Hebrew Highlights 11 – Shavuot


Shalom, this is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.


          Well, once again, its time to say Chag Semach, or Happy Holiday. Tomorrow night is the beginning of the Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot.   Shavuot is one of the three High holidays in Israel, as mentioned in DEU 16:16-17 "Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed.  Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.


          Well, there is no reason for us to approach the altar empty-handed. God has certainly blessed Israel.  Even though Israel has little annual rain fall, the Jordan River, which drains into the Sea of Galilee, is practically her only source of fresh water, and the country uses only 4% of its land for permanent crop use, her fruit is abundant and even amazing.


          Besides being totally self-sufficient in food production, other than grains, Israel exports over $3 billion worth of agricultural products each year.  These include Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, apples, apricots, grapes, bananas, avocados, spices, nuts, medicinal plants, flowers, wine, and of course many varieties of flowers.


          So, what are we supposed to do on this holiday?  DEU 16:10-12 reads, "Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as the Lord your God blesses you; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place where the Lord your God chooses to establish His name.  And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.


          In short, everyone, even the tourists, are to rejoice in God’s abundance.  As it is obvious that the Lord has abundantly blessed Israel since her restoration, let’s take a minute to look at an interesting reference.

          JER 31:12-14 "And they shall come and shout for joy on the height of Zion, And they shall be radiant over the bounty of the Lord-- Over the grain, and the new wine, and the oil, And over the young of the flock and the herd; And their life shall be like a watered garden, And they shall never languish again.   "Then the virgin shall rejoice in the dance, And the young men and the old, together, For I will turn their mourning into joy, And will comfort them, and give them joy for their sorrow.  "And I will fill the soul of the priests with abundance, And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness," declares the Lord.


          By the way, here is one case where the King James version is just slightly more literal than the New American Standard, which I usually quote. In verse 14, it says, “And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.”


          Fatness, is actually closer to the Hebrew original “dashen” than abundance.  The word for satisfied is “yisbeiu”,  The root for this word is sheen, bet, ayin.  Guess what.  The same root is used to for the number sheva, or 7, shavua, or week, and there for shavuot.  That’s right, we are back to our Holiday.  Another use for the root is the word shvua, which means oath.


          In Jer. 31, God has promised (or given His oath) to satisfy his people with fatness, which we in turn, celebrate on Shavuot.


          So, everywhere in Israel, people will be bring first fruits to festivals, picnics, and services.  These will include not only edible fruits, but songs, poems, handcrafts, and other blessings. 


          Now, you may be thinking, what about fruits of the spirit?  After all, most of you in the Christian world know the Feast of Weeks by its Greek name, Pentecost.   Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten.  But to hear about Pentecost, you’ll have to tune into tomorrow’s Hebrew Highlights.


Happy Shavuot!

Shalom, Shalom from Jerusalem.