Chapter Seventeen

                       PENTECOST (SHAVUOT)

       SEFIRAH had passed and now was the day of Pentecost, 50 days after
Passover. Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2, tells us that the disciples were
gathered together, as in anticipation of the arrival of their master in the
clouds of heaven, bringing with him a celestial host to finally overthrow
the Kingdom of Arrogance, defeat the Roman Satan, and usher in G-d's ever-
lasting Kingdom. The exact words are:

     "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all
      with one accord in one place."
                             Acts 2:1

       Luke, the author of Acts, does not tell us where that place was but
from the context of the entire second chapter, we can guess. We are told
that they were in a place in Jerusalem where "Jews, devout men, out of
every nation under heaven" (2:5) were, and it was "the third hour of of the
day" (2:15). We can easily understand that the disciples were gathered
together in the Temple at daybreak. We would suspect this even if the text
did not finally become explicit and say:

     "And they, continuing daily with ONE ACCORD in the temple ..."
                          Acts 2:46

       As has been said, SHAVUOT is the day of the giving of the Torah,
specifically the giving of the Ten Commandments which contain within
themselves the complete essence and every other commandment of the Torah.
On this day, Jewish males were expected to come to the Temple to perform
the ritual of the Bringing of First Fruits:

     "And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which the
      L--d thy G-d giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it,
      and dwellest therein; That thou shalt take of the first of all
      the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that
      the L--d thy G-d giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and
      shalt go unto the place which the L--d thy G-d shall choose to
      place His name there. And thou shalt go unto the priest that
      shall be in those days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto
      the L--d thy G-d, that I am come unto the country which the L--d
      sware unto our fathers for to give us ... And thou shalt speak
      and say before the L--d thy G-d, a wandering Aramean was my
      father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a
      few people, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and popu-
      lous: And the Egyptians treated us evilly, and afflicted us, and
      laid upon us hard bondage: And when we cried unto the L--d G-d of
      our fathers, the L--d heard our voice, and looked on our afflic-
      tion, and our labor, and our oppression: And the L--d brought us
      forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched
      arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with
      wonders: And He hath brought us into this place, and hath given
      us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And
      now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which
      Thou, O L--d, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the
      L--d thy G-d, and worship before the L--d thy G-d."
                         Deuteronomy 26:1-10

       On the eve of SHAVUOT, the males gathered in the synagogue, in this
case, in the Temple synagogue, to study Torah all night long. At daybreak
("third hour of the day"), according to the account in Acts, a "paranormal
phenomenon" took place among the disciples, and supposedly other men,
gathered in the Temple.

     "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing
      mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
      And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and
      it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy
      Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave
      them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout
      men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised
      abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because
      that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they
      were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are
      not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in
      our own tongue, wherein we were born? ... But Peter, standing up
      with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men
      of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto
      you, and hearken to my words: ... this is that which was spoken
      by the prophet Joel (2:28); And it shall come to pass in the last
      days, saith G-d, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and
      your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men
      shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on My
      servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of
      My Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in
      the heavens above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and
      fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness,
      and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the
      L--d come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call
      on the name of the L--d shall be saved."
                          Acts 2:2-21

       Pentecost had come and the disciples were sure that now THIS TIME
Jesus would surely return. All Israel had risen out of the depths of their
impurity just as at that first Pentecost when G-d had appeared to the
people and revealed His Law. Now, today, He would reveal His Kingdom. The
disciples had been up all night and although they were in a state of high
emotional expectation, they were also fatigued. They had studied and
prayed, and they felt that their master MUST return on this day to "restore
the kingdom to Israel". Luke, in describing their sense of expectation,
says that they were all "of one accord". This is an echo of the words of
the prophet Zephaniah in which G-d speaks and says "For then will I turn to
the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the
L--d, to worship Him with one accord." (Zeph 3:9). That is to say, in the
DAYS OF THE MESSIAH G-d's people will all understand a commmon language of
prayer. Suddenly, a strong summer wind begins to blow through the Temple
buildings, "a rushing mighty wind" from heaven which fills up the House as
the glory of G-d in former times, had filled His House (Isaiah 6:1-4 et
al). The disciples beleive it is the heavens opening up to reveal the
messiah descending along with the hosts of heaven. Instead, "cloven
tongues of fire" are seen by each of the twelve, alighting, and they are
inspirited with the Holy Spirit of G-d. There are gathered together at the
feast, Jewish men, pilgrims out of all the nations, and the disciples seem
to be able to understand the speech of every one. Surely, they believe, G-d
has turned to them a pure messianic language. This is the sign that they
are indeed in "the last days" as Peter quotes.

       Thus the Passover promise is fulfilled now at Pentecost. It is
striking that the Shavuot declaration, "a wandering Aramean was my father,
and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few people, and
became there a nation", is recited ritually at the Passover seder, as are
the verses of Joel, quoted by Peter, "And I will shew wonders in the
heavens above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour
of smoke" establishing a kind of SEFIRAH connection between the Passover
Crucifixion and the "Pentecost Experience". Jesus had not returned on this
day as expected, but G-d had sent His Spirit as a sort of forerunner,
causing all who had witnessed the Temple miracle to be of, and to speak
with, one accord. The fact that Jesus had not visibly appeared did not
dampen their faith; on the contrary, the "fact" that G-d had "appeared",
albeit symbolically, in His Holy House and had inspirited his chosen flock,
only INTENSIFIED the disciples' belief in the iminent return of Jesus as
messiah. And He had chosen the very place which His Anointed, and they, had
"cleansed". On the original Pentecost He appeared to Israel in the form of
a Holy Fire and caused His Torah to be heard by all nations in every one of
the seventy gentile languages of the world. So now He had again used the
double signs of fire and universal speech to reveal His Kingdom. As far as
the disciples were concerned, the Kingdom of Heaven had been ushered in on
that Shavuot, and the king-messiah would soon descend to Jerusalem to sit
on the throne of his father David. And they, the loyal twelve, would also
sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28).

       The disciples now began to preach their faith in the ressurection
and return of Jesus more ernestly than ever. To buttress their faith and to
prove their claim of serving the messiah, they searched for scriptural
prophecies concerning Jesus' amazing overpowering of death. Chief among
those that did so was Peter who had already put forth the prophecy of Joel
as a "proof" of the veracity of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the new
community of "believers", as they came to be known, although the Greek
PISTEUONTES probably translates a Hebrew NE-EMANIM, "faithfull ones" which
is actually a better English rendering of the term. As the hoped for
Parousa delayed more and more, there remained less and less of the
historical Jesus, especially after his reworking by Paul the Apostle, and
BELIEF propped up by "scriptural proof" took the place of history as
support of belief. In time, this search of the Bible for proof texts of the
messiahship of Jesus became the hallmark and entire basis for the
"Christian faith in Jesus as Christ" as well as for Christian theology in
general. Eventually, the entire Bible was to become nothing more than a
prophetic foreshadowing of the life and death of the man that Christianity
calls Christ Jesus.

       Peter spoke to those assembled to hear him, the words found in Psalm
16, and applied them to the ressurection of Jesus: "Therefore did my heart
rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
Because Thou wilt not leave my soul in the nether region, neither wilt Thou
suffer Thy holy one to see corruption."

       In the seven weeks that had passed since the Passover insurrec-
tion, the story of the rising of Jesus from the grave had spread all over
Jerusalem. The people still remembered the heartbreak of the crushing of
their attempt at freedom, and they heartily wished to believe that G-d
would still send the Anointed to free them from Roman Satan quickly. They
therefore asked Peter and the other disciples, "Men and brethren, what
shall we do?" (2:37). He admonished them to be immersed in the waters of
repentance and purification in the manner of John: "Repent, and be
baptized" (2:38). He added that they should join the community of the
faithfull, accepting that G-d had prepared Jesus of Nazareth as the messiah
who would appear any day to fulfill all. Acts informs us that on one day
alone, three thousand Jews joined the community. This must not be seen as
an inflated figure. Luke, a confirmed Paulist, has no reason to exagerate
the number of Jews accepting Jesus at this early date when the people of
Jerusalem hungered for redemption and there was as yet absolutely no
antagonism between the Nazarene community and Israel at large, but when ALL
Jews longed for messianic redemption:

     "And all that believed were together, and had all things in com-
      mon; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to
      all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with
      one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house,
      did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, prais-
      ing G-d, and having favour with the people. And the L--d added to
      the church daily such as should be saved."
                       Acts 2:44-47

       So does Luke end his thought on this idyllic note which shows the
later Christian assumption that Jews were against the movement from the
beginning to be a lie. Apparently a sufficient number of Jews were inspired
to join the "church" or Heb.KENESIA, "assembly" as the followers came to
be known, and, in anticipation of the end of the age, to give away their
possessions selflessly as a sign of their repentance and purification.

       One thing has yet to be added here. It is fairly common knowledge
that Jesus and his followers came to be known as "Nazarenes" as well as
"Faithfull" and "Assembly". This is a name that was especially used by
outsiders, and over the course of history, its meaning has become
confused in the minds of people that have employed it. It is commonly
believed that the name implies place of origin, namely Nazareth. Jesus,
being from that city, was called Nazarene. This is not good historical
linguistics. Even were we to suppose that it is a geographical designation
for Jesus, how do we account for the fact that all the followers were
ALSO called Nazarenes, especially when we know that most of the original
twelve came from Capernaum? Our sole scriptural knowledge of this term as
used of Jesus' Jewish followers is found in Acts 24:5 where it is used
obliquely as a reference to Paul the Apostle. If one uses the argument that
it is a common usage to call the followers of a CHASSIDIC rebbe after the
name of the rebbe's home town, then the argument holds no historic water
for Jesus' time. This CHASSIDIC usage is fairly recent, no more than two
centuries old, and it is only a practice among the chassidim, NOT a
general usage among Israelites as a rule. Additionally, the word "Nazarene"
in Hebrew is NOTSRI. The name "Nazareth" in Hebrew is NOTSRAT, and an
inhabitant of that city is called, not NOTSRI, but NOTSRATI. The reader may
be wondering why I am going to such great lengths to dispell this common
misconception about an original Jewish term for "Christians". The reason is
that it is important to understand what the term actually means so that
one will have a better understanding of the nature of the original Assembly
of the Faithfull.

       The name NOTSRI is based on the triliteral Hebrew root N-TS-R. This
root carries two basic meanings. The principle meaning has connection
with the world of vegetation. From it comes the word NETSER, meaning a
"sprout" or "sprig". At one time, it was held by certain scholars that
NOTSRI was a reflex of the word "Sprout" or "Shoot" as as term descriptive
of the messiah (see Isaiah 11:1-2). However, the root has a secondary
meaning, not often employed, "to hide" or "to secret". THIS I believe is
the truer connection. We must remember that Jesus was tried and convicted
of a political crime, rebellion against Rome. In this light, his group of
followers were held suspect as also being potential insurrectionists.
Certainly as messianists, they had common cause with other militant
messianic groups such as the Zealots, and as a matter of fact, it has been
shown that some of the original twelve held "dual membership" in both the
Zealot and Nazarene parties. There is documentary evidence both from Acts
and other sources that the Nazarenes were indeed harrassed by the
authorities from time to time, especially when the religio-political
climate turned to intense antipathy between the Judeans and Romans. Much
of the actual agenda of the original Assembly of the Faithfull has been
lost in history, not only because the Nazarenes, as a Jewish party,
disappeared but also because their activities were CLANDESTINE as were
those of the Zealots and other messianic movements of the Second Temple
period. It is this very clandestine nature of the group which I believe
gave the name Nazarene to the movement. I believe the name implies
something like "Hidden Society" or "Secret Society". It is a well known
common historical phenomenon for oppressed and occupied peoples to form
such hidden societies, hidden that is from the occupier. After the
Pentecost event, when it became apparent that the Parousa would be somewhat
delayed, the group set about political as well as religious activities,
planting cells all over the Jewish diaspora. As the movement grew, it
became apolitical threat to Rome, as is well known from the stories of
persecutions of the Nazarenes. It is very difficult to believe that
Nazarenes were thrown to the lions merely for professing a system of
BELIEF. It is far easier to understand this punishment as a Roman response
to covert "resistance" activity, not the least of which would be the
encouraging of POLITICAL and religious conversion to the Nazarene party
which, by the magnitude of Roman persecution as a response, must have been
quite successful.

Feel free to send King Solomon email; CLICK HERE

Click to return to the JN Menu

Click to return to the Literary Index

Click to return to the Website Index Page

Copyright 1997