The Jewish people will be celebrating the feast of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) from sundown, Saturday, June 4th – Monday evening at sundown, June 6th.
Here’s an excerpt from Finding Jesus in Judaism on the Feast of Weeks:
Shavuot is the third of the Shalosh Regalim (three pilgrimage festivals). After the seven weeks of counting the omer, on the 50th day (Shavuot meaning “weeks”), the harvesting of wheat takes place and the first fruits in Israel ripened. It comes from Deuteronomy 16:9-10,
“. . . 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. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you. . .” verse 12, “And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.”
Being a pilgrimage festival, all the people would bring their first fruits to the Temple, as well as every male would bring their first
fruits and two loaves of bread as an offering to the Lord. The first fruits included the seven species mentioned in the Bible (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. (Deuteronomy 8:8) Shavuot was a celebration of the end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest.
In the New Testament, Yeshua is called “the first fruits of many brethren.” 1 Corinthians 15:20 says, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Even though the Torah doesn’t say when the giving of the Torah
was, Shavuot also celebrates the anniversary of the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Sometimes it is referred to as “the season of the giving of our Torah” (“Zman Mattan Toratenu”). It is believed by many scholars, as I have read, that the giving of the Torah was in the third month, which would be around Shavuot. Today, the holiday is celebrated more for the “Giving of the Torah” celebration than for the harvesting celebration.
In the synagogue, the book of Ruth is read since it has to do with the harvest. The synagogue is often decorated with greenery (possibly because Mt. Sinai was once flourishing with green grass) and/or flowers (I read scholars say some Talmud readings allude to flowers blooming when the Torah was given). Two loaves of challah (twisted egg bread) are used to remember the two tablets being given and is significant of the two loaves of the grain offering that were brought in Temple times.
It is a custom to eat dairy foods on Shavuot. This is based on the verse Exodus 3:8. When the Torah was given to Moses, God promised the land would be “flowing with milk and honey.” It is customary to eat cheesecake, “blintzes” (crepe-like food filled with cheese), or “kreplach” (dumpling-like food filled with cheese).
The Greek word “Pentecost” means 50th (Shavuot was the 50th day of the counting of the omer). Do you remember what happened at Pentecost? All the Jews were gathered at Jerusalem including the disciples. Ten days earlier they had watched Yeshua ascend into the clouds. According to Acts Chapter 2, they were all gathered
together, when there was a sudden sound like a violent wind, then something that looked like tongues of fire came down and rested on each of them, and they began to prophecy in different languages.
Many began to wonder what this was. Some made fun and said the young men must be drunk. Peter got up and explained that no one was drunk as it was 9:00 in the morning. He then proceeded to tell them everything that had taken place concerning Yeshua. His entire speech is found in Acts 2:14-36. The crowd asked what they should do. Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38) Three thousand Jews repented and the church was born!
On Shavuot, the passage that is read is from Ezekiel 1:4,
“Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire.”
New Testament Fulfillment: Revival is the key word for Shavuot. In ancient days, Israel was to praise God and bring offerings for the first fruits, and these first fruits would bring about a later harvest. This also applies to believers today. The new believers at Shavuot, or the first fruits of believers, brought about a revival.
This revival continues as more Jewish people are coming to know Yeshua, until “all Israel will be saved.” Barney Kasdan, in his book, God’s Appointed Times says it best, “May the day come soon when the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon the house of David, and they will all look, in faith, to the one who was pierced.”