The Hebrew word שָׁבוּעוֹת shábhu`oth (pronunciation: shávuot) means weeks and cannot be separated from the feast of Passover פֶּסַח. In Exodus/Shmot 3:12, God tells Moshe that He will lead the people of Israel out of the misery of the slave house of Egypt and that Moshe must lead the people to Mount Horeb so that there the people will serve the Lord!
The people of Israel were not delivered so that they would live a free existence, but so that they would be forged into a people of God. At the Mountain they agreed to do so and promised to serve the God of Israel and to live the Words that were handed down to them there at the Mountain and to pass them on from generation to generation and for the benefit of the whole world.
Of course, one could argue that they were more or less forced to do so because they were witnesses to all kinds of natural disasters and possibly feared that, should they refuse, the whole mountain would roll down on them. Famous then is the saying of Israel: na’aseh ve’nishmah: we will do and listen. The order seems strange: first do and then listen? Shouldn’t we first reason out what we are doing? Israel solemnly promised: we will do, but we will also listen to what we have to do.
The Jewish people throughout the centuries have been and continue to be a ‘do-people’. Judaism is like “a way of life. They do the commandments, they do the Feasts, they do the shabat. God also instructs Israel to do. In Ex/Smot 31:16 we read concerning the shabat: la’asot et ha’shabat לַעַשׂוֹת אֶת הַשָׁבַּת, to make the shabat, to do.
Shabat, as well as the established Feast Days of our God, are times when we do not do in the sense of working, making money, lighting fires, etc. and do when it comes to, for example, eating the festive meals of God together on shabat; putting Him at the center and thanking Him for all the good gifts He gives and has given. But we also think of doing in the sense of organizing holy prayer and worship gatherings.
Holy in Hebrew is setting apart from the rest, but is only fully holy when the time is connected by rituals to God the Holy Himself.
שָׁבוּעוֹת shábhu`óth is the plural of ַשָׁבוּע shabhúa`: seventh, week. The words ַשָׁבוּע shabhúa, sevental and שֶׁבַע shebha: seven are related to שׁוּב shúbh, reverse.
Because Passover and Feast of Weeks are connected, it is also called the closing day of the Passover Exit Feast. It seems a strange name: weeks. But the name is not so different from the name we give to this closing feast: Pentecost. The word Pentecost is a corruption of the Greek pentacosta, fifty, 7 weeks plus 1 day are fifty days. Yet there is also a deeper meaning in the word שָׁבוּעוֹת (weeks). This is in the connection with the verb שׁוּב (shúbh: to reverse) already mentioned. Each week time reverses, but not without our own involvement. The week is a very different time frame than the day or the year, which are determined entirely outside of us by the rotations of our earth around its axis and around the sun. The week is a separate divine institution, it is not in nature, and we can ignore it as well: we can refuse to allow time to turn every seven days, we can refuse to observe the weekly Day of Rest (shabat) or the weekly Day of Rest (Sunday). We can also refuse to turn around ourselves, to turn around, to bék.
The feast of Shábhuòth שָׁבוּעֹות, (actually of the seven Saturdays, shabatoth, of the seven turning points after Passover) is the great annual feast of conversion, commemorating the radical conversion of Israel at Mount Sinai. For when God came down as a terrifying Voice and blood was sprinkled, not on the doorposts, but on the heads of every Israelite, the people radically turned around: from a disjointed slave people, they became a unique people of God, a Messianic people, an anointed people with a unique calling: ‘You are to Me a kingdom of priests in view of all the earth, for all the earth belongs to Me’ (Exodus19:6). Centuries later, at Shawu`oth in Jerusalem, when God once again descended into the midst of His people, this time in a storm, in a Holy Gust of Wind, a bunch of stubborn and, when it came down to it, cowardly fishermen from Galilee were radically converted into a thrust group of fearless witnesses for the Kingdom of God.
A few more word associations:
Shábha שָׁבַע to take an oath, to pledge allegiance, to enter into a covenant relationship: in festive-solemn celebrations, the covenant relationship between God and His people is reaffirmed, as it were, with an oath. The first time the verb appears in Tenach/OT is in Genesis/Bereshite 21: 31. Abraham and Avimelech made a covenant with each other at BeérSheva because of a well dug byr Abraham. Both men pledged allegiance to each other there, at the beér, the well of water.
We read that Abraham gives Avimelech 7 lambs, seven, shevaשֶׁבָע, we also encounter in the place name Beérsheva!
Shábhach שָׁבַח means: praise, happy praise, but also: calm down, appease: in the praise our soul calms down, our deepest inner self comes to rest, and that especially also in the Shabhuoth Feast, the Feast of reversal, of conversion.’
There is also word connection with שָׁבַה shábháh, to carry off as a prisoner and with שָׁבוּת shávúth, imprisonment: without the liberating and sanctifying Working of with the Holy Spirit, man can become a prisoner of unholy spirits.
Shábháh שָׁבָה has word association with shabar שָׁבַּר, to break, break down. By not fulfilling agreed promises, but breaking them, the situation can arise that we are taken away as captives as Israel experienced several times.
Shabat שָׁבּת and shabhua שָׁבוּע (week) also have word associations. There is no mention of a week until the seventh day, shabat, is over. Shabat comes from the verb shebhet שֶׂבֶת, to sit, strike. Also on Shavuot, may we rest, and thank Him for the meaningful Teaching God has given to the world for a healthy society and togetherness!
*** Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) ***