There has been in existence for hundreds of years a debate between groups on whether the observance of Passover is on the evening of the fourteenth or the fifteenth of the first month Abib. Hopefully this study will help some, the ones who are honestly trying to decide what to do. For those who have already decided, made up their minds, have their minds set, then probably this won't be much help to them, but we'll pray that it will be. We base that on the examples of other people we've met that had their minds made up and no amount of help, teaching, talking or praying has helped them so far. Hopefully this will be of some help. We must not give up trying.
First, let's look at I Corinthians 5:7, "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:" (All quote are from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some of the expressions have been changed to modern usage.) This shows that Jesus Christ was our Passover. He was sacrificed for us. He was the Original Passover, or the true Passover lamb. The lamb that all those centuries was pictured when the Israelites would kill them and pour out their blood, roast them, and eat them whole without breaking a bone. This pictured our Saviour Jesus Christ dying on the stake so that our sins could be forgiven.
Luke 22:19-20, "And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, this cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you." John 6:53, "Then Jesus said unto them, verily, verily, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you." This is a very important scripture. It shows that if we don't eat and drink the Passover, take the Passover, eat the unleavened bread, and drink the cup of wine that symbolizes His shed blood for the remission of our sins then there is no life in us.
Our eternal salvation depends upon us taking the Passover. This day must be upon the correct day! We must carry out the example of our Saviour the way and the time He showed us.
The example given in the Bible shows that the observance of the ceremony, in so far as what was done during the meal was changed, but He did not change the day of the observance. He changed the ceremony, not the day. What time do we take the bread and wine today? The Passover meal, called by some, "The Lord's Supper," is a memorial of our Saviour's death. A memorial is normally observed once a year on the date it commemorates. Take for example the 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and whatever memorial you can think of. The same is true of Passover. It is a memorial of our Saviour's death and is observed once a year in commemoration.
What Do The Emblems Of The Bread And Wine Represent?
This can be seen in Luke, but let's read Matthew 26:26-28, "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, drink you all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." We read in John that if we don't eat His flesh or drink His blood we have no life in us. The bread symbolized His broken body and the wine His blood shed for the remission of our sins. I Corinthians 11:29-30, "For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."
These emblems were introduced while they were eating the Passover meal as Matthew 26:17 states: "Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus saying unto Him, where will you that we prepare for you to eat the Passover?" Then verse 19, "And the disciples did as Jesus appointed them; and they made ready the Passover." Verses 20 and 21, "Now when the even was come, He sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, He said, verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me." Then verse 26, "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, take, eat; this is my body." Luke 22:13-15, "And they went, and found as He had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover. And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. And He said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." And there are other scriptures you can look up such as Mark 14:12, 18, and 22.
The Passover pictures the sacrifice of our Saviour and the death angel passing over the Israelites while they were still in bondage in Egypt. The Passover (keep this in mind) pictures the passing over of the Israelites in Egypt on that fateful night when the firstborn were killed in Egypt. The Feast of Unleavened Bread, as we will see later on, pictures their coming out of Egypt. Let's go back to Exodus 12:24-27, "And you shall observe this thing for an ordinance to you and to your sons forever. And it shall come to pass, when you be come to the land which the Eternal will give you, according as he has promised, that you shall keep this service. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, what mean you by this service? That you shall say, it is the sacrifice of the Eternal's Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped."
The next day was an Holy day, the First Day of Unleavened Bread. It pictured a day of deliverance from Egypt when they left Egypt. The Passover was a time of solemnity, and quiet; they cringed in their houses as the death angel passed over, striking down the first born. However, the next night they left Egypt with a high hand, as we will see later. They rejoiced, worshipped, and celebrated. It was a Night To Be Much Observed, and much remembered throughout eternity. Exodus 12:21, "Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the Passover." It pictures deliverance from death and not that of leaving Egypt. Leaving Egypt was a time of rejoicing which the of Unleavened Bread was a memorial. The killing of the lamb alone was meaningless. Trust had to be put in the blood, (the blood is now symbolized by the wine taken during the Passover service). In other words, if they just killed the lamb and left it laying, it would have served no purpose whatsoever. They had to take that blood and put it over their door post. The blood was their salvation. It was the mark that showed the death angel not to strike that household. Remember these points that we have covered so far, because this is a key, as far as the service goes. The Passover was a time of protection from the death angel, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, was a time of deliverance when they left Egypt with an high hand rejoicing.
What Does "Between The Two Evenings" Mean?
Now let's go to the Old Testament and read the instructions of the Passover observance. In Exodus 12:6, "And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening." This word evening, the way it is translated in the King James version, is deceptive because it is always translated evening. Evening in the Hebrew is erev but this term, as you can tell by looking in your marginal reference, is "between the evenings." The Moffatt and Jewish Publication Society translations show it means "dusk or dusky." The lamb was killed after sundown but before darkness settled in. The term is ben ha erevim which means "between the evenings" and the Jewish Publication Society translates the verse as follows: "You shall keep watch over it until the fourteenth day of this month and all the aggregate community of the Israelites shall slaughter it at twilight."
Ben ha erevimmeans dusky, twilight or to grow dusky. The same phrase is used in Leviticus 23:5, "In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Eternal's Passover." Look up Numbers 9:3, 5 "In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, [between the evenings], you shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall you keep it." Now verse 5, "And they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the Eternal commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel." This term at evening is the same term used in Exodus and Leviticus. It is only used about a half a dozen times in the Bible. It is translated inconsistently in the King James Version and can be compared to making an appointment at midnight June the 1st. A person could take that two different ways. Would it be midnight May 31st, or midnight June 1st? It is a very similar problem to the "between the evenings" of Abib 14. It is the same situation. The period of time when one day ends and another one begins. In the King James Bible the phrase ben ha erebim is translated evening and so is the word erev which does mean "evening" as will be pointed out later.
The other places where this term is found are: Exodus 16:12, (this will help clear this up), "I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, at even, [between the two evenings], you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Eternal your God." This was the time of day that the quail began to settle down to roost. What time of the day would birds begin to do this. It would be at dusk or twilight, as it is growing dark.
The next place it is found is in Exodus 30:8, "And when Aaron lights the lamps at even, [between the two evenings], he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Eternal throughout your generations." Exodus 29:39 and 41, "The one lamb you shall offer in the morning; and the other lamb you shall offer at even: [between the two evenings]. In verse 41, "And the other lamb you shall offer at even, and shall do thereto according to the meat offering in the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto the Eternal." The Jewish leaders later on tried to justify killing the lamb on the fourteenth, later in the day, as the sun was moving toward sundown. They killed it on the fourteenth and ate it on the fifteenth. You can't justify that from the Bible. You wouldn't light lamps at three o'clock in the afternoon. You would light them as it started to grow dark in the evening. Aaron trimmed them in the morning but lit them in the evening, at twilight, or dusk. Numbers 28:4, "The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb shall you offer at even; [between the evenings]," verse 8, "And the other lamb shall you offer at even: [between the evenings], as the meat offerings in the morning, and as the drink offering thereof, you shall offer it, a sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Eternal."
If we let the Bible interpret the Bible, which we must do, you cannot go to man's writings to determine what it means. The Bible plainly shows that "between the evenings" is a time when birds start to look for a place to roost. In another place it shows that it is a time when you would normally start to light lamps. Would you normally light a lamp at 3:00 in the afternoon? I doubt you would light a lamp in the afternoon unless it were during the winter on a cloudy day or in the summer during a thunderstorm. However, I doubt you would normally light one then unless you were reading, or doing something tedious that demanded a good light. We've got to let the Bible interpret the Bible to tell us what ben ha erebim means!
Exodus 16:12 shows the quail would be available to them for eating at the time of ben ha erebim. The birds would start to come in to roost at dusk. In Leviticus 23:32, "It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even." That is how the word erev is used. "From even unto even you shall celebrate your Sabbath." From erev unto erev is the expression used. There is no ben ha erebim used here. It is clearly used here in reference to sundown, for we know that God's day starts at sundown as shown in Genesis 1. It states the evening and the morning were the first day, the erev and the morning were the first day. In each verse here erev is used for evening and not ben ha erebim. In Exodus 12:4-6, 8, "And if the household be too little for the lamb let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: you shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: and you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening, [between the evenings]." Verse 8, "And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it." "At even" is ba erev meaning even or sundown. Verses 11 through 12," And thus shall you eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; And you shall eat it in haste: it is the Eternal's Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Eternal." Ben ha erebim in verse 6 above means between the evenings, dusk or twilight. It did not use the terms erev or ba erev which means evening or sundown, it uses the term ben ha erebim.
Exodus 16 shows that Israel had encamped on the Sabbath. If you trace their wanderings through the wilderness you will find the major encampments occurred on Sabbaths. Exodus 16:1 shows that they were there on the 15th day of the second month which was a Sabbath that year in 1487 B.C. After His Holy Sabbath day, God provided meat for them to capture. He provided the meat after sundown, during that twilight portion of the day when birds roost, but there is still enough light to distinguish objects. The Jewish Publication Society's translation of this verse states: "The Eternal spoke to Moses, I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites speak unto them and say by evening you shall eat flesh, in the morning you shall have your fill of bread and you shall know that I the Eternal am your God." So God brought in the quail after sundown or during twilight.
Comparing the two scriptures Exodus 12:6 and Exodus 16:12 using several major translations will help you understand the point. In the RSV Exodus 12:6 ben ha erebim is just footnoted "between the evenings" and ba erev is just evening. In the Moffatt translation the ben ha erebim is translated "between sunset and dark." Ba erev is sunset or evening in that translation. In the New English Bible ben ha erebim between sunset and dark, ba erev is evening. In the Jewish Publication Society translation this ben ha erebim is dusk and ba erev is at even, or evening. In the New American Standard Version the ben ha erebim is at twilight and ba erev is at evening, or even. The term ben ha erebim as used in the Bible refers to a period of time after sunset, and never to any time before sunset.
Exodus 30:8 describes the tabernacle lamps, "And when Aaron lights the lamps at even he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense." That term shows it would be lit in the evening toward dark or twilight. It would not make any sense to light the lamps and waste precious oil at 3:00 P.M. The Almighty is a practical, conservative Being who does not waste anything! Exodus 12:18, "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, [ba erev], you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at even." This is a block of seven days in which we must eat unleavened bread. This scripture shows that the time period begins at sundown and ends at sundown seven days later. Remember, God's days begin and end at sundown! From sundown the fourteenth to sundown the twenty-first is when we are to eat unleavened bread which is observing the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Leviticus 23:6 shows that we eat unleavened bread seven days. Remember to always let the Bible interpret the Bible! This scripture states: "And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread unto the Eternal: seven days you must eat unleavened bread." Use the Bible to interpret the Bible when in one place it states to eat unleavened bread seven days, and in another it states to begin eating it on sundown the 14th until sundown the 21st. You will have no problem sorting out when the Passover is to be eaten and when the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins.
The Jews attempted to weasel their way around this command, whether intentionally or not, and killed the lamb on the afternoon of the fourteenth so as to technically keep the command to kill it on the fourteenth! They would kill it later in the day as the fifteenth day was drawing near around 3:00 P.M. and then they would eat it later after sundown on the fifteenth. That is not what it says, as we will read later; it doesn't say that killing was all there was to it. In other places it calls it observing or keeping the Passover. Killing the lamb was not all there was to the Passover service. There were other steps such as eating it with the herbs and the unleavened bread! The point is they had to "observe" it.
Read Leviticus 23:5 closely and notice what it says, "In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Eternal's Passover." It doesn't say after or before, it says "in" the fourteenth day. Numbers 28:16, "And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of the Eternal." Verse 17 states, "And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten." If it is true that the fifteenth day of the month is for eating the Passover, then you would have to partake of the wine, which symbolizes the blood, on the evening of the fourteenth! You would have to partake of the ceremony on the two separate days of the fourteenth and fifteenth. You would take the blood as the fourteenth was ending and then wait around for a while and take his body as the fifteenth began. You would in effect split the observance and the symbols of Jesus's body between two days!
There is no debate over the fact that the lamb was killed on the fourteenth. Exodus 12:6 says "keep it up until the fourteenth." The Hebrew word translated "until" is "ad" and it first appears in Genesis 3:19, "In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till [ad] you return unto the ground;" The Hebrew word "ad" means: as far as, up to a point in time, as much as, even to, until, till or unto. It does not mean through or past a point in time. So they kept it up until and not past the fourteenth. Then verses 7 through 12, "And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, herein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night [note in that night], roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And you shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Eternal's Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Eternal."
This scripture shows it was still the same night. They kept it up until the fourteenth day, between the evenings they killed, roasted and ate it. They kept it "that" night and the death angel passed through the land "that" night. The same night they ate the Passover and put the blood on their door posts, the night of the fourteenth.
None Left His House Until The Morning
After the lamb was killed its hide had to be scraped clean and some of its entrails had to be removed. Then the blood was sprinkled on the door posts. Exodus 12:21-22, "Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the Passover. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning." It was the same night and it says they could not go out until the morning.
The Hebrew word used here for morning is boker and means the break of day, or dawn or early morning. Exodus 16:21, "And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted." This shows that morning was during the daylight hours as the gathering of manna in those times would have been very difficult in the dark. The period of time was also noted as before it had waxed hot, or during the heat of the day. Exodus 12:28, "And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Eternal had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they." So they stayed in their homes till morning according to the Bible, the Word of God. Now read verse 29, "And it came to pass, that at midnight the Eternal smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle." At midnight of the fourteenth, we are still in the fourteenth.
Now look at Verse 30 (it took awhile for the news of this tragedy to reach everyone), "And Pharaoh rose up in the night [it was still night] he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead." The death angel passed over at midnight, Pharaoh rose up after midnight and it is called night in the Bible and not morning. The Bible calls this period of time after midnight, night; it was still dark. Now continue with verse 31: "And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both you and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Eternal, as you have said." The Bible says by night, but it does not tell exactly what time of night it was.
When you read Exodus 12:3 and 7 it is obvious the children of Israel were in their houses and not in tents in Rameses waiting to leave. Note the word houses in these scriptures. The Hebrew word for house used in these scriptures is bayit, and means "houses" and not tents. The Hebrew word for tent is succoth or ol and not bayit as is used concerning the lodging places of the Israelites and Egyptians in chapter 12.
Exodus 8:22 shows that the Israelites dwelt in Goshen. Goshen was an area at least three hundred square miles. Before the exodus could begin many had to travel many miles to the meeting point. At daybreak of the fourteenth the Israelites left their homes and continued spoiling the Egyptians on their way to Rameses. Apparently, when you take into consideration Exodus 11:2-3, after the ninth plague in 10:28-29 when Pharaoh said he would see Moses's face no more, the Israelites did do a certain amount of spoiling of the Egyptians before the last plague. They more than likely knew prophetically what would occur next and started "borrowing" from the Egyptians at this time. However, the bulk of the spoiling was done during the daylight portion of the fourteenth.
Exodus 12:33-36, "And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: And the Eternal gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians." This shows that even if they did some of the spoiling back in chapter 11 the bulk of it was done after the death of the firstborn. The Egyptians were more than willing to give the Israelites what they needed and get them out of Egypt lest they all be dead men. The Egyptians urged them to leave and verse 36 shows that they were generous. The Egyptians felt a since of urgency to be rid of the Israelites.
Moses knew well before the exodus that the Egyptians were to be spoiled. Exodus 3:22, "But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and you shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and you shall spoil the Egyptians." So they were prepared well before this last plague to spoil the Egyptians. They possibly did spoil them to some extent before the fourteenth day and after the ninth plague. This conclusion is drawn from the prophetic statement of Moses, as we saw previously in Exodus 10:28-29, that Pharaoh would no more see the faces of Aaron and Moses.
The Israelites could not have left their homes on the night of the fourteenth because they were not to leave their houses till the morning. Exodus 12:21-22, "Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the Passover. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning." This Hebrew word boker, as has already been proven, means a daylight period called morning. They were not to come out of their houses till daylight.
According to the authorities that I have read, it would take about an hour for a superior chariot driver to reach Goshen or Rameses from Zoan or Tannes which is where Pharaoh was. It would take another hour to return. You can look up Psalms 78:12 and Isaiah 19:11-12 to prove that these were the locations of Pharaoh and the Israelites. It would probably be nearing 4:30 A.M. and daylight would be breaking in the eastern sky as he neared the camp of Israel. The Israelites would have been waiting in their homes till daybreak to burn the remainder of their lambs.
It must be remembered that the Israelites numbered two or three million plus a mixed multitude and very much cattle as you can prove from reading Exodus 12:38, "And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle." The exodus would be comparable to moving a city the size of San Francisco, Dallas or St. Louis. To say they left a couple of hours after midnight does not consider the logistical problems and ignores the clear command that they were not to leave at night! Also, not taken into consideration is the spoiling of the Egyptians, Exodus 12:35.
Israel Left Egypt On The Night of the Fifteenth
The Bible is crystal clear in its statement that Israel left Egypt on the fifteenth! They left at night as the fifteenth began, Deuteronomy 16:1, "Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Eternal your God brought you forth out of Egypt by night." How much plainer can it be? It says they left at night. God said not to leave on the night of the fourteenth, but it says they did leave at night. So immediately people say they left on the fourteenth. Jesus Christ said "think not that I have come to destroy the law" and immediately carnal humans say, "Jesus Christ came to do away with that harsh law of bondage". God said to Adam and Eve don't eat of that tree over there, eat all you want of any of the others but not that one, and immediately Satan tempts them into rebelling against God. It is the same spirit at work in humans that causes them to rebel against the simple commands of God.
Numbers 33:3, "And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth 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." Remember earlier when it was shown that Passover is a night of solemnity. They were crouching in their homes behind that blood that saved the lives of their firstborn. The next night, the fifteenth, they left Egypt with a high hand, celebrating and rejoicing. It had to take most of the daylight portion to assemble such a large mass of people. Six hundred thousand men, when combined with the population of women and children, must have approached three million people! This is an equivalent of eighteen Rose Bowls filled with people!
The Israelites marched in ranks, Exodus 13:18, "But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt." Look in your margin and you will notice the word harnessed should be translated "by five in a rank." They did not have semis, transport trucks, cranes, buses or trains. They went on foot, or by donkey, horses or camels. It takes a lot of time just to direct large crowds into or out of an area as anyone who has observed a large Feast of Tabernacles can attest to. This is true of just a group of several thousand. Imagine a group of three million with carts and herds of cattle and sheep. It could not have been done in any thirty minutes time. Army officers, who are specialists in logistics, said it could have been done between sunrise and sunset only by a master logistician. Remember that Moses had been a great general in Egypt and had to have been trained in organizing troops and moving them about. So once again we see where God had prepared a person, years before the need for the training transpired. This was all without the person even knowing what he was being trained to accomplish.
Each family would have had to travel from five to seven miles to assemble at Rameses. They left their homes in the morning and it would have taken an average of three to five hours to make it to Rameses. The majority would have arrived between noon and 1 P.M. Given a couple of hours to water their livestock, rest and organize into ranks of five would probably put us between 5:00 and 5:30 in the afternoon. This is still early afternoon. The procession could have been as long as three miles. It would take the last of the procession two hours to leave Rameses which would put the time around 7:30 P.M. Remember Deuteronomy 16:1 where it says they left at night. There was a full moon which would have given them plenty of light. Also Exodus 13:21, "And the Eternal went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night." So they had plenty of light by which to travel.
It was not a night of "passing over." It was a night of commemorating the day of the exodus. Exodus 13:8-10, "And you shall show your son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the Eternal did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be for a sign unto you upon thine hand, and for a memorial between your eyes that the Eternal's law may be in your mouth: for with a strong hand has the Eternal brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this statute in his season from year to year." Please note the phrase from year to year.
It should be very clear to all by now what the Bible says is the night of the Passover. The Bible shows what the term ben ha erebim, means, between the evenings, when it's used in conjunction with the quails roosting and the lamps being lit. Erev is plainly shown to be sunset in Genesis 1 and in the other passages where it is used.
In The Fourteenth, In The Fifteenth
Now let us look up some of the other scriptures in the Old Testament concerning the Passover. Numbers 28:16-17, "And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of the Eternal. And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten." Remember the Passover is in the fourteenth and not the fifteenth. If right here you are saying that the fourteenth day is the end of the day, then verse 17would have to be observed accordingly, at the end of the day and not the beginning. You would have to do this to be consistent with the translation of these two verses. If it means the fifteenth when it says the fourteenth then it would have to mean the sixteenth when it says the fifteenth. Leviticus 23:5-6, "In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Eternal's Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Eternal: seven days you must eat unleavened bread." The fourteenth is the Passover and the fifteenth is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Bible does not say that the fourteenth is the "killing" of the Passover and the eating is the fifteenth, contrary to what some people believe. It says to observe the Passover in the fourteenth! The fourteenth day is the Passover. The Bible says to keep the Passover in the fourteenth! You are adding to God's Word if you say the Bible says to kill it on the fourteenth and eat it on the fifteenth!
In Numbers 9:1-3 we read, "And the Eternal spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, Let the children of Israel also keep the Passover at his appointed season. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, you shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it." It says the appointed time is the fourteenth. The Jewish Publication Society Bible translates it: "The Eternal spoke unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai on the first new moon of the second year upon the exodus from the land of Egypt saying let the Israelite people offer the Passover sacrifice at its set time you shall offer it on the fourteenth day of this month at twilight, at its set time you shall offer it in accordance to all its rules and rites." Now look at verses 4-14, "And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the Passover. And they kept, (note that it says kept not killed, killing was only part of the ceremony), the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the Eternal commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel. And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the Passover on that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day: And those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of the Eternal in his appointed season among the children of Israel? And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the Eternal will command concerning you. And the Eternal spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the Passover unto the Eternal. The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it. But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the Passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the Eternal in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin. And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the Passover unto the Eternal; according to the ordinance of the Passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that is born in the land."
In II Chronicles 35:17, "And the children of Israel that were present kept the Passover at that time, and the feast of unleavened bread seven days." This shows that there were two distinct observances here and they are not one and the same. To further prove this point read verse 1, "Moreover Josiah kept a Passover unto the Eternal in Jerusalem: and they killed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month." The rest of the chapter shows that there was more to keeping the Passover than just killing it.
Now read Ezra 6:19-22, "And the children of the captivity kept the Passover upon the fourteenth day of the first month. For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them were pure, and killed the Passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves. And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the Eternal God of Israel, did eat. [Notice that, they did eat, there has been no mention of another day beginning, it is still the fourteenth, and they did eat!]. And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the Eternal had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel." This also shows that there was more to observing the Passover than just killing the lamb. It says they ate it. Also note that the word and comes before it says they kept the feast of unleavened bread, showing that the observances were separate.
Now turn and read Joshua 5:10-11, "And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the Passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day." This says they kept it on the fourteenth day. It was probably the fourteenth day of the second month since they had been circumcised right before the Passover of the first month and would not have been ready for that particular Passover. As the example in Genesis when Simeon and Levi had the Shechemites circumcise themselves and then on the third day when they were sore they attacked the Shechemites and killed them.
The Israelites would have had to have been circumcised before they could have partaken of the Passover as can be proved from Exodus 12:43-48, "And the Eternal said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the Passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: But every man's servant that is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Eternal, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof."
Now notice what is stated in II Chronicles 30:1-2, 5, 13 and 17-18 "And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, and that they should come to the house of the Eternal at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover unto the Eternal God of Israel. For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the Passover in the second month. So they established a decree to make proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to keep the Passover unto the Eternal God of Israel at Jerusalem: for they had not done it of a long time in such sort as it was written. And there assembled at Jerusalem much people to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great congregation. For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing of the Passovers for every one that was not clean, to sanctify them unto the Eternal. For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the Passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good Eternal pardon every one." When you read the above verses you will notice in verse 15 that they killed the Passover on the fourteenth and verse 13 shows that they also kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month. Now read verse 21, "And the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness: and the Levites and the priests praised the Eternal day by day, singing with loud instruments unto the Eternal." Now pay particular attention to verse 23, "And the whole assembly took counsel to keep other seven days: and they kept other seven days with gladness." Notice it says they kept other seven days but does not say they kept another Passover sacrifice. So the Passover is not included in the Feast of Unleavened Bread! The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a separate observance from the Passover.
Ezekiel 45:21-23, "In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. And upon that day shall the prince prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bullock for a sin offering. And seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt offering to the Eternal, seven bullocks and seven rams without blemish daily the seven days; and a kid of the goats daily for a sin offering." This verse should be read in the Jerusalem Bible and the Rotherham translation. There were no punctuation marks in Hebrew and they weren't really added until the ninth century. So a semicolon in this verse would clarify the meaning as well as verses 22-23 where it is talking about the feast for seven days. The New American Bible translates it, "On the fourteenth day of the first month you shall observe the feast of Passover; for seven days unleavened bread is to be eaten." The semicolon stands in for a conjunction. Read the semicolon as "and" for a correct understanding of the meaning of this verse. I also looked it up in the JPS "Holy Scriptures" and it was translated thusly, "In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, you shall have the Passover; a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten."
Passover is kept in the evening, I Corinthians 11:23, "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:". So it is kept in the evening, Matthew 26:20, "Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve." Also, look up Mark 14:17 and Luke 22:14-20 which shows it was in the evening. Six places in the Old Testament says it was on the fourteenth. The verses that are clear and easy to understand show that it was on the fourteenth. Don't fall into the trap that many of Church of God people have done to pick a scripture that is difficult to understand and attempt to destroy all the plain ones on the subject! Passover in Hebrew is Pesah which has a root meaning of to hop, skip over or spare. This refers to the death angel skipping over or hopping over the houses that had the blood applied. It had to be the fourteenth because we are told the fourteenth is the Passover. The homes were protected on the fourteenth. If the lambs were killed as the fourteenth ended the blood would have been applied at the beginning of the fifteenth which would have been too late for protection because all the firstborn would have already been killed. If we take our Saviour's Passover now on the wrong day we are not covered under that blood either! We must be sure we are taking it at the right time, observing the correct day. It is important. We don't want to be taking it too late for our protection as the Israelites would have done had they kept it on the fifteenth.
Jews Passover Was Corrupted By Egyptian Influence
An interesting possibility for the Jews' switching to the fifteenth is recorded in a Good News magazine. Palestine was under the control of the Egyptians from 301 B.C. to 198 B.C. Dr. Lauterbach, one of Judaism's greatest historians, admits that this period was one of religious anarchy among the Jews of Palestine (Rabbinic Essays, page 200), when they accepted many Egyptian customs.
Herodotus who visited Egypt in the fifth century before Christ, reported that the Egyptians would only drink out of pots and pans which had been scoured every day. They would religiously bathe themselves twice each day, they shunned all foreigners, especially Greeks, and would destroy any vessel or utensil which had been touched by a Greek. The Jews adopted this custom: Note Matthew 15:2 and Mark 7:3-8.
Prior to Egyptian domination, the Jews kept the Passover on the 14th of Abib, see Ezra 6:19-22. This was after sundown that ended the 13th of Abib as we have expounded on previously. God begins and ends a day at sundown. The Egyptians commenced a day and ended it at sunrise (see Wilkinson Volume II, page 368).
During Egyptian domination, Jews were allowed to retain their calendar, but days began at sunrise. This custom was adopted and persisted among Jews down to New Testament times, (see Jewish Quarterly Review, April, 1946, and Expository Times, June, 1948, pages 250-251). The following shows the correlation of the two methods of starting and ending days in relation to Abib 14:
|_____ABIB 14_____|_____ABIB 15_____|_____ABIB 16_____| | | | | Sunset Sunrise Sunset Sunrise Sunset Sunrise Sunset
|_____Egypt's 14_____|_____Egypt's 15_____| | | | Sunrise Sunset Sunrise Sunset Sunrise
After Egyptian influence ended, the Jews retained the 15th on tradition -- what was good enough for my fathers is good enough for me. Remember our Saviour's statement about the Jew's observing tradition in place of God's commands. That is why I do not light candles on the Sabbath and wear a skull cap. You don't know for sure what the Hebrews picked up from Egypt and Babylon when they were in Babylonian captivity.
Now let's skip over to the New Testament and see what is recorded concerning the Passover there.
Killing And Eating The Passover
Three things had to be done when the Passover was kept:
Exodus 12:43-48 shows eating the Passover was a vital part of keeping it! Not just the killing and sprinkling of the blood but the eating was a commanded part of the observance. When you say "keeping the Passover" it doesn't mean just killing the lamb. That is not keeping the Passover. Keeping the Passover includes the eating of it. So when you read Josiah "kept" the Passover it is not as some people try to say, that he killed it on the fourteenth and ate it on the fifteenth. As we have read Josiah kept it on "the fourteenth of Abib." Also, as has been stated previously if that reasoning is true Jesus would have had to split the meal between two days and drink the blood on the fourteenth and eat the bread on the fifteenth to retain the consistency of the command of God. He did not do this.
Jesus' disciples knew that eating was part of the observance. Notice Matthew 26:17, "Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for you to eat the Passover?" Jesus spoke repeatedly of eating the Passover, (for example see Luke 22:8, 11, 15-16).
The Passover also shows that the acceptance of the blood of the lamb for salvation involves "doing," "action," and not just lip service. Not just saying, "O.K. I've killed the lamb, now I'm saved, the lamb died, all I have to do is believe it died and I'm saved." No, they had to "do" something too! They had to accept that blood, take it, believe in it, and put it up over their door for their salvation. They had to have faith that that blood would save them, but they also had to do something. Obedience was required!
New Testament Passover
Next we need to go over some scriptures in the New Testament that have some people confused. Let's look up Matthew 26:2, "You know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified." Notice that "feast of" is in italics and is not in the original Greek. So what this scripture is saying is "after two days is the Passover." It would also help you to look up this scripture in the Jerusalem Bible, The New American Standard and the New International Version.
Another scripture that causes some people problems is Mark 14:1, "After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death." Notice that "the feast of" is in italics. Also, in verse 2 it states: "But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people." The "on" in this verse should be translated "during" and "day" is in italics.
We will now consider Mark 14:12, "And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the Passover?" The phrase "when they killed the Passover" should be translated, "when they were slaughtering the Passover" as can be verified by checking the New English Bible.
Luke 22:1 and 7, "Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. Then came the [should be translated "a"], day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed." This shows that during the time of Jesus Christ the Jews had begun to call the whole block of time that was the days of unleavened bread by the name "Passover."
Matthew 26:17, "Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt you that we prepare for you to eat the Passover?" If you will notice in your Bible the words "day" and "feast of" are in italics. This means they are not to be found in the original Greek manuscripts. Without these words the verse becomes, "Now the first of the unleavened bread, (or unleaveneds), the disciples came to Jesus, saying . . . ." The fourteenth had become known as one of the days of unleavened bread because the Jews believed that the leavening had to be out of their homes by around 10:00 A.M. on the fourteenth. So the entire eight days became to the Jews the "Feast of Unleavened Bread." As was noted above, they also called the entire eight day period by the name "Passover." This quote can be read on page 21 in the booklet, "The Christian Passover -- When Observed, the Fourteenth, or the Fifteenth?" However, the Bible commands us to keep seven days of Unleavened Bread. The Jews developed this tradition of including the fourteenth as one of the days of unleavened bread.
Matthew 27:62, "Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate." If the first Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread were the fifteenth then it makes sense that the fourteenth served as the preparation day! You may also look up Mark 15:42 and Luke 23:54, which also shows that the daylight portion of the fourteenth was a preparation day.
Matthew 26:5, Mark 14:2 and John 19:14 show that the Jews hastened to kill Jesus before the Feast Day which was the first Holy Day or the fifteenth day of Abib!
John 13:27-29, "And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That you doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor." This shows that this time period was not holy time as Jesus would not have sent someone out to transact business during holy time!
John 19:14 and 42, "And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand." When you compare these scriptures with John 18:28, "Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover." There is no doubt that the Jews kept the Passover a day later than Jesus did and the fourteenth was called the preparation day. Also verse 31 of John 19 shows this particular Sabbath was an "High Day." There is no way that the fourteenth can be construed as the first Holy Day or first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread based on these testimonies!
Mark 15:21, "And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross." The phrase "out of the country" should be translated "out of the field" according to the Greek text. Unger's Bible Dictionary states he was a Hellenistic Jew, born in the north coast of Africa and present when the Holy Spirit was given, Acts 2:10. No devout Jew would be coming out of the field on an High Day.
Mark 15:42 confirms that the fourteenth day of Abib was called the preparation day. "And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath."
Matthew 26:36-45 gives the example of Jesus Christ staying up "watching." This refers back to Deuteronomy 16:7 where the phrase "turn in the morning and go to your tents" was interpreted as having a vigil that night. It was a tradition during that time period. Matthew 26:30 should be translated "hymning" or singing hymns.
The head of the family and not the priests, as some have allowed, was to kill the Passover lamb. Josephus recorded that on one year, 256,500 lambs were slain. At ten persons per lamb, that would be two and one half million people. There is no way that that many lambs could have been sacrificed in the time period required, unless the heads of families killed their own lambs!
Jesus declared, "I will keep the Passover with my disciples, Matthew 26:18, Mark 14:14 and Luke 22:8-11. He kept "the" Passover on the scriptural date! He did not keep a symbolic one! He called it the Passover!
Mark 14:12, "And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover," should be translated "And the first day of unleaveneds, when the Passover was being killed." That is what the literal Greek contains. The night before the Passover, as Nisan 13 began, according to Jewish law, all leaven had to be searched out, in all residences and properties owned by Jews. The leaven was then gathered and burned in the morning by approximately 10:00 A.M. No one was to eat leavened bread in any form after 11:00 A.M. The unleavened bread for the Passover had to be made and ready by approximately 3:00 P.M. When Abib 14 began, no leaven could be found in any Jewish residence. So it was the first of the unleaveneds-first day of the year that could be considered unleavened.
Luke 22:15-16 reveals that, (1) Jesus kept the Passover. (2) It was a proper, scripturally based Passover. (3) It was kept in the evening at the proper hour.
There is no indication in the scriptures that our Saviour kept the Passover on any other day than was explicitly instructed in the Old Testament. If He had done so, He would have been disregarding and opposing the very instructions that He had inspired as the Eternal of the Old Testament!
John 13:1, "Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." The Greek word pro means before, ahead of, in front of. In John 12:1 the word pro is attached to six days. It involves a time period of six days. In John 13:1 there is no indication of how much time is involved with the pro or before. It could be one hour. The scripture must be taken at face value! John did not say it was a whole 24 hours before the Passover. He did not specify any definite period of time!
In John 2:13, 6:4 and 11:55 the term "Jews' Passover" is used. This is not referring to the date that was being observed but to the fact that during Jesus' time only Jews or Jewish proselytes observed the Passover, which is the case today for the most part. That is why the term used is "Jews' Passover." When you mention you observe the Passover the question immediately is shot at you, "are you Jewish?" People seem to think only Jews keep the Passover.
Jesus kept the Passover in the evening, and then went to the garden where He prayed. About midnight He was arrested and led to the High Priest's house where He was tried and condemned. Then near dawn, He was taken to Pilate's Palace. John 18:28, "Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover." Jesus kept the Passover a full day before the Jews did. This was the morning after Jesus and His disciples had kept it. Jesus Christ kept it on the right day!
Next consider this quote, "Several Jewish scholars have put forth the view that in the year of Jesus' death, the Passover was observed on two consecutive days, because of different reckonings of its date by the Sadducees and the Pharisees respectively." This quote is taken from Theological Dictionary of the New Testament volume III.
For more proof of Passover being kept on different days by Jesus and the Jews of His day read John 19:31, "The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross 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." Notice the use of the words "preparation" and "High Day." High Day refers to the annual Holy Days. It is never used to designate the weekly Sabbath. Which High Day? It wasn't the Passover because the Passover was never commanded to be a High Day. The Passover was a preparation day for a holy day that followed it! The Holy Day that followed Passover was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus kept it on the fourteenth. He set us an example that we must follow!
There are two scriptures that show that Jesus Christ was the lamb of God and would die. "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain form the foundation of the world," Revelation 13:8. "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel," Genesis 3:15. There are more scriptures that point out that Jesus Christ was ordained to be beaten for the healing of our diseases and killed for the forgiveness of our sins.
At the hour the spear was thrust into our Saviour's side and blood poured out, the High Priest was slitting the throats of the Passover lambs that had been brought to the temple. Jesus' blood was pouring out on the ground at the same time the blood of the Passover lambs was being splashed on the altar. This does not negate the fact that they were keeping their own Passover date, and not the one ordained by the very being that was dying while they were defying His law. This does not mean the Jews were killing the Passover at the correct time. We have already previously proven the correct time for the killing of the Passover. When Christ died, the veil of the Holy of Holies in the temple was torn from top to bottom, showing that access to the throne of God the Father was now open for all mankind! God the Father thus revealed that He was rejecting the earthly temple, the earthly priesthood, and the earthly lambs whose throats had just been slit. God had accepted the true Passover Lamb!
Secular History Corroborates True Passover Date
Next we will go to sources that are truly secondary. These are the writings of men in Histories, Commentaries, and Dictionaries. These should not be used as our foundation! We should always go first to the Bible and let the Bible interpret the Bible. Let it be our guide and not the writings of men.
Right after the first century there arose a controversy concerning whether to observe Easter or Passover on the 14th of the month of Abib. This controversy was called the Quartodeciman controversy. One of the defenders of the 14th of the first month was Polycarp whom the Apostle John had appointed bishop of Smyrna. A defender after Polycarp's martyrdom was Polycrates. "But Polycarp also was not only instructed by the apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed Bishop of the church of Smyrna . . . . He it was who, coming to Rome in the Anicetus, bishop of Rome around 154 A.D., caused many to turn away from the . . . . heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles . . . . For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to observe it because he had always observed it with John the disciple of our Lord, and the rest of the apostles with whom he associated," Eusebius' Eccl. History, Book V, Chapter 24 in Nicene & Post Nicene Fathers Volume I.
"As for us, then, we scrupulously observe the exact day, neither adding nor taking away. For in Asia great luminaries have gone to their rest, who shall rise again in the day of the coming of the Lord . . . I speak of Philip, one of the twelve apostles . . . John, moreover who reclined on the Lord's bosom . . . then there is Polycarp . . . these all kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month, in accordance with the gospel, without ever deviating from it, but keeping to the rule of faith," Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 8, pages 773-774.
In the 1970 Edition of the Jewish Encyclopedia the article on Passover has the following information: "Pesach comes from the root meaning 'to pass by' or 'to spare.' [The] Pesach feast tended to merge with the mazzot festival. Leviticus 23 . . . seems to distinguish between Passover, which is set for the fourteenth day of the month, and mazzot, the Festival of Unleavened Bread, (Luke 22:1, Joseph Ant. II, 1, 3), appointed for the fifteenth day. The festival occurred in Abib, later named Nisan, and lasted seven days, from sunset on the fourteenth day to sunset to the twenty first day; the first and seventh days were set aside for holy convocation, no work being permitted on those days except such as was necessary in preparing food (Numbers 28:16-25). The setting aside, slaughtering, and eating of the paschal lamb was introductory to the celebration of the festival."
In the article entitled "Passover" from the Jewish Encyclopedia on page 553 we find, "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."
Flavius Josephus was a Pharisee as can be proved from his own writings. In his book The Life of Flavius Josephus in paragraph 2 he states, "So when I had accomplished my desires, I returned back to the city, being now nineteen years old, and began to conduct myself according to the rules of the sect of the Pharisees, which is of kin to the sect of the Stoics, as the Greeks call them." It will be seen from the following quotations from his works that the Passover and the first Holy Day of unleavened bread had become merged.
"As now the war abroad ceased for a while, the sedition within was revived; and on the feast of unleavened bread, which was now come, it being the fourteenth day of the month Xanthicus, [Nisan] when it is believed the Jews were first freed from the Egyptians, Wars of the Jews, book 5, chapter 3, paragraph 1. This quote shows the mixup. The Israelites were freed from the Egyptians on the fifteenth not the fourteenth. "And as the feast of unleavened bread was at hand, in the first month, which, according to the Macedonians, is called Xanthicus, but according to us Nisan, all the people ran together out of the villages to the city, and celebrated the festival, having purified themselves, with their wives and children, according to the law of their country; and they offered the sacrifice which was called the Passover, on the fourteenth day of the same month, and feasted seven days, and spared no cost, but offered whole burnt offerings to God, . . . " Antiquities of the Jews, Book XI, chapter 10, paragraph 8. "In the month of Xanthicus, 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 we do 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; on every one of which days two bulls are killed, and one ram, and seven lambs." Antiquities of the Jews, Book III, chapter 10, paragraph 5.
It might be noted here that the Samaritans, holding only to the "Torah" believe that the Passover is to be kept "between the evenings" as has already been pointed out previously. They sacrifice it at twilight at the beginning of the fifteenth day of Nisan. They observe a corrupted religion claiming it is the religion that Moses taught.
"But when God had signified, that with one more plague He would compel the Egyptians to let the Hebrews go He commanded Moses to tell the people that they should prepare themselves on the tenth day of the month Xanthicus, against the fourteenth, (which month is called by the Egyptians Pharmuth, and Nisan by the Hebrews; but the Macedonians call it Xanthicus,) and that he should carry away the Hebrews with all they had. Accordingly, he having got the Hebrews ready for their departure, and having sorted the people into tribes, he kept them together in one place: but when the fourteenth day was come, and all were ready to depart, they offered the sacrifice, and purified their houses with the blood, using branches of hyssop for that purpose; and when they had supped, they burnt the remainder of the flesh, as just ready to depart. Whence it is that we do still offer this sacrifice in like manner to this day, and call this festival Pascha, which signifies the feast of the Passover, because on that day God passed us over, and sent the plague upon the Egyptians; for the destruction of the first-born came upon the Egyptians that night, so that many of the Egyptians who lived near the king's palace, persuaded Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go. Accordingly he called for Moses, and bid them be gone; as supposing, that if once the Hebrews were gone out of the country, Egypt should be freed from its miseries. They also honored the Hebrews with gifts; some, in order to get them to depart quickly, and others on account of their neighborhood, and the friendship they had with them." Antiquities of the Jews, Book II, chapter XI, paragraph 6. "Whence it is that in memory of the want we were then in, we keep a feast for eight days, which is called the feast of unleavened bread." Antiquities of the Jews, Book II, chapter XV, paragraph 1. The above quotes prove that there was a day of Passover and a seven day feast that followed. It might be noted that the part concerning the Israelites being already gathered together on the fourteenth is not scriptural as we have already proved. The scriptures state they were in their houses as he even proves when he wrote that they purified their houses.
"Comparison of the successive strata of the pentateuchal laws bearing on the festival makes it plain that the institution, as developed, is really of composite character. Two festivals originally distinct, have become merged . . . ," Jewish Encyclopedia, Volume IX 1905, article "Passover."
Also read the material concerning the night to be much observed and the Passover in the book by Ceil and Moishe Rosen entitled Christ in the Passover.
In conclusion, it is very simple to determine the truth if you let the Bible interpret the Bible and you have the Holy Spirit. The writings of men only confuse, as it takes the Spirit of God to understand the Truth. The Jews rejected the correct day of the Passover and in turn rejected the true Messiah. If they had kept the right Passover maybe they would have recognized the Messiah. Also, the Jews rejected the correct day of Pentecost and did not receive the Holy Spirit!
The Scribes and Pharisees were in authority but numerous injunctions and teachings of our Savior show they were far from being perfect in doctrine. Examples showing this are Matthew 19:1 concerning divorce, Mark 2:25-27 concerning correct observance of the Sabbath, and Mark 7:6-13 concerning many traditions they observed.
I hope this study will help those who have problems with this subject. It is with this fervent hope that the efforts have been expended toward that end.
It is mainly because of the warning of the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 10:25-31 that this study was written. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." A person can be classified as an adversary if they fight against the truth of the Almighty. "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, and unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
The Bible is clear. The observance of the Passover is twilight the beginning of the fourteenth of Abib. May God give us all the strength to do what He says and not what men as deceivers dream up.
Written by: Ronald H. Stewart
For further study on the 14th or 15th Passover question, we recommend the 303-page book, The Christian Passover, by Fred R. Coulter, available from The Christian Biblical Church of God, PO Box 1442, Hollister, CA 95024, for $21.95.
Additional Articles on Passover/Unleavened Bread:
Passover & Feast of Unleavened Bread Part 1
Passover, Lord's Supper, or Communion?
Drink the Pure Blood of the Grape
The Order and Meaning of Passover
Instructions for Keeping the New Covenant Passover
Why Do We Take the New Testament Passover?
The New Testament Passover Ceremony
Feast of Unleavened Bread: Putting Sin Out
Polluted Bread for Passover?
Recipes for the Days of Unleavened Bread
Let a Man Examine Himself
Observance of the Passover.
Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread Quiz
Main Holy Day Menu
Written by: Richard C. Nickels
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