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Understanding Shavout, The Feast of Weeks


By Steven Lightle, former Burien business owner and author of Exodus II

The Festival of Weeks (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10)
(Also known as Chag HaKatzir)

The Festival of Reaping (Exodus 23:16)
Yom HaBikkurim

Day of the First Fruits (Numbers 28:26)

Shavuot is the second of the three main feasts of the Lord listed in Leviticus 23. It begins this year at sun-down on June 4, 2022. (Notice these are called the “Feasts of the Lord.”) “The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts,” Leviticus 23:2; 4; 5; 37. 

They were initially given to Moses to be given to the children of Israel, but they are the feasts of the Lord. The Hebrew word for feast is “Mow’ed” and means “at the appointed time, fixed time or season”; specifically, a festival. The Book of Ruth is read in all the synagogues throughout the world on Shavuot for a number of reasons, one of which is that it takes place during the wheat harvest precisely 50 days after the barley harvest, the second day of Passover. G-d draws us with His lovingkindness to give us His instructions (Torah or law), so He can bless us as He did Ruth, a Gentile, who made a covenant with her mother-in-law, Naomi, a Jewish woman. The nobleman Boaz heard about it and fell in love with Ruth as she gleaned in his wheat field. He married Ruth, and she became the great-grandmother of David the King, whose lineage the Messiah would come from. What lovingkindness!

David was born on Shavuot and died on Shavuot. David loves the Torah (Law). He says the Torah is a light and a lamp for his feet. The Torah commands him delight. David says the Torah has given him life; he loves the law, and it makes him wiser than his enemies are. It gives him great understanding; it is truth. This Torah was all given at Shavuot on Mt. Sinai, Exodus 19. The theme of the Torah is “hesed,” which in Hebrew means “lovingkindness.” Jeremiah 31:3 says, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with lovingkindness, I have drawn you.”

Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) happens on the sixth day of the Hebrew month, Silvan, in the Spring, usually between May 15 and June 14 on the Gregorian calendar. It takes place at the end of “The Counting Of The Omer,” which begins during the barley harvest, the second day of Passover, and ends exactly 50 days later during the wheat harvest, Leviticus 23:15-16. 

The countdown builds great anticipation that something extraordinary is going to happen. Isaiah 44:3 says, “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.” Likewise, Joel 2:28-29 says, “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants, I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” 

Do you remember when you were young, looking forward to a big day that was coming, and you would count the days until it happened? Maybe it was a birthday, a vacation, or the last day of school. That’s very much like “The Counting of The Omer.” The promise is coming! (Christians celebrate Shavuot in Acts 2 when the promise came as the Holy Spirit was poured out on the 50th day after Passover in the Feast of Pentecost.)

What a wonderful time to be reminded of the value of kindness and God’s lovingkindness to us!

Chag HaShavuot Sameach

Have a blessed Shavuot!

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