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Passover and the
Days of Unleavened Bread
In the Northern Hemisphere there are three harvest seasons: spring (barley harvest), summer (wheat harvest) and fall (numerous field crops). These three time frames correspond to the three time frames when man is commanded by Yahweh to gather together to celebrate some of Yahweh’s annual Holy Days.
Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year. Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:) And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field. Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before Yahweh Elohim, Ex. 23:14-17.
Hence, the three time frames we are to gather together correspond to 1) Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, 2) Pentecost (sometimes called the Feast of Weeks or the Feast of Firstfruits), and 3) the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Ingathering, and the Last Great Day. The two that are not included, but still required to keep, are the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. Each of Yahweh’s Holy Days points directly or indirectly to our Savior, Yahshua Messiah.
Passover – Not the First Day of the Days of Unleavened Bread
Ancient Israel was told to keep Passover as a day of remembrance and to celebrate it as a feast in Yahweh’s honor, pointing to Yahshua.
And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to Yahweh throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever, Ex. 12:14.
The word memorial comes from the Hebrew (Strong’s #OT:2146) zikrown (zik-rone’); from OT:2142; a memento (or memorable thing, day or writing); and is translated memorial or record in the King James Version of the Bible. The root word of zikrown is Strong’s #2142, zakar (zaw-kar’). Zakar has numerous translations in the KJV, among them being “remember or to make to be remembered.”
In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is Yahweh's passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto Yahweh: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread, Lev 23:5-6.
The first and last days of these seven days are amongst those days Yahweh considers to be holy.
In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein, Lev 23:7-8.
Passover (day number 14 of the month Abib) and the Days of Unleavened Bread (days numbered 15 through 21) are two separate time periods.
Does Christianity today remember the day of Yahshua’s death, Passover, once a year? No, certainly not. Instead, they celebrate the day of His birth as Christmas and the day of His resurrection as Easter. Each of these celebrated days has pagan origins. Celebrating these also counters Eccl. 7:1, which tells us which day is more important.
A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth, Eccl. 7:1.
The Encyclopedia Judaica tells us: “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” (vol. 13, “Passover,” p. 169).
Passover – Its True Meaning
Ex. 12:42 reads,
It [is] a night to be much observed unto Yahweh for bringing them out of the land of Egypt: this [is] that night of Yahweh to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.
The Jewish Tanakh gives the following reading for this verse:
“That was for [Yahweh] a night of vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt; that same night is [Yahweh’s], one of vigil for all the children of Israel throughout the ages.”
The word translated “observed” is Strong’s #8107 (shimmur), from #8104 (shamar), meaning an observance. On #8104 Strong says “A primitive root; properly to hedge about (as with thorns), i.e. guard; gen. To protect, attend to, etc.: beware, be circumspect, take heed, keep, mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save, sure, wait, watch.” Clearly the meaning is watchings.
The Greek word translated “watch” is Strong’s #1453 (gregoreo) and means to be vigilant and wide awake; to be alert: be or stay awake, to keep awake, be alert, i.e. watch.
Can we fathom in our minds what the Israelites were feeling during the night of the first Passover? It seems reasonable that they could not sleep because they knew that the destroying angel would be coming to kill all the firstborn. They were told to place the blood of the sacrificial lamb on the doorposts and lintels for protection from the avenging angel. They were warned to remain within the protection of their blood-marked houses the entire evening. Ps. 30:5 is referring to this:
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
The Israelites did leave Egypt by night – the night after Passover:
Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the Yahweh thy Elohim: for in the month of Abib Yahweh thy Elohim brought thee forth out of Egypt by night, Deut. 16:1.
Some believe Deut. 16:1 says that the Israelites left the land of Egypt to start their trek to the Promised Land. However, the Israelites kept the Passover after the sun set beginning the 14th of Abib as recorded in the Scriptures.
During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship Yahweh as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.” The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. Yahweh had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians, Ex. 12:31-36 NIV.
After the Israelites spent the entire night portion of Passover in their houses they did as they were instructed to do by Moses, including spoiling the Egyptians:
|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 Yahweh 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, Ex 12:35-36.
The events of the day portion of Passover are relatively easy to reconstruct. On the morning of the 14th the remains of the sacrificial lamb were taken out, the people began gathering their family, flocks, and herds and assembled at Rameses, some 30 miles from Goshen.
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, Num. 33:3.
Moses before Pharoah
Yahshua Kept Passover
Yahshua kept the Passover at the right time and thus fulfilled all righteousness up to the time of His death. His disciples did not have any difficulty keeping Passover at the right time.
And he [Yahshua] sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. 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: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of Yahweh”, Luke 22:8-16.
After Yahshua celebrated Passover with His disciples they went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. Here Yahshua told them to be alert and watchful, just as the Israelites were told to do on the night of Passover.
And when they had sung a Psalm, they went out into the mount of Olives…My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me…And when He came unto the disciples, and found them asleep, and said unto Peter, What, could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh is weak, Matt. 26:30, 38, 40-41.
Shortly, Yahshua was taken prisoner and then impaled the following day before the Jews had celebrated their late Passover.
Since Yahshua kept the law perfectly, should we not also keep Passover on the beginning of Abib 14?
Paul Kept Passover
Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee. He was an apostle to the Gentiles and he taught them to observe what some call the “Feasts of the Jews.”
Corinth was a Hellenistic, metropolitan community and a crossroads of trade and commerce. In 1 Cor. 5:7-8 Paul tells the people of Corinth that Yahshua is the Passover Lamb sacrificed for us:
Purge out therefore the old leaven that you may be a new lump as you are unleavened. For even the Messiah our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast…
For Paul to write this it is quite evident that these days are not done away with by Yahshua’s death. It is obvious that Passover and the feast days referred to are still obligatory.
Passover – Preparation For Unleavened Bread
Passover, Abib 14, is the day preceding the first High Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The King James Version of Scriptures describes Passover as the preparation day, the day Yahshua was put to death for the sins of mankind.
It is indeed a preparation day. It is a day when one is to prepare for the days of unleavened bread by cleansing their houses of all leaven. The day following Passover is a High Sabbath. So the followers of Yahshua wanted to take His body down before the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread began:
The Jews therefore, 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, John 19:31.
Feast of Unleavened Bread
The Feast or the Days of Unleavened Bread lasts for seven complete days, with the first day and the last day being High Days or annual Sabbaths. On the first High Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was the time when the Israelites left Egypt,
The Israelites set out from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover. They marched out boldly in full view of all the Egyptians, who were burying all their firstborn, whom Yahweh had struck down among them; for Yahweh had brought judgment on their elohims, Num. 33:3-4 NIV.
The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is then a memorial for the time when the Israelites left Egypt.
We learn that the Israelites spent 430 years in Egypt before they left to return to the Promised Land.
Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years, Ex. 12:40.
How did they know where to go?
And Yahweh 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: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people, Ex. 13:21-22.
When the Israelites left Egypt, where did they head?
So Yahweh led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle, Ex. 13:18 NIV.
Yahweh had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians. The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. Many other people went up with them, as well as large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. With the dough they had brought from Egypt, they baked cakes of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves, Ex. 12:36-39 NIV.
When the Israelites left the bondage of Egypt they did not have time to prepare leavened bread. From the time of their departure (first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread) until they crossed over the Red Sea (the seventh day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread) they ate unleavened bread.
|In the parting of the waters of the Red Sea we find that Israel|
became completely free of Egyptian influence because Yahweh caused all of the Egyptians who followed Israel to die.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea, Ex. 15:4.
Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born. Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread, Ex. 12:17-20 NIV.
Israel became free of Egyptian influence
The first day and the last day of the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread are two of Yahweh’s seven annual Holy Days.
To properly keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread we must do so both physically and spiritually. During this period of time no leaven is to be found within the house nor is to be eaten. We are to remove all leaven products from our homes. Actually, these verses also state that one is to eat unleavened bread at this time.
Physically, leaven is that which produces fermentation in a mass of dough.
A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, Gal 5:9.
The word leaveneth is the translation of the Greek “zumoo” meaning to cause to ferment.
Leaven breaks down flour, causing decay in the dough.
On the other side, there are two verses, Lev. 7:13 and Lev. 23:17, which show that the showbread and a praise offering to Yahweh both contained leaven, which sweetened the bread.
Where leaven is the translation in the Old Testament of the King James Version it refers to the physical usage (yeast).
Spiritually, we are to remove any and all things that may cause us to be led astray.
Purge out therefore the old leaven that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Messiah our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, 1 Cor. 5:7-8.
Where leaven is the translation in the New Testament of the King James Version it may refer to the physical usage at times, but it usually will have a spiritual meaning also.
Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees, Matt. 16:12.
And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod, Mark 8:15.
In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy, Luke 12:1.
From the first two Scriptures we learn that there are three groups of people that Yahshua tells His disciples to watch out for: the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Herodians.
Luke 12:1 speaks to the leaven of the Pharisees as the religious hypocrisy exhibited in their external ceremonialism. The leaven of the Sadducees was their disbelief in an afterlife and the coming of the Messiah. The leaven of the Herodians dealt with a political family who opposed Yahshua.
Matt. 16:12 specifies that the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees is their doctrine while Luke 12:1 says the same thing about the Pharisees.
Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, 1 Cor. 5:8.
In the last two Scriptures there are three words of interest: hypocrisy, malice and wickedness. Through examination we will find that they are related to unhealthy attitudes.
Hypocrisy is a translation of the Greek “Hupokrisis” (Strong’s #5272), whose root word means to play a part, deceitful pretending.
Malice is a translation of the Greek “Kakia” (Strong’s #2549), whose root word means to have ill will, desire to injure.
Wickedness comes from the Greek “Poneria” (Strong’s 4189), whose root word means to be hurtful or evil.
1 Cor. 5:8 then says that one must avoid those activities which center on deceiving others or which have evil purposes directed towards others.
Sincerity is a translation of the Greek “Eilikrineia” (Strong’s #1505), whose root word means to be genuine.
Truth comes from the Greek “Aletheia” (Strong’s #225), whose root words mean not concealing.
Therefore, during the day portion of Passover, we are to make sure that no leaven and no leavened products are found in our homes. Our actions then, during the time of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (each of the seven days), should be to make sure our homes are leaven free and that we are to be genuinely truthful.
That part of the Passover/Unleavened Bread season that is overlooked deals with the wave sheaf offering.
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it, Lev. 23:10-11.
The Sabbath spoken of here is the Hebrew “Shabbath” and speaks of the weekly Sabbath. The harvest spoken of here is barley. This wave sheaf was not offered until the Israelites entry into the Promised Land and raised a crop as it was not possible for them to raise crops during their sojourn in the Wilderness of Zin after leaving Egypt. This wave sheaf offering was to be made on the day after the weekly Sabbath which occurs during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
The Feast of Firstfruits is also called the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Harvest in the Old Testament, Pentecost in the New Testament. The grain harvested at this time was wheat. The harvest spoken of in Lev. 23:10 is barley. This sheaf is often referred to as the first of the firstfruits.
Pentecost points ahead to the time when the firstfruits will be gathered. Yahshua, Himself, is referred to as the first of the firstfruits because He arose during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end, Ex 34:22.
But every man in his own order: Messiah the firstfruits; afterward they that are Messiah’s at his coming, 1 Cor. 15:23.
Just as the wave sheaf had to be presented unto Yahweh (Lev. 23:10-11) on the first day of the week, Yahshua could not let Mariam cling to Him until He had presented Himself unto His Father as an acceptable sacrifice,
Yahshua saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my Elohim, and your Elohim, John 20:17.
Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are not celebrated by the Christian world today. Instead, they celebrate Easter, which has its pagan origins. The Christian world is more interested in Easter eggs, Easter bunnies and hot cross buns. What do the traditions which use these objects have to do with Yahshua’s resurrection?
In some pagan customs the Heaven and Earth were thought to have been formed from two halves of an egg. As the egg was an obvious symbol to early Christians of Yahshua’s resurrection, it was felt to be a most appropriate and holy part of the Eastertide celebration. Even as early as the Middle Ages, eggs were colored to be given as gifts at Easter.
On the first day of Lent, and during the six weeks that follow, many bakeries and homes bake hot cross buns. They are generally only served during the Lenten season, preserving their Christian significance. Yet they are probably the outgrowth of the ancient pagan sacramental cakes eaten by Anglo-Saxons in honor of their goddess “Eastore.” Supposedly, the early clergy tried to stop the use of the sacramental cakes but as they could not, they gave them Christian meaning by blessing them and decorating them with the cross.
As the nation’s largest ethnic group, German Americans have deeply influenced the culture of the United States. Many examples of this influence are now considered basic ingredients of American life. The celebration of Christmas in the United States, for example, reflects German Christmas customs. German Americans introduced Christmas trees and gift giving. A German American artist, Thomas Nast, created the traditional image of Santa Claus. German Americans also introduced the Easter Bunny.
In ancient Greece the deities of the sun were Helios and Apollo. The worship of Helios was widespread; temples were built in Corinth, Árgos, Troezen (no longer in existence), and many other cities, but the principal seat was on the island of Rhodes, in the Dodecanese, where four white horses were sacrificed annually to the idols. A similar sacrifice was offered on the summit of Mount Hagios Elias, in the Taïyetos Mountains, in Laconia. In time virtually all the functions of Helios were transferred to the idol Apollo, in his identity as Phoebus. Sun worship persisted in Europe even after the introduction of Christianity, as is evidenced by its disguised survival in such traditional Christian practices as the Easter bonfire and the Yule log on Christmas.
Bible verses do confirm that the Feasts will be observed in the Kingdom. Yahweh said that His Feasts would be kept by an ordinance forever.
In the New Covenant era we are to observe Passover as a memorial of the Savior’s having given His life for the sins of the world. Passover is not a Feast day (Hebrew = chag, joyous, happy time), but along with the annual Feasts it will be observed again, but likely with a deeper and new meaning.
They will likely recall the Savior’s return to this earth where He will gather the remnant of His flock and bring them to Zion. There He will establish His rulership and rule this earth with a rod or iron, Rev. 2:26-27.
Yahweh’s Word tells us to remember Yahshua’s death, not His resurrection. Without the sacrifice of Yahshua we would not have any hope for a future in the Kingdom. To be part of the coming Kingdom, Scriptures tell us that we are to be faithful to the end.
-Elder Roger G. Meyer
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