Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Hag HaBikkurim

 

Hag HaBikkurim - the First Fruits, is a Holy Day very much intertwine with Passover and Shavuot. Actually there are two First Fruits days, on the first day of the Omer count one should bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of the barley harvest, but on the 50th day two loaves of baked bread (lehem) with leaven from the wheat harvest also as the first fruits. Therefore, some explanation here overlaps with the other Holy Days and more information can be gleaned from the other two Holy Days.

Leviticus 23:9-11 “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the people of Israel, and say to them, When you come to the land which I give to you, and shall reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest; And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you; on the next day after the Shabbat the priest shall wave it; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”

The question here is, which Shabbat is this? Is this Shabbat, the Shabbat of the Hag HaMatzoth Holiday, the Passover, or the regular weekly Shabbat? I guess you have to be a rabbi to conclude that it was the Passover Shabbat because it is called “the Shabbat,” with the definite article, but continuing:

Leviticus 23:15. “And you shall count from the next day after the Shabbat, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven complete Shabbats.” The 50th day is Shavuot.

So, the question would be, is Shavuot tied down to a calendar time frame, to a specific Shabbat, or to an agricultural season, which the two may not coincide due to weather variations? Because it says, “When you shall reap its harvest.” Does this “when” not imply a variable time? But, probably because the rabbis were not farmers, they decided to bring the sheaf symbolically on the day after Passover. This tradition to start counting the Omer on the day after Hag HaMatzoth dates back to the Talmudic times. This period of 50 days is called Sefirat Ha Omer “Counting of the Omer.”

The Omer count ends and it is Shavuot or Weeks, or if you prefer Greek, Pentecost (fifty):

Leviticus 23:16-22 “To the next day after the seventh Shabbat shall you count fifty days; and you shall offer a new meal offering to the Lord. You shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the first fruits to the Lord… And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering before the Lord with the two lambs; they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. And you shall proclaim on the same day, that it may be a holy gathering to you; you shall do no labor in it; it shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.” Then again we see God’s mercy and grace in verse 22: “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not make clean riddance up to the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning of your harvest; you shall leave them to the poor, and to the stranger; I am the Lord your God.”

This Holy Day is the second of the Shalosh Regalim festivals with the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and, because the people were supposed to bring of the new meal offering from the first fruits it is also called Hag HaBikkurim – the Festival of the First Fruits. Shavuot is called Atzereth (Assembly) in the Talmud, in the sense that it serves as a concluding festival to Pesach.

Therefore, Shavuot is a picture of a spiritual harvest, a harvest of the first fruits imbued with spiritual power. The first century of the common era's Shavuot was God's first harvest of those redeemed in the blood of Yeshua HaMashiah.

On Shavuot two loaves of fine ground flour baked with leaven were presented as offerings of first fruits. The symbolism of these two loaves is revealed by James (1:18) as representing the first fruits of believers. The two loaves are Jewish and Gentile believers. Even though the loaves contain leaven and leaven is a symbol of sin, it does not mean that after we become believers we still can sin but that we come to Him with our sins. God brought together the Jews and the Gentiles to form a new body, a new creation. God redeemed us from the world of sin, from the spiritual Egypt, through the shed blood of His Son, the lamb of Passover. And just as Yeshua, our Passover, was Holy and pictured as matzah, unleavened bread, without sin, so too this new creation in His body was meant to be Holy.

God destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem but He built something else to take its place — it is a spiritual Temple the Beth HaMikdash, it is the Ekklesia, where Jews and Gentiles are fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Moshiach Yeshua. Therefore, Shavuot is the fulfillment of Torah true Judaism, the hope of Jewish people and the blessing of the Gentiles so that they might come together in faith as one.

 

Weekly Scripture Reading

 

For
Shabbat

April 22 / Aviv 26, 5777

Parashah: Shemini - "Eighth Day"

— Torah:
(Vayikra) Leviticus 9:1 — 11:47

— Haftarah:
II Samuel 6:1 — 7:17

In the evening count Omer 12


This week's Parashah speaks about obedience to God. Regardless how well intentioned are our actions, or our deeds, in serving God, they pale in comparison with obedience to Him. God, first and foremost, wants us to listen to Him and to do what He asks us to do. All our good intentions are just dirty rags – “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” says the prophet Yeshayahu 64:6. “The road to perdition is paved with good intentions,” goes the saying...

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