What is Shavuot?

Shavuot—also known as the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost—is a Jewish holiday celebrating the giving of the Ten Commandments and the Torah (the first five books of the Bible).

When God delivered the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt he brought them into the wilderness to camp.  During this time God provided for their daily needs. Each morning the special bread called manna fell from the sky. God made water gush from a rock.  He brought quails to their camps for meat to eat.

The people began to recognize God’s mercy and miracles. They were beginning to understand that they were a special people set apart by God. They were ready to receive God’s divine word and cried out “We shall do and we shall hear.”

Fifty days after their deliverance from slavery, God called Moses up to Mount Sinai.  As Moses ascended, thunder and lightening ripped through the sky.  A trumpet blew a long blast. A loud voice went out to all of the earth announcing, “I am Yahweh, your God!” A dense cloud and smoke surrounded the mountain top.  The people were afraid but then everything became quiet and still. The Hebrews stood at the foot of the mountain and waited.

Moses was on the mountain top for forty days and forty nights. God made Moses write down on a stone tablet each of the Ten Commandments. He also gave him, word for word, the first five books of the Bible which were to be written down later. Moses came down from the mountain and his face was bright like a light. He had been in the presence of the Almighty God!

Every year for over 3,300 years, God’s people have a celebration to mark the anniversary of the day they received the holy Torah and Ten Commandments. Shavuot reminds God’s people to be thankful for God’s word and to delight in it.

The night before Shavuot it is custom to stay up late studying the Bible. On the day of Shavuot, families go to synagogues to hear a reading of the Ten Commandments.  They eat dairy foods, like cheesecake.  They decorate synagogues and classrooms with flowers and plants.  They read the story of Ruth and a poem called Akdamut.

This year (2012) Shavuot starts at sundown, Saturday, May 26th, and lasts for two days.

Coloring Pages

Golden Calf ShavuotMoses and the ten commandments (Original Coloring Page! 4rd in the series)
Bread from Heaven
(Exodus 16: 4-35)
Water from the Rock (Exodus 17: 1-6)
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 19:20- 20:17)
The Golden Calf (Exodus 32)
Moses Talks with God (Exodus 33:7- 34:35)
Ruth Chooses to Stay with Naomi (Ruth 1:1-18)
Ruth Gleans in the Field (Ruth 2)
Boaz Redeems Ruth (Ruth 4: 1-13)

Games

Shavuot Word Search–Printable
Shavuot Crossword Puzzle–Printable
Shavuot Crossword Puzzle Answer Key–Printable

Scripture Memory

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)

And God spoke all these words, saying: “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”  (Exodus 20:1-2)

For the bread of God is he who comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world.  (John 6:33)

Ten Commandments

1. You shall have no other gods before me.
2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.
3. You shall not misuse the name of Yahweh your God, for Yahweh will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.  For in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
5. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land Yahweh your God is giving you.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Story of Ruth

A kind, old woman named Naomi lived far from her homeland. Her husband and sons had died. All she had left were her two daughters-in-law. One day, Naomi told them, “I must return to my homeland. I’ll miss you, but I’m just an old woman. There’s nothing I can do for you.”

Barley from istock“Please, Naomi,” begged Ruth, one of the daughters-in-law. “Let me go where you go. Your people will be my people. And your God will be my God.” And so Naomi agreed. And the two women traveled for many days until they finally reached Naomi’s hometown, a place called Bethlehem.

“It’s time for the barley harvest, Naomi,” said Ruth. “If I gather leftover grain, we can make bread to eat.” So Ruth got permission to pick up grain missed by the harvesters.

A man named Boaz owned the field and wondered who she was. “She came back with old Naomi,” said his foreman. “All day long, she has worked hard.”  Boaz called Ruth to him and said, “Gather as much grain as you need, and my workers will watch for you.”

“You are very kind to a foreigner,” she said.

“You helped my relative Naomi,” said Boaz. “May God bless and reward you for your kindness.”

God did bless Ruth. In time she and Boaz became friends. Boaz shared food, and helped her whenever he could.

One night, Naomi told Ruth to go to the threshing floor where Boaz was sleeping.  She told Ruth to wait for him there. When Boaz awoke he was surprised to see Ruth. “What are you doing here?” he asked. “Naomi has sent me,” said Ruth. “Since you are her nearest relative, I have come to ask you to care for us.”

“God bless you,” said Boaz. “And don’t be afraid, for I will take care of you.”

Naomi rejoiced when Ruth and Boaz got married. And Ruth became the great-grandmother of the great King David!

A wonderful change had taken place in Ruth’s life even more so than she knew at the time. When she left Moab with her mother-in-law, Ruth may have thought she was doomed to a life of poverty and obscurity. But because of the LORD’s goodness to her, she became the great-grandmother of David, from whose family Jesus Christ was eventually born.

No matter how grim things may seem right now, we can find comfort in knowing that God is our Saviour.

*Written by Child Bible Story Online

Counting of the Omer

It took forty-nine days (seven weeks) from the time of Passover until the time God met Moses on Mount Sinai.  Passover and Shavuot have an important connection.  Passover marks the time when Jews were freed from physical slavery and Shavuot marks when the Jews were freed from spiritual bondage, like idolatry.  This period of time, after the Jews left Egypt and before they received the Ten Commandments and Torah, is called the Omer.  Because the Hebrews were so anxious to receive God’s word they began to count down the days.  They got excited as the time drew closer.  They prepared themselves to become a holy nation.

Today it is tradition to count down the days from the second day of Passover to the holiday of Shavuot.  This is called “Counting the Days of Omer.”  To count down the Omer every night you say this prayer:

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has made us holy with His Commandments, and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.  Today is X day of the Omer.

Print out this calendar for counting the Omer in 2012


Pentecost

Three times a year the Hebrew people went up to Jerusalem to make sacrifices at the Temple and to celebrate God’s covenant with them as a nation.  These three feasts were Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot. For these important feasts, Jerusalem would be filled to the max with worshippers.  The Levite priests would lead the masses of people in song and prayer.

In Acts 2, the Bible tells us that the disciples and other followers of Jesus gathered in Jerusalem for Shavuot, not long after Jesus had ascended into Heaven.  The new believers were still trying to figure out their next steps now that their messiah was no longer walking with them on Earth.  However, God had an extra surprise in store for them that day. God sent them the Holy Spirit.

The book of Acts says that “suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”  At first the people watching did not know what to make of the whole crazy scene.  However, the disciple Peter gave a passionate sermon explaining everything.  3,000 people decided to believe in Jesus that very day!

Shavuot Recipes

To celebrate Shavuot it is tradition to eat at least one dairy food during the holiday.  Cheese blintzes and cheesecake are the most popular choices.  One reason behind the custom of eating dairy is that the Torah is like spiritual milk, nourishment to the soul.

Recipe for Mini Cheesecakes
Recipe for Raisin Cheese Blintzes

Videos for Learning the Ten Commandments

*For Kids is created by Shelley Neese, vice president of The Jerusalem Connection.

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