The Pentateuch is a most important segment of God’s written Word, furnishing a solid foundation upon which much that follows firmly rests. Its first book, Genesis, gives us the inspired account of creation and also traces man’s history from Eden down through much of the patriarchal era to the death of Joseph (a period from c. 46,026 to 1657 B.C.E.). The second book, Exodus, begins with the death of Joseph, tells of Moses’ birth during a time of slavery, of the deliverance of God’s people from Egyptian bondage and the inauguration of the Law covenant at Sinai, and includes details for the construction of the central structure for worship, namely, the tabernacle in the wilderness (historic events from 1657 to 1512 B.C.E.). Leviticus, the third book, covering only about one month’s time (1512 B.C.E.), gives invaluable information about the Levitical priesthood, its ordination and duties, as well as laws and regulations governing the congregation’s obligatory support of Jehovah’s worship. The fourth book, Numbers, as its name implies, tells of the censuses taken near the beginning and end of the wilderness journey. It also gives us many details on the forty years of wandering (down to 1473 B.C.E.), and includes many laws embraced within the framework of the national covenant. The final book, Deuteronomy, covering about two months’ time (1473 B.C.E.), restates and expands the Law covenant with many ordinances necessary for the new generation of Israelites, poised as it was on the plains of Moab, ready to invade and occupy the Promised Land. The closing chapters tell of the appointment of Joshua as leader and the death of Moses.
There is no single text saying that Moses wrote the entire Pentateuch, but scattered throughout the material are explicit statements serving the same purpose. (Ex. 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num. 33:2; Deut. 31:9, 19, 22, 24-26) There are also many sections where the words are directly credited to Moses, beginning with his first recorded conversation (Ex. 2:13, 14) and continuing to his final blessing on the people (Deut. 33:1-29), including some of his lengthy speeches (Deut. 1:1; 5:1; 27:1; 29:2; 31:1) and notable songs. (Ex. 15:1-19; Deut. 31:30–32:43) The opening verses of twenty out of twenty-seven chapters of Leviticus tell us that what follows are the words of Jehovah spoken to Moses so he, in turn, could inform the people. The same is true in more than fifty instances in the book of Numbers. So, with the exception of the closing verses of Deuteronomy, the evidence within the Pentateuch itself shows that its writership properly belongs to Moses.
Many other passages in the Bible witness to the fact that the Pentateuch was from the hand of Moses. (Josh. 1:7; Judg. 3:4; 2 Ki. 18:6; Mal. 4:4) Such men as David (1 Ki. 2:1-3), Daniel (9:11), Ezra (6:18), Nehemiah (8:1), Jesus (Mark 12:26; Luke 16:29; John 7:19), Luke (24:27), and John (1:17), make references to this work as that of Moses. More directly to the point, Jesus acknowledged that Moses was the writer (Mark 10:3-5; John 5:46, 47), as did also the Sadducees.—Mark 12:18, 19.
[Gr., pen·te·ko·steʹ, fiftieth].
A later name used to denote the Festival of Harvest (Ex. 23:16) or Festival of Weeks (Ex. 34:22), called also “the day of the first ripe fruits.” (Num. 28:26) Instructions for this festival are found at Leviticus 23:15-21; Numbers 28:26-31; Deuteronomy 16:9-12. It was to be celebrated on the fiftieth day from Nisan 16, the day that the barley sheaf was offered. (Lev. 23:15, 16) In the Jewish calendar it falls on Sivan 6. It was after the barley harvest and the beginning of the harvest of wheat, which ripened later than the barley.—Ex. 9:31, 32.
The Israelites were not allowed to begin the harvest until the firstfruits of the barley had been presented to Jehovah on Nisan 16. Therefore, in Deuteronomy 16:9, 10 the instructions are: “From when the sickle is first put to the standing grain you will start to count seven weeks. Then you must celebrate the festival of weeks to Jehovah your God.” Every male was required to attend, and, in connection with this festival, it is also stated: “You must rejoice before Jehovah your God, you and your son and your daughter and your man slave and your slave girl and the Levite who is inside your gates and the alien resident and the fatherless boy and the widow, who are in your midst, in the place that Jehovah your God will choose to have his name reside there.” (Deut. 16:11) The Passover was of the nature of a close family observance. The Festival of Harvest or Pentecost was in the nature of a more open and hospitable liberality, in this sense resembling the Festival of Booths.
The firstfruits of the wheat harvest were to be treated differently from the barley firstfruits. Two-tenths of an ephah of fine wheat flour (c. 1/8 bushel; 4.4 liters) was to be baked into two loaves along with leaven. They were to be “out of your dwelling places,” which meant that they were to be loaves like those made for the daily use of the household and not expressly for holy purposes. (Lev. 23:17) Burnt offerings and a sin offering went along with this, and as a communion offering two male lambs. The priest waved the loaves and the lambs before Jehovah by putting his hands underneath the loaves and the pieces of the lambs and waving them back and forth, signifying that they were presented before Jehovah. After the loaves and the lambs were offered, they became the priest’s for him to eat as a communion offering.—Lev. 23:18-20.
There is a slight difference in description of the other offerings (aside from the communion offering) in the account at Numbers 28:27-30. Instead of seven lambs, one young bull, two rams and one kid of the goats, as at Leviticus 23:18, 19, it calls for seven lambs, two young bulls and one ram and one kid of the goats. Jewish commentators say that the passage in Leviticus refers to the sacrifice to accompany the wave loaves, and the one in Numbers to the properly appointed sacrifice of the festival, so that both were offered. Supporting this, Josephus, in describing the sacrifices on Pentecost day, first mentions the two lambs of the communion offering, then combines the remaining offerings, enumerating three bullocks, two rams (evidently a transcriber’s error for three), fourteen lambs and two kids of the goats. (Antiquities of the Jews, Book III, chap. X, par. 6) The day was a holy convention, a sabbath day.—Lev. 23:19, 21; Num. 28:26, 30.
The festival of Pentecost came at the end of the early harvest of the year and was a time of rejoicing, as indicated by the communion offering presented by the congregation and which was given to the priest. This offering would also denote peaceful fellowship with Jehovah. At the same time the sin offering reminded the Israelites of sin on their part, and was a petition to God for forgiveness and cleansing. The increased burnt offering served as a practical expression of their gratitude for His bountifulness as well as a symbol of their wholeheartedness in carrying out their covenant relationship to God.
Not only was it specially appropriate for Israel to offer thanks to Jehovah on this day, but their poor brothers were not to be forgotten, as, after giving instructions on the festival, Jehovah commanded: “And when you people reap the harvest of your land, you must not do completely the edge of your field when you are reaping, and the gleaning of your harvest you must not pick up. You should leave them for the afflicted one and the alien resident. I am Jehovah your God.” (Lev. 23:22) Thus, the poor would have real incentive for thanking the Lord and enjoying the festival along with all others. There would also be many personal offerings of the firstfruits of the harvest during this festival.
According to rabbinical sources, after the exile the