What is the Significance of Shavuot?

What is the Significance of Shavuot?

Shavuot or Pentecost is the last of the four Spring Feasts of Yehovah. It concludes the time of rejoicing that makes up the period of counting the Omer. It is a time to remember the goodness of the Lord after the great Exodus from Egypt and a celebration that we were given the Torah on Mount Sinai.

What is the Significance of Shavuot?

This is a time to celebrate the provision of God. Shavuot begins the Wheat harvest and has a strong connection with the Feast of Unleavened bread, which starts the Barley Harvest. We see God renewing His covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai. In addition to this, Shavuot is also one of the three pilgrimage festivals commanded by God. 

Deuteronomy (Debarim) 16:9-12: 

9 Seven weeks shalt thou number to thyself; when thou hast begun [to put] the sickle to the corn, thou shalt begin to number seven weeks. 10 And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks to the Lord thy God, accordingly as thy hand has power in as many things as the Lord thy God shall give thee. 11 And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou and thy son, and thy daughter, thy man-servant and thy maid-servant, and the Levite, and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow which dwells among you, in whatsoever place the Lord thy God shall choose, that his name should be called there. 12 Thou shalt remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and thou shalt observe and do these commands.

Counting to The Feast of Weeks

The Feast of Weeks or Shavuot can also be called First Fruits, but it should not be confused with the Feast of First Fruits that occurs during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Although both deal with giving the first fruits of the land to God, the former marks the beginning of the Barley Harvest and the latter the beginning of the wheat harvest. Starting on First fruits, we count for 49 days plus one to reach Shavuot, which begins the wheat harvest. 

While the Feast of Unleavened Bread is characterized by the omission of leaven, Shavuot is characterized by its inclusion. From the first fruits of the wheat of your land, two loaves of bread made with fine flour and leaven are given to the priest to be offered before Yehovah. The loaves would be waved before the Lord and would mark this time as a set-apart gathering, and we are to have a sabbath-rest day.

Leviticus (Wayyiqra) 23:15-18; 20-22: 

15 And ye shall number to yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day on which ye shall offer the sheaf of the wave-offering, seven full weeks: 16 until the morrow after the last week ye shall number fifty days, and shall bring a new meat-offering to the Lord. 17 Ye shall bring from your dwelling loaves, as a wave-offering, two loaves: they shall be of two tenth portions of fine flour, they shall be baked with leaven of the first-fruits to the Lord. 18 And ye shall bring with the loaves seven unblemished lambs of a year old, and one calf of the herd, and two rams without blemish, and they shall be a whole-burnt-offering to the Lord: and their meat-offerings and their drink-offerings [shall be] a sacrifice, a smell of sweet savor to the Lord.’  

20 And the priest shall place them with the loaves of the first-fruits an offering before the Lord with the two lambs, they shall be holy to the Lord they shall belong to the priest that brings them. 21 And ye shall call this day a convocation: it shall be holy to you; ye shall do no servile work on it: it is a perpetual ordinance throughout your generations in all your habitations. 22 And when ye shall reap the harvest of your land, ye shall not fully reap the remainder of the harvest of your field when thou reapest, and thou shalt not gather that which falls from thy reaping; thou shalt leave it for the poor and the stranger: I [am] the Lord your God.

Along with the offerings to be made, we are shown how God renews His covenant with the children of Israel.

Exodus (Shemoth) 19:4-8: 

4 Ye have seen all that I have done to the Egyptians, and I took you up as upon eagles’ wings, and I brought you near to myself. 5 And now if ye will indeed hear my voice, and keep my covenant, ye shall be to me a peculiar people above all nations; for the whole earth is mine. 6 And ye shall be to me a royal priesthood and a holy nation: these words shalt thou speak to the children of Israel. 7 And Moses came and called the elders of the people, and he set before them all these words, which God appointed them. 8 And all the people answered with one accord, and said, All things that God has spoken, we will do and hearken to: and Moses reported these words to God.”

Renewed Covenant with Elohim

A celebration of the Wheat Harvest during the feast of Shavuot - byZipporah
Photo by  Isak Engström

At the base of Mount Sinai, God confirms the previous covenants and commitments He had made to our forefathers, and promises to remain in covenant with us if we keep His commandments and His Torah. 

Torah in Hebrew means instruction or teaching. Through Shavuot we see God revealing a new aspect of Himself on Mount Sinai through the giving of the Torah to His people. We see that by doing God’s commandments we not only learn more about him, but we are showing that we love him and in return for our obedience, he blesses us (Deuteronomy 28: 1- 13; Deuteronomy 30) .

Dueteronomy 30: 15 – 16:

“Behold, I have set before thee this day life and death, good and evil. 16 If thou wilt hearken to the commands of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to love the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his ordiances, and his judgements; then ye shall live, and shall be many in number, and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the all the land into which thou goest to inherit it.”

A Pilgrimage Feast

Another interesting aspect of Shavuot is that it is one of the three Pilgrimage Feasts commanded by the Lord. The other two are The Feast of Unleavened Bread in the Spring and The Feast of Booths in the Fall.

And with that, the Spring Feasts are done! From Passover, we saw the Exodus from Egypt and the bondage of slavery. Throughout Unleavened bread we are reminded to keep our focus on God, by removing the leavening from our hearts and homes. At First Fruits, we rejoice in God’s provision for us and we give a first fruit offering to him, and we start our daily counting to Shavuot. Which concludes the spring feast days with a party to celebrate the giving of the Torah and instructions that are meant to guide us in our relation to God and with each other.

May we take these lessons and many more with us as we wait in anticipation for the upcoming Fall Feasts! Until Then! Shalom!

Read More

Introduction To The Spring Feast Days

Introduction To The Fall Feast Days

How To Keep Passover According to Torah

Shavuot is Coming + How to Count the Omer

Counting The Omer (Sefirat HaOmer) Printable

All Old Testament scriptures are from the Septuagint.

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