The Day of the First Fruits (Numbers 28:26) is one of the names given to the first day of what immediately becomes a seven week season. The whole season, including the celebration on the final day, is called Shavuot. In Hebrew, Shavuot means “weeks”, and both the word for “week”, and the word for “rest” are based on the Hebrew word sheva (Strongs H7651), which means seven.
Seven is the number of completion and perfection:
YHWH established seven days in a perfect week
YHWH established seven Appointed Times to align humanity with His plan to perfect us.
YHWH established seven “High Sabbaths” within His cycle of Appointed Times.
Messiah said that perfect forgiveness was based on 70 X 7. (Matthew 18:22)
So what could be greater than seven?
Surprisingly, the number 8 represents the theme of the Day of the First Fruits perfectly.
Consider the pattern:
In Leviticus Chapter 23 YHWH lays out the entire Holy Calendar. On the 10th day of the Month of Aviv is when we choose our Pesach lamb, the 14th day is when we kill and eat it, and then the 15th day is the start of the Feast of Matzah. All of these dates are based on a coordination of the sun, moon, and stars. Six months later that pattern duplicates: the timing of Yom Teruah, Yom Ha Kipporim, and Sukkot are all based on the sun, moon, and stars. However, the timing of the central Feasts (First Fruits through Shavuot) exact center breaks this pattern. First Fruits and Shavuot are instead calibrated based on this interesting Hebrew phrase: macorat Shabbat (Leviticus 23:11) translated into English as “the day after the Sabbath”. Therefore, the Feast of Weeks always begins and ends on the 8th day—i.e. the day after the 7th day. What comes after seven? Eight.
So why number it as eight instead of one? Hebraically, what is eight? Shemini (Strongs H8083) is the Hebrew word for eight. It’s also the root of the word for “anointing oil” as well as the word for “fatness” (good fatness). Shemini therefore implies “runneth over” and the idea of “more than enough”. Macorat Shabbat, the day after the Sabbath, is one day more than enough– but at the same time it is also day one.
Eight, being both a fresh new start as well as a continuation, represents the deep idea of “restorative transformation”. At first that seems like a contradiction. Usually a restoration implies looking backwards, and a transformation implies moving forwards. However the Hebrew chiastic structure of our Bible shows us that this oxymoron is actually at the core of YHWH’s plan. Eating once again from the Tree of Life, planted back in Genesis 2, is our goal, but we get there by moving forward, arriving at the same tree in the New Jerusalem in the finale of the Book of Revelation.
Restorative Transformation is the idea of moving forward towards the ancient promises of the past.
How can YHWH be infinite, meaning He has no beginning and no end, yet also be called The Alpha and Omega? Both can only be true in an endless and timeless loop. The Hebrew concept of Alpha and Omega (the first and last letters in Greek) is Alef and Tav (the first and last letters in Hebrew). The Alef and Tav are Echad (One), just as YHWH is One! (Deuteronomy 6:4) That’s how the Alef-Tav becomes infinite, how we get to the future by looking at the past, and how day one of a seven day week is simultaneously day eight.
It might be easier to comprehend this way: In our everyday concrete world, this same eight-is-also-one principle is reflected in a musical octave. Do-Ray-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do. Google it…there’s a famous nun who sings a song that will make this whole post much easier to grasp.
Here are more biblical examples:
The eight people in Noah’s Ark (Noah plus 7) can be both compared and contrasted to Adam’s original (and lonely) one. Noah’s earth is not a NEW creation, but humanity and the face of the whole earth went through it’s first restorative transformation.
The ritual of circumcision teaches us the nature of eight. A male baby takes his first breath on his own personal day one, but on his day eight he leaves his flesh behind (just a teeny bit of it). He goes from being merely human to being a Hebrew Human. Even at eight days old, there is an object lesson to learn about restorative transformation. It’s a common tradition to not even name a male baby until the eighth day.
Speaking of Male Hebrew babies…David, the 8th son of Jesse, wrote Psalm 23. This popular psalm starts out with an obvious reference to resting, refreshment, all hints of the 7th day Shabbat.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.”
But the next verse (allegorically, the day after Shabbat) we get up, and we walk forward:
“He leads us in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake”.
The Hebrew root for “path” is agol (Strongs H4570) which actually implies repetitive cycles or circles. It can be also be translated as “trench”, which is a path used so frequently that the landscape has been permanently changed. Traditionally, Jewish Rabbi’s have called the entire seven feast system a “Cycle of Righteousness”, the same phrasing used in Psalm 23.
The number eight is implied in the laws regarding the shmita (detailed in Leviticus 25), which is a commanded land-rest (no farming) that occurs every seven years. The year after the 7th shmita (one year more than seven) is Ha Yobel (the Jubilee). The Jubilee is about the RESTORATION of the land and promises to its true owners. Restorative Transformation the year after the seventh year. This is exactly the same weekly pattern of Shavuot, just expressed in years. Seven times Seven plus one.
The 7th feast of the year, the seven day feast of Sukkot, represents celebration and rest. However, the 8th day immediately following those seven days celebrates the final and ultimate restorative transformation of both the heavens and the earth (Leviticus 23:36). That pattern will be physically and finally realized once Messiah leads us into the 7th millennium. Only after that restful 1000 years under the Yeshua our King does final, perfect, and eternal 8th millennium begin!
How did we unlearn this pattern of restorative transformation?
Because in our lawlessness and ignorance we’ve confused restoration with man’s idea of reformation. King Jeroboam, the first King of the northern Kingdom of Israel, was the prototype of a wicked King, and a large part of the “Sin of Jeroboam” was “reforming” Sukkot by creating a similar feast in the 8th Month (1 Kings 12:32). The intention was to distract from the Holy Feast’s of YHWH by offering a false alternative. This invention was eventually rebranded as Halloween, but it still takes place at the same time of year–the month after Sukkot. In fact, we recently passed the 500th year anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther’s creation of Protestant Reformation, which occurred on Halloween in 1517. October 31, 1517 just “happened” to be the 15th day of the 8th month that year…
The Sin of Jeroboam is to offer “reformation” to prevent “restoration”.
The Roman Emperor Constantine carried on Jeroboam’s evil spirit by creating a new weekly holiday on the “8th day” of the week. He called it “The Lord’s Day”. Literally at the same time, Constantine outlawed the Holy 7th day of rest.
Of course the evil nature of the “Sin of Jeroboam” continues even today with the misunderstanding that a NEW covenant was made by Messiah Yeshua. By understanding the pattern of restorative transformation, we can clearly see YHWH underscoring the importance of the former Covenants, not doing away with them. The power of restorative transformation is exactly what Messiah displayed as he walked out of the grave on the Day of the First Fruits. David hints poetically at this same resurrection power by comparing perfect life of seventy years to the renewed (resurrected) bonus life of eighty.
Psalm 90:1-12 “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away. Who understands the power of Your anger And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”
With all this focus on eight, we must remember that Shavuot is actually about recalibrating ourselves around seven–we just can’t get to seven without starting at one. We also can’t allow for man’s traditions to eliminate the purpose of the 7th day Sabbath, simply because our forefathers in the faith were misled. Just as this season calls us to recalibrate our schedules, it often calls us to recalibrate our doctrines as well. Shavuot truly teaches us to number our days, that we may present to YHWH hearts of wisdom.