Friday, April 2, 2010


(The Scriptures quoted are from The Interlinear Bible, a literal translation by Jay P. Green, Sr., as general editor and translator, with the transliterated Hebrew names of the Father and Son, Yahweh and Yahshua inserted-ed.)

In our desire to get closer to Yahweh, we continue to search His Word and often we see things we did not see before. Yahweh did not give us all understanding at once -- our human minds could not have grasped it. But as we seek, He gives us a little more. When He sees that we are willing to change and follow Him wherever He leads, He blesses us with deeper understanding. The cycle goes on. The time has come to review Passover in both the Old and New Testaments.

Have you ever noticed that different groups observe the Passover at different times? Sometimes a month or so apart? And they don't necessarily do it at the same time as the Jews. Other churches observe what they call the Lord's Supper as often as monthly. How do you know when the right time is? Is it observed with unleavened bread and wine? Or crackers and grape juice? Or with a Seder meal? What about the Night to be Much Observed? Is that a separate celebration? A different evening? How does it fit into the scheme of things? So, who is right? They can't all be. We will look at some of these points, but by no means will all questions be answered.

The first instance of Passover is in the book of Exodus. The children of Israel had been in slavery in Egypt for a long time. Using Moses as a human leader, Yahweh had the people begin making preparations for freedom. He was going to show them who He was and the power He had.


In Exodus 12 Yahweh relates to them the things they are to do. He specified in verse 2 "This month shall be the chief of months for you. It shall be the first of the months of the year for you." When is that? January? No.
Exodus 13:4 - "Today you are going out in the month of The Abib."
The word "Abib" is Strong's #24. It means "green, i.e., a young ear of grain; hence, the name of the month Abib or Nisan." The word Aviv was not necessarily referring to the name of the month in the Scriptures. It was referring to a particular state of growth that was reached in the barley crop. It does not mean it is fully ripe – dry and golden yellow – and ready for a modern mechanical harvester. If it were, the grain would be shaken to the ground as they gathered and cut it with a scythe, as it was in ancient times. It was turning golden, but still green; the stalks were becoming stiff. But it means somewhat more. In order for this to be offered as a wave sheaf offering shortly after Passover, there must be substance there. It must contain grain, not be just a green, empty husk. This is the beginning of the harvest time, so the grain must be fully formed - able to be roasted and used.

The Hebrew has “Ha Abib”. That is a “Ha” prefix which is translated in English as “the”. Hebrew words with a “Ha” prefix are not proper names. “Aviv” describes a season – SPRING – and as such would not be the name of a month, as found in Exodus 13:4; 23:15; 34:18 & Deuteronomy 16:1

A few pages earlier, in Exodus 9:31, during one of the plagues, we read, "the barley was in the ear, and the flax in blossom." This doesn't happen in January. This month corresponds to our March-April time of year.

We can see that early in man's history, the calendar was based on a year of 360 days, made up of 12 months with 30 days each. Back at the time of Noah's flood, we find that the water was on the earth for 150 days in Genesis 7:24 and 8:3. In Genesis 7:11, it says the rains and flooding began on the seventeenth day of the second month. Then in Genesis 8:4, we find that the ark came to rest and the water began to abate on the seventeenth day of the seventh month. Exactly five months. 150 days divided by 5 months equals months of 30 days.

The moon has been used to determine the months, as the Jews still do today. Many look to observe the tiny crescent moon to start the month. But that's confusing as it depends on where you are - it doesn't happen on the same day, at the same time everywhere. And Scripture tells us that Yahweh is not the author of confusion. But the conjunction of the moon occurs at one split second, all over the world. That is when the moon comes directly between the earth and the sun and nothing of the moon can be seen. That is what is being referred to in this article as the new moon.

The ripening grain, though is not the main criteria to determine the first month of the year. There must be more. The ripe grain can be reaped whenever it is ready, even before Passover and the wave sheaf. There is no ban against that. The ban is against eating of it before the wave sheaf.
Leviticus 23:14 “And you shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that you have brought an offering unto your Elohim: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
Genesis 1:14 “And Elohim said, Let luminaries be in the expanse of the heavens, to divide between the day and the night. And let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years.”
The word “seasons” is #4150, mowed. It means an appointment, i.e. a fixed time or season; specifically a festival; conventionally a year; by implication an assembly (as convened for a definite purpose); technically the congregation; by extension the place of meeting; also a signal (as appointed beforehand).

Now this tells us the sun and moon would be used to determine the times of these appointments. If the month is used in determining months, what does the sun determine? Could it indicate when a year might begin? What signal could there be that would show when it is time for the barley to be ripening? What signals that spring has come?

Dictionary of Talmud Babli, Yerushalmi, Midrashic Literature and Targumim, Pro Marcus Jastrow, volume 1, page 5
“Aviv – early stage of ripening, esp. of grains; season of beginning barley-crop; also the offering of first-fruits (on Passover). R. Hash. 21a (ref. To Deut XVI, 1) – observe the ripening of the equinoctial season that it be in the month of Nissan.”
Equinoctial? Doesn’t the equinox today determine when spring starts? Why not then as well?

So consider. What if we wait until the equinox occurs? The next new moon after the equinox, or even on the same day, would begin the first month of spring. It would be the same every year. The 14th day of that month would be Passover.

Looking at the idea of green grain and new moons, the Congregations of Yahweh use the conjunction on or after the vernal equinox to establish the first day of the first month. Then it is a matter of simply counting from there. (For more detail, please see our booklet titled "Calendar Paper".)


Let's go back to the story in Exodus 12. They had to begin counting immediately. On the tenth day of the month, the people were to pen up a male lamb or a kid of the first year and keep it until the fourteenth, when they were to kill it.
Exodus 12:6 - "And it shall be for you to keep until the fourteenth day of this month. And all the assembly of the congregation shall kill it between the evenings.
There are constant disagreements as to when this was and exactly what it means. Some assume this means just after sunset ending the thirteenth and starting the fourteenth. Others argue that it is immediately after the sunset ending the fourteenth and beginning the fifteenth.

The phrase "between the evenings" is bane ha-arbayim in Hebrew. Many people interpret that to mean “between sunset and dark.” But is that really two evenings?

Yahweh said the Passover – the entirety of its events – was to occur on the 14th. That means all of what has to be done is to take place between the two evenings. Yahweh’s days extend from one evening (sunset) till the next. So, in other words, the day of Passover was from sunset beginning the 14th day until the sunset ending that day. Anything other than that does not agree with Yahweh’s words.

That means that the lambs in Egypt were slaughtered at the sunset beginning the 14th, and roasted over an open fire. Then the people were to eat it in haste. Why? Think about it. It took time to kill the lamb, drain the blood, skin the animal and cook it. Anything remaining uneaten was to be burned by morning. By the time the lamb was ready to eat, there may not have been time to dawdle over a meal as burning the remains would also take some time. All the events commanded for that Passover took place during the night.

Now consider the custom of those who insist that the Passover lamb was to be killed at the sunset ending the 14th. When would they have been eating it? After sunset would be the 15th! That is not what Yahweh said.
Leviticus 23:5 - "In the fourteenth day of the first month at even (bane ha-arbayim) is Yahweh's Passover.

The instructions continue ---
Exodus 12:7-11, 14 - "7 - And they shall take from the blood, and put it on the two side doorposts and on the upper doorpost, on the houses in which they eat it. 8 - And they shall eat the flesh in this night, roasted with fire and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 - Do not eat it raw, or at all boiled in water, but roasted with fire; its head with its legs and with its inward parts. 10 - and you shall not leave any of it until morning. And you shall burn with fire that left from it until morning. 11 - And you shall eat it this way: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Passover to Yahweh... 14 - And the day shall be a memorial for you. And you shall celebrate it as a feast to Yahweh, for your generations. You shall celebrate it as a law forever."
Notice - He tells them how to cook it and eat it, what to eat with it, and what to do with any leftovers. And note the last verse -- this is a day to be observed forever,

Look again at the wording of verse 7. It didn't say to put the blood on the doors of every house, but only on the houses where they were to be eating. If a household was too small for a whole lamb, they were join with others, all being in one house.

What was the purpose of the blood? To forgive sins? No. To protect everyone? No. It was a sign of protection for the firstborn. Yahweh was slaying the firstborn of Egypt that night. If the Israelites did not have this sign on their doors, their firstborn would have died - not all of Israel.

The people did as Yahweh commanded. At midnight, the death angel passed over, and the firstborn of Egypt died. Now think this through. The Passover - the passing over of the death angel - was to be on the fourteenth, at midnight. For that to happen at midnight of the fourteenth, the lamb had to be slain at the beginning of the fourteenth, not at the end of the fourteenth. It would have been too late for the blood to be placed on the doors and the firstborn would have been dead!

These instructions were repeated.
Exodus 12:21-23 - "21 - And Moses called to all the elders of Israel and said to them, Go out and take of the flock for you and for your families. And kill the passover. 22 - And take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin. And apply some of the blood in the basin to the upper doorpost and to the two sideposts, and Yahweh will pass over the door. And He will not allow the destroyer to come into your house to strike you."
In our past history, we have solemnly observed what we called the Passover on the 14th. It consisted of the footwashing of John 13, followed by the symbols of bread and wine Yahshua instituted. Then on the next night, immediately after sunset beginning the 15th, we also met together. At that time we enjoyed a meal and celebrated what we understood to be the Night to be Much Observed.
Exodus 12:42 - "It is a night of celebration to Yahweh, for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This night is it, a celebration for all the sons of Israel to their generations."
Does our practice square with Scripture? Have we been observing it properly? Does this celebration refer to the 14th or the 15th? Let's look more closely at the context and see the events step by step.
Exodus 12:30-31 - "30 - And Pharaoh arose by 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 a dead one. 31 - And he called Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Arise, go out from the midst of my people, both you and the sons of Israel, and go serve Yahweh according to your word."
Who called Moses and Aaron? Pharaoh. When? At night. Did they go? No. Yahweh said they were not to go forth out of their houses until morning.

Exodus 12:33 - "And the Egyptians pressed hard on the people, to hasten to send them away from the land. For they said, All of us are about to die."
When was the first instant the Egyptians would have pressed and been urgent upon the people? After daybreak. The Israelites were not out of their houses until then.

So when did they leave? On the fourteenth? On the fifteenth? By day or night?
Numbers 33:3 -"And they departed from Rameses in the first month on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the Passover the sons of Israel went out with a high hand, before the eyes of all the Egyptians."
But at what time of day did they leave?
Deuteronomy 16:1 -- "Observe the month of The Abib and keep the Passover to Yahweh your Elohim, for in the month of The Abib Yahweh your Elohim brought you out of Egypt by night."
The trigger that released the people was the Passover and the events surrounding it. Once that took place, as far as Yahweh was concerned, they were as good as out of there.

Could they have left, in any way, during the daylight part of the 14th? What did they do between sunrise and sunset on the 14th? It probably took quite a bit of time for them to spoil the Egyptians, to gather the things they would take, getting families and ranks together. With that size group, it would have taken time.
Exodus 12:37-38 - "37 - And the sons of Israel pulled up from Rameses to Succoth, the men being about six hundred thousand on foot, apart from the little ones. 38 - And also a mixed multitude went up with them, and flocks and herds, very many livestock."
That is 600,000 men. Suppose we double that to count the women. That's 1,200,000 people. Now if there were just one child per couple. That's 1,800,000. But the Israelites were quite prolific. That was one of the main things that worried the Egyptians. So, as many commentaries say, there could have easily been over 3,000,000 people involved here. Just consider the logistics that would be involved. They could not get a group that size moving in just minutes. Everyone would have to be contacted. Think about what an area they would cover. That number of people rivals the population of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The first ones could start out of there during the late daylight of the 14th, but it would be some time before the last ones in the ranks exited the same area.
Exodus 12:39 - "And they baked the dough which they brought out from Egypt into unleavened cakes. For it was not leavened, because they were driven out from Egypt, and they were not able to delay. And also they had not prepared for themselves food for a journey."
So when did they bake that dough? On the 14th? No, they were rushing around in preparations for leaving. On the 15th? No, they were busy marching. So it had to be some time after that, when they were able to stop and make camp and take a break.
Exodus 12:41-42 - "41 - And it happened, from the end of four hundred and thirty years, on this very day all the armies of Yahweh went out from the land of Egypt. 42 - It is a night of celebration to Yahweh, for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This night is it, to celebrate for all the sons of Israel to their generations."
Which night? The 14th or the 15th? What is the context of the chapter? The Passover. What follows this verse? It reiterates the ordinances of the Passover. If not for the events of the Passover, they would not have been released.

In verse 42, the word "celebrate" or "celebration", is the Hebrew #8107, shemurim. It means to observe, to celebrate, to watch, to guard, to keep a vigil. The root of the word, shamar, is the same one regarding the keeping or observing or guarding of Yahweh's commands. In the Septuagint, the word here is translated as an outpost or a guardpost.

On which night was Israel to watch? To keep a vigil? On the 15th? No, they were busy marching. But Passover was a night of vigilance. They had to be alert and make sure no one went out the door during the night the death angel was going through the land. It was important that no one, without thinking, went out to get fresh air or a child decided to go out and play or go see a friend.


The 15th was important. It began another festival.
Exodus 12:15-16 - "15 - Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. Indeed, on the first day you shall cause leaven to cease from your houses. For anyone eating anything leavened, that soul shall be cut off from Israel, from the first day until the seventh day. 16 - And on the first day shall be a holy convocation, and in the seventh day a holy convocation shall be to you. Not any work may be done on them, only what must be eaten by your soul, that alone may be done by you."
Leviticus 23:6-8 - "6 - And on the fifteenth day of this month is the feast of unleavens (matzoth) to Yahweh, seven days you shall eat unleavened things (matzoth). 7 - On the first day you shall have a set-apart gathering; you shall do no work of service. 8 - And you shall bring near a fire offering to Yahweh seven days; and the seventh day shall be a set-apart gathering; you shall do no work of service."

The first few verses of this chapter totally confuse the issue of Passover and the Days of Unleavens. Let's look at it verse by verse.
Deuteronomy 16:1 - "Observe the month of The Abib, and keep Passover to Yahweh your Elohim. For in the month of The Abib Yahweh your Elohim brought you out of Egypt by night."
The word here for "keep" is the Hebrew #6213, asah, meaning to do or to make.
Deuteronomy 16:2 - "And you shall sacrifice a Passover to Yahweh your Elohim of the flock, and of the herd, in the place which He shall choose to cause His name to be there."
Wait a minute! What? Of the herd? In the place He shall choose? How can that be? There is no ordinance for an animal of the herd (a calf or a bull) to be slain for Passover. In various Scriptures and throughout history, the word Passover has been used to define the slaughtering of the lamb, but also to refer to the entire season. Using the word can refer to that evening alone, or to that evening plus the seven days of unleavens. It is, as all one unit, called Passover. But there are two bullocks offered on the first high day of the Days of Unleavens, the 15th and on the last day, the 21st.

Numbers 28:16 simply mentions the Passover of Yahweh. The next few verses, 17-31, describe the sacrifices and offerings for the days of unleavens. Those do include herd animals - bullocks - as well as flock animals - kids and lambs.
Deuteronomy 16:3 - "You shall eat no leavened bread with it. You shall eat unleavened bread with it seven days, even the bread of affliction. For you came out of the land of Egypt in haste, so that you may remember the day that you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life."
Eat unleavened bread with it seven days? Did they eat of the Passover lamb for seven days? Of course not. So it has to be referring to more than one evening. It is referring to the season of the Days of Unleavens.
Deuteronomy 16:4 - "And there shall be no leaven seen with you in your borders seven days,; nor shall any of the flesh you sacrificed the first day at evening remain all night until morning."
The first day at evening? Is it referring to the Passover lamb? Exodus 12:10 says that none of it should remain till morning. So this verse is including that event as part of a longer period of time known as Passover. If it is referring to an offering on the first day of the Days of Unleavens, many of those offerings and sacrifices were not to be left overnight either.
Deuteronomy 16:5-6 - "5 - You may not sacrifice the Passover offering inside any of your gates, which Yahweh your Elohim gives you. 6 - But at the place which He shall choose to cause His name to dwell there, you shall sacrifice the Passover offering at evening, at the going of the sun at the time when you came out of Egypt."
Where was the unblemished Passover lamb referred to as an offering? But the animals for the following days were - Numbers 28:16-25. Yahweh had said He would have a location where He would place His name for the High Days He instituted. But the Passover was not a High Day. It was done in the home.
Deuteronomy 16:7 - "And you shall cook and eat in the place which Yahweh your Elohim shall choose. And in the morning you shall turn and go into your tents."
It is referring to the first day of unleavens - a high day; one of the pilgrimage festivals (see verse 16). Here it specifies the Feast of Unleavens, not Passover.

The word "cook" in verse 7 is #1310, bashal, a root word meaning to boil up; to be done in cooking.

Now go back to Exodus 12:9. It says specifically that the Passover lamb was NOT to be boiled - the same word, #1310. According to Exodus 12:8, the Passover lamb was to be roasted with fire. "Roasted" is #6748, tsaliy. Two totally different words.

So verse 7 here cannot be referring to the Passover lamb! It is referring to the other offerings and/or sacrifices that were sometimes boiled.
Deuteronomy 16:8 - "You shall eat unleavened bread six days, and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to Yahweh your Elohim. You shall do no work."
Why six days? Shouldn't it be seven? No, because they had just finished the first high day in verse 7 and had six days still remaining.

We have to be careful what we are reading and to which day the Scriptures are referring.


When Yahshua Messiah walked on this earth as a human, He also observed all these commands.
Luke 2:41-42 - "41 - Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. 42 - And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast."
He continued this throughout His life and He observed Passover on the last night of His human life. There have been endless arguments about whether or not He did it on the correct night. Did He do it on the 14th or the 15th? Did He actually eat of that Passover?

Yahshua instructed His disciples ahead of time to prepare the Passover. He mentioned no changes or alterations in the observance. If He had done this on any other day that what the law stipulated, don't you think the disciples would have questioned Him? Wouldn't they have demanded an explanation?

Also, we know that Yahshua was without sin. He was totally obedient to the law. That would not be a correct statement if He had kept the Passover a night earlier. If He had, He would have sinned and broken the law.
Mark 14:12 “And on the first day of the unleavened, when they killed the passover, His disciples said to Him, Where do you desire that going we may prepare that You may eat the passover?”

Luke 22:7-87 – And the day of the unleavened came, on which the Passover must be killed. 8 – And He sent Peter and John, saying, Going, prepare for us the Passover that we may eat.
Note, He sent His disciples to prepare the Passover on the same day – at the same time as everyone else! It was done at the proper time, not early!

The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim, Book II, page 482
“Equally untenable is it, that Christ had held the Paschal Supper a day in advance of that observed by the rest of the Jewish world – a supposition not only inconsistent with the plain language of the Synoptists, but impossible, since the Passover Lamb could not have been offered in the Temple, and, therefore, no Passover Supper held, out of the regular time.”
Also, wouldn't the disciples have objected if He had asked them to do it any other time? If the Passover lambs were all to be slain at the temple, by the priests, how did they get one? Or did they kill it themselves, according to the ordinances?

Apparently Peter and John were the only two who knew where the meal would be held.
Mark 14:18 “And in the evening He came with the twelve.”
The Life and Time of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim, Book V, page 482
“Evidently, neither the house where the Passover was to be kept, nor its owner, was to be named beforehand within hearing of Judas. That last Meal with its Institution of the Holy Supper, was not to be interrupted, nor their last retreat betrayed, till all had been said and done, even to the last prayer of Agony in Gethsemane.”
There are individuals who claim that He did not eat the Passover, but just a simple meal.

But notice in Mark 14:12 above: “…we may prepare that You may eat the Passover.: Also in Luke 22:8 above He said “…prepare for us the Passover that we may eat.”
Luke 22:8 - "And He sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the Passover, that we may eat."
Notice this says "we", not "you." He was planning to join in and participate in this meal.

Some commentaries say that Yahshua expressed a desire to eat, but it was simply a wish and He did not eat. The following verse contains what is known in Hebrew as an infinitive of emphasis. It also applies in the Greek.
Luke 22:15 - "And He said unto them, With desire have I desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer."
By doubling the word desire, He is saying “I have really desired” or “I have surely desired.”

The disciples prepared the Passover, according to all its ordinances, and they gathered at the correct time. They ate the meal together.
Mark 14:18 - "And as they sat and did eat, Yahshua said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eats with me shall betray me."
The key words here are "with me". He was eating as well.
John 13:1-5 - "1 - And before the feast of the Passover, Yahshua knowing that His hour had come that He should move from this world to the Father; loving His own in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 - And supper having occurred, the Devil having already put into the heart of Simon's son Judas Iscariot that he should betray Him. 3 - Yahshua knowing that His Father has given all things into His hands, and that He came out from Yahweh, and goes away to Yahweh. 4 - He rose up from the supper, and laid aside His garments. And taking a towel, He girded Himself. 5 - Then He put water into the basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, to wipe off with the towel with which He was girded."

Yahshua and the disciples ate the meal and had finished. Then Yahshua rose to do this before He gave to them the new symbols that He added to the meal.
Luke 22:14-20 - "14 - And when the hour came, He reclined, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15 - And He said to them, with desire I desired to eat this Passover with you before My suffering. 16 - For I say to you that never in any way I will eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of Yahweh. 17 - And taking a cup, giving thanks, He said, Take this and divide it among yourselves. 18 - For I say to you that in no way will I drink from the produce of the vine until the kingdom of Yahweh has come. 19 - And taking a loaf, giving thanks, He broke, and gave to them, saying, This is My body being given for you. Do this for My remembrance. 20 - In the same way, the cup also, after having supped, saying, This cup is the New Covenant in my blood, which is being poured out for you."
So what took place after the meal and the sharing of the new symbols? They went out! After that first Passover, when the death angel passed over, there was no danger about doing out doors. If there had been, Yahshua and the disciples would not have gone out!

Matthew 26:36-38 "36 - Then Yahshua came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to the disciples, Sit here until going away I shall pray there. 37 - And taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to grieve and to be deeply troubled. 38 - Then He said to them, My soul is deeply grieved, even unto death. Stay here and watch with me."
What? Did you catch that? "Watch." Watch what? They didn't question Him about it. Apparently they knew what He meant. They were familiar with this night of vigil and watch.

The Jews have a tradition that is passed down that the Passover is a night of watching and vigil-keeping. In many cases, they stay up all night doing so.
Matthew 26:40-41 - "40 - And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And He said to Peter, So! Were you not able to watch with Me one hour? 41 - Watch and pray that you do not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Twice more here, He told them to watch. But watch for what?

In the few days just before these words, He had talked to His disciples in Jerusalem in the discussion of Matthew 24. They asked Him what would be the sign of the end of the age and of His coming. So He gave them numerous things to watch. We won't print every verse here, but take the time to read through that chapter and just notice what He is pointing out.
In Matthew 24:15 and 33, He said, "15 - Then when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place - the one reading, let him understand..... 33 - So also you when you see all these things, know that it is near, at the doors."
He mentions something you should see. Keep in mind, if you are not watching, you will not see. It will sneak up on you and you will not be prepared.

Toward the end of the chapter, notice verse 46. It says,"Blessed is that servant whom his lord shall find so doing when he comes."

Doing what? Watching! That has been what the whole chapter has been about - to watch.

Mark and John also report these warnings.
Mark 13:33-37 - "33 - Be careful; be wakeful, and pray. For you do not know when the time is. 34 - As a man going away, leaving his house, and giving his slaves authority, and to each his work - and he commanded the doorkeeper, that he watch. 35 - then you watch, for you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, at evening, or at midnight, or at cock-crowing, or early; 36 - so that he may not come suddenly and find you sleeping. 37 And what I say you, I say to all. Watch!"
Where in our past observances of Yahweh's high days do we watch? Or keep a vigil?

In I Corinthians 11, Paul is admonishing the people for their attitude regarding the meal they were having before they partook of the symbols. If you notice, nowhere did he tell them not to do the meal, or not to watch, but just to be careful in the manner and attitude in which they did it.

If a vigil was a part of the original Passover service, and Yahshua and His disciples did that, what about us? Should we consider that? What if we take the celebrations that we have been doing on the next night and move them to the 14th? Put the footwashing and the symbols of the bread and wine after the meal. Keep a vigil for at least a while. Yes, it will make for a longer evening. But is it for our convenience or to do what Yahweh wants? What is important here?


There are people who keep the Passover at different times. Some keep it on the evening beginning the 15th because they insist that the symbols He instituted could not be used until after He had died. Or that He had to die at the same time as the Passover lambs, so they do it on the afternoon of the 14th.

The original ordinances for the daily morning and evening offerings placed the evening offering at bane ha-arbayim, about sunset. But Edersheim says that during the time of Yahshua, the daily evening sacrifice was moved to as early as 12:30 pm. For their convenience. Yahshua did not have to die at that time, because they were not doing it according to Scripture.
Matthew 27:45-46, 5045 – And from the sixth hour (noon, our modern time) there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour (three pm our time). 46 – And about the ninth hour Yahshua cried out… 50 – and crying again with a loud voice, Yahshua released His Spirit.”
Since Yahshua died about 3 pm, some feel they should observe the Passover at that time. They also believe that He died at the very same time that the Passover lambs were being killed at the temple.

For a long time we accepted the argument that the Jews were keeping the Passover at the end of the 14th, a night later than Yahshua; that the lambs were being slaughtered as He died. And that was based on one Scripture.
John 18:28 “Then they led Yahshua from Caiaphas into the praetorium, and it was early. And they did not enter into the praetorium, that they might not be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.”
Now who were the ones who were responsible for supervising and assisting in the killing of the lambs at the temple? The chief priests, right? Let’s see just where they were during all this time.
  • Matthew 26:3; Mark 14:1; Luke 22:2; John 11:47-53 – the chief priests were the ones who sought the death of Yahshua.
  • Matthew 26:14-15; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6 – the chief priests accepted a plan from and paid money to Judas.
  • Matthew 27:47; Mark 14:43; Luke 22:47, 52 – the chief priests were among those who came to the Garden of Gethsemane with Judas and soldiers.
  • Matthew 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:54, 63-65 – they were at the high priest’s house, buffeting, spitting upon and hitting Yahshua.
  • Matthew 27:1; Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66 – the chief priests took Yahshua to council.
  • Matthew 27:2; Mark 15:1; Luke 23:1 – the chief priests took Yahshua to Pilate.
  • Matthew 27:12; Mark 15:3; Luke 23:4 – the chief priests made accusations against Yahshua to Pilate.
  • Luke 23:10 – the chief priests accused Yahshua before Herod.
  • Luke 23:13 – the chief priests were called for by Pilate.
  • Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10 – Pilate realized the chief priests were delivering up Yahshua because of envy.
  • Matthew 27:20; Mark 15:11 – the chief priests persuaded the multitude to seek to have Barabbas released.
  • Luke 23:23; John 19:6 – the chief priests cried out for Yahshua’s crucifixion.
  • John 19:15 – the chief priests told Pilate they had no king but Caesar.
  • Matthew 27:41-43; Mark 15:31-32 – the chief priests mocked Yahshua on the stake.
If the Passover lambs were to be killed that afternoon, why were those chief priests not at the temple carrying out their duties and making preparations? Could it be that they had kept the Passover already, according to the law? Could there be something else they needed to be clean for?

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Matthew Henry, volume 5, page 955
“The chief priests and elders, though they came along with the prisoner, that the thing might be done effectually, went not into the judgment-hall, because it was the house of an uncircumcised Gentile, lest they should be defiled, but kept out of doors, that they might eat the Passover, not the paschal lamb (that was eaten the night before) but the Passover-feast, upon the sacrifices which were offered on the fifteenth day, the Chagigah, as they called it, the Passover-bullocks spoken of in Deut. 16:2; 2 Chron. 30:24; 35:8, 9. These they were to eat of, and therefore would not go into the court, for fear of touching a Gentile, and thereby contracting, not a legal, but only a traditional pollution.”

The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim –
Book II, page 487 – “…time for the ordinary Evening-Service and Sacrifice. Ordinarily this began about 2:30 P.M. – the daily Evening-Sacrifice being actually offered up about an hour later; but on this occasion, on account of the Feast, the Service was an hour earlier. … The Priest’s Court was filled with white-robed Priests and Levites – for on that day all the twenty-four courses were on duty, and all their services would be called for, although only in the Course for that week would that afternoon engage in the ordinary service, which preceded that of the Feast.”
Book V, page 567-568 -- “The point is of importance, because many writers have interpreted the expression ‘the Passover’ as referring to the Paschal Supper, and have argued that, according to the Fourth Gospel, our Lord did not on the previous evening partake of the Paschal Lamb, or else that in this respect the act of the Fourth Gospel does not accord with that of the Synoptists. But as, for the reason just stated, it is impossible to refer the expression ‘Passover’ to the Paschal Supper, we have only to inquire whether the term is not also applied to other offerings. And here both the Old Testament and the Jewish writings show, that the term Pesach, or ‘Passover,’ was applied not only to the Paschal Lamb, but to all the Passover sacrifices, especially to what was called the Chagigah, or festive offering (from Chag, or Chagag, to bring the festive sacrifice usual at each of the three Great Feasts).’ According to the express rule (Chag. I.3) the Chagigah was brought on the first festive Paschal Day. It was offered immediately after the morning-service, and eaten on that day – probably some time before the evening, when, as we shall by-and-by see, another ceremony claimed public attention. We can therefore quite understand that, not on the eve of the Passover, but on the first Paschal day, the Sanhedrists would avoid incurring a defilement which, lasting till the evening, would not only have involved them in the inconvenience of Levitical defilement on the first festive day, but have actually prevented their offering on that day the Passover, festive sacrifice, or Chagigah. … There would have been no reason to fear ‘defilement’ on the morning of the Paschal Sacrifice; but entrance into the Praetorium on the morning of the first Passover-day would have rendered it impossible for them to offer the Chagigah, which is also designated by the term Pesach.”
Exposition of the Entire Bible, John Gill –
“…that they might eat the passover; pure and undefiled; not the passover lamb, for that they had eaten the night before; but the "Chagigah", or feast on the fifteenth day of the month.----it is reasonable to conclude, that it was to be kept, and was kept at the time the sacrificial passover was, in the room of which it was substituted, as it is by the Jews to this day; so that this will by no means clear the matter, nor solve the difficulty; besides it is very manifest, that the passover our Lord kept was sacrificial; and such an one the disciples proposed to get ready for him, and did, of which he and they are said to eat: "and the first day of unleavened bread, when they KILLED the passover, his disciples said to him, where wilt thou that we go and prepare, that thou mayest EAT the passover?" Mark 14:12 and again, "then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover MUST be KILLED", Luke 22:7. "They made ready the passover", Luke 22:13 "and he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him", Luke 22:14 "and he said unto them, with desire I have desired to eat this passover", Luke 22:15.
The term Passover has been expanded. It applies to more than one thing: 1) the 14th of the first month, 2) the animal sacrifice, and 3) the first of three annual commanded assemblies. Basically from the choosing of the lamb on the tenth, followed by the Passover sacrifice, and including the seven days of the Days of Unleavens – all are inclusive in the term Passover.


There are groups who meet for the bread, wine and foot washing at the beginning of the 14th and then meet for a special meal at the beginning of the 15th. They call it the night to be remembered or the night to be observed. There are two Scriptures used to support this, so let’s look at them.
Exodus 13:14 And the day shall be a memorial for you. And you shall celebrate it as a feast to Yahweh, for your generations. You shall celebrate it as a law forever.
What is this talking about? Can this be the 15th? He just finished describing the Passover on the 14th and has not gone beyond that. Passover has to be the memorial.
Exodus 12:41-42 41-And it happened, from the end of four hundred and thirty years, on this very day all the armies of Yahweh went out from the land of Egypt. 42-It is a night of celebration to Yahweh, for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This night is it, a celebration for all the sons of Israel to their generations.
It is claimed that this is the 15th because that is when they left Egypt. So the observance is on the 15th in memory of that.

But is that what was intended here? When did they actually leave Egypt? In those days, Egypt controlled the Sinai Peninsula, extending to the Red Sea. At the time they left their homes and started walking, they did not leave Egypt. To leave Egypt, they would have to go all the way across that peninsula. It would have been physically impossible for them to do that in one day! So they did not leave Egypt on the 15th.
Numbers 33:3 And they pulled up stakes from Rameses in the first month on the fifteenth day of the first month. On the next day after the Passover the sons of Israel went out with a high hand; before the eyes of all the Egyptians.
It says they pulled up stakes – it does not say they left Egypt on the 15th! It was a few days later!

If, instead, that night to be observed was the Passover, there were events on that night (the 14th) that were to be a yearly event. After the death of the firstborn on the 14th, Pharaoh sent a message telling Moses for them to leave. It was the death of the firstborn – at night – on the 14th – that released Israel. At those events, they were free. That night – the 14th – was when Yahweh began to bring them out.

One additional point: if it is so important to observe the beginning of the 15th, why is that not found elsewhere in Scripture? Why is it not listed in Leviticus 23? In the 23rd chapter, Yahweh lists all His feast days. Passover, on the 14th, is mentioned, but no temple sacrifices are mentioned. The 15th is listed as the first day of Unleavens. It is specified to have a holy convocation, with no work to be done. In Numbers 28:17-25 there are these same instructions plus a listing of the sacrifices to be done. There is no mention of a night to be remembered on the 15th. Did Yahweh forget it in Leviticus 23? Or maybe it is not the night of the 15th that is to be observed, but simply the only night observance He does command – the Passover on the 14th.


In Numbers 9, Yahweh made provision for some to do the Passover in the second month. Today, many assemblies also make provisions for people to take the symbols Yahshua instituted also in the second month. Why? Yahshua gave no such statement regarding what He set in place. Do the original rules apply in this case? Just what did Yahweh say?
Numbers 9:9-13 9-And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 10-Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, If any man of you or your generations shall be unclean by reason of a body, or be in a distant journey, yet he shall keep the Passover to Yahweh. 11-In the second month, on the fourteenth day at dusk, they shall keep it, they shall eat it with unleavened (bread) and bitter herbs; 12-they shall leave none of it until morning, nor break a bone of it. According to all the statutes of the Passover, they shall keep it. 13-But the man that is clean, and is not on a journey, and has failed to prepare the Passover, even that person shall be cut off from his people; because he did not bring the offering of Yahweh in its appointed season – that man shall bear his sin.
This involved the setting aside, the killing, the roasting and eating of a lamb. It was to be done according to the ordinances given for the Passover originally. That is not what we do today; we don’t slaughter an animal.

The ones eligible to take the Passover in the second month fell into two categories: 1-unclean by reason of a dead body or 2-in a distant journey. That was it. No others were included. It didn’t even mention any other kinds of uncleanness.

Those unclean due to a dead body had certain rituals to go through. Ashes of a red heifer, which had been sacrificed by the high priest, were to be mixed with water and sprinkled upon the unclean one on the third day and the seventh day, after which he was to bathe and wash his clothes (Numbers 19) and then he would be clean at sunset.

Today we do not have the red ashes. But would it continue to be necessary?
Hebrews 9:13-14 13-For if the blood of bulls and goat, and ashes of a heifer sprinkling those having been defiled, sanctifies to the purity of the flesh, 14-by how much more the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without spot to Yahweh, and will purify your conscience from dead works for the serving of the living Elohim!
Yahshua’s blood took care of all animal sacrifices. He covers our uncleanness.

Those who had been on a distant journey waited until they returned home to do the Passover in the second month. They had to have a lamb to kill, roast and eat – probably with others there who also were eligible to keep the Passover in the second month.

Today we do not kill a lamb – we simply have a meal in memory of that original Passover and follow it with the symbols Yahshua instituted. Even on a far journey, a person can do these things. With planning ahead of time, in a quiet and private place, they can eat a meal, wash one another’s feet (or their own if no other believers are with them) and then partake of unleavened bread and wine that they have prepared or purchased. There is no need to wait until the second month. There are many scattered brethren who have no one with whom they can meet, no one to share this with them. They have to do it alone, so there is no reason a person away from home cannot do it wherever they may be – with just a little planning ahead of time.

The most-often excuse heard now is “I forgot”. Yahweh made no provisions for that. The only thing left for that person was that he would be cut off from his people.


Though Pentecost (Feast of Weeks) is another festival, it is tied to the Passover/Unleavens season, where its countdown begins on the day of the wave sheaf offering. The description is as follows:
Leviticus 23:9-11,14 9-And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 10-Speak to the sons of Israel, and you shall say to them, When you come into the land which I am giving to you, and have reaped its harvest, and have brought in the sheaf, the beginning of your harvest, to the priest, 11-then he shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh for your acceptance, on the morrow of the sabbath the priest shall wave it. 14-And you shall not eat bread and roasted grain and fresh ears until this self-same day, until you have brought the offering of your Elohim, it is a never-ending statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

Deuteronomy 16:9-10,16-17 9-You shall number to yourselves seven weeks. When the sickle begins to reap in the standing grain, you shall begin to number seven weeks. 10-And you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to Yahweh your Elohim according to the measure of the free-will offering of your hand, which you shall give according as Yahweh your Elohim blesses you. 16-Three times in a year shall all your males appear before Yahweh your Elohim in the place which He shall choose: In the Feast of Unleavens, and in the Feast of Weeks, and in the Feast of Tabernacles. And they shall not appear before Yahweh empty, 17-but each with his gift in his hand, according to the blessing of Yahweh your Elohim, which He has given you.
Yahweh has three distinct festival seasons. These festivals are all in celebration of the harvests: the barley harvest for Unleavens; the wheat for the Feast of Weeks, and the fruits (grapes, figs, olives) and nuts for Tabernacles. The people were to bring offerings for those festivals. They were not to appear empty – they were to bring the first fruits of each product.

The offering, called the wave sheaf offering, of the barley was to be offered “on the morrow of the sabbath”. There have been two ways of looking at this. Is it to be the Sunday after the weekly Sabbath or the annual Sabbath (the first day of Unleavens) that starts the count? The phrase “the sabbath”, or “ha-shabbat” in Hebrew always appears in the context of the weekly Sabbath, not for any of the annual Sabbaths. It is stressed as the Sabbath.

The next argument presented has been whether or not that Sabbath must appear in the Days of Unleavens. The importance in Scripture seems to be on “the morrow of the sabbath”, the first day of the week and not the Sabbath itself.

This discussion arose when Passover came on the weekly Sabbath and the first Day of Unleavens was on Sunday. Did the count start on that first day, the morrow of the Sabbath? Or should it be postponed to follow the only Sabbath that appeared within the Days of Unleavens, the last day of the festival? Some ay it must be following the last day, thus putting the wave sheaf outside the week of Unleavens.

In the years when the days fall that way, the Congregation of YHWH of Irving starts the count on the first Day of Unleavens on the first day of the week. Besides being an annual Sabbath, the wave sheaf would also be that day. If this is to be a harvest festival, why would the wave sheaf offering be postponed until that festival would be over? Yahweh told them not to come empty to that festival, but with their gift in their hand.

Starting with the morrow of the Sabbath (the morrow falling within the festival) as day #1, count 7 weeks (or weekly Sabbaths). The fiftieth day will also fall on the first day of the week – the morrow of the Sabbath. That would be the Feast of Weeks.

(For more detailed information on this counting, please see our article “Pentecost – Feast of Weeks”)


So what have we found? Yahshua and His disciples ate a Passover meal – as the law says – at the beginning of the 14th. Following that, He washed the disciples’ feet and then instituted the symbols of the bread and wine. At the same time, the chief priests and other Jews were also observing Passover – according to the law. The chief priests then took Yahshua and delivered Him to die as they had planned (Matthew 27:3-4; Mark 14:1 and Luke 22:2). But they were careful not to be defiled so they could eat of the sacrifices the next day.

Today, we follow the example set down by Yahshua and the twelve. At twilight, beginning the 14th, we gather for a memorial meal – a meal in memory of the first Passover. Afterwards, we wash one another’s feet, share the unleavened bread and wine, read what Yahshua said to His disciples that night, and sing a hymn, before retiring to our homes.

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