Shavuot

The Feast of Weeks

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Moses (Charlton Heston) & the Ten Commandments
Shavuot
The Feast of Weeks

Picture courtesy of pinterest

Shavuot or the “Feast of Weeks” in Judaism commemorates the single most important event in Jewish history – the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Christians consider that the First Covenant.

Shavuot is one of the three great pilgrimage feasts where all went to Jerusalem. It also marks the all-important wheat harvest in the Land of Israel (Exodus 34:22) Shavuot occurs on the 6th of Sivan, the culmination of a seven-week period. From the end of Passover, the counting of the Omer occurs, which is the counting of 50 days from the first day of Passover. It signifies the preparation and anticipation leading up to the Sinai experience.

Three millennia ago, after leaving Egypt on the day of Passover, the Jews travelled into the Sinai desert. There, the entire Jewish nation – 3 million men, women and children – directly experienced divine revelation:

God spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you were hearing the sound of words, but you were not seeing a form, only a sound. He told you of His covenant, instructing you to keep the Ten Commandments, and He inscribed them on two stone tablets. . . . . .Deut. 4:12-13

The giving of the Torah was an event of awesome proportions that indelibly stamped the Jewish nation with a unique character, faith and destiny. And in the 3,300 years since, the Torah’s ideals – monotheism, justice, responsibility – have become the moral basis for Western civilization.

Shavuot in Greek is "Pentecost," the Greek word means "the holiday of 50 days." Some religious Jews seem to think that their Shavuot has no relation to our Christian Pentecost but they are wrong. God deliberately chose to give the Second Covenant on the anniversary of the First one. We will celebrate the Christian Pentecost, the Second Covenant, the giving of the Holy Spirit on Sunday. It is ironic that Shavuot is such a little-known holiday, among secular Jews and yet is hugely celebrated among Christians. But the giving of the first Covenant is also of importance, because without it, civilisation as we know it would never have existed and I hate to think what our societies would look like without the moral basis of the law. Besides without the first Covenant there would not have been a second one, and I thank God for the Grace of the Holy Spirit.