The Biblical names of Shavuot
The first name is Hag Hashavuot, which means the “Feast of Weeks.” This is its common Old Testament name (Ex. 34:22; Deut. 16:10). It is called the Feast of Weeks, because it took place seven weeks plus one day after First-fruits or, by some reckoning, seven weeks plus one day after the Feast of First-fruits.
A second name is Hag Hakatzir, which means the “Feast of Harvest” (Ex. 23:16), because this feast marked the end of the spring harvest season.
The third name is Yom Habikkurim, which means the “Day of the Firstfruits” (Num 28:26), because it also marked the time of the first-fruits of the summer harvest.
The fourth name is Hag Habikkurim, which means the “Feast of Firstfruits.” This is a rabbinic name not found in Scripture. It became known as the Feast of First-fruits because, at this time, the first-fruits of the wheat and the barley harvests were offered.
The fifth name is Hag Atzeret, which means the “Closing Festival.” This, too, is a rabbinic or Talmudic name. While this term is found in the Bible, it is not used for the Feast of Weeks. This expression is used in Deuteronomy 16:8 where it speaks of the seventh day of the Passover. It is also found in Leviticus 23:39, which speaks of the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles. In the Bible, it is used for either the Feasts of Passover or Tabernacles, but in rabbinic literature, it is used for the Feast of Weeks. This became the rabbinic name because it marked the end of the first cycle of festivals.
The sixth name is Atzeret Shel Pesach which means the “Closing Season of the Passover.” This, too, is strictly a rabbinic name. It is known by this name because it is the last feast of the first cycle of festivals that began with Passover.
The seventh name is Zman Matan Torah, which means the “Season or the Time of the Giving of the Law.” This, too, is a rabbinic name based on the Jewish tradition that the Law of Moses was given to Israel on this occasion.
And the eighth name is the “Day of Pentecost.” This is its New Testament Greek name (Acts 2:1; 20:16; I Cor. 16:8). The word Pentecost comes from the Greek word meaning “fifty.” Because this feast came fifty days after the Feast of Passover, it became known as the Feast of Pentecost.
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