How to count the Omer and celebrate Shavuot

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feast of weeksShavuot is the forth feast of seven in YHVH’s annual cycle. We have not been given a date for this feast, but are commanded to count towards this special day. The purpose of this article is to attain an understanding as to what Abba YHVH expects of us in the observance of this feast, but also to search out some of the wonderful lessons we learn through the counting towards this feast and the observance of it.

This feast is also known as the Feast of Weeks, Pentecost or the Feast of Proclamation. I would like to refer you to a page on this site titled “Are you willing to be transformed?.” Included on this page is an article written by First Fruits of Zion, giving us a basic understanding of the purpose of celebrating the feasts. It forms a very good foundation, but more so, shows us in a very practical way how Abba YHVH uses His feasts to help us grow spiritually. I can really recommend it. It is still true in our lives after many years!

We shall commence this study by looking at where we are to celebrate Shavuot.

Where are we to celebrate this feast?

The feast of Shavuot is a pilgrimage feast. We are commanded to go up to Jerusalem for this feast. We have written a detailed article about the Pilgrimage feasts, which you can read if you want to learn more about this.

Exodus 34:22–24
22 “You shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks, that is, the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year. 23 “Three times a year all your males are to appear before YHVH Elohim, the Elohim of Israel. 24 “For I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your borders, and no man shall covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before YHVH your Elohim.

When do we celebrate this feast?

Leviticus 23:15–16
15 ‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. 16 ‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord.

Deuteronomy 16:9
9 “You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain.

When you read the Scriptures carefully, it is interesting to note that there are fixed dates for all the mo’adim (appointed times) except for the Feasts of First Fruits and Shavuot. Abba YHVH did not give us specific dates for these festivals, but rather wants us to count towards it. Furthermore, both First Fruits and Shavuot are reliant on the sighting of the new moon and the barley being abib thus, determining the first day of the first month (Aviv). (You can read more about the feast of First fruits and the abib barley in the linked articles.) These two events are determined by YHVH. From this we can already deduce that there are some very significant reasons for this.

The counting towards Shavuot

The counting towards Shavuot is traditionally known as the counting of the omer. However, according to Scripture, we are commanded to count the weeks (Deut 16:9) and the days (Lev 23:16), towards the day of Shavuot. There is no specific mention of a counting of a “omer” as such.

Conversely, there are some good explanations as to why it is referred to as the counting of the omer. We shall get to it further along in the article, but what exactly is an omer?

What is an Omer?

Here is a very well written answer to the question “what is an omer?” by Ron Edmondson:wheat_small

“Have you ever read a word or phrase in the Bible and it kind of caused you to ask….”Say what?” Well, that’s what the word “omer” did for me the first time I read it.

I had been eagerly reading the account of Moses and the Israelites on their journey to the promised land. God had provided for them each step of the way. Each morning they had their manna (bread), and in the evening they were provided quail. Now, I know that manna is a crisp and sweet tasting flaky bread type food, because the Bible tells me so.

But, what is an omer? What type of measurement is that? Moses, the writer of Exodus, tells us that each day the people were given an “omer” of manna. Okay, now just how much is that?

So, at the end of the 16th chapter, after continuing in my confusion, I read an answer: An omer is one tenth of an ephah! Well, of course it is…thank you very much! Problem solved.

Which begs another question………WHAT’S AN EPHAH?

But, you know, the answer I think lies more in what I don’t know than it does in what I do. You see, it doesn’t really matter! What matters is that the omer was just enough! It was all they needed for the day. No more…and no less!

And, you know what the best news of the day is? God’s word promises to His children today is that He will still provide for us our “omer”!

Now, I really don’t know how much that will be for you today….or for me…but I know this……..it will be just enough!”

<http://www.ronedmondson.com/2010/06/an-omer-is-one-tenth-an-ephah.html>

Now that we know what an omer is we need to see how it connects to this counting. The word עָמַר” ā∙mǎr” has a few different meanings depending on the vowel points:

6682 I. עָמַר (ʿā∙mǎr): v.; ≡ Str 6014; TWOT 1645, 1646—LN 43 (piel ptcp.) bind sheaves, i.e., one who ties grain stalks into bundles and transports out of the field (Ps 129:7+)

6683 II. עָמַר (ʿā∙mǎr): v.; ≡ Str 6014; TWOT 1645—LN 39.52–39.61 (hitp) treat as a slave, i.e., act. as a master or superior force over another, strongly implying harshness or possibly brutality in the relationship (Dt 21:14; 24:7+)

6684 I. עֹמֶר (ʿō∙měr): n.masc.; ≡ Str 6016; TWOT 1645a, 1645b—LN 3.33–3.46 sheaf, i.e., a tied bundle of cereal plant material, including both head and stalk (Lev 23:10, 11, 12, 15; Dt 24:19; Ru 2:7, 15; Job 24:10+), note: the sheaf was bundled for transport, processing, or other kinds of handling, see also domain LN 18.12–18.23

6685 II. עֹמֶר (ʿō∙měr): n.masc.; ≡ Str 6016; TWOT 1645b—LN 81.20–81.24 omer, i.e., a dry measure of food stuffs such as manna or grain, reckoned at 1/10th of an ephah or about a two quart measure (Ex 16:16, 18, 22, 32, 33, 36+)
Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Why “count the omer”?

If we look at the word counting we see it can signify more than a physical numbering: “In Ps. 56:8 the word counting signifies “taking account of,” or being aware and concerned about each detail of”
Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W. (1996). Vol. 1: Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (163). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.

The answer to the question: “Why do we count the omer?” is multi-faceted. There are at least three possible explanations:

From an omer to an omer

· Firstly, on the Feast of First Fruits a wave offering was to be presented of a sheaf of the first fruits of the harvest. The Hebrew word for a sheaf is omer.

Leviticus 23:10–11
10 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 ‘He shall wave the sheaf before YHVH for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.

Then on Shavuot, another first fruits offering is presented:

Leviticus 23:17
17 ‘You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to YHVH.

Two-tenths of an ephah is equal to two omers, two loaves of bread made of one omer of fine flour each. The counting towards Shavuot is from one omer to another.

The omer, our provision

· The second connection is the amount of manna that was gathered each day. The Israelites were told, before receiving manna for the first time, that they were to gather one omer per person. This was their daily provision. Although manna was first given on the 15th day of the second month after the exodus, this is nonetheless a beautiful way of seeing this, as we are reminded of YHVH’s provision for us each day. A friend of mine, on facebook, counts and shares her blessings every day of the counting of the omer. This is an excellent way, as we teach ourselves to look for YHVH’s blessings and His provision each day.

Exodus 16:16–18
16 “This is what YHVH has commanded, ‘Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.’ ” 17 The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. 18 When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat.

“HE wants us to DAILY remember that our food and provision is coming from HIM so HE says to count the “amount” of miraculous MANNA HE gave each Israelite and adopted stranger each day after the Exodus throughout the 40 years. The OMER measuring 2.2 liters is the amount of food needed for a person to be properly nourished for a DAY.

The main reason to REMEMBER to count the OMER for 50 days is that it was not earned by wages, provided for by slave owners, or harvested from their own hand-worked gardens. Yehovah wants us to realize we are totally under HIS care, and since we have just put away sin during the Days of Unleavened Bread and are striving for righteousness, preparing to become the BRIDE of Yeshua ,HE wants us to stay focused on the job ahead and on SHAVUOT, which is the annual rehearsal of the betrothal. If we can stay focused and avoid paying attention to Satan’s distractions we will really be prepared to properly observe Pentecost(Shavuot) ”
Ellis Wiley

Remember that you were a slave

· The third possible explanation could be found if we look at the other meanings of the word. By changing the vowel points we get the word “ā∙mǎr” which means: “treat as a slave, strongly implying harshness or possibly brutality in the relationship.” We are commanded in Deut 16:12 to remember that we were slaves in Egypt. Could that remembering be seen as a sort of “counting”? We have seen that counting can signify “taking account of,” or being aware and concerned about each detail of

you shall rejoice before YHVH your Elohim, 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 YHVH your Elohim chooses to establish His name. 12 You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes” Deut 16:11-12

You may wonder where we are going with this…

We have recently celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread, removing all leaven, symbolic of sin or the potential to sin, from our lives. We spiritually left Egypt, just as Israel physically did. We should, as we count each day towards Shavuot, be aware of our deliverance from our Egypt – slavery to sin. We should, every day, consider the provision and the blessings we receive, the greatest being our salvation through Y’shua our Messiah.

When does the count start?

We should start the count, according to Scripture, on the day after the weekly Sabbath. This is important for two reasons:

  • it would always be on a different date; if you were to start the count on the first day after the Sabbath of Unleavened bread, it would always fall on the 6th of Sivan, therefor making counting unnecessary ( this is the rabbinic way)
  • the 50th day would fall on a first day after a Sabbath as it is commanded in Scripture

Leviticus 23:15–16
15 ‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. 16 ‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to YHVH.

Here is an example of the counting in a year in which the first day if Unleavened bread falls on a Wednesday.

shavout_calendar_karaite_korner

http://www.karaite-korner.org/shavuot.shtml

Shavuot and the Jubilee year

We find a parallel for the counting of the omer in the counting of the Sabbatical and Jubilee cycles. The Jubilee year is the fiftieth year after counting seven weeks of years, whereas Shavuot is the fiftieth day after counting seven weeks of days.

There are actually many parallels between the Jubilee year and Shavuot.

Shavuot

Jubilee year

We are to count towards Shavuot (Lev 23:15) We are to count towards the Jubilee year (Lev 25:8)
We count seven weeks of days (7 weeks or 49 days)(Lev23:15) We count seven weeks of years – seven Sabbatical cycles or 49 years (Lev 25:8)
Shavuot is on the fiftieth day and also the first day of the week (Lev 23:16) The Jubilee is the fiftieth year and also the first year of the next Sabbatical cycle (Lev 25:10).The cycles would otherwise be erratic, some cycles having eight years. That would be breaking Scripture, because a sabbatical cycle could only have seven years, never eight (Lev 25:3-4).
Shavuot is a Sabbath (Lev 23:21) The Jubilee is a Sabbath year (Lev 25:11)
You are to make a proclamation (Lev 23:21) You shall proclaim a release (Lev 25:10)
We may, in future, be starting or concluding our return to the land on Shavuot Everybody is to return to his own property and to his own family (Lev 25:10)

The Jubilee year is a year of release, a year of liberty!

The word release:

2002 III. דְּרֹור (derôr): n.[masc.]; ≡ Str 1865; TWOT 454b—LN 37.127–37.138 release, freedom, i.e., liberty due to no longer being a captive, indentured servant, or slave
Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

How do we celebrate this feast?

Leviticus 23:15–22
15 ‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. 16 ‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to YHVH. 17 ‘You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to YHVH. 18 ‘Along with the bread you shall present seven one year old male lambs without defect, and a bull of the herd and two rams; they are to be a burnt offering to YHVH, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to YHVH. 19 ‘You shall also offer one male goat for a sin offering and two male lambs one year old for a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20 ‘The priest shall then wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering with two lambs before YHVH; they are to be holy to YHVH for the priest. 21 ‘On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations. 22 ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am YHVH your Elohim.’ ”

Numbers 28:26
26 ‘Also on the day of the first fruits, when you present a new grain offering to YHVH in your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work.

Deuteronomy 16:9–12
9 “You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. 10 “Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to YHVH your Elohim with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as YHVH your Elohim blesses you; 11 and you shall rejoice before YHVH your Elohim, 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 YHVH your Elohim chooses to establish His name. 12You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.

The ten commandments of Shavuot:

  1. Bring two loaves of bread for a wave offering
  2. Offer seven one-year-old lambs, a bull, two rams, one male goat and two male lambs. These offerings were to be done in the Temple; we don’t have a Temple therefor, no offerings.
  3. Make a proclamation (we shall look at this in more detail later )
  4. Have a holy convocation
  5. Do not do any laborious work. No servile work is to be performed but, food preparation is permitted on this day (Ex 12:16; Lev 23:7)
  6. Observe this perpetually in all your dwelling places, throughout your generations
  7. Do not to reap the corners of your field, but leave it for the needy and the alien.
  8. Rejoice before YHVH, sharing with your household and those in need, the Levite, stranger, widow and the orphan
  9. Go to the place where YHVH chooses to establish His name.
  10. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt.

The instructions for Shavuot are quite straight-forward and easy to understand. However, the making of the proclamation is something we could explore more.

Shavuot the Feast of Proclamation

Shavuot is also known as the Feast of Proclamation, partly because it is taught, that the Torah was proclaimed by YHVH on this day. Aside from that, we are commanded to make a proclamation as part of the specific instructions for Shavuot. Two other times in Leviticus 23 are we commanded to proclaim the appointed days, but these times are not as specific to a feast and could therefor refer to the announcement of the feasts to the people.

In order to understand what a proclamation is, we need to look at the meaning of the word.

The Hebrew word proclaim:

qara˒ (קָרָא, 7121), “to call, call out, recite.”

  • Qara˒ may signify the “specification of a name.” (Gen. 27:36)
  • This verb also is used to indicate “calling to a specific task.” (Isa. 65:12)
  • To “call” on God’s name is to summon His aid. ( Gen. 4:26)
  • Basically, qara˒ means “to call out loudly” in order to get someone’s attention so that contact can be initiated.
  • Qara˒ may also mean “to proclaim” or “to announce,( Exod. 32:5)
  • In prophetic literature, qara˒ is a technical term for “declaring” a prophetic message:(1 Kings 13:32).
  • Another major emphasis of qara˒ is “to summon.(Gen. 12:18).
Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W. (1996). Vol. 1: Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (29–30). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson

To make a proclamation is to call out to Abba YHVH. We are to make a proclamation on this day; we are to call out to our heavenly Father and confess our sins and the sins of our fathers, our covenantal unfaithfulness. We are to return to Him and His ways, and He may proclaim a release on this fiftieth day, just like a release is proclaimed in the Jubilee year (Lev 25:10). A release from the captivity of sin and from the curses we are under. Now is the time, we must do as Nehemiah did on behalf of the people. National repentance is required! Please read Nehemiah 9:5-37, it is a beautiful and very fitting proclamation for us, even in our time.

We shall go into more detail as to the specific reasons for this proclamation in the next post “What are you proclaiming on Shavuot?

This is what each of us are to do on this day! We are to call out to Abba YHVH, confessing our iniquity and the iniquity of our fathers, our covenantal unfaithfulness. But it should not stop there! We are also to proclaim the good tidings of His salvation from this day forward! How do we do that? We are to live His Torah for all the world to see! We are His chosen ones, His set apart people!

We are to proclaim His goodness, His forgiveness and His deeds over all the earth! Thanking Him for the forgiveness He gives us through Y’shua our Redeemer!

1 Chronicles 16:8–15
8 Oh give thanks to YHVH, call (qara) upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. 9 Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders. 10 Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek YHVH be glad. 11 Seek YHVH and His strength; Seek His face continually. 12 Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth, 13 O seed of Israel His servant, Sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! 14 He is YHVH our Elohim; His judgments are in all the earth. 15 Remember His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations,

1 Chronicles 16:23–24
23 Sing to YHVH, all the earth; Proclaim (qara) good tidings of His salvation from day to day. 24 Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.

Psalm 67:1–7
1 Elohim be gracious to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us—Selah. 2 That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations. 3 Let the peoples praise You, O Elohim; Let all the peoples praise You. 4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; For You will judge the peoples with uprightness And guide the nations on the earth. Selah. 5 Let the peoples praise You, O Elohim; Let all the peoples praise You. 6 The earth has yielded its produce; Elohim, our Elohim, blesses us. 7 Elohim blesses us, That all the ends of the earth may fear Him.

Referring back to the article, “Are you willing to be transformed?” where we have placed the feasts and the Spirit of YHVH on the menorah, we have seen Shavuot, being the forth feast, the shamach or the servant, in direct relation with Y’shua, the Servant.

In the same way does the fulfillment of this feast, point to Y’shua our Bridegroom who came to teach us about servanthood.

The first fulfillment of Shavuot, a betrothal?

It is a traditional rabbinical teaching that the Torah was given on Shavuot. This is very probable, seeing that Exodus 19 states that the Torah was given in the third month. If you count 50 days from the 15th of Aviv, you will be in the third month. On this day, YHVH proclaimed His Torah to His people. He gave us His instructions written on tablets of stone.

Exodus 19:1
1 In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai.

Exodus 19:10–11
10 YHVH also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; 11 and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day YHVH will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.

The giving of the Torah is often referred to as a picture of a betrothal between YHVH (the bridegroom) and Israel (the bride).

In the ancient times, marriage consisted of two stages: the betrothal and the marriage ceremony. Being betrothed means being legally married, but not physically living together. The betrothal is entered into as soon as the marriage contract or the ketubah is agreed upon. We see this agreement made in Exodus 19:8 even before the terms were known by the people:

Exodus 19:8
8 All the people answered together and said, “All that YHVH has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the words of the people to YHVH.

Three days later the Torah or the ketubah was given to the people. The Torah was the terms of the covenant, just like a ketubah is the terms of the marriage covenant. These terms spelled out the obligations of both parties. We see these terms in Exodus 20:1-23:33. This is the book of the covenant or the ketubah.

Beautiful indeed!

The second fulfillment

It was also on this day, 50 days after Y’shua’s resurrection (the fulfillment of the feast of first fruits), that the Ruach ha Qodesh was given to the followers of Y’shua. On this day, He wrote His instructions on the tablets of the hearts of those who chose to believe in Him.

2 Corinthians 3:3
3 being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living Elohim, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

This giving of the Ruach enabled them to proclaim the gospel of Y’shua on that day and thereafter.

Acts 2:1–4
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

The future fulfillment

Maybe, and this is just speculation, Y’shua’s second coming would be on a future feast of Shavuot. The same feast that the Torah and the Ruach ha Qodesh was given. Could it be that the Living Torah, Y’shua, would come again on this feast to redeem us?

We know from Scripture that no man will know the day or the hour.

Matthew 24:36
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

The date of Shavuot is dependent on the sighting of the new moon and on the barley being abib. Who determines that? The Father does!

We wait in anticipation for that day!

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