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Pentecost Study Material
Herbert W Armstrong & Herman L Hoeh

Old Testament:

Counting From

   Notice the command: "And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, - from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days" (Lev. 23:15-16).

   Remember, the real crux of the issue as to whether we count exclusively and observe Pentecost on Monday, or count inclusively and observe Sunday, all depends on whether the word "from" is to include or exclude the first day (Sunday) of the forty-nine days to Pentecost.

   This English word "from" (in verse 15) is translated from the Hebrew preposition mi. But what does this word mean in Hebrew? Mi is a shortened form of the Hebrew preposition min which has various meanings and can be translated in several different ways: FROM, OF, BY, AT, IN, ON, etc.

   This Hebrew preposition, in fact, is used in many different places in the Old Testament. It is often translated "on" or "from." But when it is translated as "from" and is used in conjunction with the element of time, it is always used inclusively, and never exclusively.

   The best interpreter of the words used in the Bible is God. For it is He who inspired the Book, and certainly He knows the true meaning of the words which He inspired. The very best way to understand the particular meaning which the Holy Spirit intended is to see (always in proper context) how God inspired a particular word to be used.

Min is Used Inclusively

   How, then, did God inspire this Hebrew preposition min (often translated as "FROM") to be used in the Bible?

   1) Notice how God reckons the seven days of unleavened bread: "Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread FROM (Heb. mi) the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel" (Ex. 12:15).

   Can there be any doubt that the Hebrew preposition mi, here translated "from," is used inclusively in this verse?

   2) Another clear example of inclusive reckoning of time is found in Leviticus 22:27. "When the bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam: and FROM (Heb. mi) the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the LORD." Again, this has to be inclusive reckoning.

   3) Notice the inclusive reckoning which was used by the Holy Spirit when reckoning the twenty-four hours of the Day of Atonement: "It [the Day of Atonement] shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, FROM (Heb. mi) even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath" (Lev. 23:32) This is also inclusive reckoning.

   4) Here is yet another example of inclusive reckoning: "If he sanctify his field FROM (Heb. mi) the year of jubile, according to thy estimation it shall stand. But if he sanctify his field AFTER the jubile, then the priest shall reckon unto him the money according to the years that remain, even unto the year of the jubile, and it shall be abated from thy estimation" (Lev, 27:17-18).

   These instances of the use of min ("from") in the Hebrew scriptures clearly reveal that the Holy Spirit inspired this word to be used in an inclusive sense where the element of time is concerned.

   But does God's Word ever use this word mi or min ("from") in an exclusive sense - where the element of time is clearly included? Thus far, God's ministers have been unable to find one scripture where the Bible clearly, incontrovertibly, used mi ("from") in an exclusive manner. (Nehemiah 5:14 will be discussed later.)

"From the Morrow"

   Again, we are commanded to count "from the morrow after the sabbath." What is the meaning of this?

   We have already seen that the word translated into English as "from" is the Hebrew word min (or its abbreviated form, mi). But what is the meaning of the Hebrew word which has been translated as "the morrow"? This English expression, "the morrow," is translated from the Hebrew word mohorat (or mohorath) and it means the "next day."

   What does God mean when He commands us to count "from (mi) the morrow (mohorat)"? The very best way to learn the true meaning of this prepositional phrase "from the morrow" (mi-mohorat) is to see how the Holy Spirit inspired it to be used in the Hebrew scriptures.

   Mi-mohorat is used only twenty-eight times in the entire Old Testament. In twenty-six of these instances it is rendered "on the morrow" in the King James Version of the Bible.

   In the verse in question (Leviticus 23:15), it is translated "from the morrow." Verse 11 renders it on the morro," and verse 16 translates it "unto the morrow after." Notice that this phrase is translated "from the morrow" only once in these twenty-eight instances.

   We must remember that the Hebrew preposition. min or the shortened form mi is always used inclusively where the element of time is included in the context of the scripture. No known, provable exceptions to this rule have been shown to God's ministers.

   We have seen that this same expression mi-mohorat is used three times in this twenty-third chapter of Leviticus (verses 11, 15, 16). In verse 11 it is rendered "on the morrow," and in verse 16 it is translated "unto the morrow," but it must be inclusive reckoning in both of these verses, otherwise it will not make any sense at all.

   Those who would translate the Hebrew mi-mohorat into the English "from the morrow" in Leviticus 23:15 will freely admit that is this prepositional phrase is translated as "from the morrow" in any of the other twenty-seven placese it will make the meaning ridiculous.

"On the Morrow"

   Let us carefully examine a few of these twenty-eight places where this Hebrew prepositional phrase mi-mohorat ("on the morrow") is used:

   1) Lev. 19:5-7: "And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, ye shall offer it at your own will. It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow [mi-mohorat]: and if ought remain until the third day, it shall br burnt in the fire. And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is abominable; it shall not be accepted."

   If mi-mohorat in this verse is translated "from the morrow" (exclusive reckoninq) instead of "on the morrow" it would mean that this sacrifice would be eaten on the third day - and this was express1y forbidden.

   2) Lev. 23:11: "And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow (mi-muhorat) after the sabbath the priest shall wave it."

   If we translated mi-mohorat as "from the morrow" instead of "on the morrow" and app1y exclusive reckoning, then the high priest would have waved the wave sheaf, not on Sunday, but on M0nday And this would certainly distort the true meaning of this verser.

   3) Num. 33:3: "And they [Israel] departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow (mi-mohorat) after the passover...."

   If mi-mohorat is rendered "from the morrow" (exclusive reckoning) here in this verse, Israel would have left Egypt on the 16th, and not on the 15th, as it plainly says.

   4) Josh. 5:10-12: "And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. And they did eat of the old corn [Heb. "produce"] of the land on the morrow (mi-mohorat) after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day. And the manna ceased on the morrow (mi-mohorat) after they had eaten of the old corn [produce] of the land...."

   (See p. 5 for all occurrences of this expression in the O.T.)

HEBREW USAGE

   In the English language "from" is used either inclusively or exclusively where the element of time is concerned. But is the Hebrew preposition "min" or "mi." (from" or "on") used only inclusively in those verses where the element of time is inherent?

   The Encyclopedia Britannica informs us that "Hebrew numeration always includes" the first day of reckoning a period of time: "After this 'morrow after the Sabbath' seven weeks are to be reckoned, and when we reach the morrow after the seventh Sabbath fifty days have been enumerated. Here we must bear in mind that Hebrew numeration always includes the day which is the terminus a quo (the starting point) as well as that which is term. ad quem (the ending point)" (Encyc. Brit., 11th ed., Art. "Pentecost").

   Another very reliable work, A Hebrew And English Lexicon of the Old Testament, by Brown, Driver and Briggs makes the following revealing statement regarding the usage of the Hebrew "mi" or "min" (oftened rendered into English as ON or FROM):

   "Of time - viz. a. as marking the terminus a quo, the anterior [preceding] limit of a continuous period, from, since Dt 924 from the day of my (first) knowing you...."

   Where there is a time element, the Hebrew usage of "mi" or "min" is never exclusive - but is always used in an inclusive way. (See Ex. 12:15, Lev. 22:27, 23:15, 27:17, 18).

HEBREW MEANING OF "MI-MOHORAT" IN LEVITICUS 23:15

   In connection with the words MI-MOHDRAT or on the morrow that are mentioned in Lev. 23:15, several rabbis and doctors of the Hebrew language were contacted and asked the simple question, What does MI-MOHORAT HA-SHABAT in Lev. 23:15 mean?" These are their observations.

   Miss Anne, librarian in Hebrew Union College said: "It means on Sunday."

   Dr. Bergman (Rabbi) from Israel, now teaching in University of Judaism said: "It definitely means on Sunday, there isn't any other way." He added, "only those who don't know Hebrew would possibly render it as Monday."

   Dr. Bergman will send us a written statement. He then referred us to Dr. Naor from Hebrew University, an expert in the Hebrew language and a scholar in Old Testament studies. Dr. Naor is presently lecturing in the Los Angeles area.

   Dr. Naor was more dogmatic and said that in no way could this word MI-MOHORAT mean that Monday is the 1st day in counting Pentecost. It means absolutely beginning on Sunday. He added, "This is the first time in my life that somebody tells me its on Monday." When I asked him again, if Sunday must be the 1st day in counting the 50 days, he became almost angry against such "Christian misinterpretations" and unequivocally stated that MI-MOHORAT cannot mean on Monday.

Link to original letter:

DR. MENAHEM NAOR

   Dr. Naor is a famous scholar in Hebrew grammar, modern Hebrew, O.T. Hebrew and Biblical research.

   His Hebrew grammar books were translated into many languages and are used by schools, colleges, universities and theological seminaires world wide. These books have been widely used in schools in Israel for over two decades.

   Dr. Naor is a professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem where he teaches the Hebrew language, O. T. theology, Judaism and history of religions. He is presently lecturing at the University of Judaism (Los Angeles) and other universities and theological seminaries in the U. S.

WHAT LEVITICUS 23:15-16 MEANS TO AN ISRAELI

   To me as a native Israeli who has spoken Hebrew all my life, Leviticus 23:15 simply indicates "on Sunday until Sunday." I can't see any other explanation to it even if I wanted to.

   The English expression "from the morrow" (mimohorat in Hebrew, v. 15) has only one understanding in Hebrew: "on the morrow. In English, the word "from" could be understood as "away from," but NOT in Hebrew. Mimohorat definitely means "on the morrow," and not "away from the morrow."

   I called the Israeli Consulate asking the Israeli Language and Education Attache what mimohorat in Lev. 23:15 means. The reply was a definite "on Sunday," She also added, "There isn't any other meaning to it." She furthermore made the comment that only non-Hebrew-speaking people could make a mistake on this word.

   I asked her to send me a written statement on this question, and she gladly obliged. I hope to receive it soon.

   The Complete Hebrew-English Dictionary by Reuben Alcalay (Massade Publishing Co., Jerusalem) gives the following meanings for the Hebrew words: mohorat = "the next day, the morrow, [or] the day after"; mimohorat = "on the next day, on the day after, following, [or] on the morrow?

   In order to render the words "from the morrow" (mi-mohorat) as "Monday," a different word would have been used; either, "from the second day after," mi-yam shenni, or the word mo-mohorota-yim, which is modern Hebrew; its exact translation is "the day after tomorrow."

   To anyone who has spoken Hebrew all his life, mi-mohorat in Lev. 23:15 could only be understood as meaning that Sunday, the morrow after the Sabbath, is to be counted as day number one in counting the fifty days to Pentecost.

   by Mordakhai Joseph
Feb. 7, 1974

MRS. RAVID'S CONCLUSIONS

   In February 1974 during the discussions on Pentecost at Pasadena Headquarters, Mr. Herbert Armstrong called Mrs. Ravid long distance in Israel. Mrs. Ravid is the wife of Israeli Ambassador Ravid (formerly assigned to the Israeli Consul in Los Angeles), and she presently teaches Hebrew at Hebrew University. She read the Hebrew of Lev. 23:15 and said that Shavuot (Pentecost) would be counted beginning with Sunday, that Sunday is day number one in the count to 50, and that the Festival would be on a Sunday.

   A few hours later, a slightly horrified Mrs. Ravid called Mr. Armstrong to explain she had made a terrible mistake! Thinking perhaps she had found evidence for exclusive counting after all, we awaited her explanation, hearts pounding. "I don't understand how I could have missed it," she said apologetically; "Shavuot is not counted from the weekly Sabbath, it must be counted from Nisan 15 (the first high day of Unleavened Bread)." Poor Mrs. Ravid was mortified, but her mistake was a natural one. "THE Sabbath" of Lev. 23:15 would naturally mean the weekly Sabbath, but Jewish tradition has long interpreted it to mean the annual Sabbath. Nevertheless, she still counted inclusively.

"FROM" — A MISLEADING TRANSLATION!

   Is Lev. 23:15 correctly translated?

   How does the Jewish Translation (by the Jewish Publication Society of America, Masoretic Text, 1971) render this verse? "And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the day of rest..."(Lev. 23:15).

   And here is the King James Version of this verse: "And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath..."

   Are these two English translations correct when they render the Hebrew preposition "mi" into the English "from"?

   We must bear in mind that the Old Testament scriptures were originally inspired in the Hebrew language. Before we can know whether we should observe a Sunday or a Monday Pentecost, we have to know how this word translated as "from" in the Enslish translations is to be understood. Is it to be used inclusively or exclusively?

Jews Preserved Hebrew Scripture

   The Jews were used by God to preserve the Hebrew Scriptures: "Because that unto them [the Jews] were committed the oracles of God" (Rom 3:2. The Creator also used them to preserve the sacred calendar.

   Whether Pentecost should be observed on Sunday or Monday — all depends on whether you count the fifty days using the word "from" inclusively or exclusively.

"On the Morrow"

   Notice how we are commanded to count the fifty days to Pentecost: "And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath... seven sabbaths shall be complete."

   What are the Hebrew words from which the English words "from the morrow" are translated, and what do they mean? The English words "from the morrow" are translated from the Hebrew words "mi-mohorat." "Mi" is a shortened form of the Hebrew preposition "min" which can be translated in different ways: FROM, of, in, by, at, or ON. The Hebrew word "mohorat" means "the morrow," or "the next day."

   But what does the Hebrew prepositional phrase "mi-mohorat" really mean? Does it mean "FROM the morrow" or "ON the morrow"? "Mi-mohorat" is used only twenty-eight times in the Hebrew Scriptures. In twenty-six of those places it is rendered "on the morrow." In the verse in question (Lev. 23:15), it is tanslated "from the morrow." And in the next verse it is rendered "unto (on) the morrow."

   But is this rendering "from the morrow" the best translation? Or, has this unfortunate translation in English resulted in mis-understanding and confusion as to how the fifty days to Pentecost should be correctly counted?

   If "mi" in verse 15 were to be translated "on the morrow," this would sound strange to the ears of those who speak English. But anyone who understands the difficulties in translating one language into another knows that a too — literal translation always sounds clumsy. For this reason words often have to be supplied in order to make the meaning clear.

   In the better English Bibles, these supplied words are often italicized. This lets the reader know which words the translators have added or supplied, In most cases these added, italicized words make the meaning clearer. In other cases they distort the original meaning, and this they should never do.

   Here are a few examples of italicized (supplied words) in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus which help to clarify the meaning: the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets..." (verse 24). "Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement:..." (verse 27). "It [atonement] shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even..." (verse 32).

   Here is another good example of italics: "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev. 20:10).

   In this instance the translators have erred by supplying the word "are" because the Beast and the False Prophet were cast into the lake of fire over a thousand years before the devil is cast into the lake of fire (see vv. 1-61).

   A more accurate translation should read: "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet were (or "were cast") and shall be tormented..."

   If Leviticus 23:15 were translated as follows, there would be no confusion: "And ye shall begin to count unto you ON THE MORROW after the sabbath, begin to count on the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven sabbaths shall be complete." The italicized words "begin to" and "begin to count" make the true meaning perfectly clear to any English reader.

   Deuteronomy 16:9 proves conclusively that we must "BEGIN TO NUMBER (count) from (Hebrew mi)" the morrow after the sabbath — the day when "the sickle" was first put to the corn.

   In summary, the Hebrew prepositional phrase "MIMOHORAT" can only mean that we must begin counting Pentecost "ON the morrow" (Sunday) the very day on which the wave sheaf was offered.

   To base our conclusions (for a Monday Pentecost) on an ambiguous, misleading English translation of the Hebrew preposition "mi," thereby rendering it as "from," would be like trying to prove that we should keep "Easter" because the English translates Acts 4:12 as "Easter" instead of "Passover."

WHY ENGLISH TRANSLATORS USED "FROM"

   Did the English translators sometimes use "from" in an inclusive manner — (where the element of time was inherent in the verse) when translating the Hebrew preposition "mi" into the English preposition "from"?

   First let us consider the Authorized King James Version. It translates "mi" as "from" in all four of the following instances: Exodus 12:15; Leviticus 22:27; 23:lS; 27:17,l And in each instance there is a time element associated with the use of "mi" ("from"). It is also clear from the context of at least three of these four verses under consideration that the figuring or counting of the period of time involved must be reckoned inclusively.

   We therefore know that the translators of the Authorized Version of the Bible did definitely use the word "from" inclusively in numerous instances.

   But what about the translators of other English versions? Did they also translate the Hebrew preposition "mi" into the English "from" — with the understanding that "from" was to be used inclusively (in those texts where the element of time is included)? Yes, they did, in fact, understand and use the English preposition "from" in an inclusive manner.

   Notice the English translations which rendered the Hebrew "mi" into the English "from" (inclusive reckoning) in at least three of the following four scriptures: Exodus 12:15; Leviticus 22:27; 23:15; 27:17 (see footnote):

A. The King James Authorized Version.
B. The Jewish translation (J.P.S.).
C. The Goodspeed translation.
D. The Revised Standard Version.
E. The New English Bible.
F. The American Standard Version.
G. Young's Literal Translation of the Bible.
H. Lamsa's translation from the Aramaic.
I. The Amplified Bible.
J. The Emphasised Bible by Rotherham.
K. The Modern Reader's Bible by Moulton.
L. The Geneva Bible.
M. The Inspired Version, The Holy Scriptures by Smith.

   The translators of the aforementioned English Bibles all rendered the texts under consideration in the exact same manner as the King James Version. They uniformly translated the Hebrew preposition "mi" into the English preposition "from." But it is clear from their translations that they all used the preposition "from" inclusively — because of the contextual element of time.

   Other English translations also use "from inclusively:

   Moffatt renders the three verses in Leviticus as "FROM," but translates Exodus 12:15 "between."

   Fenton renders Leviticus 22:27 as "on" and then wrongly translates Leviticus 27:17 "before the year of jubilee." But Fenton renders. "mi" (in Exodus 12:15 and Leviticus 23:15) as "from," just as do the other English translations.

   The New American Standard. Bible renders all the verses under consideration as "from," except Leviticus 27:17, which it translates "as of (instead of "from") the year of jubilee."

   The Jerusalem Bible translates all of these verses as "from," with the exception of Leviticus 27:17, which it renders "during the jubilee year."

   And the Septuagint (with an English translation) renders the Hebrew preposition "mi" into the English "from," except for Leviticus 22:27 which it translates "and on the eight day after."

   The Catholic Douay Version also renders all of these verses into the English "from," with the exception of Leviticus 22:27, which it translates "but the eighth day, and thenceforth."

   The New American Bible (Catholic) renders Exodus 12:15 and Leviticus 22:27 as "from," It translates Leviticus 23:35: "Beginning with the day after the sabbath...." And it renders Leviticus 27:17, 18 as follows: "at the beginning of a jubilee" (v, 17); "But if it is some time after this" (v. 18).

   The Torah, The Five Books of Moses, translates three of the four verses under consideration with the English "from," But it then renders Leviticus 27:17, 18 into a misleading translation: up to the jubilee year" (v. 17) and "in the jubilee year" (v. 18).

   It will thus be clearly seen that all of the translators of these English versions of the Bible translated the Hebrew preposition "mi" into the English preposition "from." But all of them, in various instances used "from" in their English translations in an inclusive context.

   The New American Bible (1970 ed.) renders Leviticus 23:15 into very precise, understandable English:
   "BEGINNING WITH the day after the Sabbath, THE DAY ON WHICH you bring the wave-offering sheaf, you shall count seven full weeks, and then on the day after the seventh week the fiftieth day, you shall present the new cereal offering to the Lord."
   Here, then, are the four scriptures where the English translators have rendered the Hebrew preposition "mi" into the English "from": Exodus 12:15; Leviticus 22:27; Leviticus 23:15; and Leviticus 27:17.

   1) "Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread: even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread FROM [Heb. 'mi — inclusive reckoning] the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel" (Ex. 12:15).

   2) "When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam; and FROM [Neb. 'mi' — inclusive reckoning] the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the LORD" (Lev. 22:27).

   3) "And ye shall count unto you FROM [Heb. 'mi' — inclusive reckoning or exclusive reckoning?] the morrow after the sabbath, from [Heb. 'mi'] the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete" (Lev. 23:15). Note! Since this verse is the one under consideration (as to whether it is to be inclusively or exclusively reckoned), it would not be wise to use it as a "proof text."

   4) "If he sanctify his field FROM [Heb. 'mi' — inclusive reckoning] the year of the jubile, according to thy estimation it shall stand. But if he sanctify his field AFTER the jubile ..." (Lev. 27:17, 18).

USE OF "FROM" IN ENGLISH

(Oxford Dictionary)

   How is the preposition "from" used in English? More specifically, how is "from" used where the element of time is included? Is it always used EXCLUSIVELY, or is it also used INCLUSIVELY?

   The most exhaustive English language dictionary is The Oxford English Dictionary (12 vols.). It was first published in 1933.

   This dictionary defines "from" as follows: "Indicating a starting point in time, or the beginning of a period. (The date from which one reckons may be either INCLUSIVE or EXCLUSIVE)" (Volume IV, 1970 ea.).

   Then the dictionary gives several illustrations of how "from" is used in conjunction with the element of time: "also in idiomatic phrases like from a child = from (his) childhood.... 1611 BIBLE 2 Tim. iii.15 From a childe thou hast known the holy Scriptures .... The gate was erected in 1846, and the public were effectually excluded from that year."

   "From a child" Timothy had known the Scriptures. "From a chi1d" undoubtedly includes his childhood days.

   "And the public were effectually excluded from that year (1846)" could possibly be either inclusive or exclusive. But in context, it is more likely that since the "gate was erected in 1846" the same gate was shut and the public were excluded from some time during 1846. It appears to be INCLUSIVE reckoning.

SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE FROM WORLD-RENOWNED TRANSLATORS

   This research was conducted in direct response to Mr. Herbert Armstrong's question: "Why do the translators say 'from the morrow' in Lev. 23:15, whereas all other occurrences of mimohorat are translated 'on the morrow'?"

   To assist Mr. Armstrong, we contacted world-famous translators — scholars who actually rendered the Hebrew of Leviticus into English — and asked them this question (and many variations of it from all sides): "According to the Hebrew, does one count beginning on the morrow after the sabbath (Sunday), or from (away out of) the morrow after the sabbath (Monday)?"

   DR. HERBERT G. MAY (Chairman of the Committee for Continuing Revision of the Revised Standard Version, now called The Common Bible, and accepted by Protestants, Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox scholars). Commenting on the meaning of the word "from" in Lev. 23:15, Dr. May explained it as "beginning to count on the day after the Sabbath." Dr. May, after checking various English translations including the New American Bible, admitted that "from the morrow" could be confusing in English — although the Hebrew MI-MOHORAT could never be confusing. He said, "You count beginning with the morrow after the Sabbath. And then on the fiftieth day counting beginning on the morrow after the Sabbath you get the Festival of Weeks.... I don't think here it would be 'away from.' It would mean a starting point... and 'beginning with' would probably be clearer." Dr, May also stated that he would recommend to his Committee changing "from the morrow" in Leviticus 23:15 to read "count beginning with the morrow after the Sabbath ...." If his translators accept this revision, the Common Bible will read "beginning with" when it appears in 1982-1984.

   DR. HAROLD LINDSELL (Member of the Revised Standard Bible Committee, and author of the marginal references for the RSV). "The answer is...you would count fifty starting with Sunday itself and it would come on the fiftieth day, which would come out on another Sunday." Then he encouraged Dr, Dorothy to call Dr. William LaSor, an expert in Hebrew who himself helped translate the Berkeley Bible, a new modern translation (published in 1949 in Berkeley, California).

   WILLIAM SANFORD LA SOR (Translator of three Old Testament books in the Berkeley Version and a renowned Hebrew scholar: also recommended to us as an expert by Luther Weigle [Retired Chairman of Old Testament Translators of the RSV]). Dr. LaSor stated that he used the word "from" to indicate that you must begin counting on the day after the Sabbath, which would mean the 50th day, Pentecost, is on a Sunday. Of course, Dr. LaSor is relying on an English idiom which allows "from" to be inclusive like the Hebrew.

   DR. MOULE (Assistant to the late Dr. Charles H. Dodd, Head of the Committee on the New English Bible). "I see what you mean. The English is ambiguous...yes, a very tricky expression." Do you feel the Hebrew is also ambiguous? "Definitely not. I would still suggest using the translation 'beginning from' but I would count inclusively [because of the Hebrew]."

   DR. CYRUS H. GORDON (Director of Mediterranean Studies at Brandeis University for seventeen years and Professor of Hebraic Studies at New York University; the author of the first renowned and standard grammar of Ugaritic). In a phone conversation with Dick Paige, Dr. Gordon translated Lev. 23:15 in the following manner: "And you shall number to yourselves in the day after the sabbath, in the day in which you brought the wave sheaf, seven perfect sabbaths." Dr. Gordon takes the Hebrew to be inclusive reckoning. Furthermore, from his study of cognate languages, he thinks the Hebrew preposition min or mi derives from an ancient root meaning "IN" or "INSIDE."

   We see then that the world's most renowned translators (the ones contacted represent whole teams of scholars) unanimously feel that the Hebrew mimohorat is INCLUSIVE regardless of its translation. Put another way, these translators understand the English "from" as if it said "beginning with."

   Why?

   We asked that question also and the response was "that is the traditional translation," and "there is no problem in understanding 'from the morrow' as inclusive in English." But if that is a problem to some, then they suggest "beginning with" as a more accurate reflection of the original.

   One more important conclusion emerges — there is an idiom in English which allows "from" to be inclusive as in "count from one to ten."

MODERN TRANSLATIONS

   There are at least two English translations of the Bible which translate Lev. 23:15 in such a way as to clearly show that they understood the "from the morrow" of the King James Version to be inclusive:

   "BEGINNING WITH the day after the sabbath, the day on which you bring the wave-offering sheaf, you shall count seven full weeks, and then on the day after the seventh week, the fiftieth day, you shall present the new cereal offering to the LORD" (The New American Bible, 1970 ed.).

   Though The New American Bible is primarily a work of Catholics. Protestant scholars were also included: "The original group [of Catholic biblical scholars] was later expanded to include Protestants, the total forming a community of fifty outstanding American scholars dedicated to a Bible translation that would be a living, fulfilling rendering of the divine message for today's Americans in today's language" (quoted from the cover of this same Bible).

   The Layman's PARALLEL BIBLE gives four parallel translations of the Bible: the King James Version, Modern Language Bible, The Living Bible, and the Revised Standard Version. Notice how The Modern Language Bible translates Lev. 23:15: "Count for yourselves from [or on] the morning after the sabbath, from the day when you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, seven full weeks: until the morning after the seventh sabbath you will count fifty days and bring a new cereal offering to the LORD," To "count...from the morning after the sabbath" obviously means to count from Sunday morning.

   Both of these modern translations of the Bible clearly show that their translators definitely understood "from the morrow after the sabbath" to include the next day (which we know was Sunday).

MEANING OF "SABBATHS"

   We are commanded: "And 'ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the (1) sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven (2) sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh (3) sabbath shall ye number fifty days..." (Lev, 23:15-16, KJV).

   Notice the translations which render Lev. 23:15, 16 as (1) "sabbath," (2) "sabbaths," and (3) "sabbath": American Standard Version, Fenton's translation, The Amplified Bible, Young's translation, The New American Standard Bible, and the Authorized King James Version.

   The following translations render these verses as (1) "sabbath," (2) "weeks" (3) "sabbath": the Moffatt translation; the Revised Standard Version, The Jerusalem Bible The New English Bible, the Goodspeed translation, and The Modern Language Bible.

   Three translations render these verses slightly differently, (1) "sabbath," (2) "weeks," (3) "week": The New American Bible, the Douay Version, and the Septuagint Version (with an English translation).

   Are we to count "seven sabbaths" or "seven weeks"? And, are we to count "unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath" or "unto the morrow after the seventh week"?

   The Hebrew word which has been translated in the KJV as "sabbath" and "sabbaths" is shabbath or its plural shabbathoth. Of the 110 times where these words occur in the KJV of the Old Testament, not once is it translated in any other way than "sabbath(s)."

   Since the Holy Spirit did inspire, in the Hebrew language, another word to be used for "week" (Heb, shabua) or "weeks" (Heb. shavuot), and these words are consistently translated (in the KJV) as "week(s)," the only logical conclusion is that God would not have inspired the word "shabbath(s)" to be used in Leviticus 23:15, 16 if He had meant merely "week(s)."

Sabbath Versus Week

   Some have said that the Hebrew word shabbath can also be translated as "week" but there is not one instance in the Authorized KJV of the Old Testament of God ever using this word to mean "week."

   Notice Deut. 16:9: "Seven weeks (shavuot) shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks (shavuot) from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn, And thou shalt keep the: feast of weeks [shavuot] unto the LORD thy God...."

   Remember, the Hebrew word shabua ("week") or shavuot ("weeks") is never used for "sabbath," and it appears very doubtful that the Hebrew word shabbath should ever be translated as "week" in the Old Testament.

   Our writings have said shabbath means "week," but this definition is only found outside the Old Testament, It is true, however, that Sabbath can include the definition "week" — but this occurs well over 1000 years later in Rabbinic Hebrew, in later Aramaic, and in the Greek of the New Testament.

   The Moffatt translation renders this text as follows: "From the day after the sabbath, the day you bring the sheaf of the wave offering, you shall count seven full weeks, fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath" (Lev. 23:15-16).

   Why does Moffatt translate shabbath as "sabbath" in two instances, but one time render shabbath as "weeks"?

   Apparently, he just followed the Pharisaic and modern Jewish custom of rendering shabbaths as "weeks." Today, orthodox Jews follow the ancient Pharisaic tradition of counting from the morrow after the first day of Unleavened Bread (the annual Sabbath) — no matter what day of the week it falls on, This undoubtedly explains why the Jewish translation says: "Seven weeks shall there be complete: even unto the morrow after the seventh week shall ye number fifty days...."

   A grammatical comparison of the first and second parts of the crucial statement in Lev. 23:15-16 yields a significant similarity, a revealing proof: "And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath...even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath." The only difference in the Hebrew between "from the morrow after the Sabbath" and "the morrow after the seventh Sabbath" is the one word "seventh" — everything else is identical, word-for-word, letter for letter.

   Please note: Here is the point, We have forcefully and correctly stated that the Sabbath of v. 15 must be the weekly Sabbath. Why then should the "Sabbath" in v. 16 be any different from the weekly Sabbath of v. 15? Especially since both words are used in the same identical grammatical and sentence structure and context? If we are consistent in explaining this very same word "sabbath" (and why not be consistent?), the morrow after the seventh Sabbath can only be a Sunday.

   Not only does this consistent explanation make more sense, it is corroborated by modern Hebrew usage Which, on this point, has not changed through the centuries.

   Modern Jews use shabbath to mean a complete, perfect "biblical week" from Sunday through Saturday (inclusive), But when an "imperfect" or "non-biblical" week is used (e.g., a week from Tuesday), modern Hebrews use shavua and not shabbath, Consequently, even if the word shabbath can be stretched to mean "week" in Lev. 23-15, it seems to only mean a biblical week: Sunday through Sabbath.

Link to Englishman's Hebrew Concordance, 5th ed.

THE SEVEN WEEKS OF DEUTERONOMY 16:9

   There are two interesting aspects of Deut. l6:9: 1) we are told to count weeks (not days), and 2) we begin to number the seven weeks from a specific point in time (when you begin to put the sickle to the corn).

   The seven weeks of the spring harvest could not be begun until the wave-sheaf was offered. The vast majority of scholars (relying on authoritative Jewish sources) state that in New Testament times the wave-sheaf was offered just after sundown, just after the end of the Sabbath, on the first day of the week. (This first/second century ritual practice may have differed from Mosaic practice which presumably would have offered the omer on Sunday morning when a harvest could have continued.) This is obviously when they first put the sickle to the corn" — and is therefore the exact point in time from which Deut. 16:9 states we must number the seven weeks.

   Remember, this verse tells us to deal in whole weeks, not parts of weeks, not days. Now, what is a week? A whole week just for illustration would extend let's say from 7:00 p.m. Monday evening to precisely 7:00 p.ma the following Monday evening; or one week from the beginning of Sunday is also the beginning of Sunday of the following week. Applying this to Deuteronomy 16:9, the seven complete weeks numbered from that exact point in time at the beginning of Sunday, are completely finished at that same point of time when Sunday begins. (just after the end of the Sabbath) seven weeks later.

   So our seven full weeks bring us to the start of Sunday. And nothing is said here of 50 days, or of a day after the weeks — just seven weeks are mentioned. Then we are to have a feast. What day would that feast be?

   To have a Monday Pentecost from Deuteronomy 16, we must jump ahead from our arrival point early Sunday, some 18-23 hours to the end of Sunday or the beginning of Monday. But what about those hours — almost a full day and surely the whole daylight, working portion of the day? The seven weeks have already been totally and fully completed by the beginning of Sunday! Is a whole day to count for nothing? Moreover, Deuteronomy 16:10 clearly states that you shall keep The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) precisely at the point of completion of those seven weeks — not a whole day later! Only a Sunday Pentecost satisfies the requirements of Deuteronomy 16.

A Good Question

   From another point of view, since God tells us to begin to number the seven weeks at the time of the wave-sheaf offering — at the beginning of or during Sunday, and since the seven weeks to be counted are the seven weeks of the harvest, it stands to reason that that first Sunday was a full harvest day. (Even if the wave-sheaf was not offered until early Sunday morning, that still left the entire daylight portion of that first Sunday for the harvest.) Consequently should not Sunday be counted as day number one in numbering the 50 days?

   In other words, if the wave-sheaf was harvested on that first day, why should it not be counted as one of the harvest days? Why should the count not start until on Monday?

Another Approach

   But what if this method of counting by whole weeks is not accepted? What if we insist that Deuteronomy gives us 49 days (instead of seven "weeks") and that the 50th day of Leviticus 23 must be added to make a complete picture? That is, Leviticus and Deuteronomy are not separate methods, but should go together — one cannot be understood without the other. In other words according to this approach if we had only Deuteronomy to go by and we didn't add Leviticus 23:15-16, we might keep the wrong day — namely, the 49th day.

   All right, let's assume that Deuteronomy only gives 49 days, let's not count by whole weeks, and let's come to the 50th day by adding Leviticus 23:15. When does Deuteronomy tell us to begin those supposed "days"? "From beginning to put the sickle to the corn (literal translation). That sickling is a point of time within a day. It ends at that same point 49 days later. If that point, the harvest, began as late as possible, say 10:00 a.m. or 12:00 noon, what do we do with the eight or ten hours left over when the 49 days have ended? Pentecost would be 49 days (not called such in the Bible) plus eight or ten useless hours (ridiculous) plus a 50th day (mentioned in Leviticus).

   CONCLUSION: Leviticus 23 does not "interpret" Deuteronomy 16 nor does Deuteronomy interpret Leviticus. If Leviticus 23 needed Deuteronomy as an interpretation, the people would have been confused for 38 years, since Deuteronomy was written 38-39 years later. This paper suggests that Leviticus and Deuteronomy show two totally different ways of counting — two ways which though they do not interpret one another, do coincide with and supplement each other.

   Clearly it is better to accept a Sunday Pentecost based on a Sunday commencement of the harvest.

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Publication Date: 1974
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