Shavuot (Pentecost): The Feast of Weeks

Fast Facts: Shavuot (Pentecost): The Feast of Weeks
Faith(s) Judaism
Dates May 16, 2021-May 18, 2021
June 4, 2022-June 6, 2022
May 25, 2023-May 27, 2023
June 11, 2024-June 13, 2024
June 1, 2025-June 3, 2025

In Judaism, Shavuot (Hebrew), Pentecost (Greek), or the Feast of Weeks is a harvest festival that occurred 50 days after the offering of the barley sheaf during Passover (Leviticus 13:16).

Etymology and Names

This Jewish festival has been called by many names. In the Hebrew Bible it is called the "Feast of Harvest" (Exodus 12:16), the "Feast of Weeks" (Deuteronomy 16:10), and the "Day of the First-Fruits" (Numbers 27:26).

In the later literature it was called also the "closing festival" (Haggai 2:4). It is called, too, the "closing season of the Passover" to distinguish it from the seventh day of Passover and from the closing day of the Feast of Tabernacles, i.e., the end of the fruit harvest (Leviticus 23:36, Numbers 29:35, and Deuteronomy 16:8).

Shavuot and the Harvest

In Palestine, the grain harvest lasted seven weeks and was a season of gladness (Deuteronomy 16:9). It began with the harvesting of the barley during the Passover and ended with the harvesting of the wheat at Pentecost, the wheat being the last cereal to ripen. Pentecost was thus the concluding festival of the grain harvest, just as the eighth day of Tabernacles was the concluding festival of the fruit harvest.

The Feast of Weeks is the second of the three festivals to be celebrated by the altar dance of all males at the sanctuary. They are to bring to the sanctuary "the first-fruits of wheat harvest," "the first-fruits of thy labors which thou hats sown in the field." These are not offerings definitely prescribed for the community; "but with a tribute of a free-will offering of thine hand . . . shalt thou [the individual] rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou and thy son and thy daughter, . . . the Levity that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow" (Deuteronomy 16:9-12).

However, there is a regularly appointed first-fruit offering which the whole community must bring. It consists of two first-fruit loaves ("lemme hari-kari") of new meal, of two-tenths of an hyphae, baked with leaven. The loaves were to be waved; hence the name "wave-loaves". Furthermore, various animal sacrifices were enjoined, and no work was permitted. In Numbers 27:26-31, the main Pentecostal offering is one of new meal. There is also a list of grain and animal offerings differing somewhat from that in Leviticus 23:15-22. These offerings are to be made in addition to the fixed daily offering.

Shavuot in Rabbinical Literature

The festival is known in Mishnah and Talmud as "'Aẓeret". "'Aẓeret" is usually translated a "solemn assembly," meaning the congregation at the pilgrimage festivals.


  • "Jewish Encyclopedia" (in the public domain)

Article Info

Title Shavuot (Pentecost): The Feast of Weeks
Last UpdatedFebruary 16, 2021
URL religionfacts.com/shavuot
Short URLrlft.co/63
MLA Citation “Shavuot (Pentecost): The Feast of Weeks.” ReligionFacts.com. 16 Feb. 2021. Web. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022. <religionfacts.com/shavuot>