Archive for the ‘Feast of Firstfruits’ Category

Timing of the Feast of Firstfruits

by William BenCarl

Yom Ha-Bikkurim / The First Feast Of Firstfruits / Resurrection Day / Omer Raysheet

A Messianic Outline/View

Along with Passover, this is the most important Holy Day of YHVH celebration for Messianic/Hebraic Believers: The Festival day when Messiah Yeshua/(Jesus) rose from the dead.

On this festival in the morning of the first day of the week, the the cohen gadol (high priest) waved the barley sheaf in the Temple. This I believe was the exact same time that Messiah Yeshua/(Jesus) ascended into Heaven unto the Father after His Resurrection.  The following account in Book of Yochanan/(John) would have been right before that event:

For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. then the disciples went away again unto their own home.  But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Yeshua/(Jesus) had lain. And they say unto her, woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.and when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Yeshua standing, and knew not that it was Yeshua. Yeshua saith unto her, woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She, supposing Him to be the gardener, saith unto Him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away. Yeshua saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto Him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Yeshua saith unto her, touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My Elohim/(God), and your Elolhim/(God). Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things unto her. Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week,…” -John 20:9-19a.

In Brit HaChadashah / (The New Covenant) Scripture, Sha’ul/Paul also speaks to us concerning this, by also drawing upon the Holy Day Festival of YHVH of Firstfruits:

But now is Messiah/(Christ) risen from the dead, and become the Firstfruits of them that slept. for since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. for as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah shall all be made alive. but every man in his own order: Messiah the Firstfruits; afterward they that are Messiah’s at His coming.” 1Cor.15:20-23.

In Rabbinic Judaism, while you’ll still hear about the “Firstfruits” Holy Day; more often what is stressed is this day being “Omer Raysheet” – the beginning of the counting of the Omer for 50 days until Shavuot/(Pentecost/The 2nd Feast of First-Fruits). While this day is when Torah says we are to begin counting, some commentaries have noted Yom-HaBikkurim/Firstfruits as being the ‘forgotten holiday’ in Rabbinic Judaism, as not much is mentioned about it.

As to what day does Firstfruits fall on is a point of contention amongst Messianic/Hebraic Believers. The reason for this contention is that the traditional Rabbinic calculations based on Talmud, have this Holy Day beginning on a fixed day…always the day following Passover Nissan 15, when they say this Holy Day begins. This however differs from the plain and simple (peshat) reading of the Torah as to when Firstfruits is to begin; which is shown not at a set date of Nissan 16; but rather as the first day of the week following the Shabbat that follows Pesach/Passover. Here’s the portion from Torah in context:

“These are the feasts of YHVH/(the-LORD), even Holy Convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. in the fourteenth day of the first month at even is YHVH/(the-LORD’s) Passover. and on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread unto YHVH/(the-LORD): seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. in the first day ye shall have an Holy Convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto YHVH/(the-LORD) seven days: in the seventh day is an Holy Convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

And YHVH/(the-LORD) spake unto Moses, saying, speak 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: and he shall wave the sheaf before YHVH/(the-LORD), to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto YHVH/(the-LORD). And the meat (bread) offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto YHVH/(the-LORD) for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your Elohim/(God): it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

And 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: even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto YHVH/(the-LORD). Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the Firstfruits unto YHVH/the-LORD. and ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto YHVH/(the-LORD), with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto YHVH/(the-LORD). Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings. and the priest shall wave them with the bread of the Firstfruits for a wave offering before YHVH/(the-LORD), with the two lambs: they shall be holy to YHVH/(the-LORD) for the priest. And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an Holy Convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. and when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am YHVH/(the-LORD) your Elohim/(God).” – Lev.23:4-22.

The Torah portion on this matter is very specific and clear, and one would think that would be the end of the matter.

There is also evidence of the Sadducees (who were made up of the cohanim/priests) method during Temple times of figuring Firstfruits in accord with the literal reading of Torah, and this also explains why one has to ‘count’ 50 days for themselves: As Shavuot didn’t always fall on the same calendar day of the month, because Firstfruits didn’t always fall on the same calendar day of the month; verses the other Holy Day observances of YHVH of which we are told exactly what day they are to fall on.

A beautiful reason that the above literal reading of Torah for counting to Shavuot would be the case is: There are 7 Shabbats, and then those Shabbats are times 7…(7 the number of completion/perfection x 7 (a week), 49 days, each 7 day week ending on a Shabbat, the day of rest. And the next day following those 7x (7days)- Shabbats is 50 days, which is also a Biblical number of a given deliverance, as in the 50th year being a Jubilee.

Another suggested reason that this is called the ‘forgotten holiday’ in Rabbinic Judaism, is the great importance placed upon it by the early Messianic/Hebraic Believers in Yeshua who celebrated His Resurrection on this day.  It has been suggested that during Temple times (if at all), if the Pharisee’s method of when Firstfruits was to be celebrated was observed, that this practice would have been started after the Resurrection of Messiah Yeshua or after 30/33 A.D.

The following article is based upon discussion on this matter, and goes into somewhat more depth if you’d like to read more on this subject….

Yom HaBikkruim / Firstfruits: What day was in on?…

I don’t have the time to do this subject justice here at this time, but here is a brief address:

There are only about 3 different subjects in Scripture that one cannot prove 100% to everyone’s satisfaction – as the various differing views all seem to have conclusive support from various Biblical passages, historical and Judaic records, and even logic! The worst of these debates to get into is: On what day did Messiah have the Passover on and what day did He die. Because people are so passionate about this subject, even though it is dogmatic and not doctrinal, it can get quite heated and unloving if one is not careful. There are at least 4 different scenarios held and given by different believers and scholars, and at least 3 of these seem to have valid proof to back them up (of course only one is right 🙂 One can study hour after hour, and still leave not 100% sure which view is correct. Nor is there a general consensus amongst all the Messianic Congregations as to what day is correct, all Congregations seem to hold at random one view or another.

To further complicate the issue, there are different calendars suggested by different groups for figuring Nissan 1 / Pesach Nissan 14-15:

a.) Dark-Lunar-Conjunction/(Astronomical/Scientific -&- the Mean/Conjunction-(+17.x hrs – as used in the Modern/Israeli calendar)

b.) Sliver/Cresent moon Kaarite sighting (along with the non-Sanhedrin approved Aviv sighting of today)

c.) Enochian solar

d.) Qumran calendar understandings (and more 🙂

This is an entire conversation in itself that I won’t address here. I’ll briefly state, that due to the Rosh Kodesh passage on Yom HaTeruah in Psalms 83, along with other Judaic and historical evidences: I believe view a.) above is correct.  I believe it is clear that on Nissan Rosh Kodesh the Aviv method was used by the Sanhedrin in Temple times to reset the lunar with the solar years; but the modern/Israel calendar uses Adar II every 7 years to accomplish the same thing, and most years the non-Sanhedrin approved method some correctly use of observing of the Aviv has been aligning with the modern/Rabbinic calendar anyway. Again, this subject is never ending in debate.

WHY ARE THERE TWO DIFFERENT DAYS PEOPLE SAY THE  FEASTS OF FIRSTFRUITS (Yom HaBikkruim & Shavuot / Barley & Wheat harvests) FALL ON?

It is because of differing views of when Omer Raysheet, Sefirat HaOmer, counting of the Omer (50 days) begins: “And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath…” Lev.23:15-16.

Probably the second most debated subject is on what day did Messiah Raise from the dead?  What day was Firstfruits / Yom HaBikurim / 1st day of the counting of the Omer on?  Again, on this subject, there are three primary beliefs and all seem to have some validity as to their being correct by Scripture, history, Judaic writings, and even logic. But with this view it is easier to show which one I believe is valid.

1.) One view that some hold is that Firstfruits was always on the weekly Shabbat following Pesach.  This view I believe is incorrect and while there at first seems to be a lot of support given by them who hold to this view,  I believe their appeal is convoluted, and requires severe linguistic gymnastics to prove. It also goes against almost all Scriptural translations, historical and Judaic and Christian writings on this subject, and it attempts to show a 49 day verses 50 day Weeks. So I feel this view is not valid.

That leaves us with two main views that also have a lot of support:

2.) The P’rushim/Pharisaic (current Rabbinic) view that Firstfruits is always the day following Passover, regardless of what day of that week that might be.

3.) The other view is that Firstfruits was on the 1st day of the week following the weekly Shabbat of the Passover week.

Both of these two views appear to have Scriptural, Historical and Judaic writings support. So which one is correct?

While I agree there is a strong case for view #2 (P’rushim); there is likewise a strong case for view #3 (which was held by the Sadducees/Priests, Kararites and Samaritans). While there are certain evidences presented that the Halacha ruling of the Sanhedrin was according the P’rushim/Pharisees, one must note that that evidence itself is written by the P’rushim! It is important to note here that the Sanhedrin was comprised of both Sadducees (the majority of whom were Cohanim/Priests) and Pharisees (both the house of Hillel and the house of Shammai).

BUT in the latter half of the first century, there was a debate one day in the Sanhedrin between the house of Hillel and the house of Shammai (who were in the minority) and in the fight that broke out over it, the house of Hillel killed the members of the house of Shammai! By the time that the Mishnah was written at the close of the 1st century and the following Talmudic commentary on it was given, there was no voice in these writings other than the house of Hillel!  To me that would somewhat call into question the validity of the statements of the House of Hillel on their absolute authority in matters that were given by Torah to the Cohanim/Priests. We also know that many of the Torah-Sages/Lawyers were Sadducees who were considered experts on interpreting the Torah and it’s applications, including the Temple Mitzvot.   I find it hard to believe that the Cohanim/Sadducees would submit their Temple Mitzvot authority to the P’rushim, with whom they disagreed on so many things.

While there is evidence that for some time during the 40 years after Messiah’s Resurrection until 70 AD, the current Rabbinic method of Firstfruits was used; some have said that this was due to the obvious conclusion the Jewish people would have of Messiah’s Resurrection being in conjunction with the First Feast of First Fruits!!! So, a late Temple Halachic ruling was given, agreed upon by the Sadducees, to change the method so that it would obscure this fact.

It is likewise interesting to note that the literal readings of the New Testament and Torah indicate the first day of the week following the weekly Shabbat would be most logical. Why?  If one takes the literal Bible reading of Yom HaBikurim / Feast of Firstfruits, the counting of the Omer was always began on the 1st day of the week following the LITERAL Shabbat. Now while the P’rushim considered that ‘Shabbat’ mentioned to be Pesach itself, that doesn’t fit at all.  For one reason, you can’t count the day after 7 ‘Shabbats’ to be day 50, if you start other than the 1st day of the week, or else you are calling mundane days, i.e. Monday, Tuesday, etc. as a ‘Shabbat’.  That P’rushim method doesn’t follow the Peshat of Torah at all.

I don’t have time to do a detailed study here on this issue, but there is a lot more that could be said.  While this is a very important issue, it is still a dogmatic one, and not a doctrinal issue. Don’t slam your Brethren over these things 🙂

An article on Zola Levitt’s web-site, by Dr. Thomas McCall, Th.M. in Old Testament studies and a Th.D. in Semitic languages and Old Testament gives some good information; I’m sure there are even better articles out there.  I also have some things on disk about it, but don’t have the time to find and compile them here for you at the moment. When all is said and done,  YHVH knows, even if we’re not sure one way or the other 🙂 (Tentstake disclaimer: the article is well-written and explains quite clearly the differing timings of Feast of Firstfruits. My only concern is the end where he suggests that Yeshua was not in the grave for three days and three nights which was the ‘sign’ he gave to ‘a wicked and adulterous generation.’)

From the Time of Abraham 2000 years before the birth of Messiah Yeshua, the  P’rushim/Pharisees were only in existence for about 150 years post-exile. (They are given WAY too much attention folks!)  The Qumran community was very vocal that the sitting Sanhedrin was invalid, having been corrupted by Rome, and should not be viewed as a minority objection, as they (Qumran) were comprised of Cohanim/Priests/(Sadducees) who were trying to be faithful to Torah.  The Temple Mitzvot were given to  Aaron and his sons (L’vinim/Cohanim – not the P’rushim who didn’t even exist for centuries when these were first given! The Qumran community have Feast of Firstfruits following the ‘weekly’ Shabbat.

Is the contention of certain scholars who suggest that the Sanhedrin changed the Temple mitzvot, (with the Sadducees approval), between 30 to 70 AD for The First Feast of Firstfruits hard to believe?  No.  When considering also that the earliest Midrashim/Commentary on Isaiah 53 was always spoken to be of Messiah before Yeshua’s time was then thereafter from Yeshua’s time, suddenly became considered to be ‘of Israel’ and not ‘of Messiah’, I think we can see a pattern!!! –

If Yeshua warned us to beware the leaven of the P’rushim, why are we as Messianic believers so quick to embrace the teachings of the Rabbi’s today as our guidelines?!

I believe the stronger case is to be made for the first day of the week following  the weekly Shabbat following Pesach. It is a complex and lengthy issue with just a couple of quick observations.

From Joshua 5:10-12.

On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after[a] they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.” 

Unleavened bread and roasted grain is translated in several versions as OLD corn/produce. We know they didn’t harvest the barley BEFORE Passover and there is no indication that they harvested the next day following Passover.  However, commentaries say they ate the OLD grain stores of the peoples they’d just conquered.   This would make sense as the people’s prior wheat harvest would still be in their storage bins and would have been permitted as grain for ‘unleavened cakes’ and use the OLD stock as parched.

Since it mentions ‘unleavened cakes’/(matzah) in the passage, I ‘think’ that always had to be made from OLD harvest, i.e. wheat, and not a new-barley harvest.  I have noticed that most Rabbinic translations of Joshua don’t use OLD and I’d suspect that is the reason for the Pharisee’s understanding of Yom HaBikkurim. On the other hand, I haven’t researched in depth due to time constraints  that word  OLD is in the Hebrew. Regardless,  it would seem to me the context would be of old/unleavened-cakes/wheat were already there for them anyway.  

On the Biblical calendar each day begins at sundown the day before and ends at sundown on the current day. However, inn Biblical-Judaism for the first day of the counting of the Omer and for each day thereafter, the Omer for those 50 days is counted in the morning. This is because the waving of the barley sheaf was done in the morning by the high-priest in the Temple on Yom HaBikkurim/ The First Feast Of Firstfruits. On this day, following the Resurrection of Messiah Yeshua/(Jesus), and in regards to the waving of the sheaf on this first-day Festival of YHVH, we note when Messiah Yeshua/(Jesus) speaks to Mary/Miryam in the garden that this takes place right before the waving of the sheaf and that His ascension into heaven is  timed with the waving of the barley sheaf in the Temple:

“Yeshua/(Jesus) saith unto her, Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My Elohim/(God), and your Elohim/(God.)” 1(John)/Yochanan 20:17.

We know from the N.T. Gospel accounts that they rested on the Shabbat before going to the tomb early at the next dawn, and we also know that Yeshua Messiah rose on the first day of the week. Since we know that Messiah did not die on the Shabbat and that the New Testament writers speak of Messiah being our Firstfruits offering,  and since Messiah fulfilled the Biblical spring feast days, then we can easily conclude that the scholarship that says the Temple was following the Sadducee/Cohanim time for Yom-HaBikkurim/First-Fruits (rather than the Pharisee opinion of when it should be), is correct.

Passover, Weekly Sabbath, and Feast of Firstfruits all during the week of Unleavened Bread.

Shalom in Messiah Yeshua!

©March, 2013 William BenCarl

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Sign of Jonah: Three Days and Three Nights

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).

Many people wonder about the three days and three nights of Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection.  Let’s face it, Friday night to Sunday morning is NOT three days and three nights no matter how you interpret the days, the hours, the times, the kingships or even the Jewish and catholic traditions.  Yet, Yeshua’s own words prophesied that he would be in the grave three days and three nights, no less, no more. 

Creating a Timeline

Using Scripture along with the Feasts of the LORD is the perfect way to determine when Yeshua died, was buried and rose from the dead.  To create the timeline,  it may be more effective to work backwards from Yeshua’s Resurrection and the Sabbath day, to Unleavened Bread and to Passover in order to understand the timing of the events.  All ‘days’ go from evening to morning as established by God at Creation.  The sunset time of 6:00 p.m. is an arbitrary time that I chose to make my timeline and may not have been the actual time of sunset in the year that Yeshua died and rose from the dead.

The Resurrection – The Feast of Firstfruits

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell the people of Israel, ‘After you enter the land I am giving you and harvest its ripe crops, you are to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.  He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD, so that you will be accepted; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath” (Leviticus 23:9-11).

Paul says that Yeshua is  ‘the firstfruits of those who have died’  using the same terminology as the Feast of Firstfruits found in Leviticus.  The Feast involved the waving of a sheaf of grain on the ‘day after the Sabbath’ or ‘the first day of the week’ (Sunday).  In agreement with the LORD’s ‘appointed times,’ the evidence in the gospels, and the explanation in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Yeshua rose from the dead as a firstfruits on the day after the Sabbath.

“But the fact is that Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Day After the Sabbath

“After Sabbath, toward dawn the first day of the week, Miriyam of Magdala and the other Miryam went to see the grave” (Matthew 28:1).

The details surrounding the tomb are recorded in Matthew 28 and Luke 24.   On the first day of the week, after the Sabbath, before dawn, some women found Yeshua’s tomb empty.  It wasn’t until AFTER the Sabbath that the women found the tomb empty because they rested according to the commandment regarding the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8-11). Only the seventh-day Sabbath command comes before the ‘first day of the week.’

“On the Sabbath, the women rested, in obedience to the commandment; but on the first day of the week, while it was still very early, they took the spices they had prepared, went to the tomb, and found the stone rolled away from the tomb!” (Luke 24:1).

Sometime before the light of dawn on the first day of the week, Yeshua must have risen from the dead because he was not in the tomb.    In other words,  during the hours between Saturday’s sunset (ending of Sabbath) and Sunday’s sunrise, Yeshua rose from the dead.  There is no specific time given for his Resurrection so for sake of explanation, let’s say the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday) ended at a 6:00 p.m. sunset.  It is possible that at 6:01 p.m., the beginning of the first day of the week, Yeshua rose from the dead.  However, it is also possible that he rose at 5:59 p.m. which will become clear.

Sabbath: Big ‘S’ or little ’s’

In Leviticus 23, when the LORD gave His ‘’appointed times’ to the Israelites, the first festival commanded is the weekly Sabbath.  It is the only ‘appointed time’ that He called ‘Sabbath’ – all of the other ‘appointed times’ were given specific names: Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Firstfruits, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets and Feast of Tabernacles.  Though several of the commanded Feasts included ‘no regular work’ like the seventh-day Sabbath, the LORD did not call them Sabbath with a Capital S.    It is only when the  Jewish tradition designated the LORD’s ‘appointed times’ as ‘sabbaths’ that confusion with the holy days began. 

For example, Leviticus 23:15 outlines the timing of the Feast of Weeks or  Pentecost, “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.”

If this verse is read with the Sabbath being the seventh-day weekly Sabbath given only 12 verses earlier, then the counting of seven full weeks would begin on the ‘day after the Sabbath’ or Sunday.   Counting this way would allow for Feast of Firstfruits to consistently fall on a ‘first day of the week’ which has tremendous prophetic significance for the Resurrection.

However, when the first day of another festival like Unleavened Bread is referred to by traditional Judaism as a sabbath, confusion  begins.  Depending on which day of the week the Unleavened Bread ‘sabbath’ falls, counting from the ’day after that sabbath’ makes  the day of Firstfruits change yearly and there is no recognition to the Feast of Firstfruits Resurrection.  Also according to Jewish tradition,  some ‘sabbaths’ are considered ‘higher’ than others; some weekly Sabbaths more important when they fall during a festival week.  Though these delineations may not be departing from God’s commands to keep His ‘appointed times,’ it does cause disunity between the Jews and the Body of Messiah regarding the celebration of  the Resurrection of  Messiah.

Yeshua followed many Jewish traditions because he was Jewish and lived as a Jewish man.  However, when those traditions nullified the commands of God, he refuted them and taught the correct view.  It would follow that if a Jewish or even Christian tradition nullified the ‘’appointed time’’ of a feast, Yeshua would celebrate it correctly and so in regards to Firstfruits, Scripture should be used over Jewish tradition.

Unleavened Bread – Day 3, Day 2, Day 1

“In the first month … on the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of matzah (Unleavened Bread); for seven days you are to eat matzah (unleavened bread).  On the first day you are to have a holy convocation; don’t do any kind of ordinary work.  Bring an offering made by fire to Adonai for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work” (Leviticus 23:6-8).

Counting backwards from the time of the Resurrection,  we need three nights and three days for grave time.

Once again, let’s use 6:00 p.m. as the beginning time for each day. 

Day 1 would be from 6:00 p.m. Saturday evening to 6:00 p.m. Friday evening.  This would be the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday), Day 3 of Unleavened Bread, Day three in the tomb.

Day 2 would be from 6:00 p.m. Friday evening to 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening.  This would be Friday,  Day 2 of Unleavened Bread, Day two in the tomb.

Day 3 would be from 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening to 6:00 p.m. Wednesday evening.  This would be Thursday,  Day 1 of Unleavened Bread, Day one in the tomb. 

Using this timeline,  Yeshua would have been put in the tomb sometime BEFORE 6:00 p.m. Wednesday evening which began the first of the prophesied three nights and days  in the tomb (Thursday,  Friday, Saturday).  As mentioned earlier, by being buried in the tomb before 6:00 p.m., three days and three nights would have him rise  sometime before the Sabbath day ended.  It was only after the Sabbath day and the command to rest that Mary and the others went to the tomb to find it empty. 

The first day of Feast of Unleavened Bread was and is considered by Jewish tradition ‘a sabbath day.’  In the year of Yeshua’s death,  this Unleavened Bread would begin, according to the three days outlined above, on Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m.  Before it began at sunset, the daytime hours were known as Preparation Day.   It was on Preparation Day of Unleavened Bread that Yeshua’s body was removed from the cross.   He needed to be buried before the start of the Unleavened Bread, ‘a special sabbath’ which began at sunset, the 15 day of the first month.

Yeshua was placed in the tomb as the unleavened, sinless bread from heaven.  He was wrapped in linen and placed in the tomb of a rich man from Jerusalem. He was in the tomb for the first three nights and days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

“There was a man named Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin.  He was a good man, a righteous man, and he had not been in agreement with either the Sanhedrin’s motivation or their action.  … This man approached Pilate and asked for Yeshua’s body.  He took it down, wrapped it in a linen sheet, and placed it in a tomb cut into the rock, that had never been used.  It was Preparation Day, and a Sabbath was about to begin” (Luke 23:50-54).

Passover

“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between sundown and complete darkness, comes the Lord’s Passover” (Leviticus 23:5).

According to the timeline, the LORD’s Passover on the ’14 day of the month’ would begin at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday evening and end at sunset,  6:00 p.m. Wednesday evening.  After sunset, between twilight on Tuesday evening and complete darkness, the Passover meal was celebrated. 

“He [Yeshua] replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My ‘appointed time’ is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house’” (Matthew 8:29).

According to Luke 22:15, Yeshua had a great desire to celebrate this  Passover seder with his disciples.   This specific Passover was God’s ‘appointed time’ for Yeshua and he had to fulfill its purpose as the Lamb of God.    

The Passover celebrated by Yeshua was only a memorial to the Passover that occurred in Egypt.  No one put on sandals or carried staffs.  No one prepared for a great exodus from Egypt into the wilderness.  No one went outside their door to sacrifice a  lamb and put its blood on their doorposts.   Israel was no longer a people enslaved by Egypt and they celebrated their freedom with a traditional meal called a seder.

The Passover seder included four cups of wine and matzah or  unleavened bread.  During this unique seder, Yeshua would turn the focus from the past to the present and future.  He used one cup of wine to offer a renewed marriage covenant to his disciples.  As they shared the cup of wine together, they became his betrothed bride.   With the second cup of wine, he took the unleavened bread and explained the bride price would be his broken body and blood.   His death would be ‘the death of the firstborn’ and his blood would bring in the new covenant promised by the prophet Jeremiah. 

Matthew records that ‘when evening came Yeshua reclined with his disciples.’ He had a lot to tell his disciples and his words are recorded in Matthew 26, Mark 14 , Luke 22, and John 14-16.  After the Passover meal, they went to the Mount of Olives.  Yeshua prayed.   He asked that the final cup of Passover be removed, but submitted to the will of His Father.  While his disciples slept,  he prayed for all who would believe in him through the testimony of his followers.    Soldiers arrive in the darkness with the high priest.  They arrest him,  take him to the Sanhedrin and to Pilate.  Before sunrise, Peter denies Yeshua three times.  The crowds want him crucified.  Yeshua is beaten, bruised, mocked, and condemned to death.  He goes to Golgotha where he is nailed to the cross and dies quickly without having any of his bones broken.

The events of the 14th day of the first month, (Tuesday evening to Wednesday evening) were completed.  Yeshua gives up his spirit with the words “It is finished.”  The Passover’s final Cup of Completion, the death of the Lamb of God, was poured out at the exact same time the priests were offering the last Passover sacrifice at the Temple before sunset on Wednesday.

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life” (Matthew 27:51-52).

Two Feasts with Matzah

“On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” (Matthew 26:17).

Though this verse suggests that Passover and Unleavened Bread start at the same time, Yeshua would have celebrated the actual dates of Passover and Unleavened Bread exclusive of Jewish tradition.  Even though unleavened bread was eaten at Passover, the two ‘’appointed times’ have different dates, memorials and purposes. 

The LORD’s Passover was the 14th day of the first month.  It began in the evening at twilight and lasted until the next evening.  Historically, the Israelites did not kill the Passover lamb and then suddenly leave Egypt.  They had to wait throughout the night for the ‘death of the firstborn’ until the next morning when they prepared to leave Egypt and plundered the Egyptians. On the fifteenth day of he first month,  Israel left Egypt.  For both festivals, unleavened bread was eaten. 

“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.  From the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the evening of the twenty-first day, you are to eat matzah” (Exodus 12:17).

Some say that Yeshua could not celebrate Passover AND be the Passover lamb at the same time, however, one must understand the sacrificial system.  Every day, there were evening, morning and afternoon sacrifices. At the evening sacrifice, the beginning of Passover, Yeshua celebrated the seder with his disciples telling him that he would be broken and bleed for them.  By the morning sacrifice, he had been arrested, judged and condemned to death.   By the final afternoon sacrifice, he had walked to Golgotha, been nailed to the cross and died. He was buried quickly before the evening sacrifice that began the Feast of  Unleavened Bread.

Because our modern-day calendar differs from the Biblical one,  Passover will fall on a different day each year.  This means there needs to be unity when celebrating the most significant event of all time, the Resurrection of Messiah on the Feast of Firstfruits.  According to Scripture, the Feast of Firstfruits must come after Passover and it has to fall on a ‘first day of the week’ after the weekly Sabbath.  It’s that simple.  If Passover falls on any day of the week except Sabbath, the following Sunday will be the Feast of Firstfruits because there is a weekly Sabbath between the two.  If Passover falls on the Sabbath, then Firstfruits is the next day. 

The Biblical Three Days and Three Nights

In the year that Yeshua died, was buried and then resurrected,  he celebrated the Passover (14th day of the first month) with his disciples on a Tuesday evening.  Tuesday, during the night, he prayed for his disciples and those who would believe in him through their testimony.    He sweat drops of blood and submitted himself to death.  He was arrested before sunrise, beaten, hung on a cross and died late afternoon Wednesday at the exact time of the final Passover sacrifice.  The Temple curtain was torn in two; many who saw the events of the darkened sun and earthquake, knew he was the Son of God. He was taken from the cross, buried before the sun set while it was still Preparation Day for Unleavened Bread.

Wednesday evening to Saturday evening, the first ‘three nights and three days’ of Unleavened Bread,  his followers mourned.  A Roman centurion pondered why he felt the earth shake and knew at that moment that Yeshua was truly the Son of God.  Mockers who had seen the sign, “The King of the Jews”  were wondering why many who had died were walking around Jerusalem.    Peter and John and the rest of the disciples went into hiding for fear of their own lives.  The women who followed Yeshua went home grieving.  They prepared spices knowing they had to wait three days until after the Sabbath to prepare Yeshua’s body. The soldiers anxiously guarded the tomb hoping no one would steal the body.  All Israel rested on the seventh-day Sabbath day according to the command.  For the followers of Messiah, it was a long three days and nights.  It seemed like an eternity.

After resting on the Sabbath, before dawn on the first day of the week,  as the time for waving the sheaf in the Temple approached, several women went to the tomb.  They carried spices and walked through a garden wondering who would roll away the huge stone.  They could hear the whoooosssshhhhhhh of the sheaves being waved back and forth by the priests at the Temple nearby.  It was the Feast of Firstfruits.    After a long, confusing, heart-wrenching week of Passover, and then a seemingly endless Sabbath, could they endure another  ‘appointed’ of God?

“Yeshua said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Whom are you looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you’re the one who carried him away, just tell me where you put him; and I’ll go and get him myself” (John 20:15).

“Yeshua said to her, “Miryam!” Turning, she cried out to him in Hebrew, “Rabbani!” (that is, “Teacher!”)   “Stop holding onto me,” Yeshua said to her, “because I haven’t yet gone back to the Father. But go to my brothers, and tell them that I am going back to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:15-17).

The sorrow of the women turned to joy at seeing Yeshua risen and alive.  They were so excited they wanted to touch their Rabbi, but he needed to return to his Father.    The women obeyed his command and went to the disciples with the amazing news that ‘He is Risen.’  While the priests in the Temple waved the firstfruits grain offering, Yeshua went to his Father and offered himself as the Firstfruits of those who are raised from the dead.  The counting of the weeks began.

Yeshua’s Last Week Chart

©2010 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author (Julie Almanrode) or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.  

For a hard copy of this blog post,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive. 

The Feast of Firstfruits – Yom Habikkurim

Sheaf Offering

“The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the LORD a lamb a year old without defect, together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil—a food offering presented to the LORD, a pleasing aroma—and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine. You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live” (Leviticus 23:9-14).

The Offerings

When Israel entered the Promised Land, they were to celebrate the day of Firstfruits by offering an individual sheaf of grain from their harvest.  The sheaf was to be waved by the priest along with a burnt offering of a lamb, a fellowship offering of fine grain mixed with olive oil and a drinking offering of wine.

For the burnt offering, a lamb without defect was presented to the LORD.  Laying hands on the animal’s head was called semichah. It implied a physical ‘leaning’ on the animal so that the weight of the person was transferred to the animal.  This was symbolic of transferring the identity of the person onto the lamb. In effect,  the lamb represented him/her before God.  The lamb was sacrificed and its blood was splattered on the sides of the Altar.  Then the lamb was completely burnt up on the Altar as a food offering and a pleasing aroma to the LORD. 

The grain offering was a free will offering.  It was to be fresh kernels, dry roasted and covered in olive oil and frankincense or, it could be a fine flour mixed with olive oil and frankincense poured over it.  A grain offering could be baked in an oven like bread, cooked on a griddle like a pancake or boiled in a pot like a dumpling. 

A hin of liquid was equal to about 1.5 gallons or 5.7 liters.   The drink offering was a quarter of a hin of wine or close to one liter – the size of a modern-day Coke.    It was to be poured out at the foot of the Altar as part of the burnt and grain offering. 

These three firstfruits offerings of the lamb, the grain, and the wine were Yeshua’s reality within the Passover that had occurred several days earlier:  the Lamb of God, his broken body and poured out blood.  These offerings were presented to God by the priest bringing individual atonement for sin.

The Sheaf of Grain

“Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them” (Psalm 126:6).

There was another offering on firstfruits, a sheaf of grain.  According to Zondervan’s Bible Dictionary, sheaves are the stalks of grain left behind by the reaper.  It is gathered by the handfuls and bound by women or children in a joyful manner.  Collected sheaves were carried by donkeys or on heavily loaded carts to the threshing floor.  Some sheaves were left behind for the poor.  The sheaves that were offered as Firstfruits were only the amount that an individual could hold or just a handful.

According to the Biblical command, a handful of sheaves from the spring harvest was to be brought to the priest.  He became the intercessor between the individual and God as he waved it before the LORD as an acceptable offering. Until the Firstfruits sheaf was accepted by God,  no one could eat any roasted or new grain.

Yeshua, the Firstfruits

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24).

In the beginning, eternal fellowship with God was cut short by sin and death.  God promised a Seed who would have victory over death and restore fellowship with Him.  In order to have a sheaf of grain, there has to be a planting of one seed.  Once put into the ground, it dies and then produces a harvest.  Yeshua is the promised Seed.  He was buried in the ground and rose to life producing a Firstfruits sheaf of grain becoming the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

“But Messiah has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Notice that he is the plural Firstfruits of those raised from the dead, not the singular.  According to the gospel of Matthew, at the moment of Yeshua’s death, when the temple curtain was torn in two, the bodies of holy people who had died were raised to life.  A Firstfruits  resurrection of the dead had occurred. 

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.  They came out of the tombs after Yeshua’s resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people” (Matthew 27:52-23).

The Day After the Sabbath

Over the centuries, confusion has developed over the meaning of the ‘day after the Sabbath’ because the first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are also called ‘sabbaths.’ God never called these days ‘sabbath’ even though He commanded complete rest.   This subtlety is a manmade tradition that has caused the Feast of Firstfruits to occur on whatever day of the week the ‘day after the sabbath’ of Unleavened Bread begins.  This rendering has blurred the tremendous differences between the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Firstfruits and put much less emphasis on the day of the Firstfruits and the resurrection of the dead.  If the sheaf were to be waved by the priest on the day after the weekly Sabbath during the week of Unleavened Bread, this would always put Firstfruits on the ‘first day of the week’ and create a powerful reality of Yeshua in another of God’s ‘appointed times.’

“When the Sabbath was over, on the first day of the week when it was still dark, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they might go anoint Yeshua’s body.  Just after sunrise, they were on the way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’ When they arrived at the tomb, they saw the stone had been removed from the entrance.  They entered, but they did not find the body of Yeshua.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered his words.  ‘Go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead….’ They told this to the apostles, but they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.  Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb.  He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Yeshua’s head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed” Matthew 28:7-10, Mark 16:1-3, Luke 24:1-8, John 20:1-8 15-16).

Yeshua’s Sheaf

“Yeshua said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (John 20:17). 

In order for the sheaf  of grain to be accepted on Yom Habikkurim, the high priest had to wave it before God. After being raised from the  dead, our High Priest, Yeshua, ascended to his Father to offer his sheaf of Firstfruits.   Once his sheaf of grain, filled with innumerable seeds was accepted, the spiritual harvest of souls could begin.  Yeshua’s family would not only include his brothers and sisters in Israel, but those brought forth in a harvest from the nations.

“…Because those whom he knew in advance, he also determined in advance would be conformed to the pattern of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers…” (Romans 8:29). 

While the priests were preparing for the Firstfruits offering in the Temple, the women found the empty tomb, met with angels, and spoke with their risen Lord.  While the women ran to tell the disciples that Yeshua was alive, the men of Israel began to offer their lambs, grain and wine.  As the individual sheaves of grain were taken by the priests, Yeshua ascended to his Father and presented himself as a sheaf offering.  As the sheaf of grain was being waved, a gentle breeze drifted throughout the Temple.  Yeshua’s offering to His Father was accepted.  The disciples entered the empty tomb and saw the strips of linen and  the cloth that had been wrapped around Yeshua’s head separate from the linen.  They knew and believed he had risen from the dead. Yom Habikkurim, the day of Firstfuits had been become reality.  It was time to begin counting the days to the celebration of the final spring harvest.

©2014 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this blog post,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.

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