We are talking about the ceremonies at the festival of Shavuot from the Mishnah. We are going to pick up in Bikkurim 3.4. and then begin to give other concepts associated with Shavuot and the ceremonies.
3.4…The flute was played before them (the flute player was called the “Chalil” which means pierced. So the people going up to Jerusalem were being led by the pierced one, an allusion to Yeshua in Zech 12.10 and Rev 1.7) until they reached the Temple Mount (they found this road leading up to the Temple Mount, near the pool of Shiloach (Siloam). They entered through the Beautiful Gate on the south. This gate is mentioned in Acts 3.1-8. It had domes and was very ornate. This gate has been found and this is where the man that was healed danced up the steps you can still see and very hard to do, and went up to the Temple Courts). When they reached the Temple Mount even Agrippa the king would take his basket on his shoulder and enter in as far as the Temple Court. When they reached the Temple Court, the Levites sang the song, “I will exalt thee, O Lord, for thou hast set me up and not made mine enemies to triumph over me (Psalm 30.2).”
3.5…The pigeons that were hung upon the baskets were sacrificed as Whole offerings (Olah) and what the people bore in their hands they delivered to the priests.
3.6…While the basket was yet on his shoulder a man would recite the passage from “I profess this day unto the Lord (Deut 26.3-10)”, until he reached the words “An Aramean ready to perish was my father.” When he reached the words An Aramean, he took down the basket from his shoulder and held it by the rim. And the priests put his hand beneath it a waved it (a tenufa in six directions), and the man then recited the words “An Aramean ready to perish” until he finished the passage. Then he left the basket by the side of the Altar and bowed himself down and went his way.
3.7… Beforetime all could recite the prescribed words (Deut 26.1-15) recited them, and all that could not recite them rehearsed the words after the priest; but when these refrained from bringing their First Fruits (the Bikkurim) it was ordained that both they that could recite them and they that could not should rehearse the words after the priest (everyone repeated after the kohen to get it right).
3.8…The rich brought their First Fruits (Bikkurim) in baskets overlaid with silver and gold, while the poor brought them in wicker baskets of peeled willow branches, and baskets and First Fruits were given to the priests (this taught the concept of “beautifying” the commandments meaning “stop and think about what you are doing” when doing a commandment).
3.9…R. Simeon b Nanos says: They used to bedeck the First Fruits with produce other than the seven kinds (Sheva Minim). R. Akiba (he was a “tanna” of the latter first and early second century. He didn’t start to study Torah till he was 40 years old and became a leading rabbi and a student of Eliezer Ben Hyrcanus, who is believed to be a believer in Yeshua. Akiba made a huge mistake around 135 AD when he declared Bar Kochba the messiah during the third Jewish war against Rome) says; They bedecked the First Fruits only with produce of the seven kinds.
3.10….R. Simeon says: There are three degrees among the First Fruits: the First Fruits, the additions to the First Fruits, and what “bedecks” the First Fruits. The additions to the First Fruits may be of like kind, but what bedecks the First Fruits may be of some other kind. The additions to the First Fruits must be eaten in cleanness (ritual purity), and they are not subject to the rules of demai (not sure if it was tithed off of), but the rules of demai produce apply to what bedecks the First Fruits.
3.11…In what case have they said that additions to the First Fruits are liked to the First Fruits themselves? When they come from the land of Israel; but when they do not come from the land of Israel they are not like to the First Fruits themselves.
3.12…Why have they said that the First Fruits are like to the goods of the priest? Because with them he may buy bondmen, immovable property, and unclean cattle, and a creditor can take them in payment of is debt, or a woman in payment of her Ketubah (marriage contract), as they may also do with a scroll of the Law. But R. Judah says: They may give the First Fruits only to a priest that is an associate (one who knew the Torah) and as a favor. And the Sages say: They give them to any priests that are on duty in the Temple, and these may share among themselves as they do with the Hallowed Things (those things with the kedusha) of the Temple.
That is a brief description of the ceremony of the Bikkurim from the Temple. Shavuot is called the “atzeret” or “conclusion” of Passover, so Passover concludes here. We are all on a journey to the mountain of God (the Kingdom). Just like at Shavuot, we bring the bread with leaven (leaven has life) in it. The Kingdom is like leaven “spreading” like leaven unto all the earth (Matt 13.33). Isa 2.2-4 says that the word of the Lord shall go forth out of Jerusalem in the kingdom and in Zech 14.9 it says that in that day the Lord’s name will be one.
Another name for Shavuot is “Yom Kahal” (day of the assembly) from Deut 18.15, 9.10 and 10.4. How do you say “church” in Greek? Ecclesia, and people will say the “church” was established in Acts 2 and that there wasn’t a “church” before that. In reality, the “kahal” (we don’t use the word “church” because the image people have is inaccurate) was established at Shavuot at Mount Sinai. The Hebrew word used is “kahal” and the Greek word for “kahal” is “ecclesia.” There are two terms used for Israel, Edat and Kahal. Edat is the outward organization, the “visible” if you will. Kahal is used to denote the inner or the spiritual connection. Even the LXX (Septuagint) seems to have seen this distinction. Edat occurs 130 times and is always translated “synagogue”, never ecclesia. Kahal is translated as ecclesia and 37 with synagogue (“Sketches of Jewish Social Life”, Alfred Edersheim, P 250-251). The book of Ecclesiastes (see the word “ecclesia?”) is called “Kohelet” in Hebrew meaning “congregations.” See the connection between kahal and ecclesia?
Deut 18.15-16 says, “The Lord your God will rise up for you a prophet like me (Yeshua) from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb (Sinai) on the day of the assembly (Yom Kahal, Shavuot) saying, “Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire any more, lest I die.” Notice “the day of the assembly” refers to Mount Sinai and Shavuot. You will also see this term in Deut 9.10 and 10.4. This was the beginning of the “assembly” or “congregation.” Most people are taught that in Acts 2 God was starting the “church” but the “kahal” goes back to Sinai. The nation of Israel and the kahal started at the same time.
The Jewish belief was that the kahal (assembly, congregation) went way back, and that when the Messiah came there would be an eschatological, empowered by the Ruach ha Kodesh kahal. In Matt 16.18 Yeshua says in most English translations that “I will build my church” but that is not what he said. There are three words for assembly/congregation in Hebrew: kahal, adat and sowd. He used the word “kahal” meaning assembly. Yeshua was sent by the Father as the “empowered one” to bring about the basar (good news). His task was to redeem man and the earth, called the “restoration.” We enter into that redemption by emunah, or faith. Peter has declared that Yeshua is the Messiah, the one who is going to redeem man and the earth. Yeshua says that upon this rock (that Yeshua is the Messiah) he will build his kahal. One of the things you will notice after he said that was Peter never asked “Lord, what is a kahal?” He knew what Yeshua was saying and knew that when the Messiah came he would build his eschatological assembly or “kahal.” Yeshua then goes on to say that the “gates of Hades (a real place very near where Yeshua said this) shall not overpower it.” In other words, after Yeshua died and was raised, he will go to Hades and set all the captives free who have been waiting in Abraham’s Bosom, and nothing will prevent that from happening. The thing that is important to see here is that Peter and the talmidim didn’t bat an eye when he talked about building the kahal because that was the expectation and they knew what he meant.
We know from Lev 23.2 that the “holy convocations” were Mikrah Kodesh or “holy rehearsals” so the question we need to ask is “Did Acts 2 fulfill the rehearsal (mikrah) for Shavuot?”
In Part 18, we will pick up here and begin to discuss the question of whether or not Shavuot in Acts 2 fulfilled the rehearsals.