On Sunday June 5 2022, (6th day of Hebrew month of Sivan), the holiday of “Shavuot” (lit. “Weeks”) will be celebrated in Israel.
Shavuot is one of the 3 Pilgrim Festivals (Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot).
This one-day holiday is mentioned in the Bible with several different names:
- “Shavuot” (lit. “Weeks”)
- Chag ha-Qazir (Harvest Feast)
- Yom ha-Bikkurim (“Day of the First Fruits”)
During rabbinic times the festival became associated with the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.
The events of giving of the Law started on the first day of the month of Sivan:
“On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai” (Exodus 19,1).
According to Jewish tradition the Giving itself took place 50 days after the Exodus, on the 6th day of the month of Sivan, the date of the holiday of Shavuot.
The giving of the Law is often referred to in the Bible as the “Covenant” between God and the People of Israel. Therefore, the month of Sivan and the holiday of Shavuot became appropriate times for making covenants. In Chronicles 2 (15, 10) we read about a covenant that took place some 500 years later:
“They assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign... They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul”
The Christian equivalent of the giving of the Law to the People of Israel is the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles. It is not a coincidence that the two events are similarly dated (Shavuot 50 days after Passover, Pentecost 50 days after Easter) and similarly described:
“Then Moses led the people… and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire... As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder…” (Exodus 19, 17)
“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” (Acts 2,1)
Both events represent a divine call, calling us to be better people and make the world a better place deserving the divine revelation. May we get to fulfill this divine call…