israelites arrived at the base of Mount Sinai on the 15th day of the 3rd month. This already is more than 50 days after the day of Firstfruits. How could the Jews be celebrating the commemoration of Moses bringing the law down from Mount Sinai for thousands of years on a day which historically represents a time where the Israelites hadn’t even come to Mount Sinai yet?
“In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day (15th) came they into the wilderness of Sinai.” ~ Exodus 19:1
The scriptures indicate that after the 15th day when they arrived, there were 3 days that the Israelites were sanctified:
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.” ~ Exodus 19:10-11
This would make up the 16th, 17th and 18th day of the Third Month. Then on the 19th day Moses built an alter with twelve pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel, and went up Mount Sinai to meet with God and receive the law/Torah:
“And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.” ~ Exodus 24:18
Here we can see that Moses went up to Mount Sinai to receive the law from God for 40 days and 40 nights. Counted out on the calendar, the date that Moses would descend from Mount Sinai with the Law/Torah and the tables of stone will always fall on the 28th or 29th day of the 4th month depending on the number of days in the 3rd month according to the moon. Do you see how perfect the true count to the Pentecost is? To the exact day, the count to Pentecost given in Leviticus 23 matches with the testimony of the actual date that Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the Law. It of course makes sense that the Jews honored this day as a commemoration of the day Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the Torah, as it falls on that exact day according to Jewish history. However, the Pharisees via the Talmud, along with Christianity has changed the count completely to mean only 50 days. Again the prophecy of the Beast comes up, that said that it would “change the times and change the laws.” This is another “time” that was manipulated unlawfully.
Philo of Alexandria also brings some clarity to this subject. Philo was a Jewish leader in Egypt during the time of a great massacre around the time of Jesus life. Philo was alive before Christ, and died after Christ- living during the exact time of Jesus’ life. He was selected by the Jews of Egypt to represent them and go before the emporer, revealing that he was highly regarded among the Jews of Jesus’ time. Here is what he had to say about the Pentecost:
“(65) we read about a group of Orthodox Jews called Therapeutae and Therapeutrides, Philo says, “they devoted their whole lives and themselves to the knowledge in contemplation of the affairs of nature in accordance with the most sacred admonitions and “precepts of the Prophet Moses.” V111 (64) after saying this he continues by saying, “(65) In the first place, these men “assemble” at the “end” of seven weeks, venerating not only the simple week of seven days, but also its multiplied power, for they know it to be pure and always virgin; and “it” is “a “prelude” and a kind of “forefeast” of the “greatest” feast, which is assigned to the number fifty,” ~ Philo page 704, chapter eight (65) ON THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE V111
Here Philo explains that the “morrow after the 7th sabbath” was a prelude, and a kind of “forefeast” to the greatest feast assigned to the number 50. Today this prelude day is celebrated as the actual great Feast of Pentecost, yet according to scripture and historical record, this day is only a prelude to the true Feast. The true Day of Pentecost is found at the end of the 4th biblical lunar month every year, and cannot be calculated in advance. Rather it is always subject to God’s lights in the firmament marking each month with God’s accuracy.
Further evidence from the time of Paul reveals that the Feast of Pentecost couldn’t possibly occur 50 days after the Day of Firstfruits. In Acts 20-21, the story begins after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, where Paul is trying to make it back to Jerusalem in time for the Feast of Pentecost. In mapping out his travels, and the number of days spent in different locations, you can see that it would be impossible for Paul to reach Jerusalem in time for Pentecost if it was only 50 days from the Day of Firstfruits. Consider the following travel schedule:
Days of Unleavened Bread- 6 Days
Days Sailed to Traos (Philippi to Traos 150 Miles, 5 Days- 30 Miles/Day)- 5 Days
Days abode in Traos- 7 Days
- First day of the week- broke bread (2 sabbaths after end of Unleavened Bread)- 3 Days
- Sailed from Traos to Assos- 20 Miles- 1 Day
- Went to Chios- 3 Days
- Went to Samos, tarried in Trogyllium- 1 Day
- Came to Miletus- 1 Day
- From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders (Sent people to get them, probably 2-3 day journey)- 3 Days
- Set sail for Coos and came unto Rhodes (Miletus to Coos- 60 Miles, Coos to Rhodes is 50 Miles)- 3 Days
- Sailed from Phenicia, to Cyprus, to Syria and landed in Tyre- 3 Days
- Stayed in Tyre for 7 Days- Spirit said don’t yet go into Jerusalem- 7 Days
- Sailed from Tyre to Ptolemais- 1 Day
- Stayed in Ptolemais- 1 Day
- Went to Caesarea and abode with them- 1 Day
- Tarried for many days there in Caesarea (Was probably more than 7 days as Paul mentions specific 7 day visits, we will judge conservatively)- 7 Days
- Went to Jerusalem (70 Miles on Foot)- 3 Days
- Days of Purification- This would be something he would do prior to Pentecost (John 11:55 example)- 7 Days
- Extra Sabbath No Travel Days- 3 Days
Conservative Total = 60 Days
So you can see here from Paul’s travels when studied closely, it would have been impossible for him to make these travels and still make it to Jerusalem in time for the Feast of Pentecost as it is calculated in today’s standards of 50 days after the Day of Firstfruits. Things that aren’t taken into account above are the availability of travel, ships, boats etc. This conservative estimate implies that Paul had his travel needs supplied at his fingertips. This probably was not the case. This too points to the true calculation of the Feast of Pentecost- occurring 7 sabbaths complete after the Feast of Firstfruits, then unto the morrow after the 7th sabbath, number another 50 days.
Today we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost in remembrance of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit after the resurrection and assension of Jesus Christ, but we also look forward to an outpouring of the Holy Spirit again in the form of the “latter rain”. This is something that we continue to celebrate and pray for. We pray that out of faith you will seek to calculate the Feast of Pentecost in obedience to God’s word. We hope that this helps in your study of the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost.