Acts 2:4

New Testament

2 Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven residing in Jerusalem. 6 When this sound occurred, a crowd gathered and was in confusion because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Completely baffled, they said, “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that each one of us hears them in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great deeds God has done!” 12 All were astounded and greatly confused, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

Exodus Rabbah 5


'And God said to Aharon, 'Go to meet Moshe in the wilderness'': This is that which is written (Job 37:5), 'God thunders wonders with His voice' - what is it that he thunders? When the Holy One, blessed be He, gave the Torah at Sinai, He showed wonders of wonders to Israel. How is it? The Holy One, blessed be He would speak and the voice would go out and travel the whole world: Israel would hear the voice coming to them from the South and they would run to the South to meet the voice; and from the South, it would switch for them to the North, and they would all run to the North; and from the North, it would switch to the East, and they would run to the East; and from the East, it would switch to the West, and they would run to the West; and from the West, it would switch [to be] from the heavens, and they would suspend their eyes [to the heavens], and it would switch [to be] in the earth, and they would stare at the earth, as it is stated (Deuteronomy 4:36), 'From the Heavens did He make you hear His voice, to discipline you.' And Israel would say one to the other, 'And wisdom, from where can it be found' (Job 28:12). And Israel would say, from where is the Holy One, blessed be He, coming, from the East or from the South? As it is stated (Deuteronomy 33:2), 'The Lord came from Sinai, and shone from Seir (in the East) to them'; and it is written (Habakuk 3:3), 'And God will come from Teiman (in the South).' And it is stated (Exodus 20:15), 'And all the people saw the sounds (literally, voices)' - it is not written, 'sound,' here, but rather, 'sounds.' Rabbi Yochanan said, 'The voice would go out and divide into seventy voices for the seventy languages, so that all the nations would hear. And each and every nation would hear in the language of the nation and their souls would depart. But Israel would hear and they were not injured.' How did the voice go out? Rabbi Tanchuma said, 'It would come go with two faces; [one] would kill the idolaters who did not accept it, and [one] would give life to Israel that did accept it.'

 Notes and References

"... The later Middle Ages saw the inclusion, on the Sabbath, of Psalm 29 among the verses recited during the return of the Torah scroll to the Ark. In this connection, it is noteworthy that, in the New Testament description of the Pentecostal experience (Acts 2:1-13), the 'gift of the Holy Spirit' is likewise accompanied by physical phenomena reminiscent of thunderstorms and, therefore, of the Sinaitic Revelation. Here we read that 'a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, ... and there appeared to them tongues as of fire'. This New Testament passage is all the more remarkable in view of the fact that, regardless of the later, Amoraic, identification of Pentecost with the season of the giving of our Torah, the synagogue lectionary of the Tannaitic period lists a section of the festival calendar of Deuteronomy 16 as the Scripture pericope for Pentecost - rather than any of the passages which deal with the 'giving of the Torah'. It may just be possible, therefore, that, in Acts, we have our first literary evidence of the change of Pentecost from a purely agricultural festival to the annual commemoration of the Sinaitic Revelation ..."

Petuchowski, Jakob J. Qol Adonai: A Study in Rabbinic Theology (pp. 13-21) Brill, 1972

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