Temple 201-The Ceremonies (Shavuot)-Part 16

Mount Sinai is seen as a chupah, or wedding canopy. Anciently, this was a huge tent, not like today. The bride and groom would go in the chupah for seven days. Today, a Talit (prayer shawl) is hung over the heads of the bride and groom by attaching four poles at the corners. The ancient chupah and the stay of seven days is a picture of the seven year Birth-pains when the bride and groom will be in Heaven for seven years. At Sinai, it says in Exo 19.17 that the people stood at the “foot” of the mountain. The word “foot” is the Hebrew word “tachat” and it means “under” the mountain. As a result of this, in the Midrashim there is a teaching that the mountain was “lifted up over the people” like a chupah. The teaching is, if they entered the betrothal contract and the covenant at Sinai, there was a betrothal and a future marriage. If they did not accept it, the mountain would fall on them and crush them. The weight of the Torah would fall on them. Yeshua alluded to this concept in Matt 21.44 where he says, “And he who falls on this stone The Messiah in repentance) will be broken to pieces, but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” Also, in Mark 11,22-23 it says, “And Yeshua answered saying to them, ‘Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted to him.'”

In Exo 19.19 we have a miracle described with a shofar. It says the sound of the shofar got louder and louder and that is not natural. This shofar alludes to the Akedah in Gen 22, or the “binding of Isaac.” We know that Isaac was spared, and the Lord provided a ram with two horns in his place. In the Midrashim, the shofar horn in Exodus came from the ram in Gen 22. But the question is, wasn’t the ram in Gen 22 offered as an Olah, totally burnt? Then where did the rams horns come from? The Midrash explains that God raised the ram up from the ashes (resurrection). Now, this is a parable to tell a story, but here is where it gets interesting. The left horn of the ram was the shofar at Sinai that signaled the betrothal at Shavuot, the first stage of a marriage. The right horn will be blown to herald the coming of Messiah for his bride for the full wedding at Rosh ha Shannah, the second stage.

In Jewish thought, there are three Shofarot. The left horn at Shavuot, the betrothal, is called the First Trump. The right horn at Rosh ha Shannah, the full marriage, is called the Last Trump. The Great Trump is blown at Yom Kippur to signal the end of the time of repentance called “Neilah” or the closing of the gates. As you can see, many make the mistake of saying that the “last trump” is the last trumpet of Revelation when it is referring to Rosh ha Shannah. Now, let’s look at a piece of halackah that has a role in biblical eschatology. Read Deut 24.1-4. What does it mean where it says “When a man takes a wife and married her.” Where it says “takes” it refers to the betrothal contract called the Shitre Erusin. Where it says “and marries her” refers to the full marriage called
“Kiddushin.” If the man divorces his wife after the full marriage and she leaves and marries another, but the second husband divorces her, the first husband cannot take her back.

Now, we know from the Scriptures that the Lord has given Israel a divorce, called a “Get” (Jer 3.8). So, can the Lord remarry Israel? Let’s see. Israel is still only in the betrothal stage. They have only come to Mount Sinai and the Shitre Erusin stage. So, if they separate, they would need a divorce (Matt 1.18-19-Joseph was considering this). A divorce was needed even in a betrothal stage. If that woman went off and married someone else, but then divorces the second, can she come back to the one she was betrothed to? Yes, because they did not reach the full marriage. This brings understanding to biblical eschatology. The Lord can remarry Israel after their divorce because they were only in the betrothal stage. He has not rejected Israel and the “church” has not replaced Israel.

Now, we are going to talk about several ceremonies at Shavuot. The first one we will deal with is called the “Bikkurim” because Shavuot is called the “Festival of First Fruits” also. In Deut 8.7-10, it talks about seven species that are brought to the Temple at Shavuot called the “Sheva Minim” (7 species). These were involved in a major ceremony, along with a second ceremony called the Shtai ha Lechem (which we will talk about later).

In the Mishnah, tractate Bikkurim 3.1-12, it tells how the Sheva Minim ceremony went. The Sheva Minim were the “first fruits” of the coming harvest and given at Shavuot, just like Israel was the first fruits of the coming harvest at Mount Sinai. Also, the believers that were filled with the Ruach ha Kodesh in Acts 2 were also the first fruits of the coming harvest and participants in what is called the First Resurrection. So, we will read Bikkurim 3.1-12 and comment as we go. We will be quoting from the Danby Mishnah, with comments in parenthesis.

3.1…How do they set apart the First Fruits? When a man goes down to his field and sees for the first time a ripe fig or a cluster of grapes or a ripe pomegranate, he binds it round with green grass (to show that it was not his but would be given to the Lord) and says, “Lo, these are First Fruits.” R. Simeon says: Even so, he should again designate them as First Fruits after they are plucked from the soil” (the crops are planted 120 days prior, and there were 120 filled with the Ruach in Acts 2).

3.2…How do they take up the First Fruits to Jerusalem? The men of the smaller towns (in the district) that belonged to the Ma’amad (standing men) gathered together in the town of the Ma’amad (the district was like a county, so they would go to the “county seat” or “town of the Ma’amad”) and spent the night in the open place of the town ( the town square, so they would not contract ritual impurity) and come not into the houses; and early in the morning the officer of the Ma’amad said, “Arise and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God (Psa 122.1-2).”

3.3…They that were near to Jerusalem brought fresh figs and grapes, and they that were afar off brought dried figs and raisins. Before them went the ox (will be a Korban Shelem), having its horns overlaid with gold and a wreath of olive leaves on its head. The flute (called the “Chalil” which means “pierced.” This word is related to the word “challah”, one of the Korban Mincha. was played before them (they are being led by the “pierced one” which alludes to Yeshua) until they drew nigh to Jerusalem (they were in a caravan and they were singing the Psalms of Ascent=Psa 120-134). When they had drawn nigh to Jerusalem (stopped in the City of David, at the Pool of Shiloach) they sent messengers before them (a delegation was sent ahead saying “The Ma’amad from such and such a place has arrived) and bedecked their First Fruits. The rulers and prefects and the treasurers from the Temple went forth to meet them. According to the honor due to them that came in used they to go forth. And all the craftsmen in Jerusalem used to rise up before them and greet them saying, “Brethren, men of such and such a place, you are welcome!”

In Part 17, we will pick up in Bikkurim 3.4 of the Mishnah and discuss the ceremony of bringing the Bikkurim to the Temple at Shavuot.

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, The Temple, Understanding the New Testament

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