The Meaning and History of Shavu’ot

Our God is a covenant-making, covenant-keeping, and covenant-renewing God.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

Deuteronomy 7:9 


Although 6 Sivan (the day of giving of the Torah at Sinai called “Mattan Torah” in Hebrew) falls on different week days in different years, when we count the omer 50 days (7 complete weeks to the day after the seventh sabbath), the 50th day will always be on the first day of the week!

In the priestly avodah (service) at the mishkan (and later at the Temple), the 49 day countdown to the holiday is called Sefirat Omer (“Counting of the Omer”), every day of which a special blessing was recited naming exactly how many more days were left before the climactic 50th day – a Jubilee of days!

Just as a sample of the first crop of barley was waved before the altar during the festival of Firstfruits, so on Shavu’ot a sample of the first crop of the wheat harvest was brought to the priests, baked into two loaves of leavened bread (shtei halechem), and then waved (tenufah) before the altar as a concluding rite of the season. This was the only time leavened bread was used by the priests for the avodah (see Lev. 2:11

Shavuot stands in contrast to Passover that requires unleavened bread (matzah), since the two loaves of bread made from the first fruit of the wheat harvest were baked with chametz (yeast) before being "waved before the LORD" (Lev. 23:15-20). There is some uncertainty among Jewish sages regarding the meaning of the use of the otherwise forbidden leaven (Lev. 2:11), though prophetically it is a picture of the “one new man” (composed of both Jew and Gentile) before the altar of the LORD (Eph. 2:14

While the Temple was still standing, Shavuot (along with Passover and Sukkot), was one of the three pilgrim holidays (shalosh regalim) when Jews would come to Jerusalem to make a sacrifice of their crop’s first fruits. After the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, the agricultural aspect of Shavuot could no longer be observed, and the Talmudic sages later re-connected this festival with the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai during the month of Sivan (Ex. 19:1)



  • Separate us and unite us – we become set apart
  • Everlasting and build upon one another – never to be broken

 In the year of the Flood – Jubilees 6:16 “He set His bow in the cloud for a sign of the eternal covenant that her should not again be a flood on the earth to destroy it all the days of the earth.”

Jer 31:31-32 says, 

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt (leading up to Shavu’ot); forasmuch as they broke My covenant, although I was a lord over them, saith the LORD. Jer 31:33  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the LORD, I will put My law in their inward parts (vs scroll), and in their heart will I write it (vs stone); and I will be their God, and they shall be My people; 


  • Marriage – Covenant vs Contract
  • Threshhold – family and friends pass through the threshold
  • Salt – we must preserve our covenant relationships and enhance them just as salt preserves food and enhances its flavor!


  1. Adam/Edenic
  2. Noach
  3. Abraham 
  4. Moses/Israel
  5. David 
  6. Yeshua – Priestly Covenant Renewed
  7. Millennial “New Covenant” where the law is on our heart and we live it out naturally


God taught Adam about Covenant:

The Edenic covenant applies to all of humanity. It can be found in Genesis 1:28-30. In this passage, God gives mankind the mandate to procreate and God gives mankind dominion over the earth and all the animals.

Noach observed Shavu’ot:

The additional commands (Gen 9:4–6) emphasize the value of human life in particular, which further highlights the primary rationale for this covenant: preserving life on earth without further divine interruption. 

Gen 8:13-14 says, “And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.  And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried. 

Jubilees 6:1 says, “And on the New Moon of the THIRD MONTH he went forth from the ark, and built an alter on that mountain.” [Jubilees 6:15-21, 22:1].

Abraham celebrated Shavu’ot:

Jubilees 15:1 “And in the fifth year of the fourth week of this jubilee, in the THIRD MONTH, in the middle of the month, Avram celebrated the Feast of the Firstfruits of the grain harvest.

(The essence of these divine promises is that God would bless Abraham in two ways: (1) God would make him into a great nation and so make his name great, and (2) through him God would mediate blessing to others (i.e., all peoples on earth).

Significantly, each of these two aspects are subsequently ratified by covenant: (1) the national dimension of God’s promise is the focus of Gen 15, where God establishes (lit. “cuts”) “a covenant with Abram” (Gen 15:18); (2) the international dimension of the promise is apparently ignored in Gen 15, but it is alluded to in Gen 17 (cf. vv. 4–6,16), where God announces an “everlasting covenant” (Gen 17:7), the so-called “covenant of circumcision” (Acts 7:8).

Isaac born on Shavuot:

Jubilees 16:13 “And she bore a son in the THIRD MONTH and in the middle of the month, at the time of which Yah had spoken to Avaraham, on the Feast of Firstfruits of the harvest, Yitzchak was born.

Unity between brothers Isaac and Ishmael on Shavuot: Jubilees 22:1 …and it came to pass that… the year Avraham died , that Yitzchak and Ishmael came fromt eh Well of the Oath to celebrate the Feast of Shavu’ot, that is the feast of firstfruits of the the harvest, with Avraham their father and Avraham rejoiced…

Jacob/Israel celebrated Shavuot:

Jubilees 44:1 “And Israel took his journey from Haran from his house on the New Moon of the THIRD MONTH and he went on the way of the Well of the Oath, and he offered a sacrifice to the Elohim of his father Yitzchak on the seventh of the month!

Moses and b’nei Israel observed Shavu’ot:

The focus at Sinai is less on what Abraham’s descendants must do in order to inherit the land and more on how they must conduct themselves within the land as the unique nation that God intended them to be (Exod 19:5–6). In order to be God’s “treasured possession,” “kingdom of priests,” and “holy nation” (Exod 19:5–6),

Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments. –Exodus 34:28

Moses at Sinai and in Heaven:

Vs 17-21 “For this reason it is ordained and written on the heavenly tablets, that they should celebrate the Feast of Shavu’ot in this month, once a year, to renew the covenant every year

“And this whole feast was celebrated in heaven from the day of creation till the days of Noach, twenty six jubilees and five weeks of years; and Noach and his sons observed it for seven jubilees and one week of years, till the day of Noach’s death, and from the day of Noach’s death his sons did away with it until the days of Avraham, and they ate blood.

But Avraham observed it, and Yitzchak and Ya’akov and his children observed it up to your days [Moses], and in your days the children of Israel forgot it until you celebrated it anew on this mountain.

And do you command the children of Israel to observe this feast in all their generations for a commandment to them: one day in the year in this month they shall celebrate the feast.

For it is the Feast of Shavu’ot and the feast of Firstfruits of the wheat harvest; this feast is twofold and of a double nature; according to what is written and engraven concerning it, celebrate it!


Two distinct biblical Shavuot rituals were given symbolic expression. The first ritual provided for the bringing of the wave loaves of bread (“lechem tenufah“), which were to be baked from the new crop of wheat (Leviticus 23: 17). Thus one expressed his or her gratitude to God for the new crop.

The second ritual was the bikkurim, the choicest first fruits, which were required to be brought to the Sanctuary beginning with Shavuot. A special recitation is mentioned in the Bible that accompanied the presenting of the first fruits to the priest, “And you shall come to the priest that shall be in those days, and say to him, ‘I told God that I came into the land that God swore to our ancestors to give us’” (Deuteronomy 26:3). By this statement, the bearer of the bikkurim affirmed that God had kept His promise to the patriarchs that their children would be brought back to the Holy Land.

After the presentation of the basket to the priest, the bearer of the bikkurim recited as follows: “A wandering Aramean was my father, and he went down to Egypt… and the Egyptians dealt ill with us and afflicted us…and we cried to God, the God of our ancestors, and God heard our voices…and God brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with signs and wonders. And God has brought us into this place, and has given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” The biblical text includes the injunction, “And you shall rejoice in all the good that God has given you and to your house, you and the Levite and the stranger that is in the midst of you” [Deuteronomy 26:5-11]. Thus the wandering of Jacob and the enslavement of the Children of Israel are given as the background for the joy, which followed the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt.

In fact, shavu’ot was kept until the time of Moses birth 80 years before the Exodus!

In the course of time, a new theme was added to Shavuot, namely the commemoration of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. Jasher 82:6 “And in the THIRD MONTH from the children of Israel’s departure from Mitsrayim, on the sixth day thereof, Yah gave to Israel the Ten Devarim on Mount Sinai.  This celebration originated in the exilic period of Jewish history. After the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in the year 70 CE, sacrificial rites and the bikkurim ritual involving bringing first fruits to the Temple were abolished. Unlike the other two pilgrimage festivalsSukkot and Passover, both of which had distinctive rituals, the festival of Shavuot had none. The festival gained a new contemporary motif when the rabbis linked Shavuot with the theophany at Mount Sinai, when God revealed His will to Moses and the children of Israel. Chapters 19 and 20 of the Book of Exodus describe the wondrous experience of God revealing His will atop Mount Sinai. 

Exo_19:1  In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.

David born and died on Shavu’ot (Shavuot is the anniversary of King David’s birth as well as his passing:

The Davidic covenant  (see 2 Samuel 7) establishes David and his descendants as the kings of the united monarchy of Israel (see Jer. 33:17-21) (which included Judah). The Davidic covenant that there will always be a descendant of David on the Throne is an important element in Jewish messianism and Christian theology.

Yeshua – Yeshua renewed God’s Priestly covenant with Israel!  Revelation 1:6 says, “and he has made us to be a kingdom of priests to his God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Isaiah prophesies, in Isaiah 61:6 of the Milennial kingdom “

But you will be called the priests of the Lord;
You will be spoken of as ministers of our God.
You will eat the wealth of nations,
And in their riches you will boast.

A description of what the Millennial “New Covenant” looks like is prophecied in Jer. 31:31

Yeshua’s followers and Disciples observed Shavu’ot!

This holy feast, celebrated by Jesus and the Apostles, was followed seven weeks later with Shavu’ot (called Pentecost in Greek which refers to the 50th day of Counting the Omer up to Shavu’ot), from the day after the Sabbath after Passover. Among the Jews of ancient times, Pentecost served a dual purpose: it was a festival of the first fruits to be offered to God and it also celebrated the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai.



I encourage you this year to…

Walk in knowledge of all previous covenants, and yet seek for a new revelation…

To have Yah’s law of love in your inward parts (vs scroll), and in your heart write it (internalize God’s word); and I will be their God, and they shall be My people; 

  • Marriage – – Covenant vs Contract
  • Threshold – family and friends pass through the threshold
  • Salt – we must preserve our covenant relationships and enhance them just as salt preserves food and enhances its flavor!

Meditate on the deeper meaning of each of the HISTORICAL COVENANTS:

  1. Adam
  2. Noach
  3. Abraha
  4. Moses/Israel
  5. David 
  6. Yeshua
  7. and the New Covenant of having Torah written upon your heart

But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

Psalm 103:17-18


We hold an annual Shavuot barbecue potluck picnic where food, fun, family, and fellowship all come together and reread the Ten Commandments given on this special day, and have a time a fellowship to learn about God’s Covenant with His people, teach how to recite the Amidah prayer which unites us, and then provide an opportunity for those who want to go through the Mikvah and rededicate themselves to the Covenant on the Covenant day!  All are invited to join us!

Things we do…

  • Renew our covenant relationship with YHVH
  • Wave the wheat loaves before the LORD
  • Potluck lunch and Barbeque
  • Fellowship
  • Teachings
  • Opportunity for Mikveh Baptism

Email or call for this year’s location.

Wishing everyone a very blessed and meaningful Shavuot this year!  To learn more about Shavu’ot please enjoy the video teaching above!

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Teaching with video and audio and illustrations by Rabbi Isaac. ©Assembly of Called-Out Believers.
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