Saturday, June 06, 2015

Everything You Wanted to Know About Pentecost (and More)

The name of Shavuot means “weeks,” coming from the seven weeks that were to be counted after Passover. Greek-speaking Jews would have called the feast Pentecoste, meaning “50 days,” which is where we get the English word “Pentecost.” This feast was based on God’s command that a special offering of fresh grain was to be made on the 50th day after Passover Sabbath.

Pentecost was unique, because it was one of only three times per year that all God’s people were to pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. As God had met the Israelites on the “mountain of God” (Ex. 24:13). On Pentecost, he met them on the Temple Mount, “the mountain of the Lord” (Isa. 2:3, 66:20). Temple attendance was required at Passover (Pesach), Pentecost (Shavuot), and Booths/Tabernacles (Sukkot). During these feast days, those from around the world who were obedient to Yahweh went Jerusalem.

This means that a great crowd of sojourners would gather in the Temple courts during the morning service at the Temple. While the offerings and sacrifices were being made, portions of the Old Testament were read aloud. According to Jewish tradition, it was Exodus 19-20 (The giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai) and Ezekiel 1-2 (Ezekiel’s vision of God appearing in fire and wind).

Some time before the birth of Jesus, the rabbis determined that Pentecost was the time when the Torah had been given to Moses on Mount Sinai. There is some biblical basis to indicate that the rabbis were right. Keep reading

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