A Jewish Analysis Of Pentecost
By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This essay study is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Paul Sakash, may he rest in peace.

The book of Acts according to many sources was written by a gentile Doctor named Luke. He traveled with a renegade messianic Jew named Saul {Paul}. Luke is NOT A TORAH SCHOLAR. If you consider him a historian he has done a poor job. His writings reflect minor understanding in this area. For example:

On the fiftieth day of the omer he does not use the term Shavuos when describing it. Instead he states, When the day of Pentecost was fully come... What is this day of Pentecost in reference to? His description would make it appear like an everyday term understood by all. Pentecost is exclusively a New Testament term that makes reference to the counting of the omer as required in the Torah. Pentecost means fiftieth. It is the day of Shavuos.

First, Luke omits important facts.

Second, His record is misleading.

Third, Was Luke a witness to the events?
Was Luke reporting unsubstantiated hearsay?

It gives the impression that the followers of Jesus returned to Jerusalem to seek the promise of the Father as stated in Acts, And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me..

Luke does not explain that the Festival of Shavuos was just six days away and that all Jewish males above the age of twenty were required to appear before G-d in the Bais Ha Mikdosh as explained in the Torah, Ex.. 23:17. This is a serious omission because it gives the impression that the followers of Jesus went to Jerusalem specifically because angels told them to. The fact is they were going to Jerusalem because Shavuos was approaching. They were observing the Torah.

Luke identifies the arrival of Shavuos in Acts by stating, "When the day of Pentecost was fully come..." In other words the fiftieth day from the Festival of Matzoh had arrived. What does the Festival of Passover / Matzoh {unleavened bread} have to do with Pentecost? From the beginning of the Festival of Matzoh Jewish men are required to count forty-nine days. This is called counting the Omer. We count the omer at the conclusion of evening prayers. This is when our day begins. The fiftieth day is the Festival of Shavuos. Luke calls Shavuos Pentecost because it means fifty in Greek.

Jewish men living any distance form Jerusalem normally stayed in Jerusalem from the Festival of Matzoh until Shavuos. Traveling back and forth twice in such a short span of time required too much time, money and energy Since Shavuos is the festival of first fruits and the remembrance of giving the Torah on Mt. Sinai it is a perfect time to stay in Jerusalem and learn, which is what many men did.

With this in mind, let's recount the Omer according to the New Testament. record:
Jesus died on the fifteenth of Nissan, the day after Pesach {Passover} celebration. It was the first day the omer was counted. It was the Festival of Matzoh.

According to the New Testament. he returned to life three days later which would have been the fourth day of the omer. The historical record does not bear this out. I discuss this subject in my book I Don't Believe In Jesus Because...

Based only on the New Testament claims: he was on this earth for an additional forty days before the New Testament. states he ascended into the heavens which would have been the forty-fourth day of the omer.

Now the New Testament states that two men in white apparel appeared instructing Jesus' followers to return to Jerusalem and await the Promise of the Father. In other words wait for SHAVUOS with all the other thousands upon thousand of Jews already in Jerusalem waiting! What is so new about waiting?. Thousands of people have been waiting in Jerusalem between Pesach and Shavuos for hundreds of years! SHAVUOS was just six days away.

Who were these two unidentified men? They could have been Jesus' followers or they could have been anyone. What is significant about white clothes for a hot dessert region? What does that have to do with anything? Is it supposed to give us the impression that they were holy? Was white clothing supposed to be an inference to the Levium who wore white linen? Was it a play on the writings of the Novium who occasional associated white with purity? The reader is supposed to make that connection without knowing where it leads.

Next we are informed that they were to return to Jerusalem and await the Promise of the Father. If these two men dressed in white clothes were messengers sent by Hashem they would have already been aware that the followers were going to Jerusalem to wait six days until SHAVUOS. The instruction is a blast of ignorance! They were already going there to learn, to study and to wait. This was their pattern since early childhood. This was the pattern they were raised by, passed from father to son for hundreds of years! So why would two men in white apparel tell them to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Promise of the Father? It is clear they were not messengers of Hashem. They cast much doubt on this report and Luke the reporter...

Next we MUST ask was Luke, the writer of Acts, present in Jerusalem in the upper room on the day of Shavuos? No! He reported what he had been told. He does not name his source or sources. We know this because he states:
"They were of all with one accord in one place..."
"They were sitting..."
"There appeared unto them.."
Never once in relating this story from the second chapter of Acts does Luke use the words we, us, me or I. The entire report is based upon the facts / fiction Luke gathered. His source is not named. It hurts the credibility of what he is reporting. As a result it is not substantiated!

If Luke would have investigated even the most basic of details during his fact finding he would have learned that in Judaism the entire congregation prays in unison. Luke's report gave the impression that something new, that something special is happening when in fact everything he mentioned leading up to Shavuos was customary. His report shows how uninformed he actually was... how unacquainted with Judaism he actually was...In actuality Luke gives the impression that Jesus' followers had reached some special level of Utopia. when in fact they were in Jerusalem with thousands of other Jews doing what they always did between Pesach and Shavuos!

Seeing how ignorant Luke was casts much doubt on what he has reported.

Now we have several steps in a series of deceit.

Next we learn that it was only the third hour of the day (Acts 2:15) according to Peter's statement to men who were identified as devout followers of Judaism. In other words it was close to 9:45 in the morning. This would be about two hours after prayers were concluded on Shavuos morning. Devout Jews were already returning from their morning prayers and study in the Holy Temple. Many had concluded an entire night of studying the Torah* followed with early morning prayer. Morning prayers are followed by Kiddush {wine & bread}. Since morning prayers were over for at least two hours it would be perfectly understandable why the followers of Jesus appeared drunk with wine. We can draw two conclusions from this: (*Studying all night would later become a custom for Shavuos.) We must decipher which is the case.

On the one hand we have the possibility that Jesus' followers did obey the Torah, that they did appear before G-d in the Holy Temple, that they were up studying all night with other devout Jews in the Holy Temple, that they had concluded their morning prayers around 7:45 am or sooner, that they had returned to the upper room for Kiddush {wine bread and a meal} and that they were concluding Kiddush when these tongues of cloven fire came upon them as Luke states in the N.T.

Then on the other hand, maybe Jesus' followers did not obey the Torah, maybe they did not appear before G-d in the Holy Temple at morning prayers, maybe they were renegades who chose to pray at a later time outside of the Temple and maybe they were drunk with wine.

Since at this time we do not know, we are obligated to give them the benefit of the doubt unless we can prove otherwise even though it was suspicious because it was well beyond the time for morning prayers for Shavuos and they could have been drunk with wine. Yet, we will take the first opinion.

Next is a more revealing fact that we can examine and totally deny. Luke stated that what happened on Shavuos was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. even though he reported what he was told was INCORRECT! Now let's examine what he was told.

Peter stated that the phenomenon of speaking in other languages was connected to Joel's prophecy. He stated,
"But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 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 show wonders in heaven 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-RD come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the L-RD shall be saved. "

Now all that one has to do some two thousand years later is compare the text in Joel with what Luke reported in Acts to know the truth.

"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the L-RD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the L-RD shall be delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the L-RD hath said, and in the remnant whom the L-RD shall call."

· Joel's prophecy says nothing about speaking with tongues or other languages...
· What happened in Jerusalem was not poured out upon "ALL FLESH".
· What wonders were shown???
· Was there blood???
· Was there fire???
· Were there pillars of smoke???
· Did the sun turn into darkness???
· Did the moon turn into blood???
· Was Mount Zion or Jerusalem delivered up???

The fact is that none of these things happened. It is PROFITLESS to insist that those were the last days. It clearly misses the point of what the novie Joel said. Now two thousand years later it is still clear that we have not entered those days BUT WE WILL. When we do enter those last days tongues and languages will have nothing to do with them. This was Peter's well meaning but unlearned explanation of what was happening...

Much disagreement exists among messianics and Christians about the tongue issue. They do not understand what happened. Tongues is a phenomenon to them. If you have ever had the experience of people who speak with tongues it is quite interesting. First someone sitting next to you jumps to their feet and starts shouting in tongues. They claim that it is a real language, but that is very questionable. Next, one, two or more people will stand up and interpret what was just said. This is not a translation. It is each person's private interpretation of what was said. If you speak with tongues they say you are filled with the HOLY GHOST. They are very serious about this.

I hesitate to even comment about this. The tongues issue has revised over the past 150 years among Christians. Prior to that only limited occurrences exist going back 1,850 years to the occurrence Luke reports about in the New Testament.

Luke reported that the local Galilaeans were heard speaking fifteen different dialects on Shavuos. Again this is some type of proposed / suggested miracle by Luke.

It would be foolish to deny that out of 120 people you couldn't find fifteen different dialects from among them. In the Christian / Messianic world that is unlikely but in Judaism it is a cake walk. Yosef the son of Yaakov prince of Egypt spoke seventy different dialects. The men referred to in the New Testament as the chief priests and elders also spoke seventy dialects...There are many examples of individuals speaking more than just fifteen dialects. That is no surprise to us.

In this instance we are talking about a group of 120 people gathering together praying the same exact prayers in unison It is not unusual to learn these prayers in many different languages. Today these prayers are said, just in Hebrew but several thousand years ago many shuls said these prayers in different dialects. So it is very possible that as a group or as individuals the congregation lit up the airways with praise in many different dialects or in unison.

It is important for the reader to understand that the average male living to the age of seventy may pray some of these prayers as many as 84,000 times during his life. As a result he learned the same prayers in different dialects.

One may be surprised by Peter's declaration that this was fulfillment of Joel's prophesy. However Peter like many Jews of that day thought they were living in the last days two-thousand years ago. Jesus, their rabbi, supported their beliefs. So it is not difficult to understand why Peter would proclaim these as the last days.

What is difficult to understand is why they were praying in another location than the Holy Temple. The Torah command is for Jewish men to present them selves three times before Hashem in the Holy Temple. They were not doing that here. It is equally difficult to understand why they were praying that late in the morning. The time for morning prayers had ended. Observant men were returning from the Temple services.

The key to the entire matter is the word devout or observant. Could it be that the reason two men in white told Jesus' follower to return to Jerusalem and wait is because they were not devout Jews. Could it be that they did not present themselves in the Holy Temple because they were not devout Jews? Could it be they were praying at a later time because they were not devout Jews? Possible....

Finally remember that the devout men of Judaism read and spoke Hebrew so what kind of a sign would it be to hear people speaking your native dialect? It would simply mean nothing. It would have no point even if it happened! In addition any Torah observant Jew knows that miracles mean nothing. Our Torah teaches us not to rely on miracles as a sign of fulfillment.

So it is clear even if some of these incidents did happen it was reported by a non-Jew unfamiliar with Jewish customs and tradition. That affected the accuracy of his report. In addition most of his sources were not named so they could not be verified outside of the New Testament. Also Luke's report exposes Torah violations and misinterpretations by Jesus' followers.

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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