Observance of the Passover

1) In Exodus 12:6, Israel was instructed to kill the Passover "in the evening." The Hebrew for "in the evening" really means "BETWEEN THE TWO EVENINGS." This shows that "the evening" was a time period that was bounded by two end points -- it started with SUNSET and it ended with TOTAL DARKNESS. We call that period "dusk." Before "the first evening" it was still "day" and after "the second evening" it was night.

2) The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Copyright 1942, published in the USA, Volume 8, Page 406, Article "Pascal Lamb" says the following: "The Pharisees and Sadducees had a dispute as to the time when the slaughtering (of the lamb) should take place; the former held it should be in the last 3 hours before sunset (and therefore AT THE END of the 14th day!), the latter, between sunset and nightfall (and therefore AT THE BEGINNING of the 14th day!)." This Jewish authority acknowledges that even at the time of Christ SOME people in Jerusalem kept the Passover at the beginning of the 14th day (i.e., the Sadducees), while others kept it at the end of the 14th day (the Pharisees).

3) The Encyclopedia Judaica, published in Jerusalem, 3rd printing, 1974, Volume 13, Page 170, Article "Passover" says the following: "The feast of Passover consists of two parts: The Passover ceremony and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. ORIGINALLY BOTH PARTS EXISTED SEPARATELY; BUT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE EXILE THEY WERE COMBINED. Passover was originally NOT a pilgrimage feast, but a domestic ceremony consisting of the slaughtering and eating of the paschal animal." This Jewish authority admits that ORIGINALLY the Passover (observed at the beginning of the 14th) was SEPARATE from the Feast of Unleavened Bread (which starts at the beginning of the 15th). It also acknowledges that TODAY the Jews observe both parts together as one ceremony at the start of the 15th day, which is contrary to the instructions in the Bible. In plain terms: originally the Passover was killed just after sunset, after the 13th had ended and the 14th had just started.

4) Jesus Christ observed the Passover with His disciples at the beginning of the 14th; He was crucified the following morning, still the 14th day, died around 3:00 p.m., and was placed in the tomb around 6:00 p.m., AT THE END of the 14th and beginning of the 15th day. At that time SOME of the Jews (i.e., the Pharisees!) were about to start their own Passover observance, which the Encyclopedia Judaica admits was contrary to the ORIGINAL instructions.

5) The WCG has observed the Passover AT THE BEGINNING of the 14th day, following Christís example. The Church has, however, published some articles that speculate about when THE JEWS kept the Passover back in Egypt. In those articles the WCG allowed for the possibility that the current Jewish understanding of the events that occurred is correct -- but this is negated by the clear admission of the Encyclopedia Judaica. At any rate, the WCG does not claim to observe the ceremony of the Old Testament, but the one that Jesus Christ Himself instituted in the New Testament . . . including the foot washing.

6) Biblical Proof: The Passover was killed on the 14th, "between the two evenings," and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, that night, Exodus 12:6-8. See also Numbers 9:11. Notice what this verse actually instructs: not only was the Passover to be killed on the 14th day, but the people were also "EAT" unleavened bread, on the 14th day. The Jews today do not observe this! They only eat unleavened bread on the 15th day, whch is when they observe "their" Passover. Unleavened bread was (and is today) not eaten by the Jews prior to the Passover ceremony. Thus when the Jews only observe their Passover at the beginning of the 15th day, it means that they also donít eat any unleavened bread prior to the 15th.

7) Notice also Exodus 12:10, "And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire." This verse very clearly implies that the people would still be in the same location in the morning! If God intended to take them out of their homes during the same night on which they ate the Passover, then they could not possibly have fulfilled this instruction -- to burn with fire anything that remained "until the morning." Godís instruction would not have made sense.

8) Notice also Exodus 12:11, "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 LORDíS Passover." The Hebrew for "in haste" is "chippazown" and means "in fear" or "in trepidation" or "in apprehension." For a clear Scripture that refers to "haste" see Genesis 18:6, "And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead [it], and make cakes upon the hearth." Abraham was very obviously "in haste" -- the context makes this clear. In the next verse we see that Abraham "ran" -- and this is at age 99 years! In this verse the one Hebrew word "mahar" is used twice and is translated first as "hastened" and then as "make ready quickly." This Hebrew word "mahar" means to make haste. But the word "chippazown" used in Exodus 12:11 refers more to the emotion of fear and apprehension. So Israel was to eat the Passover in an attitude of fear and apprehension of what would happen in the next few hours -- as God explains in the next verse, rather than eat "in haste" so that they could then hit the road.

The verse also clearly says: "it is the LORDís Passover." Now WHY is it "GODís Passover"? God explains in the next two verses: "For I will pass through the land of Egypt . . . and when I see the blood, I WILL PASS OVER YOU . . . ." So why did God call it "Passover"? Because at that very time He would "pass over" (i.e., spare from death) the Israelites.

Now here is the point:

IF Israel only killed the Passover lambs at the end of the 14th day and then roasted and ate them at the beginning of the 15th day -- THEN God would have "passed over" them and killed the firstborn Egyptians on the 15th day! But if God only passed through the land of Egypt on the 15th day, then the 14th day is not the Passover of the LORD. The 14th day would, in fact, have no significance at all!

A very clear definition of the Passover is found in Exodus 12:27, "That ye shall say, It [is] the sacrifice of the LORDíS 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 Passover is the night the death angel "passed over" Israel. And Leviticus 23:5 states that the Passover is in the 14th day of the month. So the death angel MUST have passed through the land of Egypt on the 14th day. Therefore Israel also MUST have eaten the Passover on the 14th day.

9) Deuteronomy 16:1 shows that Israel left Egypt "BY NIGHT." Numbers 33:3 shows they left Egypt on "THE MORROW AFTER THE PASSOVER." The expression in the KJV "ON THE MORROW after the Passover" does not mean morning, but the next DAY, the next 24-hour period following the Passover day. In Exodus 12:22, Moses instructed Israel plainly: ". . . and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning." These three verses together make clear that Israel simply could not have left Egypt the same night that they had eaten the Passover.

The only way all three verses can be reconciled is for Israel to have eaten the Passover at the beginning of the 14th day, then stayed in their houses till the morning, then burned with fire whatever was left of the Passover, then spoiled the Egyptians whose firstborn had all been killed during the preceding night, then gathered their possessions together and ridding themselves of all leaven, then after sunset (therefore then the 15th day!) started to leave Egypt, walking all of that first night before stopping to rest. Their "leaving" was exactly 24 hours after they killed and ate the Passover -- i.e. "on the morrow after the Passover."

ó Adapted from an article by Frank W. Nelte

Additional Articles:

Passover & Feast of Unleavened Bread Part 1
Passover & Feast of Unleavened Bread Part 2
Passover -- 14th or 15th?
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
Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread Quiz

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Written by: Richard C. Nickels
Giving & Sharing
PO Box 100
Neck City, MO 64849
United States of America

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