Christian Churches of God





The Omer Count to Pentecost


(Edition 2.0 19960803-20031006)

In the twentieth century the Churches of God went awry in their determination of Pentecost. This text explains the errors and the format that was followed originally.




Christian Churches of God




(Copyright ã 1996, 2003 Wade Cox)

(Summary by Andrew Mason, Ed. Wade Cox)


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The Omer Count to Pentecost

Most confusion over the determination of Pentecost arises from the spurious calendar system introduced by Rabbi Hillel II in 358 CE. The Hillel calendar postpones the New Moons according to a set of rules determined by rabbinical traditions and uses a fixed date for the Wave Sheaf offering. According to this system, Pentecost always falls on 6 Sivan.

Historically, the Churches of God have always kept a Sunday Pentecost. Even when the Roman Church split with the Churches of God and adopted the Easter system, the Sunday Pentecost was retained. Likewise the Sadducees of Christ’s day, the Temple in Egypt, and the Samaritans always kept Pentecost on a Sunday.

The Temple system was correct in following the letter of the law under the Sadducees. There were no postponements operating in the Temple Period. Philo Judaeus clearly states that the New Moons were determined by the conjunctions, which were calculated in the astronomical schools. (Philo was a leader of the Jewish community in Alexandria, contemporary with Christ.) The postponements did not come into effect until after the compilation of the Mishnah ca 200 CE.

The biblical directive concerning the count to Pentecost is found in Leviticus 23:15-21. The Septuagint concurs with the Hebrew text completely. In the Hebrew, there are distinct terms referring to three types of Sabbath day. Shabbath is used of the weekly Sabbath, Shabbathown of Holy Days, and Shabbath Shabbathown of Atonement. In the Septuagint, this distinction is preserved by the use of sabbaton for Shabbath and anapausis for Shabbathown. Thus there is no confusion as to which Sabbath is being referred to. The count to Pentecost begins on the morrow after the Shabbath.

The first centuries before and commencing the current era saw Judaism sharply divided over the observance of Pentecost. The Sadducees celebrated it on the Sunday fifty days after the Wave-sheaf, which they observed on the Sunday of Unleavened Bread. The Pharisees celebrated it on 6 Sivan.

The Pharisaic view rests on a faulty reading of Leviticus 23:11 in the Septuagint. Where the Hebrew version says on the morning after the Sabbath, the Septuagint has on the morrow of the first day. Taking this to mean the first day of Unleavened Bread, the Pharisees count from 16 Nisan to arrive at 6 Sivan for Pentecost. However, the Septuagint is a Greek translation of the very same Hebrew text, which they are using to reinterpret it. Furthermore, it should be noted that the term morrow, in English, means morning. The morning of 16 Nisan is not the morrow of the first day of anything.

To Christians, Christ was the Wave-sheaf, and the New Testament gospels show that he ascended to the Father on the morning of the first day of the week (Lk. 24:1; Jn. 20:1). The Sadducees and the early Church alike entirely rejected the oral traditions of the Pharisees, which are the only real basis for the 6 Sivan reckoning. In every other instance where the Bible refers to a specific date of the Hebrew calendar, it is expressed as the specific day of the specific month.

Another misunderstanding involves Leviticus 23:14. This verse does not prohibit the consumption of all grain prior to the Wave-sheaf. Instead, it requires that old grain, stored from the previous year, be used until the Wave-sheaf when the new grain may be used. An examination of Joshua 5:10-12 reveals the true meaning.

Some confusion does arise when 14 Nisan is a Sabbath. Should the Wave-sheaf follow this Sabbath or the Sabbath at the end of the festival? The answer is that the 14th is in fact part of the feast period and the Wave-sheaf was always seen as being the Sunday within the feast.

To mainstream Christianity, the entire argument is irrelevant because they keep neither the correct Pentecost nor the Wave-sheaf. Instead, they weep for Tammuz and bake cakes to the Queen of Heaven in the pagan festival of Ishtar, otherwise known as Easter. They determine their Pentecost from the Sunday as determined from Easter and not from the Sunday within the Feast of the Passover and Unleavened Bread. However, the requirement to follow the biblical system has not passed away. It is important that we keep Pentecost correctly. God requires obedience more than sacrifice.