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Yom HaBikkurim - Feast of First Fruits


The third holy convocation, First Fruits is commanded in Leviticus 23:10-14 and began what the Jews called the ‘counting of the Omer’ (a measure of grain). On the first day after the Sabbath holiday, i.e. Nisan 16th, the priests would wave a sheaf of barley before the Lord in the temple. The instructions and prayer to be offered in the temple are recorded in Dt 26:1-11. There was a special barley field cultivated on the opposite side of the Kidron valley for the first-fruits’ sacrifice for the nation. The barley was taken from there on the evening of Nisan 15. Three members of the Sanhedrin went to this field to harvest the first sheaves and bring them to the Temple, where they were threshed, parched over fire, winnowed and milled into fine flour to be presented the following morning as the national first-fruits’ offering.


Today this offering is not made as there is no temple, but the counting of the omer is still carried out.


FULFILMENT

Early in the morning of the third day, Nisan 16, as this first fruits’ offering was being brought into the Temple, Jesus was being raised from the dead, as the “first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Cor 15:20). His body had been taken from across the Kidron at the Garden of Gethsemane, threshed by Roman soldiers, but was now raised incorruptible, as a fine first-fruits offering to the Father and an assurance that “death is swallowed up in victory” (I Cor 15:54, Is 25:8). Jesus’ resurrection, as the first-fruits’ offering, is the certainty that we also who believe shall rise from the dead to eternal life in imperishable bodies (I Cor 15:52), and the wicked shall face the fire of God (Rev 20:11-15).


As all three of the above Feasts fall within an 8-day period, they are often joined together and known as the 8 days of Passover. Passover is the first of the 3 pilgrimage feasts, when the men of Israel were required to travel to Jerusalem. Jesus traveled with his family several times. On one occasion, when he was 12 (most likely his Bar Mitzvah), he stayed behind talking to the rabbis (Lk 2:41-52). During his ministry a number of Passovers are mentioned which has led us to believe that his ministry was probably between 3 to 31/2 years in duration.