This video explains how Yeshua’s burial, resurrection and ascension to heaven was prophesied in minute detail 1,500 years earlier in the Torah’s amazing First Fruits Day barley grain rituals and some 700 years earlier in Isaiah 53. You will also learn what happened to Yeshua’s soul while he was in the grave and how that relates to his paying the price for our sins. Also learn why the New Testament mentions the death of Yeshua twice as many times as his resurrection. This information will strengthen your faith in the fact the the Bible is the divinely inspired, revealed Word of YHVH Elohim, and that Yeshua/Jesus is who the Bible says he is—the promised Messiah and humanity’s Savior or Redeemer who offers all who will believe in and follow him not only salvation from sin’s death penalty, but eternal life or immortality. Prepare to be amazed and inspired!
In our day many Messianic redeemed believers are celebrating, or feeling a desire to celebrate, the resurrection of our Messiah. To scripturally validate the central importance of the resurrection of Yeshua as a core doctrine for Messianic redeemed believers, we will start by presenting to you a series of texts from the Tanakh (or Old Testament) with commentary that foretell of a Messianic Redeemer dying and then bodily resurrecting. We will then examine evidence that shows how the waving of the omer or barley sheaf on Wave sheaf Day pointed to Yeshua’s resurrection. We will then look at the Gospel account of the resurrection for some new insights from a Hebrew roots perspective, and then conclude by examining historical evidence pertaining to the early Christian church’s designation of a specific day to commemorate the resurrection of Yeshua. May this study strengthen the reader’s faith in the accounts of Yeshua the Messiah’s resurrection as recorded in the Testimony of Yeshua (or New Testament)!
An Analysis of Tanakh Scriptures That Predict the Resurrection of the Messiah
Psalm 16:10, For thou wilt not leave my soul [nephesh] in hell [sheol]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy [chaseed or faithful, kind, pious, devout, saint, godly] One to see corruption [shakhath or decay of the grave according to The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT)].
Commentary: To whom is this verse referring? Obviously not normal humans whose bodies and souls go into the grave at the time of death (so says this verse) (to await the resurrection) and where they decay? Who in Scripture, but Messiah Yeshua resurrected after three days before his body could corrupt (start to decay)? According to Jewish thought bodily decay starts after three days.
Psalm 49:15, But Elohim will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.
Commentary: This is a generic reference to the resurrection of the righteous. Using a kal v’khomer or light and heavy (a fortiori) rule of logic (or Rabbi Hillel’s first law of Biblical hermeneutics/interpretation) we can reason that if the righteous dead are resurrected how much more so the Messiah.
Psalm 22:26, The meek shall eat and be satisfied. They shall praise YHVH that seek him. Your heart shall live for ever.
Commentary: See comment on Psalms 49:15.
Isaiah 26:19, Your dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in dust, for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
Commentary: See comment on Psalms 49:15.
Isaiah 53:9-10, And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased YHVH to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong [arak means to continue long, make long, lengthen, draw out] his days, and the pleasure of YHVH shall prosper in his hand.
Commentary: Some see in this emphasized phrase either a reference to long life on the part of Messiah’s (spiritual) seed (descendants) which could be a reference to eternal life, or to the resurrection of the Messiah himself after he was “cut off from the land of the living” (verse 8) and “made his grave with the wicked” (verse 9) after which he would “prolong his days” through resurrection from the grave.
Isaiah 53:11, He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Commentary: The Qumran Great Isaiah Scroll translates verse 11 as follow:
Of the suffering of his soul he will see light and he will find satisfaction. And through his knowledge his servant, the righteous one will make many righteous, and he will bear their iniquities” (The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, by Abegg, Flint and Ulrich, p. 360; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, N.Y.:1999).
Note the emphasized portion that is missing in the Masoretic text from which our most common English Bibles’ “Old Testament” portions are derived. The New International Version (NIV) translates this verse as follows and notes in its footnotes that this phrase originates from the Isaiah Dead Sea Scroll and from the Septuagint (LXX):
After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
Note the Septuagint (LXX) translation of this verse:
The Lord also is pleased to take away from the travail of his soul, to shew him light, and to form him with understanding; to justify the just one who serves many well; and he shall bear their sins. [translated by Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton (1807-1862) originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851]
The phrase, he will see the light etc., speaks of resurrection from the shadows of death into the light of life. What else could this mean except that Messiah will resurrect from the grave?
Genesis 3:15, (compare Col. 2:15 and Rev. 1:18) And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. / And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it [by resurrecting from the grave].
Hosea 5:15–6:3, I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. Come, and let us return unto YHVH: for he has torn, and he will heal us; he has smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive [VHJ/chayah, to live, have life] us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know YHVH: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.
Commentary: This is a clear prophecy concerning the resurrection of the righteous dead of whom Messiah Yeshua is the first to raise. Verse two contains a Hebrew parallelism, which is a Hebraic literary device where the same thought is expressed differently back-to-back. As noted above, the word to live is the basic Hebrew root verb chayah meaning to live or to have life. The word raise up is the Hebrew word quwm/oUEmeaning to rise, arise, stand, stand up (Strong’s H6965; TWOT 1999). According to TWOT the basic meaning of this word “denotes rising up from a prostrate position (e.g. Josh. 3:16).” YHVH speaking here states in the broader context of this passage of his Messianic role as the Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5), and that after presenting himself as such to both houses of Israel (Ephraim and Judah) in verse 14 Messiah would “go away … and none shall rescue him”, and then in verse 15, “I [Messiah speaking] will go and return to my place till they [Ephraim and Judah] acknowledge their offense and seek my face…” What is their offense? Isaiah 8:14 states that the offense both houses of Israel stumble over “the stone of stumbling and… rock of offense.” Who is this Rock of offense? Verses 8 and 10b identifies it as Immanuel (El with us), one of the titles of the Messiah. After two days (2000 years) YHVH will revive us—i.e., the righteous dead of Ephraim and Judah or those grafted to the olive tree or into the commonwealth of Israel through Messiah Yeshua (see Eph. 2:11–19) who are to raise up in the resurrection at the end of the age—and the third day, or in the third millennia from the time of Messiah’s first coming, or year 6000, Messiah will raise up Ephraim and Judah. Likewise Messiah Yeshua raised from the dead on the third day, becoming the first of the first fruits to raise from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20, 23) and he shall “go forth” and “shall come unto us” very much alive and leading his people in the Messianic Age (Millennium).
Genesis 22 and the “Sacrifice” of Isaac at Mount Moriah.
Commentary: YHVH credited to Abraham’s spiritual account his willingness to sacrifice Isaac as if he had actually done so. In fact, there is an ancient rabbinical tradition that states Isaac actually died and was resurrected as the midrash states: “As the knife reached his throat, Isaac’s soul flew away and left [e.g., he died]. But when a voice went forth from between the angels saying, ‘Do not stretch out your hand against the lad’ (Genesis 22:12), his soul returned to his body” (Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer 31 as quoted in The ArtScroll Davis Edition Baal HaTurim Chumash Bamidbar, p. 1417) (bracketed comments are in the original). The Jewish sages also note that Scripture states that both Abraham and Isaac ascended the mountain, but that it is recorded that only Abraham descended (22:19). Isaac’s absence from the Genesis narrative until many years later (Gen. 24:62) has given rise to much speculation on the part of the Jewish sages as to Isaac’s whereabouts in the interim (The ArtScroll Bereishis Vol. 1a, pp. 812-813). Regardless of the rabbinic interpretations, does Scripture leave Isaac out of the narrative as if to highlight his absence, and to give the impression (albeit a prophetic allegorical one) that he was actually sacrificed? After all, what was the ram caught in the thorn bush thicket (wearing a crown of thorns) by its two horns all about? That ram was a substitute sacrifice picturing whom? And who was it that commanded Abraham to lay down the knife and slaughter the ram instead? It was the Malak or Messenger of YHVH (verse 11-12) who was none other than a pre-incarnate appearance of YHVH-Yeshua some 1900 years before his appearance as the Messiah in human form on earth as the Lamb of Elohim slain from the foundation of the earth.
The Day of the Wave Sheaf Offering or First Fruits Day
In Messianic 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/Hebrew roots teachers, this day has been elevated to the status as one of the “feasts” of YHVH along with 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!
To read the rest of this article, go to: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/firstfruits.pdf
Here are some free resources from Hoshana Rabbah to make your celebration of the biblical Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag haMatzot) more meaningful:
- On the resurrection of Yeshua at the Messiah and First Fruits Day: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/firstfruits.pdf
- On counting the omer to Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/counting-the-omer.pdf
- For more insightful articles on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, go to this blog’s search engine at the top of the home page (the magnifying glass) and type in the key word “Feast of Unleavened Bread” for some spiritual unleavened bread manna to feed on. Bon appétit!
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.Continue reading
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.
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
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.
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