Weeks of Harvest – Jeremiah 5:24
The Bible does not explicitly describe Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks, as the day of the giving of the Torah. We can calculate that the date of the festival coincides with that historic revelation but the explicit association is not there. One explanation given for this conspicuous omission is that there is no one day of the “giving of the Torah”. Every day is a day when God grants teaching to His people as they study His word with awe and love. To point to one day as the day of the “giving of the Torah” would imply that there is a limit to God’s granting of teaching to His people when in fact God grants His people wisdom every day of the year (Proverbs 2:6).
I would like to approach this issue from another angle.
The exodus from Egypt is described in the 6th chapter of the Book of Exodus. “Therefore say to the Children of Israel; I am the Lord; and I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt and I shall rescue you from their service and I shall redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I shall take you to Me for a people and I shall be to you for a God and you shall know that I am the Lord your God who takes you out from under the burdens of Egypt.”(Exodus 6:6,7).
The process of the exodus was not complete until Israel “knew” the God who took them out of Egypt. The purpose of the exodus was that Israel should serve God (Exodus 4:23; 7:16,26; 8:16; 9:1,13; 10:3). Israel was brought to God at Sinai (Exodus 19:4) and they encountered God at Sinai (Deuteronomy 5:4). The knowledge of God and the service of God which is the hoped for product of the exodus was not fully achieved until the Sinai revelation.
The weeks between Passover and Shavuot are important weeks in the agricultural cycle. The prophet points to God’s kindness in that He preserves the crops so that the harvest should be blessed (Jeremiah 5:24). In these weeks, God’s kindness towards humanity is evident in His protection of the crops that sustain and provide nourishment for our bodies.
Israel is considered God’s first crop (Jeremiah 2:3). Just as God moves to preserve our physical sustenance, God also moves to provide for our spiritual sustenance. The end product, the ripening of the fruit in a spiritual sense, is the knowledge of God that is the ultimate hope of mankind (Isaiah 11:9).
From the standpoint of the target audience of Scripture; the Jew who sees his or her relationship with God as the essence of life, the association between Shavuot and the revelation at Sinai is clear and unambiguous. The ripening of the grain that culminates with Shavuot and the knowledge of God that was achieved at Sinai are the parable and its obvious interpretation. God’s protection of the harvest during these weeks between Passover and Shavuot reminds us of God’s provision for the sustenance of our souls that repeats itself every year during these special times.
May we all be blessed to drink from the living well-springs of God’s Torah, and may we all experience the knowledge of God (Hosea 2:21,22).
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal