The Days Between Passover to Shavuot (Pentecost)

 


 

The seven-week period between Passover and Shavuot has a name – the time between the two biblical holidays is called the Omer or the Counting of the Omer.

The Omer was a measure of about two quarts of barley that ancient Jews brought to the Temple in Jerusalem as an offering on the second day of Passover. In Leviticus 23:15 “‘From the day after the day of rest -that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving -you are to count seven full weeks, 16 until the day after the seventh week; you are to count fifty days; and then you are to present a new grain offering to God.”

Shavuot is the holiday celebrating the revelation of Moses receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai, for without the Torah there would be no standard for righteous living. It was at this time that God himself thundered our guidelines for living through Moses.

On each of the 49 nights between Passover and Shavuot (50 days of Pentecost), 1st century Jews like Jesus would recite blessings and take note of the number of days before Shavuot. The whole idea of counting the Omer is to recognize the freedom of Passover and with Shavuot brings freedom with purpose, because Shavuot commemorates the receiving of the Torah and the purpose to live holy according to God’s instructions.

These 49 days (7×7) has also come to be a period of intense spiritual reflection with the idea of incremental personal refinement during the Counting of the Omer. The six weekdays represent ordinary time and ordinary consciousness, and the seventh day, Shabbat, represents a time of transformation into purity and holiness The 49 days of the Omer covers the seven days over seven weeks from Passover to Shavuot.  Also, it took 49 days from Egypt to reach the foot of Mount Sinai and it must have been the feast that God referenced when He had Moses to tell Pharaoh, “Let my people go so that they may celebrate a festival to Me in the desert”, Exodus 5:1.  Since the festival is celebrated seven weeks or fifty days after the Passover, is derives it’s name in Hebrew, Shavuot (Weeks), and in Greek, Pentecost (meaning fiftieth).  Of all the biblical holidays, Shavuot is the longest beginning the morning after the Sabbath after Passover and ending the morning after 7 additional Sabbaths had passed, or fifty days later.  The day of Shavuot (Pentecost -the 50th day) was “fully come” (And when the day of Pentecost (Shavuot) had come they were all together in one place, Acts 2:1).

The earliest church continued to observe Shavuot, renamed in the NT as Feast of Pentecost. This is seen of Paul being in Jerusalem for Shavuot (Acts 20:16) and in his travel schedule (1 Corinthians 16:8).

The Torah tells us how to count the Omer:
• On days one through seven – Each day is counted. For example: “Today is one day of the Omer.”
• After the seventh day – We count both days and weeks. For example: “Today is eight days, which is one week and one day of the Omer.”
• Each day, a blessing is recited – Baruch Atah ADONAI, Eloheinu Melek ha’olam, asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al sefirat ha’omer (Blessed are You, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with commandments and instructed us to count the Omer).

How Is Shavuot Celebrated?

1. It is to be treated as a Sabbath. Leviticus 23:21 “On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work.” (NIV)

2. The Ten Commandments are read to reaffirm the covenant with God and His Torah.

3. The Book of Ruth is read. (Opinions differ regarding its significance to read it.)

a.  It is a story about harvest so it is fitting to read on Shavuot.

b. Ruth was a sincere convert who embraced the Jewish Roots/Judaism with all her heart, soul and might and accepted the Torah and all of its precepts.

c. Shavuot also marks the birthday and death King David, and the Book of Ruth records his ancestry. Ruth and her husband Boaz were King David’s great-grandparents.

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