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. And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.--Leviticus 23:15-22
The offering of a barley-sheaf during the Feast of Unleavened Bread [the day after Passover/Pesach] opened the reaping season, which lasted officially for 49 days, a week of weeks. On the 50th day took place the Feast of Pentecost, also called the Feast of Weeks (Exo 34:22; Deut 16:10), the Feast of Harvest (Exo 23:16), and the Day of First-fruits (Num 28:26). It thus took place at the end of the reaping season, when all the wheat and barley had been cut and gathered, and marked especially the termination of the wheat harvest (wheat being the last of the cereals to ripen in Palestine).
(Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible)
The harvest season was basically cut into three parts (see harvest file) which corresponds with the three times of the year that Jewish males were to appear before the Lord:
Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee.--Deuteronomy 16:16,17
1. March/April--The early first-fruits
at the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
(see The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, Feast of Unleavened Bread, by Alfred Ederhseim)
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.--1 Corinthians 15:20-26
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.--Matthew 27:50-53
2. May/June--The latter first-fruits of the wheat harvest at Pentecost.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.--Acts 2:1-4
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan [winnowing fork] is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.--Luke 3:16,17
One of the peculiar things about Pentecost was the two wave loaves. There were two loaves but everything regarding them was done separately (the measuring of the wheat for each loaf was done separately, the kneading of each loaf was done separately, they were baked separately, etc.). They were both to be used at the same feast, but yet there was great effort expended to make sure that each loaf was somehow different than the other.
Another thing to note is that these loaves are leavened which is unusual seeing leaven is often associated with sin. Apparently both loaves have an element of sin to them (or the leaven constitutes the kingdom of God like in the parable of the yeast [Matt 13:33]. The sin as leaven parallel is more prevalent).
Next point of interest is that one of the loaves is given to the high-priest and the other to all the other priests. The church's high-priest is Jesus and if we continue with the analogy of Jesus fulfilling these feasts it looks as if at some Pentecost in the future one loaf will be given to him and the other to the priests/Israel.
Modern Jewish observance of Shavuot/Pentecost includes this thought that Israel is a kingdom of priests. Exodus 19-20, Ezekiel 1, and the scroll of Ruth are read to celebrate the day Moses was given the Torah. It's rather long, but I'd like to include all of Exodus 19-20 and Ezekiel 1 so that you can get a feeling for exactly what would be in the minds of those coming out of the synagogue on that day (and maybe give an idea of how they would perceive the fulfillment of Shavuot/Pentecost some day when the Lord is given his loaf--or if that was the day Moses as one of the two witnesses returned?).
In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount. And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain [Sinai], saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, 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. And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall suerely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount. And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: cone not at your wives. And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go dowm, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themsevles, lest the LORD break forth upon them. And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest he break forth upon them. So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them. And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any grave image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LROD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, (see wormwood file for more on testing of the people.) and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.--Exodus 19, 20
(For word-for-word translations using of some of these verses see living beings file.) Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity, The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him. And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likenss of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearnce of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: And when the living cratures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. And the likeness of the firmamanet upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. And under the firmament were their wings staight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies. And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings. And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings. And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.
WHEAT, the chief cereal crop for human beings and animals. Rivaled only by oats and corn, it is a primary source of flour and breakfast foods for peoples all over the world...Many ancient peoples considered it a gift from Heaven...Wheat is hardy and adaptable, but because of many years of cultivation, selection, and breeding, it has become weakened in character and has lost its ability to compete with other plants in uncultivated areas...Although it can be raised in widely differing climates...it would soon die out if left untended...Hundreds of varieties of wheat have been developed and classified variously as hard and soft, bald and bearded, red and white, spring and fall...The plants of fall wheat produce a crown of leaves which protect the roots during the dormant season...To prevent smashed heads and loss of ripe grain, wheat is harvested in the dough stage, or just before it is fully matured...The principal foreign countries competing with the United States in the world market are Russia, Canada, Australia, and Argentina. The United Kingdom and Europe are the chief importers, although the United States imports great quantities to be milled and manufactured for export.
(Collier's Encyclopedia, 1963)
WHEAT. With the possible exception of rice, wheat is the most important cereal crop in the world; certainly it is the most valuable. From it, white and whole-wheat breads are made, and one has only to observe the universal use of bread to realize the necessity of this golden grain...It probably originated in Asia, man's earliest home, but it was not grown in America until after the coming of the white man...Wheat has a number of enemies. They include rust, the Hessian fly, the chinch bug, and wheat midge.
(The Wonderland of Knowledge Encyclopedia, 1965)
rust: a reddish brittle coating formed on iron esp. when chemically attacked by moist air and composed essentially of hydrated ferric oxide; corrosive or injurious influence or effect; any of numerous destructive diseases of plants produced by fungi; to degenerate esp. from inaction, lack of use, or passage of time.
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.--Daniel 7:7
hessian: a German mercenary serving in the British forces during the American Revolution; broadly: a mercenary soldier.
(Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)
WHEAT. The principal diseases of wheat are connected with the presence of parasitic fungi. The chief of thes diseases are rust, smut and bunt. Wheat is also liable to injury from several insect pests, especially the Hessian fly and sawfly.
(Universal Standard Encyclopedia, 1956)
smut: matter that soils or blackens; any of various destructive diseases esp. of cereal grasses caused by parasitic fungi and marked by transformation of plant organs into dark masses of spores; obscene language or matter.
sawfly: any of numerous hymenopterous insects whose female usu. has a pair of serrated blades in her ovipositor and whose larva resembles a plant-feeding caterpillar (see locusts).
(Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)
Most of the wheat and barley have been reaped by this time. So, if it is to be found, it is scarce (notice the admonition to leave the wine and oil alone):
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.--Revelation 6:5,6
Notice the difference between the produce of the ground (barley, wheat, corn) and produce of the trees (wine, oil). Most of the produce of the ground is harvested at the beginning and middle of the year, but some is left to be harvested with the produce from the trees at the end of the year.
Nehemiah speaks of this distinction between produce of the ground and trees in chapter 10:
And to bring the firstfruits of our ground, and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the LORD: And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.--10:35,37
The tribe of Levi was divided between the priests and temple attendants (the Jews recognize three divisions of Israel: 1. priests, 2. temple attendants and 3. everyone left over [see angel of the church]). All these divisions are confusing but it's interesting to see that even those who were about the business of the Temple were in two distinct groups--though they're all Levites, they don't all have the same job.
Feast of Ingathering/Tabernacles when all corn, wine, oil, figs/dates had been
harvested for the year.
(see The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, Feast of Tabernacles, by Alfred Edersheim).
Could Israel be represented by the produce of the trees?
Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river. Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it. Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself. So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name. Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.--Psalm 80:8-19
Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD. The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel--Psalm 128
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.--Isaiah 5:7
Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?--Jeremiah 2:21
The 'Feast of Unleavened Bread' may be said not to have quite passed till fifty-days after its commencement, when it merged in that of Pentecost, or 'of Weeks.' According to unanimous Jewish tradition, which was universally received at the time of Christ, the day of Pentecost was the anniversary of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, which the Feast of Weeks was intended to commemorate. Thus, as the dedication of the harvest, commencing with the presentation of the first omer on the Passover, was completed in the thank-offering of the two wave-loaves at Pentecost, so the memorial of Israel's deliverance appropriately terminated in that of the giving of the Law--just as, making the highest application of it, the Passover sacrifice of the Lord Jesus may be said to have been completed in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Jewish tradition has it, that on the 2nd of the third month, or Sivan, Moses had ascended the Mount (Exo 19:1-3), that he communicated with the people on the 3rd (Exo 19:7), reascended the Mount on the 4th (Exo 19:8), and that then the people sanctified themselves on the 4th, 5th, and 6th of Sivan, on which latter day the ten commandments were actually given them (Exo 19:10-16). *
* Owing to the peculiarity of the Jewish calendar, Pentecost did not always take place exactly on the 6th Sivan. Care was taken that it should not occur on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. (Reland. p. 430.)
Accordingly the days before Pentecost were always reckoned as the first, second, third, etc., since the presentation of the omer. Thus Maimonides beautifully observes: 'Just as one who is expecting the most faithful of his friends is wont to count the days and hours to his arrival, so we also count from the omer of the day of our Exodus from Egypt to that of the giving of the law, which was the object of our Exodus, as it is said: "I bare you on eagle's wings, and brought you unto Myself." And because this great manifestation did not last more than one day, therefore we annually commemorate it only one day.'
Full seven weeks after the Paschal day, counting from the presentation of the omer on the 16th of Nisan, or exactly on the fiftieth day (Lev 23:15,16), was the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, 'a holy convocation,' in which 'no servile work' was to be done (Lev 23:21; Num 28:26), when 'all males' were to 'appear before Jehovah' in His sanctuary (Exo 23:14-17), and the appointed sacrifices and offerings to be brought. The names, 'Feast of Weeks' (Exo 34:22; Deut 16:10,16; 2 Chron 8:13) and 'Feast of the Fiftieth Day,' or 'Day of Pentecost' (Jos. Jew. Wars, ii. e, 1; Acts 2:1; 20:16; 1 Cor 16:8), bear reference to this interval from the Passover. Its character is expressed by the terms 'feast of harvest' (Exo 23:16) and 'day of firstfruits' (Num 28:26), while Jewish tradition designates it as 'Chag ha Azereth,' or simply 'Azereth' (the 'feast of the conclusion,' or simply 'conclusion'), and the 'Season of the giving our our Law.'
The festive sacrifices for the day of Pentecost were, according to Numbers 28:26-31, 'two young bullocks, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year' for a burnt-offering, along with their appropriate meat-offerings; and 'one kid of the goats' for a sin-offering--all these, of course, irrespective of the usual morning sacrifice. But what gave to the feast its distinctive peculiarity was the presentation of the two loaves, and the sacrifices which accompanied them. Though the attendance of worshippers at the Temple may not have been so large as at the Passover, yet tens of thousands crowded to it (Jos. Antiq. xiv. 13, 4; xvii. 10, 2). From the narrative in Acts 2 we also infer that perhaps, more than at any of the other great festivals, Jews from distant countries came to Jerusalem, possibly from the greater facilities for travelling which the season afforded. On the day before Pentecost the pilgrim bands entered the Holy City, which just then lay in the full glory of early summer. Most of the harvest all over the country had already been reaped, * and a period of rest and enjoyment seemed before them.
* The completion of the wheat harvest throughout the land is computed by the Rabbis at about a month later. See Relandus, Antiq. p. 428.
As the stars shone out in the deep blue sky with the brilliancy peculiar to an Eastern clime, the blasts of the priests' trumpets, announcing the commencement of the feast, sounded from the Temple mount through the delicious stillness of the summer night. Already in the first watch the great altar was cleansed, and immediately after midnight the Temple gates were thrown open. For before the morning sacrifice all burnt- and peace-offerings which the people proposed to bring at the feast had to be examined by the officiating priesthood. Great as their number was, it must have been a busy time, till the announcement that the morning glow extended to Hebron put an end to all such preparations, by giving the signal for the regular morning sacrifice. After that the festive offerings prescribed in Numbers 28:26-30 were brought--first, the sin-offering, with proper imposition of hands, confession of sin, and sprinkling of blood; and similarly the burnt-offerings, with their meat-offerings. The Levites were now chanting the 'Hallel' to the accompanying music of a single flute, which began and ended the song, so as to give it a sort of soft sweetness. The round, ringing treble of selected voices from the children of Levites, who stood below their fathers, gave richness and melody to the hymn, while the people either repeated or responded, as on the evening of the Passover sacrifice.
The Two Wave-loaves
Then came the peculiar offering of the day--that of the two wave-loaves, with their accompanying sacrifices. These consisted of seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bullock, and two rams for a burnt-offering, with their appropriate meat-offerings; and then 'one kid of the goats for a sin-offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace-offerings' (Lev 23:19). *
* This offering, accompanying the wave-loaves, has by some been confounded with the festive sacrifices of the day, as enumerated in Numbers 28:27. But the two are manifestly quite distinct.
As the omer for the 16th of Nisan was of barley, being the first ripe corn in the land, so the 'two wave-loaves' were prepared from wheat grown in the best district of the country--under conditions similar to those already noticed about the Passover-sheaf. Similarly, three seahs, or about three pecks and three pints of wheat, were cut down, brought to the Temple, thrashed like other meat-offerings, ground, and passed through twelve sieves. *
* In the case of the first omer it had been thirteen sieves; but both specifications may be regarded as Rabbinical fancifulness.
From the flour thus obtained two omers (or double the quantity of that at the Passover) were used for 'the two loaves'; the rest might be redeemed and used for any purpose. Care was taken that the flour for each loaf should be taken separately from one and a half seah, that it should be separately kneaded with lukewarm water (like all thank-offerings), and separately baked--the latter in the Temple itself. The loaves were made the evening preceding the festival; or, if that fell on the Sabbath, two evenings before. In shape they were long and flat, and turned up, either at the edges or at the corners. According to the Mishnah, each loaf was four handbreadths wide, seven long, and four fingers high, and as it contained one omer of flour (5 1 pints, or rather less than four pounds' weight), the dough would weigh about five pounds and three-quarters, yielding, say, five pounds and a quarter of bread, or ten and a half for the two 'wave-loaves.' *
* These numbers are sufficiently accurate for general computation. By actual experiment I find that a pint of flour weighs about three-quarters of a pound and two ounces, and that 3 3/4 lbs. of flour, with half a teacup of barm and an ounce of salt, yield 5 3/4 pounds of dough and 5 1/4 lbs. of bread.
The Wave-loaves Were Leavened
Contrary to the common rule of the Sanctuary, these loaves were leavened, which, as the Mishnah, informs us (Men. v. 1), was the case in all thank-offerings. The common explanation--that the wave-loaves were leavened because they represented the ordinary food of the people--only partially accounts for this. No doubt these wave-loaves expressed the Old Testament acknowledgment of the truth which our Lord embodied in the prayer, 'Give us this day our daily bread.' But this is not all. Let it be remembered that these two loaves, with the two lambs that formed part of the same wave-offering, were the only public peace- and thank-offerings of Israel; that they were accompanied by burnt- and sin-offerings; and that, unlike ordinary peace-offerings, they were considered as 'most holy.' Hence they were leavened, because Israel's public thank-offerings, even the most holy, are leavened by imperfectness and sin, and they need a sin-offering. This idea of a public thank-offering was further borne out by all the services of the day. First, the two lambs were 'waved' while yet alive; that is, before being made ready for use. Then, after their sacrifice, the breast and shoulder, or principal parts of each, were laid beside the two loaves, and 'waved' (generally towards the east) forwards and back wards, and up and down. *
* The Rabbinical statement is, that the whole offering was to be waved together by a priest; but that if each loaf, with one breast and shoulder of lamb, was waved separately, it was valid. From the weight of the mass, this must have been the common practice.
After burning the fat, the flesh belonged, not to the offerers, but to the priests. As in the case of the most holy sacrifices, the sacrificial meal was to take place within the Temple itself, nor was any part of it to be kept beyond midnight. One of the wave-loaves and of the lambs went to the high-priest; the other belonged to all the officiating priesthood. Lastly, after the ceremony of the wave-loaves, the people brought their own freewill-offerings, each as the Lord had prospered him--the afternoon and evening being spent in the festive meal, to which the stranger, the poor, and the Levite were bidden as the Lord's welcome guests. On account of the number of such sacrifices, the Feast of Weeks was generally protracted for the greater part of a week; and this the more readily that the offering of firstfruits also began at this time. Lastly, as the bringing of the omer at the Passover marked the period when new corn might be used in the land, so the presentation of the wave-loaves that when new flour might be brought for meat-offerings in the Sanctuary.
The Later Significance of Pentecost
If Jewish tradition connected the 'Feast of Firstfruits' with the 'Mount that might be touched,' and the 'voice of words which they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more,' we have in this respect also 'come unto Mount Zion,' and to the better things of the New Covenant. To us the Day of Pentecost is, indeed, the 'feast of firstfruits,' and that of the giving of the better law, 'written not in tables of stone, but on the fleshy tables of the heart,' 'with the Spirit of the living God.' For, as the worshippers were in the Temple, probably just as they were offering the wave-lambs and the wave-bread, the multitude heard that 'sound from heaven, as of a mighty rushing wind,' which drew them to the house where the apostles were gathered, there to hear 'every man in his own language' 'the wonderful works of God.' And on that Pentecost day, from the harvest of firstfruits, not less than three thousand souls added to the Church were presented as a wave-offering to the Lord. The cloven tongues of fire and the apostolic gifts of that day of firstfruits have, indeed, long since disappeared. But the mighty rushing sound of the Presence and Power of the Holy Ghost has gone forth into all the world.
(The Temple: Its Ministry and Services by Alfred Edersheim)
Chapter 2, verse 1: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
[And when the day of Pentecost was fully come.] I. This word Pentecost seems to be taken into use by the Hellenist Jews to signify this feast; which also almost all the versions retain, the Western especially, and, amongst the Eastern, the Syriac and Ethiopic.
II. It is well enough known that a solemn day in the holy Scriptures, was a holiday, Leviticus 23:36; Deuteronomy 16:8; 2 Kings 10:20: and the reason why the Jews so peculiarly appropriate it to the feast of Pentecost seems to be this; because this feast consisted in one solemn day, whereas the feast of Passover and of Tabernacles had more days. "As the days of the feast are seven. R. Chaija saith, 'Because the Pentecost is but for one day, is the morning so too?' They say unto him, 'Thou arguest from a far-fetched tradition.'" Where the Gloss hath it, "That this fast is but for one day, we learn from the very word a solemn day." "The men of the town Mahaesia are strong of heart, for they see the glory of the law twice in the year." The Gloss is, "Thither all Israel is gathered together in the month Adar, that they may hear the traditions concerning that passover in the school of Rabh Asai; and in the month Elul, that they may hear the traditions concerning the feast of Tabernacles. But they were not so gathered together at the feast of Pentecost, because that is not above one day."
Hence that Baithusean may be the better believed in his dispute with Rabban Johanan, "Moses our master (saith he) will love Israel; and he knows that the feast of Pentecost is but for one day."
III. And yet there is mention of a second holiday in Pentecost, Rabh Papa hath shammatized those bearers that bury the dead on the first feast-day of Pentecost, &c.; where the mention of the 'first feast-day' hints to us that there is a second, which we find elsewhere asserted in express terms. "R. Simeon Ben Jozadek saith, 'In eighteen days any single person repeats the Hallel over'; that is to say, in the seven days of the feast of tabernacles, in the eight days of the feast of dedication, the first day of the passover, and the first day of Pentecost. But in the captivity they did it in one-and-twenty days. In the nine days of the feast of tabernacles, in the eight days of the feast of dedication, in the two feast-days of the passover, and the two feast-days of Pentecost."
Whereas it is said in the captivity, the difficulty is answered; for although in the land of Israel there was but one solemn day in the feast of Pentecost, yet amongst the Jews in foreign countries there were two; which also happened in other solemnities. For instance, within Palestine they kept but one day holy in the beginning of the year, viz. the first day of the month Tisri; but in Babylon and other foreign countries they observed both the first and the second day. And the reason was, because at so great a distance from the Sanhedrim at Jerusalem, they could not be exactly certain of the precise day, as it had been stated by the Sanhedrim; they observed, therefore, two days, that by the one or the other they might be sure to hit upon the right.
IV. God himself did indeed institute but one holiday in the feast of Pentecost, Leviticus 23: and therefore is it more peculiarly called a solemn day, because it had but one feast-day. And yet that feast hath the same titles that the feast of tabernacles and the passover had, Exodus 23:14, &c.: and all the males appeared in this feast as well as in the others; nor was this feast without its Chagigah any more than the rest. So that however the first day of Pentecost only was the holy and solemn day, yet the feast itself was continued for seven days. So the doctors in Rosh Hashanah; "R. Oshaiah saith, 'Whence comes it that the Pentecost hath compensations for all the seven days?' Because the Scripture saith, In the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles. He compares the feast of weeks (i.e. Pentecost) with the feast of unleavened bread. That hath combinations for all the seven days, so the feast of weeks (i.e. Pentecost) hath compensations for all the seven days." They called that compensations, when any one not having made his just offerings in the beginning of the feast, repaired and compensated this negligence or defect of his by offering in any other of the seven days. And thus much may suffice as to this whole feast in general. Now as to the very day of Pentecost itself, it may not be amiss to add something.
I. It is well known that the account of weeks and days from the Passover to Pentecost took its beginning from, and depended upon, the day of offering the sheaf of the first-fruits, Leviticus 23:15. But through the ambiguity of the phrase the morrow of the sabbath, there hath arisen a controversy betwixt the scribes and Baithuseans, whether by the sabbath ought to be understood the weekly sabbath (or, as the scribes commonly called it, the sabbath of the creation), or whether it should be understood of the sabbatical day, i.e. the first day of the seven days of passover, which was the solemn day, Exodus 12:16. The Baithuseans contend vehemently for the former, and will not have the sheaf offered but after the weekly sabbath. As suppose the first day of the passover should fall out upon the first day of the week, they would stay till the whole week with the sabbath day was run out; and then, on the morrow of that sabbath, i.e. the first day of the following week, they offered the sheaf. But the scribes, very differently, keep strictly to the sixteenth day of the month Nisan for offering the firstfruits without any dispensation, after the sabbatical day or the first day of the feast is over. And amongst other arguments by which they strengthen their opinion, those two different places of Scripture, Exodus 12:15, "Seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread," and Deuteronomy 16:8, "Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread," they, according to the sense they have, do thus reconcile, 'seven days, indeed, you shall eat unleavened bread'; that is, unleavened bread of the old wheat, on the first day of the feast, the sheaf being not yet offered; and unleavened bread of the new wheat, the remaining six days, after you have offered the firstfruits.
II. If the day of the firstfruits be to be taken into the number of the fifty days, which the authors now quoted do clearly enough affirm out of those words, Deuteronomy 16:9, "Number the seven weeks to thyself when thou beginnest to put the sickle into the corn"; then it will appear plain enough to any one that upon whatsoever day of the week the sheaf-offering should fall, on that day of the week the day of Pentecost would fall too. And hence the Baithuseans contended so earnestly that the morrow after the sabbath (on which it is commanded that the sheaf of the firstfruits should be offered) should be understood of the first day of the week, that so the day of Pentecost might fall out to be the first day of the week too: not so much in honour of that day (which is indeed our "Lord's day"), but that the Pentecost might have the more feast-days; that the Israelites might delight themselves for two days together, as one of them speaks out their meaning.
III. As to the year, therefore, we are now upon, wherein Christ ascended, and the Holy Ghost came down; the sheaf-offering was on the sabbath day. For the paschal lamb was eaten on Thursday; so that Friday (on which day our Saviour was crucified) was the first day of the feast, the sabbatical, or holiday. And the following day, which was their sabbath, was the second, on which the sheaf was offered whilst Christ lay in the grave. And for this very reason was it said to be a high day of the sabbath, John 19:31.
IV. Let us inquire, therefore, whether the day of Pentecost fell out on their sabbath day. I know, indeed, that the fifty days are reckoned by some from the resurrection of our Lord; and then Pentecost, or the fiftieth day, must fall on the first day of the week, that is, our Lord's day: but if we number the days from the common epocha, that is, from the time of offering the sheaf of firstfruits (which account doubtless St. Luke doth follow), then the day of Pentecost fell out upon the Jewish sabbath. And here, by the good leave of some learned men, it may be questioned, 'Whether the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the disciples on the very day of Pentecost, or no.' The reasons of this question may be these:
I. The ambiguity of the words themselves which may be either rendered, as we have done in English, when the day of Pentecost was fully come; or as they in the Italian, when it was fully gone. So that the phrase leaves it undetermined, whether the day of Pentecost was fully come or fully gone: and what is there could be alleged against it, should we render it in the latter sense?
II. It is worthy our observation, that Christ the antitype, in answering some types that represented him, did not tie himself up to the very day of the type itself for the fulfilling of it, but put it off to the day following. So it was not upon the very day of the Passover, but the day following, that Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us: it was not on the very day that the sheaf of the firstfruits was offered, but the day following, that Christ became the firstfruits of them that slept. So also did he institute the Christian sabbath not the same day with the Jewish sabbath wherein God had finished the work of his creation, but the day following, wherein Christ had finished the work of his redemption. And so it was agreeable to reason, and to the order wherein he disposed of things already mentioned, that he should indulge that mysterious gift of the Holy Ghost, not upon the day of the Jewish sabbath, but the day following, the day of his own resurrection from the grave; that the Spirit should not be poured out upon the same day wherein the giving of the law was commemorated, but upon a day that might keep up the commemoration of himself for ever.
III. We can hardly invent a more fit and proper reason why upon this day they should be all with one accord in one place, than that they were so gathered together for the celebration of "the Lord's day." So that although we have adventured to call it into question, whether the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the very day of the Jewish Pentecost, yet have we not done it with any love to contradiction, but as having considerable reason so to do, and with design of asserting to "the Lord's day" its just honour and esteem: for on that day, beyond all controversy, the Holy Ghost did come down amongst them.
(A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Exercitations upon the Acts, John Lightfoot)
See also Harvest
See also Shavuot/Pentecost 1
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