Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell the people of Israel, ‘After you enter the land I am giving you and harvest its ripe crops, you are to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the cohen. He is to wave the sheaf before Adonai, so that you will be accepted; the cohen is to wave it on the day after the Shabbat.-Leviticus 23:9-11
Many people, especially English speaking folks, often get the Feasts of BIKKURIM (Firstfruits) and SHAVUOT (Pentecost) mixed up.
The reason why is because both of these festivals are actually feasts of firstfruits and sometimes we’ll find BOTH of them being referred to as “Feast of Firstfruits“!
What makes matters worse is that in Hebrew the word BIKKURIM literally means “firstfruits“.
Hence, linguistically speaking, both the spring AND summer biblical feasts are technically BIKKURIM!
How’s that for confusion?!
However, to make things simple, we are going to refer to the Spring Feast of Firstfruits as BIKKURIM and the Summer Feast of Firstfruits as SHAVUOT or the “Feast of Weeks”.
Now BIKKURIM (Spring Feast of Firstfruits) was a ONE-DAY event just like Passover was.
Verse 11 tells us it is supposed to be observed “the day after the Sabbath”.
So unlike Passover which is always celebrated on Nissan 14, BIKKURIM is not assigned a fixed date.
Its timing is determined by which days of the week Passover and Unleavened Bread fall.
However, much confusion has arisen concerning when exactly to observe BIKKURIM because of the phrase “the day after the Sabbath”.
Is this phrase referring to the regular 7th day weekly Sabbath?
Or is it referring to one of the preparation day sabbaths connected to the feasts?
This issue has been debated vigorously amongst the scribes and sages.
I’m not going to go into all the reasoning behind the decision or we’ll be here forever, but in the final analysis, it was decided that Firstfruits was to be observed every year on the set day of Nissan 16 which follows right after the 1st day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Ultimately it was determined that the “sabbath” being referred to in verse 11 was NOT the regular weekly 7th day weekly Sabbath but instead was referring to the preparation day sabbath which is the 1st day of Unleavened Bread (on Nissan 15).
Remember that the 1st and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are to be sabbath days.
The breakdown is as follows:
NISSAN 15=1st Day of Unleavened Bread (to be considered a Sabbath)
NISSAN 16=Feast of Firstfruits
Two technical points to keep in mind are that leaven is also to be avoided on Passover Day and the Feast of Unleavened Bread continues on for seven days starting on Nissan 15.
So there you have it, the first 3 God-ordained Biblical Feasts occurring over 3 consecutive days.