Shavuot Pentecost

Lamed Messianic Studies

The Most Important and Yet Forgotten Holy Day for a Believer.

What is Pentecost?
Pentecost is the completion of Shavuot or Weeks, which was a period of 7 weeks from the first sickle taken to the standing grain as described in Deuteronomy 16:9-10 and is first referenced in Exodus 23:14-19 and Leviticus 23:9-22. It is also known as The Festival of Weeks commemorating the time when the first-fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple and is known agriculturally as Hag ha-Katzir (The Feast of Harvest) or Hag/Yom ha-Bikkurim (The Feast/Day of First-Fruits). Historically, it is known as Hag Matan Torateinu (The Feast of the Giving of Our Torah). The sages teach that we are always in the process of receiving the Torah, but this is the commemoration of the time when the Torah was first given.1

Why 120 Men in the Upper Room?
There were 12 Tribes of Israel and it took 10 men of the age of accountability or greater to make a minyon which was a quorum of ten adult males of which was the lowest acceptable number of men to gather for the purpose of reciting certain prayers. This is where we get the count of 120 men in the upper room. And yes, they were all men in accordance to Jewish Law.1

What is the Counting of the Omer?
We count each of the days from the second day of Passover to the day before Shavuot, 49 days or 7 full weeks, hence the name of the festival. The counting reminds us of the important connection between Passover and Shavuot: Passover freed us physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Shavuot redeemed us spiritually from our bondage to idolatry and immorality.1

Why do we read Ruth on Pentecost?
A study of the Feast of Pentecost is not complete without a review of the Book of Ruth. The Jewish observance of the Feast of Weeks has always included the reading of this particular book. Why? It is provocative to note the interesting parallels relating to the Church. This elegant love story exemplifies the role of the goel, or kinsman-redeemer. As we examine Boaz's role, we notice that he, in many ways, prefigures our own kinsman-redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Through his act of redemption, Boaz returns Naomi (Israel) to her land, and also takes Ruth (a Gentile) as his wife. This suggests a parallel with the Church as the Gentile bride of the kinsman-redeemer.

The parallels between Boaz, Naomi, and Ruth with Christ, Israel, and the Church, have been widely recognized, but it is remarkable to notice how any additional details of the story are consistent with this viewpoint. For example, who first introduces Boaz to Ruth? An unnamed servant! (John 16:13)2

What makes this possibly the greatest day of the Believer in Yeshuah?
This particular feast is the time when the Jewish males representing all the Jewish tribes went out to the masses of goyim or Non-Jewish people of the world and presented the Word of HaShem to them and in the language of the rest of the world not just in Hebrew or Aramaic as the Scriptures were taught. At the least, it is a remembrance of the Laws that govern our lives and the Jews as Believers in His Word. At the most, it is the time when the windows of Heaven were truly opened up to accept not just Jewish Believers in HaMashiach, but Gentile Believers as well even unto and by the hand of the Jews for whom Yeshuah first came. Because of this alone, the Feast of Weeks, should be the greatest Holy Day, or Holiday, on the Christian Believer's calendar.

The time has come for application of the Word to see how we need to make Pentecost useful to The Body and what it should mean for us and to us. As Believers in Yeshuah HaMashiach, we are taught that He came for the Jew first and then the Gentile. So what we will do here is define what the Jewish observance is and how we as goyim can make it apply to us.

Jewish Observance
Shavuot was a day marking the end of the grain harvest and culminating to the offering of two loaves of bread at the end of the rite as both a thanksgiving of the bounty of all foods provided from the land as well as a prayer for His Blessing for a successful future harvest. It also marked the beginning of a new agricultural season and signified to the farmer that any time between Shavuot and Sukkot was the time to bring any of his first-fruits of the crops he tended to the Temple as a free will offering according to the abundance he was blessed in crops. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D., the nature of Shavuot began to change because neither of the agricultural rites could be observed as they had been. During the rabbinical period, connections began to be made between Shavuot and the Revelation at Sinai which according to the Biblical text happened during the third month, though the exact day is not known and is debated to this day.3

Traditional Observances are varied, but include such things as spreading spices and roses around the synagogue to create a beautiful fragrance or similarly to give every congregate fresh myrtle to smell; because it was said in the Midrash that the Israelites fainted after the encounter with G-D when He gave the Ten Commandments of the Covenant and He had to revive them with fragrant spices. Since it is a festival, the Halakhah permits the burning of incense.3

Dishes with dairy or dairy and honey are eaten often times because of various stories concerning the laws of kashrut (or keeping kosher status) of the available foods or utensils, or because of passages in the Biblical text about lands flowing with milk and honey.3

An overwhelming populous that traditionally reads the Book of Ruth for various reasons. There is also an old Kabbalistic teaching which involves staying up all night on the evening of the beginning of Shavuot and studying Torah, rabbinic literature, or even mystical literature such as the Zohar. There is also the traditional tikkun which is selections of Biblical texts and studies from the Torah and the Talmud which symbolically represent all the central texts of Judaism. Also, a lesser known custom is to recite all the Psalms the second night of Shavuot because of the tradition that says King David was born and died on Shavuot.3

The final traditional observance of Shavuot is a ritual bathing commemorating the three days of washing and cleansing of the Israelites before coming in front of the L-rd. Purifying the body is a wonderful way to prepare to receive the Torah on the morning of Shavuot.3

Gentile Observance
Just as the teaching goes that a righteous man is also a purified man who is clean in both heart and mind as well as body, it is a highly admirable thing to be baptized on Shavuot. The Exodus story from Chapter 19-20 can be read while the congregation stands at the reading of the Ten Commandments out of respect for the Covenant being given. Or, for the heartier congregation, all 613 Mitzvot of the Torah can be recited. Songs of G-d's Glory and mighty power can be sung. As the pinnacle goal, Shavuot calls upon us to remember the event at Sinai and reaffirm our commitment to Torah and its study.3


  1. . Portions of this section coming from and Judaism 101.
  2. . [From an article originally published in the May 1994 Personal Update News Journal from Koinonia House Ministries and Chuck Missler.]
  3. . Portions of this section summarized from The Jewish Holidays: A Guide and Commentary, by Michael Strassfeld, Copyright 1985.