THE TEMPLE - ITS MINISTRY AND SERVICE #15
From the book by the same name by Alfred Edersheim
THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD AND THE DAY OF PENTECOST
'And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with
one accord in one place.' - ACTS ii.1.
THE 'Feast of Unleavened Bread,' which commenced in the
Paschal night itself and lasted for seven days, derived its name
from the "Mazzoth," or unleavened cakes, which were the only
bread allowed during that week.
(Edersheim like all Pharisees Jews puts the Passover night
together with the FIRST night (days beginning in the evening) of
the feast of Unleavened Bread - a wrong theological understanding
as well as practice - see my studies on the Passover - Keith
This is called Unleavened in Scripture 'the bread of
affliction,' 1 as is commonly supposed, because its insipid and
disagreeable taste symbolised the hardship and affliction of
Egypt. But this explanation must be erroneous. It would convert
one of the most joyous festivals into an annual season of
mourning. The idea intended to be conveyed by the Scriptural term
is quite different. For, just as we should ever remember the
death of our Saviour in connection with His resurrection, so were
Israel always to remember their bondage in connection with their
deliverance. Besides, the bread of the Paschal night was not that
of affliction because it was unleavened; it was unleavened
because it had been that of affliction. For it had been Israel's
'affliction,' and a mark of their bondage and subjection to the
1 Deut. xvi.3.
be driven forth in such 'haste ' 1 as not even to have time for
leavening their bread. Hence also the prophet, when predicting
another and far more glorious deliverance, represents Israel, in
contrast to the past, as too holy to seek enrichment by the
possessions, and as too secure to be driven forth in haste by the
fear of those who had held them captives:
'Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean
thing; Go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean that bear the
vessels of Jehovah. For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by
flight; For Jehovah will go before you; and the God of Israel
will be your rereward. 2
The Passover, therefore, was not so much the remembrance of
Israel's bondage as of Israel's deliverance from that bondage,
and the bread which had originally been that of affliction,
because that of haste, now became, as it were, the bread of a new
state of existence. None of Egypt's leaven was to pervade it;
nay, all the old leaven, which served as the symbol of corruption
and of death, was to be wholly banished from their homes. They
were to be 'a new lump,' as they were 'unleavened.' 3 Thus what
had originally been the necessity of one day, became the
ordinance of a feast, bearing the sacred number of seven days. As
the cross has become to us the tree of life; as death hath been
abolished by death, and captivity been led captive by the
voluntary servitude 4 of the Lord of glory, so to Israel the
badge of former affliction became the symbol of a new and joyous
life, in which they were to
1 Deut. xvi.3; Ex. xii 33,39. 1 Cor. v.7.
2 Isa. Iii.11,12. Psa. xl.6,7.
devote themselves and all that they had unto the Lord.
The same truth is fully symbolised in the sacrifices of this
feast, and especially in the presentation of the first ripe sheaf
on the second day of the Passover. (This "wave-sheaf" on the
second day of this feast, the 16th day, was again a false
Pharisee teaching and practrice - the Sadducees in this theology
were correct in their teaching - see my studies on Pentecost -
The first day of 'unleavened bread,' or the 15th of Nisan,
was a 'holy convocation,' when neither servile nor needless work
was to be done, that only being allowed which was necessary for
the joyous observance of the festival. After the regular morning
sacrifice the public offerings were brought. These consisted, on
each of the seven days of the festive week, of two young
bullocks, one ram, and seven lambs for a burnt-offering, with
their appropriate meat-offerings; and of 'one goat for a
sin-offering, to make an atonement for you.' 1 After these
public sacrifices (for the whole congregation), the private
offerings of each individual were brought, commonly on the first
day of the feast (the 15th of Nisan), but if this had been
neglected, on any of the other days. These sacrifices were a
burnt-offering, of the value of at least one "meah" of silver 2
(= 1/3 denar, or about 2 and 1/2 d.); then, the 15th day Chagigah
3 (literally, festivity), of the value of at least two"meahs" of
silver (= 5d.); and, lastly, the so-called 'sacrifices of
joyousness,' 4 in which every one was left at liberty to offer,
according to 'the
1 Numb. xxviii.19-24.
2 In this, as in many other particulars, the teaching of Shammai
differed from that of Hillel. We have followed Hillel, whose
authority is generally recognised.
3 It is strange that the differences between the Chagigah of the
14th and that of the 15th Nisan should have been so entirely
overlooked in Kitto's Cycl. iii. 428. They are well pointed out
in Relandus' "Antiq." pp.404,405. See also the very full
statements of Saalschiitz, "Mos. Recht," pp.414. 415.
4 Deut. xxvii.7.
blessing which the Lord had given' to each. 1 Both the Chagigah
and the 'offerings of joyousness' were peace-offerings.' They
required imposition of hands, 2 sprinkling of blood, burning of
the inside fat and kidneys on the altar, and the proper setting
aside of what went to the priest, viz. the breast as a wave- and
the right shoulder as a heave-offering; 3 the difference, as we
have seen, being, that the wave-offering belonged originally to
Jehovah, who gave His portion to the priests, while the
heave-offering came to them directly from the people. The rest
was used by the offerers in their festive meals (but only during
two days and one night from the time of sacrifice). Tradition
allowed the poor, who might have many to share at their board, to
spend even less than one "meah" on their burnt-offerings, if they
added what had been saved to their peace-offerings. Things
devoted to God, such as tithes, firstlings, etc., might be used
for this purpose, and it was even lawful for priests to offer
what had come to them as priestly dues. 4
In short, it was not to be a heavy yoke of bondage, but a
joyous festival. But on one point the law was quite explicit -
the Chagigah might not be offered by any person who had
contracted Levitical defilement. 5 It was on this ground that,
when the Jews led 'Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of
judgment,' they themselves went not into the judgment-hall, lest
they should be defiled, but that they might 'eat the Passover.' 6
(Once more it completely escapes Edersheim's mind that leading
Jesus into the hall of judgment, HAD to be ON the 14th day before
He was placed on the cross, for the Pharisee Jews would partake
of the Passover lamb they killed in the late afternoon of the
14th and into the evening of the 15th. Edersheim cannot get it
straight in his mind the TIME sequence of the Gospels and of
Pharisee Passover practices - Keith Hunt)
And this brings us once more to the history of the last real
1 Deut. xvi.17.
2 On this subject also Shammai and Hillel differed. See on the
whole "Mishnah, Chag." i. and ii.
3 Lev. iii.1-5; vii.29-34.
4 "Mishnah, Chag," i. 3,4.
5 "Pes." vi.3
6 John xviii.28.
DAY OF OUR LORD'S BETRAYAL
'It was early' on the 15th day of Nisan when the Lord was
delivered into the hands of the Gentiles. In the previous night
He and His disciples had partaken of the Paschal Supper.
(See, what did I tell you, just as before, Edersheim makes it
very clear here that Jesus' trial and crucifixion was on the 15th
Sabbath day, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and
that He partook of the Passover lamb the evening before, making
that the evening of the 15th, just as the Pharisees observed it.
That whole idea of Edersheim is as mistaken and false as you
could get. Jesus was, as most "scholars" today know and admit,
crucified on the afternoon [well about noon to mid-afternoon] of
the 14th day of the first scared month - Keith Hunt)
The betrayer alone was too busy with his our Lord's plans to
finish the meal. He had, so to speak, separated from the
fellowship of Israel before he excommunicated himself from that
of Christ. While the Paschal services in the 'guestchamber' were
prolonged by the teaching and the intercession of the Master, and
when the concluding rites of that night merged in the institution
of the Lord's Supper, Judas was completing, with the chief
priests and elders, the betrayal of Jesus, and received the
'reward of iniquity.' 1 Either the impetuosity of the traitor,
or, more probably, the thought that such an opportunity might
never come to them again, decided the elders, who, till then, had
intended to delay the capture of Jesus till after the Feast, for
'fear of the multitude.' It was necessary to put aside, not only
considerations of truth and of conscience, but to violate almost
every fundamental principle of their own judicial administration.
In such a cause, however, the end would sanctify any means.
Some of their number hastily gathered the Temple guard under
its captains. A detachment of Roman soldiers under an officer 2
would readily be granted from the neighbouring fortress, Antonia,
1 Acts 1:18.
2 We derive our account from all the four Gospels. The language
of St.John (xviii.3,12) leaves no doubt that a detachment of
Roman soldiers accompanied such of the elders and priests as went
out with the Temple guard to take Jesus. There was no need to
apply for Pirate's permission (as Lange supposes) before securing
the aid of the soldiers.
avowed object was to secure a dangerous leader of rebellion and
to prevent the possibility of a popular tumult in his favour.
ARREST OF OUR LORD
A number of trusty fanatics from the populace accompanied
'the band.' They were all armed with clubs and swords, 'as
against a murderer;' and though the dazzling light of a full moon
shone on the scene, they carried torches and lamps, in case He or
His followers should hide in the recesses of the garden or escape
observation. But far other than they had expected awaited them in
'the garden.' He whom they had come to take prisoner by violent
means first overcame, and then willingly surrendered to them,
only stipulating for the freedom of His followers. They led Him
back into the city, to the Palace of the High Priest, on the
slope of Mount Zion, almost opposite to the Temple. What passed
there need not be further described, except to say, that, in
their treatment of Jesus, the Sanhedrim violated not only the law
of God, but grossly outraged every ordinance of their own
traditions. 1 Possibly the consciousness of this, almost as much
as political motives, may have influenced them in handing over
the matter to Pilate. The mere fact that they possessed not the
power of capital punishment would scarcely have restrained them
from killing Jesus, as they afterwards stoned Stephen, and would
have murdered Paul, but for the intervention of the Roman
garrison from Fort Antonia. On the other hand, if it was, at the
same time, their object to secure a public condemnation and
execution, and to awaken the susceptibilities of the civil power
1 We cannot here enter on the evidence; the fact is generally
admitted even by Jewish writers.
against the movement which Christ had initiated, it was necessary
to carry the case to Pilate. And so in that grey morning light of
the first day of unleavened bread (Edersheim here again thinks
it's the morning of the 15th day - a mistake he cannot seem to
shake - Keith Hunt) the saddest and strangest scene in Jewish
history was enacted. The chief priests and elders, and the most
fanatical of the people were gathered in Fort Antonia. From where
they stood outside the Praetorium they would, in all probability,
have a full view of the Temple buildings, just below the rocky
fort; they could see the morning sacrifice offered, and
the column of sacrificial smoke and of incense rise from the
great altar towards heaven. At any rate, even if they had not
seen the multitude that thronged the sacred buildings, they could
hear the Levites' song and the blasts of the priests' trumpets.
And now the ordinary morning service was over, and the festive
sacrifices were offered. It only remained to bring the private
burnt-offerings, and to sacrifice the Chagigah, l which they
must offer undefiled, if they were to bring it at all, or to
share in the festive meal that would afterwards ensue. And so the
strangest contradiction was enacted. They who had not hesitated
to break every law of God's and of their own making, would not
enter the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled and pre-
vented from the Chagigah! Surely, the logic of inconsistency
could go no further in punctiliously observing the letter and
violating the spirit of the law.
1 The evidence that the expression in John xviii.28, 'They went
not into the judgment-hall ... that they might eat the Passover,'
refers not to the Paschal lamb, but to the Chagigah, is
exceedingly strong, in fact, such as to have even convinced an
eminent but impartial writer (Saalschutz, "Mos. Recht," p.414).
It does seem strange that it should be either unknown to, or
ignored by, 'Christian' writers.
(It is not ignored because it was NOT true. It had nothing to do
with any so-called "chagigah" that Edersheim claims. The Greek
word used is #3957 in Strongs Concordance - it is "Pascha" - the
same word used in ALL passages of the New Testament - see in
Strong's Con. "passover." Just about nobody today teaches that
the crucifixion of Christ happened on the 15th of the month - on
a holy day - Keith Hunt)
That same afternoon of the first Passover day, when the
sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until
the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud
voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being
interpreted, My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? And Jesus
cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of
the Temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom' This,
just about the time when the evening sacrifice had been offered,
so that the incensing priest standing in the Holy Place must have
witnessed the awful sight. 1
(I doubt if anything much was being done in the Temple during
that period of darkness. It must have scared the priests and
people stiffless - Keith Hunt)
THE SHEAF OF FIRSTFRUITS
A little later on in the evening of that same day, just as
it was growing dark, a noisy throng followed delegates from the
Sanhedrim outside the city and across the brook Kedron. It was a
very different procession, and for a very different purpose, from
the small band of mourners which, just about the same time,
carried the body of the dead Saviour from the cross to the
rock-hewn tomb wherein no man had yet been laid. While the one
turned into 'the garden,' 2 perhaps to one side, the other
emerged, amidst loud demonstrations, in a field across Kedron,
which had been marked out for the purpose.
(Remember now, Edersheim is incorrectly putting these events into
the 16th day of the month - Keith Hunt)
They were to be engaged in a service most important to them.
It was probably to this circumstance that Joseph of Arimathea
owed their non-interference with his request for the body of
Jesus, and Nicodemus and the women, that they could go
1 This would not necessarily disclose a view of the Most Holy
Place if, as the Rabbis assert, there were too veils between the
Holy and the Most Holy Place.
(Once more Pharisee rabbi teachings, wrongly given - Keith Hunt)
2 John xx.15.
the last sad offices of loving mourners. The law had it, 'Ye
shall bring a sheaf [literally the omer] of the firstfruits of
your harvest unto the priest; and he shall wave the omer before
Jehovah, to be accepted for you on the morrow after the Sabbath
the priest shall wave it.' 1 This Passover-sheaf, or rather
omer, was to be accompanied by a burnt-offering of a 'he lamb,
without blemish, of the first year,' with its appropriate meat-
and drink-offering, and after it had been brought, but not till
then, fresh barley might be used and sold in the land. Now, this
Passover-sheaf was reaped in public the evening before it
was offered, and it was to witness this ceremony that the crowd
gathered around 'the elders,' who took care that all was done
according to traditionary ordinance.
(Here Edersheim starts into the Pharisees teaching of when the
"wave-sheaf" was to be cut. they cut it after the Sabbath of the
15th, during the first hour or so of the 16th. Hence with their
custom and belief there was no need to count to Pentecost as the
laws of Moses demanded. The Pharisee Pentecost would always fall
on a set calendar date - Sivan 6th. It is totally the WRONG
understanding of establishing the day for Pentecost. All fully
covered in my studies on that specific Feast - Keith Hunt)
MORROW AFTER THE SABBATH
The expression, 'the morrow after the Sabbath,' 2 has
sometimes been misunderstood as implying that the presentation of
the so-called 'first sheaf' was to be always made on the day
following the weekly Sabbath of the Passover-week. This view,
adopted by the 'Boethusians' and the Sadducees in the time of
Christ, and by the Karaite Jews and certain modern interpreters,
rests on a misinterpretation of the word 'Sabbath. 3 As in
analogous allusions to other feasts in the same chapter, it means
not the weekly Sabbath, but the day of the festival. The
testimony of Josephus, 4 of Philo, 5 and of Jewish tradition,
leaves no room to doubt that in this instance we are to
understand by the 'Sabbath' the 15th of Nisan, on whatever day of
the week it might fall.
(All that Edersheim does here by siting Josephus, Philo, and
"Jewish tradition" is back up his belief by OTHER Pharisee
teachers. They were ALL WRONG - those ... whoever Pharisee
teachers. Pentecost, by the laws of Moses, had to be counted
every year. With the Pharisee teaching there is no need to count,
for their Pentecost would always be on Sivan 6th. God said it had
to be counted. You can only count to Pentecost if you start your
counting from the day AFTER the WEEKLY Sabbath of the Feast of
Unleavened Bread. See all of my in-depth studies on Pentecost -
Already, on the 14th of Nisan, the spot whence the
first sheaf was
1 Lev. xxiii.10,11.
2 Lev. xxiii.11.
3 Lev. xxiii.24,32,39.
4 "Antiq." iii. 10,5,6.
5 "Op." ii.294.
to be reaped had been marked out by delegates from the Sanhedrim,
by tying together in bundles, while still standing, the barley
that was to be cut down. Though, for obvious reasons, it was
customary to choose for this purpose the sheltered Ashes-valley
across Kedron, there was no restriction on that point, provided
the barley had grown in an ordinary field of course in Palestine
itself - and not in garden or orchard land, and that the soil had
not been manured nor yet artificially watered. 1 When the time
for cutting the sheaf had arrived, that is, on the evening of the
15th of Nisan (even though it were a Sabbath 2), just as the sun
went down, three men, each with a sickle and basket, formally set
to work. (It was now very close to the 16th day - Keith Hunt)
But in order clearly to bring out all that was distinctive
in the ceremony, they first asked of the by-standers three times
each of these questions: 'Has the sun gone down?' 'With this
sickle?' 'Into this basket?' 'On this Sabbath (or first
Passover-day)?' - and, lastly, 'Shall I reap?' Having each
time been answered in the affirmative, they cut down barley to
the amount of one ephah, or ten omers, or three seahs, which is
equal to about three pecks and three pints of our English
(Once more I repeat, this was the Pharisee tradition, very WRONG,
hence one of the reasons Jesus said the Pharisees made null and
voiud the commandments of God by their traditions - Mark 7 -
The ears were brought into the Court of the Temple, and
thrashed out with canes or stalks, so as not to injure the corn;
then 'parched ' on a pan perforated with holes, so that each
grain might be touched by the fire, and finally exposed to the
wind. The corn thus prepared was ground in a
1 "Mishnah, Menach." viii. 1,2. The field was to be ploughed
in the autumn, and sowed seventy days before the Passover.
2 There was a controversy on this point between the Pharisees and
the Sadducees. The article in Kitto's Cycl. erroneously names the
afternoon of the 16th of Nisan as that on which the sheaf was
cut. It was really done after sunset on the 15th, which was the
beginning of the 16th of Nisan.
(Edersheim is correct with this 2nd footnote - Keith Hunt)
barley-mill, which left the hulls whole. According to some, the
flour was always successfully passed through thirteen sieves,
each closer than the other. The statement of a rival authority,
however, seems more rational - that it was only done till the
flour was sufficiently fine, 1 which was ascertained by one of
the 'Gizbarim' (treasurers) plunging his hands into it, the
sifting process being continued so long as any of the flour
adhered to the hands. 2 Though one ephah, or ten omers, of
barley was cut down, only one omer of flour, or about 5.1 pints
of our measure, was offered in the Temple on the second Paschal,
or 16th day of Nisan. The rest of the flour might be redeemed,
and used for any purpose. The omer of flour was mixed with a
'log,' or very nearly threefourths of a pint of oil, and a
handful 3 of frankincense put upon it, then waved before the
Lord, and a handful taken out and burned on the altar. The
remainder belonged to the priest. This was what is popularly,
though not very correctly, called 'the presentation of the first
or wave-sheaf' on the second day of the Passover-feast, or the
16th of Nisan.
(Remember though this was the INCORRECT time to cut and present
the wave-sheaf in the Temple, the Pharisees had the upper hand on
the Sadducees, for they had the most power and influence over the
religious people of the land. The Sadducee priests had no choice
but to accommodate the wishes of the Pharisees, as Edersheim has
previously related to us - Keith Hunt)
LAST DAY OF THE PASSOVER
Thus far the two first days. The last day of the Passover,
as the first, was a 'holy convocation,' and observed like a
The intervening days were 'minor festivals,' or Moed Katon.
The "Mishnah" (Tract. Moed Katon) lays down precise rules as to
the kind of work allowed on such days. As a general principle,
all that was necessary either for the public interest or to
prevent private loss was allowed; but no new
I "Men." vi.6,7.
2 "Me11." viii.2.
3 The term is difficult to define. The "Mishnah" (Men. ii. 2)
says, 'He stretcheth the fingers over the flat of the hand.' I
suppose, bending them inwards.
work of any kind for private or public purposes might be begun.
Thus you might irrigate dry soil, or repair works for irrigation,
but not make new ones, nor dig canals, etc. 1 It only remains to
add, that any one prevented by Levitical defilement, disability,
or distance from keeping the regular Passover, might observe what
was called 'the second,' or 'the little Passover,' exactly a
month later. 2 The Mishnah has it 3 that the second differed
from the first Passover in this - that leaven might be kept in
the house along with the unleavened bread, that the Hallel was
not sung at the Paschal Supper, and that no Chagigah was offered.
FEAST OF PENTECOST
The 'Feast of Unleavened Bread' may be said not to have
quite passed till fifty days after its commencement, when it
merged in that of Pentecost, or 'of Weeks.' According to
unanimous Jewish tradition, which was universally received
at the time of Christ, the day of Pentecost was the anniversary
of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, which the Feast of Weeks
was intended to commemorate.
(Once again it matter not what "unanimous Jewish tradition" has
to say ot teach. Such a teaching as just mentioned by Edersheim
CAN NOT BE PROVED by the Scriptures, in fact, the Scriptures
prove CONTRARY to what Jewish tradition says. And that truth is
given to you by Jesse on her Website, which is on my Website -
Thus, as the dedication of the harvest, commencing with the
presentation of the first omer on the Passover, was completed in
the thank-offering of the two wave-loaves at Pentecost, so the
memorial of Israel's deliverance appropriately terminated in that
of the giving of the Law - just as, making the highest
application of it, the Passover
1 The assertion (Kitto's "Cycl." iii. p.429), that on these days
'the lesser "Hallel" was recited, and not the great "Hallel,"'
is incorrect. Indeed, it is inconsistent with the account of the
'Hallel,' given by the same writer in another part of the Cycl.
The great 'Hallel' was never on ordinary occasions recited in the
Temple at all, and 'the lesser (?) Hallel' certainly not during
'Moed Katon' of the Passover week.
3 Numb. ix.912.
4 "Pes," ix.3.
sacrifice of the Lord Jesus may be said to have been completed in
the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. 1
Jewish tradition has it, that on the 2nd of the third month, or
Sivan, Moses had ascended the Mount. 2 that he communicated with
the people on the 3rd, 3 reascended the Mount on the 4th, 4 and
that then the people sanctified themselves on the 4th, 5th, and
6th of Sivan, on which latter day the ten commandments were
actually given them. 5
(Jewish Pharisee traditions only - it has no bearing on actual
Scriptural truth, which actually proves the giving of the Law was
NOT on Pentecost - see Jesse's study on her Website - Keith Hunt)
Accordingly the days before Pentecost were always reckoned
as the first, second, third, etc., since the presentation of the
omer. Thus Maimonides beautifully observes:
'Just as one who is expecting the most faithful of his friends is
wont to count the days and hours to his arrival, so we also count
from the omer of the day of our Exodus from Egypt to that of the
giving of the law, which was the object of our Exodus, as it is
said: "I bare you on eagle's wings, and brought you unto
Myself." And because this great manifestation did not last more
than one day, therefore we annually commemorate it only one day.'
(Maimonides was a Pharisee Jew of about the 11th century A.D.
Naturally he's going to teach the Pharisee tradition. The true
history is that the Jews needed to make Pentecost have a meaning
that would counter claim the Christian teaching that Pentecost
was the birthday of the Christian church. The Jews who rejected
Christ as Messiah Savior had to teach their children something
for the meaning of Pentecost, in opposition to what Christianity
was teaching, so their children would not be influenced by their
Christian neighbors - Keith Hunt)
Full seven weeks after the Paschal day, counting from the
presentation of the omer on the 16th of Nisan, or exactly on the
fiftieth day, 7 was the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, 'a holy
convocatio' in which 'no servile work' was to be done, 8 when
'all males' were to 'appear before Jehovah' in His sanctuary, 9
and the appointed sacrifices and offerings
1 Acts ii.
2 Ex. xix.1-3.
3 Ex. xix.7.
4 Ex. xix.8.
5 Ex. xix.10-16. Owing to the peculiarity of the Jewish
calendar, Pentecost did not always take place exactly on the 6th
Sivan. Care was taken that it should not occur on a Tuesday,
Thursday, or Saturday. (Reland. p.430.)
(But for the most part, the very most part, it does - see the
Jewish calendar over a many year period. There is no need to
count to Pentecost if following the Pharisee teaching. God
declares you must count. The Sadducees and others had it correct
on how to count to Pentecost - see my studies on this Website -
6 "More Neb," quoted in Kitto's "Cycl." iii. p.468.
7 Lev. xxiii.15,16.
8 Lev. xxiii.21; Numb. xxviii.26.
9 Ex. xxiii.14-17.
to be brought. The names, 'Feast of Weeks' 1 and 'Feast of the
Fiftieth Day,' or 'Day of Pentecost,' 2 bear reference to this
interval from the Passover. Its character is expressed by the
terms 'feast of harvest' 3 and 'day of firstfruits,' 4 while
Jewish tradition designates it as 'Chag ha Azereth,' or simply
'Azereth' (the 'feast of the conclusion,' or simply
'conclusion'), and the 'Season of the giving of our Law.'
The festive sacrifices for the day of Pentecost were,
according to Numb. xxviii.26-31, 'two young bullocks, one ram,
and seven lambs of the first year' for a burnt-offering, along
with their appropriate meat-offerings; and 'one kid of the goats'
for a sin-offering--all these, of course, irrespective of the
usual morning sacrifice. But what gave to the feast its
distinctive peculiarity was the presentation of the two loaves,
and the sacrifices which accompanied them. Though the attendance
of worshippers at the Temple may not have been so large as at the
Passover, yet tens of thousands crowded to it. 5 From the
narrative in Acts ii. we also infer that perhaps, more than at
any of the other great festivals, Jews from distant countries
came to Jerusalem, possibly from the greater facilities for
travelling which the season afforded. On the day before Pentecost
the pilgrim bands entered the Holy City, which just then lay in
the full glory of early summer. Most of the harvest all over the
country had already been reaped, 6
1 Ex. xxxiv.22; Deut. xvi.10,16; 2 Chron. viii.13.
2 Jos. "Jew. Wars," ii.3, 1; Acts ii.1; xx.16; 1 Cor. xvi.
3 x. xxiii.16.
4 Numb. xxviii.26.
5 Jos. "Antiq." xiv.13,4; xvii.10,2.
6 The "completion" of the wheat harvest throughout the land is
computed by the Rabbis at about a month later. See Relandus,
and a period of rest and enjoyment seemed before them. As the
stars shone out in the deep blue sky with the brilliancy peculiar
to an Eastern clime, the blasts of the priests' trumpets,
announcing the commencement of the feast, sounded from the Temple
mount through the delicious stillness of the summer night.
Already in the first watch the great altar was cleansed, and
immediately after midnight the Temple gates were thrown open. For
before the morning sacrifice all burnt-and peace-offerings which
the people proposed to bring at the feast had to be examined by
the officiating priesthood. Great as their number was, it must
have been a busy time, till the announcement that the morning
glow extended to Hebron put an end to all such preparations, by
giving the signal for the regular morning sacrifice. After that
the festive offerings prescribed in Numb. xxviii. 26-30 were
brought - first, the sin-offering, with proper imposition of
hands, confession of sin, and sprinkling of blood; and similarly
the burnt-offerings, with their meat-offerings. The Levites were
now chanting the 'Hallel' to the accompanying music of a single
flute, which began and ended the song, so as to give it a sort of
soft sweetness. The round, ringing treble of selected voices
from the children of Levites, who stood below their fathers, gave
richness and melody to the hymn, while the people either repeated
or responded, as on the evening of the Passover sacrifice.
THE TWO WAVE LOAVES
Then came the peculiar offering of the day--that of the two
wave-loaves, with their accompanying sacrifices. These consisted
of seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young
bullock, and two rams for burnt-offering, with their appropriate
meat-offerings; and then 'one kid of the goats for a
sin-offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of
peace-offerings:' 1 As the omer for the 16th of Nisan was of
barley, being the first ripe corn in the land, so the 'two
wave-loaves' were prepared from wheat grown in the best district
of the country under conditions similar to those already noticed
about the Passover-sheaf. Similarly, three seahs, or about three
pecks and three pints of wheat, were cut down, brought to the
Temple, thrashed like other meat-offerings, ground, and passed
through twelve sieves 2 From the flour thus obtained two omers
(or double the quantity of that at the Passover) were used for
'the two loaves;' the rest might be redeemed and used for any
purpose. Care was taken that the flour for each loaf should be
taken separately from one and a half seah, that it should be
separately kneaded with lukewarm water (like all thank-
offerings), and separately baked - the latter in the Temple
itself. The loaves were made the evening preceding the festival;
or, if that fell on the Sabbath, two evenings before. In shape
they were long and flat, and turned up, either at the edges or at
the corners. According to the "Mishnah," each loaf was four
handbreadths wide, seven long, and four fingers high, and, as it
contained one omer of flour (5.1 pints, or rather less than four
pounds' weight), the dough would weigh about five pounds and
1 Lev. xxiii.19. This offering, accompanying the wave-loaves,
has by some been confounded with the festive sacrifices of the
day, as enumerated in Numb. xxviii.27. But the two are
manifestly quite distinct.
2 In the case of the first omer it bad been thirteen sieves; but
both specifications may be regarded as Rabbinical fancifulness.
say, five pounds and a quarter of bread, or ten and a half for
the two 'wave-loaves.' 1
Contrary to the common rule of the Sanctuary, these loaves
were leavened, which, as the Mishnah informs us, 2 was the case
in all thank-offerings. The common explanation - that the wave-
loaves were leavened because they represented the ordinary food
of the people only partially accounts for this. No doubt these
wave-loaves expressed the Old Testament acknowledgment of the
truth which our Lord embodied in the prayer, 'Give us this day
our daily bread.' But this is not all. Let it be remembered that
these two loaves, with the two lambs that formed part of the same
wave-offering, were the only public peace-and-thank-offerings of
Israel; that they were accompanied by burnt-and-sin-offerings;
and that, unlike ordinary peace-offerings, they were considered
as 'most holy.' Hence they were leavened, because Israel's public
thank-offerings, even the most holy, are leavened by imperfect-
ness and sin, and they need a sin-offering. This idea of a public
thank-offering was further borne out by all the services
of the day. First, the two lambs were 'waved' while yet alive;
that is, before being made ready for use. Then, after their
sacrifice, the breast and shoulder, or principal parts of each,
were laid beside the two loaves, and 'waved' (generally towards
the east) forwards and backwards, and up and downs. 3 After
burning the fat, the flesh
1 These numbers are sufficiently accurate for general
computation. By actual experiment I find that a pint of flour
weighs about threequarters of a pound and two ounces, and that 3
and 3/4 lbs of flour, with half a teacup of barm and an ounce of
salt, yield 5 and 3/4 pounds of dough and 5 and 1/4 lbs. of
2 "Men." v.i.
3 The Rabbinical statement is, that the whole offering was to be
waved together by a priest; but that if each loaf, with one
breast and shoulder of lamb, was waved separately, it was valid.
From the weight of the mass, this must have been the common
belonged, not to the offerers, but to the priests. As in the
case of the most holy sacrifices, the sacrificial meal was to
take place within the Temple itself, nor was any part of it to be
kept beyond midnight. One of the wave-loaves and of the lambs
went to the highpriest; the other belonged to all the officiating
priesthood. Lastly, after the ceremony of the wave-loaves, the
people brought their own freewill-offerings, each as the Lord had
prospered him - the afternoon and evening being spent in the
festive meal, to which the stranger, the poor, and the Levite
were bidden as the Lord's welcome guests. On account of the
number of such sacrifices, the Feast of Weeks was generally
protracted for the greater part of a week; and this the more
readily that the offering of firstfruits also began at this
time. Lastly, as the bringing of the omer at the Passover
marked the period when new corn might be used in the land, so the
presentation of the wave-loaves that when new flour might be
brought for meat-offerings in the Sanctuary.
THE LATER SIGNIFICANCE OF PENTECOST
If Jewish tradition connected the 'Feast of Firstfruits'
with the 'Mount that might be touched,' and the 'voice of words
which they that heard entreated that the word should not be
spoken to of them any more,' we have in this respect
also 'come unto Mount Zion,' and to the better things of the New
Covenant. To us Day of Pentecost is, indeed, 'feast of first-
fruits,' and that of the giving of the better law, 'written not
in tables of stone, but on the fleshy tables of the heart,' 'with
the Spirit of the living God.' For, as the worshippers were in
the Temple, probably just as they were offering the wave-lambs
and the wavebread, the multitude heard that 'sound from heaven,
as of a mighty rushing wind,' which drew them to the house where
the apostles were gathered, there to hear 'every man in his own
language' 'the wonderful works of God.'
(Well those observing Pentecost in the truth of how to count
correctly to Pentecost, as the Sadducees of the Temple priests
had it correct, yes they would have indeed heard and been drawn
to where the apostles were gathered observing that Feast - Keith
And on that Pentecost day, from the harvest of firstfruits,
not less than three thousand souls added to the Church were
presented as a wave-offering to the Lord. The cloven tongues of
fire and the apostolic gifts of that day of firstfruits have,
indeed, long since disappeared. But the mighty rushing sound of
the Presence and Power of the Holy Ghost has gone forth to all
To be continued with "The Feast of Tabernacles"