Remembering Shavuot, or Pentecost

The people of Israel observe the Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot. It has the dual significance of marking the wheat harvest in the land of Israel and commemorating the giving of the Torah on Sinai. The “Weeks” has to do with counting the seven weeks after Passover. It is sometimes described as the eighth day of Passover.

The New Testament refers to Shavuot as Pentecost. It is the fiftieth day after Passover, which makes it 10 days after Jesus’ Ascension.

Acts 2 describes the events of the day of first Pentecost after Jesus’ death and resurrection. They were “all with one accord in one place.” Being a celebration day, that “one place” would likely have been the temple. The expansive steps at the southern entrance were used as a gathering place, and a teaching place. It would make sense that this was the location of Peter’s Pentecostal sermon.

Rabbis would teach their disciples on the steps outside the temple.

The many mikvahs (ritual baths) around the temple could have provided water for baptizing 3,000 new believers.

Inside a mikvah. Steps on one side for entering, before cleansing, and the other side for exiting after being purified in the water.

Just as the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai finalized Israel’s redemption from Egypt, so the giving of the Holy Spirit on Mount Zion inaugurated the New Covenant. The wind and the fire are symbolic of God’s presence, just as the pillar of smoke and the pillar of fire showed God’s presence in the wilderness.

Meditating on the significance of what happened here.

I’m thankful, this Pentecost, for the Comforter, the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit.

Standing barefoot on an original southern step, imagining Jesus walking here.
Andrew Zimmerman

By Andrew Zimmerman

Excited about travel in the Bible lands!