“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain

Jewish Holiday: Shavuot

Here is another Jewish holiday that several of you may not have heard of. Shavuot, which began primarily as an agricultural holiday, has become a holiday celebrating the receiving of the Torah by Moses on Mount Sinai.

Shavuot, which means "weeks," is celebrated on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan. See this post for more details on the Hebrew calendar (which is VERY different from ours). This year, Shavuot began at sunset yesterday, May 14 and ends at sunset tonight. (See post referenced above for an explanation of the sunset to sunset thing :) )

Shavuot is one of the three "pilgrimage festivals" when Jews were required to travel to Jerusalem and bring their offerings (the other two are Passover - which I discussed here and here - and Sukkot, which is a few months away yet). It marked the end of the spring barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. After temple times, it became a celebration of God giving the Israelites the Torah on Mount Sinai.

According to the Torah, it took precisely 49 days, or seven weeks, for the ancient Israelites to travel from Egypt (which is celebrated on Passover) to the foot of Mount Sinai. The Torah commands: "On that same day (the 50th) you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work." (Leviticus 23:21) This is the holiday of Shavuot. (Known to most Christians, by the way, as Pentecost)

There are a handful of traditions associated with Shavuot. One is to stay up all night studying the Torah. It's also common to eat dairy foods on this holiday. It is also common, in the synagogue, to read the book of Ruth, as well as the Ten Commandments.

As always, click on the links throughout this post for more details - or ask questions in the comments!

Had you heard of Shavuot before? What was most interesting to you?

Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths
Graphics courtesy of Christians Unite 


  1. AnonymousMay 15, 2013

    Thanks for teaching us more about Jewish holidays.
    You're the person I ask about anything Jewish.


    1. Happy to be your favorite Jewish reference book LOL. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Sunny :)

  2. No, I hadn't heard about the meaning of Shavuot before. (at least I hadn't been paying attention) How is the barley harvest connected to the receiving of the 10 Commandments? (or do they happen to be just about the same time on the calendar?)

    1. It's a timing thing, Vonnie, from what I understand. And by the way, I realized yesterday that you know this holiday better as Pentecost. TOTALLY forgot when I was preparing the post!!

  3. Joanne, I'm so excited to be following your blog and learning about the Jewish holidays and customs from you. I know they are very important in understanding how God was preparing them for the coming Messiah!


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