Well, the Days of Unleavened Bread seemed to fly by this year! One thing that may have gotten overlooked was the wave sheaf offering that took place in ancient Israel during the DUB.
The significance of the wave sheaf offering is discussed in the AC article “Reflections: Jesus as the Wave Sheaf”, so I won’t repeat that here. However, I want to point out that this is one week after the wave sheaf ceremony would have been held if it were to be held today.
Why is that significant? Well, some would like to argue with that reasoning, so let’s look at it, shall we?
9And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
10Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
11And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. (Leviticus 23:9-11, King James Version)
So, on the surface it seems straight-forward enough. The day after the Sabbath would be the first day of the week, what we would call Sunday, correct? Well, not necessarily. The problem is that there are 2 holy days during the DUB. So, is the above a reference to the weekly Sabbath or a high day (cf Jn 19:31)?
If we were left with no other clues, it would rightly be quite contentious. However, reading further helps a little:
15And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:
16Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD. (Leviticus 23:15-16, King James Version)
So, while a single Sabbath reference might not be so clear, the fact that 7 Sabbaths were to be counted should make it very clear!
Yet, it seems that some would rather observe traditions of men than read the plain words of Scripture. The Jews would argue that Sivan 6 is Pentecost, or Shavuot. They reason that the “sabbath” reference is to the first high day and not the weekly Sabbath.
There are multiple problems with this reasoning, however. First of all, it assumes that God has nothing better to do than give human beings something to count. If He had meant Sivan 6, then wouldn’t He have just stated in the “third month on the sixth day of the month”, just as He did for all the other holy days? The very command to count indicates it is a floating and not a fixed date.
Second, it assumes that the word “sabbath” is meant to be rendered “weeks”. However, “weeks” is translated from H7620, “shabuwa’”. And, yes, sometimes Pentecost is called the Feast of Weeks because you count 7 weeks. However, that is not the word used in Lev 23! No, the word used in Lev 23 is H7676 “shabbath”, and the KJV always translates it “Sabbath” except for one occurrence where it is translated “another” (as in “another Sabbath”)!
The only room for confusion is that in the NT, the word G4521 “sabbaton” can mean either “Sabbath” or “week”. In fact, no other word is translated “week”. If you search for “week” in the NT and then “week* G4521” on Blue Letter Bible, you come up with the same number of entries.
Notice what the ABCOG site has as a side note to “When does Sabbath mean Week?…”:
A reader sent this email:
I’ve looked for any historical useage of Sabbath meaning week and haven’t found any. The Septuagint (Greek) never uses Sabbath to mean week. The word “week” in the Greek (Septuagint) is said with different words (e.g., hebdoma = seven [days]), not Sabbath. The only place that Sabbath is used to mean week are all New Testament useage where mian (first) is used, save the useage for fasting twice a week, which in all likelihood is a poor interpretation.
~ The Greek words for Sabbath. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.abcog.org/sabbath.htm
So, not only is the preponderance of evidence on the side of the wave sheaf offering being offered on the 1st day of the week after the weekly Sabbath, but the fact that God would have one count to Pentecost makes it the only real logical choice.
Arguments that the Jews have always kept it on Sivan rest upon a weak foundation as well.
The Karaites explained the shabbath of Lev 23:15 as pointing to the Sabbath of the paschal week and therefore always celebrated Pentecost on Sunday. But it is very uncertain whether the custom existed in Christ’s day, and moreover it would be impossible to prove that the disciples followed this custom, if it could be proved to have existed.
~ Pentecost [ISBE]. (n.d.). As quoted on net.bible.org, retrieved from http://net.bible.org/dictionary.php?word=Pentecost.
Yet, people would charge HWA with “changing” the day of Pentecost by not keeping the Jewish tradition of Sivan 6. As I pointed out in “WWJD: Keeping Passover”, though, the Jews are not and were not our perfect example. There is only One Perfect Example! And, that One Perfect Example was not timid in keeping the Passover one day before the majority of the ruling Jews at the time did.
I have to wonder why people would use such an argument when it was the religious leaders, the supposed “perfect example”, who were calling for Jesus’ crucifixion.