In Jewish thought there is the concept of the “Two Witnesses.” The two witnesses in Scripture are Moses and Elijah. Moses personifies the Torah and Elijah personifies the Prophets. Now, what we have in a Jewish wedding is two witnesses called “friends of the bridegroom.” In a marriage, the couple is married “under the chupah.” In the first century, the chupah was a huge tent and the couple would go in there for a whole week, called the “bridal week.” The bride was “lifted up” in a cart to the full wedding called the Aperion, and you see this in Song 3.6-11. Today the chupah is a tallit help up on the corners by four poles over the couple, and she is lifted up in a chair and carried around. That is a “zekor” or “remembrance” of the bridal chupah and the Aperion.
The two witnesses have assignments. One is assigned to the groom (Elijah) and the other is assigned to the bride (Moses). Elijah brought the groom to the bride, and that role was fulfilled by Yochanon ha Matvil, or John the Baptist (Luke 1.17; Matt 11.13-14; John 3.28-29) when he brought Yeshua to the people of Israel. In Exo 19.17 Moses brings the people of Israel to the Lord as the “friend of the bridegroom.”
Now, in Hebrew thought, the mountain was lifted up over the people like a chupah and they were “under” the mountain. This imagery says that if the people accept the Torah they will enter into the betrothal contract. In Exo 24.3 the people heard the ordinances of the Lord and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken, we will do.” So the mountain becomes a chupah. What, what if they reject it? Then the mountain will fall on them and crush them. The weight of the Torah will destroy them because of their unbelief. Now, with that in mind, go to Matt 21.43-44 which says, “Therefore I say unto you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you (that generation who rejected it) and given to a nation (another generation, Israel in the Messianic Kingdom of the Atid Lavo) producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone (Yeshua is the stone, which becomes a mountain in Dan 2.35 and fills the whole earth. Here, the kingdom of God is like leaven-Matt 13.33) will be broken in pieces (in repentance), but on whomever it falls (because of unbelief), it will scatter him like dust.”
He is making references back to the midrashim about Mount Sinai being “over” their heads. If they have faith, it will not fall on them and crush them. The Torah now becomes instruction. If they reject it, the Torah will judge them and “all have sinned” and fallen short, so they will be destroyed. In Exo 19.18-25 we have the mountain covered in smoke and fire because the Lord was descending upon it. A trumpet got louder and louder and Moses was called to the top of the mountain. He was told that he should warn the people not to touch the mountain. In Exo 20.1-17 we have the Ten Words, or commandments given. In Exo 20 18 it says, “And all the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw they trembled and stood at a distance.” Now, the people “saw” the “thunder” and that word in Hebrew is “kol’ot” which means “voices.” The word “lightning” is “lapidim” which means “torch” and is an idiom for the Messiah.
Heb 12.18-19 says, “For you have not come to that which may be touched (a physical mountain) and blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words (“voice of voices”) which those who heard begged that no further word should be spoken to them.” Where it says “words”, it is the plural form of “rhema” which is a specific word. Deut 4.11-12 says that they saw no form at Sinai, only a voice.” In other words, they saw the voice. In the Midrash Exodus Rabbah 5.9, it says, “When God gave the Torah on Sinai, he displayed untold marvels to Israel with his voice. What happened? God spoke and the voice reverberated throughout the world. It says, ‘And all the people witnessed the thunderings (Exo 20.18).’ Note that it does not say “the thunder” but “the thunderings” wherefore R. Johanan (this is Yochanon Ben Zakkai, a “tanna” in the first century, the Av Beit Din of the Sanhedrin in 70 AD. He may be the “John” in Acts 4 as a young man. He certainly knew Yeshua, the Talmidim and Paul) said that God’s voice, as it was uttered, split into seventy voices, in seventy languages, so that all the nations should understand.” In another source called “The Midrash Says on Shemot” by Rabbi Moshe Weissman, it says, “On the occasion of Matan Torah (giving of the Torah), the Bnai Israel (sons of Israel) not only heard HaShems (the Lord) voice, but actually saw the sound waves as they emerged from HaShamen’s mouth. They visualized them as a fiery substance (what did they see in Acts 2? This has happened before). Each commandment that left HaShem’s mouth traveled around the entire camp and then came back to every Jew individually, asking him, “Do you accept upon yourself this commandment with all halachot (Jewish law) pertaining to it?” Every Jew answered “Yes” after each commandment. Finally, the fiery substance which they saw, engraved itself on the luchot (the tablets).”
In the original Shavuot they were a nation and a kingdom, but there is more. Deut 18.15-16 says that this day was called the “day of the assembly” or “Yom Kahal.” Now, if you go to a church and ask “When was the beginning of the Church” they will say “Acts 2.” But it wasn’t. Most commentaries will say that Yeshua instituted two things, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. It will also say that he instituted the “church.” In Greek, the word for church is “ecclesia” and if you go to the book of Ecclessiastes you will find out that the Hebrew word for this book is “Kohelet” meaning “assembly.” The Hebrew word for assembly is “kahal” where the word “Kohelet” comes from. What you will see in Deut 18.16 is that when Israel was at Mount Sinai, it was called the “day of the assembly” or “kahal.” Deut 9.10 and 10.4 also say “day of the assembly.” The usage of “church” gives us the impression of an organization without the Torah as most see it today. The whole foundation of “church” is the wrong “platform.”
In reality, the “church” is offended by the aspect of Torah observance, and that the assembly of the Lord actually started with the commandments at Shavuot at Sinai. Knowing that destroys the whole theological platform of the “church.” The word “church” has the root “Kirke” or “Circe” or “Kirka.” The sun was worshipped as a deity and was represented by a full circle or sun disk, also called a “halo.” One of the roots is Circe, the Greek goddess. She was the “daughter of the sun” and she had an enchanting voice, and a cup full of drugs (pharmekia, where we get the word “pharmacy” from). She would lure her victims asleep, then turn them into pigs. Then she would pen her victims up and feed them slop (sound familiar?).
As we can clearly see, the festival of Shavuot and the ceremonies we have discussed have much to do with the eschatological kahal that was promised when Messiah came, based on what happened at Mount Sinai and the giving of the Torah. It must be understood in its Jewish context for us to be able to understand this “rehearsal” and apply it to what happened in Acts 2.
In Part 22, we will pick up here and begin talking about the ceremonies at Rosh ha Shannah.