Introduction to the seven feasts of Moses

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.
Lev. 23:1-2

The feasts throughout the year

The following listing is meant as a summary, while the feasts will be looked into more in detail in future posts:

  • The first three feasts (in spring) follow each other immediately, and are often considered to be one big feast.They are meant to celebrate the exodus, being freed and leaving Egypt:
    • Passover (Pesach, פֶּסַח)
    • Feast of Unleavened Bread (Hag HaMatza)
    • First Fruits (Bikkurim, ביכורים)
  • During summer, Pentecost (Shavuot, השבועות) is a celebration of the arrival at Mt. Sinai, where God gave Moses the tablets of stone with the 10 commandments.
  • The last three feasts (in fall) are meant to be reminders of our sins, through repentance. Sukkot fits in by reminding us of the 40 years spent in the desert because of the people’s sin:
    • Feast of Trumpets (Rosh HaShanah, ראש השנה‎, in the bible Yom Teruah, יוֹם תְּרוּעָה, literally “day of raising a noise”)
    • Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, יוֹם כִּפּוּר)
    • Festival of Tabernacles (Sukkot, סֻכּוֹת)

The development of a baby

Several years ago, while talking to a gynaecologist, Dr. Zola Levitt noticed several uncanny parallels between the development of a baby during pregnancy and the seven feasts of the Lord.1

Ovulation

And on the 7th day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the 7th day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.
Gen. 2:2-3a
Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation.
Lev. 23:3a

A woman’s ovulating cycle follows the weeks, as it is completed every 4 Sabbaths (28 days).

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the Lord’s Passover.
Lev. 23:5

Similarly to Pesach (the Passover), on the 14th day of the first month, the egg appears (called ovulation). And during Pesach, according to Jewish traditions, an egg is part of the meal.
If the egg-cell is not fertilized within approximately 24 hours, it dies and leaves the woman’s body through menstruation.

Fertilisation

Within 24 hours of Pesach, the feast of Unleavened Bread (Hag-HaMatza) starts. According to Dr. Levitt, bread symbolizes the Messiah (called the bread of life), and through him the beginning of a new life.

Implantation

You shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.
Lev. 23:10b-11

The first fruits (Bikkurim, ביכורים), the beginning of signs of life after the death of winter, every year, show how God planted the land for his people to live. And similarly, an embryo plants itself (called implantation) into the wall of the womb (the placenta) within 2 to 6 days after its fertilization, and it begins to grow.

The shape of a human being

You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord.
Lev. 23:15-16

About fifty days later, the embryo starts looking like a human being. Before that, its shape is not distinguishable from an animal’s embryo.2
And likewise, after 50 days, Pentecost (Shavuot, השבועות) is celebrated. And during Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was given, effectively transforming Jesus’ disciples who were hiding, having run for their lives after Jesus’ death, into new creatures, bold to preach the gospel.

Hearing

In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation.
Lev. 23:24b

On the 1st day of the 7th month, the baby’s hearing is developed, paralleling the festival of Trumpets (Rosh HaShanah, ראש השנה‎). For the first time, it can hear and distinguish sounds outside the womb.

Blood

Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement.
Lev. 23:27a
But in this way Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: […] And he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.
Extract of Lev. 16

Yom Kippur (יוֹם כִּפּוּר) was the day on which the priests would bring blood into the Holy of Holies in the temple, to atone for the sins of the people. Likewise, on the 10th day of the 7th month, the hemoglobin of the baby’s blood is ready to provide sufficient oxygen to sustain life. And instead of still using the mother’s hemoglobin, that role is now switched to the baby’s.

Lungs

On the 15th day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the Lord.
Lev. 23:34

A baby’s lungs are fully developed by the 15th day of the 7th month. If it is born prematurely, it will most probably survive. Before that, it would have a hard time breathing.

Birth

The eight days of Hanukkah are celebrated, 9 months and 10 days after Passover. On average, birth takes place on the 10th day of the 9th month. In Jewish families, a son is circumcised eight days after birth. Hanukkah symbolizes a new beginning, because the temple was re-dedicated.

Summary

The following table summarizes these parallels:

Biblical Feast Date Ref. Stage of the development of a baby
Passover (Pesach, פֶּסַח) 14th Nisan Lev. 23:5 The egg appears, 14th day of the 1st month (Nisan)
Feast of Unleavened Bread (Hag HaMatza) 15th-21st Nisan Lev. 23:6-8 Egg fertilized within 24 hours
First Fruits (Bikkurim, ביכורים) Sunday following Pesach (during Hag HaMatza), 2-6 days after Pesach Lev. 23:9-14 The egg attaches itself within 2-6 days to the wall of the womb and begins to grow
Pentecost (Shavuot, השבועות) 6th Sivan Lev. 23:15-22 Around the 50th day, the embryo takes on the form of a human
Feast of Trumpets (Rosh HaShanah, ראש השנה‎ in the bible Yom Teruah, יוֹם תְּרוּעָה) 1st Tishrei Lev. 23:23-25 On the 1st day of the 7th month, the baby’s hearing is developed
Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, יוֹם כִּפּוּר), when the blood was taken into the Holy of Holies 10th Tishrei Lev. 23:26-32 On the 10th day of the 7th month, the hemoglobin of the blood changes from that of the mother, to a self-sustaining baby
Festival of Tabernacles (Sukkot, סֻכּוֹת) 15th-21st Tishrei Lev. 23:33-43 On the 15th day of the 7th month, the lungs become fully developed
Festival of Lights (Hanukkah, חֲנֻכָּה), nine months and 10 days after Passover. 25th Kislev – 2nd/3rd Tevet Not a biblical celebration 8 days after birth, in Jewish families, a son is circumcised

References

1 Video on Youtube, on Zola Levitt’s homepage.
2 Pictures of embryos during pregnancy. Note that the implantation in this source happens in week 4, so the 50th day is in week 11: Link

Further links

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