Passover cup and bread The vast majority of Bible believers today would think it improper for them to keep the Passover. They have the notion that such things are "Jewish" and have been abolished. But this was not always the case. The early believers kept the Passover and the scriptural feasts.

     The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge says under the article "Easter": "While Jewish Christians for a time celebrated the Jewish Passover, the practice of the church was not uniform either in the day or in the ideas and customs attaching to what eventually became the Easter festival," p. 46. The majority of the early converts to the Messiah came from the Jewish religion. They continued keeping the days that the Messiah and the apostles kept, but did not offer up any bloody sacrifices and did not follow the ceremonial law of temple worship.

     As more converts came from pagan backgrounds the flavor of the early assembly changed. This is confirmed by Samuele Bacchiocchi on page 43 of his book, Anti-Judaism and the Origin of Sunday. "The fact that after the year 135 Gentile bishops replaced the bishops of the circumcision, indicates that a distinction took place at the time between Gentile-Christians and Judeo-Christians. We would assume that this distinction was not limited only to the racial factor--not always perceptible--or solely to the circumcision, but that it was characterized even by a  new theological orientation, especially toward the law and in particular toward the Sabbath. Taking into account the existing restrictions which prohibited every form of Jewish worship--especially in the city of Aelia Capitolina [Jerusalem under Hadrian]--it would seem logical to assume that the Gentile Christians adopted Sunday at this time as their day of worship to avoid any possible suspicion of connection with Judaism in the eyes of the Romans."

      The author goes to some length to show that early writers such as Bagatti, Lake and Eusebius show that the masses turned away from the observance of the Passover on the 14th of Abib with the assemblies in Palestine and the Middle East and became dominated by gentile bishops who were familiar with the heathen Easter celebration. Because of the rebellion of the Jews under Bar Kokba, the Roman government turned against the Jews, continuing on after the suppression in 135 C.E.

     Anything "Jewish" is still looked down upon today, and that includes the seventh-day Sabbath and the scriptural feast days. To those who fall for the Deceiver's line that all these sabbaths are Jewish and were done away at the impalement, we would ask that they take a closer look at the Scripture that purportedly abolishes His Feast Days. Certainly if He were doing away with them, He would not start the fledgling assembly with those well-schooled in the Old Testament, those following the way of Judaism.

     Abundant proof exists that the early followers of the Messiah and His Apostles did keep these days. Notice the summary of the religious situation that existed at the time of the second temple, as perceptibly analyzed by W. D. Davies, a well-recognized specialist on early Christianity: "Everywhere, especially in the East of the Roman Empire, there would be Jewish Christians whose outward way of life would not be markedly different from that of the Jews. They took for granted that the gospel was continuous with Judaism; for them the new covenant, which [Yahshua] had set up at the Last Supper with his disciples and sealed by his death, did not mean that the covenant made between [Yahweh] and Israel was no longer in force. They still observed the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles; they also continued to be circumcised, to keep the weekly Sabbath and the Mosaic regulations concerning food. According to some scholars, they must have been so strong that right up to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. they were the dominant element in the Christian movement." Judeo-christianisme, p. 72.

Passover: An Annual Memorial

     One of the last commands of our Savior before His death was for His followers to partake of the memorial supper, which He said to do in remembrance of Him. It is perpetual, for He will take it again with the Apostles in the Kingdom, Luke 22:16, 18.

     Some observe it once a week, some once a month, others quarterly or annually. To those who believe as Paul that the memorial supper is indeed the commemoration of the death of the Messiah, the time of the year and the date on which we remember His death is of paramount importance.

     Paul wrote that it was upon the same night in which He was betrayed that Yahshua took bread and broke it, saying that it represented His body. "This do in remembrance of Me," 1 Corinthians 11:24. He then took the cup, explaining it represents His blood of the new covenant, and said whenever we drink it, we do so in memory of Him, Verse 25. He then added that whenever we eat of that bread or drink of that cup we are proclaiming Yahshua's death until He comes.

     There are those who have interpreted the term "whenever" as license to have frequent observance of the memorial supper. "Whenever" is taken as excuse to partake often as one might desire--daily, weekly or quarterly. That is not the meaning of this text. It is the same as saying, "Whenever you celebrate the Fourth of July, use only safe fireworks," and then deduce that one can celebrate Independence Day as frequently as one likes as long as safe fireworks are used.

     Most momentous events are celebrated once a year. The birth of Messiah is celebrated once a year at Christmas (howbeit without scriptural command; write for our reprint on "Christmas" or read it online here). Birthdays are remembered once a year. The deaths of notable people such as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King are commemorated once a year when they occurred. But for some reason, the death of the Messiah is celebrated daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually.

     Passover should be observed once a year, in the evening, because that was when Yahshua took it--the same night in which He was betrayed, 1 Corinthians 11:23. Other references are: "When the evening was come,"Matt. 26:20, and "The evening having come," Mark 14:17. Luke 22:14 is even more specific: "And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him."

     Clearly, the supper that memorializes the death of our beloved Savior is to be held in the evening after sunset. The Messiah kept it at the evening meal, Luke 22:14-20.

Passover Precisely on Abib 14

    Exodus 12:1-5 states that Israel was to select a lamb on the 10th of Abib and keep it until the 14th. The question centers on whether Israel was to keep it up to the time the 14th started, or to keep it until the 14th was nearly over, and kill the lamb as the 14th ended and the 15th began. There are six distinct places in which Passover is said to be on the 14th: Leviticus 23;5; Numbers 9:5, 28:16; Joshua 5:10; Ezra 6:19; Ezekiel 45:21.

     The very meaning of the word "pesach" (No. 6453 in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance Hebrew Dictionary) translated "Passover" in the King James Bible, has as a root meaning to hop, skip over, spare, and is from No. 6452, "pasach." It means literally pretermission, i.e., exemption. Clearly it refers to the death angel's hopping or skipping over the houses that had blood applied. It had to be on the 14th because we are told that the 14th is the Passover.

     Had the lambs been killed as the 14th ended, the blood would have been applied at the beginning of the 15th, too late for protection. The blood protected homes on the 14th of Abib. Leviticus 23:6 and Numbers 28:17 clearly state that the 15th is the beginning of the Days of Unleavened Bread.

     Note that Exodus 12:6 says to keep the lamb UNTIL the 14th of Abib. "Until" in the Hebrew is the same as our until, meaning "up to the time of." A coach may instruct his runners lined up in a race not to start until they hear the signal. This means they are not to "jump the gun" and get an unfair head start. Once the gun is sounded, they are off. They don't stand around looking at the coach, perhaps to start when the race is nearly over.

     "Until" is the Hebrew "ad" (No. 5704 in Strong's Hebrew Dictionary) and according to Young's Concordance first appears in Genesis 3;19 where Yahweh says to Adam, "In the sweat of thy face shall you eat bread TILL you return unto the ground; for out of it you were taken."  The curse was that only by hard work would food be taken from the ground and the curse would continue until Adam's and mankind's dying day. Does this mean that Adam would continue eating bread AFTER he had been buried in the ground? Certainly the eating of bread ceases at death. As our "till" or "until," the Hebrew "ad" means up to the point of; until the specified time.


Ereb and Ben ha-erebim

     The King James is inconsistent in its translation of the Hebrew text. Not being familiar with Yahweh's annual sabbaths, the translators did not differentiate between the singular Hebrew "ereb" (evening) and the plural phrase "ben ha-erebim" (between the evenings). Both are usually translated "at even."

     Why would Yahweh inspire Moses to use two different expressions in the Pentateuch if they were synonymous? Obviously there is a reason, and upon going deeper, we find that because of the carelessness of the translators we have a misunderstanding of when to observe Passover--on the beginning of the 14th or at the end of the 14th?

     We have a similar problem in our day in delineating exact time with our Roman calendar that begins the day at midnight. If we were to make an appointment with someone to meet at a certain place at midnight June 1, we would without further information have a problem. One might think the appointment would be as May 31 was ending; another might perceive that it was scheduled for midnight as June 1 was ending and June 2 about to start. With no additional information, confusion would exist. This can easily be clarified by saying we will be there at the beginning of June 2 at midnight.

     In Exodus 12:6 Yahweh tells Israel to keep the lamb until the 14th day of the same month; and to kill it "in the evening." The Hebrew, however, reads "between the evenings." The question is, what is meant by "between the evenings"?

     Aben Ezra, a Jewish historian and scholar, the Karaites, and the Samaritans understand the first evening as the time when the sun sinks below the horizon, and the second the time of total darkness, in which case would be from about 6 p.m. to 7:20 p.m. Keil and Delitzsch Old Testament Commentaries (p. 387) state that modern expositors have rightfully decided in favor of the view and custom of the Karaites and Samaritans.

Between Evenings - Ben Ha-erebim

     The Hebrew "ben ha-erebim" is a substantive, meaning the interval or space between the evenings. It is found in the following:

  • Exodus 16:12 where the quails came in at twilight to roost and Israel was given flesh meat to eat.
  • Exodus 30:8, "And when Aaron lighteth the lamps (ben ha-erebim) at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before Yahweh throughout your generations." Aaron is to light the lamps at twilight so that they will be burning when darkness arrives. It would be senseless to light the lamps in the afternoon, allowing them to burn from 3 o'clock to sunset at 7. Verse seven tells us that Aaron is to dress the lamps, that is, prepare the for burning in the morning, including resupplying necessary oil.
  • Exodus 29:39 and 41 point out that there was to be an evening sacrifice (between the evenings) as well as a morning sacrifice--one for the night and one for the day. Exodus 30:7-8 shows that this is the same time to burn the evening incense, a type of prayer, Revelation 8:4. That this is the time for the evening sacrifice is repeated in Numbers 28:4 and 8, meaning twilight.
  • Exodus 12:6, Leviticus 23:5, Numbers 9:3-5 and 11 show that it means the beginning of the 14th, at sunset and before darkness sets in. Keeping the sense of the events that were to occur, Passover falls at the end of the 13th and begins at the start of the 14th.

     All of these verses use "ben ha-erebim."

At Even--Ereb

    The term "at even" (ereb) is understood in the sense that we know evening--day's end. However, because biblical days end and begin at sunset, this can be confusing. In speaking about the days of Unleavened Bread, Exodus 12:18 tells us when these days begin: "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even."

     It must be noted here that the word "ereb" has the sense of the ending of the day. As the 14th of Abib ends (as sunset) the 15th begins, which is the first day of Unleavened Bread. This is confirmed by Leviticus 23:6, "And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread unto Yahweh, seven days you must eat unleavened bread."

     Continuing with Exodus 12:18, it must be noted that unleavened bread is to be eaten "until the one and twentieth day of the month at even." Again, "at even" is "ereb," and simply means that unleavened bread is to be eaten until the 21st is over, which completes the seven days of Unleavened Bread.

     The contrast between the words "ereb" and "ben ha-erebim" is further clarified in Leviticus 23:32 where the word "even" is from the Hebrew "ereb" and means the end of the day. Verse 27 clearly says that the 10th day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement, and we are to fast on that day.

     So that there is no misunderstanding, Yahweh inspired Verse 32 to tell us that we are to begin our fast when the ninth ends at even. "It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls; in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even shall you celebrate your Sabbath." As the ninth ends we are to begin our fast, and fast until the next evening which would be the biblical way of saying the beginning of the 10th at evening until the end of the 10th at evening.

     Jewish writers contend that the expression "between the evenings" was the time when the sun began to descend either from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. or from noon onward. Many expositors have adopted this rabbinical custom without realizing that it sprang from a later Jewish tradition of merging Passover with the Days of Unleavened Bread. Instead of keeping Passover on the 14th, the tradition at the time of Messiah was already fixed so that the Jews were keeping Passover AFTER the Messiah and His disciples had kept it, John 18:28; 19:14. Instead of killing the lamb at the setting of the sun ending the 13th, the Jews began killing the Passover a day later as the 14th was ending. This gave them a problem, because if the slaughtering took place after sunset, it fell on the 15th and not on the 14th.

Passover Must Be at Night

     But Passover is ALWAYS on the 14th (Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:3). Therefore, it called for a reinterpretation of the expression "between the evenings" as the time after high noon when the sun began its descent. This gave them about six hours to kill the animals before the setting of the sun and the onset of the 15th.

     Any careful reader of the Bible can see that this is not in keeping with the command that the Passover be eaten "in that night." They were  to eat of it the same night that they struck the doorposts with the blood (Exodus 12:8-12) because the destroyer would arrive at midnight. Had the Israelites waited an extra day in Egypt to kill the Passover lamb on the ending of the 14th, they would have been eating the Passover on the 15th. This would have been a direct violation of Yahweh's command. As a result their firstborn would have been slain as were the Egyptian firstborns.

     Deuteronomy 16 completely harmonizes with the other verses concerning Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.

     "Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover unto Yahweh thy Elohim...." The command to observe is from Strong's Concordance No. 8104 (shamar) and reminds us to look for and be aware of the month of green ears. This is corroborated by Exodus 13:10 to keep the Passover in its proper season, which is in the spring.

     The rest of Deuteronomy 16:1 tells us that Israel came out of Egypt by night, and as we will see it was as the 15th had started. Verse 2 tells us the Passover is to be sacrificed. Verse 3 says no leavened bread is to be eaten with it and adds, "Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread therewith." In other words, we are not to eat any bread that contains leavening with the Passover, and in addition are to eat unleavened bread "therewith" or in addition to the unleavened bread eaten with the Passover. We are to eat unleavened bread seven days.

    Deuteronomy 16:4 reminds us that there shall be no leavened bread found in our abodes for the seven days of Unleavened Bread. Neither was any of the flesh to be kept over to be eaten another day. The last part of Verse 6 helps clarify when to sacrifice the Passover. "Thou shall sacrifice the Passover at even, at the going down of the sun at the season (Abib--green ears) that thou camest forth out of Egypt." The lamb was to be sacrificed at the end of the 13th, at the "going down" of the sun.

     While Deuteronomy 16 nowhere mentions the 14th as the day of Passover, other verses in Exodus and Leviticus have already clarified that it is at the beginning of the 14th. "Going down" is Strong's Concordance No. 935 ("bow" in Hebrew). According to the Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon, used of the sun, the word means to set, go in, enter, and is the opposite of go forth or rise.  The sun is lowering to the horizon; in a few minutes it will be twilight. It is time for Aaron to light the lamps. The 13th is ending, and the 14th beginning--the time to keep the Passover.

     As in our example of meeting someone at midnight June 1--and then clarifying that we mean as June 1 ends and June 2 begins--with no further clarification required in future conversations about the date, so Yahweh does not continually restate the exact conditions of the Passover being on the beginning of the 14th.

Passover a Night for Observing

     Deuteronomy 16:7 warns that the Passover sacrifice was to be roasted, not boiled in water. Then is added the following statement which has been misunderstood: "...and you shall turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents." This verse by no means signifies that the daylight portion of any of the Passover is a high Sabbath. It was at midnight the destroying angel passed and the people were filled with fear.

     The Israelites knew what was coming and were prepared to leave at a moment's notice. Yet, they were apprehensive about their own firstborn. Going to sleep was difficult. It became a custom to stay awake all night following the Passover. Therefore the statement "and you shall turn in the morning and go unto your tents."

     This is really a commemoration of the command in Exodus 12:42: "It is a night to be much observed [Hebrew shimurim] unto Yahweh for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of Yahweh to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations."

     The "night of watching" or as Rotherham has it "night of vigil," refers to the Passover night when the destroying angel passed through the land. It was a night of fear and anxiety. This same custom was observed by Yahshua and His disciples, Matthew 26:36-45. After partaking of the last supper, the disciples went with Yahshua to Gethsemane where He asked them (Verse 38) to "tarry here and watch with me." Mark gives the same account, (Mark 14:32-41).

     It is apparent Yahshua and His disciples were carrying out the tradition as mentioned in Edersheim's The Temple, Its Ministry and Services. Customarily Psalm 113 through 118 were sung during this time. Matthew 26:30 relates that they "sung an hymn." The word is a participle in the Greek, meaning they were "hymning." It was the custom during that time that following the Passover, the participants would stay awake conversing and singing until one of them fell asleep, which ended the observance.

     Deuteronomy 16:7 refers to the night of vigil in which the Messiah asked His disciples to "watch one hour" with Him, but their eyes were heavy. This in no way indicates Passover to be a high Sabbath.


Different Days, Different Observances

    A careless reading of Deuteronomy 16:8 might lead one to believe that Passover is included in the Days of Unleavened Bread. "Six days shall you eat unleavened Bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to Yahweh your Elohim: you shall do no work therein." From this verse it might be assumed that Passover is a high Sabbath. However, the meaning is that the people were to observe six days of Unleavened Bread and the to take special note that the next day (seventh day) was a high Sabbath, a solemn assembly, and they were to do no work therein. The last high Sabbath would complete the full week of seven days of Unleavened Bread.

     Yahweh summarizes His Sabbaths twice for us in Exodus, but does NOT mention Passover as being one of the seven high Sabbaths. Exodus 23:14 states that three times a year we are to keep a Feast to Yahweh. Verse 15 mentions the Days of Unleavened Bread; Verse 16 Pentecost (feast of harvest); and Tabernacles (feast of ingathering). Passover is not mentioned as one of those days. Exodus 34:18 mentions the Feast of Unleavened Bread; Verse 22 alludes to the command not to offer blood of the sacrifice with leaven, nor are they to set aside any of the Passover sacrifice for eating later on. The point is that Passover is not mentioned as one of the seven feast days.

     Yahweh's observances are set down chronologically in Leviticus 23. Verse 5 tells us, "In the 14th day of the first month at even [between the evenings, that is, at the beginning of the 14th as the 13th ends] is Yahweh's Passover." Verse 6 states, "And on the 15th day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto Yahweh; seven days you must eat unleavened bread." Abib 15 starts the days of Unleavened Bread, and the 15th is a holy convocation, as stated in Verse 7: "In the first day you shall have an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein."

     The first day, Abib 15, commemorates the gathering of Israel to leave Egypt. It is distinct from the Passover. It is a Sabbath, and no servile work is to be done. Leviticus 23:8 tells us that there are seven days of special drawing near to Yahweh,. On the 7th day is a Sabbath; no servile work is to be done. "But you shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh seven days; in the seventh day is an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein." The last day of Unleavened Bread is a high Sabbath and falls on Abib 21, as shown in Exodus 12:18.

     Numbers 28:16 tells us that the 14th is the Passover. "And in the 14th day of the first month is the Passover of Yahweh." If the lamb were killed at the end of the 14th, then the Passover would be eaten on the 15th. But this verse plainly says that the 14th is the Passover.

     "And the 15th of this month is the feast; seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten," Verse 17. After the ending of the 14th at sunset, the 15th begins and it is a feast (Hebrew "chag"--a holy assembly). Verse 25 tells us that the seventh day of Unleavened Bread is also a holy convocation and other verses (as Exodus 12:18) tell us that it is the 21st of Abib

     "And they departed from Rameses in the first month on the 15th day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians," Numbers 33:3. The day after the 14th (Passover)Israel left Egypt. On the 15th with a high hand, or as other translations read, "triumphantly" or "defiantly." It was a time of rejoicing for Israel but not for the Egyptians who were busy burying their dead firstborn.

     The 14th, Passover, was a time of trepidation for Israel, but the 15th was a time of jubilation as they left Egypt. Yahweh clearly has put a difference between solemn Passover on the 14th and the joyful high Sabbath of the 15th.

     A distinguishing is made in Numbers 28:16-17 between Passover on the 14th and the start of Unleavened Bread on the 15th. "And in the fifteenth day of this month is the Feast [Hebrew "chag"]; seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten."Verse 18 adds, "In the first day shall be an holy convocation; you shall do no manner of servile work therein."

     Exodus 12:14 is unclear in the King James. We are to keep the Passover as a special Memorial. It is as important as any of the feast days. Notice the Jerusalem Bible:"This day is to be a day of remembrance for you, and you must celebrate it AS a feast in Yahweh's honor. For all generations you are to declare it a day of festival, FOREVER" (emphasis ours). Verse 15 then goes on to explain the Days of Unleavened Bread. Passover was a solemn occasion marked by the death of people and animals in all homes not marked by blood. Passover was observed in individual homes.

     The first century historian Flavius Josephus gave an account of this holy time that coincides with the scriptural command in every detail: "In the month of Zanthicus, which is by us called Nisan, and is the beginning of our year, on the fourteenth day of the lunar month, when the sun is in Aries, (for in this month it was that we were delivered from bondage under the Egyptians), the law ordained that we should every year slay that sacrifice which I before told you we slew when we came out of Egypt, and which was called the Passover; and so do we celebrate this passover in companies, leaving nothing of what we sacrifice till the day following. The feast of unleavened bread succeeds that of the passover, and falls on the fifteenth day of the month, and continues seven days, wherein they feed on unleavened bread." Josephus--Complete Works, "Antiquities of the Jews," Book 3, Ch. 10

     The first day of Unleavened Bread on Abib 15 was a gathering characterized by great rejoicing at being freed from Egyptian slavery. It was kept as a convocation commemorating Yahweh's goodness in showering Israel with gold from the Egyptians.

Hezekiah, Josiah Reinstate Memorial

    Good King Hezekiah restored true worship, as told in 2 Chronicles 30. Because the people and the priests were not prepared for the reinstating of Passover, they kept the season one month late. Verse 13 shows that they kept the Days of Unleavened Bread as a distinct and separate celebration from the Passover. Verse 15 shows that the Passover was kept on the 14th of the month. Verse 21 reveals the joy of the people in keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread once again. Verse 23 tells of the great joy of the assembly and their counsel to keep another seven days of Unleavened Bread. Note that the Passover sacrifice was not again slain. Passover is not included within the Days of Unleavened Bread.

     King Josiah also served Yahweh, 2 Chronicles 35. In his 28th year he kept a most memorable Passover that exceeded the observance of Hezekiah. Note verse 17 tells that the Passover was kept in addition to the seven Days of Unleavened Bread--two distinct observances.

     Ezekiel 45:21-23 prophetically speaks of the coming days when the Passover will again be observed. The King James makes both celebrations merge into one. However, other translations, such as Rotherham's and the Jerusalem Bible, clarify the two separate times.

     There was no punctuation in the Hebrew, and unless the translators were familiar with the feast days, the punctuation was often faulty. However, Verses 22 and 23 clarify the fact that the seven days following are a feast. The Passover is not a feast day.

    Passover commemorates the destroying angel's "passing over" houses with the blood token on the door. The Days of Unleavened Bread are a memorial for the leaving of Egypt, a type of the sinful world. Passover is a solemn occasion; Unleavened Bread a time of rejoicing.

     Today, Jews keep a service in the home on Abib 14 known as the seder service. During this tine they recount the Exodus from Egypt. The next night they gather at the synagogue and enjoy a dinner celebration, which they call the Passover.


Passover is Not a Sabbath

     The New Testament shows that the Passover was not a high day. As Yahshua and His disciples were eating, Yahshua said to Judas, "That you do, do quickly." John 13:27-29. This was on the 14th of Abib, and the gathered disciples did not know what was meant by that remark, but assumed because Judas was the treasurer, he was to "buy those things that we have need of against the Feast." Now, the Feast of Unleavened Bread followed the close of Passover, and certainly the disciples would not think it proper to buy items such as matzos (unleavened bread) on Passover day if it were a high Sabbath!

     We read in John 19:30 of the death of the Messiah. Verse 31 reveals that Passover day is the preparation for the high day of Abib 15. "Because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the tree on the Sabbath day (for that Sabbath day was an high day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away." In Verse 42 we learn that Yahshua was hurriedly placed in a new nearby sepulchre because the preparation day was about to end, and the first day of Unleavened Bread was about to be upon them. Abib 14, Passover, when the Messiah died, was not a high Sabbath, but the next day (Abib 15) was.

     Mark 15:21 relates that Simon, a Cyrenian, was compelled to carry the stake. The King James says he was coming out of the country, but the marginal rendering is "out of the field" and is so rendered by Philipps and others.

     According to Unger's Bible Dictionary, Simon was a Hellenistic Jew, born on the north coast of Africa, and present when the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost, Acts 2:10. Why would a devout Jew be coming out of the field on Passover if that were a high Sabbath? Obviously the father of Rufus would be in the temple if it were, and not in the field apparently working. Mark 15:42 confirms that this was a preparation, the day before the high Sabbath of Abib 15.

Jews Merge Passover and Unleavened Bread

    It should also be remembered that the Jews at the time of the Messiah were celebrating Passover a day late, even as they do now. They have merged Passover with the first day of Unleavened Bread on the 15th of Abib. However, there is also a "seder service" kept in the home with the family on Abib 14 in which Exodus 12:26-27 is read and the entire account rehearsed.

     Under "Passover" in the Jewish Encyclopedia (p. 553) we note: "Two festivals, originally distinct have been merged. Their underlying ideas reappearing in both the legend associated with the holy day, and its assumed historical setting and occasion, and in their ritual."

Words Erroneously Added

     In the New Testament are examples of mistranslations that imply that the Passover is a holy day or feast. Matthew 26:2 quotes the Messiah as saying: "You know that after two days is the feast of the Passover." Note that the words "the feast of" have been added by the translators who did not understand the Old Testament and assumed that this was a feast. Yahshua's statement should be read deleting the italicized words "the feast of." Many translations, such as the New English Bible, translate this verse more correctly: "You know that in two days' time it will be Passover, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for impalement." Other versions reflecting this improved rendering include the Jerusalem Bible, New American Standard, and New International Version.

     Another problem text is Mark 14:1 where the words "feast of" were added, as indicated by italics. Mark 14:2 should be read "Not DURING the Feast lest there be an uproar among the people." Verse 12 refers to the season or time of Unleavened Bread which was preceded by the Passover sacrifice. The word killed is translated "when the Passover Lamb was sacrificed" in the Jerusalem Bible. "When the Passover lambs were being slaughtered" is the New English Bible's rendition.

     The time for Unleavened Bread had come to be referred to as the Passover, Luke 22:1. Verse seven reflects this, that the season of Unleavened Bread and Passover were thought of as almost synonymous. Today Christmas may mean the entire season as well.

No Punctuation in Old Manuscripts

     Special care must also be given to the punctuation appearing in the Bible. This is strictly the work of men. The Companion Bible note tells us, "None of our modern marks of punctuation are found until the ninth century, and then only in Latin versions and some cursives." There are times when the translators erred in placing commas, semi-colons, and paragraphs. As the comment continues: "From this it will be seen that the punctuation of all modern editions of the Greek text, and of all versions made from it, rests entirely on human authority, and has no weight whatever in determining or even influencing the interpretation of a single passage."


No Time for Immediate Departure

    From time to time the question arises that after the slaying of the firstborn whether the Israelites could have left Egypt after midnight while it was still dark. The reasoning goes that Moses knew as far back as Exodus 3:22 that the Israelites were to spoil the Egyptians and apparently did so after the ninth plague, Exodus 11:2-3. They draw their conclusions from interpreting Exodus 10:29 as a prophetic statement of Moses that Pharaoh would no more see him. Perhaps it was not the 15th, but the 14th that Israel left Egypt, they reason. Let's look at these contentions.

     The slaying of the lamb was to be kept "up until" the 14th of Abib. The 14th started when the sun set ending the 13th day. During this twilight period, the Israelites were to kill the lamb. Whether or not the wool was all cut off the lamb is not told, but it is a common practice to scrape the hide clean of hair to eliminate the acrid smell of burnt hair in the roasting process.

     In addition, it is customary to open the body cavity and remove the entrails, Leviticus 1:9. Even with a fire prepared and the roasting spit ready, all of this would take some time to get the animal prepared. The roasting itself of a yearling lamb would take several hours for it could not be eaten raw nor boiled in water, Exodus 12:9. Furthermore, the blood had to be sprinkled on the doorpost and lintel. Then the family and neighbors (if any) had to gather and eat of this pet lamb before midnight.

     At midnight the firstborn of Egypt were slain, including those in Pharaoh's household, Exodus 12:29. Just how long it would take the news of the dead to circulate through the land of Egypt and allow the populace to asses the magnitude of the plague is difficult to say, but it couldn't have been immediate.

Pharaoh's Farewell Fails

    Verse 30 tells of the great cry in Egypt when the discovery was made that death was present in every house. Pharaoh rose in the night and summoned Moses and Aaron to his court (New English and Jerusalem Bibles). His desire never to see Moses and Aaron again did not preclude His sending for Moses and Aaron under an entirely different set of circumstances, according to Keil and Delitzsch.

     A review of Exodus 10:28-29 in other translations reveals a conversation between Moses and Pharaoh that went something like this: Pharaoh: "Get out of here and don't ever let me see you here again. If you do, I'll kill you." Moses: "Okay, if that's the way you want it, I won't come back." Pharaoh was tired of having Moses approach him, each time threatening a new plague. But Pharaoh changed his mind after the Egyptian firstborn were killed, and asked to talk to Moses again,Exodus 12:31-32. Each plague had brought a softening in Pharaoh's heart, which he would subsequently harden. After the severe, final plague that killed his own firstborn, Pharaoh again called for Moses.

     The language used in Verses 31 and 32 certainly is indicative of a direct conversation. Were these words a mere message sent to Moses from Pharaoh, it would have been written differently. For the first time Pharaoh requests, "Go and bless me also." Before, he had asked them only to intercede for the removal of the plagues.

     None of the writings of Moses mention where Pharaoh was lodging when he called for Moses. Psalm 78:12 says it was at Zoan (Tanis) on the eastern bank of the Tanitic arm of the Nile (see also Isaiah 19:11-12). The Israelites were in Goshen, a land between Egypt and Palestine. Joseph went to meet his father in Goshen, who was coming from the land of Canaan. Goshen was not near the rich croplands of the Nile, yet it was good for pasture, Genesis 47:4-6. It is also referred to as the land of Rameses. Moses would be with his people in the land of Goshen, perhaps in either Rameses or Heropolis.

     After assessing the havoc wrought by the destroying angel, Pharaoh decided to summon Moses and Aaron. It would not be presumptuous to agree with some of the commentators that an hour or two would have elapsed before the extent of the deaths was determined and the decision made to summon Moses. Even with a superior charioteer and his team, it would take at least an hour to traverse the 30 miles to Goshen and pick up Moses and Aaron, and another hour to return to Zoan.

     The discussion may have been short and urgent. But by now it would be nearing 4:30 a.m. Assuming Moses complied with Pharaoh's wish for a blessing upon him, Moses would then be returned to Goshen by the royal chariot. Daylight would be breaking in the eastern sky as he neared the camp of Israel.

     There was probably very little sleep in the houses of Israel as they waited guardedly for morning so they could burn the remainder of the Passover lamb. They had been warned not to go out of their houses until daybreak.

     After this final plague the Egyptians were terrified, Exodus 12:34, and urged Israel to get out of the land because they feared "we all be dead men." With their clothes upon their backs, their kneading troughs and dough wrapped up, the Israelites made preparations for leaving. Verses 35 and 36 make it obvious that this last plague made the Egyptians even more generous in giving the people the jewels of silver and gold as well as raiment. Evidently, they felt that a few trinkets and clothing was a cheap price to pay to get rid of these Israelites and save their own lives.

To Move a City

    It must be remembered that there were 2 to 3 million Israelites embarking on their wilderness journey. In addition, they had to round up their herds and flocks and "very much cattle," Verse 38 (which would be difficult at  night, even under a full moon). Anyone who has made preparations to go on a camping trip with children and animals can attest to the organized confusion that exists. This problem for Israel was compounded by the enormity of sheer numbers of people and livestock that were to leave as an orderly "harnessed" people, Exodus 13:18. In addition, we know that a mixed multitude left with Israel, 12:38.

     Israel's exodus from Egypt can be compared with taking all the people in a city the size of San Francisco or Dallas or St. Louis and moving them and their animals out within a day. The magnitude of the venture boggles the mind.

     Those who argue that Israel left within an hour or two after the death angel passed on the 14th are not considering the logistical problems that poses, nor Yahweh's clear command that they were to remain in their homes until morning (Exodus 12:22), nor the fact that they had to burn the next MORNING whatever remained of the Passover (12:10) so they wouldn't eat it as leftovers, nor the fact that they had to first spoil the Egyptians (12:35), nor the Bible's crystal clear statement that they left on the 15th. The 15th began more than 18 hours after Passover's midnight.

     "Morning" as used in these verses could not mean right after midnight. The word is from the Hebrew "boker," and means breaking of day or dawn. The day began with evening and was followed by morning. The days of creation attest to this: "And the evening and morning were the first day...and the evening and morning were the second day," etc. Genesis uses the same word "boker" for morning--the dawning daylight portion of the 24-hour day.

     With all this activity, it was night when Israel finally left as the 15th began (Deuteronomy 16:1). It was the day after the Passover,Numbers 33:3. The first day of Unleavened Bread was a convocation, as they gathered to march out of Egypt. It was a time of rejoicing.

     Should there be any confusion over the 14th and 15th, a check in the concordance will show that five times the Bible says the 14th is the Passover, the 15th is the Feast--two separate occasions, two separate commemorations. Passover is a solemn time, much like a funeral; the 15th--the first day of Unleavened Bread--is a time for jubilation and happiness.

Messiah Will Keep Passover Again

     We know from the promises of the Messiah that He will be keeping the Passover again when He returns, Luke 22:16. It will be with new meaning and new emphasis. But it will be kept at the proper time. Just as the early apostles celebrated the Passover at the correct time with the Messiah, so we should also keep the Passover at the beginning of the 14th of Abib.

     The apostles did not fully understand that they were keeping Passover not only in remembering Israel's exodus, but also in anticipation of Yahshua's death. We keep it in commemoration of the sparing of Israel by the blood of the lamb and also the sparing of ourselves by the blood of the true Lamb. We also look forward to keeping the Passover with the Messiah and the Apostles in the resurrection.

     Once we recognize that Yahshua IS the Passover whose blood was shed for the sin of the world, we are to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, 1 Corinthians 5:7-8. Note the clarity of the Moffatt version: "Messiah our Paschal Lamb has been sacrificed. So let us celebrate our festival, not with any old leaven, not with vice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of innocence and integrity."

Spiritual Follows Physical

    Mankind learns spiritual truth through physical lessons. A number of people always object to taking the time and effort to rid their homes of leaven during the Days of Unleavened Bread. They would prefer to do it "in their heart." This simply means they think nice thoughts about it but do not actually remove leaven from their house and keep it out for seven days. Such an attitude is pure rebellion. Unless we have willingly carried out these commands written in Yahweh's Word, we cannot qualify to become a king or priest in the Kingdom. Yahweh is asking for a physical act in order to test our faith in Him. Peter at first refused the physical act of foot-washing, until Yahshua told him that unless he did so, he would have no part in Yahshua, John 13:4-10.

    Isaiah 66:23 foretells of the future worship of Yahweh from one Sabbath to another. This means that the weekly Sabbath will be a way of life. The annual Sabbaths will also be followed. Ezekiel 45 prophetically tells of these Feast days to be observed in the Kingdom. Verse 21 explains the Passover, followed by the days of Unleavened Bread.

     It is important to note that the day of Atonement is not mentioned inEzekiel 45. This will be the time that Yahshua will be ruling on the earth. Right now He is our High Priest in the Heavens, making intercession for us with the Father. He is our Advocate, our Mediator, while fulfilling that office of Priest.

     He already fulfilled the office of prophet when he was here on this earth and foretold the future in the Olivet prophecy found in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13. The office of King will be filled when the Messiah returns to earth to rule with a rod of iron, Revelation 2:26-27. He will be the reigning Monarch, no longer a High Priest. He will have fulfilled that office. Therefore, the Atonement will have been made. Yahshua will have fulfilled the priestly function of offering the sacrifice to be accepted by Yahweh Himself. We will no longer have to look for His return, symbolized by the high priest coming out of the Holy of Holies, Leviticus 16:15-17.

Train Now for a Kingdom Role

     After the Messiah's return to this earth, it will be up to the glorified saints to minister and teach the ways of Yahweh. It will be up to those who are in training now to show others then the righteousness in following the way of the Word. Isaiah 58:12 speaks of this group of people who will build up the waste places and restore pure worship.

     Now is the time when we learn of Yahweh's way so that we can qualify to become teachers and helpers in the Kingdom. All nations will be forced to worship Yahweh in the manner that He offers to you now as a volunteer. You can become a part of the administration of that Kingdom.

Examples Numerous, Become One

    The Feast days will be kept when the Messiah returns. He observed them when He walked this earth.  The early disciples kept them and the ekklesia followed in observing all of them. It wasn't until the Jewish leaders of the congregations died off and were replaced by those of gentile background that the pagan influences such as lent, Easter, Christmas, Valentines and Halloween came to be sanctioned by church authorities to become a part of worship. These unbiblical observances gained acceptance and grew rapidly as the early assembly lost its Jewish flavor.

     Join us in observing the holy days of Leviticus 23 and prepare to become a priest and king, 1 Peter 2:5,9. Qualify to help others learn Yahweh's way of righteousness, when all flesh will come to worship Him on HIS days, Isaiah 66:23. How can we bring judgment upon someone for not keeping His holy days if we have not kept them ourselves? Today a judge on the bench gains his experiences first as a lawyer, trying cases in court.

     Even now we should be learning Yahweh's law so it can become a part of us and we can apply it to others in the Kingdom.

     Are you willing to learn these laws now so that you can be a teacher and explain them to others? Israel was to be a kingdom of priests, but failed to learn Yahweh's laws. Instead, they followed the way of the heathen. Now He is calling you to become a better teacher, because the New Covenant is built upon better promises, Hebrews 8:6.


Passover 30 AD 1

     Claim those promises waiting for you.

May Yahweh guide you in all understanding!



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