No Moon vs. New Moon – the Conjunction vs. the Visible Crescent
Does Yahweh set His months and Feasts by the total blackness of the moon? Is that what “lights in the heavens” means?
There is a belief that the biblical month should be set by what is called the conjunction rather than by observation of the lunar crescent. The conjunction is a term that describes the exact alignment of the sun, the moon, and the earth. This alignment creates complete darkness before the moon starts to be visible or waxing. It is called Syzygy in astronomy, from the ancient Greek meaning “yoked together.”
In modern astronomy the term “new moon” entered popular usage to describe this time of total darkness, but this term was never associated with darkness in history. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the new moon as “the first visible crescent of the Moon, after conjunction with the sun.”
This conjunction or darkness is not synonymous with or related in any way to the new moon in Scripture. In fact, how can it even designate a new “moon” if the moon is completely hidden by darkness? To be accurate you would call it a “no moon.” In the Hebrew this darkness (void of any celestial light) is called: chashak חָשַׁךְ and means darkness or obscurity in relation to celestial lights. Notice how Ecclesiastes 12:2 uses it: “…before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark [chashak], and the clouds return after the rain.”
In stark contrast the Torah confirms the exact opposite of darkness as it relates to setting Yahweh’s Holy Days, which is expected, being that “Elohim is light and in Him there is no darkness,” 1John 1:5.
Lights in the Sky
Genesis 1:14 uses “lights” to set the appointed times of Yahweh. “And Elohim said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred days and years.” Some translations, like the KJV, use the word “seasons.” This is imprecise according to the Hebrew. The Hebrew word here is moed מוֹעֵד and means an appointed time, place or meeting. This means Yahweh’s Sabbath and yearly festivals. The light here in Genesis 1 is maor מָאוֹר and Brown Driver Briggs defines it as: “light, light-bearer, luminary, lamp, of sun and moon.”
Genesis 1:14 provides the purpose of these lights:
1) to separate the day from the night
2) to set the appointed times
3) to set the year
Continuing “…and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth. And it was so. Elohim made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day [sun] and the lesser light to govern the night [moon].”
The year is set at the new moon of the Aviv harvest. Notice: “Observe the month [chodesh חֹדֶשׁ new moon] of Aviv and celebrate the Passover of Yahweh your Elohim, because in the month of Aviv he brought you out of Egypt by night,” Deuteronomy 16:1. As Genesis 1:14 clearly says this maor מָאוֹר “light” sets the year.
Exodus 12:1 asserts the Aviv new moon is the first of the year, shanah: “Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, ‘This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.’ So if we must use light to set Yahweh’s Festivals and years, how then can the darkness of the conjunction work in any way in Yahweh’s calendar?
In fact, this time of dark conjunction can last up to 3.5 days depending on its ecliptic latitude. Modern science calls this an astronomical dark moon. To calculate this “middle darkness” in relation to your position on planet earth without the aid of a telescope would take the mathematic genius of Albert Einstein. To compute this “dark moon” you would need to know the pole orientation in relation to the moon and earth’s orbit based on your geographical location. This is called in astronomy “The apparent place” or the position in space as seen by an observer. Because of physical and geometrical complexities it may differ from the “true” or “geometric” position. This would present an insurmountable technical challenge for the ancient Israelite like David out herding his sheep.
Not Rocket Science
So ask yourself, is this how Yahweh would establish his months? Does it need to be so hard that only the U.S. Naval Observatory can figure it out? Ezekiel 46:6 instructs: “On the day of the new moon he is to offer a young bull, six lambs and a ram, all without defect.” Which day would you choose for the new moon if depending on your geographic location you had a choice of up to three and a half nights of darkness to select from?
Yahweh is an Elohim of light not darkness. Unbelievers, wickedness, and darkness are synonymous. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” 2Corinthians 6:14.
The Apostle Paul journeyed as far as Macedonia for over two years. How would he have calculated this dark moon for the Festival of Yom Teruah or Trumpets? Yahweh makes it easy when all Paul needed to do was witness the first thin crescent of the new moon.
Notice what Yahweh said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present a food offering to Yahweh.’” Leviticus 23:24. The moon sets the month and on this Feast day we are commanded to keep it on the first day of the seventh month.
Simply See It or Not See It
Did Yahweh intend for us to be astronomers using complex mathematic formulas to be able to know when this exact middle-darkness occurs in relation to our geographical location? Of course not. This is a man-made idea that complicates, perverts and adds to the Word. Yahweh’s visible crescent is beautiful in its simplicity requiring uncomplicated sight confirmation.
The new moon is to be “observed” every month. Deuteronomy 16:1: “Observe the month (new moon) of Aviv and celebrate the Passover of Yahweh your Elohim, because in the month of Aviv he brought you out of Egypt by night.” The Hebrew word for observe is shamar שָׁמַר a verb which denotes an action and has the synonymous meaning of keeping, watching and preserving.
This word is a proper noun for “watchmen,” according to Brown Driver Briggs Gesenius. The Holladay Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon defines shamar as “watching in the sense of looking.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words includes the definitions “mark, watchman, wait, watch, look narrowly.” The command is to look for, wait for, watch and mark the new moon. It could be translated, “Look carefully for the new moon of Aviv and perform the Pesach in this month…”
Those who hold to dark moon idea try to remove any semblance of “watching,” which is one of the fundamental meanings of this Hebrew word shamar. If we are commanded to “watch for” rather than calculate, then this doctrine falls apart at the seams. Watching for something that isn’t there is senseless.
The argument is that this Hebrew word simply has the meaning of “do.” If this is the case then why is the Hebrew word asah עָשָׂה (do), which is also translated as observe in scripture, not used here in Deuteronomy16?
Shamar has a much more encompassing meaning of observation along with keeping and doing. Exodus 31:16 shows both these words in context in relation to the Sabbath “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep (shamar) the sabbath, to observe (asah, do) the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” The Sabbath is kept by watching and observing the sunset and sunrise (the greater light, Genesis 1:14). The true faith is an active faith based on observation on the lights Yahweh made for us.
Ancient Jewish Philosopher Philo Attests to Crescent After Conjunction
Many historic sources back up how ancient Israel observed the new moon. A Jewish philosopher named Philo of Alexandria (20BCE-50CE) lived during the time of the Messiah. He was Greek-speaking and documented this interesting observation of how the festivals were kept. Amazingly, he even makes a distinction between the conjunction (dark moon) and the new moon!
(The Special Laws) XI. (41) “The first matter to be considered is that of the Festivals. Now there are ten festivals in number, as the law sets them down. The first is that which any one will perhaps be astonished to hear called a festival. This festival is every day. The second festival is the seventh day, which the Hebrews in their native language call the sabbath. The third is that which comes after the conjunction, which happens on the day of the new moon in each month. The fourth is that of the passover which is called the passover.
“The fifth is the first fruits of the corn—the sacred sheaf. The sixth is the feast of unleavened bread, after which that festival is celebrated, which is really the seventh day of seventh days. The eighth is the festival of the sacred moon, or the feast of trumpets. The ninth is the fast.
“The tenth is the feast of tabernacles, which is the last of all the annual festivals, ending so as to make the perfect number of ten…..XXVI. (140) Following the order which we have adopted, we proceed to speak of the third festival, that of the new moon. First of all, because it is the beginning of the month, and the beginning, whether of number or of time, is honourable. Secondly, because at this time there is nothing in the whole of heaven destitute of light. Thirdly, because at that period the more powerful and important body gives a portion of necessary assistance to the less important and weaker body; for, at the time of the new moon, the sun begins to illuminate the moon with a light which is visible to the outward senses, and then she displays her own beauty to the beholders. And this is, as it seems, an evident lesson of kindness and humanity to men, to teach them that they should never grudge to impart their own good things to others, but, imitating the heavenly bodies, should drive envy away and banish it from the Soul.”
Ancient New Moon Validations
The Mishnah is a collection of Jewish oral traditions written between 20 BCE and 220 CE. It details how the new moon was judged by eye witness observation and how their testimony was scrutinized by the Beth Din בית דין or “house of judgment.” Gamaliel, who was the Apostle Paul’s mentor, and mentioned in scripture notice “But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while” Acts 5:34. The Mishnah gives this detailed explanation regarding Gamaliel:
“There was a large court in Jerusalem called Beth Ya’azeq, where all the witnesses met, and where they were examined by the Beth Din. Great feasts were made there for (the witnesses) in order to induce them to come frequently. At first they did not stir from there all day (on the Sabbath), 1 till R. Gamaliel, the elder, ordained that they might go two thousand ells on every side; and not only these (witnesses) but also a midwife, going to perform her professional duties, and those who go to assist others in case of conflagration, or against an attack of robbers, or in case of flood, or (of rescuing people) from the ruins (of a fallen building) are considered (for the time being) as inhabitants of that place, and may go (thence on the Sabbath) two thousand ells on every side. How were the witnesses examined? The first pair were examined first. The elder was introduced first, and they said to him: Tell us in what form thou sawest the moon; was it before or behind the sun? Was it to the north or the south (of the sun)? What was its elevation on the horizon? Towards which side was its inclination? What was the width of its disk? If he answered before the sun, his evidence was worthless. After this they introduced the younger (witness) and he was examined; if their testimony was found to agree, it was accepted as valid; the remaining pairs (of witnesses) were asked leading questions, not because their testimony was necessary, but only to prevent them departing, disappointed, and to induce them to come again often,”
In the Talmud, the Gemara (350-400CE) then references this part of the Mishnah:
Gemara: “Do not the questions (asked by the Mishna), ‘was it before or behind the sun?’ and ‘was it to the north or to the south?’ mean the same thing? Answered Abayi: (the Mishna asks) whether the concave of the crescent was before or behind the sun, and if (the witness said) it was before the sun, his evidence was worthless, for R. Johanan says: What is the meaning of the passage [Job, xxv. 2]: ‘Dominion and fear are with him; he maketh peace in his high places?’ It means that the sun never faces the concave of the crescent or the concave of a rainbow.
“What was its elevation on the horizon? Towards which side was its inclination? In one Boraitha we have learned: If (the witness) said ‘towards the north,’ his evidence was valid, but if he said, ‘towards the south,’ it was worthless; in another Boraitha we have learned the reverse. It presents no difficulty; in the latter case it speaks of the summer, while in the former it refers to the winter.
“The rabbis taught: If one (witness) said its elevation appeared about as high as two ox-goads and another said about as high as three, their testimony was invalid, but either might be taken in conjunction with a subsequent witness (who offered similar testimony). The rabbis taught (If the witnesses say): ‘We have seen the reflection (of the moon) in the water, or through a metal mirror, or in the clouds,’ their testimony is not to be accepted; or (if they say we have seen) ‘half of it in the water, and half of it in the heavens, or half of it in the clouds,’ their evidence carries no weight. Must they then see the new moon again (before their testimony can be accepted)? Said Abayi: ‘By this is meant that if the witnesses testify that they saw the moon accidentally, and they then returned purposely and looked for it, but they saw it not, their evidence is worthless.’ Why so? Because one might say they saw a patch of white clouds (and they thought it was the moon).”
Gamaliel’s Moon Chart
Even Gamaliel had a chart on his wall showing the various moon stages used in questioning would be new moon observers:
Mishna: “R. Gamaliel had on a tablet, and on a wall of his upper room, illustrations of the various phases of the moon, which he used to show to the common people, saying: ‘Did you see the moon like this figure or like this?’” See https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/tractate-rosh-hashana-chapter-2
From the Midrash we read, “On the first of Nissan, the moon begins to illuminate. As the days continue, her luminosity increases, until the 15th day, when her disk is full… Likewise is Israel. Fifteen generations from Abraham until Solomon; Abraham began illuminating… with Solomon, the moon’s disk was filled.”
The Jewish Encyclopedia explains how the Samaritans tried to confuse the Jews by lighting false signal fires during the sighting and consecration of the new moon.
“Under the patriarchate of Rabbi Judah I., surnamed ‘the Holy’ (163-193), the Samaritans, in order to confuse the Jews, set up fire-signals at improper times, and thus caused the Jews to fall into error with regard to the day of the new moon. Rabbi Judah accordingly abolished the fire-signals and employed messengers. The inhabitants of countries who could not be reached by messengers before the feast were accordingly in doubt, and used to celebrate two days of the holidays. By this time the fixing of the new moon according to the testimony of witnesses seems to have lost its importance, and astronomical calculations were in the main relied upon.”
Calculated to Break with Judaism
One of the important figures in the history of the calendar was Samuel (born about 165, died about 250), surnamed “Yarḥinai” because of his familiarity with the moon. He was an astronomer, and it was said that he knew the courses of the heavens as well as the streets of his city (Ber. 58b). He was director of a school in Nehardea (Babylonia), and while there arranged a calendar of the feasts in order that his fellow-countrymen might be independent of Judea. He also calculated the calendar for sixty years. His calculations greatly influenced the subsequent calendar of Hillel. According to Bartolocci his tables are preserved in the Vatican. A contemporary of his, R. Adda (born 183), also left a work on the calendar.”
By 300 CE the original spotting of the new moon by the Sanhedrin was replaced by calculation.
“Under the patriarchate of Rabbi Judah III. (300-330) the testimony of the witnesses with regard to the appearance of the new moon was received as a mere formality, the settlement of the day depending entirely on calculation. This innovation seems to have been viewed with disfavor by some members of the Sanhedrin, particularly Rabbi Jose, who wrote to both the Babylonian and the Alexandrian communities, advising them to follow the customs of their fathers and continue to celebrate two days, an advice which was followed, and is still followed, by the majority of Jews living outside of Palestine.
It is evident that during the time of the second Temple period and before, visual observation of the new moon was taken very seriously. Man’s adding to the Word and using calculations for the calendar starting with the dark moon came into vogue later with Hillel II, 300 years after the death of the Messiah.
If you desire to return to the scriptural paths of True Worship (Jer. 6:16), then join us every month as we commemorate the new moon crescent. yrm.org/new-moon-network
In this article we will examine the meaning of leavening. For the last 20 years, this ministry has viewed leavening as an item that simply contained a leavening agent, e.g., yeast or baking soda. However, after a recent in-depth study, we have discovered that the concept of leavening is more complex.
The catalyst that motivated this study was Leviticus 23:13. “And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto Yahweh for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.”
We see here a reference to the firstfruits offerings during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. One item that is prohibited during this Feast is leavening.
Historically we’ve defined leavening as an item that simply contained a leavening agent. From this passage, though, we find a problem with this definition: the mention of wine. As most may know, wine is produced with yeast, a leavening agent. And for this reason it’s also been our position that wine and other alcohol must be removed during Unleavened Bread. But as we see in this passage, wine was used in an offering during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Some may wonder, is the wine mentioned here really alcohol? Maybe it’s something closer to grape juice. The word wine comes from the Hebrew yayin, which Strong’s defines as, “wine (as fermented); by implication, intoxication.” The Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon also defines this word as, “wine.” Based on Strong’s and BDB, we know that this word refers to fermented wine.
So how do we reconcile what we’ve always believed with what we find here? The answer is we can’t. We can’t reconcile our previous definition of leavening with the fact that wine was the drink offering commanded during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is why we took the time to re-evaluate this belief.
Going back to the Hebrew, we reviewed every instance of where leavening is used in Scripture. This involved every instance of the Hebrew words seor and chamets, the words used for leavening in the Tanakh or the Old Testament. To understand leavening, we MUST understand the meaning of these Hebrew words.
We find our first example in Exodus 12:15: “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.”
This passage refers to the Feast of Unleavened Bread during which time we’re to put away the leaven or seor from our homes and abstain from eating leavened bread or chamets. I want to point out that it explicitly mentions eating; nothing is said about drinking. As we’ll see from other instances, chamets is always connected to eating. Interestingly, this time is called the Feast of Unleavened Bread, not the Feast of Unleavened Drink.
Meaning of Seor
Let’s focus now on the meaning of seor. According to Strong’s, seor is defined as, “barm or yeast-cake (as swelling by fermentation).” According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, barm is defined as “yeast formed on fermenting malt liquors.” The yeast cake mentioned here is a reference to a sourdough starter, which is how Israel would leaven their dough to make leavened bread or chamets.
Continuing to look at the meaning of seor, we discover that the Fausset’s Bible Dictionary defines this word as, “A lump of old dough in high fermentation. Because making it, and leavening bread with it, took time, unleavened bread was used in sudden emergencies (Gen 18:6; 19:3). It was forbidden in all offerings to [Yahweh] by fire (Lev 2:11; 7:12).”
We see here that seor refers to an old piece of dough that is highly fermented, which is what we call a sourdough or a starter dough. It’s a piece of dough that is allowed to ferment to the point of becoming sour or acidic and then used to leaven another piece of dough. This dough contains both grain and a leavening agent. For Israel, the leavening agent would have been wild yeast. Therefore, seor must include grain plus a leavening agent and not a leavening agent alone.
When speaking of yeast and starter dough, a few facts to consider are:
1) wild yeast is all around us and even within us; 2) a starter is formed when the yeast breaks down the starch in the flour into sugar, producing carbon dioxide; and, 3) it’s the carbon dioxide that causes the bread to puff up or to rise. The rising was the focus of seor and chamets.
In fact, the word “leaven” comes from the Latin verb levare, meaning, “to raise.” Again, what allows for this to happen is the starter dough, i.e., the dough that is in high fermentation or that contains a high concentration of yeast. Therefore, when we speak about seor, especially from a biblical standpoint, we are speaking about a sourdough starter, which is how Israel leavened their dough.
The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary refers to seor as a small portion of dough that is highly fermented and turning acidic or sour. This was used to leaven and produce leavened bread or chamets. “The Heb. term se’or occurs only five times in Scripture, in four of which (Ex 12:15, 19; 13:7; Lev 2:1-11) it is translated ‘leaven’ and in the fifth (Deut 16:3) ‘leavened bread.’
The NIV translates ‘yeast’ in each of these references. This probably denotes the small portion of dough left from the preceding baking that had fermented and turned acidic. Its distinctive meaning is fermented or leavened mass.”
Another source, Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, gives the following definition: “A substance used to produce fermentation in dough and make it rise (Ex 12:15, 19-20). In Bible times leaven was usually a piece of fermented dough retained from a previous baking that was placed in the new dough to cause it to rise.”
From here we see that seor refers to a piece of old dough in high fermentation that would then be used to leaven new dough, which is what we would call a sourdough starter.
A similar explanation is found in the International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia: “In bread baking.-The form of leaven used in bread-making and the method of using it were simple and definite. The ‘leaven’ consisted always, so far as the evidence goes, of a piece of fermented dough kept over from a former baking. There is no trace of the use of other sorts of leaven, such as the lees of wine or those mentioned by Pliny (NH, wviii.26). The lump of dough thus preserved was either dissolved in water in the kneading-trough before the flour was added, or was ‘hid’ in the flour (the King James Version ‘meal’) and kneaded along with it, as was the case mentioned in the parable (Matt 13:33). The bread thus made was known as ‘leavened,’ as distinguished from ‘unleavened’ bread (Ex 12:15, etc.)”
Again we see that leavening or seor refers to a piece of leavened dough from a previous baking, which would then be used to leaven a new loaf.
According to this source, this could have been done in two different ways. The first process would be to dissolve the starter within the kneading-trough before the flour was added. The other method was simply to take the starter and place or hide it within a new dough. Either of these two methods would leaven a new piece of dough, causing it to rise. This was done using the starter or this highly fermented, acidic piece of dough.
For good measure, let’s consider one more reference, from the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature. “‘Seir’ occurs only five times in the Scriptures, in four of which (Ex 12:15, 19; Ex 13:7; Le 2:11) it is rendered ‘leaven,’ and in the fifth (De 16:4) ‘leavened bread.’ It seems to have denoted originally the remnant of dough left on the preceding baking which had fermented and turned acid.”
This source once more confirms the meaning of seor, a portion of leavened dough from a previous baking that has turned acidic or sour.
In summation, we learn that seor is a piece of dough that contains flour and yeast, is highly acidic, and is used as a sourdough starter. Also, by the existence of wine during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we see that a leavening agent alone, e.g., yeast or baking soda, would NOT be considered seor.
What is Chamets?
Let’s now review the meaning of chamets. Strong’s states, “ferment, (figuratively) extortion: -leaven, leavened (bread).” The Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon explains it as: “…that which is leavened…forbidden at Passover Exodus…in all sacrifices…exceptions are of peace-offering and the wave loaves.
Biblically, we see that chamets refers to leavened bread. We also know that it’s forbidden during the Passover or the Feast of Unleavened Bread, along with all sacrifices, except for the peace offering and the wave loaves offered during the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot.
Here’s how the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature defines leavening: “‘chamets’ ought not to be rendered ‘leaven,’ but leavened bread… In Ex 13:7, both seor’ and chamets’ occur together, and are evidently distinct: ‘Unleavened bread (matstsah’) shall be eaten during the seven days, and there shall not be seen with thee the fermented bread (chamets’), and there shall not be seen with thee leavened bread (seor’) in all thy borders.”
We see that chamets is not simply leavening but is leavened bread. In other words, it is the leavened product produced from the seor. Again, the primary example of chamets from the Bible is leavened bread. There are no other examples for chamets, but for leavened bread, whether eaten or used in sacrifice. When we think of seor, we should think of a sourdough starter, and when we think of chamets, we should think of a leavened product produced by a sourdough starter or an alternative leavening agent.
The Jewish Perspective
Let’s consider now how the Jews understand leavening.
According to oukosher.org, “If one of the five grains – wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt – sits in water for more than 18 minutes it becomes chametz, and one may not eat, derive benefit from or own it on Pesach.”
Kashrut Division of the London Beth Din, kosher.org.uk, states, “Chametz is formed when dough made from wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt is allowed to ferment (or rise). The time in which fermentation takes place is deemed to be 18 minutes.”
As the last example, chabad.org verifies that “chametz (also spelled ‘hametz’ or ‘chometz’) is any food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt that has come into contact with water and been allowed to ferment and ‘rise.’”
We see that chamets is any food product that is produced from grain that has come in contact with water and allowed to ferment or rise. So based on the Jewish understanding of leavening, we find that four things are needed for something to be considered chamets:
1) It needs to contain grain, e.g., wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt;
2) It needs water;
3) It needs access to a leavening agent, which is around us in the form of wild yeast; and,
4) It needs time to leaven or to rise.
According to many Jews, the time it takes for a piece of dough to become leavened is 18 minutes. With this in mind, if we took flour, added water, and then allowed that dough to ferment with the natural yeast within the air for 18 minutes. According to many Jews, we would have chamets.
Because chamets requires all these items, a leavening agent alone is not considered chamets or seor. For those who were part of the initial study, this was the bombshell that changed the trajectory of what we would come to understand about leavening. Again, it was always our belief that a leavening agent alone was considered seor or chamets, but when we understand these words from a biblical standpoint, there’s more to it. In this case, we know that yeast or a chemical leavening agent alone is not considered chamets.
Wikipedia concurs: “Chametz is a product that is both made from one of five types of grain and has been combined with water and left to stand raw for longer than eighteen minutes (according to most opinions) and becomes leavened … Leavening agents, such as yeast or baking soda, are not themselves chametz. Rather, it is the fermented grains. Thus yeast may be used in making wine.”
From this source, we again see that chamets is when grain is combined with water and allowed to become leavened. Remember, from a biblical standpoint, seor is a sourdough starter, and chamets is a leavening product made from seor.
Examples of Seor and Chamets
Let’s now review where soer and chamets are used within Scripture. From the Torah we find the following passages containing the word seor.
Exodus 12:19 – “Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth 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.” All seor must be removed from our homes during the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
Exodus 13:7 – “Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters.” All seor must be removed from our quarters, Heb. gebul, referring to a person’s boundary or territory.
Leviticus 2:11 – “No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto Yahweh, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of Yahweh made by fire.” No meat or grain offering was to be made with seor or a sourdough starter. THIS IS IMPORTANT – it shows that seor was the initial starter that was used to leaven chamets.
Deuteronomy 16:4 – “And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning.” No seor was to be seen within a person’s coast, Heb. gebul, referring to a person’s boundary or territory.
Let’s now look at the examples for chamets, which is found 13 times in the Old Testament, 12 within the Torah and once within the Nevi’im, e.g., prophets.
Exodus 12:19 – “Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth 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.” The command is not to eat chamets during the seven days of Unleavened Bread. The penalty for ignoring this command was to be cut off from the congregation. It’s crucial that we do our very best to abstain from eating leavened products or chamets during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Before moving on, I want to emphasize that the command here is eating and not drinking. And the reason for this is simple – chamets is leavened bread, not leavened drink.
Exodus 12:20 – “Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.” As we saw in verse 19 we see here, that we’re to abstain from eating chamets or anything leavened during this Feast. And again, I point out that the command is of eating, nothing is said about drinking. For those wondering, there is a Hebrew word for drinking, it is shathah, but we don’t find that word in relation to seor or chamets.
Exodus 13:3 – “And Moses said unto the people, remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand Yahweh brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.” As we’ve seen previously, Yahweh commands us here not to eat chamets or leavened bread during this Feast.
Exodus 13:7 – “Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters.” There are several items to consider here: we’re to eat unleavened bread, i.e., matstsah’, for all seven days of this Feast. So, in contrast of removing and abstaining from leavening, we find that we’re to eat unleavened bread for all seven days of this Feast.
As we know from the New Testament, unleavened bread symbolizes sincerity and truth. Understand that there’s a spiritual lesson to be learned throughout this Feast. This passage also relates that no chamets or seor should be seen within our quarters or boundaries.
Exodus 23:18 – “Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning.” As we saw from the BDB, we also find here that no leavened bread or chamets was to be included within the offerings. The only exception was the peace, or fellowship offering along with the two loaves offered during the Feast of Weeks.
Exodus 23:25 – “And ye shall serve Yahweh your Elohim, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.”
Leviticus 2:11 – “No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto Yahweh, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of Yahweh made by fire.” A better name for the meat offerings is a grain offering and as before, leavening, whether chamets or seor, was not allowed within this offering. We also see the mention of honey and because of this, some ask if we should be removing honey during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. While honey can be used to speed up the leavening process, honey of its own is NOT considered seor or chamets. For this reason, there’s no need to remove honey during this Feast.
Leviticus 6:17 – “It shall not be baken with leaven. I have given it unto them for their portion of my offerings made by fire; it is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering.” Two specific offerings are mentioned here – the sin offering for unintentional sins and the trespass offering, which was for intentional sins. Notice that if a person brought a cake or grain offering, it had to be without leavening or chamets. This offering was a food product that was baked.
Leviticus 7:13 – “Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings.” Unlike the sin and trespass offerings, we find that leavening was to be used during the fellowship or peace offering. The peace offering was a show of desire to fellowship with Yahweh and for this reason, it was treated differently.
Leviticus 23:17 – “Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto Yahweh.” Again, we see that leavening or chamets was to be used within the wave loaves offered during the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot. As was seen here and in the previous example, leavening or chamets is not always negative. We know this because it was commanded to be used in the peace offering and the wave loaves offering to Yahweh.
Deuteronomy 16:3 – “Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.” This passage is referring to the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As we’ve already seen from many other examples, during these seven days we’re to abstain from eating leavened bread or chamets.
Amos 4:5 – “And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith my Sovereign Yahweh.” We find here another reference to the fellowship or peace offering in which leavening or chamets was to be used.
Let’s review what we’ve learned thus far about seor and chamets:
- In the Old Testament, the word seor is found five times and the word chamets is seen 13 times, referring to the sourdough starter and leavened bread, respectively.
- During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we’re commanded to remove all seor and chamets from our homes and boundaries.
- During this Feast, we’re commanded to eat unleavened bread and abstain from eating leavening or leavened bread in the form of seor or chamets, emphasizing the focus is on eating and not drinking.
- Except for the peace offering and the two wave loaves offered during Shavuot, no seor or chamets was to be used in a sacrifice or offering.
Defining Seor and Chamets
What do you suppose ancient Israelites would show us if we asked for examples of seor and chamets? More than likely they would bring us a sourdough starter for seor and a loaf of leavened bread for chamets.
Based on this, we offer the following definitions for seor and chamets:
Seor: A piece of highly fermented or acidic dough or any other grain-derived leavening product that might be used to leaven dough, much like our own sourdough starter.
Chemets: Any grain derived food product that has been leavened by seor, i.e., a leavening agent, whether that be natural or chemical. The primary example would be leavened bread, but it would also include items that may not resemble bread but contain both grain and a leavening agent.
So again, any food product containing grain, wheat, barley, spelt, rye or oats, along with a leavening agent, would be considered chamets. This is why we must take stock of the food items we have within our homes before the Feast of Unleavened Bread and remove anything that would be considered seor or chamets.
We have only referenced leavening agents until now, but have not provided a list of such agents. Below is a list of leavening agents we have identified over the years.
- Baker’s yeast
- Active dried yeast
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate)
- Ammonium carbonate
- Ammonium bicarbonate
- Potassium carbonate
- Potassium bicarbonate
- Dipotassium carbonate
Remember that these leavening agents alone are NOT considered seor or chamets. For this reason, there’s no need to remove these leavening agents from our homes during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
However, there is one caveat. Based on our research, some yeast packets would be considered seor due to the way they are manufactured. Some companies will produce a yeast cake with grain and then disaggregate that yeast cake into the yeast we find within many yeast packets.
This seems to be especially common with organic yeast packets. Because of this, we encourage you to remove your yeast packets during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
But for the other items in the above list, there’s no need to remove them unless you are convicted of doing so, which is certainly acceptable.
What May Remain?
Beyond defining leavening, we must address those items that may remain during the Feast of Unleavened Bread that we previously disallowed. Since leavening agents alone are not considered seor or chamets, there is no need to remove leavening agents that cannot be used as a starter in their current form, e.g., baking soda and baking powder.
In addition to leavening agents, there is also no need to remove alcohol unless there’s evidence that it can be used as a starter. The following alcohols contain no yeast in their final form and therefore would not be considered seor: vodka, gin, tequila, Irish whiskey, bourbon, schnapps, most wine, and many commercial beers.
Even though many alcoholic beverages contain grain and a leavening agent, e.g., yeast, in their original form, the leavening agent is purged or made inert in its final form. For this reason, they are unable to be used as seor or a starter.
In our research we contacted several brewers and verified that most commercial beers either remove or kill any excess yeast; some exceptions, though, include Pale Ale, Porter, and Stout. Therefore, if you choose to keep commercial beers, we suggest that you confirm with the manufacturer that the yeast has been removed or made inert.
In our investigation, we sent the following question to several breweries: “Can you verify if any of your beers contain live or active yeast that could be used as a starter to make bread without the assistance of any additional leavening agents?”
We received the following replies:
“I can tell you that almost all beer, except for draught beer, is pasteurized. This process enables the brewer to kill traces of live yeast or other organisms which helps the beer stay fresh longer,” Anheuser-Busch.
“Almost all of the yeast used in the brewing process is filtered out of the beer prior to packaging,”
Molson Coors Beverage Company.
“The yeast used to make our beers is filtered out before bottling. If you would like yeast for bread or other means, we recommend buying yeast itself,” Samuel Adams.
“Our bottle-conditioned beers will have live yeast sitting at the bottom of the bottle. Bottle-conditioned beers include: Pale Ale, Porter, Stout, Celebration, and Bigfoot. There are about a couple thousand cells at the bottom of a can or bottle and will need to be propagated to be used for making bread. Yeast for bread and our ale yeast are a little different. You may have to use a bit more ale yeast than the recipe calls for or use additional leavening agents,” Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.
Also, as we see from Scripture, chamets is a food item. Therefore, by definition, alcohol would not be considered chamets and since most beer cannot be used as a starter, it would not be considered seor.
In addition to alcohol, since the Feast of Unleavened Bread focuses on food items we consume, there is no reason to remove non-food items with a leavening agent, e.g., baking soda toothpaste.
What About Grain Substitutes?
The last issue to address is grain substitutes. Examples of this includes quinoa, rice, almonds (and other nuts), coconut, tapioca, or sorghum. Many Jews use grain substitutes with a leavening agent to make cakes and other items during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Even though grain substitutes are technically not grain, we believe that using such products combined with a leavening agent to make bread or pastries violates the command of abstaining from leavened bread during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The main point of this Feast is to remove and abstain from leavened bread or that which puffs up.
Let’s now summarize what we have learned:
- Wine was used during the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the form of an offering. This shows that a leavening agent on its own is NOT biblically considered leavening.
- The two words for leavening or leavened bread within Hebrew are seor and chamets.
- From a biblical standpoint, seor refers to a piece of highly fermented or acidic dough or any other grain-derived leavened product that might be used to leaven dough, much like our own sourdough starter.
- Chamets would be any grain-derived food product that has been leavened by seor or a leavening agent, whether natural or chemical.
- Except for yeast packets, a leavening agent alone is NOT considered seor or chamets.
- Since most alcohol does not contain active yeast and cannot be used as a sourdough starter, i.e., seor, and would not meet the definition of chamets, it can remain during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
I hope that this information has helped you better understand the biblical definition of leavening. We encourage you to prove all things from Yahweh’s Word as we are all obligated to do
Join us this April 17th-23rd* for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. We will have a full week of worship, music, study, food, and fun! Register below! (Passover will be observed the evening of April 15th.)
See Schedule for FUB 2022 (Schedule is subject to change)
* Projected Date
Check out this years Feast of Tabernacles photos! It was such a blessing to have you all with us! Yahweh be with you all until we see you again in the spring.
This article was written in 2014, so the dates stated in this article are from that year!
Many believe that our Creator Yahweh’s plan of redemption was finished when Yahshua was impaled on Passover day. They assume that His death marked the end of the old Jewish system, including the laws of the Old Testament.
His ascension and the Feast of Pentecost of Acts 2 also allegedly marked the start of a new faith called Christianity, which replaced Israel as the chosen of Yahweh. Consistent with this notion is the belief that Christianity has little use for the Old Testament or its commanded observances.
The facts tell a far different story, which show that the church lost its way early on.
The truth is, Yahshua as the Passover Lamb holds the key role in a continuation of Yahweh’s design for His human creation.
Passover: The Plan Begins
The Passover is the first of the annual observances of Yahweh and is the starting point for the rest of Yahweh’s design for salvation.
Granted, the original hopes that Yahweh had of an exclusive, special people who would follow and worship Him, had now changed. Because of Israel’s continual rebellion, Yahweh opened up His calling to all who would repent and turn to Him. Not only is Israel still included in His plan, but they are still central to it. Romans 9:27 says a remnant of Israel shall be saved.
When we look at the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread that follows, we see a progression – and not an end – of a salvation plan that was established at creation itself.
Passover is a memorial of an actual event that occurred long ago in Egypt. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread that follows also foreshadow events to occur later in the New Testament and into our own future. What Yahshua did by becoming the Passover Lamb was realized only in part. He spoke of another fulfillment of Passover yet to come. He said just as He was taking Passover with His disciples that He would keep it anew in His Father’s Kingdom, Matthew 26:29.
We see the importance of this special observance throughout history. From ancient days to the Kingdom, the Passover is key to Yahweh’s blueprint for the salvation of His creation and the establishment of a coming Kingdom on earth.
When in chapter 12 of Exodus as one Egyptian firstborn died after another, Yahweh was sending a clear message to all of mankind. It was to the firstborn that twice the family inheritance was given, which was known as the birthright. With the death of the firstborn, Yahweh demonstrated a salvational fact that those not covered by the blood of the lamb will have no life – meaning no inheritance in His Kingdom.
The other lesson we learn is that we can be covered by that blood only if we follow Yahweh’s instructions explicitly. If anyone in Israel had not done exactly as Yahweh commanded by putting the lamb’s blood on all sides of the doorpost then he would have faced the same consequences as the Egyptians. Yahweh had to see the blood of protection at each home, Exodus 12:23. The entire door frame had to have a blood covering, symbolic of His people’s being completely surrounded by the blood of the Lamb.
A Calling Out
Without the blood of Messiah covering for our sins, we face everlasting death. Rather than having little meaning for us today, the Passover and Feast have much more serious implications. The immediate physical consequences that came anciently for disobedience translate today into serious spiritual ramifications if we are not in total compliance.
Looking back in history, we see that Yahweh began a recalling of His people at the Passover, ultimately to take them out of Egypt and unto Himself through their worship and devotion.
He does the same today in the New Covenant observance of the Passover. It is an annual memorial and lesson for all who would be His elect to come clean and not get involved in the sin of the world. The world can easily enslave us, just as Israel was enslaved in Egypt for repeatedly refusing to obey their Heavenly Father.
Passover was an opportunity to re-dedicate their lives to Him, to turn back to Him again in truth.
The Passover was also Yahweh’s judgment on the false religion of Egypt, and figuratively on the false religions of the world. Lest we think that this is just an ancient judgment on ancient people, think again. In today’s world the Passover is a lesson in True Worship as well.
Certain Plagues Are Coming Back!
The Passover, which gets its name from the passing over of the death angel, was the last of 10 plagues unleashed on Egypt and the finishing stroke that finally freed Israel.
Note that each plague was directed against a certain deity worshiped by the pagan Egyptians (see Ex. 9:14-16 and chapters 7-11):
1) River to blood (against Hapi, spirit of the Nile, who had life-giving waters)
2) Frogs (Hekah, frog-headed deity who symbolized fertility)
3) Lice (against the earth deity Geb)
4) Flies (Beelzebub, lord of the flies)
5) Murrain or disease on the cattle (against Apis, the bull deity, and Hathor, a cow deity)
6) Boils (ashes from the altar of Typhon, to whom human sacrifices were offered)
7) Hail (against Isis and Osiris, the deities of crops, v. 25, and Nut, female deity of the sky)
8) Locusts (Seth, deity of storms and chaos)
9) Darkness (RaAmon, the sun god)
10) Firstborn (because Pharaoh him-self was worshiped as a god, his own son and heir to the throne would die).
In Revelation 6 we learn that some of the same plagues that Egypt suffered will be unleashed on earth in the last days.
With the opening of the third seal we see famine and disease; famine because of the locusts and disease from the murrain. Next is darkness. Then devastating hail will also fall, Revelation 8:7; a third of the seas will become blood, v. 8, followed by a plague of locusts, 9:3.
Just as Israel was protected from the latter plagues but felt the effects of the initial ones, so Yahweh’s people who obey Him now and faithfully keep His appointed days will be protected after the first several plagues are unleashed (Rev. 7:3). They will be sealed in their foreheads and safeguarded through Yahweh’s Name, Revelation 9:4 and 14:1.
Yahweh will even have two witnesses testify of Him (11:7), just as He did in the persons of Moses and Aaron who witnessed against the Kingdom of Egypt.
A Crucial Matter
To keep the Passover is a deadly serious matter. Many think of Yahweh not as a Heavenly Father but as a kindly old grandfather who puts up with spoiled children who disobey Him. Not so.
Yahweh punished even believers in the New Testament with sickness and death for observing Passover carelessly, 1Corinthians 11:27-31.
This year the Passover will be observed on the night of the 13th of April, which is the 14th day of Abib, the first biblical month.
The Jews keep it a day later, on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, thus making Passover a High Day.
John 18:28 shows that in Yahshua’s day, after Yahshua had observed the Passover and was arrested around midnight, the Jews still hadn’t kept it.
But from John 13:27-30, among many other passages, we see that the Passover is a memorial. It is not a High Day where no buying or selling or work may be done. Therefore the Passover is called the preparation day, a preparation for the Feast that follows, John 19:14, 31. One could not do any preparation work if it were a High Day, nor would it be called a preparation for the Feast of Unleavened Bread if it also fell on the first day of the Feast.
Exodus 12:19-20 is a warning against anyone who would not take the Feast of Unleavened Bread seriously enough to avoid eating leavening. “Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth 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. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.”
Remove Offensive Leaven
Each time we participate in the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we undergo a renewal with Yahweh. Our obedience to these commanded times resonates with Him and carries untold blessings. No other observances of the world do that. That is why it is necessary to keep these annual set times and forget the empty holidays.
Most important of all, He calls them “My feasts.” They honor Him. And they are central to the redemption of His people.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a time to rededicate our lives to the Father as we recount the sacrifice of His Son, and remove leaven from our lives in the seven-day Feast that follows Passover.
“For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to Elohim, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living Elohim?”
Suppose you took a survey and simply asked, “What is leavening?” More women than men would probably know, by virture of their experience in the kitchen. Most who know would probably answer, yeast. But yeast is only one substance that we are to refrain from having or consuming during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Other leavening agents include cream of tartar, baking powder, baking soda, and calcium phosphate. Any chemical that causes a puffing up of a cereal grain would be classified as leavening. (See p. 19 for more.)
Of course, it is what leavening symbolizes that is important for the Truth seeker.
Leavening in the Scriptures pictures hypocrisy, false teachings, and wickedness. When leaven is removed, the evils that it represents are symbolically removed as well. Yahweh’s people are called “peculiar” in Titus 2:14 (KJV): “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
This verse speaks directly of Yahshua’s sacrifice at Passover and what it does to renew our dedication to Him. “Peculiar” means a people who are His possession. Additionally, if you are not seen as “peculiar” by the world around you, then you need to reassess your walk with Yahshua.
Yahweh’s people should be an exceptional beacon of righteousness to those around them. And the further this world sinks into darkness, the more your light should stand out as a witness.
Losing A Sense of Sin
Yahweh’s people should be vastly dif-ferent from the world and distinct from churchianity. Churchianity sets its standards and values mostly by public opinion, just as the world does. If the masses don’t like a certain stand the church may take on a moral issue, today’s church will water it down to be less offensive and more inclusive.
But Truth doesn’t change with the times. If you harbor sin in your life, the Word will offend you because it opposes sin in its many manifestations.
Today’s appalling lack of right Biblical counsel from those who are supposed to represent the Word is throwing the floodgates wide open to self-destruction. If more who claim to teach the Bible had the backbone to speak out against sin, the less we would find sin acceptable today. Look back only 50 years to see the difference in the culture when the Word was preached with authority and less compromise.
Come the judgment, Yahshua isn’t going to take a public opinion survey to determine the worthiness of an individual. His standards are right and true forever. And if we don’t meet them, we face His judgment. We answer to the supreme Judge and no one else. He doesn’t come down to our level, we rise up to His.
Society’s moral collapse is an example of Biblical leavening. It permeates every-thing and works slowly to induce change. Spiritually, it is corruption of the heart.
When we were in grade school science we learned of the various changes to substances. The simplest was physical, like water to ice or steam. A physical change leaves the molecular structure intact. Then there are chemical changes that change the very nature of the substance.
Leavening induces a chemical change. It symbolizes changes that alter our spiritual constitution.
To be constantly exposed to the leaven of hypocrisy, false teachings and wickedness of the world will eventually create a dynamic spiritual change in a person not unlike the substance change brought on by leavening.
The lesson of the Feast of Unleavened Bread makes us aware that we live among influences that can alter our behavior and the way we live if we are not careful. To be unaware of leaven is to be unaware of the Satanic influences that can destroy us spiritually.
You can’t continually be bombarded daily by trash and not get any on you. You may even come to accept it as normal. That is what we see today. People are not recognizing sin for what it is.
The evil of the 1960s was in its iconoclasm. At no other time in history have so many bedrock traditions and societal authority come under such attack and held up to ridicule.
The fallout today is an unending stream of perversion and iniquity that is force-fed families through many powerful conduits. Each year the Evil One pushes more limits and tramples more moral barriers until what would never have been tolerated even 10 years ago is now acceptable.
The masses are preconditioned and, like leavening, their thinking and behavior have been permeated with corruption.
No wonder Yahshua asked that when He returns, would He find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8.
Return to the Source of Truth
Many are searching for meaning in all the wrong places.
It is a testimony to Yahweh’s power that at the beginning of our world’s intense moral decay that Yahweh was calling believers to begin a restoration of the truth of His Name and Sabbaths. It is during a time of great decline that Yahweh is raising up a people who would stand for His truth and challenge not just the corruptions of the pop culture but also years of false teachings.
Yahweh tells us here is the way, now walk in it. But most will accept anything so long as it isn’t the Truth. People thirst for the latest dead-end craze. But to go back to the foundation of all teachings for life itself, the Old Testament? Not on your life!
For 2,000 years churchianity has been ignoring the Bible’s true teachings, that were first established with ancient Israel, in favor of empty traditions mixed with ancient mystery worship.
Discover the real thing. Forget hollow traditions of man. Learn the teachings that Yahshua and His disciples taught from the Old Testament and gain insight you never had before. When you do, the Bible will finally start to make sense.
For more info on the Passover and Passover Day check out our 2020 LIVE Passover service.
Here is another great article on the Passover and Passover Day: Passover and Salvation.
For more great articles be sure to check out our articles page.
To understand the seven annual feast observances of the Bible is to grasp the plan of salvation. These appointed times offer a wealth of “insider” knowledge that includes keys to when Yahshua will return and who will be saved.
Even more, these days represent a covenant between Yahweh and His people. They teach a coming heavenly Kingdom on earth where the chosen will have positions of authority as priests under Yahshua.
The life of a believer is all about preparation to rule with the Messiah in that Kingdom when He returns. His annual feasts are a time of gathering to rejoice and celebrate the blessings Yahweh has given us. By keeping them we focus on the awesomeness of eternity with the King.
The Feasts more than any other biblical teaching unlock Yahweh’s plans. The seven yearly appointed times reveal seven phases in the salvation design.
Passover Marks the Beginning
Yahweh’s holy times start off with Passover in the first month, Abib, when green ears of barley develop and this first of the grains is harvested. In the seventh month are four high Sabbaths, which complete the harvest season and end with the Last Great Day of the Feast – picturing the Great White Throne judgment of humanity, Revelation 20:5, 12-15; Ezekiel 37:13-14.
On a higher level Yahweh’s plan of redemption is all about spiritual harvesting, starting with the all-important firstfruits.
Yahshua is the first of the firstfruits in the resurrection sequence. His death and resurrection opens the way for other firstfruits by removing the penalty of death that all sins have earned: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures,” James 1:18.
Those in the first resurrection are called firstfruits because they come first, before others who will be resurrected later. They also receive greater rewards. “…and all the assemblies shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works,” Revelation 2:23. The firstborn received the greater inheritance in Scripture.
On the physical level Passover commemorates the deliverance of His people Israel from the bondage of the Egyptians. The Feast of Tabernacles, with a week of temporary living, reminds us that Israel lived in tents or booths before they were brought into the Promised Land. It also reminds us that this life is temporary.
As with Israel’s servitude, we face virtual slavery to this world and much tribulation because of it. Yahshua steps in with His death to deliver His people from this world of bondage.
Pharaoh as a type of haSatan had enslaved the Israelites. They depict Yahweh’s people in every age. Moses, typifying our Savior, was sent to release His people enslaved by a despised ruler. When he told Pharaoh to let His people go so they could serve Yahweh in the wilderness, the metaphor was complete and remarkably transparent.
Truth Involves a Coming Out
Satan is in charge of this sinful world. Through His Passover death, Yahshua released His people from the penalty of sin and Satan’s grip to worship Yahweh in spirit and Truth. They could not do so while in Egypt but had to come out to keep Yahweh’s Feast, which was their first step in redemption.
A similar pattern is true today.
We cannot be lukewarm with one foot in the world and the other in Scripture. We must come completely out of error as we cannot serve both Yahweh and the world.
Once Israel was on its way out of Egypt on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Egyptian army marshaled in hot pursuit to bring them back.
Leavening that is removed for a week from homes and diets represents error that leads to sin and must not be brought back in.
This is another metaphor of what the true believer usually faces when he or she makes the decision to leave popular falsities and come to Yahweh’s covenant.
Family and friends typically oppose the move and want them to give up and go back, owing mostly to their lack of knowledge and understanding of truth.
Duality of the Harvest
Pentecost or Feast of Firstfruits seven weeks later points to the harvest of those called out of the world now to help Yahshua rule for a thousand years.
Also known as the Feast of Weeks, this apppointed time commemorates the giving of the law at Sinai, which Israel ratified under the Old Covenant. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit was sent wholesale to help the truth seeker be obedient to the Father and His laws.
In Acts 2: 39 Peter confirms that the chosen are heirs to the Kingdom. The ekklesia (improperly rendered “church”) is being called out of the world now to become a kingdom of priests under the coming rulership of the Messiah.
We are not yet in the Kingdom, but those in the ekklesia are joint heirs of the Kingdom and are training now to help rule in the righteous government of the heavens soon coming to earth. They are learning obedience and righteousness that will dominate in that future government.
Many prophets were given visions of the latter days and the future deliverance of Yahweh’s people, just as 2-3 million Israelites were delivered from Egyptian bondage. Jeremiah says why:
“Wherefore has Yahweh pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our sin that we have committed against Yahweh our Elohim? Then shall you say unto them because your fathers have forsaken me, says Yahweh, and have walked after other deities, and have served them, and have worshiped them, and have forsaken Me, and have not kept my law and have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, you walk everyone after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto Me,’’ Jeremiah 16:10-12.
The ‘Easy Way’ Mindset
When many today read Jeremiah’s prophecy, they think it refers in the modern context to someone else. Most self-professing Bible believers do not realize this prophecy is directed against perverting Scriptures today and forsaking Yahweh by walking a different path and serving mighty ones called G-d and L-rd (Baal, Jer. 23:27).
When clear and explicit verses are presented – such as Exodus 23:11-17 commanding Yahweh’s people to keep the Sabbatical years; to keep the seventh-day Sabbath; not to utter names of pagan deities; to keep the annual holy days –almost to a person they will shrug it off and say that it does not matter today.
Seeking shortcuts is a common human trait and following the path of least resistance is typical. Preaching an easy road to salvation is a pastime of many ministries and the people eat it up.
“The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” Jeremiah 5:31.
When it comes to pure worship, Yahweh offers no shortcuts. His is a doctrine of self-discipline, of overcoming our sinful nature. The firstfruits individual views life from His perspective, no matter what the obstacles.
“Therefore thus says Yahweh. Elohim of hosts. O my people that dwell in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite you with a rod. and shall lift up his staff against you, after the manner of Egypt,” Isaiah 10:24.
Hebrews 12:22-24 clearly shows that the true people of Yahweh are referred to as those dwelling in Zion. These saints will undergo future persecution and tribulation but they will be delivered with a mighty hand just as were the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.
It is at this time that the saints will be living in tabernacles just before Yahweh intervenes.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that Yahweh shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth,” Isaiah 11:11-12.
And now verse 16. “There shall be a highway for the remnant of His people, which shall be left, from Assyria: like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt,” Isaiah 11:16. Note that it will be but a vestige of His people that will be left as He sets His hand to recover them a second time. He will be known as the One who saved His people from the north country, not as the Elohim who saved His people from Egypt. This series of events will surpass anything that the world has ever seen before.
Disobedience Carries a Price
The world is not obediently keeping the feast days as Yahweh commands. One cause is ignorance about the great plan of salvation. The consequence is serious: judgment.
“Howl ye: for the day of Yahweh is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty … Behold the day of Yahweh comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine,” Isaiah 13:6.9-10.
Yahshua Himself spoke of this time in the Olivet prophecy in Matthew 24:29. Notice that He begins in verse 21 stating, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Verse 24 shows that the elect, or chosen people, will still be on the earth, as he speaks of false messiahs, and false prophets who will show great signs and wonders that will be so astounding and real that if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived.
Our Savior goes on to say in Matthew 24:29, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven…”
This prophecy is also seen in Joel 2:31. It is a time of Yahweh’s wrath upon a lawless and defiant world that refuses His ways and teachings.
Many times Isaiah refers to the end of the age when Yahweh’s anger is poured out on a sick, sin-filled world. Isaiah 59:18 shows that Yahweh will repay the sins of His adversaries with fury.
“So shall they fear the name of Yahweh from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of Yahweh shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith Yahweh,” vv. 19-20. Yahweh promises deliverance to His people who overcome now and live for him.
Fall Festivals Unfulfilled
At His return, Yahshua will gather His people from around the world. He promises untold glory for those who remain steadfast. In Isaiah 61 we find the verse Yahshua quoted when He began His public ministry.
“The Spirit of Yahweh is upon me. because he has anointed me to preach The Good News to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. To preach the acceptable year of Yahweh,” Luke 4:18-19.
Yahshua stopped in the middle of the second verse. But it is obvious that He was speaking of the sabbatical year in this prophecy.
Yahweh always brings events about according to His timetable.
Passover has been fulfilled twice, as has Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks. But the Feasts of the seventh month have never been fulfilled. Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles are awaiting fulfillment and Yahweh undoubtedly will be right on schedule.
His feast days help us remember His plan of redemption, which we are reminded of at three harvest times during the year. The fall moedim begin a time of tribulation and foreshadow the deception of the false prophet and the iron grip of the man of sin.
These festivals go on to remind us of the coming Kingdom of Yahweh where His law and government will rule the world.
Looking Toward a Far Greater Future
Temporarily staying in succoth or shelters, as we are commanded by Yahweh at Tabernacles, reminds us that we are but sojourners and travelers in this world. Our real goal is to be in the future Kingdom wherein is righteousness and where the entire world will be keeping His Sabbaths and His laws, Isaiah 66:23.
We are pilgrims merely passing through this fallen world, revealed in the temporary dwellings, as we focus on a far greater world to come.
We have the greatest opportunity ever to worship Yahweh in spirit and in truth. There are more study resources to prove the truth of the Bible than in any generation before us. We are without excuse.
Knowing and loving Yahweh means doing what He asks, just as a child shows love and respect to his or her parents by obeying them – and they love them all the more in return.
By obeying Yahweh’s commands, which include the observance of the seventh-month festivals, we show that we desire His awesome blessings. We truly want the promises of rulership with Him in His Kingdom that come only by proving that we first will obey Him.
John wrote, “But whoso keeps His word, in him verily is the love of Elohim perfected: hereby we know that we are in Him,” 1John 2:5.
The Feasts teach the Kingdom coming to earth. You can have a foretaste of that joyous Kingdom today.
Decide right now to be closer to your Heavenly Father. Discover the deep-down happiness and fulfillment that comes in living for Yahweh by observing His special days.
Want to know more? Check out our article on the prophecy contained in the Passover and Unleavened Bread!
If you could know what is coming in the days and years just ahead, wouldn’t you be very interested? The Scriptures show that future events are revealed in proper worship, especially in the days Yahweh commanded for His people.
The Apostle Paul in the second chapter of Colossians explains the prophetic significance of our Father’s days of worship. “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Messiah,” vv. 16-17.
Along with some of the other Old Testament commandments, Paul is refer-ring here to Yahweh’s days of worship, His Sabbath and Feasts. Now before exploring the prophetic meaning, we will first dispel a common misconception about this passage.
Many interpret Paul as saying that we are no longer obligated to observe these days. In other words, we’re not to be judged on our freedom from these old and archaic obligations.
Is this the message Paul is conveying to the people at Colossae? The answer is no. What he is saying is that we must not allow those outside the body of Messiah, the assembly, to judge us on the worship of our Father in heaven. In verse 17 the word “is” was added by the translators; take it out and the meaning is clear. Those qualified to judge Feast keeping are those in the body who are honoring these days. Only they are well-versed in why, how, and when to celebrate them.
In verse 17 Paul also says that these days are a shadow of things to come. He recognizes the prophetic nature of our Father’s moedim, His annual appointments. Understand that the Feasts given in the Old Testament were more than simply times of worship. Each of these days prophetically foreshadows a special event in our Father’s plan of salvation for mankind.
‘But That’s Old Testament!’
One of the most common misconceptions about the Feasts is that they belong just to the Jews and those people of the Old Testament. They are inconsequential to those in the New Testament.
In Leviticus 23 we find a summary of these Feasts. In verse 2 Yahweh begins by explaining to whom these days belong. He declares, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of Yahweh, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.”
Does Yahweh tell us that these days belong only to the Jews and are irrelevant to those in the Messiah? No! He says that these are “MY feasts.” Our Heavenly Father clearly says that these holy convocations belong not to man, but to Him. For believers this is an important point.
You see, if we ignore these days we’re not ignoring what belongs to mankind, but something very special belonging to our Creator. In essence, when we ignore these days we tell Yahweh that His worship is of little or no value. So the belief that these times belong only to those in the Old Testament could not be further from the truth.
Passover’s Release from Sin
Let’s now consider the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread to better understand their relevance to us and Yahweh’s prophetic plan of salvation.
Even though the Passover is tech-nically not a Feast (Hebrew chag), it is nonetheless one of the most sacred times in Yahweh’s worship. We find a description of this time in Leviticus 23:5: “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is Yahweh’s Passover.”
The Passover is to be observed on the 14th day of the first biblical month at sunset. The word “even” is the Hebrew ereb and means “dusk” or “sundown.” In Exodus 12:6, the word “even” is from the Hebrew ben ha arbayim.
As noted in the Restoration Study Bible, “The timing of the word ‘evening’ has been a matter of debate for millennia. It is derived from the Hebrew phrase ben ha arbayim, which literally means, ‘between the two evenings.’ While rabbinical Judaism and Pharisaic and Talmudic tradition define ben ha arbayim as ‘between noon and sunset,’ it became a period of time that expanded over the centuries.
“The Sadducees…and the Samaritans define this phrase as between sunset and complete darkness. See Numbers 9:3-5, 11 and Leviticus 23:5. Based on scriptural evidence and modern scholarship, the latter interpretation is favored.
“According to The Interpreter’s Bible, the latter definition is the older of the two views: ‘The usage of the time referring to that after sunset and before darkness is the older practice’” (p. 919).
The name of this first month is Abib. This is more a description than a name. Strong’s defines this word as “…from an unused root (meaning to be tender); green, i.e. a young ear of grain; hence, the name of the month Abib or Nisan.” The Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew Lexicon calls it a “month of ear-forming, of greening of crop, of growing green Abib, the month of the Exodus and the Passover (March or April).” As established above, the first month is dependent upon the maturing of the Abib grain. Exodus 9:31 establishes that the grain used is barley.
It was on Passover night that the death angel went through the land of Egypt and killed the firstborn in those homes that had not applied the blood to their door frames. Even in the Old Testament it was through blood that redemption was found. Now this also marked the night to be much observed, as it was on this night that Israel won their freedom from slavery.
Fulfillment in Yahshua’s Death
In 1Corinthians 5:7 the Apostle Paul sheds light on the prophetic meaning of the Passover. He says, “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Messiah our passover is sacrificed for us.”
Paul focuses here on the Passover and the role that the Messiah had in its fulfillment. Through His death He became the Passover sacrifice. “Fulfill” does not mean “obliterate.”
As confirmed by the prophets, the Feasts are an everlasting command that will be observed in the coming Kingdom, e.g. Isaiah 66:23; Ezekiel 44-46; Zechariah 14:16-19.
According to John the Baptist in the New Testament, Yahshua represents the Passover lamb as found in the Old Testament. John 1:29 reads, “Behold the Lamb of Yahweh, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
The main purpose for Yahshua’s coming to this earth was to shed His blood for the sins of mankind. He also came to set an example to follow in our lives. If not for His sacrifice we would all still be condemned in our sins.
Only through our Savior do we find forgiveness and a complete washing away of our sins. Without His act of reconcilement we would be alienated from our Heavenly Father. Paul confirms in Romans that only through our Savior’s death are we reestablished with Yahweh.
Yahshua will make the reconciliation permanent at His coming, when He will gather His faithful from this earth to serve in His Father’s kingdom. “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,” Matthew 24:31. Paul adds, “and so shall we ever be with the Master,” 1Thessalonians 4:17.
Leavening and Worldly Corruption
The next annual appointment is equally important and that is the Feast of Un-leavened Bread, the first of the three annual pilgrimage Feasts. We find the command for this holy convocation in Leviticus 23:6-8: “And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto Yahweh: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.”
The Feast of Unleavened Bread im-mediately follows the Passover. The Jews eventually combined these observances, yet the Bible teaches that they are separate observances. As the Encyclopaedia Judaica states, “The feast of Passover consists of two parts: the Passover ceremony, and the feast of Unleavened Bread. Originally, both parts existed separately; but at the beginning of the [Babylonian] exile they were combined” (vol. 13, p. 169).
Another important fact about the Feast of Unleavened Bread is its duration. Scripture tells us that it is seven days long with the first and seventh days being called “holy convocations.” The word “holy” comes from the Hebrew qodesh and refers to something sacred. The word convocation derives from the Hebrew miqra and literally means something that is called out, as in a public meeting. Therefore, the phrase “holy convocation” refers to a sacred calling out or a sacred meeting.
The command that makes this Feast different from all others is that Yahweh commands that we abstain from leavening or yeast for all seven days. What’s the issue with leavening? you might be wondering.
First, the Israelites left Egypt in haste and were unable to leaven their dough. This Feast commemorates their exodus from the corruption of Egypt while they ate unleavened bread.
Second, leavening symbolizes sin or what leads to sin through wickedness, malice, false beliefs, and corrupt politics. As Israel left the land of Goshen they were not only leaving physical leavening but also spiritual leavening, which was the corruption of Egypt.
Salvation Plan Pictured in the Feast
Also significant is that this Feast has a strong connection to agriculture. It was during this time that Israel offered the wave sheaf or firstfruits of the barley harvest to Yahweh.
From the New Testament we know that the wave sheaf has prophetic meaning. In 1Corinthians 15:20-22 Paul explains what this time prophetically represents. “But now is Messiah risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah shall all be made alive.”
Here we learn that the Messiah rep-resents the first fruits of those who would be resurrected. As the wave sheaf during the Feast of Unleavened Bread was the first of the grain offerings, Yahshua was the first fruits of those who would rise from the grave.
As we delve into the Feasts we see an amazing harmony between the Old and New testaments. The same principles we find in the Old are alive and well in the New. Contrary to popular belief, it was never the Messiah’s intent to begin a new faith. Even Paul said of himself in Acts 24:14 that he “believed all things written in the law and in the prophets.”
Paul said in 1Corinthians 15:22, “For in Adam all die, even so in Messiah shall all be made alive.”
Only through Yahshua the Messiah do we find everlasting life, which He will grant at His Second Coming to all those immersed into His Name. Understand that this promise had been foreshadowed by the wave sheaf that was offered during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The New Testament is clear that the Messiah and His apostles observed these days. As we’ve also seen, these observances will be kept in the coming Kingdom.
These times foretell Yahweh’s plan of salvation for mankind. They reveal truth found nowhere else. Therefore, not only do we break our Father’s commandments when we ignore these days, but we disregard vital truth pertaining to Yahweh’s plan of salvation for His chosen.
More info on the Biblical Feasts can be found in our FREE booklet: The Amazing Biblical Feasts
For more info please check out this video on Yahweh’s Feasts!
Check out some of the photos taken at the 2019 Feast of Tabernacles!
Science is discovering that resting one day out of seven is key to physical and mental rejuvenation, good health, and productivity. A cyclical rhythm of sevens is embedded in physical creation, clearly linking Yahweh as the Creator through the significance He places on the sequence of sevens.
As science is learning, living cells operate by a rhythmic clock. This regularity keeps the cell synchronized with other cells, just as it was designed at creation. Scientists in this discipline called chronobiology say seven is the major rhythm in human biology. Many plants, insects, and animals also have biological cycles based on seven.
We humans have at the cellular level internal seven-day clocks regulating and orchestrating our biotic activities like metabolism, maintenance, growth, and reproduction. These sevens, or “septans” lie deep in our neural, metabolic, and hormonal systems.
A seven-day factor is also at work in our immune systems. Polio, small pox, and tetanus each begin to show symptoms after seven days. Chickenpox symptoms typically appear 14 days after exposure to the virus, the same with mumps. Ebola has a three-week, 21-day incubation time. All of these immune-defense clocks are built on a time element of seven.
And there’s more. The defense response to malaria infection and pneumonia peaks at seven days. In organ transplants like kidneys there is a span of about seven days when the body’s immune system may reject the new kidney. It takes seven days for a newborn to fully develop the blood clotting mechanism, and that’s why biblical circumcision is practiced on the eighth day (Philippians 3:5).
The sequence of seven is embedded in the very building blocks of life. Almighty Yahweh wound up the clock of creation and by the time He rested on the seventh day He had left His divine imprint, including the Sabbath, on living systems everywhere. It’s powerful proof of an intelligent Creator.
From the seven days of creation in Genesis to the seven seals of Revelation, the number seven also permeates Scripture.
The Apostle Paul’s observation in Romans 1:20 of the miracle of creation is confirmed. For those who deny a Creator, all they need to do is look at the complex design of creation itself.
Paul writes, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and majesty; so that they are without excuse.” King David wrote, “Only the fool says in his heart, ‘There is no Elohim’” (Psalm 14:1).
Seventh Day Reigns Supreme
The number seven is, hands down, the most significant number in the Bible. The seventh day is the grand finale of the creation week. Seven is at the center of the weekly Sabbath and annual Feasts. These observances will be celebrated in the coming Kingdom.
But that isn’t all. There are Sabbath years called Sabbatical years in the Scripture, and they are key to knowing when the Messiah Yahshua will return in the not-too-distant future.
Yahshua said in Mark 2:27 that the Sabbath was made FOR man. Does that mean we can ignore it or change it? If I say, here, this gift is for you, do I expect you to throw it in the trash?
The Sabbath commandment is the only one of the Ten that says to “remember.” It’s a throwback to creation week and the special status Yahweh endowed the seventh day with from the beginning of creation.
Beyond telling us that Sabbath rest is an obligation, the Greek indicates that it is also something imprinted in our being. In the next verse, 28, we read, “Therefore the Son of man is Master also of the Sabbath.” John 1:3 says all things were made by Him. He was the active agent that created the universe.
Consider this: maybe He not just created the Sabbath by resting on it, but in the process of creation He also embedded the seven-day rhythmic cycle of rest into our DNA and behavior. That gives new meaning to His being the master of the Sabbath, while fashioning the Sabbath literally for mankind.
Psychological studies have shown that we humans don’t function well without a day of rest every week. Without it we are more prone to error, suffer more stress and irritability, we don’t rest as well, and live shorter lives.
We read in Genesis 2:3 of that first Sabbath rest: “And Elohim blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which Elohim created and made.” Clearly, the Sabbath is more significant than just a day to stop working. The seventh day is firmly infused into creation itself.
Even Land Must Rest
The spiritual benefits of the Sabbath are even more profound. The Sabbath was given to keep us spiritually synchronized with our Maker and His design. He blessed it, and that blessing is passed on to us when we keep it by ceasing from work as He did.
Our understanding of the importance of the number seven really opens up when we trace some of its uses through the Bible.
We learn early on that the rhythm of seven is a pattern not just for the weekly cycle but also for annual obligations.
Most people are familiar with the term Sabbatical, a time when professors take a leave of absence traditionally every seven years to do research or travel. This concept of taking time off for rest comes right out of the Scriptures. There we find Yahweh’s command for a Sabbatical year, when planting and tilling the fields is to stop, thereby giving the soil a rest every seven years.
This land rest rejuvenates the soil and gives nutrients. Exodus 23:10-11 commands: “And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy olive yard.”
If today’s agriculture followed the Bible’s Sabbatical year land rest, the soil would be much healthier and the use of chemical fertilizers could be reduced or eliminated. Notice that the Sabbatical year is also a system of welfare, where the poor could go out to the fields at harvest time and gather whatever the spontaneous crops had produced. What was left over the wild animals could eat.
There is another important component of the Sabbatical: financial relief. Every seventh year debts were canceled. Any loan was prorated for the time remaining of the seven years.
Deuteronomy 15:1-2 says, “At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called Yahweh’s release.”
Borrowers would not be burdened by heavy debt from a lifetime of financial strain at high interest fees. Throwbacks to the Sabbatical still exist today in the world of finance, where banks hold certain records accessible for seven years while certain financial instruments have a seven-year depreciation clause. Copyrights are good for the life of the holder plus 70 years.
A person is considered an adult with adult privileges at 21 years of age (3 x 7 years).
Anciently, Hebrew slaves were to be freed on the seventh year, Deuteronomy 15:12 tells us.
Jubilant Seven Sevens
It goes even deeper. Every 50 years, after seven Sabbaticals of 49 years, is another great Sabbath year command known as the year of Jubilee. Look up the word jubilee and Webster’s will tell you it’s a special anniversary of an event, especially one celebrating 25 or 50 years.
Have you ever felt “jubilant”? Maybe you attended a diamond jubilee celebration. These terms are based on the biblical Jubilee. There’s even an apocryphal Book of Jubilees.
You find many Jubilees observed around the world at any given moment. And the concept comes right out of the Bible.
In the Scriptures the word “jubilee” is derived from the Hebrew teruah, which means “a sound of joy or alarm.” It was the ram’s horn or shofar trumpet that announced the beginning of the Jubilee year.
Leviticus 25:9 says: “Then shall you cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall you make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.”
The biblical Jubilee comes after seven cycles of seven and was a time when the land was to go back to its original owner. This ensured that the tribes of Israel did not lose their promised inheritance.
The law of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years is one of the more intriguing subjects in Scripture.
Important events of history and prophecy are tied up in these specially sanctified times.
Feasts Rest on Sevens
Yahweh’s days are universally overlooked, in the same way the first day of the biblical month is ignored today, even when the thin new moon crescent appears visibly in the sky and shouts to all the earth, “This is the first day of the month.”
This natural phenomenon goes right over most heads today because the moon has been factored out of our Gregorian solar calendar.
Much more significance remains with the number seven. We find throughout the year seven sacred observances that Yahweh commanded His people to celebrate as part of His covenant with us.
These Feasts or holy days are the only annual observances given in the Scriptures. Holiday is a contraction of the words “holy day.” Each is tied firmly to the number seven either by when they occur or by their length of observance. The Feast of Unleavened Bread in the spring and the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall are each seven-day observances.
Four of these observances are in the seventh biblical month. They are: the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day.
Prophetic Keys in Feasts
If you want to understand the prophetic plan for this earth and the return of the Savior, important keys are in the Feast days. Each reveals facets of the Messiah’s coming and the setting up of His kingdom on earth in the future Messianic age. Each gives insight into what’s ahead for this world. Yahweh’s Feasts are the only holidays sanctioned in the Bible. They were all observed by Israel in the Old Testament, kept by the Savior and His apostles in the New Testament, were taught by the apostles, and will be enforced in the coming Kingdom (see RSB chart).
As critical to Yahweh’s Truth as these days are, the vast majority of Bible believers are ignorant of them, just as 2Peter 3 describes most people in a different context.
Along with the seventh day of the week, these seven annual observances have been neglected or mostly ignored through the centuries by the vast majority of Bible believers and self-confessed followers of Scripture.
In every key aspect of our existence, we see a prominent rhythm of sevens. We see it in Yahweh’s physical creation, in His command to pause and worship, in His salvation plan, in the prophetic timetable – sevens are everywhere.
Unlike our months and years, our seven-day week has no astronomical basis; you can’t look to the sky or out into space and determine the starting and ending of a week. There is no planet, star, sun or moon that sets the weekly Sabbath. The Sabbath is based totally on what Yahweh put into effect at creation when He rested on the seventh day. It was Yahweh alone who gave each week a starting point and an ending point. The week is divine.
Like the institution of marriage and family, Yahweh Himself established the Sabbath in Eden. That is why He is called the master of the Sabbath.
Even the calendar on your wall continues this biblical institution of ending the week on the Sabbath. Our week that begins on Sunday and ends on Saturday is the same consecutive order of days in effect for thousands of years. The Sabbaths that Abraham, Moses, and King David observed are in the very same weekly sequence that still operates today.
None of the days of the week have gotten out of the weekly order.
Some have argued that the Sabbath sequence was altered in the switchover from the Julian to today’s Gregorian calendar, named after Pope Gregory XIII. The problem was that by 1752 the Julian calendar, named for Julius Caesar, had drifted out of sync with the seasons as it moved slower than today’s calendar.
To catch the calendar back up with astronomical reality, 11 days (dates) were dropped in the new Gregorian calendar, creating an irregular month. But even with the loss of dates, the Sabbath cycle didn’t change.
The seven-day week has been in force worldwide from creation, although some countries have tried to alter it, France and Russia being two of them. Both of their secular attempts to change the week failed.
Deuteronomy 5:15 in the restatement of the 4th commandment, gives some additional insights into the larger concept of “Sabbath.”
“And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that Yahweh thy Elohim brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore Yahweh thy Elohim commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.”
Why does He bring the issue of slavery in conjunction with the Sabbath? Because on specific Sabbath years slaves or bond servants were set free. That is, on the Sabbatical every seventh year, and on the Jubilee, which falls every 50th year. The Jubilee is also a Sabbath year. On this 50th year Sabbath, slaves were given their freedom.
Israel was taken into captivity for 70 years for not keeping the land Sabbath. The lesson is that not keeping the Sabbath, either weekly or annually, leads to slavery in various ways. By not keeping the weekly Sabbath, slavery to the world and all its pressures and enticements is fortified. Observing the Sabbaths frees us from slavery to this world.
Yahweh took two key actions with the Sabbath at creation: “He blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it,” Genesis 2:3. In doing these, He established its significance throughout the rest of Scripture and history. He sanctified it or set it apart as completely given over to Him. This is the essence of the Fourth Commandment, which mandates the complete cessation of all mundane work and the total devotion to Yahweh Himself.
Now, the trumpet call of the Jubilee directly parallels the trumpet that will announce the return of the Messiah Yahshua to this earth, which prophecy and Yahshua Himself indicated will occur on either a Sabbatical or a Jubilee year. Returning on the Jubilee could explain why Yahweh let Israel lose track of the Jubilee so that no one would determine the time of the Savior’s return.
In Luke 4:18 we read that on a weekly Sabbath in Nazareth, Yahshua went into the synagogue and read from Isaiah 61:1-2:
“The spirit of Yahweh is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the glad tidings to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of Yahweh.”
“Preach” here means to proclaim after the manner of a herald, always with the suggestion of formality, gravity, and authority. It is more than just talking; more than just teaching. The terminology fits perfectly the significance of the trumpet sound proclaiming the Jubilee at Atonement.
In quoting Isaiah 61, Yahshua stopped in the middle of verse 2, which demonstrates that as the fulfillment of this prophecy that He was now calling people out of the world to become His followers. The end of the verse refers to the Day of Judgment, which at that time obviously was far into the future.
Here we can see how Yahshua rightly divided the word. The “acceptable year” refers to the beginning of the Jubilee year as the welcome year. Another translation refers to it as Yahweh’s amnesty year.
Note what the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says, “Acceptable year – an allusion to the Jubilee year (Lev. 25:10), a year of universal release for person and property.”
Wesley’s Notes adds, “The acceptable year – plainly alluding to the year of Jubilee, when all, both debtors and servants, were set free.”
Yahshua came to preach the Good News to the meek and humble, those whose hearts were soft and teachable, to give them the truth to set them free.
The Jubilee is couched in the middle of a directive in Leviticus 25 to keep the Sabbatical year. The Jubilee is marked by:
• land rest
• land going back to the original owner
• Israelite slaves freed
In quoting Isaiah 61, Yahshua said, “This day is the Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” It indicates that He was speaking on the Jubilee year and that He Himself would accomplish this. It hints that He began His ministry on the Jubilee.
Death Penalty Paid
The Jubilee is all about freedom. He frees us by releasing us from the death penalty if we repent and follow Him.
The universal mantra in religious venues everywhere is that obedience to the Word is unnecessary and even a bad thing. The reasoning is that if you try you are rejecting what your Savior did for you. But what did Yahshua tell the young man in Matthew 19:17? “If you will enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” John 14:15.
What did He mean by “His” commandments? Was He changing what His Father had already given?
If you are concerned that becoming obedient will take away the forgiveness Yahshua offers for your sins, you have nothing to worry about. We are all sinful enough that we cannot achieve sinlessness on our own. We will always need Yahshua’s blood to cover our disobedience. At the same time we are to strive to walk in Yahshua’s footsteps of obedience.
John 12:49-50 in the NIV reads, “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
Yahweh insisted on obedience to the law throughout the Old Testament, and Malachi 3:6 says He does not change. Yahshua simply took those commands and lived them as an example of righteousness for everyone to follow. He kept the Sabbaths, Feasts, Ten Commandments, moral law – everything commanded by Yahweh His father.
He did it all for a reason, not just to prove that He could. He was without sin. Even the law of sacrifice He adhered to and ultimately satisfied with His own blood.
He led His life to show you and me that this is what His Father expects of us. He applied His Father’s statutes in all aspects of life as He experienced them. That way we could use His example in our own lives and experiences.
If you buy into the notion that obedience is wrong, then you are not following the law-keeping, law-loving example of your obedient Savior who as the judge has the power to grant your salvation.
Just as He was cut off (meaning died) in the middle of the week as He foretold, so Yahshua left unsaid the rest of Isaiah 61:2, which tells of the vengeance that would follow His return. Note the latter part of this verse: “And the day of vengeance of our Elohim; to comfort all that mourn” (Isa. 61:1-2). He’s not returning with smiles and hugs all around. He’ll be swinging a sword against the unrighteous, Revelation 1:16.
A Key Lost and Found
There is no record that Israel or Judah faithfully kept all the Sabbaticals and Jubilees, and therefore we have little to go on in determining the year they should be kept. Regardless, Yahweh knows our desire to do the best we can in obedience. These times will be enforced when His Kingdom comes to earth.
Daniel 9 begins with a reference to the 70 years of Judah’s Babylonian captivity. The reason they were sentenced to a captivity of 70 years is that they had not kept 70 Sabbatical years and had to catch up (Lev. 26:34-35, 43; 2Chr. 36:21-23).
The chapter begins with a reference to the missed Sabbatical years in 70 Sabbatical cycles, and ends with a discussion of another 70 Sabbatical cycles.
The weekly Sabbath every seven days, the Sabbatical year every seven years, and Jubilees coming after every 7×7 years as well as the 1,000-year reign following 6,000 years of man are each a part of Yahweh’s design.
Yahweh marks weeks, holy days, years, and millennia in bundles of sevens. The word ‘week’ in Hebrew is the same as the number 7, shabua. It literally means “sevened.” Shabua has a dual meaning as well, and also connotes oaths. Yahweh is telling us by this word with two meanings that a powerful relationship exists between the number seven, representing Sabbaths, and an oath.
Is it any wonder then that the Sabbath is a sign between Yahweh and His people? It is a sign of the oath or covenant.
We can go even further. You could say the Feast of Weeks or Shabuot is a feast of oaths. His law by most accounts was given on the Feast of Weeks as well as the Holy Spirit in the New Testament to enable obedience to that law. You become eligible for that spirit when you obey Him, Acts 5:32. With both His Spirit and His laws working in you, you become a part of a sacred oath or covenant as His people.
Sevens in the Feasts
The feasts of the biblical calendar are also marked by seven days, which is the length of both the Feast of Unleavened (bread) and of the Feast of Tabernacles. Pentecost (seven times seven days plus one), or the Feast of Weeks, is celebrated seven weeks from unleavened bread.
The commands for these days are found in Exodus 12 and 23, and Leviticus 23.
With many important meanings and lessons, Yahweh’s Sabbaths are also great equalizers. On the 7th day, for example, both the powerful and the weak become irrelevant, as even the ox is liberated and given the same day of rest.
To counter any greed in the 7th year, debts are forgiven. And to counter over-farming and depletion of the soil, the land rests in the 7th year. After 7×7 years, all debts are forgiven and lands are then returned to the original owners. That ensures that property rights remain in a family and the land especially given by Yahweh to the various tribes remained with them.
Today some Torah-observant Jews will lease their land to a gentile for the year, thinking they can skirt the Sabbatical Law. Biblical laws were not given to appease Yahweh but are for the benefit of the individual, family, and community (1John 5:3). We defeat their purpose when we evade them and look for loopholes.
Yahweh’s Laws for Our Good
Yahweh says don’t eat fat. We now know that fat contributes to all kinds of health problems.
Yahweh says don’t eat swine. Science has learned that the omnivorous pig is a garbage disposer and natural incubator, allowing viruses to jump the species gap between beast and man.
The Bible has been proven invaluable by modern science when it says let the land rest and renourish for a year to rebuild the soil naturally. Many enlightened farmers today allow their fields to lie fallow for the same reason.
These are only a few ways that Yahweh’s laws benefit us physically. But the spiritual benefits are far greater. Paul told Timothy, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Messiah Yahshua,” 2Timothy 3:15.
We can’t take Yahweh’s commands lightly, thinking they were made only for someone else, like the Jews. They apply to all ages and all people.
The magnificent number 7 is a profound key to Yahweh’s design in the universe and in His faith.
The number 7 (the number of perfection) is not just related to the reoccurring of the Sabbath and Sabbatical cycles but by sequences of seven it reckons the counting of the calendar. Yahweh’s seven biblical appointments, as seen on the cover of this booklet, demonstrates a symbolic representation of Yahweh’s perfect order, typified with the Feast of Trumpets in the center, designating Yahshua’s return at the last trump. Most miss the fact that the Last Great Day (the eighth day as it is called because it follows the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, Leviticus 23:34-36) is a separate observance in the Feast cycle. Those who do not understand the first fruits offerings to Yahweh try to account for this by inserting a made up “Feast of Firstfruits.” Unleavened Bread and Pentecost both include the firstfruits by their very nature, as they are harvest festivals, which include firstfruits offerings to Yahweh through the barley and wheat harvests. The firstfruits, and more specifically the Abib barley harvest, which sets the yearly calendar, are key to understanding the Holy Day cycle, revolving around the harvest and the future spiritual harvests at Yahshua’s return. Reckoning the calendar with the firstfruits barley as Scripture shows, will align us with Yahshua’s return as He reaps His firstfruit harvest of the faithful.