Audio teaching for this study is available in iTunes podcast and here.
“You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the L-RD.”
- We are commanded to count
- Leviticus 23:21: “...You shall hold a holy convocation...” The feast of Shavuot
- We count the days until Shavuot
How to Count (Lev 23:5-21)
- After Passover, after the Sabbath, wave sheaf of first fruits, start to count
- Count 7 full weeks, 50 days, to the day after the 7th Sabbath.
- Wave 2 loaves of bread (Shavuot)
- Eternal command, commence when entering the Land the first time
- The plain reading in English makes it fairly clear that the count begins on a Sunday and ends on a Sunday: Pentecost Sunday!
- Hence, Shavuot is not on a date
- All we need is to know when the new barley is literally waved, and start counting... right?
What’s the Problem?
- The Hebrew “Sabbaths” can mean: weekly Sabbath, Sabbath of a feast day, or a week of days
- Except the weekly Sabbath, all holy days on Leviticus 23 are on a date
- Who decides the “new moon” and if the barley is ripe?
- Is it ever right for every man to do what is right in his own eyes? What did Yeshua & disciples do?
The Power of the Calendar
- First Century Boethusians and Essenes did not agree with the traditional counting
- Antigonus of Sokho (~250 BCE) had two disciples: Zadok and Boethus.
- Sadducees were the followers of Zadok. Boethusians were the disciples of Boethus. In the Gospel accounts, they are likely the “Herodians”
- Essenes and/or Qumran kept a solar calendar
P’shat is Not English
- Today, if not for Christian or Karaite influence, there would be no problem. The traditional count begins on Nisan 16. Always. “We’ve always done it that way.”
- Christians are loyal to Sunday
- Karaites don’t like anything “Rabbinic”
Don’t Choose Sides
- There is evidence in Hebrew that the traditional count is correct
- There is evidence in 3rd Century BCE Septuagint Greek that the traditional count is correct
- Joshua 5:10-11 is tied back to Leviticus 23:14. Before they ate of the Land, they had to wave first fruits.
- When did they do that? The day after Passover (16th of the month).
- The command to wave was understood as the day after Passover, not weekly Sabbath. Joshua 5 does not say “Sabbath.”
- The LXX translators were not Pharisees, yet the translation of Lev 23 makes it clear that they agreed with the traditional count
- Even if not authoritative, LXX reveals how “pre-Rabbinic” Judaism read Lev 23 (thus nullifying a "Rabbinic conspiracy" as some people suppose)
“Weeks” in Greek
- The Greek Septuagint use two words for “week” (i.e. seven day period of days)
- σάββατον [sabbaton] is used over 120 times
- ἑβδομάς [hebdamos] is used 17 times. 9 of those uses relate to this count
5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, in the middle of the time approaching evening, is a pascha to the L-rd. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the L-rd; seven days you shall eat unleavened things. 7 And the first day shall be a designated, holy one to you; you shall not do any work of service.
Leviticus 23:5-7 LXX
9 And the L-rd spoke to Moyses, saying: 10 Speak to the sons of Israel, and you shall say to them: When you enter into the land that I give you and you reap its harvest, you shall also bring a sheaf as the first fruit of your harvest to the priest. 11 And he shall raise up the sheaf before the L-rd, acceptable for you; on the day after the first the priest shall raise it up.
Leviticus 23:9-11 LXX
14 And you shall eat no bread or parched fresh kernels until this very day, until you yourselves offer the gifts to your G-d; it is a perpetual precept throughout your generations in your every settlement. 15 And from the day after the sabbaths, from the day on which you bring the sheaf of the addition, you shall count off seven whole weeks. 16 You shall count until the day after the last week, fifty days, and you shall present a new sacrifice to the L-rd.
Leviticus 23:14-15 LXX
- The ambiguity of Leviticus 23 use of the word “Sabbath” is erased when examining what Joshua did in Joshua 5, agreeing with the traditional count
- The LXX shows a “pre-Rabbinic” view that agrees with the traditional count
- You also need to choose sides.
- You can choose to align with minorities of the First Century: Boethusians and Essenes - and modern Christians and Karaites
- Or you can choose to align with Israel.
How You Count Matters
19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers [Samaritans] worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Yeshua said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming [because of of the destruction] when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.”