It is important to understand that the instructions for how to count the days to Pentecost were given to those who would be doing this for the first time when Moses set down those instructions in a book which came to be a part of the Bible we have today. In one sense, we are reading history when we read how they were to count off the days. The count ties Passover and Pentecost together. Without the count, the two separate Holy Days would have less significance to each other.
If the count to Pentecost had involved a sunset-to-sunset day only, there would have been less need to count the days. The count was from a specific time of the day to the same specific time of the day, 49 days later. Furthermore, the Israelites would not have realized that Pentecost always fell on Sivan 6 the first time they did the count. They would grasp later that the reason for counting had a significance of other and greater importance than just finding the date.
When we read the scriptures, we tend to think that each word is speaking to us personally. Moses instructed the priests of Israel to count off 49 (7x7) mornings. We find this striking because we have come to see that it is always on the same day. It is obvious that God wanted them to do something which we would learn the significance of, later. The first time it was important to know that it was the 49th (7x7) morning from the wave sheaf. However, later after they had counted several times and had come to realize that it always on the same day they would understand that the counting was for something more important than just finding the date to observe Pentecost.
We begin to understand this when we realize that everything they did was for an example and lesson for those of us whom God has brought into the New Covenant.
When the first Holy Day of the Passover Season is on a weekly Sabbath, most of the Church of God keeps Pentecost on a Sunday. Some few keep it on a Monday. Later in this writing we will show why a Monday Pentecost every year is wrong.
In the year 2001, the weekly Sabbath within the days of Unleavened Bread fell on the last day of the Unleavened Bread Festival. In that year, those who follow the Hebrew Calendar kept Pentecost on Monday, May 28th. Those who follow the rule that the wave-sheaf must fall within the days of Unleavened Bread, but after a weekly Sabbath, kept Pentecost on Sunday, May 27th. They begin their count following the previous Sabbath, which is <not> in the days of Unleavened Bread in order to keep the wave sheaf during the days of Unleavened Bread. There are several problems with that method. #1) The count to Pentecost would begin on a Holy Day. It would have been illegal to harvest the barley sheaves for the firstfruits offering on a Holy Day. #2) The firstfruits would have been offered on a Holy Day, requiring the grain to be parched, beaten, ground into flour, sifted several times and then offered. A lot of work went into the preparation of the grain before it was offered as a “wave offering” the morning after it was harvested. #3) The priests would have harvested the “wave-sheaf” even before the Israelites ate the Passover, when one understands that the Passover Feast was after sunset of the 15th. The people would have been out in the fields harvesting the wave-sheaf rather than preparing the lamb for eating Passover. This conveys to us the importance of getting the correct timing for the Feast of Passover before proceeding to find the timing for Pentecost. When we understand the correct timing for Passover, we realize that it would have been necessary to act out two ceremonies at the same time, in these exception years. If one accepts a 15th Passover Feast, he must understand that this method of counting for Pentecost is wrong. #4) The Bible mentions no exceptional years for counting Pentecost, as this method requires; therefore, the adherents of this count must rely on man’s reasoning concerning what might have been correct. #5) The General Harvest of the Barley would have begun on a holyday, as the wave sheaf signaled the time for the harvest to begin – impossible.
One group kept “Pentecost” on Sunday, June 3rd in the year 2001, because they could not find any scripture that required the wave sheaf to be during the days of Unleavened Bread. While they are consistent, from one perspective, they accept without proof that the Sabbath mentioned in the count to Pentecost refers to the weekly Sabbath during the days of Unleavened Bread. Those who keep a Monday Pentecost agree with this method, so they kept their Pentecost-plus-one on June 4th.
Add to the above that many keep their own personal calendar rather than the Hebrew Calendar and the count to Pentecost confusion multiplies. Of course, unless one keeps Pentecost on Sivan 6, he can hardly say that he is following the Hebrew Calendar! All who keep Pentecost any other day are fabricating their own rules to arrive at their day of worship.
Whitsunday is the Catholic and Protestant name given for their Pentecost. It is the seventh Sunday after Easter. This is termed as the 50th day after Easter. However, as Easter is on Sunday and Whitsunday is on Sunday, it must include Easter Sunday in the count to arrive at day 50.
The name Whitsunday, originally known as White Sunday because of the practice of those baptized on their “Pentecost” who wore white garments for a week after their baptism, later became Whitsunday – a shortened form for White Sunday.
Easter is on the first Sunday following the full moon, that occurs on or next after March 21. In most years, those who keep a Sunday Pentecost will be keeping the same day as Whitsunday. In order to arrive at this date the Catholics followed the Sadducees in their belief that the count to Pentecost began with the day following the weekly Sabbath in the days of Unleavened Bread. The reason the Catholics followed this arrangement was that it worked well with their belief that the Messiah rose from the dead on a Sunday. (For a better understanding of when Christ rose from the grave, read our book: “When did the Crucifixion and Resurrection Occur?”)
Paul Was A Pharisee!
The Messiah said that the Jews, of His day, were to observe what the Pharisees told them to observe! One should not ignore these instructions. Furthermore, one should not follow the instructions of the Sadducees, as the Catholics do in reference to the timing of their Pentecost.
Matthew 23:1 Then spake Jesus (Yahshua) to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not you after their works: for they say, and do not.
Let us give one small observation about the Pharisees. Today we hear references to a person being legalistic, like the Pharisees. The Pharisees were like those today who “say and do not”. The Pharisees liked to talk religion but they did not like to do religion! Those who speak of the abrogation of the law, who say we do not have to do anything except believe, are hypocrites like the Pharisees. They have a “say and do not” religion! The Pharisees were not legalistic; they were hypocritical. Nevertheless, they loved to tell other people how to do what was right. They knew what was right; they just did not want to do it.
The Pharisees and the Sadducees were deadlocked against one another on the matter of when to observe Pentecost. The Pharisees said that one determined Pentecost based on the count beginning after the first Holy Day of Unleavened Bread. Why would The Messiah admonish the people to follow what the Pharisees said if they were wrong in this matter – without making any correction of their error?
Because we have thought that the count is to find out what day we are to observe Pentecost, we have focused on “from when to count”. However, when we realize that the count has a greater importance we can accept the instructions of the Pharisees as the Messiah told us to do and concentrate on the count rather than when to begin the count.
Paul the Apostle who wrote more of the New Testament than any other one man was a Pharisee taught at the feet of Gamaliel who was in the council, apparently the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem.
Paul says that the Pharisees were the strictest sect of the Jewish religion. Moreover, as touching the law, the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, Paul lived according to the understanding of the Pharisees.
Acts 22:3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city (Jerusalem) at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law (torah) of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as you all are this day.
Acts 5:34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
Acts 23:6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
Acts 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I (Paul) lived a Pharisee.
Philippians 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
Paul informs us that he kept the law blamelessly and lived his life as a Pharisee but he never tells us that the Pharisees were wrong in the matter of Pentecost.
Philippians 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteous- ness, which is in the law, blameless.
Now, ask yourself the following question, “Which day did Paul observe Pentecost?” Did Paul follow the Sadducees in this one matter? If you know anything about the animosity between the Pharisees and the Sadducees as a result of their interpretation of the Scriptures you have your answer. Notice in the above scriptures that Paul, realizing that the crowd was part Sadducees and part Pharisees only had to bring out a doctrine that the Sadducees did not understand, as did the Pharisees, in order to divide the crowd! The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection! Paul told the crowd, “I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.” If one is going to keep Pentecost according to the Sadducees, he should explain why Paul was a Pharisee! Furthermore, here Paul continues to refer to himself as a Pharisee, after his conversion. We never find Paul apologizing for this assertion!
Pentecost In The Septuagint
Pentecost is on the fiftieth day (Sivan 6) after the Passover Feast or first High Day of Unleavened Bread, as understood by the Pharisees of the Messiah's day. Therefore, the count would have to find importance in something else besides arriving at the date.
It is interesting to note how the Septuagint renders these verses. Verse 11 of Leviticus chapter 23, specifically says that the wave-sheaf was waved on the "morrow" after the first day! This is exactly the understanding of the Pharisees during the time of the Messiah when He said that we were to observe <all> that the Pharisees told us to observe! The Hebrew word from which “On the morrow after” is translated does not mean “on the morrow of” but “on the morrow after”. We have shown that clearly in our book on the Passover. The Hebrew word for “morrow” has the nuance of “after” in it.
LXXE Leviticus 23:11 "and he shall lift up the sheaf (omer) before the Lord, to be accepted for you. On the morrow of (after) the first day the priest shall lift it up."
The Septuagint translates the words Sabbaths and Sabbath as weeks and week, in Leviticus 23: 15-16. Furthermore, the way the English version of the Septuagint uses the word <after> in the following passage, supports the commentators’ conclusion that “on the morrow after” is the more correct translation in verse 11.
LXXE Leviticus 23:15-16, "And you shall number to yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day on which you shall offer the sheaf (omer) of the heave- offering, seven full weeks (septenaries): until the morrow after the last week (septenary) you shall number fifty days, and shall bring a new meat (meal)-offering to the Lord."
Perhaps it would be good to ask ourselves why we have the Septuagint. Why was it important for God to preserve another translation of the Old Testament? God gave the Jews the job of keeping the oracles. The Jews translated the Septuagint from Hebrew into Greek in about 250BC. Some scholars indicate that the Masoretic text came into existence during the second century AD. However, other scholars indicate that the development of the Masoretic text was between 600-900AD. Therefore, the Septuagint is a minimum of 450 years older than the Masoretic text; and it came into existence before the coming of Christ to Judea, as a human. This is important from the standpoint of bias against an unaccepted Messiah by the Jews who developed the Masoretic text, after the time of Christ.
There is value in both of these Old Testament Bibles. As the Masoretic Manuscripts are in the original language of the Old Testament’s creation, it gives us nuances in Hebrew that we cannot find elsewhere. Of course, the existing manuscripts are copies, not the originals. It is unfortunate that the Masoretic scholars had the ancient copies of the Hebrew Scriptures burned –doing away with our ability to check their work.
The value of the Greek Septuagint is that it is all we have as an Old Testament from a time before the coming of The Messiah. Of course, the Samaritans do have their copy of the Torah. However, the Jews’ translation of the Septuagint Old Testament, from Hebrew to Greek, is readily available to us today in an English translation. Some commentators indicate that the Septuagint was the Bible used during the time of the Messiah. They base this conclusion on New Testament quotes of the Old Testament matching those of the Septuagint closer than the Masoretic texts of today. Moreover, the Jews had not yet developed the Masoretic Texts.
This is very important because there is no Hebrew text of the Old Testament still in existence from before the time of the Messiah, readily available to us. As the Jews did not accept the Messiah, we cannot trust their rendering of certain Old Testament passages, in the Masoretic Text, that refer to the Messiah. Some works indicate that they changed several passages to keep the Old Testament from showing the veracity of the New Testament Messiah. Moreover, they have corrupted the name <Yahweh> to make it appear that God is only one being – a direct contradiction to the Elohiym of Genesis. For more information read our book, “THE HOLY SPIRIT”.
Because of the time when the Septuagint was written and the quotes of the New Testament and the Hebrew of the Masoretic, we have a check and balance system on the Old Testament. Therefore, we have an invaluable tool in the Septuagint.