JERUSALEM, Israel -- Temperatures in the nation's capital soared to 110 degrees Fahrenheit Wednesday as Israelis celebrated Shavuot, the harvest festival Judaism marks as Moses' receipt of the Torah on Mt. Sinai.
Shavuot, which means "weeks," is also called the Festival of First Fruits. Holiday traditions include all-night Bible studies, as well as family outings to national parks, moshavim and kibbutzim (farming communities).
When the First and Second Temples stood, Israelites from all over the country came up to Jerusalem on Shavuot, the second of the pilgrimage feasts (after Passover and before Sukkot in the fall), to present their offerings on the Temple Mount.
And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. (Lev. 23:15-16)
This holiday also marks the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the 120 disciples who were instructed to tarry in Jerusalem until imbued with power from on high (Book of Acts, Chapters 1- 2).
The giving of the Torah (God's law) represents the covenant between God and the Jewish people, while the outpouring of the Holy Spirit empowered the first followers of Jesus to spread the Good News, despite persecution.