Which Day is the Christian Passover?
When is the right time to observe the Christian Passover—at the beginning of the 14th of Nisan or at the beginning of the 15th? In this Study, we will answer the following important questions surrounding the Christian Passover:
- Was the original Passover observed on the 14th of Nisan (Abib) at the beginning of the day (just after sunset) or at the end of the day (before the following sunset)?
- Was the Passover observed after sunset at the beginning of the 15th of Nisan (Abib)?
- When did Jesus keep the Passover?
- When should Christians observe the Passover?
In order to answer these four questions, it is necessary to fully understand how God calculates a day and the events surrounding the Exodus Passover and the first Passover held in the land of Canaan.
HOW DOES GOD CALCULATE A DAY?
The first verses that show how God calculates the length of a day (i.e., when a day begins and ends) are in Genesis 1:5,8:
"And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night . . ..
And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and morning were the second day."
Here, we see that each day begins with the evening. In Leviticus 23:32 a day is defined further:
"From even to even, shall you celebrate your sabbath."
These and many other scriptures define a day as a period of time that starts and ends with sunset and consists of the time between two sunsets, which is approximately 24 hours.
In order to understand when the Exodus Passover was observed, it is necessary to look at the historical events surrounding it in chronological order using Exodus, chapters 10 through 12 to clarify the chronological flow of chapter 12.
The writers of the Scriptures did not always write in chronological order; therefore, all the relevant scriptures about a specific event must be considered before it can be placed in a chronological order.
EXODUS CHAPTERS 10 AND 11
At the end of Exodus 10 we see the ninth plague ending and Pharaoh calling for Moses and Aaron offered to let the Israelites leave Egypt. This conversation between Moses and Pharaoh is continued into the 11th chapter with some information inserted about an event that occurred after this meeting and before the Passover.
Exodus 10:24-29 KJV
"And Pharaoh called to Moses, and said, Go you, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you" (v24).
Pharaoh offers to let the people go but he says that they cannot take their livestock with them.
"And Moses said, You must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not be an hoof left behind; for thereof we must take to serve the Lord our God; and we know not with what we must serve the Lord, until we come thither" (vs.25-26).
Moses demands that Pharaoh release the animals along with the people. What happens next sets the stage for the last plague, which ends in the release of the Israelites.
"But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go. And Pharaoh said to him, Get you from me, take heed to yourself, see my face no more; for in that day you see my face you shall die. And Moses said, You have spoken well, I will see your face again no more" (vs.27-29).
It is important to visualize what was transpiring during this last meeting between Pharaoh, Moses, and Aaron. The ruler of one of the world's greatest nations was being challenged by two men whom he has no respect for. Moreover, these men came representing a God he did not believe in and demanded that he release the Israelite slaves who were a major source of his nation's wealth.
It does not take much imagination to realize that this was a meeting where there was much hostility between the participants. Moses probably already knew before or by the end of the meeting that Pharaoh would not let the people go. This was true because Moses had already been given the instructions about the Passover and how the Israelites were to be put out of Egypt. Exodus 11:4-8 is the continuation and end of the conversation between Pharaoh, Moses, and Aaron that began in chapter 10 verse 24:
"And Moses said [to Pharaoh],Thus says the Lord, About midnight will I [God] go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sits upon his throne, even to the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that you [Pharaoh] may know how that the Lord does put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. And all these your servants [Pharaoh's servants] shall come down to me [Moses], and bow down themselves to me, saying, Get you out, and all the people that follow you: and after that I will go out. And he [Moses] went out from Pharaoh in a great anger" (Ex.11:4-8 KJV).
Exodus 11:1-3 KJV
"And the Lord said to Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether" (Ex.11:1 KJV).
This statement seems to be a short summation of the events to come and was probably made to Moses during the last meeting between Pharaoh, Aaron, and him or some time shortly thereafter, because in verse 2, God instructs Moses to tell the Israelites to take spoils from the Egyptians. Getting this message to the several million Israelites scattered in their various cities and farming communities throughout Egypt would have taken quite some time.
The Spoiling of Egypt
"Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbor, and every woman of her neighbor, jewels of silver and jewels of gold" Ex.11:2 KJV).
Moses was told to tell the people to take the spoil from the Egyptians. The English word borrow is translated from the Hebrew word sha'al, which always implies that something is being asked for or demanded, whether information, material, or action.
This instruction was not something new to Moses because he had been told when he first met God at the burning bush in the wilderness that the Israelites would take a spoil of the Egyptians.
In Exodus 3:21-22 God makes a promise to Moses:
"And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall come to pass, That when you go, you shall not go empty; but every woman shall ask of her neighbor, and of her who sojourns 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" (KJV).
"And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people" (Ex.11: 3 KJV).
Why were the Egyptians so willing to give their national and personal possessions to the Israelites? They were willing to do this because of the power that God manifested through Moses. It should be evident that some of the older Egyptians still remembered Moses as the great general of Egypt before his self-imposed exile. Also, the young and old alike surely grew to have tremendous respect for and great fear of him because of the plagues that came upon them and their nation.
The primary reason for their generosity was probably due to fear of what the God of Moses might do to them if they refused to give up the things the Israelites asked for. This spoiling of the Egyptians is recounted in Exodus 12:35-36 as an event that had already been accomplished many days before the Passover—it would have taken many days to collect the tremendous amount of wealth from the Egyptians.
The Beginning of Months
"And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying, This month shall be to you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you" (Ex.12:1-2 KJV).
It seems likely that this instruction was given to Moses on the first day of the month Nisan, because the Hebrew word translated into the English word month is the Hebrew word khodesh, which means new moon. It is also likely that the day was in fact a new moon because of the amount of time it would take to prepare for a journey like the one the Israelites were about to embark upon. This was not just a short stroll in the park. These people were about to be uprooted from the land that they and their ancestors had lived in for some 430 years and were going to leave with all the possessions that they had accumulated throughout these years.
The physical logistics and planning required to prepare the great number of Israelites for traveling is staggering. Two or three days would hardly seem enough time to prepare the animals, pack their belongings, load the wagons, and collect a spoil from the Egyptians. It makes sense that God would have Moses give the Passover instructions to the Israelites at the beginning of the month. This would give the Israelites 14 days to make their preparations to depart Egypt.
SELECTION OF THE LAMB
"Speak you to all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house" (Ex.12:3 KJV).
On the 10th day they had to choose a lamb for this first Passover. There is no question among most scholars as to the day when the lamb was to be selected. However, there is much controversy as to when the lamb was to be killed and eaten. Was the lamb to be killed at the going down of the sun on the 13th day and eaten at the beginning of the 14th day, or was the lamb to be killed on the 14th day and eaten on the 15th day?
When was the Exodus Passover Lamb Killed?
There can be no doubt that the 14th day of Nisan is the Passover as the two following references state:
"In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's Passover" (Lev.23:5).
"And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of the Lord" (Num.28:16).
Although these passages prove beyond a doubt that the Passover is on the 14th day of Nisan, they do not show the chronology of the Passover ceremonial events. Without understanding the chronological order of these events and the time frame within which they occur, it is virtually impossible to comprehend the significance of the Israelite's exodus from Egypt or the chronological events of the New Testament Passover that surrounded the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
The following three questions need to be answered in order to help solve the chronological mystery of the Passover and to bring all of its events into focus:
- Does the Passover ceremony span a time period that includes portions of more than one day?
- If the ceremony spans more than one day, which portions of each day are included?
- Is the Passover an integral part of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread?
"And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day [Hebrew: yom, day], of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening [Hebrew. beyn ha-arbayim, i.e., between the two evenings]" (Ex.12:6 KJV).
The major point to understand from this scripture is that the lamb had to be kept until the 14th day and killed on the evening of the 14th day.
The Revised Standard Version translates this verse as, "And you shall keep it [the lamb] until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening."
The lambs were not killed at the beginning of the 14th; they were kept all day and killed on the evening of the 14th day, which is the time just before sunset at the end of the 14th day.
The Interlinear Bible translates Exodus 12:6 as follows:
"And it shall be for you to keep until the fourteenth day of this month. And all of the assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it between the evenings [beyn ha-arbayim]." See chapter 10.
The English word between is translated from the Hebrew word beyn, which means between or among. From bayin, a substantive that expresses the notion of interval or space between two points. See Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, #239a, page 104.
Some scholars say that 'between the two evenings' means the time between sunset and the dark of night or the twilight period just before it becomes night. But, is this so?
'Beyn Ha-Arbayim'—'Between the Evenings'
When is evening? Depending on what scripture is read, we could conclude that 'evening' or 'even' is 'before sunset', 'at sunset', and 'after sunset'. The following are the four general categories in which 'evening' or 'even' are mentioned in the Old Testament:
- Before sunset—mentioned approximately 28 times
- After sunset—mentioned approximately 15 times
- At sunset, dusk, twilight—mentioned approximately 90 times
- Unclear meaning—before, after, or at sunset—mentioned approximately 18 times
Some believe the phrase 'beyn ha-arbayim' means the period of time we call twilight—the time interval between sunset and darkness.
However, we know from history that the Jews of Christ's time defined 'beyn ha-arbayim' as a period of time from about mid-afternoon to sunset. Some have adopted this interpretation as the true meaning of this term 'beyn ha-arbayim' and base their observance of the Passover on this interpretation.
But, which of these two interpretations is the correct one for the Passover observance?
The Pharisees and Rabbis considered the period of time when the sun began its descent at high noon to be called the 'first evening' and the time when the sun actually sets to be the 'second evening' (Deut.16:6). Therefore, 'between the two evenings' and 'evening' appear to be synonymous, referring to the sun's first descent at noon, and second descent at sunset. See Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Holy Bible, p.108, and Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary on the Whole Bible, p.63.
There are eleven places where the term 'between the evenings,' beyn ha-arbayim, is used:
"And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening [between the two evenings]" (Ex.12:6).
"At even [between the two evenings] you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall be filled. . ." (Ex.16:12).
"And the other lamb you shall offer at evening [between the two evenings]" (Ex.29:39).
"And the other lamb you shall offer at even, [between the two evenings]" (Ex.29:41).
"And when Aaron lights the lamps at even [between the two evenings]" (Ex.30:8).
"In the fourteenth day of the first month at even [between the two evenings] is the Lord's Passover" (Lev.23:5).
"In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, [between the two evenings]. . . " (Num.9:3)
"And they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even [between the two evenings]" (Num.9:5).
"The fourteenth day at even [between the two evenings] they shall keep it, . . ." (Num.9:11).
"And the other lamb shall you offer at even [between the two evenings]" (Num.28:4).
"And the other lamb shall you offer at even [between the two evenings]" (Num.28:8).
Genesis 1:5,8 shows that a day begins and ends at approximately sunset. Leviticus 23:32 shows that the Sabbath was to be observed from sunset to sunset. The word used for this event is 'ba-erev' and the meaning of 'ba-erev' is 'the setting of the sun', 'sunset', 'evening'. Notice that the Day of Atonement begins at even (sunset) on the ninth day (Lev.23:29-32), but is to be observed on the tenth day.
The word 'ba-erev' defines the moment when a day starts and finishes and is very important to the understanding of the term 'beyn ha-arbayim' because these two terms have two different yet parallel meanings. That is, both of the events these two words describe exist within the same time period for a short duration. It is obvious from Lev.23:32 that the Day of Atonement, which is to be observed on the 10th day, begins at sunset at the end of the 9th day, with the natural day beginning at sunset and ending at sunset.
Notice the way these expressions are used in chronological order in Exodus 16:6,8,11-12:
"And Moses and Aaron said to the children of Israel, At even [Hebrew: erev, evening], then shall you know that the Lord has brought you out from the land of Egypt" (v6).
"And Moses said, This shall be, when the Lord shall give you in the evening [ba-erev] flesh to eat and in the morning bread to the full" (v8).
In verses 11 and 12, God explains when the quail will be given:
"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak to them saying, At even [beyn ha-arbayim] you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; . . ."
If the phrase beyn ha-arbayim means twilight (i.e., the period between sunset and dark), the Israelites would have had a very short time at the exact moment the sun set to gather, prepare, cook and eat the quail. It should be obvious that to gather, prepare, and eat the quail would take more than 30 minutes.
If, however, beyn ha-arbayim literally means the 6 hour period between the two evenings, there would be more than enough time to prepare and eat a meal of quail before sunset. It should be noted that no instruction was given as to the exact time when the quail should be eaten or how long they could be kept after they were gathered, which was done for the manna that was given every morning and was not to be kept overnight.
The word beyn is accurately translated as between and denotes an interval between two or more points. The verbal forms of erev particularly prove that it is accurately translated as evening, the period of time before sunset during the sun's descent from noontime on. More simply, erev denotes afternoon. The context of Exodus 12:6-12 clearly shows that ba-erev and beyn ha-arbayim are synonymous for afternoon.
"But at the place which the Lord your God shall choose to place his name in, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at evening, at the going down of the sun, at the season that you came forth out of Egypt" (Deut.16:6 KJV).
Here, the English word evening is translated from the Hebrew word ba-erev, which is the noun form of in the evening. This word coupled with the Hebrew phrase, the going down of the sun, (kevo ha-shemesh) literally means as the sun is coming (in) (i.e., the setting of the sun, or bo ha-shemesh, the coming of the sun toward the horizon). This use of these two terms proves that this verse is speaking of the sun going down at the end of the 14th day.
The sacrificial lamb was not killed after the sun had set! The sun is only going down at the end of the day, not at the beginning of the day. This verse clearly shows the lambs were killed at the end of the 14th day.
The lamb was to die at the going down of the sun (Deut.16:6), so the phrase 'between the two evenings' must include the time period before sunset. Further study shows that the Israelites were supposed to kill the lamb before sunset and eat it some time after sunset on the 15th day, before the destroyer passed over their homes at midnight, which was the end of the Passover, because the destroyer had already passed over by this time. So, the expression 'between the two evens' includes the time from about noon, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, to sunset. The Passover includes the time from about noon (the 14th) to midnight (the 15th).
THE EVENING DAILY SACRIFICE
The two daily sacrifices are another distinct clue as to the time at which the Passover was sacrificed. One of the daily sacrifices was to be in the morning, and one was to be 'between the two evenings.'
"And you shall say to them, This is the offering made by fire which you shall offer to the Lord; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, for a continual burnt offering. The one lamb shall you offer in the morning [Hebrew: boqer] and the other lamb shall you offer at evening [Hebrew: beyn ha-arbayim]" (Num.28:3-4).
Historical testimony shows the time of the sacrifice of the morning lamb to have been at about 9 a.m. (Edersheim 143). The rabbis stated that the 'between the two evenings' lamb was slaughtered at about 2:30 P.M. and the pieces laid on the altar at about 3:00 P.M. (Edersheim 144).
The historian Josephus places the sacrifice of this lamb at 3:00 p.m. (Antiquities XIV 4.3). He also places the sacrifice of the Passover 'between the ninth and the eleventh hour' (War VI 9.3), which is about 3-5 p.m., not during twilight at the beginning of a new day.
This evidence clearly shows that during Christ's lifetime, the Jews, including the priesthood, understood the phrase 'between the two evenings' to mean a period of time in the afternoon and definitely between noon and sunset at the end of a biblical day in which the second of the two daily sacrifices was to be offered.
WHEN WAS THE LAMB EATEN?
Exodus 12:7-11 KJV
"And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it" (v7).
They were to kill the lamb before sunset at the end of the 14th day and put the blood on the doorposts and wait for God to pass through Egypt and kill the unprotected firstborn.
"And they shall eat the flesh in that night [Hebrew: laylah, night, as opposed to yom, day], roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it" (v8).
The lamb was to be eaten at night, not at or before sunset. It had to be eaten at night, which is the dark period between sunset and sunrise. This is an extremely important point to remember, because it helps to show the continuity of events. This also shows that the Passover night begins the period of eating unleavened bread.
"Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the pertinence [innards] thereof" (v9).
The lamb was not to be butchered in the normal manner; it had to be left whole after the blood had been drained from it and it had been skinned (2.Chron.35:11:14).
Eat it in Haste
"And you shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remains of it until the morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall 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 Lord's Passover" (vs.10-11).
The Hebrew verb 'pasakh', which is translated as 'Passover' in English has the basic meaning of 'skipping over' a thing. The usage of the absolute infinitive form of 'pasakh' in the Book of Isaiah shows by context that the concept of protection is included in the meaning of 'pasakh' (Isa.31:5). Therefore, 'to Passover' has the meaning of skipping over, as well as protecting.
Why was the lamb to be eaten in haste? The obvious reason the Israelites had to eat the lamb quickly and be fully dressed is because they were going to leave Egypt after God passed through the land. The Israelites were not going to sleep that night. They had to be fully dressed and ready to travel after midnight, the night of the 15th, which was the night of the Passover. See also Ex.11:1; 12:39; Deut.16:1-3.
"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 my judgment: I am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where you are: and when I see the blood I will pass over you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be for you a memorial; and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever" (Ex.12:12-14 KJV).
There are four important things to learn from these scriptures:
- The blood was the sign to God that those who were symbolically under it should receive his protection and be spared from death. This blood foreshadowed the saving blood of Christ.
- "This day shall be a memorial." God shows that the eating of the lamb and his passing over were on the night portion of the first day of the Feast of unleavened bread.
- The day is called a memorial, and must be kept as a festival. The word translated 'feast' is the Hebrew 'hag', which has the connotation of demanding a celebration or festival be kept.
- This festival must be kept forever by the Israelites.
HOW MANY DAYS OF UNLEAVENED BREAD?
The question of how many days the Israelites had to eat unleavened bread is important, because it helps to prove that the Passover lamb was killed at the end of the 14th day of Nisan, and that the Passover is an undeniable and integral part of the Festival of Unleavened Bread.
Exodus 12:15-17 KJV
"Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread; even the first day you shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel" (v15).
The festival must last into the seventh day. During these seven days, unleavened bread must be eaten. Anyone who disobeyed this command would be cut off' (Hebrew: 'karat', which means 'to destroy', 'wipe out', 'eliminate').
"And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you" (v16).
"And you shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall you observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever" (v17).
This scripture shows that this feast is to be observed forever, and that the Israelites came out of Egypt on the first day of Unleavened Bread which contains the Passover ceremony. See Ex.12:14.
The following scriptures leave no doubt that, according to God, the 15th of Nisan is the beginning of the Festival of Unleavened Bread and this day is the day on which the Israelites came out of Egypt.
"And on the fifteenth day of the same month [Nisan] is the feast of unleavened bread to the Lord: seven days you must eat unleavened bread" (Lev.23:6).
"And in the fifteenth day of this month [Nisan] is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten" (Num.28:17).
"In the first month, on the fourteenth day [Hebrew: yom, day] of the month at evening [Hebrew: erev, the time of the setting of the sun] you shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at evening [Hebrew: ba-arev, at the evening]" (Ex.12:18 KJV).
Unleavened bread must be eaten from the 14th (at the end of the 14th) to the end of the 21st day, a period of seven full days.
Moreover, this Festival begins on the daylight portion of the 14th at the setting of the sun, which is the time they killed the Passover. Deuteronomy 16:1-6 gives the same sequence of events:
"You shall sacrifice the Passover at evening, at the going down of the sun, at the season that you came forth out of Egypt" (KJV).
Using the definition of how God has constructed a day (from sunset to sunset), it would be impossible to begin the Passover until the 14th day officially begins (a day does not begin until very near sunset). Therefore, if the Passover lamb was to be killed at the going down of the sun on the 14th day, it would have been killed at the end of that same day. They would not have killed it after dark, because the sun is no longer going down—it has already gone down and a new day has begun.
Simple logic should tell us that, if the lamb had to be kept until the 14th day, it would have been kept until after the sun had set at the end of the 13th day because the 14th day does not officially begin until after the sun has set on the 13th day. Remember God starts each new day at sunset.
Leviticus 23:6-8 reveals with unmistakable clarity when these days should be observed:
"And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the Lord: seven days you must eat unleavened bread. In the first day you shall have an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein."
Clearly, the Festival of Unleavened Bread starts on the 15th of Nisan and last seven days.
When Were They to Start Eating Leavened Bread?
The entire Passover ceremony (Ex.12:18) included the time from when they started to kill the lambs (sometime before sunset on the 14th day) until midnight of the 15th when God passed over, thus ending the portion of the Passover which was observed on the 15th day. Because the Israelites were to remove all leavened products from their homes in preparation for the Passover meal, the preparation time would also fit the meaning of the Hebrew phrase 'beyn ha-arbayim', 'between the two evenings'. See Ex.12:6; 16:12; 29:39,41; Lev.23:5; Num.9:5,11; 28:4,8.
Because of this sequence of events, the Jews of Jesus' time considered the 14th day of Nisan (the day the Passover began with the killing of lamb) to be the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread.
Exodus 28:18 and Deuteronomy 16:1-6 indicate that the Israelites began to abstain from leavened bread on the 14th day and continued to abstain until the end of the 21st day.
Deuteronomy 16:8 shows what seems to be a contradiction to eating unleavened bread for seven days:
"Six days you shall eat unleavened bread; and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord your God."
This scripture seems to say to eat unleavened bread for only six days; however, everywhere else we are instructed to eat it seven days. The intent of this verse is an instruction to eat unleavened bread for seven days, (i.e., eat unleavened bread for six days and on the seventh day of eating unleavened bread, there was to be an assembly). This is the only way this phrase 'six days' could remain consistent with other scriptures on the subject.
THE PASSOVER IS A CEREMONIAL PROCESS
It is important to understand that the Passover is not a 24 hour day that is from sunset to sunset. The original Passover was a ceremony that was performed within a specific period of time. It began before sunset on the 14th and ended at midnight on the 15th. When reading the word 'evening' in the King James translation, it is good to keep this in mind and remember that the Passover is not just a period of time but it is a ceremony which takes place within a certain period of time.
The original Passover was a ceremonial process that contained the following events:
- Passover lambs were killed from approximately 3 p.m. until just before sunset.
- Each lamb was roasted whole—this roasting took approximately 3 to 4 hours.
- The lamb was eaten after sunset—perhaps another hour or two.
The whole ceremonial process could take approximately 12 hours, depending on when the lamb was killed, how long it took to roast the lamb, and how long it took to eat it.
IS THE PASSOVER A PART OF THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD?
"You shall therefore sacrifice the Passover to the Lord your God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the Lord shall choose to place his name there. You shall eat no leavened bread with it; [notice that unleavened bread is to be eaten with the Passover lamb] seven days shall you eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for you came forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: [The instruction is to eat unleavened bread for seven days beginning with the Passover meal] that you may remember the day when you came forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life. And there shall be no leavened bread seen with you in all your coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which you sacrificed the first day at even, remain all night until the morning" (Deut.6:2-4, 8 KJV).
The eating of unleavened bread and the sacrificing of the Passover lamb is an intrinsic part of the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread (Ex.12:12-14).
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is separate from the Passover; however, although the two observances are separate in symbolism and ceremonial aspects, they both share some of the same physical time period, such as the eating of the Passover lamb with unleavened bread on the evening of the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Because the Passover begins with the sacrificing of the lamb near the going down of the sun on the 14th and the Feast Unleavened Bread begins at the beginning of the 15th (Lev.23:5-6; Num.28:16-17), these two events are indeed separate but they overlap each other. The Passover begins at the end of the 14th and the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins at the beginning of the 15th. The Passover lamb was sacrificed at the end of the 14th and the Passover meal was eaten sometime after sunset as the 15th began.
It is no surprise to find that certain scriptures associate the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread very closely, such as Ezekiel 45:21 which applies the phrase 'Passover feast of seven days' to the entire festival season:
"In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month you shall have the Passover feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten."
By the time of Christ, the terms 'Passover' and 'Feast of Unleavened Bread' were often used interchangeably. See Lk.2:41; Jn.13:1.
The only major source of confusion in trying to analyze these events comes from those few people who attempt to inject a 24 hour day between the Passover ceremony and the Israelites leaving Egypt, and then use this misconception as a basis to explain away the two Passovers referred to at the time of the crucifixion of Christ.
When the chronology of the events of the original Passover are understood, it becomes very easy to reconcile the Passover events at Christ's Crucifixion.
"Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eats that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall you eat unleavened bread. Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said to them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the Passover. And take you 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 basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning" (Ex.12:19-22 KJV).
STAY IN THE HOUSE UNTIL MORNING
In Exodus 12:22, God commanded the Israelites to stay in the house until 'morning' (Hebrew: boqer). But, Deuteronomy 16:1 states: "For in the month of Aviv [Nisan] the Eternal your God brought you out of Egypt in the night [Hebrew: layelah]."
How can these two accounts be reconciled? The answer is found in the Hebrew definition of the words 'boqer' and 'layelah.'
The Hebrew words for morning (boqer) and night (layelah) are comparable to English usage in that they both overlap somewhat in their meanings. The morning includes a portion of the dark period of the night. This understanding allows the two accounts to be easily reconciled.
In the English language, we can use the term 'morning' for any part of the night or day between midnight and noon. The Hebrew word boqer often refers to the light period of the day from sunrise until about the middle of the day just as the English word 'morning' does.
Although there does not seem to be a passage that specifically defines boqer as beginning in the middle of the night, several passages show the word 'boqer' can denote the latter portion of the night before sunrise:
"She [Ruth] lay down at his feet until morning [boqer], then she got up before it was possible for one to recognize the person beside him" (Ru.3:14).
This shows the time was before sunrise when it is still very dark. Yet, it was called boqer. Layelah is applied to any point between sunset and sunrise; thus, it is easily defined just as 'night' is in English.
Anciently, there were three 'watches' dividing up the night. The first third of the night fell into an unnamed watch; however, it may have been called the 'evening watch' (Lam.2:19). The second watch was called the 'middle watch' (Jdg.7:19). The last part of the night fell into the 'morning watch' (Hebrew: ha-boqer. See Ex.14:24; 1. Sam.11:11). This further indicated that the term 'morning' could be applied to the last part of the night.
Both Exodus 11 and 12 emphasize that God passed over about midnight (Ex.11:4;12:29). Once he passed over, there was no more danger. Because the Israelites were told to eat in haste and burn anything that was left until 'morning' (boqer), this is a good indication that 'boqer' began just after midnight, just as it does in our modern language. This is evidence that 'boqer' (morning) could include a considerable period of time before sunrise. Thus, there is no contradiction or difficulty with the statements that Israel left in the 'morning' and 'in the night.'
"They journeyed from Ramses in the first month on the fifteenth day of the first month, on the morrow after the Passover they went out" (Num.33:3 KJV).
When the expression 'on the morrow after' (mi-mohorat) is used in the Old Testament in reference to an event of a previous evening, it can mean 'the next morning':
"And they made their father drink wine that night [Hebrew: layelah]: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived it not when she lay down, nor when she arose, And it came to pass on the morrow, [mi-mohorat], that the firstborn said to the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: . . ." (Gen.19:33-34).
THE ISRAELITES WERE PASSED OVER
"For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians: and when he sees the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. 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 into the land which the Lord 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 to you, what mean you by this service? That you shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord'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 worshiped" (Ex.12: 23-28 KJV).
The Last Plague
"And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle" (Ex.12:29 KJV).
It is important to note that this midnight is during the same night that the Israelites ate the Passover lamb. Here we see the firstborn of the Egyptians killed at midnight while the homes of the Israelites were being passed over (Ex.11:1-7). When this was accomplished, the Passover plague and ceremony were finished.
THE PASSOVER FINISHED AT MIDNIGHT
It is apparent that they were killing lambs from about noon on the 14th until just before sunset and the lambs were eaten after sunset. Exodus 12 shows us that the Lord passed over the Israelites some time before midnight when the firstborn of the Egyptians were slain. When God passed over the homes of the Israelites, the Passover was finished.
THE ISRAELITES LEFT EGYPT BY NIGHT
It is important to know when the Israelites left Egypt because they departed only a few hours after the sacrifice and eating of the Passover lamb. The following scriptures leave no doubt that they left Egypt in the early morning while it was still dark.
Exodus 12:30-34 KJV
"And Pharaoh rose up in the 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. And he called for [Hebrew: qara] 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 Lord, as you have said" (vs.30-31).
The Hebrew word 'qara' can connote a verbal message that has been sent, not necessarily a summons to appear.
After midnight, God had passed through the land and all the firstborn who were not under his protection had been killed. It was after this that Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron.
Remember this is the same night that God told the Israelites not to go out of their houses until morning (Ex.12:22). Because the danger was over, there was no reason for the Israelites to stay in their houses. This is why Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites were able to go out of Egypt that night without fear of being killed.
"Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also. And the Egyptians were urgent [Ex.11:1] upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, we be all dead men" (vs.32-33). See Ex.12:10-11, 39.
It is obvious that the Egyptians wanted the Israelites to leave as soon as possible that night (see Ex.12:39). However, the Israelites did not completely leave the land of Egypt for several days (only after they crossed the Red Sea had they completely left the land of Egypt). So, the 'going out at night' means only that Israel began its journey by night. Remember that God only told them to stay in their houses until morning. He did not tell them to stay inside their houses until sunrise or daylight.
As noted earlier, the term 'morning' has a very broad meaning. Even if they waited until shortly before sunrise to leave their houses, it could still be said that they left Egypt in the night, because it was still dark. Moreover, it was during that night that Pharaoh ordered their departure.
THE UNLEAVENED BREAD
"And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders" (v34).
Some time after midnight on the 15th, the Israelites were thrust out of Egypt (Ex.11:1). Remember that they were already fully dressed with their walking sticks in their hands and they were told to eat in haste. They were prepared to leave Egypt at a moment's notice.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible says that their bread dough was not leavened because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not tarry. Moreover, they had not prepared any provisions for themselves. This seems to prove that they left the night of the 15th.
If the Passover had been at the beginning of the 14th, they would have had all of the 14th to leaven their bread dough and prepare other provisions for their journey. If there had been a 24 hour period after the Passover until the first day of Unleavened Bread, their bread dough would have easily been leavened by the time they arrived at Succoth.
"The greatest care was always taken by the Jews to free their houses of leaven, the owner searching every corner of his dwelling with a lighted candle.* A figurative allusion to this is made in 1 Corinthians 5:7. The exclusion of leaven for seven days would not be attended with inconvenience in the East, where the usual leaven is dough, kept till it becomes sour, and it is kept from one day to another for the purpose of preserving leaven in readiness. Thus even were there none in all the country, it could be got within twenty-four hours." The Jamieson, Fausset And Brown Commentary.
* This was most likely an oil lamp, because there were no candles in the Middle East then; candles were invented by the Romans at a later date.
The Fifteenth Day of Nisan Numbers 33:3-5 KJV
"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 a high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians" (v3).
Many think this verse proves that the Israelites left Egypt a whole day after the Passover and that it proves that the Passover was on the 14th, which would mean there were 24 hours between the 14th and the day of the Israelite's departure from Egypt.
The English phrase on the morrow is translated from the Hebrew word mimohorat, which means on the morrow of . This word is from the root meaning to be in front of. What this verse actually shows is that the Passover was on the 15th and that the Israelites left while it was still dark in the morning after the Passover ceremony and meal, which is also the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The Israelites left their homes some time after midnight in the early morning hours after the Passover under the light of the full moon and they passed through the land while the Egyptians were burying their dead:
"For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the Lord had smitten among them; upon their gods also the Lord executed judgments" (v4).
There was no 24 hour period between the Passover and the day the Israelites left Egypt. They left Egypt in the early morning while it was still dark (Deut.16:10) directly after the Passover plague and ceremony.
They started traveling after midnight on the 15th until approximately sunset when they arrived at Succoth on the evening of the 15th, which was also the beginning of the 16th, and they camped in Ethan, which was next to the wilderness:
"And the children of Israel removed from Rameses, and pitched in Succoth" (v5).
THE ISRAELITES BORROW FROM THE EGYPTIANS Exodus 12:35-36 RSV
"And people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked of the Egyptians jewelry of silver and of gold, and clothing: and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they despoiled the Egyptians."
Verse 35 is very important because it shows that the Israelites had done (past tense) as Moses had said; they had asked the Egyptians for gold, silver jewelry, and clothes. They had asked the Egyptians for these things before the Passover. So, they already had the gold and silver and were fully clothed with their walking sticks in their hands, ready to depart after the Passover meal. See Ex.3:21-22; 11:1-3.
Exodus 11:1-3 shows the time when the Israelites were to ask for these spoils:
"And the Lord said to Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether. Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbor, jewels of silver and jewels of gold. And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians . . ." (KJV).
The Israelites had gathered silver and gold from their Egyptian neighbors before the Passover ceremony and last plague. All they had left to do was take their unleavened dough, wrap it up, and leave the country. This is exactly what they did. They left the country sometime after midnight on the 15th.
The Journey to Succoth
"And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle" (Ex.12:37 KJV).
"And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual" (Ex.12:39 KJV).
They did not have time leaven their bread dough because they had to leave in such a hurry.
"Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt" (Ex.12:40-41 KJV).
Galatians 3:16-17, Genesis 46:3-4, and historical evidence indicate that 430 years does not unequivocally point to the first time the promise was made. The promise to Abraham was reaffirmed several times to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the last time on the eve of Jacob's departure from Egypt, which was exactly 430 years before the exodus.
THE NIGHT WATCH
"It is a night to be much observed to the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations" (Ex.12:42 KJV).
The following is a literal English translation of this verse:
"A night of vigils it is to the Eternal to bring them from the land of Egypt. It is a night, to the Eternal, of vigils for all the sons of Israel, for their generations."
Some people who observe the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread quote this verse and teach that a festive banquet must be held on the night of the 15th to celebrate and commemorate the night the Israelites left Egypt. But, does this scripture support this teaching?
The English word observed in verse 42 is translated from the plural Hebrew word shimmurim, which simply means vigil or watch and is a noun that indicates intense alertness.
In Jonah 2:9, the verbal root of the Hebrew word shimmur means paying attention—the word shimmurim is only used twice in the entire Old Testament and does not refer to observing a feast or celebration of any kind.
The problem is that shimmurim, which means vigil or watch, cannot be translated into the English word observance without altering the meaning of this verse. The intent of the command to keep a vigil or a watch does not support the teaching of a mandatory banquet or celebration on the evening of the 15th of Nisan.
A careful study of Exodus, chapter twelve, shows that the Israelites ate the Passover lamb on the evening of the 14/15th: "A night to be much observed [literally a night of vigils]to the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt . . ." (v42).
WHO IS ALLOWED TO OBSERVE THE PASSOVER?
"And the Lord said to 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" (Ex.12:43-45 KJV).
This same principle is mirrored in the New Testament. Only those who have converted to God's way of life ( i.e., repented, been baptized, and received the holy spirit) are allowed to partake of the Passover.
Exodus 12:46-51 KJV
"In one house shall it be eaten; you shall not carry forth naught of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall you break a bone thereof. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. And when a stranger shall sojourn with you, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, 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 " (vs.46-48).
There is only one law and it pertains to all who will follow God's way of life:
"One law shall be to him that is home-born, and to the stranger that sojourns among you. Thus did all the children of Israel; as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they" (vs.49-50).
After these instructions about keeping the Passover, in this last verse of the Passover chronology, the fact that the Israelites left the day of the 15th of Nisan is mentioned again.
"And it came to pass the selfsame day, [speaking of the day of the Passover meal] that the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies" (v51).
THE ALTERNATE PASSOVER
Numbers 9:1-14 KJV
"And the Lord spoke to 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 you keep it" (vs.1-3).
Again we find that the Passover was to be kept in its appointed time and season.
"And Moses spoke to the children of Israel, that they should keep the Passover. And they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even [beyn ha-arbayim] in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel" (vs.4-5).
"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 to 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 Lord in his appointed season among the children of Israel? And Moses said to them, Stand still, and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you" (vs.6-8).
Here, we find some men with a valid concern. They knew that they were ceremonially unclean and that they could not partake of the Passover in this condition. They also knew that they must partake of the Passover or they would be eliminated from Israel (see Lev.17:9).
"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to 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 to the Lord. The fourteenth day of the second month at even [beyn ha-arbayim] they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They shall leave none of it to the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it" (vs.9-12).
The Passover is the only ceremony that God gave to Israel that was so important that he made an allowance for it to be kept on an alternate day. For those of the new covenant, it should be as important, if not more important, because their eternal life is at stake. See Lk.22:19; Jn.13: 15-17; 1.Cor.11:24-25.
A very important point to note is the aspect of being on a journey when the Passover came. But, why would this be a concern? The reason for the concern was that the only place where the Passover lamb could be killed was at the Tabernacle, and the Tabernacle was in the land of Israel. If a person was not able to get back from the journey in time to be at the Tabernacle on the 14th, he would miss the Passover:
"But the man that is clean and is not on a journey, and forbears to keep the Passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the Lord in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin" (v13).
"And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the Passover to the Lord; according to the ordinance of the Passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: you shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land" (v14).
Deuteronomy 16:5-7 KJV
"You may not sacrifice the Passover within any of your gates, which the Lord your God gives you. But at the place which the Lord your God shall choose to place his name in, there you shall sacrifice the Passover, at even at the going down of the sun, at the season that you came forth out of Egypt."
There are clear instructions about the place where the Passover lamb had to be killed. The Passover could not be killed within the confines of an Israelite's private property.
The English word gates is translated from a Hebrew word, which means city gates and not estate gates. The context of gates means any Israelite city, and therefore includes an Israelite's private property. The Passover must be killed in a place that is chosen by God. First this place was the tabernacle in the wilderness, and later it was the temple in Jerusalem.
Before and during the first Passover, each head of the household could officiate as the priest and sacrifice for himself and his family (Gen.8:20;13:18, 22; Job 1:5). After the first Passover in Egypt, circumstances were different, in that God had formed the Israelites into a structured nation with a priesthood and a formal worship system.
"And you shall roast and eat it in the place which the Lord your God shall choose: and you shall turn in the morning, and go to your tents. Six days you shall eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord your God: you shall do no work therein" (Deut.16:7-8). See also Numb.9:1-15.
Not only was the Passover lamb to be sacrificed at the place where God chose but also it had to be eaten where God chose.
WHEN DID JOSHUA KEEP THE PASSOVER?
Joshua 5:10-11 KJV
"And the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day [Hebrew: yom] of the month at evening [Hebrew: ba-erev] in the plains of Jericho" (v10).
Notice they kept the Passover on the 14th day. The word 'day' is consistent with the rest of the Bible and historical accounts that show the lambs being killed during the daylight portion of the 14th of Nisan.
Here, we see the expression 'ba-erev' (at evening prior to sunset) used to make a clear statement that the Israelites observed this Passover on the 14th day (Hebrew: 'yom'), and because the Passover is not a set day from sunset to sunset, but a ceremony observed during portions of two days, this entire scripture is consistent with the rest of the Bible. This scripture indicates that the Passover Lamb was killed on the evening of the 14th day before sunset and eaten the night of the 15th.
"And they did eat of the old grain of the land on the next day after the Passover, unleavened cakes, and parched grain in the very same day" (v11). The English phrase 'next day' is translated from the Hebrew word 'mi-mohorat', which means 'morning after'. This means that they ate the unleavened bread the same day, not one day later.
It is significant that Joshua 5:10 uses a very similar Hebrew phrase to Exodus 12:18, which equates the time of the eating of the Passover with the evening beginning the first day of unleavened bread at the end of the 14th, and not 24 hours later.
Later Passovers were kept somewhat differently from the one in Egypt. The blood of the lambs had to be sprinkled on the altar (2.Chron. 30:15-16; 35:11).
During the time of the Temple it would simply have been impossible to slay the thousands of animals for the tens of thousands of pilgrims in Jerusalem, in the hour or so between sunset and dark. Therefore, the time for slaying the lambs had to be allowed earlier, so that the priests could start earlier on the 14th (perhaps as early as just after high noon). The time could not be extended forward because of the requirement to kill the lambs on the 14th. We may safely assume some extension of time was necessary, especially during the few years when large numbers of people participated in the Passover. (See 2.Chron.35:7-18, which shows there were tens of thousands of lambs sacrificed on the Passover day).
Does the Bible say to eat the Passover the same day the Passover was killed? The answer is no. If all of the Scriptures are taken into account, the lamb could be killed from noon until just before sunset on the 14th, and then roasted whole. This process took several hours, leaving no doubt that they ate it after sunset on the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread.
There is not an exact hour and minute specified to kill the Passover lamb, and there is not an exact time given to roast and eat the lamb and perform the Passover ceremony. However, a general time period is specified as being 'between the evenings' when the 14th was ending and the 15th was beginning.
Through Moses and Aaron, God gave the people of Israel explicit knowledge of the chain of events prior to and after the Passover. They were told the following:
- To take a spoil of the Egyptians
- When to select the lamb for the Passover sacrifice
- When to roast and eat the lamb
- When the firstborn would die
- To be dressed, packed, and ready to leave Egypt after the Passover
The biblical and historical records show the following:
- The Passover is a ceremony which spans parts of two days
- The Passover started about noon on the 14th and lasted until about midnight on the 15th day
- The Passover cannot be separated from the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it is an essential part of the ceremony
- The Passover lamb was not to be eaten the same day it was killed, but it was to be eaten after sunset on the 15th day
The historical record shows the following:
- There are no credible records that show that the evening of the Passover was ever disputed. All Jewish and Quasi-Jewish groups historically killed the Passover lambs on the ending of the 14th and ate them after sunset on the beginning of the 15th. There is no solid evidence of a 13th/14th observance being authorized by the scriptures at any time before or after the New Testament Passover account.
- There should not be any confusion as to when to keep the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, when the subject is studied in its chronological order of events using the historical record and all of the scriptures detailing these events.
- The existing sacred calendar (sometimes referred to as the Jewish calendar) is almost universally accepted as a guide for those who observe God's Sabbath, New Moons, and Annual Festivals. If a mistake has been made about the time of the Passover, and the Jews are not observing it on the correct day, the accuracy of the dates of the other Annual Observances is questionable.
With all of the documentation and evidence available, it is difficult to argue for any other possibility than that the Old Testament Passover lamb was to be sacrificed before sunset at the end of the 14th day of Nisan and eaten at the beginning of the 15th day after sunset.
If modern day observers of the Passover only followed the Old Testament account as a guide, they would be compelled by the scriptural evidence to observe the Passover ceremony at the end of the 14th day and the beginning hours of the 15th day.
By B.L. Cocherell and Vernon O. Jones b5w30