The Feast of Weeks (called Shavuot in Hebrew) is a holy day that begins on the 50th day after the Feast of First Fruits.
The word Shavuot literally means “weeks” in Hebrew which refers to the counting of 7 weekly Sabbaths – i.e. 7 weeks – starting from First Fruits.
This was a day of great importance in the New Testament as Elohim chose this day (called Pentecost in Greek) to send His Holy Spirit to the apostles.
Which was the fulfillment of Yeshua’s promise to send us a “Helper” described in John 14. (Acts 2:1-4; John 14:26)
When Is Shavuot?
Shavuot is the 50th day after the Feast of First Fruits and marks the end of the Counting of the Omer.
As mentioned above from the Feast of First Fruits, we are to count 7 complete weekly Sabbaths and the very next day after the 7th Sabbath (the 50th day) is Shavuot.
Since the counting of First Fruits always begins on a Sunday, Shavuot will also always fall on a Sunday.
As with the other appointed times from the Torah, the actual calendar date of Shavuot varies from year to year but usually falls somewhere in May or June.
To find out when Shavuot will fall this year, check out our Biblical Calendar.
What Is Shavuot All About?
Shavuot was 1 of the 3 pilgrimage festivals for which Israelites traveled to the temple in Jerusalem each year.
This day marked the completion of the wheat harvest and was a day in which Israelites presented an offering of their first and best wheat to Elohim.
Additionally, according to tradition, the Torah (or more likely just the 10 commandments on the stone tablets), was given on Shavuot.
While this idea is a tradition and is not found anywhere in the bible, Elohim does seem to confirm this when He used Shavuot to deliver the Holy Spirit to the apostles.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a noise like a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And tongues that looked like fire appeared to them, distributing themselves, and a tongue rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with different tongues, as the Spirit was giving them the ability to speak out.
This event marked the fulfillment of Elohim’s promise which he spoke through the prophet Jeremiah regarding the new covenant that would be proposed 600 years later:
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord: “I will put My Torah within them and write it on their heart; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
Here we can see Elohim’s promise for the new covenant to write His Torah upon the hearts of His people which was an obvious reference to the giving of the Holy Spirit.
So in the days of Moses at Mt. Sinai, the Torah was written on stone tablets and given to the people to begin the first covenant with Israel.
And later the same Torah was written upon the hearts of the followers of Yeshua at the start of the new covenant.
That doesn’t seem like a coincidence to me.
Regardless of if the tradition is true or not, the giving of the Holy Spirit alone makes Shavuot one of the most important days in history. And certainly, a day to be acknowledged and celebrated.
How Does the Torah Command Us to Observe Shavuot?
So now that we know what Shavuot is and why it’s important to us even still today, what are the biblical instructions for this festival?
Rest from Ordinary Work
On this day as with the other feasts, we are told to cease from our daily work and rest similar to the way we are commanded to do on the weekly Sabbath. The only exception is we are allowed to cook and prepare meals that are to be eaten that day. (Leviticus 23:21)
Make It a Celebration!
Even though Shavuot is a holy day unto Elohim, it’s also a day to be celebrated with your family (Deuteronomy 16:11).
So relax, sing songs, play games, drink your favorite beverage, eat your favorite foods and have a great time.
Rejoice before Elohim and give thanks to Him for the gift of His Torah and the Holy Spirit.
Consider Giving a Freewill Offering
In the Torah, we know that on Shavuot the Israelites gave a voluntary offering (of wheat) to Elohim (Deuteronomy 16:10; Leviticus 23:22). Therefore in honor of this, we could also give a freewill offering of our own.
Additionally, since Elohim told the Israelites to leave the edges of their harvested fields for the poor, that makes harvest time a special time for the poor. (Leviticus 23:22)
For this reason, helping the poor with either food or money as a freewill offering to Elohim, though it is not required, does make good biblical sense.
How should we celebrate Shavuot?
Shavuot is the only biblical feast that doesn’t really give us any clues as to what the celebration should look like.
Therefore we have some liberty as to how we choose to celebrate this day.
Being that Shavuot was a wheat harvest festival, it makes sense to include breads and cakes as part of the feast.
Also, many people traditionally read the book of Ruth on Shavuot since the events recorded in Ruth occurred at harvest time.
According to rabbinic tradition, many people also eat dairy as well as decorate their homes and synagogues with greenery.
However, regarding diary and greenery decorations, keep in mind that is only tradition and should be taken with a grain of salt.
As I hope you can now see, Shavuot is a day of great importance for the believer in Yeshua and more than deserves our attention.
And as with each of the other of Elohim’s appointed times, without the temple, we cannot fully keep Shavuot in the exact way described in the Torah.
However, as with the other instructions in the Torah, I believe we should still try our very best to observe them in the best way that we possibly can.