The Meaning of Shavu’ot (Pentecost); News from Israel; and Your Calls

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Dr. Brown discusses the biblical and traditional meaning of the feast of weeks (Shavu’ot; Pentecost), catches up with the latest Israel news and takes your Jewish-related calls. Listen live here 2-4 pm EST, and call into the show at (866) 348 7884 with your questions and comments.


Hour 1:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: As surely as God gave a biblical calendar to Israel, He will follow that calendar – ultimately with the return of the Messiah and the salvation of Israel.

Hour 2:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: Tomorrow doesn’t come. Today is the day of salvation. What you’re going to do for God, do today while you have breath.


This week get your copy of David Kyle Foster’s Love Hunger Book and 2 Hour CD Interview with Dr. Brown for only $25, Postage Paid!
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Other Resources:

Dr. Brown Answers the Rabbis (Part 1)

An Outrage in the Church of Scotland, and the Meaning of Pentecost (Shavu’ot)

Dr. Brown Interviews Theologian R. T. Kendall on His New Book “Holy Fire,” then Dr. Brown Takes Your Calls

  1. In his trivia question, Dr. Brown asks, “How many Americans believe the Bible is the Word of God to be taken literally, word for word?”

    I believe the answer was 28%.

    Do 25% of Americans really believe that there is a vault above the earth, holding back the seas? And that stars are hung on it? And that the earth has four corners?

    Or, more trivially, that rabbits have cuds? Or that someone can change the color of goats by putting sticks around them?

    I suspect that a HUGE percentage of that 29% believe in the bible literally but don’t read it much.

  2. Greg,

    “However, the Hebrew phrase for ‘chew the cud’ simply means ‘raising up what has been swallowed’. Coneys and rabbits go through such similar motions to ruminants that Linnaeus, the father of modern classification (and a creationist), at first classified them as ruminants.

    Also, rabbits and hares practise refection, which is essentially the same principle as rumination, and does indeed ‘raise up what has been swallowed’. The food goes right through the rabbit and is passed out as a special type of dropping. These are re-eaten, and can now nourish the rabbit as they have already been partly digested.

    In particular, another name for this process is called cecotrophy, because the material is taken in a pouch at the beginning of the large intestine called the cecum or ‘blind gut&lrquo; (Latin caecus = blind). In the cecum, a process called ‘hindgut fermentation’ occurs, where bacteria help digest the food by breaking down cellulose into simple sugars. Then the special dropping, called a cecotrope, is expelled and re-eaten. This cecotrope is very different from normal feces, thus cecotrophy is very different from other forms of coprophagy (eating dung) practised by animals such as pigs and dogs.

    It is not an error of Scripture that ‘chewing the cud’ now has a more restrictive meaning than it did in Moses’ day. Indeed, rabbits and hares do ‘chew the cud’ in an even more specific sense. Once again, the Bible is right and the sceptics are wrong.”-

    And as far as the other things that you cited, some of them are not literal language. We do not expect that anyone would take a figure of speech literally…but with the meaning intended. And all we know about putting sticks in front of goats when they breed to produce spotted offspring is that Jacob thought that it did something. We also know that YHWH blessed Jacob. The Bible does not say to do such a thing or that it will produce spotted animals.

    So you bring up things in an attempt to discredit taking the Bible literally where that is what is intended. And you want to use culture and human reasoning as the final authority instead of scripture. And you misconstrue some things in your above post also because you do not pay attention to the actual language used in scripture.

    I just knew you would want to know these things so that you adjust your beliefs to be more closely in line with what scripture does say…or maybe not.

  3. Greg I actually believe the bible literally 100 percent. I do not believe what you read into it- but it is actually so in depth that what it says can eventually be understood to a degree. I think by the time I am about 763 years old I will have a better grasp on things.

  4. As a literalist myself. I believe the Bible literally has figures of speech, poetry, and symbolism.

  5. jon,

    I am not “reading into” the Genesis One account that a vault holds back a sea above our heads.

    That’s is the LITERAL reading. We have no reason to believe that it was written or read other than literally back then,

    Fine. I’m good with that.

    But are you? Do you LITERALLY believe that there is a vault which separates a sea above us? A vault upon which the stars are placed?

    And, I AM NOT DISCREDITING THE BIBLE as Bo accused me of.

    I see it completely the opposite of that. I try to pay attention to what the bible _really_ says and not try to conform it to science. And the bible says there is a vault that holds back the sea.

    And, it says rabbits have cuds. Jews were agrarian people who knew exactly what cuds were. They thought rabbits had them.

  6. Ben,

    >>As a literalist myself. I believe the Bible literally has figures of speech, poetry, and symbolism.

    Fine. But this solves only some “problem passages” in the bible.

    The way I solve the “problem passages” is to not consider them a problem. If the bible says that a rabbits have cuds, or that goats change color, I have no problem with that. I just accept that the bible says that. I don’t try to reconcile it with science.

    How do you deal with these well-know problem passages?

    For example, how do you think Noah fit almost nine million species of animals in the ark? And loaded them up in one day!

    Seriously, how to you believe that literally?

  7. Yes Bo,

    I was responding to Greg’s strange notions of what it means to take the Bible literally.

    Being in the dispensational camp I am often accused of taking things too literally. 😉

    It was a bit of fun when I said there are literally figures of speech. It wasn’t in reference to the cud, just a general statement.

    Sorry for any confusion.

  8. I hope a new Church is a part of the new heaven and earth. I think we sure could use one.

    I trust that heaven and earth means heaven and earth, and I do indeed hope the Church will be a part of that and be new in quality.

  9. Let me say this a different way.

    I don’t always believe the bible literally.

    But I accept the bible literally. I do this in faith.

    So, I accept that the bible says all the animals of the world fit in the ark. I have no idea how this could possibly be true — in any literal definition of truth. But, I accept it, in faith.

    But, we don’t call religion a “faith” for no reason.

  10. Ray,

    In last Sunday’s sermon, our preacher said that the Jewish understanding of heaven was a renewed earth.

    In other words — even isn’t above us, it’s right here on earth.

    Do you think of it this way?

    I’m still making up my mind about it.

  11. Rabbits regurgitate something, don’t they? So, perhaps this is what the Bible is referring to.

  12. Greg,

    Noah’s ark is amazing.

    “For example, how do you think Noah fit almost nine million species of animals in the ark?”

    Thats a common fallacy. Modern studies show that Noah only took thousands of kinds onto the ark. I don’t recall the exact numbers, but some studies suggest it may be less that 5,000 kinds. I can get you links if you like. And the Bible says ‘kinds’ not species. For example, Noah only had to take 2 dogs onto the ark, which then mankind and region separation bred the various variations of dogs we have today. Again I can get you info on it if you like.

    “And loaded them up in one day!”

    For one it was only thousands, and secondly and more importantly is that God himself loaded the animals [Gen 6:20; Gen 7:14-16]

    Genesis 6:20
    20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.

    They came unto Noah. Noah didn’t have to go find them.

    Genesis 7
    14 They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort.

    15 And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.

    16 And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in.

    Again they went in unto Noah as God has commanded and the Lord shut them in.

  13. Greg,

    The “firmament” of heaven divides the “waters” not the “seas.” The seas are what the waters on earth are called. Scripture does not say that there are “seas” above the firmament in Genesis one. The word that you translate “vault” does not mean a solid dome. And the stars are not placed on it they are in the “expanse.”

    Genesis 1
    14 And God saith, ‘Let luminaries be in the expanse of the heavens, to make a separation between the day and the night, then they have been for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years, (YLT)

    What translation do you read?

  14. Greg,

    So you believe that Noah put millions of animals on the ark and you also believe that it didn’t happen?

  15. Benjamin:

    Here is the passage that you believe literally:

    >> Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate; and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the earth

    “all animals”

    There are a lot more than 5,000 types of animals!

    And — let me be clear — I love this story. I have not problem with this story.

    I just can’t imagine how one reconciles it with any literal understanding of size, space, physics, etc.

    One answer is to just call it a miracle — sort of like Harry Potter’s pup tent that is six fee long on the outside and a mansion on the inside.

    But as soon as you start talking miracles, you are no longer in the realm of objective, literal reality.

  16. Greg,

    You wrote:
    “I just can’t imagine how one reconciles it with any literal understanding of size, space, physics, etc.”

    Have you investigated and calculated the actual logistics or are you just guessing?

  17. Bo,

    OK — I stand corrected. “waters.” I personally call that much water a “sea”.

    Do you believe that a vault separates the water above us? And that the stars are placed on it?

    And that the earth has four corners? And it sits on water?

  18. Greg,

    Why do you think that there is a solid vault that stars are placed on? I do not see this in the English or the Hebrew.

  19. Bo,

    I’ve seen people who _try_ to calculate how the ark would work — all those animals, not to mention food, bedding, etc.

    It stuck me as completely impossible — in any sort of objective, literal sense.

    I’m not sure you could even fit all those animals on one of those super container ships. The ark was big but not that big!

    But, I accept that the bible says it happened. I do so in faith.

  20. Benjamin,

    I just read your link.

    It struck me as a little silly.

    OK — let’s say that there were a few thousand animals on the ark rather than literally all animals.

    But there are 8.7 million species now.

    That is high speed evolution! All during the time of human existence, so it would have been observed.

  21. Bo,

    The vault is solid enough to hold back the water.

    And solid enough for God to open and close it to let the rain come down.

    Are you sure you literally believe Genesis 1? You sure to go to great lengths to claim that it means something different than it seems to say.

  22. Well, I gotta go.

    I am convinced that I am actually a stricter literalist than you guys are.

    I don’t need a whole long web site full of convoluted arguments an tortured math.

    I simply accept what the bible says — all the animals were on the ark. Rabbits have cuds. There is a vault above us that holds the water back. The stars are hung from it.

    I feel no need to reconcile this with science.

    Have a good evening.

  23. Greg,

    The problem is that you do not believe what it says. You insist that the stars are hung from some sort of vault. The Hebrew says nothing of the sort. Your problem is not with tortured math, but in refusing to do the math. You never produced the passage about the 4 corners of the earth. And yes I believe that there are waters above the firmament/the expanse. And I take the scripture literally. And I think that objective observation confirms what scripture says.

    I also believe that when one believes 2 things that are contradictory to each other, that the one believing them is unbelievable.

  24. Benjamin,

    I read the article about the ark. I saw only straight forward math (nothing tortured, as Greg put it) that I am in the habit of using every day. Simple estimation and L x W x H volume formulas. I am guessing that Greg is not a mathematician or an expert on animal husbandry. Him calling the article “silly” may be an indication that it was over his head or that it was not what he wanted it to say or that he does not care to know. And he just does not get that species and kinds are much different. Nor does he realize that his millions of species includes vast numbers of water dwelling animals and insects and probably single cell organisms and plants…none of which had the breath of life in their nostrils.

    The link below says that only 3% of all animal species are vertebrates. (Which is most, if not all of the kinds that Noah took on the ark.) It also says that there are 3-30 million total species. That is a huge margin of error. In other words, no one knows how many species there are. But even taking the high figure, 3% of 30,000,000 is only 900,000. That is not tortured math…just plain math.

    So I do not know where he gets his 8.7 million number. But it appears to be 10 to 100 times too large even if Noah was gathering animals today. Given the speciation from Noah’s time till now, who knows how much too large Greg’s number is?

    And the number of species is not the issue. The number of Biblical “kinds” that produced those species is. As an example, there are supposedly 34 species of canines. Is 34 species from 1 or 2 pairs of canines in 4500 years terribly out of the question? What if there were actually 4 “kinds” of canines? That would make it even easier.


  25. Bo,

    >>The problem is that you do not believe what it says.

    Do you believe there is a vault holding the waters above us?


    Do you believe that the color of a goat is determined by the color of the grass where his parents had sex?

    Do you believe this literally — as in literal, factual, word-for-word science?

    28% of Americans say the do but I wonder if they actually read their bibles?

    Obviously, you, Bo, read your bible but then you spend A LOT of time arguing that the bible actually doesn’t say what it seems to.

    >> You insist that the stars are hung from some sort of vault. The Hebrew says nothing of the sort.

    I don’t read Hebrew. Here is the English:

    >>And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

    >>14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth,

    I don’t “insist” the bible say vault! My bible says vault!

    The translators or the NIV think the Hebrew says “vault.” No offense, but I trust their scholarship more than yours.

    So, I ask you? Do you honestly believe there is a vault holding back the waters above us? And God opens it up to let the water fall on the earth.

    Do you believe the bible literally, word-for-word as Dr. Brown asks?

    Or you believe that water vapor rises, collects an condenses in the sky and falls to earth?

    If you believe in condensation o you really believe the Bible is the Word of God?

    That’s was the premise of Dr. Brown’s trivia question.

  26. Bo,

    ?? So I do not know where he gets his 8.7 million number.

    Sheesh. It’s the number that comes up at the top of a simple Google search.

    About 8.7 million (give or take 1.3 million) is the new, estimated total number of species on Earth — the most precise calculation ever offered — with 6.5 million species on land and 2.2 million in oceans

  27. Bo an Ben,

    No I am not a mathamatecian. Are you guys?

    Here is the rough math:

    6.5 million land species. x 2

    13 million animals.

    The bible says thy were loaded on one day.

    Noah, doesn’t sleep so he loads up just over ONE MILLION animals on the Ark every hour! Every hour!

    Not literally possible.

    So one has to write a website claiming that the bible doesn’t really mean “all living creatures” when it says “all living creatures.”

    Maybe if I master Hebrew, like Bo, I’ll understand that it really means, “some living creatures.”

    No, I just accept what the bible says — literally. In faith.

    Ironically, many conservative Christians don’t!

  28. Bo,

    >> I also believe that when one believes 2 things that are contradictory to each other, that the one believing them is unbelievable.

    What about when the bible contradicts itself?

    I know. I know. You will claim that there are no contractions in the bible and got to great lengths to explain how the bible really doesn’t say what is seems to be saying.

    As for me, I just read my bible carefully and accept what it says.

    The bible doesn’t say there are no internal contradictions in the bible.

  29. Van,

    >>Once again science proves religious claims are nonsense.

    Once again, you reveal yourself to be a fundamentalist, just like “Bo” and the other guys here.

    Clear-headed thinkers don’t confuse religion with science.

  30. When one accepts faith as faith and science as science, the two co-exist just fine.

    If I want to know how rain happens, I go to science.

    If I want to about God, I go to the bible.

    But, Bo goes to the bible to learn how it rains. And Van goes to science to learn about God.

    The two make exactly the same cognitive mistake.

  31. Greg,

    Too bad your Bible translation says “vault.” Most do not. Too bad you think that there were 6.5 million species at the time of Noah and that you think that insects have nostrils or breath. Too bad you think that there are literal, physical windows in heaven and that the earth has a literal 4 corners. Too bad that you think that your head has literal corners. Are the corners 90 degree angles? Some people are block heads, no doubt 🙂

    Le 19:27 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.

    The birds are said to fly in heaven. If heaven is a vault how can they fly in/on a solid dome? Even your version does not say that the stars are on the vault…but in it. What ever the Hebrew word means, it cannot mean a solid vault. And Paus says that there are 3 heavens. The third being the abode of YHWH. It is also obvious from reading the scripture that the atmosphere of earth that the birds fly in is a heaven and that the stars are in a heaven. The Hebrew word for heaven is also always plural. So there are 3 heavens, according to scripture. Water can condense in the one that the birds fly in and water can be beyond the stars. The windows of heaven can be opened and rain come down or they can be opened and they can also be opened and blessings can come down to us. The phrase is not about literal physical windows. It is about abundance.

    Ge 8:2 The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained;

    Mal 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

    Too me it doesn’t matter how many species there were. The Bible never mentions species. How ever many “kinds” there were that had the breath of life in their nostrils went on the ark and only descendants of those animals are here today…no matter how many species that is. As far as the things that do not have the breath of life in their nostrils, we do know how they were preserved.

    According to:

    There are about 31,000 cataloged species of land dwelling (including amphibians) animals that have the breath of life. The article that Benjamin linked to estimates 8000 genera were on the ark. Is it out of reason that 8000 different “kinds” can have become three times that many species in 4300 years? The math says that 8000 “kinds” could easily fit on the ark…but I forgot, you do not do math.

    I take the scripture seriously and literally. You impose confuse “in” for “on” and “waters” for “seas” and “kinds” for “species.” You are importing ideas and confusing literal for symbolic. You say you believe what scripture literally says, but you refuse to believe Paul and Moses about homosex. You may take the scripture literally in a funny sort of way that contradicts what the words actually mean…but you do not take it seriously.

    And if the truth be told, Van and you have the same basis for your religions…culture. He has just taken his belief to a more logical conclusion than you have. Van may be a fundamentalist, but he is a fundamentalist for liberalism and not for conservatism. Van is either hot or cold depending on which vantage point one is looking from. You are quite lukewarm from either vantage point…except from the vantage point of yourself as a frog being slowly boiled in the proverbial pot…you are just very comfortable in the soup non sequiturs between supposed science and scripture. If that is clear-headed to you then how will we convince you otherwise with any facts or math or actual definitions of words?

  32. Greg,

    You wrote:
    “But, Bo goes to the bible to learn how it rains. And Van goes to science to learn about God.

    The two make exactly the same cognitive mistake.”

    And Greg goes into lala land believing non sequiturs and compartmentalizing them so he will not have to deal with any discrepancies. He calls this clear-headedness…hmmmm?

  33. Oops. The second sentence in the second to last paragraph in post 37 should be: You confuse “in” for “on” and “waters” for “seas” and “kinds” for “species.” You are importing ideas and confusing literal for symbolic.

    Note: Greg, do not try to add, subtract, multiply or divide “second” with “second to last”…just take it literally.

  34. Greg, Newton was criticized also for taking the bible literally. He has since then been proven right and Voltaire is the one that is left being wrong. You are thinking like Voltaire. ( which is not too bad, but still in error. )

  35. Did anyone happen to find out the information about the other fellow in the debate (sorry, I can’t remember his name right off!) concerning his views on the “person” of Jesus as He’s now in heaven? He was said to believe He’s now spirit and not in likeness as a Man.

  36. Benjamin,

    I just do not know…how can you expect Greg to watch something that is almost 5 minutes long? The complicated math of multiplying length, width and and height and then dividing by size of the average animal is terribly burdensome. The facts are just too hard on him.

    He wants to believe things without the facts being presented. This way He can just assume whatever he wants and believe things like Homosex and murder of unborn humans is not sin. So he takes by faith that the ark contained all the animals but also thinks that it is scientifically impossible. Then he turns an about face and claims that homosex is not sin because science has proven that the writers of scripture couldn’t have known about our modern scientific findings. This seems to be believing what one wants in spite of what scripture says. He can believe against science and at the same time believe the claims of science prove him wrong and believe that it is right too…but still insists that he is not wrong but that the writers of scripture were wrong, but not wrong because they didn’t know modern science which is always right. So he believes that there are literal windows in heaven but that there are not literal windows in heaven according to science…which he also believes and he sees no contradiction in doing so. Is there anything that can change such a persons mind? Is he actually using it?

  37. Ray,

    I was hoping to find out his thoughts on “the spirit of Christ” (Rom 8:9, 1Pe 1:11, Phl 1:19) as opposed to 1Ti 2:5 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus..”

    Anyway, it seems to me that the Holy Spirit and the Father and the Son are all interchanged at one time or another with each other. Jesus says, and is said to do, things that the Father does and then the Spirit is said to be that of the Father and the Son and so forth and so on. And then, of course, the Father is Spirit so it doesn’t seem to bother the authors of the NT to speak of the One God as inclusive of the three judging by the terminology that they use. Maybe that’s what tripped the fellow up–don’t know though…

    But I’ll keep looking, not that it’s that important, I was just wondering.

  38. “But, Bo goes to the bible to learn how it rains. And Van goes to science to learn about God.
    The two make exactly the same cognitive mistake.”

    > Wrong again. I don’t “go to the Bible to learn about God.” I don’t think of the Bible any differently than I do the Koran or any other holy book. They’re all equally ridiculous and equally false.

  39. Ray,

    It does say that. And also this: 2Co 3:17
    Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

    I think just as we’ll be changed into his image with our bodies then being incorruptible we will still have the bodies of who we are they will just be of another substance. A spiritual substance. That’s why it makes sense to me to consider that Christ is still in likeness as He was when He was resurrected. He was in likeness as a man, albeit a glorified Man. Our flesh will be glorified when we become the spiritual person who is one with Jesus. Yes, then, both body and spirit would be correct. Just as the Lord is both, not either/or.

  40. I should have included this:

    2Co 3:18

    But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

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