Why does the waving of the sheaf after the Sabbath, mentioned in Leviticus 23:11, have to be directly related to Passover?


Email Received:

My problem is that I don't understand why the Feast of Firstfruits, when the sheaf is waved before the Lord on the day after the Sabbath, must be during Passover week. Why does the Sabbath mentioned in Leviticus 23:11 have to be directly related to Passover?

It seems to me that verse 9 is separated in thought from verses 4-8 just like verse 23, talking about the Feast of Trumpets. is not directly related to verses15-22 which talk about the Feast of Weeks. The transitional verses, 23 and 9 are identical, both in the English NIV and the Hebrew, and both seem to be introducing a subject independent of the one previously discussed.

I realize the feasts in chapter 23 are covered in order but why would we assume that the first harvest of the year would be during Passover or Unleavened Bread? The wording seems to indicate to me that it is not always going to be at the exact time of passover but probably some time after that.

Leviticus 23:10 (NIV) says "When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest...." So the firstfruits would be brought to the Lord and waved before Him on the Sunday following the first Sabbath after the firstfruits were harvested, but not necessarily during the time of Passover or Unleavened Bread.

Thank you again for taking the time to read this. Any light you could shed would be greatly appreciated!


Tedís Response:

I can understand how that could raise a question in your mind. The missing link is that there were three times of the year when all the men of Israel were supposed to meet in one place: during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:16). Each of these had a specific harvest associated with it:

Feast of Unleavened Bread ó barley harvest
Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) ó wheat harvest
Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) ó grape harvest

These are the times of year that each of these crops ripened in Israel (which still is true). In the early spring, the barley ripened and was harvested. Then, a few weeks later, the wheat ripened and was harvested. This can be seen in Exodus 9:31,32, when the ripened barley was destroyed in the plague of hail that God sent on Egypt, but the wheat was not destroyed because it ripened later.

If you look at the word "Aviv" (as in the month during which the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread takes place) on Wikipedia, it describes how this is when the barley was gathered:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aviv

Although it doesn't specifically say so in Leviticus 23:10,11, the grain in question was barley. It was to be harvested and brought before the Lord on the day after the Sabbath during the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

There is a division in people's thinking pertaining to which "Sabbath" is being considered in Leviticus 23:11. Most orthodox Jews (and even some Christians) seem to believe that this is referring to the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is a special or high Sabbath. Others, such as myself, am convinced that it is referring to the regular weekly Sabbath during that week. Here is an email response I wrote to someone else about that topic: How do you calculate the timing of Shavuot or Pentecost?

Those who feel that "Sabbath" in Leviticus 23:11 is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Aviv 15, always place the Feast of Firstfruits the following day, Aviv 16. The way I count it, though, using the weekly Sabbath, the Feast of Firstfruits is not on the same date each year. However, it always is on the first day of the week, which is the day after the seventh-day Sabbath and was the day Jesus rose from the dead as the firstfruits of all who will follow (1 Corinthians 15:20). Incidentally, I believe that Jesus was crucified on Good Thursday, not Good Friday.


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