The Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Wavesheaf Offering & the Resurrection of Yeshua

Chag HaMatzot (The Feast of Unleavened Bread): An Overview

Chag HaMatzot or the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the second annual festival on YHVH’s biblical calendar, and occurs on the fifteenth day of the month of the Abib, which is the day immediately following Passover (or Pesach, Lev 23:5–8). Because both of these feasts (Exod 34:25; Lev 23:2, 6) occur back-to-back, the Jews often refer to Passover and Unleavened Bread simply as Passover Week or some similar term that places the main emphasis on the Passover. But it must be noted that, though related, these two festivals are separate in meaning and purpose. Passover pictures Israel coming out of Egypt. Upon separating from Egypt, YHVH (the LORD) then commanded the Israelites to put all leavened food products out of their houses and to eat unleavened bread (flat bread) for seven days, hence the origins of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Additionally, the first and seventh days of this week-long event are Sabbaths, and YHVH commanded his people to hold a set-apart convocation (or gathering) on these Sabbaths.

What, you may ask, is the purpose of putting leavening out of one’s home and eating unleavened bread products such as matzoh for one week? This seems like a curious request by YHVH of his people. Not surprisingly, the Creator of the universe has a reason for everything. The spiritual implications are enlightening and highly relevant to the disciples of Yeshua. In commanding his people to de-leaven their homes and lives, YHVH is teaching us an object lesson that applies to us as much today as to the Israelites of long ago.

Eating unleavened bread for seven days is a memorial, remembrance or reminder (Exod 13:6–9) of our coming out of our own spiritual Egypt. But how did unleavened bread enter into this picture? The Torah tells us that the Israelites left Egypt early in the morning as they were making their daily bread, and because they left in haste the bread was not able to rise (Exod 12:34). Therefore, they were forced, by circumstances, to leave their leavening — a biblical metaphor for sin — behind in Egypt. Similarly, believers in Yeshua are commanded to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1 Cor 5:6–8), which helps to remind us that we should have left our old sinful ways behind us in the spiritual Egypt of this world when we surrendered our lives to Yeshua. We are pressing onward to the Promised Land of YHVH’s eternal kingdom.

Not only did YHVH command his set-apart people to leave Egypt (a biblical metaphor for this world and its godless ways), but he wanted his people to separate themselves from and leave behind in Egypt the rudiments of this world, or sin, which defiles them and separates them from a set-apart and sinless Elohim (God). Leaven is a picture of this, as we will see more clearly below.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread was the next step in YHVH’s plan of redemption for his people. Israel had just left Egypt and we know that Egypt is biblically a spiritual metaphor for the world and Satan. It may have been easy for the Israelites to leave Egypt, but after their exodus, the arduous process of getting the sin or spiritual leaven of Egypt out them began! The same is true when we leave the spiritual Egypt of this world and endeavor to follow obey Yeshua through our spiritual journey in the wilderness we call life. The old sin habits die hard and often lie hidden in our lives waiting to be exposed and cast out from the recesses of our mind, will and emotions—or one’s spiritual houses. This is not an easy process, and is not unlike ridding our physical homes of leavening products, such as bread crumbs, which find their way into the nooks and crannies of our homes that the word of Elohim commands his people to do in order to properly keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exod 12:14–15). Throughout Scripture, leavening usually represents sin, pride, hypocrisy, malice, bitterness and false religious doctrine (Pss 71:4; 73:21; Hos 7:4; Matt 16:6; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1; 1 Cor 5:8–6; Gal 5:9).

The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts seven days. The number seven in YHVH’s spiritual economy represents completion or perfection. YHVH has given man 7000 years on this earth to get rid of sin completely and totally in preparation for admission into his eternal kingdom as revealed in Revelation 21 and 22. For 6000 years, YHVH has left men on this earth to their own sinful devices. The seventh thousand-year time period, called the Messianic Age or Millennium (Rev 20:2, 3, 4, 6), will be different than the previous 6000 years, for during this time Yeshua will be ruling over the earth with a rod of iron as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 2:27; 12:5; 19:15; 17:14; 19:16), and Satan will be bound in the pit (Rev 20:2–3). All humans on earth will be taught the Torah-truth of YHVH Elohim without the evil influences of the devil and the world as we know it today. During the Messianic Age, the earth will be at peace and rest, and men will be taught to love YHVH with all their heart, mind and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves. This time of relative peace and rest is the seventh thousand-year time period of man’s tenure on this earth, which corresponds to the seventh day of the week—the Sabbath. It will be a Sabbath of rest and peace on this earth for 1000 years. The Days of Unleavened Bread picture this, for the first day is a Sabbath representing the first Sabbath when YHVH rested after creating a perfect, paradisiacal and sin-free world. The last day or seventh day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is also a Sabbath, which corresponds prophetically to the Messianic Age.

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When Is the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot or Pentecost?

For those of you who are confused about when to celebrate the biblical Feast of Pentecost, this is a new article I have just written for you. I hope this clears up the confusion! — Natan

When is the Feast of Weeks (Heb. Chag Shavuot) or Pentecost? This has been a subject of debate among the Jews going back for two thousand years to the first century, and still is today among well meaning people who love Elohim and desire to follow his word. This is the question I will address in this study.

Since Shavuot is the only biblical holiday that involves counting days and weeks (hence its name, the Feast of Weeks), there are different opinions about when to start the count leading up to Shavuot. The Torah tells us to count from the Sabbath associated with the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD. (Lev 23:15–16, NKJV)

This sounds simple enough. Or is it?

The question and the subject of the debate is which Sabbath do you start counting from? The day after the weekly Sabbath occurring during the Feast of Unleavened Bread or the day after the high holy day Sabbath of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which occurs on the fifteenth day of the first month of the biblical year?

In the first century in the time of Yeshua and the apostles, there were two main opinions among the leading Jews on when to start counting the weeks (called “the counting of the omer”) leading up to Shavuot. The religious sect of the Pharisees whose spiritual descendants are the modern rabbinic Jews started the counting of the omer from the day after first high holy day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is a high holy day Sabbath (John 19:31). On the other hand, the Sadducees, the other main Jewish sects of the first century (along with the Boethusians, which was likely a sub-sect of the Sadducees; see A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, second division, vol 2, p. 37, by Emil Schurer; Commentary on the NT from the Talmud and Hebraica, vol. 4, p. 23 [commentary on Acts 2:1], by John Lightfoot) counted the omer from the day after the weekly Sabbath that falls within the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Some modern Messianics follow the rabbinic method, while others follow the Sadducean method.

It is generally understood by historical scholars that the Jewish sect of the Pharisees interpreted the written Torah in light of Jewish oral tradition, while the Sadducees rejected oral tradition and adhered strictly to the written Torah (Schurer, pp. 37–38).  According to Schurer,

In this rejection of the legal tradition of the Pharisees, the Sadducees represented the older standpoint. They stopped at the written law. For them, the whole subsequent development was without binding power” (ibid. p. 38). To the scribes and Pharisees, in contrast to the Sadducees, oral tradition took precedence over the Written Torah-law. It was intolerable to them that people should “interpret Scripture in opposition to tradition. The traditional interpretation and the traditional law are thus declared absolutely binding. And it is consequently but consistent when deviation from these is declared even more culpable than deviation from the Written Torah. It is more culpable to teach contrary to the precepts of the scribes, than contrary to the Torah itself [according to the B. Talmud, Sanhedrin ix.3]. (ibid. p. 12)

The first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37 BC to 100 BC) confirms this. He writes,

[T]he Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the law of Moses; and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers. (Ant. XIII.10.6)

Commenting on Josephus’ statement, Louis Finkelstein, a noted the twentieth century rabbinic scholar says,

This prolix statement simply confirms the talmudic record that the Sadducees rejected the Oral Law,  which the Pharisees held equally authoritative with the Written Law. (The Pharisees, p. 261).

Yeshua himself castigated the scribes and Pharisees of his day for giving precedence to their Oral Law or the tradition of the elders over Elohim’s Written Torah in Mark 7:9, 13.

He said to them, “All too well you reject the [Torah] commandment of Elohim, that you may keep your tradition.…[Thus] making the word of Elohim of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

So we are still left with the following question: Which method of counting the omer toward Shavuot is correct? Do we follow the Written Torah or the Oral Tradition of the rabbinic Jews, which purports to follow the Written Torah but often doesn’t? That is the question I want to answer below.

To start, we need to first understand the meaning of some Hebrew words. Let’s look again at Leviticus 23:15–16.

And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath [haShabbat], from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths [Shabbatot] shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath [haShabbat]; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD. (emphasis added, NKJV)

The word for weeks in this passage is the Hebrew word shabbatot. Does this word mean “weeks” as in “from the first day of the week (our Sunday) to the seventh day (our Saturday),” or does it mean “weeks of seven days” irrespective of which day in the week the count starts? I will attempt to answer this question later. Also it must be noted that the Torah here uses the phrase “seven complete Sabbaths” (Heb. shabbatot). This is important to note as we will see below.

The Hebrew word for Sabbath is shabbat. The plural form of this word is shabbatot, from which is our word Sabbaths derives, and is found later in the same verse (Lev 23:15). This verse says to count sabbaths, not weeks. Elsewhere the Bible clearly states that the sabbath is the seventh day of the week.

What do the Jewish rabbinical experts say about the meaning of Leviticus 23:15–16 and how to count the days toward Shavuot? After all, many Messianics view the Jews as the legal biblical experts that we are to follow in this regard.

To start with, the authoritative The ArtScroll Tanach Series Vayikra/Leviticus commentary is silent on the meaning of the word Hebrew word shabbatot in Exodos 23:15. The commentators offer no explanations as to why they chose to ignore the meaning of the word Shabbatot when counting the days toward Shavuot. They simply assume that the word shabbatot means “weeks” (shavuot) and not “sabbaths” without giving any explanation.

The nineteenth century orthodox rabbinic Torah scholar S. R. Hirsch in his commentary on this verse attempts to explain that the word shabbatot/sabbaths in Leviticus 23:15 when combined with the Hebrew word t’mimot (translated in English as complete or perfect) means “weeks of Sabbaths” or “weeks containing Sabbaths.” To justify this explanation, he cites, not Scripture, but a prior rabbinic Jewish tradition (i.e. The Babylon Talmud, Nedarim 60a). Thus, in his translation of the Torah, Hirsch says that the word shabbatot or sabbaths means “weeks of sabbaths.” Then in Leviticus 23:16, which reads, “the seventh Sabbath,” he translates the word shabbat as “sabbath-week,” even though this is never what the word shabbat means when used throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.

The Gutnick Edition Chumash takes a libertine approach and interestingly translates the Hebrew word shabbat in Leviticus 23:15–16 as “From the day following the (first) rest day (of Pesach)—the day you bring the Omer as a wave-offering—you should count yourselves seven weeks. (When you count them) they should be perfect. You should count until (but not including) fifty days, (i.e.) the day following the seventh week…” (emphasis added, parenthetical sentences are in the original). Here, bowing to rabbinic tradition and ignoring the meaning of the word shabbat, this translator translates shabbat/shabbatot respectively as “rest day,”  “weeks,” and “week.” Other than that, this rabbinic commentator gives no explanation how he justifies translating the word shabbat as he does. He focuses on the command to count, but totally ignores discussing which day to begin counting from.

Similarly, The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash in its translation of Leviticus 23:15–16 also ignores the meaning of the word shabbat and changes the word shabbat to “rest day,”  “weeks,” and “week” respectively. In its commentary section, this Chumash totally omits any discussion on the subject of counting from the sabbath, or which sabbath to count from. Similarly, Rashi, the pre-eminent medieval Torah scholar, in his commentary on this verse also presumes shabbat to mean “weeks” and cites earlier Jewish sources (i.e. Targum Onkelos) as his justification, but gives no Scripture to back up his claims.

The counting of the omer from the day after the high holy day Sabbath (and not the weekly Sabbath) was normative among the dominant Jews of the first century as attested to by Josephus who makes no mention of any alternative methods than that of the Pharisees for determining the beginning of the count of the omer (Ant. III.10.5).

These are the explanations, or lack thereof, that some of the top rabbinic experts over the past 2000 years have to tell us on this subject. This is not much to go on in order to make an informed decision about when to celebrate one of YHVH’s biblical feasts!

Contrary to what the above-quoted Jewish sages teach, The Theological Word Book of the Old Testament and Brown Drivers Briggs Lexicon, inform us that the word weeks [shavuot] is not one of the definitions of the word sabbaths [shabbatot], although BDB suggests that sabbaths or shabbatot could possibly mean “weeks of sabbaths.”  Gesenius in his Hebrew lexicon suggests the same thing from the comparison of Leviticus 23:15 and Deuteronomy 16:9. The evidence supporting the meaning of “weeks of sabbaths” behind the Hebrew word shabbat is tenuous at best and should not, therefore, in all honesty, be used to build an argument on how to determine the time count leading to Shavuot.

Now let’s look at the Torah text itself, since the rabbinic scholars offer us little if any help in determining how to count the omer toward Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks.

If one were to view the day after the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread—assuming it doesn’t fall on a weekly Sabbath—as the first day of the count of the omer as the rabbinic Jews do, then how do you count seven sabbaths subsequently? For example, if the third day of the week (i.e. Wednesday) happens to be the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and hence a sabbath (a high holy day Sabbath, but not a weekly Sabbath), then are all the remaining Wednesdays leading up to the Feast of Weeks also sabbaths, so that the command in Leviticus 23:15 to count seven sabbaths is fulfilled? The command to count seven Sabbaths only makes sense if one is counting seven actual weekly Sabbaths with the first weekly Sabbath being the seventh day of the counting of the omer and each subsequent Sabbath as the fourteenth day, the twenty-first day and so on until one arrives at the seventh Sabbath on the forty-ninth day of the counting of the omer.

At this point, someone may ask about Deuteronomy 16:9–10, which seems to lend credence to the rabbinic Jewish tradition that the Hebrew word shabbatot (sabbaths) means “weeks.”

You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks [Heb. shavuot] from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the LORD your God blesses you. (NKJV)

In this passage, we are instructed to count weeks, not sabbaths. Therefore, can we simply ignore the Leviticus 23 passage that clearly instructs us to begin our count toward Shavuot on the day after the weekly sabbath in favor of beginning the count on any day of the week, and to count seven weeks (i.e. Sunday to Saturday) instead of seven weeks of sabbaths as the rabbinic do? Not at all, for the instructions on counting to Shavuot is first mentioned in Leviticus 23:15–16 and therefore (in light of the biblical interpretive “law of first mentions”) forms the foundation or basis for all subsequent biblical discussion on the subject. Therefore, Deuteronomy 16:9 must be understood or interpreted in the light of the Leviticus 23 passage and not the other way around, even as the New Testament must be interpreted in the light of the Tanakh (Old Testament), since it came first and forms the basis for all subsequent divine revelation. Therefore, Deuteronomy 16:9 must be understood to mean “weeks of sabbaths” beginning from the first day of the week till the seventh day. Only in this way can Leviticus 23:16 be understood when it speaks of seven complete sabbaths being fulfilled upon arriving at Shavuot. This understanding reconciles these two passages in light of the biblical meaning and usage of the words shabbat (sabbath) and shavuot (weeks).

The closest analogous concept to weeks of sabbaths that we find in the Scriptures is the year-long land sabbath along with the seven sabbatical years leading up to the jubilee year. But in the biblical concept of seven land sabbaths, the pivotal point is still a definite sabbatical year when YHVH commanded the Israelites to let their land rest. The seven years is still tied to the year-long sabbath rest of the land, and the fiftieth jubilee year is calculated therefrom. The same is true from the day after the Sabbath, which is the first day of the week, when one starts counting toward Shavuot. After all, the Bible calls this holiday, the Feasts of Weeks. In Genesis chapter one, the Bible defines a week as being from the first day to the seventh day, which is the Sabbath (see also Exod 20:8–9). Unless otherwise stated, a week in the Bible means a week of seven days starting with the first day (Sunday) and ending on the seventh day or the Sabbath.

In conclusion, the verse that clinches the argument in my mind to help us to understand when to start the counting of the omer is Levitucus 23:16,

And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths [Heb. shabbatot] shall be completed.

Here, the Torah clearly states that the day before the Feast of Weeks is the weekly Sabbath. This is the plain meaning of the text and is what the Hebrew word shabbat means. By biblical definition based on how this word is used, the word shabbat can only refer to three things: the weekly shabbat, the Day of Atonement or the land sabbath. In the context of Leviticus 23:16, shabbat can only refer to the weekly Sabbath. Only rarely (about once in seven years) when using the rabbinical method to count the omer to Shavuot does the seventh Sabbath fall on the weekly sabbath. When one begins the counting of the omer from the day after the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Shavuot always follows the weekly Sabbath. With the rabbinic counting method, their Shavuot usually falls on the morrow or day after the seventh Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and so on, and only once in seven years on the morrow or day after the Sabbath. Therefore, their method of counting doesn’t meet the criteria as outlined in Leviticus 23:16, and which states that the day before Shavuout must be a weekly Sabbath.

Perhaps this explanation gives us a fuller understanding into the phrase found in the Torah, “seven Sabbaths [Shabbatot] shall be completed” (Lev 23:15), or to a similar phrase found in the Book of Acts, “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). What is a complete [weeks of ] Sabbaths? It seems to indicate a complete or whole week from the first day (Sunday) to the seventh day (Saturday/Sabbath) with not a day lacking. Seven of these must be fully completed to arrive at Pentecost. It is interesting to note that Acts states, “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1).

Moreover, it seems that the counting of the omer, which is seven seven-day weeks for a total of 49 days (7 times 7) symbolically points to “a complete completeness” representing the spiritual growth and development of the saint as they mature into perfect unity with YHVH and with their fellow saint, so that they will be spiritually prepared to receive the inner Torah of the heart, the gifts of the Spirit, and come to a place of being together and in one accord within the body of Yeshua to be able then to do the great commission and to reap the wheat harvest of lost sheep of Israel necessary to establish YHVH’s kingdom as per Acts 1:6–8 as pictured by the Feast of Pentecost.

What’s more, the weekly seventh day Sabbath is a prophetic spiritual picture of the one-thousand year-long millennial reign of King Yeshua’s on this earth, while a first day (Sunday) Shavuot is a picture of seven days plus one (or the eighth day) that prophetically points to “the spiritual upper room” of the New Jerusalem as outlined in Revelation chapters 21 and 22, when the glorified saints will dwell together and in one accord and in one place with YHVH Yeshua forever.

Perhaps the most important argument in favor of counting the omer from the day after weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread is that this perfectly points to the resurrection and ascension of Yeshua the Messiah. The Gospel account is clear that he rose from the grave at the end of the weekly Sabbath and at the beginning of the first day of the week, and that he most likely ascended to heaven on the first day of the week when the wave sheaf offering was being made on Wave Sheaf Day (Lev 23:9–14). Yeshua’s resurrection and ascension during this time frame perfectly fulfills all the prophetic types and shadows in the Torah that pointed forward to him. (For a full explanation of this, please see my article, “The Resurrection of Yeshua from a Hebrew Perspective Prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures,” at https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/firstfruits.pdf.)

It is my contention that to count the 49 days of the omer leading to the Feast of Weeks in the rabbinic Jewish way takes away from the glorious spiritual, prophetic picture of Yeshua and his spiritual bride to be.

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Is There Aviv Barley in the Land of Israel Now…or Not?

This year there has been some confusion as to whether the barley in the land of Israel was really aviv (or abib) or not. Some aviv barley search groups say yes, and some say no. Why the confusion, and who is right? Eventually each person has to make up their own mind, but below we will present the reasons why we agree with those who say that the barley isn’t aviv yet.

At this point, some of you may be saying, “Huh?” when it comes to the term aviv barley. What is aviv barley and what does that have to do with anything that pertains to me? So let’s quickly review some basic truths regarding the biblical calendar. It all has to do with when to keep the biblical feasts.

The Bible stipulates that months on the biblical calendar begin when the new moon is sighted. (I’ve already written several article on this subject, so I won’t give all the Scripture references here. For that info, go to http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/teaching.html#feast.) To know the dates of the biblical feasts, one must know when the months begin. To know this, one must know when the biblical new year begins—that is, when the first day of the first month of the biblical new year is.

On our modern Roman calendar, determining new year’s day each year easy to do. But this is not the case with the biblical calendar. This is why. The Roman calendar is based on the solar cycle, which is 365 1/4 days long. By contrast, the biblical calendar is a luni-solar calendar. This means it’s based on the solar cycle AND the lunar cycle. The latter is only 354 days long, or roughly 11 days shorter than the Continue reading


 

What is the significance of the omer count?

Today is day 21 of the counting of the omer between First Fruits Day, which occurs during the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. What is the spiritual significance of counting the omer? It is something that YHVH commands his people to do in Lev 23:15–16.

Here’s an article I wrote that answers the questions.

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From the Depths of Slavery to a Kingdom of Priests

Every detail in Scripture is for our learning and edification. All the examples of the past are for our learning upon whom the ends of the world are come (1 Cor 10:11; Rom 15:4). Everyday, YHVH is uncovering the prophetic mysteries hidden in the Scriptures that are being revealed to those who diligently seek him by diligently studying to show themselves approved as a workman rightly dividing YHVH’s Word (2 Tim 2:15).

YHVH’s command for us to count the omer as a countdown to the Feast of Weeks (Heb. Shavuot; Gr. Pentecoste, Lev 23:15–16) memorializes the Israelites’ journey from spiritual babyhood to adulthood. During this 49-day count, Israel ascended from out of the depths of slavery and suffering in Egypt, was baptized in the Red Sea, and then arrived at Mount Sinai—a place of a spiritual standing before YHVH as a kingdom of priests (Exod 19:6). It was there that YHVH gave them his instructions in righteousness—the Torah on Shavuot. This period represents Israel’s passage from slavery to freedom. They came out of slavery permeated with the leaven—the sins, values, and pagan concepts—of Egypt leaving it all behind as pictured by the Feast of Unleavened Bread. YHVH gave Israel 49 days to overcome and to get rid of the impurities of Egypt, and to become the nation Israel—a holy priesthood and the bride of YHVH. There, at the foot of Mount Sinai, YHVH wanted them to become his ambassadors to this world of his heavenly kingdom and truths.

The counting of the omer is the story of our lives also. It pictures our going from bondage to the world, the flesh and the devil and coming to a place of spiritual standing before YHVH, so that we can be used of him to advance his kingdom.

It’s a process ordained of YHVH and it’s his pattern that we must follow. There is Continue reading


 

The Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Wavesheaf Offering and the Resurrection of Yeshua

Chag HaMatzot (The Feast of Unleavened Bread): An Overview

Chag HaMatzot or the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the second annual festival on YHVH’s biblical calendar, and occurs on the fifteenth day of the month of the Abib, which is the day immediately following Passover (or Pesach, Lev 23:5–8). Because both of these feasts (Exod 34:25; Lev 23:2, 6) occur back-to-back, the Jews often refer to Passover and Unleavened Bread simply as Passover Week or some similar term that places the main emphasis on the Passover. But it must be noted that, though related, these two festivals are separate in meaning and purpose. Passover pictures Israel coming out of Egypt. Upon separating from Egypt, YHVH (the LORD) then commanded the Israelites to put all leavened food products out of their houses and to eat unleavened bread (flat bread) for seven days, hence the origins of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Additionally, the first and seventh days of this week-long event are Sabbaths, and YHVH commanded his people to hold a set-apart convocation (or gathering) on these Sabbaths.

What, you may ask, is the purpose of putting leavening out of one’s home and eating unleavened bread products such as matzoh for one week? This seems like a curious request by YHVH of his people. Not surprisingly, the Creator of the universe has a reason for everything. The spiritual implications are enlightening and highly relevant to the disciples of Yeshua. In commanding his people to de-leaven their homes and lives, YHVH is teaching us an object lesson that applies to us as much today as to the Israelites of long ago.

Eating unleavened bread for seven days is a memorial, remembrance or reminder (Exod 13:6–9) of our coming out of our own spiritual Egypt. But how did unleavened bread enter into this picture? The Torah tells us that the Israelites left Egypt early in Continue reading


 

When do we start the count of the omer?

I got this question emailed to me this morning:

My name is Lisa B— and I have a question for you as I have been “kerfuddled” if you will by the omer count this year. I understand from your website that you’re sighted moon? I really, really thought we would NOT start the Omer count for a week, due to ULB beginning Saturday eve to Sunday eve, but both you, and the Karaites (the other sighted group I know of) started ON ULB. Please, how is that possible? Can you explain?

Here is my answer:
omer_count
From Lev 23:9–15, we learn that we’re to begin the count of the omer toward Shavuot (Pentecost) from the morrow/day after the Sabbath when the barley first fruits were presented to YHVH as a wave offering (called wave sheaf day). The question is whether we start the omer count from the Sabbath, or from the day after the Sabbath? Does the Sabbath or the day after the Sabbath (Sunday) have to fall within the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread? Normally, this isn’t an issue since both the Sabbath and the first day of the week fall within the week of Unleavened Bread. However, this year (2015), this is the case. If you choose to count from Sunday, then the Saturday, April 4 falls outside of Unleavened Bread, but Sunday, April 5 falls within the Feast of Unleavened Bread, since this is the first day of the feast. If you choose to count from the Sabbath that falls within the Feast of Unleavened Bread (i.e., April 11), then this places wave sheaf day outside of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Those who begin the omer count toward Shavuot from April 5 will be celebrating Shavuot on Sunday, May 24, while those who begin the count from April 12 will be celebrating Shavuot on Sunday, May 31.
So this brings us back to our basic question of when to start the omer count. Does the Sabbath or the day after the Sabbath (Sunday or wave sheaf day) have to be within the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread? Some people will say say the Sabbath has to be, and some will say the day after the Sabbath has to be. When reading Lev 23:9–15, you really can’t tell which it is. It seems like it could go either way. It’s a tie.
Enter Josh 5:10–11, which is the tie breaker. Those who believe that you start the omer count from the day after the weekly Sabbath use this passage as their proof. Here is my commentary on  this passage:

Joshua 5:11And they ate. As the manna ceased, the Israelites ate the fresh barley grain that had already been growing in the land. In Leviticus 23:14, the Israelites were forbidden to eat of the new barley crop of the land of Israel until the day of the omer offering (or wave sheaf day). This year, the omer offering occurred on the next day after the Passover (Nisan/Abib 14), which was Nisan/Abib 15, or the first day of the Feast of Unleavnened Bread. Because the omer offering was to be brought on the morrow or day after the (weekly, see notes at Lev 23:16) Sabbath (Lev 23:11), this means that the Israelite’s first Passover in the land of Israel occurred on a weekly Sabbath, and wave sheaf day occurred on Sunday. This verse also shows us that the morrow after the Sabbath (i.e., wave sheaf day) occurred during the Feast of Unleavened Bread ­— not before or after it. This should be taken into consideration when determining which weekly Sabbath at the time of Feast of Unleavened Bread should be used to determine wave sheaf day and, hence, the beginning the omer count. This passage indicates the wave sheaf day, not the weekly Sabbath, has to fall within the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

This passage is circumstantial evidence that the ancient Israelites calculated the omer count based on wave sheaf day, not the weekly Sabbath, having to fall within the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This is why our ministry begins the count of the omer toward Shavuot  from the day after the weekly Sabbath, and not the Sabbath itself, that falls within the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
As a footnote, by calculating the omer in this manner, this keeps wave sheaf day (the day Yeshua ascended to heaven and was accepted by the Father) within the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which fulfills biblical types and shadows more accurately than if wave sheaf day fell outside of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For more info on this, please read my detailed article on the subject at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/firstfruits.pdf.
I hope this answers your question.

 

How the First Fruits Day Points to Yeshua

The Day of the Wave Sheaf Offering or First Fruits Day

In Hebrew roots circles, a day has gained prominence for celebrating the resurrection of Yeshua. It is called by many, the Feast of First Fruits or simply First Fruits. In several books published by Messianic or Hebrew roots teachers, this day has been elevated to the status as one of the “feasts” of YHVH on a par with Passover, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles. In creating a special designation for this day—one, as we shall see later, that Scripture does not give it—most of these teachers curiously omit the last of YHVH’s seven “feasts” or miqra-ee kodesh (commanded assemblies); namely, The Eighth Day or Shemini Atzeret. This festival is a Sabbath and immediately falls after the Feast of Tabernacles. It has important spiritual significance and represents the formation of the New Heaven and New Earth and the descent of the New Jerusalem after the end of the 1000-year long Millennium on earth. It literally represents heaven-on-earth for eternity. It is, therefore, a shame to omit this most important festival of YHVH!

A field of barley grain in the land of Israel.

A field of barley grain in the land of Israel.

The Nature of the Omer Offering/Service

Does the omer offering on “Wave Sheaf Sunday” prophetically point to and foretell the death and/or resurrection of Yeshua, and if so, how? First, let us look at the scriptural passages that speak of this day.

Leviticus 23:10–17, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When you be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits [reshiyth] of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before YHVH, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer that day when you wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto YHVH. And the grain offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto YHVH for a sweet savor: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. And you shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that you have brought an offering unto your Elohim: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. And you shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf [omer] of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall you number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meat offering unto YHVH. You shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the first fruits [bikkurim] unto YHVH.

Leviticus 23:10b–14a, … you are to bring the premier sheaf of your harvest to the priest. He is to elevate the sheaf before the presence of YHVH, for acceptance for you; on the morrrow after the Sabbath the priest is to elevate it. You are to perform a sacrifice on the day of your elevating the sheaf: a sheep, wholly-sound, in its (first) year, as an offering-up to YHVH, and its grain-gift: two tenth-measures of flour mixed with oil, a fire-offering to YHVH, a soothing savour; and its poured-offering of wine: a fourth of a hin. Now bread, parched-grain or groats, you are not to eat, until that same day, until you have brought the near-offering of our Elohim… (The Shocken Bible)

Leviticus 2:12–16, As for the offering of the first fruits, you shall offer them to YHVH, but they shall not be burned on the altar for a sweet aroma. And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt. And if you offer a meal offering of thy first fruits [bikkurim] unto YHVH, you shall offer for the meal offering of thy first fruits [bikkurim] green ears [abib, H24, or green in the ears barley] of corn [qalah; H7033, roasted dried, burned, parched grain] dried by the fire, even corn beaten [geres; H1643, crushed grain or groats] out of full ears. And you shall put oil upon it, and lay frankincense thereon: it is a meat offering. And the priest shall burn the memorial of it, part of the beaten corn thereof, and part of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof: it is an offering made by fire unto YHVH.

The Order of Events Associated With the Waving of the Omer

Now that we have the scriptural passages before us pertaining to the First Fruits Day, let’s list in chronological order the events and ceremonies that occurred on this day involving both the Israelite farmer and the priest.

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