Updated: Jul 17
The third Hebrew month is called Sivan (counting from Nisan). It falls in the Gregorian months of late May/June. It is mentioned by name only once in scripture: Esther 8:9, otherwise it is just referred to as the “third month” in scripture.
The 2nd day of Sivan is called the “day of distinction” by some Orthodox Jews because it is believed that it was on this day that the people agreed to accept the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Therefore, some celebrate this day as a minor festival.
It is also a traditional belief that on the third day of Sivan that the LORD instructed Moses to have the people to build a boundary around the mountain so that they would not approach the mountain, and they were commanded to prepare themselves to be ready for the third day (Exodus 19:9-15). In modern Jewish circles the 6th of Sivan is believed to always be Pentecost (Shavuot), when the people saw the smoke, heard the thundering, and heard the voice of Yah speaking to them.
There is some disagreement on the calendars as which day is really Shavuot. Even in the first century several different calendars were kept. The Sadducees, Pharasees, Essenes and even the people from the Galilee area all practiced some alterations in the calendar. The Sadducees, who were over the priesthood at the time, generally called the feast or appointed times according to their accepted calendar. After the fall of the temple, the Pharasees took dominance over the calendar and it has remained that way until the current time.
The Pharasees kept Shavuot on the set day of Sivan 6. The Sadducees kept it on the day after the 7th weekly Sabbath (during the counting of 7 Sabbaths or weeks, after firstfruits). According to their calendar observance Pentecost would always fall on a Sunday. The Christian church also celebrates Pentecost on a Sunday observance as outlined above.
(I know, it all gets a little confusing – I will be glad when Yeshua comes and straightens it all out). All of this confusion comes about from differences of interpretation of Joshua chapter 5 regarding the cessation of manna and the coming into the land.
Although modern Jews celebrate Shavuot for being the day when Torah was given at Mt. Sinai it is also clearly known for agricultural reasons. Shavuot was the celebration of the wheat harvest in ancient Israel. The wheat harvest came 7 weeks after the barley harvest (which occurred at Passover time), or 7 weeks after the Exodus. This is why it is a tradition to read the book of Ruth during Shavuot because those recorded events took place during the spring wheat harvest.
Shavuot culminates the experience of the redemption that started at Passover. It is often called the “conclusion” of Passover. After all, the goal of Passover was to bring the people to Mt. Sinai where Yah would enter into a marriage covenant with Israel and make them His own peculiar, set-apart, holy people. He called them at Sinai to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
Historically, celebrations include: decorating the home and synagogue with greenery, eating dairy foods and sweets, and staying up the entire night reading selections from the Torah and portions of the Talmud.
For Messianic Jews, Shavuot is also a time to celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit (Acts chapter 2).
For more on Shavuot please see the link below.