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The Festival of Shavuot

Shavuot, which means "weeks," refers to the timing of the festival, which is held exactly seven weeks after Passover  Shavuot is known also as Yom Habikkurim, or "the Day of the First Fruits," because it is the time the farmers of Israel would bring their first harvest to Jerusalem as a token of thanksgiving. The farmers of Israel would begin their spring harvests with the barley crop at Passover. The harvest continued for seven weeks as the other crops and fruits began to ripen. As each fruit ripened, the first of each type would not be eaten but instead the farmer would tie a ribbon around the branch. This ribbon signified that these fruits were Bikkurim, or “first fruits.”

At Shavuot the farmers would gather the Bikkurim into baskets and bring them to the city of Jerusalem where they would be eaten in the holy city. The farmers living close to Jerusalem would bring fresh fruits, while those who had to travel a long distance carried dried raisins and figs. This joyful occasion was celebrated with the music of fifes, timbres, and drums. As the pilgrims approached the city walls the inhabitants of the city greeted them, and sometimes the King himself would join the procession to the Temple Mount. The Bikkurim custom is still practiced today, after a fashion, when farmers bring produce to Jerusalem for the Jerusalem Day parade. This year they brought in 80 tons of produce, which was later distributed to the poor. 

Shavuot also commemorates the anniversary of the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai(Exodus 20:1-17). In the Church, Shavuot is known as the Feast of Pentecost, which marked the birthday of the Church, described in Acts 2. “Pentecost” is the 50th day after Passover. Today in Israel the messianic believers constitute the “first fruits” of a nation that will someday soon come to recognize her Messiah.

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