” ‘From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD. From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the LORD. Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to the LORD, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings—an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. Then sacrifice one male goat for a sin offering and two lambs, each a year old, for a fellowship offering. The priest is to wave the two lambs before the LORD as a wave offering, together with the bread of the firstfruits. They are a sacred offering to the LORD for the priest. On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
” ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.’ ” Leviticus 23:15-22
The reason that the Book of Ruth (מגילת רות, Megillat Ruth) is read on Shavout is that this biblical account corresponds to the holiday both in its descriptions of the barley and wheat harvest seasons and Ruth’s desire to become a member of the Jewish people, who are defined by their acceptance of the Torah. Moreover, the lineage described at the end of the Book lists King David as Ruth’s great-grandson. According to tradition, David was born and died on Shavuot.
In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelech, his wife’s name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. Now Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband. Ruth1:1-5
Elimelech means “God is King”. Yet, when famine came to Israel, Elimelech took his wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, and went down into Moab, a heathen country where God was neither known nor worshipped. The Moabites were a despised people and forbidden to enter the assembly of the LORD.
No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, even down to the tenth generation. For they did not come to meet you with bread and water on your way when you came out of Egypt, and they hired Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim to pronounce a curse on you. Deuteronomy 23:3
Mahlon means “sickly” and Kilion means “pining away.” The two sons of Elimelech pined away, became sick and died in a heathen land.
When Naomi heard that the Lord had sent a rich harvest to the Israelite land, she decided to return to her homeland. She and both her daughters-in-laws left the place that they had been living and set out on the road that led to Judah. Naomi began to urge them to return home, saying to them, “Go, return each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord grant you mercy for the way you dealt with the dead and with me,” and she kissed them. The daughters-in-law sobbed and cried and did not want to leave her. But Orpah listened to Naomi’s advice and returned home. Orpah means “she who turns away”.
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17
Ruth means “friend and companion.”
So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. Ruth 1:19-20
Naomi means “sweet and pleasant” but now she wanted to be called Mara which means bitter. These poor woman, with no man to support them, were able to survive because the Torah provided a way for the poor to eat.
Leviticus 19:9-10 reads: “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.
Naomi and Ruth lived on the grain which Ruth gleaned from the harvested fields of a wealthy man named Boaz who happened to be from the clan of Elimelech. Ruth was an unlikely recipient of Boaz’s generosity. She was a despised Moabitess – a descendant of Lot’s incestuous relationship with his daughter, a young widow and she was poor. Boaz, however, was godly, wealthy, generous and kind. He allowed Ruth to glean in his fields, he served her lunch and he instructed his servants to give her extra grain from his fields. His generosity is a picture of God’s grace.
The LORD God rewarded Ruth for her loyalty and respectfulness towards her mother-in-law. According to Torah, the brother of a deceased childless man is required to marry his brother’s widow. She is only allowed to marry her brother-in-law. This type of marriage is known as “Levirate Marriage”. The levirate law is specified in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. The brother of a man who dies without a son had an obligation to marry the wife who was left, and “the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his brother who is dead.” The purpose of the levirate marriage ordinance was to enable a man who died before fathering an heir to obtain one and so perpetuate his name and estate. Levirate comes from the Latin word “levir” meaning husband’s brother.
Boaz married the poor Moabite Ruth. He acted as a kinsman redeemer. The law of the kinsman redeemer was given in Leviticus 25:25: “If one of your countrymen becomes poor and sells some of his property, his nearest relative is to come and redeem what his countryman has sold.
The kinsman-redeemer is a prophetic picture of our Lord Messiah Yeshua. The account of Ruth is a picture of our redemption. There were several requirements a man had to meet in order to qualify as a kinsman-redeemer. First of all, he must be a near kinsman. Second, he must be willing to redeem. Third, he must be able to redeem. Yeshua, the Son of the living God, became like us so that He could be a near kinsman. He was willing to lay down his life and redeem us with his own blood. Because He led a sinless life, He was able to redeem.
When a son was born to them, Obed, the women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! Naomi rejoiced and was Obed’s nurse. In fact Obed’s name was glorified in Israel, for he was the father of Jesse, the father of King David. Obed means “servant” or “worshipper”. Not only did Ruth, a faithful Gentile who embraced the God of Israel, become the great-grandmother of King David but Ruth is also one of four women named in the first chapter of Matthew as being in the direct line of Jesus.
Biblically, names are very significant. They reflect character, meaning, and at times were prophetic in nature. Not only are names of people in the bible significant but so are the names of the Festivals. Three separate names were used by the Hebrew Scriptures for the fourth of the Feasts of the LORD. The most common Hebrew designation for this final feast of the spring cycle of biblical festivals was Hag Hashavuot, meaning “The Feast of Weeks.”
“Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year (in the fall).” Exodus 34:22
Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the Lord your God has given you.Deuteronomy 16:9-10
Shavuot was called the Feast of Weeks because seven weeks were counted from the Feast of Firstfruits (firstfruits of the barley harvest) until observing this celebration. The count began during the 1st month of the Hebrew ceremonial calendar (Nisan) on the day after the Sabbath of the Passover week. The count continued for seven weeks until the end of the first week of the 3rd month of the Hebrew ceremonial calendar (Sivan). The counting of these days is known as Counting the Omer (in Hebrew, S’firat Ha-Omer). An omer is a Hebrew dry measure (about 5.1 pints) which was an individual’s assigned daily portion of manna.
The primary meaning of this feast was reflected in the Hebrew name, Yom Habikkurim or “the Day of Firstfruits.
” ‘On the day of firstfruits, when you present to the Lord an offering of new grain during the Feast of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.Numbers 28:26
Shavuot was the day on which the firstfruit offerings of the summer wheat crop were brought into the Temple. Seven weeks prior to Shavuot, a sheaf of barley grain was presented as a wave offering for the Feast of Firstfruits. But on this Day of Firstfruits, two loaves baked with yeast from the first fruits of the wheat harvest are presented.
The third designation, Hag Hakatzir or “the Feast of the Harvest”, reflected the fact that this festival was the official beginning of the summer harvest season.
“Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. “Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field. Exodus 23:16
The four spring Festivals of the LORD: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits and The Feast of Weeks all take place within the first three months of the Hebrew calendar. Then during the summer months there are no festivals. The fall cycle of biblical feasts do not occur until the seventh month (Tishri). The last three Festivals of the LORD: The Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement and The Feast of Tabernacles all take place four months later during the seventh month.
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:15-17
The chaff represents the unrepentant sinner, while the wheat represents the church. His barn symbolizes heaven – the eternal abode of the believer. The chaff is burned by a fire which is never quenched – the Lake of Eternal Fire. This theme is repeated in many of the Kingdom Parables.
Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” John 4:27-41
The Samaritans were a mixed-blood race comprised of colonists that the Assyrians brought into the Northern Kingdom after the Ten Tribes were taken into exile. Some intermarried with the Israelites who were left behind. Jews considered them physically and spiritually inferior. When Jesus quoted the saying, “Four more months and then the harvest” He was using a natural phenomenon to reveal spiritual truth. The wheat harvest grew during the summer months to be harvested in the fall. It would take four months from the Feast of Weeks (The Day of Firstfruits of the wheat harvest) until the Final Ingathering (Feast of Tabernacles). The fields that were ripe for harvest, a harvest of souls, were despised Samaritans. He stayed with them for two days.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 2Peter 3:8. Christ residing amongst the Samaritans for two days is symbolic of the Church Age – 2,000 years of harvest amongst the Gentiles.
In the Greek language, Shavuot was known as Pentecost meaning “fiftieth,” since it was celebrated on the fiftieth day after the Feast of Firstfruits. Jesus arose on the first day of the week (a Sunday) which was the Feast of Firstfruits. By counting seven full weeks, the forty-ninth day is on a Saturday. Adding one more day, for a total of fifty days, the day of Pentecost is again a Sunday. Both resurrection day and Pentecost are on a day after the Sabbath. Sunday is not a New Testament Sabbath. Sunday is the Lord’s Day. The Sabbath was the day of rest after the original creation. The creation was stained by sin and cursed by God. God has made us new creatures in Christ. God promises us a new heaven and a new earth. Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, spiritually is the 8th day. Eight is a number of super-abundance. The Lord’s Day is a foreshadowing of the eternal Kingdom.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Acts 2:1-6
Just as the spring cycle of biblical festivals was literally fulfilled by the First Advent: Redemption (the Passover), Sanctification (The Feast of Unleavened Bread), Resurrection (Firstfruits) and the birth of the Church (Pentecost), we can be sure that the fall cycle of biblical festivals will foreshadow the Second Coming.