The Church of God
The Wave Sheaf Offering – By: Don Roth
THE WAVE SHEAF OFFERING
(Bible verses quoted are from NKJV unless otherwise noted)
(Pictures below were copied from istockphoto.com)
There are few professing Christian churches that understand the significance of this important offering of the Old Testament, called the Wave Sheaf. This writing will reveal the true importance to the New Testament church—those called of the Father—and will resolve the difficulties and misunderstanding of the first time the Wave Sheaf was carried out.
Those who already understand the true importance of this day may have had some difficulty in totally understanding the significance of Joshua 5:10-12 in the past. This was the first recording of the Wave Sheaf Offering.
These passages do not specifically mention the Wave Sheaf Offering, but the resulting action of that day demands that the event did occur. (Just because there is no mention of a Wave Sheaf Offering does not in any way mean there was not one.)
Before addressing the difficulties of the above scripture, it is necessary to clearly understand the significance of this to the believer. Those raising barley in Israel were required to bring a sheaf of the first ripe grain that they cut to the priest to be waved on behalf of those raising the crop. The primary purpose for this was not to just receive a blessing of the land and its crops for following God’s instruction, but it foreshadowed the one who was to come—Christ. It also represented a purity that only the grain in its simplest form could do; thus, foreshadowing the purity of Christ.
Hebrews 9:23 “Therefore it was necessary that the copies (the earthly tabernacle) of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, (the blood of animals and grain offerings) but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices (Christ) than these.”
One of the main purposes of the book of Hebrews was to show the true relevance of the rituals carried out in the temple by the priests to the actual sacrifice of Christ. One of these was the Wave Sheaf Offering. In addition to the representation of Christ, it was a marker for starting a count of seven weeks to the next event to take place—Pentecost. This was also a wave offering, but its symbols were two loaves of bread baked with leaven. For additional information refer to the article “Pentecost—The Forgotten Day.”
When to begin the count to Pentecost represents a problem for some of those who understand the Wave Sheaf Offering. The accepted method was to place the Wave Sheaf Offering on the first day of the week, Sunday, following the Sabbath that fell during the seven days of Unleavened Bread. Wasn’t this the day that Christ was presented to the Father? John 20:17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”
The majority of the time this method resulted in the Wave Sheaf Offering occurring during the Days of Unleavened Bread. The exception occurs when the first weekly Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread falls on the seventh day of that feast, such as in the creation year. This means that when the fourteenth day (the Passover) of that year was a weekly Sabbath, and the first Day of Unleavened Bread would occur on a Sunday, day one of the week and the last Day of Unleavened Bread is the seventh day, or Sabbath.
If the original formula was followed it would place the Wave Sheaf Offering outside of the Days of Unleavened Bread on the following Sunday. Some have realized that the typology of pure grain, representing the purity of Christ’s life and death could not be offered outside of the days of Unleavened Bread.
Why? The answer lies in the correct understanding of what these days mean to true believers. The past teaching was that they represent a picture of putting sin out of our lives, in that leaven always represents sin when spoken of in the Bible. Putting out sin is a 365-day goal, and not just for these seven days of Unleavened Bread.
God gives instructions about these days in Exodus 12:19 “For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses...” It is clear that the leaven must be removed before the beginning of these seven days. If leaven represents sin—and it does—it becomes clear that these seven days represent a sinless period of time. Thus, they can only be fulfilled in the example of the sinless life of Christ.
With this knowledge it becomes clear that the rationalization that was taught in the past was made in order to reject Joshua 5 as the first Wave Sheaf Offering.
Since the metamorphosis of the Worldwide Church of God into the Synagogue of Satan, and the resulting proliferation of the corporate Churches of God, some have proclaimed that the counting of Pentecost for the year 2008 should occur on the Sunday following the Days of Unleavened Bread, and that this would be the true day of the wave sheaf offering. The teaching is that the wave sheaf offering must be on the first day of the week following the first weekly Sabbath that occurs during the days of ULB. This faulty reasoning resulted in Pentecost being observed a week late.
The correct teaching begins the count to Pentecost from the first day of the week—the day that the wave sheaf was offered—that occurs during the days of ULB. Of course, it would follow a regular Sabbath, in or out of the days of ULB.
Because the Passover of 2008 occurred on the weekly Sabbath (April 19 and Nisan 14), they teach that the count begins on Nisan 22 rather than Nisan 15—the first day of the week during the Days of Unleavened Bread. This is contrary to the examples and directions of the scriptures as we should understand them.
The 1974 change to keeping Pentecost on Sunday has been challenged in a number of ways. One is that those insisting on keeping it on Monday say that Mr. Armstrong had been “duped” into making this correction by his son Garner Ted Armstrong and the doctrinal committee—that he accepted an incomplete study about the Wave Sheaf Offering without confirming it.
Part of the 1974 change that Mr. Armstrong made was based on Joshua 5 as a new starting point for counting Pentecost whenever the Passover service falls on a weekly Sabbath.
In addition to the above, the following rationalizations have been made in order to reject Joshua 5 as the wave sheaf offering. One reason given is that Joshua 5 does not specifically state that there was a wave sheaf offering.
They claim that Joshua 5 was a second Passover, and that the circumcised men would have been in too much pain to handle the killing of the lamb and preparing it for Passover. (No wave sheaf offering is commanded for the second Passover.) Therefore, there would be an unstated lapse of time resulting in this being a second Passover.
The additional case is made that Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because of the restriction God had placed on him for striking the rock, contrary to God’s instructions. Numbers 20:11-12 states “Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.’” The account continues in Numbers 20:24 “Aaron shall be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the children of Israel, because you rebelled against My word at the water of Meribah.”
It is also said that the Israelites were not in the Promised Land until they crossed the Jordan River; therefore, there was no time to raise a crop for the wave sheaf offering. Because the Israelites did not raise their own crops for the wave sheaf offering, they would not be able to utilize the grain of the land which was raised by Gentiles for this rite. This would be considered a polluted offering and not acceptable by God, which is the correct understanding.
In addition, no work could be done to harvest grain after the wave sheaf offering because Joshua 5:11 depicts a high (annual) Sabbath—First Day of Unleavened Bread (ULB). Therefore, the work of harvesting could not be done on a Sabbath, so there would have been no grain to eat on that day, even though a wave sheaf offering was made.
Finally, those proclaiming that the counting of Pentecost should begin from the Sunday after the days of ULB reason that no sacrifice could be made until the Promised Land was completely
occupied and a central place of worship established.
But notice Deuteronomy 12:10-11 says “But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety, then there will be the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the LORD.”
There could be no wave sheaf offering because they had no central place of worship.
The idea that no sacrifice could be made without the establishment of a centralized place of worship is a misunderstanding of Deuteronomy 12. The direction is that a centralized place of worship is to be established once the nation is at peace. It does, in no way, restrict sacrifices to God prior to the time that all of the Promised Land was under their control. There is the Passover of Joshua 5, which required sacrifices in addition to the individual lambs for each home.
Deuteronomy 23:8 and 12 so direct these sacrifices. Joshua 8:30-31 also shows offerings being made without this centralized place of worship. Did Joshua fail to understand Deuteronomy 12:10-12 and act contrary to it? Obviously not, as God continued to bless him.
The booklet “Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days—Which?” was rewritten in 1976 by Herbert W. Armstrong. In it he clearly points to Joshua 5 as the defining clarification for the count to Pentecost having to start during the Days of Unleavened Bread. On page 23 he writes, “This event, [the wave sheaf offering] always occurred during the days of unleavened bread” (see Joshua 5).
To understand this statement by Mr. Armstrong, it is necessary to begin in Joshua 5:2-9 “At that time the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.’ So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.” And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way, after they had come out of Egypt. For all the people who came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness, on the way as they came out of Egypt,
had not been circumcised. “For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD—to whom the LORD swore that He would not show them the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers that He would give us, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’” “Then Joshua circumcised their sons whom He raised up in their place; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way. So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed. Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day.”
THE SECOND CIRCUMCISION EXPLAINED
A question occurs here: Why weren’t the children of Israel circumcised as they traveled through the wilderness? There was no physical impediment to performing this rite, including traveling, so what would cause this rite to stop so abruptly?
Numbers 14:33-34 shows that Israel refused to enter the Promise Land. This results in God
rejecting them “And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection.”
Their refusal to enter the Promised Land was a rejection of God and a breach of the Covenant of Promise. It negated the covenant, which God then set aside for forty years, until all the men of twenty years and older had died. Circumcision could no longer be performed, it being the confirmation of the covenant that God no longer accepted. This is an important fact, and it was the reason why the Passover and Atonement rites were discontinued after the second year.
UNDERSTANDING HOW THESE EVENTS OCCURRED
The timeline of these two events can be traced through Exodus 40:2 & 17. First, the tabernacle was erected on the first day of the second year. Leviticus 8:1-36 shows the consecration of Aaron, his sons, and the tabernacle.
This rite is also recorded in Ezekiel 43:26-27 “Seven days they shall make atonement for the altar and purify it, and so consecrate it. When these days are over it shall be, on the eighth day and thereafter, that the priests shall offer your burnt offerings and your peace offerings on the altar; and I will accept you,’ says the Lord GOD.” This is an outline of the detailed account that occurs in Leviticus 8.
Numbers 9:1-5 records the Passover being kept in the second year: “Now the LORD spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying: ‘Let the children of Israel keep the Passover at its appointed time. On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall keep it at its appointed time. According to all its rites and ceremonies you shall keep it.’ So Moses told the children of Israel that they should keep the 6 Passover. And they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month, at twilight, in the Wilderness of Sinai; according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did.’”
It would include the Days of Unleavened Bread, making it clear that the Passover followed closely the consecration of the tabernacle, although it is necessary to go to the book of Numbers for confirmation. It also shows that the historical events that take place in the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy do not necessarily follow in a chronological order. It is important to recognize the progression of events leading up to the setting aside of the covenant by God in Numbers 14:34. Leviticus 16 is generally understood as a detailed description of how to observe the Day of Atonement, but verse 34 makes it very plain that it was literally carried out by Aaron: “This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.” And he [Aaron] did as the LORD commanded Moses.”
The time frame for this event would be the tenth day of the seventh month of the second year. This means the events of Numbers 14:34 (the rejection) occurred after the seventh month. It demonstrates that only Passover, Days of Unleavened Bread, and Atonement were recorded as observed in the wilderness before the spies were sent out; the spies being sent out around the time of Atonement. Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles were not celebrated because there was no early grain harvest or later harvest to reap. Thus, these days would not have been observed; and in addition, there is no biblical record of these holy days being observed at this time.
Joshua 5:2 was an order for Joshua to do what had been done in Egypt before the children of Israel could partake of the first Passover since leaving Sinai. “At that time the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.’” Although there is no direct statement of a first mass circumcision in the book of Exodus, it should be obvious that there would have been one, the reason being that the mixed multitude that accompanied Israel required circumcision before they could partake of the Passover. Exodus 12:48 states: “… For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.”
The importance of this act is made abundantly clear by the near death of Moses in Exodus 4:24-26. Zipporah had to perform this rite on their son because Moses failed to carry out his responsibility. Thus, she saved Moses from death.
The foreskin can only be removed once. Therefore, all the male children below the age of twenty who came out of Egypt were not circumcised in Joshua 5. The number of males would have been large—at least equal to half of the number of males coming out of Egypt (603,550). Exodus 38:26. The point here is that there were more than enough pain-free men to do all the work required to prepare the lambs for the Passover.
Another important point to remember is that God’s rejection did not occur until after the Atonement celebration of the second year. All applicable feasts were thus discontinued until the Israelites were once again accepted by God. Joshua’s circumcision was that acceptance. Joshua 5:9 explains “Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day.”
There were only two restrictions that allowed a person to take a second Passover. 1—Being unclean by handling a dead body or having an issue (such as infection, etc.). 2—Being on a journey. Neither of these applied to Joshua 5 because the act of circumcision took them from a state of uncleanness to that of being clean, or accepted.
Joshua 5:8-9 also implies a miraculous healing of those circumcised. The word “healed “(#H2421 in Strong’s Concordance) is more correctly understood as “revived.” When verse 9 tells us God rolled away the “reproach of Egypt,” He restored His promises to Israel, one of which was healing. The Ferrar Fenton translation of the Bible shows this: “But whilst they were completing the circumcision of all the nation they kept quiet in the camp until they were restored. Then the Ever-living said to Joshua, ‘Today (the day of circumcision) I have rolled away the reproach of Mitzeraim (Egypt) from off you...’” These facts clearly make Joshua 5 a FIRST Passover in the Promised Land.
WHEN DID GOD’S REJECTION OCCUR AND WHEN DID IT END?
By recognizing the time that Atonement occurred in Leviticus 16, we see that Numbers 14:34 had to occur after the tenth day of the seventh month. Additional proof is that the spies brought back ripe fruit which occurs in our months of September and October.
In order to understand the correct time frame, see in Deuteronomy 2:14, “And the time we took to come from Kadesh Barnea until we crossed over the Valley of the Zered was thirty-eight years, until all the generation of the men of war was consumed from the midst of the camp, just as the LORD had sworn to them.”
Note the forty-year trek did not directly apply to the men of war, but to the sons being required to shepherd the flock in the wilderness. Numbers 14:33 “And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness.”
Thirty-eight years had passed since God’s punishment. This meant they had completed thirtynine years and were starting the fortieth year. (Thirty-eight years for the men of war to be consumed, plus the first year in the wilderness makes thirty-nine years complete.) This is confirmed by Deuteronomy 1:3 “Now it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month that 8 Moses spoke to the children of Israel according to all that the LORD had given him as commandments to them.”
In Deuteronomy 2:16-18, Moses recounts for Israel their history, pointing to the miracles God has done for them. “So it was, when all the men of war had finally perished from among the people, that the Lord spoke to me, saying: ‘This day you are to cross over at Ar, the boundary of Moab.’”
GOD STARTS MOSES ON A MILITARY CAMPAIGN
God then starts Moses on a military campaign to conquer the Promised Land on the east side of the Jordan. This campaign begins sometime around the middle of the sixth month. It is established through the following scriptures: Numbers 20:29 “Now when all of the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, all the house of Israel mourned for Aaron thirty days.” Numbers 33:38 “Then Aaron the priest went up into Mt. Hor at the commandment of the Lord, and died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the first day of the fifth month.”
Aaron died at the beginning of the fifth month and was mourned thirty days. Thus, they began their journey to the Promised Land at the beginning of the sixth month.
Deuteronomy 1:2 shows eleven days were required to arrive at Mount Horeb. Numbers 33:41- 49 records that the Israelites had a total of eight campsites during these eleven days. The fourth campsite after leaving Mount Hor puts them on the border between Moab and the Amorites, placing them at the border of the Promised Land, setting the travel time at about half of the eleven days.
GOD GAVE THIS LAND AS A POSSESSION
God told Moses that He gave the land Amon to the descendants of Lot for a possession. Deuteronomy 2:5 shows God gave Mount Seir to the descendants of Esau as a possession. Note in Deuteronomy 2:31 “And the Lord said to me, ‘See, I have begun to give Sihon and his land over to you. Begin to possess it, that you may inherit his land.”’
God gives the land of the king of Sihon as a possession to Israel. Next it is seen in Deuteronomy 3:1-2 “Then we turned and went up the road to Bashan; and Og, king of Bashan, came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. And the LORD said to me, ‘Do not fear him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand; you shall do to him as you did to Sihon, king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon.’” God also gave this land to the Israelites as a possession. As a confirmation, see Deuteronomy 3:12-13.
MOSES IN THE PROMISED LAND
The term “possession” as used by God denotes that the land was part of the promises He gave to Abraham, meaning that Moses, along with the Israelites, had entered the Promised Land, contrary to the universal belief that he never did. Notice Deuteronomy 3:23-27 “Then I pleaded with the Lord at this time, saying: ‘Oh Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what God is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains and Lebanon.’ “But the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the Lord said to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah, and lift your eyes toward the west, the north, the south, and the east; behold it with your eyes for you shall not cross over this Jordan.’”
The above scriptures show that Moses had pleaded with God to allow him, not only to enter the Promised Land, but also to pass through its entirety. God relented from His original restriction and allowed Moses to enter the Promised Land east of the Jordan, but empathetically refused his appeal to cross the Jordan. Moses, being east of the Jordan, was allowed to see the Promised Land. All the land that he sees, to the north, south, and east is predominantly on the east side of the Jordan; therefore, Moses is standing in the Promised Land when he views it from the top of the mountain.
THE PROMISED LAND ON BOTH SIDES OF THE JORDAN
As further proof, make note of Genesis 13:3; 14-15. The land that Abram (Abraham) views is the Promised Land. God tells him to look north, south, east, and west. So, when he looks east, he is looking at the land on the east side of the Jordan River—the same land that Moses took from the two kings. Note: Abram was fifteen miles from the Jordan River at this time, making it plain that the Promised Land lies on both sides of the Jordan. Genesis 15:18-21 explains, “On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying; ‘to your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates— the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.’”
In the above scriptures, God shows that the land to be inherited includes that of ten nations. Two of these nations occupied the land east of the Jordan. As already shown, the land of the Amorite kings Sihon and Og was captured by Moses and declared an inherited land by God. In addition, they would inherit the land of Rephaim. The Rephaim’s land was also east of the Jordan (Genesis 14:5). Their city, Asheroth, is about 20 miles east of the sea of Galilee, proving that once they crossed the Arnon river, they were in the land of Promise as specified as a covenant by God to Abraham.
WHAT TIME OF THE YEAR?
The campaigns against Sihon and Og were quick and decisive. Deuteronomy 2:34, 3:6-7, and Numbers 21:25 & 35 further explain that they took immediate possession of the land. Numbers32:1, and 5 show that they saw the land at the time they conquered it, and observed that it was desirable for their needs. “Now the children of Ruben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of livestock: and they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, that indeed the region was a place for livestock. Therefore, they said, ‘If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession, and do not take us over the Jordan.’” There would be no reason for them to wait since they had an immediate need to pasture their animals.
The intervening account in the book of Numbers of Balak and Balaam was not chronological and would not affect either the time of their request for the land nor Moses’ decision to grant the request. They are parallel accounts. Deuteronomy 3 shows that the land east of the Jordan was granted to them following the defeat of Sihon and Og. The previous scriptures show that the capture of the land east of the Jordan occurred during the latter part of the sixth month of the fortieth year.
In the book “The Antiquities of the Jews” Chapter 5 page 258, Josephus writes “For it was the summer season.” This agrees with the biblical timeline as previously described.
WHY THE ISRAELITES NEEDED TO PLANT
At this time Israel was basically an agricultural nation with different emphasis on diverse types of crops and animals. Those settling on the east side of the Jordan were primarily raising herds and flocks. These tribes took possession of lands that had already been organized to raise animals. Deuteronomy 2:35 and 3:7 confirm this.
As part of the agreement to occupy the east bank they were to provide a fighting force of 40,000 men as shown in Joshua 4:13, to lead in the battle to conquer the land west of the Jordan. It should be noted that the census of Numbers 26 shows that these combined tribes accounted for 110,000 men over the age of 20. Sixty thousand were left with the families and animals to provide protection, and to do the work required to sustain their livelihood and support the brethren who were going to claim the land across the Jordan.
When gaining this land these tribes had a definite list of needs to prepare their families for their absence. Remember, they were required to provide 40,000 men of war. Those who remained needed housing, which was ostensibly left by the defeated nations, although some repairs would have been 11 required as a result of the war. Also, stock-pens needed to be built or repaired. However, their most pressing need was that of food—grain. Why would this be when they had manna to eat? God had provided manna as a grain substitute for Israel because there was no provision for grain to be grown in the wilderness.
Notice Numbers 11:7-8 “Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its color like the color of bdellium. The people went about and gathered it, ground it on millstones or beat it in the mortar, cooked it in pans, and made cakes of it; and its taste was like the taste of pastry prepared with oil.”
The Israelites knew that this would cease once they had reached the Promised Land so they could provide this basic food item on their own. Leviticus 23:10 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.’”
The requirement of planting on their arrival in the new land is implicit. You cannot have a wave sheaf offering, or grain to eat, without planting the grain first. It also speaks to the fact that they would be expected to provide their own grain from their own labors. God was not running a welfare state. Every man is expected to provide for his own sustenance. II Thessalonians 3:10 explains “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”
Joshua 5:12 reads “Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.” This scripture tells us that is exactly what happened. They knew this was going to happen and they prepared for it as God commanded in Leviticus 23:9-11, 14. “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it… You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.’”
By not understanding the requirements and accompanying practices of raising small grains (barley and wheat) would prevent those who are teaching today from realizing the natural way that this would have occurred, thus resulting in a twisted teaching of the events and timetables leading up to Joshua 5. The scriptures cited have shown that the Israelites were in control of the land before the fall planting season. It is imperative to know that barley and wheat are planted in the fall, and barley requires only five months to harvesting. The past custom was to graze these crops in their early stages of growth, which was a perfect fit for the herds and flocks. Lacking this information, one could not see the reality that they would have had an acceptable sheaf of grain to cut and for the priest to wave. It should be noted that Genesis 37:5-7 supports the practice of raising small grains and shepherding flocks. “Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, ‘Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.’" These scriptures show that though shepherding was the main occupation, they also raised small grain.
The additional point that no grain could be harvested because this was a Sabbath would not apply because this Sabbath was a high day. Work required to prepare food for a high day is acceptable according to the word of God. Yet, it would have required an unacceptable amount of work to harvest grain for more than two million people in one day. Remember, the manna had not ceased, so they had both manna and grain to eat on the second day of Unleavened Bread once the offering of the wave sheaf had taken place in the morning.
A CHANGE IN DIET
To the Israelites it was an important event. They had had a forty-year diet of manna and they wanted a change. Less than a year earlier they endured the plague of fiery serpents because of their complaints of the tiresome diet of manna. Numbers 21:5-6 states: “And the people spoke against God and against Moses: ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.’ So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.”
Despite their desire for change, they waited until the requirements of Leviticus 23:14 were met. What restrained them from eating the grain that was there? It was that they lacked the required wave sheaf offering and they did not want to go through another plague by breaking what God had commanded.
It is interesting to look at the gathering of manna. What time of the day was it to be gathered? In the morning before the sun had warmed the land and melted it. They could only realize that it had stopped by looking for it in the morning. So the term, “on the day after” in Joshua 5:11 would refer to the daylight hours, not the night portion of that day. On the sixth day of the week, a double portion was gathered to provide a workless Sabbath for Israel. As already pointed out, a high day Sabbath allowed for food preparation and would have included the gathering of manna. This resulted in their declaring that there was no manna to gather the following day.
In addition, the term “on the day after” is a combination word in Strong’s, #H4480 and #H4283, clearly meaning the “following numbered day,” not “the next morning.”
Numbers 33:3 uses the exact same wording and shows that this is the correct understanding for this terminology: “They departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the Passover the children of Israel went out with boldness in the sight of all the Egyptians.”
A complete listing of this term can be found in “The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament,” which always indicates that it is the next day—never the morning of the night before. This would make it the same day, a day being sunset to sunset. Refer to page 731 for #H4480 and page 690 for #H4283.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR CUTTING THE SHEAF
Too many have been duped into thinking that the priest or his appointees had to go out after the Sabbath, the evening of the first day of the week, and cut the grain to be waved—a tradition that the Jews established. This was not the instruction given by God.
Leviticus 23:10, 14 states “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘when you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest… it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”
These directions are addressed to the nation in general and specifically to those having control of the harvesting of the fields. Using the pronoun “you” and “your” gives each individual the responsibility to bring a sheaf of grain from his own field (a cut handful) for the priest to wave. It had nothing to do with the priest or his appointed ones, but it was those responsible for growing and harvesting who brought in the sheaf.
WHAT DID GOD COMMAND?
Due to the distances, sometimes requiring more than a day of travel from their fields to the location of the tabernacle, it would have been cut sometime prior to being waved. Then it would have been brought to the priest ahead of time for him to wave on the appointed day. There can be no doubt about this clear instruction. The individual had the responsibility to cut and bring the sheaf to the priest.
It should be noted that when the stalk or stem that supports the head of the grain dries, the cereal stops growing. Unlike today, the grain was cut before it could be threshed, then bundled, leaving it in the field to dry. If the grain was left too long before cutting, it would fall to the ground and be lost. Leviticus 23:11-14 gives us the rest of the requirements of the wave sheaf. The only restriction placed on them was that no one was to eat of the grain before the wave sheaf offering. In fact, verse 13 means that God expected them to have harvested the grain ahead so that they could make this offering.
Leviticus 23:11-14 “He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the LORD. Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you
have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”
Remember, these were directions given to all those raising that crop. This was a mini celebration, allowing them to eat of the new crop, or the first crop of their field, upon entering the Promised Land.
Deuteronomy 16:9 is cited as a direction that prohibits the sheaf from being cut prior to the wave sheaf day. “You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain.”
The word “begin,” Strong’s #H2490, is the hiphil (infinitive) of this verb. The dictionary definition of infinitive is as follows: “Infinitive—meaning, unlimited or indefinite: applied to a certain mode or form of the verb (by origin a verbal noun and in English commonly preceded by the preposition to) which expresses the general sense of the verb without restriction to person or number.”
The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament cites four places on page 432 where the word is used in the infinitive. (1) Genesis 11:6, “… this is what they begin to do; …” (2) Deuteronomy 16:9 “… from [such time as] thou beginnest.” (3) I Samuel 3:12 “…when I begin, I will also make an end.” (4) II Chronicles 31:10, “Since [the people] begin to bring.”
This makes Deuteronomy 16:9 a general instruction about the beginning of the counting for the Feast of Weeks, and in no way prevented the general cutting of the grain before the wave sheaf offering day. The emphasis is on the number of weeks to be counted, not the starting point.
If Deuteronomy 16:9 was followed with the requirements of Leviticus 23, they would have waited until after sundown of the Sabbath, cut a handful of grain and traveled whatever distance from the field to bring the sheaf to the priest for waving. After waving they would have returned home and cut and threshed more of the crop, then hurried back to the place where it was waved to make an offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour as an additional offering. This would have been ridiculous when laid out as this timeline would demand.
Remember, they needed grain that the Israelites had grown for this offering as well as the wave offering. The inability to comply with Deuteronomy 16:9 and follow the instructions of Leviticus 23 supports the point already made about the general sense of time meant by the word “begin.”
Christ tells us in John 10:35 that the scripture cannot be broken. With the correct understanding these scriptures do agree.
The wave sheaf was cut first; then the grain that was ripe was harvested in preparation for the wave sheaf offering, just as Leviticus 23 requires. This chapter also prohibited the Israelites from eating the grain of the land until the wave sheaf offering. Joshua 5:11 tells us that they did eat of this grain; so, the wave sheaf offering had to have been made. Verse 12 shows that God confirmed that all was done with His approval by stopping the manna the next day—without any punishment or sign of His disapproval for not following the implicit instructions of Leviticus 23:10-14. Not following those instructions would have been a breach so serious as to bring immediate punishment by the Eternal. They ate and God blessed them with the conquering of Jericho.
It should now be clear that God’s people were in the Land of Promise with adequate time to raise the small grain crop and wave it on the day following a weekly Sabbath. This allowed the sheaf to be waved during the Days of Unleavened Bread. This requirement places an important stamp of approval on it as representing the sinless life of Christ.
The Days of Unleavened Bread do not picture the putting out of sin. That had to be done prior to the first day. These days picture life without sin, and Christ is the only one to fulfill this prerequisite. Therefore, the simplicity and purity of the sheaf was a representation of the sinless Christ. It had to be waved during the days that pictured the purity of a sinless life. No other concept is acceptable!
Placing the wave sheaf offering on an ordinary day, outside of the Days of Unleavened Bread, is subtly saying that Christ’s life was with sin, negating His sacrifice that was accepted by the Father for us.
The accusation that Mr. Armstrong did not do a sufficient study into this subject, but accepted it on its surface, was in part the thrust of this writing. By looking at the statements below it can be seen that Mr. Armstrong placed a particular emphasis that many have not considered:
“On the morrow after the Sabbath, during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the priest waved the Wave Sheaf, and none could be used until this was done” (Letter from “THE GOOD NEWS,” Herbert Armstrong, 1940.)
“Jesus, the great Antitypical Lamb, and His resurrection, the Antitypical Wave Sheaf was presented before and accepted of God on the marrow after the WEEKLY Sabbath, during the Days of Unleavened Bread, A.D.31” (Letter from “The GOOD NEWS,” Herbert Armstrong, 1943.)
“This event (the Wave Sheaf) ALWAYS occurred during the Days of Unleavened Bread. (See Joshua 5.) This fulfillment of the Wave Sheaf offering actually occurred on Sunday, the marrow after the Sabbath during the days of unleavened bread.” (Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days — Which? Herbert Armstrong, 1976 Edition page 24).
“The third is the Feast of Firstfuits, called in the New Testament “Pentecost,” because it came fifty days after the cutting of the Wave Sheaf during the Days of Unleavened Bread” (Never Before Understood, Herbert Armstrong, 1981).
By examining this declarative statement, what should be seen as the imperative to be carried out? The Sabbath marking the waving of the sheaf should occur during the Days of Unleavened Bread, or that the sheaf is to be waved during the Days of Unleavened Bread?
Some think that the seven days of Unleavened Bread picture putting sin out during these days, when the scriptures clearly show that it was to be removed before the commencement of these days. Exodus 12:19 “For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land.”
This is confirmed in Paul’s instructions in I Corinthians 5:7-8 “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
The purging occurred prior to these days, so that they are to be kept sinless as Paul points out in these verses. This is the perfect picture of Christ being presented to the Father as a sinless offering during these days.
It should be recognized that Mr. Armstrong was under no pressure to justify the wave sheaf occurring as he stated because of the occasional times when the Passover occurred on the Sabbath, and so he did not. The body of believers accepted his pronouncement. The whole thrust of this article is to show the correctness of that decision. This should not detract from the basic truth that Christ was a sinless offering. Therefore, He would have to be offered during the Days of Unleavened Bread, which picture a time devoid of sin. Of all the points, this one should be so fundamental as to wipe away all doubts as to its occurrence.
Obviously, Mr. Armstrong had a thorough understanding of these biblical events, and made the change of accepting Joshua 5 as the wave sheaf offering based on them. We should also accept this as the correct understanding as hereby shown.
Once one gleans the biblical history that led up to Joshua 5 you can understand that they complied with the requirements of Leviticus 23, which allowed them to eat the grain of the land, this being the wave sheaf offering.
• It was not a second Passover.
• Moses and the Israelites were in the Promised Land before they crossed the Jordan.
• They were in part of the Promised Land with more than adequate time to raise the small grain crop required for the wave sheaf offering.
Coupled with the above information, we have the additional understanding that Christ’s sinless life had to be accepted during the very days that depicted living a sinless life—the Days of Unleavened Bread!
Finally, we see that God has placed His stamp of approval on what Joshua accomplished. Joshua 11:15 “As the LORD had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did…”
Joshua left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses!
ADDED ON DECEMBER 28th, 2009
When one presents a study of a subject, based on information gleaned from past teachings, supported by what appears as a logical progression of events that are described in a series of biblical passages to support a belief, it then becomes imperative to correct that writing when a proof is found that destroys a part, or all of the evidence that was presented. It is incumbent upon me to correct the error of placing the Passover on the weekly Sabbath in Joshua 5.
Since the writing of this article, I have studied God’s Sacred Calendar to determine the mathematical proof of it by establishing a calendar constructed in seven-day weekly Sabbaths, beginning with creation. Once this was done, and it showed the Passover of Joshua 5 occurred on the sixth day of the week rather than the Sabbath, the correction to this article was made.
Looking at Joshua 5:10-11 in the King James Version it says, “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.” The year here is 1488BC_2559AM. Passover was March 31—a Friday, making “Thursday evening” the Passover.
Verse 11 reads: “And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the Passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day.” This was a double Sabbath; the first day of unleavened bread, and the seventh day weekly Sabbath. Thus Joshua 5 cannot be used as a biblical example to prove that the first Day of Unleavened Bread fell on a Sunday. (Revised 11- 25-18)
Don Roth (Revised June 15, 2021)