The Correct Pentecost/Shavout Date: Lessons on getting things right!


Actually contrary to my previous post the correct date of Pentecost was actually May 31st rather then May 29th as widely reported on both Jewish and Messianic information site.  The error of date was pointed out during forum discussion here: http://www.peacebringer.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1661 and was given sound correction on the matter.  Craig, an author of several blogs with his primary blog being www.messianicmusings.com, actually provided sound detailed information:

The original Hebrew of the relevant passage (I’m not going to look it up at this hour, so this is a loose rewording) says, on the morrow after the Sabbath, hold a sacred assembly (Feast of First Fruits) and then count off seven sabbaths(49 days) and on the morrow after THAT Sabbath, hold a sacred assembly (on the 50th day, which is Shavuot/Pentecost).

As a result, counting from the Feasts of First Fruits, Saturday, May 30 (Gregorian) is Day 49 of the counting of the Omer, so Sunday, May 31 is Shavuot/Pentecost.

So why do so many people – including the rabbis – get it wrong? It has to do with the difficulties of translation, actually.

You see, many people base their impression of the relevant passage on a Greek translation of the Old Testament, known as the Septuagint. In the Septuagint, the rabbis translated “sabbaths” as “weeks.” And that began the confusion.

See, the whole question of when to start counting comes from this. You see, first fruits is to be held “the morrow after the Sabbath,” but it doesn’t say WHICH sabbath specifically at that exact point in the text. So the rabbis (and many in the Christian church) said “Gee, Passover is a Sabbath, too… so first fruits must start the day after that.”

But Passover falls on a different day of the Gregorian week each year. This year, Passover was on a Wednesday and therefore many held First Fruits on Thursday and started counting from that point… because the Greek Septuagint says “weeks” not “sabbaths.” That puts the 50th day on Friday, May 29.

But there’s a problem with all that, or many problems.

First and foremost is this: the Greek Septuagint is a TRANSLATION, not the source language. The source language is the Hebrew, so we need to pay attention to what the Hebrew says, not the Greek.

And the Hebrew word is SHABBATH (Sabbath) not SHAVU’OT (weeks). Count off seven regular Sabbaths is therefore the more accurate translation… meaning the rabbis who translated the Septuagint got it wrong.

Here’s another problem: You can’t count off seven sabbaths and have the morrow AFTER THE SABBATH be the 50thday, unless you get lucky and passover falls on a sabbath (seventh day) that year.

So, the only correct way to read the passage… linguistically, even… not theologically… is that you hold first fruits on the morrow following the next regular sabbath and start counting off seven regular sabbathsfrom there, with the count beginning on the first day of the week (Sunday). Only in this way will the 50th day fall on the morrow after the seventh sabbath, which would be Shavuot/Pentecost.

Now, here’s where there’s a nice TREAT in the spring festivals for Messianics and Christians alike…

If First Fruits is practiced in the proper way… the morrow after the next regular sabbath, so you can count off 49 days and have the 50th day be another morrow after the sabbath and not just any old day… then here’s what happens:

First Fruits is actually symbolic of the resurrection… Yeshua rose on the the first day of the week! This, I think, is why the rabbis probably started counting the Omer differently… as a reaction to Christianity/first-century Yeshua-followers.

If you then count off the Omer, Shavuot/Pentecost ALSO falls on a first day of the week (Sunday).

Does this mean the Sabbathis changed to the first day of the week? No, but I won’t re-open THAT controversy here at length.

It should just be nice to know that when one starts the counting of the omerproperly by placing First Fruits on the morrow after a regular Sabbath, then the resurrection symbolism is restored to that feast of the L-RD because that’s when Yeshua rose from the dead… on a Feast of First Fruits… on the first day of the week (Sunday)!

By rendering the placement of First Fruits as immediately after Passover, as most rabbis do, and rendering the counting as “weeks” instead of “sabbaths,” the spring festivals are thus disconnected from their fulfillment in Yeshua… which would lead folks astray from a proper understanding.

Hope this helps.

The very fact that I had the date wrong on when Shavout really occuredis a real learning experience and gives some important lessons. The first lesson is again the importance of checking out the sources of information and continually be looking for the truth.  It was really easy to look, find the date, and accept it as accurate and act on that information, as I did.   In sense we can often go by what we are told and assume it is correct without verifying for self.  However, the seeking of truth means one needs to check, verify, and recheck the validity of a matter. 

The other lesson that strikes me as important is how easily we settle for what has been established. The fact that multiple sites including those from a “Messianic” perspective just failed to recognize when the counting of Omer is actually to start.  We can easily stick with the way things have always been reported and practiced without challenging ourselves.  This becomes a form of inertia and gives us an inability to be taught.

In actuality, one can find upon looking folks that will insist that the Pentecost calculation should be done differently and give even what seems solid evaluation of the differences.  When I think of this fact, whether we have the day correct or not really becomes irrelevant, what matters is what we do in faith before God and what he leads us to do.  For me Romans 14:4-9 really stress what any believer in Jesus in Messiah should hold to as a mindset: 

(ESV)4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

So when it comes down to it, Biblically which day is considered as a day to honor before God is irrelevant, what is important is that we bring honor to God.  Yet, sometimes each of us can get so caught up in “getting things right” that we ultimately start bringing honor to our point of view rather then ultimately honoring God.  We can become so wrapped up in being right that we lose sight that it is all about bringing Honor to God, to Jesus, and to the Holy Spirit. 

 

 

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