Dealing with Karaite
The timings of Israel's feast days are fixed to the historical dates of God's creative acts and redemptive interventions in history. The Sabbath is celebrated every seventh day in honor of His completion of creation. The seventh day is celebrated in synchronization with the original seventh day. Also, the original Passover was sacrificed during the afternoon of the 14th day of the moon, and in the first month of the year. Therefore, Israel's annual celebration of the original Passover is at that time, and they eat it that night. The 15th day of the moon marks the beginning of Israel's Exodus from Egypt. Therefore, this day is kept as a special Sabbath in remembrance of the Exodus. The feast of Pentecost, called Shavuot in Hebrew for "sevens" is also kept in memory of a major historical event. This feast was held on the day that Yahweh met with the elders of Israel on Mt. Sinai.
Disputes over when these events happened, and when they were supposed to be celebrated were bound to arise as Israel departed from the Biblical revelation into idolatry. The most subtle form of corruption is the suggestion that God's laws and times should be modified—just a little— mind you, to accommodate some pagan custom, or to allow Israel to honor some foreign god and yet still pay lip service to the God of Israel. In time people forget the pagan origin of various compromises and end up thinking they are serving the God of Israel by giving attention to the tradition.
The problem with accepting this status quo is that invariably tradition changes one's perception of the historical event, even to the point of misplacing the historical event entirely, or ignoring it. The same forces that introduced the original compromise are eager to further it with increased ignorance so that what the people "called by God's name" actually do in their religious practice ends up in no way resembling what God originally taught and commanded.
The Karaite sect of Judaism believes they have preserved the original Shavuot (Pentecost). They believe that Shavuot (Pentecost) always comes on a Sunday. Hence, they must believe that the original historical Shavuot, (when God met with the seventy elders of Israel on Mt. Sinai) was on a Sunday. Why Sunday? Because calculating the correct date of Shavuot depends on counting 50 days which start "in the day after the Sabbath" of Passover, and they believe this "Sabbath" to be the weekly Sabbath. This sabbath is mentioned in Lev. 23:11 and 23:15, but the text does not say whether it is the weekly Sabbath or a feast day Sabbath. Not directly. So some reasoning has to be used. For this the Karaites consult Lev. 23:16. Here the text speaks of "the day after the seventh sabbath", which is clearly a weekly Sabbath, and then "counting a fiftieth day". So the Karaites conclude that Shavuot, the 50th day, comes on Sunday. And they think it always comes on a Sunday.
There are no exceptions. Their method of calculation counts 50 days from a Sunday, and so always ends up on Sunday. If there were an exception, then the Karaite view would be conclusively disproved. This is because Karaites believe the words ממחרת השבת in Leviticus 23:16 only mean the "on the day after the Sabbath", or "on the morrow of the Sabbath", which is always a Sunday in their opinion—(a view which we will shortly show is based on dogmatism that ignores the Hebrew sense that would say otherwise). So if just one biblical Shavuot can be shown not to have fallen on Sunday, then the Karaite view would be disproved, and we would have to seek the true explanation based on the original Hebrew text. Or if one biblical example can be given where Shavuot (Pentecost) did not fall on Sunday, then their view would be shown in error.
While in Egypt Moses told Pharaoh that Israel must go a "three days' journey" into the wilderness to celebrate a feast to YHWH (Exodus 3:18; 5:1-3; 8:27). We are also told that leaving Mt. Sinai involved a "three days' journey" in Numbers 10:33. The words used in Numbers are דרך שלשת ימים, which are the very words used by Moses in the three Exodus passages for going to Mt. Sinai. This demonstrates that the mountain of YHWH was three days' journey into the wilderness of Sinai, and three days' journey to get out of it. They were to serve YHWH "upon this mountain" (Exodus 3:12).
Which mountain was this? It was researched by Jim and Penny Caldwell and their two children in south western Saudi Arabia (the biblical Midian). It is called Jebel Al Lawz. They discovered and researched the "Split Rock" at Rephidim, which on the western side of the mountain. However, the site of the burning bush was on the "backside of the desert" (אחר המדבר, Exodus 3:1). Therefore, one has to circle around to the east side of the mountain going through the wilderness of Sinai for three days. The wilderness of Sinai, is itself the local wilderness surrounding the mountain. One must circle north from Rephidim through the wilderness of Sinai three days. See drawing below right. The three days' journey is from Rephidim, NW a few miles, then N, then East, then swing around to the S when one reaches the east side of the range. There are a system of flat wadis where it is passable from one to the other by a large number of people. The route is exactly 40 miles long, and can be charted on Google Earth.
Exodus 19:1 tells us that Israel entered the wilderness of Sinai on the new moon of the third month. This will be when they set out from Rephidm. Even though, it does not mention that three days were required to reach the final encampment here, we are told via the other texts referenced above that this is how long it would take. The distance was not far, but with 2-3 million people, and flocks in tow, one can only do 12-15 miles a day, while an army with only men and supplies does 20-25 miles/day.
This leaves us to conclude that the feast Moses was talking about was the one for which Israel prepared in Exodus 19 for the giving of the Torah. For by the process of elimination and the chronology, it could be the only one meant. Which day was the feast? Moses said, "and let us sacrifice to YHWH our God" in connection with his request to go "three days' journey". Moses mentions sacrificing in all three passages in Exodus (3:18; 5:1-3; 8:27). These sacrifices took place in Exodus 24:5. So this day, on which they made these offerings, was the feast day. Also the detail that this day of sacrificing was to be a "feast" is specified in Exodus 5:1 and 10:9.
(It may seem that Moses was deceiving Pharaoh to speak of a three days' journey, but we must remember that Pharaoh never asked where the three days' journey started. It is therefore a mistake when many try to draw a three day circle around the land of Goshen to figure out where Mt. Sinai is. The "three days' journey" is in fact only the time required to get to the backside of Mt. Sinai from the western side through the local wilderness of Sinai.)
So, which day of the week was the feast day? After meeting with the Seventy Elders of Israel on the day of the feast, Moses goes further up the mountain, and then "the glory of YHWH abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud" (Exodus 24:16). So if six more days pass, and then the seventh day comes, it is the Sabbath day. This shows that the day of the feast, after which the six days are counted, was also the Sabbath. It also shows that YHWH speaks with Moses in principle on the Sabbath. Accordingly, it makes sense that he spoke with all Israel and met with the Seventy Elders on Mt. Sinai on the Sabbath. Given these considerations, it must be most probable that the Scripture is pointing us to the Sabbath for the divine meetings, and not some other day.
There is a curious phrase in Genesis 4:3: "in the process of time".
Actually the Hebrew says "at the end of days" (מקץ ימים).
There was a proper time, place, and manner for the offering, which God
required, and which Cain failed to heed, but which Abel complied
with. We may well suppose that the Sabbath was the
prescribed day, since it was at the end of the days of the
week. So we see in Genesis 4:3 that the day prescribed for
sacrifices or holding a feast was the Sabbath. (*Note I have since
revised this last opinion about Gen. 4:3. The "end of days" here more
probably is the end of the days of the old year. In other words,
the offerings were after the spring equinox. So if there was a
Sabbath involved, it would be the 15th day of the first month, but this
would be proleptic. In any case Yahweh may have wanted it to be a feast
day from the beginning.)
Right after the feast, YHWH asked Moses to go up the mountain, and he does not speak with him until the seventh day. It is logical then that the feast day itself was the seventh day. Since the feast was Shavuot, the feast promised in Egypt, and it was not on Sunday, the Karaite view is accordingly disproved. The statements in the text do seem to make it improbable.
God gave Israel a double portion of manna on Friday morning. So they would have gathered this double portion of manna, and then "in the morning, ... there were thunders and lightnings" (Exodus 19:16). This would be Friday morning after they finished eating and stored away the rest of the manna for Sabbath. The reason God gave them double manna then was so that they could rest, relax, and concentrate on spiritual things on the coming Sabbath. It would not make sense to set aside time for this purpose, and then not to use it for the giving of the Torah.
Moses went up the mountain on Friday, and YHWH told him, "And let the priests also, which come near to YHWH, sanctify themselves, lest YHWH break forth upon them" (Exodus 19:22). Who were these priests? They were not the Levites. The firstborn Israelites and elders were still the priests. For it was before Israel had sinned with the golden calf, and before God's judgment restricting the priesthood to the Levites. So the firstborn were the priests then. Apparently, they were supposed to take care of the business of the sacrifices for the feast. They are the "young men" mentioned in Exodus 24:5. But, on this Friday morning, they were not sufficiently sanctified for YHWH. Apparently there remained some extra step, perhaps an extra immersion, or perhaps YHWH knew some of the priests had neglected to wash in the previous two days. Moses was also told to get back down the mountain and make sure the people did not transgress the bounds (vs. 21). So things were not quite ready yet. We may assume the the household priests went through an additional immersion (to make sure there was no neglect) and waited till sunset before they were fit to sacrifice. The remaining preparations took up the day part of Friday.
Then as soon as the Sabbath began, YHWH spoke with the sound of a trumpet the ten commandments. But the people were afraid, and asked that Moses speak with God. Therefore Moses went up, and YHWH spoke the rest of what he would say to Moses up to Exodus 24:2. This would have taken a portion of the night, and then another portion of it for Moses to write it all down.
In the morning Moses built the altar, and the firstborn priests made the sacrifices, and the seventy went up the mountain and saw YHWH, the Elohim of Israel. It was actually YHWH Yeshua that they saw. Moses then went up the mount and waited six days (vs. 16) and then on the next Sabbath YHWH "called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud" (vs. 16).
This should remind one of a similar scene with Yeshua, Moses, and Elijah in Matthew 17, where we read, "And after six days Yeshua taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart" (17:1). "After six days" means that it has to be on the seventh day. The phrase "after six days" goes with "and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses" (Exodus 24:16). It is mentioned in Matthew 17:5 that YHWH spoke, "a voice out of the cloud".
Matthew 17:1 and Mark 9:2 tell us the transfiguration on the mountain was "after six days"; Luke 9:28, on the other hand says, "And it came to pass after these words, about eight days"; How do we reconcile the statements? Luke is counting inclusively. Matthew and Mark are counting exclusively. For Matthew and Mark, I have numbered the days in the yellow "day" boxes, and for Luke I numbered below.
Yeshua was teaching his disciples on the Sabbath day that he would be killed and rise the third day. This is the first Sabbath in the diagram. Then "after six days" (exclusive counting) or about "eight days" (inclusive counting), Yeshua goes up on the mountain, again on the Sabbath, with his disciples to be transfigured and speak with Moses and Elijah.
The diagram also shows the Shavuot chronology. The first Sabbath in the picture is that of the feast day, and the six days are the time Moses had to wait before YHWH spoke to him out of the cloud.
The Explanation of מִמָּחֳרָת הַשַּׁבָּת
The explanation of these words requires a deep understanding of the ambiguities and idioms of Hebrew, something that Israel would have known in the day that the Torah was given. The heart of the matter can be explained to one who does not know Hebrew, or who knows only a little, but some patience will be required. We must know this so that tomorrow we may tell your children.
Since Exodus 24:16 demonstrates that the feast day was on the Sabbath, what do the words מִמָּחֳרָת הַשַּׁבָּת in Leviticus 23:16 mean? Do they mean "on the day after the sabbath"? Not strictly in so many English words. Verse 15 shows us that it cannot always mean "on the day after the Sabbath": 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 (Leviticus 23:15). We see here that "from the morrow after" is used in the Authorized Version. The reason is plain to see: seven sabbaths cannot be counted "on" the day after. To count them requires the counting period to be "from" the morrow after.
So, why does the English have "on the morrow after the sabbath" in vs. 11, and "the morrow after the seventh sabbath" in vs. 16 when the exact same words are used in vs. 15 and are translated "from the morrow after"? Why does vs. 15 include the word "from"? The reason for the confusion is that not enough attention is paid to the Hebrew text. The translators had to include "from" in vs. 15, because the text does not make sense without it. From in Hebrew is מִן, and when prefixed to a word only one letter is used: מִּ. It occurs in all three texts, in Lev. 23:11, 23:15, and 23:16, yet it is only rendered "from" in vs. 15, "on" in vs. 11, and not at all in vs. 16. Why? The ArtScroll Series Stone Edition Tenach commits the same folly, "on the morrow of the rest day," (vs. 11) "from the morrow of the rest day" (vs. 15), and "until the morrow of the seventh week" (vs. 16) respectively.
If we were to allow "from the morrow of the seventh Sabbath counting a fiftieth day", then the text would only say that the "fiftieth day" is located somewhere beyond the seventh Sabbath like the seven sabbaths in vs. 15 located beyond the Sabbath. This alone should give the Karaites something to think about. It is evident that the "seven sabbaths" are not counted "on the day after the Sabbath", and indeed, in the Karaite view, not one sabbath can be counted "on the day after the sabbath". Therefore, the translators translated vs. 15 as "from the day after the sabbath". Is it possible then that time beyond just a single day after the sabbath might be meant?
To delve into the Hebrew word mimacharat means to break it down to its basic lexical elements. The Hebrew מִמָּחֳרָת comes from a contraction of מִן יוֹם אַחַר, which because of the silent א and the rule that the preposition gets prefixed, and that vowels are dropped become the familiar contraction: מִמָּחֳרָת. Also the ַת is put on the end to inflect the word in construct state, often rendered with "of", i.e. "in the day after of"; The derivation is suggested in the HALOT Lexicon. יוֹם אַחַר also combine to form the root word מָחָר, which means "day after" or "time to come"׃
מָחָר m. next day, future day...there is a mahar which means now (the next day), and there is a mahar which means some future time. (pg. 764, Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi and the Midrashic Literature, Marcus Jastrow).
The meaning of the un-contracted phrase is shown in Genesis 30:33, "So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when it shall come for my hire before thy face: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me." The key words in the text are בְּיוֹם מָחָר. Jacob does not just mean "on the day after" but "in the day after" where "day" is used in an extended sense. We see this use in the KJV Genesis 2:4, "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens." Notice, "in the day"? (בְּיוֹם) In the Hebrew idiom this means "in the time". Then in Genesis 2:17 we have the same words again, "in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die": בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְךָ מִמֶּנּוּ מוֹת תָּמוּת. In this case, "day" means one thousand years. The Hebrew "מוֹת תָּמוּת" literally means "die you are dying" or "die you shall die". The word מוֹת indicates that Adam began to die in the literal Gen. 1:5 definition of "day", but the imperfect verb תָּמוּת shows that his "death" was a process that would take almost a millennium to complete in the extended definition of "day" meaning one thousand years.
Likewise, "day of YHWH" means the "time of YHWH" just like the promise that Adam would die "in the day" (בְּיוֹם) he ate the forbidden fruit means a period longer than a literal 24 hour day. In Genesis 2:4, "day" means a period of time six days long; in Genesis 2:17, "day" additionally means a period of time one thousand years long. In Lev. 23:15, the words "in the day after" mean a period of time anywhere from forty-three to forty-nine days long, because the "seven sabbaths" will always fall into a period of time no longer than 49 days. And in Lev. 23:16, the period of time indicated by "day after" is a period of time one week long, because no matter which day one would begin counting, the fiftieth day will always fall in the week after (=the tomorrow of) the seventh Sabbath.
The base noun of מִמָּחֳרָת is the feminine noun מָחֳרָת. This simply involves recognizing that the first mem is a preposition. Now the word מָחֳרָת is the feminine noun version of its masculine counterpart מָחָר. The feminine ending is ָת (cf. GK "The Indication of Gender in Nouns", §80g "also מָחֳרָת"), and the root is מָחָר. The masculine noun מָחָר is also the root word of מָחֳרָת. Normally there is no lexical difference between the masculine and feminine noun versions of the same root:
A partial list of Mordecai Ben Asher's findings:
מָחָר/מָחֳרָת is just such a gender doublet. According to Gensenius מָחָר is derived from יוֹם אַחֵר = day after (cf. HALOT). When we discover that as a substantive אַחֵר comes in a masculine and feminine form (אַחֲרִית/אַחֵר) meaning following part/after-part respectively (BDB), it should then be no abnormality to find the pair מָחָר/מָחֳרָת. What then is the difference besides gender? There is no lexical difference as shown by the researches of Mordechai Ben Asher (cf. Waltke citations above). Both terms have the potential to mean, "day after" or "time after" and not exclusively the very next day after.
Reuben Alcalay in The Complete Hebrew English Dictionary, א—מ, pg. 1282, states: יֵש מָחָר עַכשָׁו וְיֵש מָחָר לְאַחַר זְמַן, "there is a mahar which means now and a mahar which means some future time (the word מָחָר has a double meaning; a phrase jokingly used in a pretext for not keeping a promise in time)". This later use is found in Gen. 30:33; Ex. 13:14; Deut. 6:20; Josh. 4:6, 21; 22:18, 24, 27, 28; 1Sam. 20:5; 2Ki 6:28; Prov. 3:28, 27:1 and Isa. 22:13, but in these places it has nothing to do with not keeping a promise. It is just a legitimate meaning of "day after" in the Hebrew sense. Even "tomorrow" in English can be used in the sense of the near future rather than the literal next day:
#1, "In tomorrow's world they will have faster computers"
#2, "let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die" (Isa. 22:13; 1Cor. 15:32)
#3, "space flights of tomorrow" (pg. 988, American Heritage Student Dictionary), "2. The near future" (ibid.).
So we see that even English has an extended use of "tomorrow", but such use of "tomorrow" in English is much rarer than the similar use of "day after" was in ancient Hebrew.
There is a usage difference between מָחָר and מָחֳרָת. The former is used in anticipation of the "day after" and the latter is used when the day after arrives, or when it is otherwise already definite, and מָחֳרָת is almost always used with the preposition מִן which when attached to a word assimilates the ן into a dagesh: מִמָּחֳרָת. This makes the phrase definite, i.e. in the day to come, meaning a known period of time or day after today. The preposition has the effect of assuming that the "day after" is a definitely known period, because it specifies a moment "out of" or "from" this period. We see this pattern in usages where מִמָּחֳרָת immediately follows the use of מָחָר: Exodus 32:5 and 32:6; 1Sam. 11:10 and 11:11. 1Sam. 20:18 and 20:27; 2Sam. 11:12. מָחָר is used when the "day after" has not yet come, and then when it does מִמָּחֳרָת.
The contextual signal that "day after" means "time to come" vs. the very next day is of the same quality of contextual signals that "day" means "time" and not literally one day. When God told Adam he would "die" "in the day" he ate of the fruit, it is clear that he did not go to the grave on that very day. So the extended sense of "day" to mean a time period longer than 12 or 24 hours is warranted. In Adam's case, one thousand years. And sometimes, the 24 hour definition of "day" can be followed immediately by an extended sense of "time period" in the same context. Observe Genesis 2:3 "the seventh day" and then Gen. 2:4, "in the day YHWH Elohim made" in reference to the whole of creation week.
So then, it is possible for the context of Lev. 23:11 to refer to "in the day after the Sabbath" and mean the very next day, while in Lev. 23:15, "in the day after the Sabbath .... seven complete sabbaths shall come to pass" may mean the time period after the Sabbath required to count seven Sabbaths. The contextual clue here is that the seven sabbaths need "day" to mean a time period from 43 to 49 days long to fit into the "tomorrow of the Sabbath", and once it is understood that "the Sabbath" in Lev. 23:11 and 15 is the Passover Sabbath, Nisan 15, it follows that in Lev. 23:16 "until/while in the day after the seventh sabbath counting a fiftieth day", "day after" will need to mean up to a week after the seventh sabbath to reach the fiftieth day.
The following chart will illustrate:
The diamonds show the seven possible starting points for the Passover Shabbat (Nisan/Aviv 15) in relation to the days of the week. It may begin on any day of the week. All possible combinations are in the chart.
The corresponding circles, at the end of each line segment show "in the day after the Shabbat", i.e. the very next day for Leviticus 23:11.
For each circle, the time from the circle to the single diamond at the end of the seventh sabbath below will be the period "in the day after the sabbath ... seven sabbaths shall come to pass" for Lev. 23:15. "In the day after the Sabbath" here means the time between each circle and the diamond right at the completion of the seventh sabbath. Depending on which circle one starts with, it is a period from 43 to 49 days. The seven Sabbaths are numbered down the right side.
"In the day after the seventh Sabbath" is the time period between the arrowheads, and the fiftieth day will always land on the same weekday from the circle where the counting started.
Hebrew minutiae (technical details):
There are 25 verses that have this word and include the inseparable prepositional prefix מִ attached to מָחֳרָת. This is why מִמָּחֳרָת begins with two מ's. It is clear from examining these other passages that the preposition מ does not mean "from" in an extensive sense, as in English, "I went from New York to Philadelphia". Yet, the translators tried to obtain that sense in Lev. 23:15, and we could, in theory exploit the same idea of from in Lev. 23:16 and arrive at the same end result with the chronology. However, just because the translators did this (Karaite & Rabbinic alike) in vs. 15 does not make it legitimate. The usage of מ to mean from in the extended sense of "away from" is not supported by other uses of מִמָּחֳרָת.
It is clear that the preposition מ means from in a different sense.
It marks the block of time out of which, from which, or in which some time is indicated. "Temporal uses of mn vary in relation to the beginning point, which may be included ('from, on in,'; #5) or not ('after'; #6). Temporal mn can also mark a block of time ('after'; #7)" (11.2.11, Biblical Hebrew Syntax, Waltke). To clarify this for the non-scholar, I will use this illustration. Consider the "day after" a block of time, either 12 or 24 hours. What the preposition does is draw a point in time from/in/on that block of time. There is therefore no extension away from the block of time. The moment can only be "in" or "from" the block of time.
So when the translators tried to translate Lev. 23:15 "from the day after" they did so because the context required it. However, they went against every other use of ממחרת, in which the moment indicated must be contained "in" or taken "out of" or taken "from" the space of time called the "day after". So "from day after" is a moment taken "from" the day after, and not a departure beyond the "day after". It is a very subtle difference.
Here are the 25 verses from BibleWorks:
Gen. 19:34; Exod. 9:6; Exod. 18:13; Exod. 32:6; Exod. 32:30; Lev. 23:11; Lev. 23:15; Lev. 23:16; Num. 17:6; Num. 17:23; Num. 33:3; Jos. 5:11; Jos. 5:12; Jdg. 6:38; Jdg. 9:42; Jdg. 21:4; 1 Sam. 5:3; 1 Sam. 5:4; 1 Sam. 11:11; 1 Sam. 18:10; 1 Sam. 20:27; 1 Sam. 31:8; 2 Ki. 8:15; 1 Chr. 10:8; Jer. 20:3
The inclusion of the preposition in all of these passages argues eloquently for the sense "in the day after", and proves the translators attempt to resolve Lev. 23:15 with "from" in an extended sense errant.
The solution, therefore, lies in the Hebrew understanding of the word "day". The contextual requirement of Lev. 23:15 for a time period longer than just one "day" in order to count the "seven sabbaths" should point us to an allowed sense of "day" meaning "time to come" as used according to Hebrew, which use is well proved, rather than trying to solve the problem by an hapax ad hoc rendering of Lev. 23:15 with extensive "from", which by the way is contrary to the usage of ממחרת elsewhere.
The best way to explain the matter is without using the word "from" or "out of" since these words in English are less flexible than Hebrew —מ. The concordant translation is to choose from Waltke's list "'from, on, in'" the word "in", which works in all 25 texts: "in day after":
Gen. 19:34, "And it came to pass in the day after, that the firstborn said unto the younger..."
Exodus 9:6 And the LORD did that thing in the day after, ...
Lev. 23:11 "in the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it."
Lev. 23:15 "And ye shall count unto you in the day after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:"
Lev. 23:16 "while in the day after the seventh sabbath shall ye number a fiftieth day; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD."
Also we should note that the vowel points were put into the text by the Karaite Masoretic scribes. The "until" at the beginning of the text (עַד) should be: עֹד , which is a defective spelling for עוד. Also the text does not say "fifty days", but "a fiftieth day". The text has the word day in the singular, and the cardinal number is used for the ordinal. Another way to explain this:
vs. 11: from the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
15: from the day after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the
sheaf of the wave
offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete
vs. 16: while from the day after the seventh sabbath counting a fiftieth day.
*Note: one could substitute the word "in" for "from", i.e "in the day after" and get the same correct senses in each of the texts (cf. Gen. 30:33). The preposition mi means taking from "out of" or "from" the period indicated, and b' would mean in the time period. The "from" is in the sense of source or from the contents of, not in the sense of departure from. The gloss "out of" will help understand this. We know the translators used "from" in the sense of departure in vs. 15 creating the inconsistency. The solution is not to construe the preposition in the sense of departure creating the inconsistency. The solution is to use the sense of day = time to come.
Now vs. 11 may look a bit odd to the English reader, but not to the Hebrew thinker. It all depends on how "day" is understood. In vs. 11, it is just 24 hours. In vs. 15 it is the period of 49 days, and in vs. 16, it is the six days after the seventh sabbath.
The final piece of the puzzle is well known. The Karaites think that the "Sabbath" mentioned in vs. 11 and vs. 15 is the weekly Sabbath. However, this is not the case. This Sabbath is the annual Passover Sabbath on Nisan 15. The word שבת in fact, means "rest day" irrespective of any particular day of the week. That is how the Stone Edition above renders it. Also, at that time, the near East recognized that the 15th of the month could be called a "Sabbath". The Lunar Sabbath heresy has used this to produce their own cult. Yet, the archaeology does show the existence of this 15th Sabbath in Mesopotamia. Also John 19:31 references this Sabbath, stating "for that sabbath day was an high day". This was the annual Passover Sabbath, Nisan 15, which fell on Wednesday sunset to Thursday sunset that year.
So to understand Lev. 23:11-16, the sheaf was waved in the day after the annual Sabbath, and then seven Sabbaths were counted from the day (time of 49 days) after the annual sabbath, and simultaneously 50 days were counted such that the 50th day was counted "in the day (time of six days) after the seventh sabbath".
This is the explanation that goes along with the first proof that the first Shavuot feast was held on the Sabbath day. For in this case, the seven sabbaths are counted, and then "in the day after the seventh sabbath" means the 'day' week following that sabbath, just as 'day' means creation week in Genesis 2:4:
KJV Genesis 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, OR
KJV Genesis 30:33 So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come [lit: in day after], when it shall come for my hire before thy face: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me.
So we can conclude: 1. The Karaites are correct to count seven Sabbaths, and the Rabbis are wrong to ignore them. 2. Yet, the Karaites are wrong to skip the first Sabbath after Passover as the "first of the sabbaths" because they think that the counting must begin on Sunday. So the Karaite count of seven sabbaths is one week late. 3. The Karaites are wrong to count the 50 days from Sunday rather than the 16th of Nisan, the day after the annual Passover Sabbath, 4. The Rabbis are wrong to change "sabbaths" in vs. 15 to "weeks" or the same change in vs. 16, but 5. The Rabbis are right to reckon Shavuot from the 16th of Nisan.
The Second First Sabbath:
I have demonstrated that the first Shavuot was on the Sabbath, and explained the Karaite and Rabbinic misunderstanding of Lev. 23:11-16. In the Received Text of Luke 6:1, the Greek says that it was the σαββατω δευτεροπρωτω. This means the "second first sabbath". This passage has perplexed many scholars, but not all. It was correctly interpreted by Matthew Henry:
Christ justifies his disciples in a work of necessity for themselves on that day, and that was plucking the ears of corn, when they were hungry on that day. This story here has a date, which we had not in the other evangelists; it was on the second sabbath after the first (v. 1), that is, as Dr. Whitby thinks is pretty clear, the first sabbath after the second day of unleavened bread, from which day they reckoned the seven weeks to the feast of pentecost; the first of which they called Sabbaton deuteroproµton, the second deuterodeuteron,
The need for the title "second first sabbath" arose because there were two sabbaths in the first part of the feast of unleavened bread called "first". The 15th of Nisan was called the Sabbath, and it was the first sabbath of the feast. But also, the weekly Sabbath was called "first" on account of the seven Sabbaths in Lev. 23:15. So it was on the weekly Sabbath after the Passover Sabbath that Yeshua and his disciples went through the grain fields. Now it was forbidden to eat any new grain until the sheaf had been waved in the Temple, and what day is it? It was the weekly Sabbath. If the Karaite arguments were true, then the sheaf would not be waved until the next day, Sunday, but, since it was already waved on the 16th of Nisan, the day after the annual 15th Sabbath, it was legal to eat the new grain on the "first of the sabbaths" (i.e. 'second first').
The First of the Sabbaths:
All the resurrection passages place the resurrection on the "first of the Sabbaths".
The Karaites have something to hide. But so do the Rabbis. And so does the Church. The Rabbis do not want it known that seven Sabbaths were counted after the Passover Sabbath on Nisan 15, because Yeshua rose from the dead on the first of these sabbaths. (Mat. 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1; cf. Acts 20:7; 1Cor. 16:2). Therefore, they corrupted the word שבתות by translating it "weeks". The Church really liked this Rabbinic trick and adopted their own version of it for "first day of the week"; Presto, now Yeshua is divorced from the Torah and Gentiles from the Jews. But, this stunt means they can no longer give the correct answer to the Karaites on this passage, and the inconsistency in the rendering of ממחרת השבת is there to prove it. The Karaites do count sabbaths, but they are a week late with the count, and so create no danger that a Jew might recognize the resurrection day and become a follower of Yeshua. So then, what is the right answer to the Karaites?
This calendar is an expansion of the one that appeared earlier in this paper. There are seven weekdays onto which the annual Passover Shabbat may fall. For each of these, the Shavuot counting instructions give different results.
Days are read off the leftmost column
The day indicated by the blue box is "the day after the sabbath", and the double arrows pointing "out of" the blue box indicate the Hebrew conception of taking part of the time "out of the day after the sabbath" for waving the sheaf (Lev. 23:11).
The golden columns represent the time of "the day after the sabbath", where "day after" has the same sense as "time to come after": double arrows in this column indicate the "seven complete sabbaths" which are counted "out of the day after the sabbath" (the arrows pointing to the dashed lines indicate the counted sabbaths taken out of the time to come after the annual sabbath); Lev. 23:15.
Finally, the green columns represent "the time to come after the seventh sabbath" (Lev. 23:16), and out of this period is taken the 50th day.
The Exodus chronology (1632 B.C.) was according to the first option, when the annual Sabbath lands on the sixth day of the week. Shavuot/Pentecost, accordingly landed on the weekly Sabbath after the seven counted Sabbaths.
This chart more concisely represents the meaning of מִמָּחֳרָת, in which the prepositional meaning of "out of", "from", "part of" is illustrated from the Hebrew point of view, "out of the day after", which may mean "out of the time after", a sense which in English has to be expressed by the word "in", i.e. "in the day/time after".