Biblical calendar equinox or barley

The Calendar- Equinox or Barley?

All of Yahweh’s seven annual Feasts or moedim (appointments) revolve around the harvest cycle of cereal grains and other produce. This is clear with the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, which occur at the barley harvest (Ex. 9:31). Then comes the Feast of Firstfruits, also known as Pentecost in the New Testament. This special time occurs seven weeks after Unleavened Bread and represents the firstfruits of the wheat harvest made into two loaves of bread that were waved (Lev. 23:17). Then in the seventh month we come to the Feast of Tabernacles, otherwise known as the Feast of “Ingathering.” (Ex. 23:16). Tabernacles represents the general harvest at the close of the growing cycle when everything is “gathered in”– from grains to vegetables, melons, nuts, and fruit.

Clearly, the various harvests are central to Yahweh’s Feasts and are key to them like nothing else is. The harvests prophetically point to the harvest of souls in Yahweh’s great salvation plan — from the firstfruits, which indicate His first chosen people, to the general harvest of souls later. Even the first month of the sacred year is named Abib, which in Hebrew means “tender, green ears.” The “ears” refer to barley grain, the only grain mature enough at the time of the Passover to be green and in the head (Ex. 9:31, “And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled” [bolled=podded, BDB No. 1392, Heb.gibol]. “32: But the wheat and the rie were not smitten: for they were not grown up.). Therefore, Yahweh says, “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you,” Exodus 12:2. “This day came you out in the month Abib,” Exodus 13:4.

The state of the crops, especially the barley and flax grain, is the only criterion that Yahweh gives for establishing the timing of the first month of the year. Nothing in the Bible explains how to establish the first month of the year in any other fashion than the developing green ears of barley grain.

In the spirit of maturing crops, we are to establish and observe the first month – when the barley grain is green, Leviticus 23:14 (note the words “parched” meaning roasted, and “green”). Baking or parching the green barley dried it. This was not ripe barley, it was young and green barley. We cannot establish Abib if the barley head is not developed or if the barley seed is dry, ripe, yellow and ready to harvest; by then it would be too late. The barley must be green and this occurs in a specific month.

Can I Look in My Locale?

Can we look at the barley crop growing in our own vicinity to establish Abib? Naturally we will find a difference of many weeks between barley that is ripening in southern Texas and barley that is growing in North Dakota. The same is true of barley that may be grown in Brazil compared with the grain growing in Russia. Seasons are opposite on either side of the equator. Therefore, whether a small or a great difference in distance, Abib would occur at widely varying times depending on where one lives.

The only way to reconcile this discrepancy in growing seasons is to look at the barley that is grown in or around Israel. It was to people living in that area of the world that Yahweh gave the command to keep the Passover and Feast during the green ear month of Abib. It is that area of the world that will give us the proper and accurate time of maturing barley, when Yahweh commanded Israel to keep the first month.

Interestingly, barley originated in the Mediterranean region. How appropriate, then, that we look at the barley maturing in Israel, and not barley grown in North Dakota, Texas, or Australia to establish Abib.

What About 1999?

Two different sources confirmed that the barley had green ears in the head by wave sheaf time in Israel this year, or April 4. One report claims the barley was green even by March 18. Not believing these reports and choosing to rely on barley growing in the United States, some observed Passover on April 29 this year, making the wave sheaf day May 2.

The law provides that the wave sheaf  be of the firstfruits of the barley. Whatever barley field produced green ears first, from that crop the wave sheaf was taken. Once the wave sheaf was offered to Yahweh, the harvest could begin. Harvesting of barley typically begins in early April near Jericho and in early May in the mountains around Jerusalem.

We find a serious flaw with the keeping of an April 29 Passover and a May 2 wave sheaf this year based on barley:

The firstfruits barley would have been past Abib stage by May 2. In other words, these would not be “green” ears, but brown, ripe ears. Agriculturalists maintain that only a couple of weeks elapse between the time of barley green ears and mature and yellowing ripe ears. Therefore, waiting an additional FOUR more weeks would be far too long for green-ear firstfruits.

Note this astounding report about barley grown in the Middle East, from the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges(Exodus 9, p. 76): “In Egypt, according to a farmer living in the Delta (cited by W.R. Smith, Journal of Phil. xii. 300), flax blossoms and barley ripens in Jan.; but, he adds, the seasons vary, and so the travellers cited by Kn. mention mostly Feb.: wheat and spelt are ripe, in any case, about a month later.”

In light of this information, the argument that an April 4 wave sheaf was too early to be seen in Israel this year has no validity whatsoever.

The explanation of why only the barley and flax were damaged by the plague of hail in Egypt (Ex. 9:31) brings up an important confirmation point many miss: “…for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled.” “Bolled” is from the Hebrew gibol and means swollen, podded, in the bud. Therefore, one can use the flax as a second witness to the month of Abib if the flax shows to be in the pod at that time.

Why Not Use the Vernal Equinox?

Some ignore barley altogether and set Abib 1 according to the vernal equinox. The vernal equinox is that instant when the sun is directly above the earth’s equator while going from the south to the north (for inhabitants of the northern hemisphere). It is the time that most people take as the definition of the beginning of spring.”

Those who employ the vernal equinox point to Genesis 1:14, claiming that the sun, moon, and stars set the Feasts. It is true that the sun divides day from night and establishes the seasons, while the new moon sets the beginning of months. Yet, nowhere in the entire Bible can one find where the vernal equinox establishes Abib. We can go even further and say unequivocally that nowhere in the Bible is there even any mention of the vernal equinox. To say that Genesis 1:14 refers to the vernal equinox is reading into Scripture what isn’t there.

Passover is related to spring through the growing cycle of crops. First and foremost, it must occur in the month of Abib. And Abib is a condition of grain as much as it is a time of the year. The King James Version has led some astray in the way it translates moed inExodus 13:10, Num. 9:2, 3, 7, and 13. The KJV uses “season” in these verses, causing some to believe that the command is specifically for springtime, and therefore must involve the vernal equinox. In reality, the Hebrew moed simply means “set time” or “appointed time.” Yahweh has set Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread by the criteria of the crops, not by a purely astronomical reckoning known as the vernal equinox.

The vast majority of  Jews gradually got away from actually looking for the green ears of barley, going instead by a calculated calendar that involved the vernal equinox. This was done for the sake of convenience. But Yahweh tells us that His growing cycle reveals the proper month for His Feasts.

Vernal Equinox and Historic Paganism

When the Roman church deliberately acted to separate Easter from Passover, it ruled in 325 CE in the Council of Nicaea that Easter would fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox. This setting of an observance was entirely man-made, and appropriately applied to a man-made holiday called Easter. The Roman church on its own volition, therefore, bestowed a legitimacy on the vernal equinox as a calendar marker where it had none before — at least not in any kind of Biblical context.

That does not mean, however, that the vernal equinox had no significance among historic pagans and their calendars. Note the following:

  • “Easter, too, celebrates the victory of a god of light (J-sus) over darkness (death), so it makes sense to place it at this season. Ironically, the name ‘Easter’ was taken from the name of a Teutonic lunar Goddess, Eostre (from whence we also get the name of the female hormone, estrogen). Her chief symbols were the bunny (both for fertility and because her worshipers saw a hare in the full moon) and the egg (symbolic of the cosmic egg of creation), images which Christians have been hard pressed to explain. Her holiday, the Eostara, was held on the Vernal Equinox Full Moon. Needless to say, the old and accepted folk name for the Vernal Equinox is ‘Lady Day.’ Christians sometimes insist that the title is in honor of Mary and her Annunciation, but Pagans will smile knowingly.” — Lady Day: The Vernal Equinox, by Mike Nichols.
  • “The vernal equinox has long been a significant event in the lives of agricultural peoples as it symbolizes nature’s regeneration, fertility, growth and bounty. The word equinox comes from Latin and means “equal night” (Tag- und Nachtgleiche). On this day, night and day each last twelve hours. The Vernal Equinox used to be considered the beginning of the Pagan New Year. It was a time of joy called forth by the resurrection of the “Light of the World” (sun god) from the underworld of the winter, from where he arose to join his goddess Eostre.”– by Ruth Reichmann, Max Kade German-American Center, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis.
  • “Babylonians and Assyrians placed greater importance on the Equinoxes than the solstices. The most important festival in Babylonia was the New Year, which occurred at the Spring equinox. This was the akitu, a twelve-day ceremony in which the King, as the son and representative of the divinity, regenerated and synchronized the rhythms of nature, cosmos, and human society.”–Tales of the Vernal Equinox, by Robin DuMolin
  • “Modern Pagans also celebrate the universal principle of Resurrection at the Equinox – which is named for Eostre, a Pagan goddess. She is the goddess of Spring to whom the offerings of cake and colored eggs were made at the Vernal Equinox. Rabbits, especially white ones, were sacred to her, and she was believed to take the form of a rabbit. She is also said to be the goddess of the East, that being the direction of rebirth. Since the sun rises in the East, she is linked with the sunrise. Traditional Easter services stem from this association.” Ibid o “Easter is supposed to be derived from Anglo Saxon Eostre, the name of the Norse goddess whose festival is celebrated by the pagans at the vernal equinox.” — A Book About the Bible, George Stimpson, p. 180.
  • “Ostara, also known as The Spring or Vernal Equinox, the Festival of Trees, Alban Eilir, Ostara, the Rites of Spring, and the Rites of Eostre, occurs between March 19 and 21 and marks the first day of true Spring. Day and night are equal on this day, hence the name Equinox. It is observed by Pagans throughout the world.” — from The Witches’ Web
  • Pagans revere the G-d and G-ddess through rituals or ceremonies of various kinds. Pagans of the western traditions celebrate eight festivals or Sabbats each year. They comprise the four solar quarters i.e. the two solstices (longest and shortest days) and the two equinoxes (day and night are the same length) plus four Celtic seasonal festivals. All these mark important events in the cycle of life. They are: Ostara (Easter), the spring equinox, 21st March: Return of the sun from the south, springtime proper. Some celebrate a holy union between G-d and G-ddess.– from What Do Pagans Do?

Vernal Equinox as the ‘Tequphah’?

The argument has been attempted that the vernal equinox corresponds to the Hebrew word “tequphah,” which is found several times in the Bible. The definition of tequphah (Strong’s ConcordanceNo. 8622) is: “A revolution, i.e. of the sun course (of time) lapse: circuit, come about, end.” From the definition, we find it next to impossible to attach any firm connection of tequphah to a spring equinox. The evidence, in fact, points to the end of the year, not the beginning.

The following passages contain the Hebrew word tequphah as well as its meaning, as indicated by the quotation marks:

Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon defines the tequphah (Strong’s No. 8622) as: “coming round, circuit;–Ex. 34:22, adv., at the circuit (completion) of the year, so 2Chron. 24:23= pl. cstr. 1Sam. 1:20; sig. Sf. Of finished circuit of sun.” p. 880

Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon says about the root of tequphah, No. 5362 naqaph: 1. An intransitive verb meaning to surround something… (Isa. 29:1, let feasts go around, i.e. run the round (of the year). 2. make the round, i.e. complete the circuit. Job 1:5 when the days of feasting had completed their circuit.

The closest we have in the Hebrew to spring as a season is 6779, tsamach, a primitive root meaning to sprout, bear, bring forth, bud, grow, cause to spring (forth, up). Yahweh again reveals that the time for His Feasts is attached to the growing of crops, not to the vernal equinox.

If all truth seekers would realize that the Feasts have profound significance in the plan of Almighty Yahweh, and that His year as well as His Feasts are closely tied to the harvest, then greater truth would be known and Yahweh and His salvation plan for man would be far better understood.

Passover in the Bible

Life Lessons in the Passover

Significant lessons about Yahweh’s plan and your life can be found in the Passover and Feast.

Seeking signs and wonders to get closer to Yahweh and His Word is not the way to acquire more Bible truth leading to life everlasting. Yet, that is how thousands believe they can find sal­vation.

When True Worshipers do great miracles they will not flaunt their successes or sing their own praises on television or radio. Scripture plainly tells us, “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (Prov. 27:2).

Unholy “miracles” will be so con­vincing, however, that even the very elect would come close to being de­ceived, said our Savior inMatthew 24:24. Signs and wonders by them­selves are not absolute proof, and He warned that they can in fact be Satan’s masterful deceptions.
Acts 3:20-21 foretells of a return to Bible truth in the days before the appear­ance of the Messiah. “And he shall send Yahshua the Messiah, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which Elohim has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

We at YRM are dedicated to returning to the teachings and practices of Yahshua and the Apostles that have been neglected for 2,000 years. Truth is much more than an emotional response to miracles and great acts of wonder, healings, and unexplained phenom­ena. It involves changing lives to conform to the life of Yahshua the Messiah.

Bibles Everywhere Go Unread

The abrupt return to the message of the Bible will likely be brought about by some significant event or discovery that will verify the truths of the Book that the world in general ignores. Most homes in this coun­try have at least one Bible and most all public libraries have multiple copies of the Bible. But the general population is ignorant of the Scriptures that reveal to man the very mind of Almighty Yahweh. Something will occur that will call worldwide attention to this Book of books.

It may be that more revelations unearthed in archaeological digs will attract even greater interest in the Bible. There could likely be more fascinating bits of information soon coming to light that will reveal facts about the dark period of history following the first hundred years after the Savior’s ascension to the heavens.

Very little is known about the second century following the days of the Messiah. Yet it was during this time that truth became corrupted and the early assembly became infused with heresies and paganism that would put the early “church” on an entirely different course.

Passover’s Revelations

Serious students of the Bible know that Passover was not something that just happened in Egypt. It was foretold and foreordained long before by Yahweh Himself. Passover is the beginning of the seven annual festal observances given to mankind by our Almighty Creator.

In the creation account in Genesis we read of the preparation that Yahweh made for Passover and the ensuing Feasts. “And Elohim said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night,· and let them be for signs, and for seasons [Hebrew = moed), and for days, and years” (Gen. 1:14).

The Hebrew “moed” means appointed times. Yahweh has set aside certain time periods throughout the year when He meets with His people. Many are unaware of these appointed times because churchianity has ignored them and left them untaught.

But to understand Passover and the other annual appointed days is to uncover our great Creator’s master design recorded for us in the Scriptures.

A Promise to Abraham

Abram is called the Father of the faithful. The Bible focuses on him and his family. It follows his progeny not only in the Book of Genesis but also through the entirety of the Old Testament in the his­tory of fleshly Israelites. In fact, the New Testament continues with the spiritual seed, the “called-out” spiri­tual Israelites. This fundamental truth, very basic to the Scriptures, is unknown by most today.

Abram lived in the worldly city of Ur in ancient Babylon. Ur means “moon-city” and was a great cosmo­politan center where worship of many deities and pagan teachings flourished. “Now Yahweh had said unto Abram, Get out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, unto a land that I will shew you” (Gen. 12:1).

Then follows the wonderful prom­ise made to Abraham of making his progeny a great nation, filled with blessings, and in him all families of the earth would be blessed. Abram obeyed and departed with Lot his nephew, Genesis 12:2-4.

Paul writes in Galatians 3:8 that this was the evangel that was first preached on earth. Many preachers imply the “gospel” is the New Testa­ment teaching as opposed to the Old Testament’s teaching of Law and sacrifices. But Paul said the “gos­pel” began back with faithful Abram.

The blessings that would come through Abraham and his seed in­cluded the Israelite families, Moses the Law-giver and Yahshua the Mes­siah, Savior of the world. This is the true “Evangel” and is taught from Genesis to Revelation.

Passover, Abraham, and Israel

Passover was not just an event that occurred in Egypt and just “hap­pened” to be in the spring. It was foretold at least 400 years before that, and indications are that other events took place that were forerunners of these later occurrences. When Abram left Haran, he took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew and “all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.” Abram left Haran, the city of Ur of the Chaldees (called the city of the moon-deity) with his wife and nephew, along with their servants who were sheep-herders and cattlemen.

Some 400 years later the Israelites left Ramses of Egypt on Abib fifteen (Num. 33:3) and started for the Prom­ised Land with all their goods and families, including a “mixed multi­tude,” Numbers 11.

Furthermore, it has been suggested that Abram left Ur the very same day, the fifteenth of Abib, arriving at Shechem on the Feast of weeks, Gen­esis 12:6-7. There he built an altar unto Yahweh. Some scholars under­stand that the places where Abram stopped signify annual Feast days: Trumpets, Atonement and Taber­nacles.

Amazing Parallels

Genesis 12:20 tells of Abram, with his family, being thrust out of Egypt, just as were the Israelites 430 years later, Exodus 12:33. Both were increased with wealth as they left Egypt. Furthermore, Yahshua Him­self was taken to Egypt and then was called out of there also: “When [Joseph} arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of Yahweh by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son” (Matt. 2:14-15).

When Yahweh introduces His Covenant to Israel, note how He describes Himself: “I [am] Yahweh your Elohim, which have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Ex. 20:2). Not only did Yahweh bring Abram out of Egypt, Israel out of Egypt, and Yahshua out of Egypt, but through His Word He is also calling YOU out of the Egypt of this world! He is asking you to forsake the ways of the world and take up His way of life and follow in the footsteps of His pattern Son Who also was brought out of Egypt.

We may not all be the fleshly seed of Abraham, the “dust of the earth” (Gen. 13: 16), but we certainly strive to be the spiritual Israelites, the celes­tial “stars of the heavens” (Gen. 15:5). This we can be if we keep His Commandments and have the faith of Yahshua, Revelation 14:12. This in­cludes observing the Feast days of Leviticus 23.

When Yahweh made the Cov­enant with Abram in Genesis 12, He emphasized that He was Yahweh and that Abram’s seed would be strangers in a land that was not theirs, and afflicted 400 years.“And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of Yahweh went out from the land of Egypt” (Ex. 12:41). The Israelites were not made slaves im­mediately; it took some time, likely a period of 30 years. Over this time the situation had changed. Jo­seph had died, and the Hyksos (“foreign rulers”) who knew not Joseph took over rulership of Egypt, Exodus 1:8.

Significantly, prophecy was ful­filled to the very day—the same day Abram left Ur and the Israelites left Egypt!

Spring and the Passover  

Passover marks the beginning of the Annual Holy Days in Yahweh’s program for mankind. It comes in the spring of the year. Passover always falls on the fourteenth of the month Abib (Hebrew,meaning “green ears” of barley grain). Abib begins the year in Yahweh’s plan when the northern hemisphere comes to life again after the winter season.

The grass greens, the trees bud and the leaves and fruit follow. The birds build their nests, animals are born, and the warming sun stirs the earth to life once again. Yahweh established spring to begin the new year, not January in the dead of cold winter.

The Feast Before Sinai

Yahweh’s plan for the redemption of mankind began with Abram. Abram was chosen by Yahweh and told to leave his family, leave his friends, leave the land he knew, and he would be shown a new homeland. Yet he would be a stranger in the land as he continued to seek the heavenly Jerusalem, Hebrews 11:8-10.

Passover and the days of Unleavened Bread had special significance for Abraham. Genesis 18 describes him as sitting in the tent door among the oaks of Mamre. When three celestial beings appeared, he recognized one of them as Yahweh Himself! Abraham quickly told Sarah to make unleavened cakes while he fetched a young calf and fed his guests; Genesis 18:6-8.

The Book of Judges tells of Gideon also preparing unleavened cakes for the Angel of Yahweh who appeared to him, Judges 6: 19. The appointed times (Hebrew: moedim) are a special time when Yahweh has met with His people and will commune in the fu­ture.

Isaac is promised to be born of Sarah at “this set time” (moed) in the next year, Genesis 17 :21. The prom­ise is given to Abraham that this Being (Yahweh) will return “accord­ing to the time of life” (Gen. 18:10), which is understood to mean in spring, when the earth comes to life.

The promise is repeated in .Genesis 18:14, “the time of life”is the Pass­over season and days of Unleavened Bread.

When the two angels contin­ued to Sodom, Lot met them and baked unleavened bread for them, Genesis 19:1-3. Lot’s family was taken out of Sodom and protected while the sinful city was destroyed by fire and brimstone.

Some 400 years later the land of Egypt was stricken with 10 plagues, each of which was directed against specific deities of Egypt. Yahweh showed that He is more powerful than all the deities of Egypt. The blood on the doors of the Israelites protected them while the Egyptian firstborn were slain.

Israel was brought out of Egypt, while Pharaoh and his armies—who were in the worldly opposition­—were destroyed in the Red Sea.

Significant Season

We see a pattern here. Spring is the time when the earth comes back to life in this northern hemisphere. It is the time when Sodom and the sister cities were destroyed and only Lot and his family were led out of harm’s way. Neither Sodom nor Egypt could interfere with Yahweh’s plan for His people.

Abraham’s son Isaac was born to him at this time of year, Genesis 21:2. Passover season is the starting point of our walk with Yahweh. We accept the shed blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Then we keep seven days of unleavened bread therewith (in addi­tion to Passover), Deuteronomy 16:3. We feed on the “Bread of Life” seven more days, learning of Him and walk­ing in His ways. We overcome the temptations and meet the trials of life and help others along the way.

Spring is a time of coming alive. Just as the foliage brings forth fruit, we are to bear much fruit. The Feast of Taber­nacles in the fall of the year is the time for the ingathering of fruit and sym­bolizes the coming Millennial King­dom with Yahshua ruling with a rod of iron, Revelation 2:26-27.

Watching What We Ingest

Passover begins on Abib 14. Paul cautioned us not to gorge ourselves at this time, but to take a token amount of the fruit of the vine, and a token amount of unleavened bread as a memorial of the Saviour’s broken body and shed blood.

Then follow the seven days of Unleavened Bread where we examine all the doctrines we believe, making certain all are based on the Bible and not teachings of men. It is much like a spring housecleaning. We cannot partake of the emblems of the Saviour’s death and continue our sinful ways.

Unleavened Bread reminds us to check everything we eat to make certain it is proper food for the remnant of Israel. We become “label-readers” as we confirm the food we take is in accord with Yahweh’s Word.  In a spiritual sense we are to do the same thing. We are to verify that those things we believe are not leav­ened with “hypocrisy or formalism; erroneous doctrine or teachings; political religion or worldliness,” as noted in Dr. Bullinger’s Bible comments on leaven, page 1338.

If you have not kept the Passover and days of Unleavened Bread, we urge you to seek Yahweh’s truth seriously. Start calling on Yahshua’s Name, the only name in Scripture that promises salvation, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

The Choice Is Yours Now

Yahweh is still working with His people, calling certain ones out of the world to keep the days that He Him­self ordained. These annual observances will be kept and taught in the Millennial King­dom, Ezekiel 45:21-25; Zechariah 14:16-18; Hosea 12:9. They were never abolished, and neither are they just for Jews.

One can elect to keep the weekly and annual Sabbaths in this life, learning what to do, when to do it, and have a closer walk now with the Savior. Remember, He also kept these days in His earthlysojourn. He likely will return at the time of one of Yahweh’s sacred ap­pointments (moedim) at the sound of the trumpet, 1Thessalonians 4:16.
Become a part of the kingdom of priests who will be teaching others in the sovereignty of Yahweh (Rev. 5:10; 20:6). Those who resist will be forced to keep these days in the kingdom under severe penalties. You have a choice now. Choose life by obeying Yahweh and conforming to His Word.

by Donald R. Mansager

A Night to Be Much Remembered

Israel was commanded to observe the special days listed in Leviticus 23, which included the weekly Sabbath as well as the seven annual Sabbaths. Significantly, these times are for many more people than just Israel. The Feasts will be kept by everyone worldwide in the coming Millennial kingdom. It’s no wonder— Yahweh com­manded them forever.

In addition, Exodus 12 speaks of a special night to be observed. Notice: “It [is] a night to be much observed unto Yahweh for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this [is] that night of Yahweh to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations” (Ex. 12:42).  The Jewish Tanakh reads a bit differ­ently: “That was for [Yahweh] a night of vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt; that same night [Yahweh’s], one of vigil for all the children of Israel throughout the ages.”

A Night to Leave?

Some have understood this verse to mean that the night to be much ob­served was the night Israel left Rameses in Egypt to begin their trek to the Promised Land. That is, the beginning of the 15th of Abib, the High Sabbath, the first of the days of Unleavened Bread.

The setting sun, which ended Abib 14, saw all Israel gathered at Rameses with all their belongings, their live­stock, and all their family including children and the aged. This first High Sabbath was to be a memorial for leaving Egypt. They were prepared for the march to the Promised Land. The last day of Unleavened Bread is marked by the Israelites’ crossing over the Red Sea and being com­pletely free of Egypt. Thus, the seven days of Unleavened Bread memori­alize Israel’s exit from bondage.

The Israelites kept Passover prop­erly at the beginning of the 14th just after the setting sun, doing so until the captivity.

The Encyclopaedia Judaica reads, “The Feast of Passover consists of two parts: the Passover Ceremony and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Originally, both parts existed sepa­rately, but at the beginning of the exile they were combined” (Vol. 13, “Passover,” p. 169).

Today the Jews keep a Seder ser­vice with the family at home on the 14th of Abib, and on the beginning of the 15th they gather at the synagogue to observe what they call “Passover” on the first day of Unleavened Bread.

Israel left Egypt by night ­the next night after Passover, Deutero­nomy 16: 1. The first annual Sabbath during Unleavened Bread com­memorates leaving Egypt. However, the verses dealing with this first high Sabbath nowhere mention a special night of watching, or a vigil during normal hours of sleep. Nor do we find examples of Yahweh’s people remembering this preservation-night of Yahweh.

Preservation and Beginning

Just as ancient Israel kept vigil the night the destroying angel was about, Yahweh’s people were to observe a night of vigil on Passover night as well. Evidence is clear that the Pass­over night is the “night much to be remembered.”

Keil and Delitzsch agree that this speaks of Passover night, and state, “Because [Yahweh] had preserved the children of Israel that night from the destroyer, it was to be holy to them, i.e. to be kept by them in all future ages to the glory of [Yahweh], as a preservation” (Old Testament Com­mentaries).

A brief review of the situation will help us gain a deeper perspective of this momentous occasion.

This event is really the birth of the nation of Israel. The first three plagues came upon everyone in the land of Egypt. Yahweh sequestered the land of Goshen (where the Israelites were) from Egypt. Henceforth Israelites were not affected by any more than the three plagues.

The Israelites had been told to take a yearling from their flock and kill it at the going down (Heb. bo) of the sun, ending the day. At sunset the 13th ended, and the next day, Pass­over, the 14th began.

Throughout Goshen preparations for the Passover were well under way. The lamb had been set aside since the 10th of that month. Firewood collections and roasting pits were ready. Some of the Israel­ites with small families arranged to join neighbors,Exodus 12:1-4.

The lambs were killed between the evenings (of sunset and dark) and the blood collected in a basin and smeared on both the lintel and door­posts. The lamb was then roasted whole over the glowing coals in the pit already prepared.

Several hours later the blackened carcass of the lamb was placed on the table in their houses as the Israelites gathered to eat of its flesh with unleavened bread.

Everything was done hurriedly, with trepidation and fear. At midnight the destroying angel would come and kill all unprotected first­born of the land, both man and beast.

They WOULD Remember!

The night of the Passover was a very solemn, somber night of abject fear and trembling. The Israelites knew judgment was com­ing and were praying they would be “passed over” by the destroying an­gel and allowed to survive the night. Huddled in their houses, the Israel­ites prayerfully trusted that the de­stroying angel would see the blood at their door and spare them by “pass­ing over” their houses.

Sleep was hard to come by that Passover night because of the an­guished cries in many Egyptian houses upon discovering their dead firstborn. All Israelites were warned to remain within the protection of their blood-marked houses the entire night. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning,” (Ps.30:5).
What a night to remember!

The “Watch” Word

The command we wish to focus upon is found in Exodus 12:42:

“It [is] a night to be much observed (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance No. 8107) unto Yahweh for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this [is] that night of Yahweh to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.”  Strong’s No. 8107 isshimmur, from No. 8104; an observance. Strong’s says of No. 8104 shamar: “A prim. root; prop. to hedge about (as with thorns), i.e.guard; gen. to protect, attend to, etc.: -beware, be circumspect, take heed, keep, mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save, sure, wait, watch.” Clearly the meaning is watchings.

The Tanakh on Exodus 12:42 reads, “That was for [Yahweh] a night of vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt; that same night is [Yahweh’s], one of vigil for all the children of lsrael throughout the ages.

The Passover night’s activities made up the key events leading to the release of Israel from Egypt. It is much observed because it was the death of the firstborn that caused Pharaoh to release Yahweh’s people, bringing them out of Egypt.

Watching at Passover in the New Testament

Following the celebration of the Pass­over with His disciples, the Savior went with His disciples to Gethsemane to pray. It was the night of the Passover. “And when they had sung a Psalm, they went out into the mount of Olives” (Mat. 26:30). It was the custom at Passover to sing the Great Hallel (“praise”), Psalms 113 to 118.

When they came to Gethsemane, the Savior asked the disciples to sit there while He went a bit further with Peter, James and John to pray. He then says to them, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry here, and watch with Me” (Mat. 26:38).
Then we read, “And He came unto the disciples, and found them asleep, and said unto Peter, What, could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mat. 26:40-41).

This happened three times. Yah­shua expected His disciples to stay awake and watch with Him. But instead they slept.

Was it not on this night, the 14th, when an­cient Israel had been afraid to go to sleep while the destroying angel was going about Egypt slaying all the first­born of man and beast?

How fitting that the Savior should ask His disciples to watch with Him so they could recall at a later time the agony He went through in preparing for the excruciating ordeal and the final victory that followed.

Be Awake, Alert

The underlying Greek word trans­lated “watch” in both the Complete Biblical Library (CBL) and Strong’s is gregoreo, (CBL No. 1121) and (No. 1127 in Strong’s, from No. 1453). The word means to be vigilant and wide awake; to be alert: be or stay awake, to keep awake, be alert, i.e. watch. It is translated be vigilant, awake, be watchful.

Yahshua wanted His disciples to be alert and watchful that night after they celebrated the Passover. It was the same night some 2,000 years ear­lier that Israel kept vigilant all night, fearing the destroying angel. It was a night much to be remembered, for on this night the world under Satan thought it had triumphed by taking prisoner “Yahweh’s Lamb that takes away the sins of the world.”

Instead, the Jewish authorities and the Romans played right into Yahweh’s hand. Within twelve hours He would be nailed to the tree at Calvary and put to death.

People, People Everywhere

A question arises as to why there were so many prominent people about this late on Passover night. Was it only because there was a scheme afoot to get rid of the Nazarene? Or was there another reason that even the young damsels were up and about? Notice the Bible’s account:

“Now Peter sat without in the pal­ace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, you also were with Yahshua of Galile.”  (Mat. 26:69).

• “And when he [Peter] was gone out into the porch, another [maid} saw him, and said unto them that were there, This [fellow] was also with Yahshua of Nazareth” (Mat. 26:71).

• “And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there came one of the maids of the high priest: And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And you also were with Yahshua of Nazareth” (Mark 14:66-67).

• “And a maid saw him [Peter] again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is [one] of them” (Mark 14:69).

• “But a certain maid beheld him [Peter] as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with Him” (Luke 22:56).

• “And after a little while another saw him, and said, You are also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not” (Luke 22:58).

• “Then said the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Are not you also [one] of this man’s disciples? He said, I am no” (John 18:17).
It is apparent that this was an extraordinary night.

Why Were Young Girls Out Late?

John 18: 16-17 shows that young girls were up and about, even the respon­sible porter (one who kept charge of the door of the palace of the high priest). Why were these young girls up at this time of a chilly night?

Why the one charged with keeping the door of the high priest was still up we can perhaps understand. But what about the oth­ers? The Savior had just celebrated the Passover with His disciples some 12 hours earlier and had asked them to keep a vigil while He prayed.

Was this not the shimmurim, the night of watchings?

Customarily those observing Passover would stay awake all night long. Many would sing songs to keep awake out of respect for those an­cient Israelites who had huddled in their houses in Egypt for fear of the destroying angel.
Whenever one of the party fell asleep, the atmosphere of the vigil was broken, the group broke up, and everyone retired.

The New Testament supports the Passover as “the night to be much remembered,” especially when viewed through the activities of the Savior. Going to the Mount of Ol­ives, as their leader, Yahshua evidently sang the last part of the Hallel. He sang the lines ofPsalms 114 through 118, and the disciples re­sponded with “HalleluYAH!”

He thus promised to keep His vows; ultimately to triumph despite rejection, and call all nations to praise Yahweh. (Expositor’s Bible Commen­tary, Vol. 8, p. 539)

A Time for Us Today

Passover is an important one of the annual observances. It was observed in the Garden of Eden, it was kept by Israel, by the prophets, by Yahshua, by His Apostles after He rose from the dead, and will be kept in the Kingdom, Matthew 26:29. Shouldn’t we also be keeping it today?

May future commemorations of the Passover lift us to new heights as we rejoice in the reassurance we all have in Yahshua as we keep the “Night to Be Much Remembered.”

by Donald R. Mansager

Yahweh's Restoration Ministry

Keeping Passover at the Right Time Is Critical

Passover is so important that if one is unable because of uncleanness or travel to observe it on the 14th of the first month, it is to be kept on the 14th of the following month, Numbers 9:10-14 As Yahweh began to prepare His people Israel to be released from the bondage of Egypt, He told Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you,” Exodus 12:2.

Deuteronomy 16: 1 reveals this month as Abib, the beginning of the year and first of the months in Yahweh’s calendar. Abib in Hebrew means“Green Ears” of barley. Abib comes in the spring when the warming sun brings vegetative life back to the earth in the northern hemisphere. Pass­over falls in this month, reminding us of the renewal of our life as portrayed by the time of our Savior’s sacrifice.

Because the Passover season ushers in the holy times of Unleavened Bread, Satan continues his attempts to influ­ence well-meaning people to follow teachings and practices outside the Bible. Not only does the Adversary confuse us as to the proper month, but he attempts to delay the proper day Yahweh’s people should observe.

By listening to those who ignore the plain teaching of the Bible, some are led astray to keep a day the Scriptures do not honor. Surely the Word will tell us plainly which day we are to keep for Passover! Yahweh would not make the proper time difficult to figure out.

First Biblical Passover

The seven Annual Holy Days were al­ready programmed early in Yahweh’s grand plan for mankind back at cre­ation. He said: “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons and for days, and years” (Gen. 1: 14).

The word “seasons” in this verse does not refer to the four seasons’ of the year – spring, summer, fall and win­ter – but is from the- Hebrew moed. The word moed (Strong’s No, 4150) means “appointed time,” and is connected with Yahweh’s Feasts, His spe­cial times of the year. On the other hand, the Hebrew word eht means seasons of the year as we see in Deuteronomy 11: 14 andLeviticus 26:4.

There are those who contend that we should follow the Jews and keep the same days they do, as they have been observing the Feast days for some 4,000 years. The problem is that the Jews no longer follow the Bible in the special times that they observe. They have written their own rules missing from Scripture, and to­day they keep Passover a day late. However, they do have a “Seder” service that they keep at home with the family at the start of the 14th. They then go to the synagogue on the 15th for a supper, which they call “The Passover,” even though a day too late.

It would be well to review chapter 12 of Exodus to get the story flow of the first Passover. All Passovers must conform to the first example given us. Exodus 12:3-5 tells us that a lamb without blemish was selected on the tenth day of Abib and was to be kept until the 14th. Verse six reveals that each family was to slay its lamb: “And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.”

Between the Evenings: Dusk

When the 14th came the lamb was to be slain. Scripture shows that the day begins at evening (dusk, sunset), when the previous day ends (Genesis 1:5; Lev. 23:32; Mark 1:32), not at midnight as in our Roman-Gregorian calendar. Numbers 9: 1-5 is clear that every­thing pertaining to Passover is to be done on the 14th: “In the fourteenth day of this month, at even [between the evenings], you shall keep it in his ap­pointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the cer­emonies thereof, shall you ‘keep it. And Moses spake unto the children of Is­rael that they should keep the Pass­over. And they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: accord­ing to all that Yahweh commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel” (Num. 9:3-5). The 15th is nowhere men­tioned in connection with the Passover.

The Hebrew term “even” or “evening” referring to Passover fre­quently is ben-ha-arbayim, explained as “between the evenings” and understood by the Samaritans and Karaites as be­tween sunset and dark. The Jewish Tanakh published by the Jewish Publi­cation Society translates this as “twi­light.” Other Bibles follow suit or trans­late it “dusk.” The first evening is sun­set, the second is darkness. The majority of today’s translations (like the NASB) read twilight, dusk or after sunset – literally between the “evenings” of sundown and complete darkness.

Attempts at a different understanding have been made by those quoting vari­ous Rabbinical philosophies of the Pharisees who later reinterpreted the meaning of ben-ha-arbayim to mean “be­ginning at noon (or later) until sunset.”

Temple Practice

When the Jews returned from Babylon under Ezra, they first observed two days, the first for Passover and the sec­ond for the first day of the Feast. But in a later shift, they merged Passover and Unleavened Bread. There were legitimate changes made by Ezra after the Jews returned from Babylon. For Passover they no longer had their staff at hand, their shoes on their feet, nor packed for a journey. They were now in the Holy Land and lounged on benches. Four cups of drink were added, which Yahshua uti­lized in His symbols of His body and blood, the “cup of blessing.”

Records during the time of the Mes­siah and before show that the Sadducees were in charge of Temple worship and set the Feast days until 70 C.E., when the Temple was destroyed. The annual Sabbaths were set by the Sanhedrin when Yahshua walked this earth. The Savior, along with Mary and Joseph, kept the Feast days according the set times of the Temple, the calen­dar of the Sadducees: “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the cus­tom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Yahshua stayed behind in Jerusa­lem …”  (Luke 2:41-43).

He obviously continued observ­ing the Feast days according to the Sadducees while on earth, as He went to the Temple for Tabernacles, John 7:14. He had no quarrel with the Sadducees and their calendar.

Passover Clearly on the 14th

Following are passages that clearly state that the 14th is Passover:

“These are the feasts of Yahweh, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons. In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is Yahweh’s Pass­over” (Lev. 23:4-5).

“Let the children of Israel also keep the Passover at his appointed season. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, you shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall you keep it” (Num. 9:2-3)

This is an especially significant verse, as it clearly states that every­thing dealing with the Passover is to be done on the 14th, which is the appointed time (twilight, NIV), the rites and ceremonies (rules and regu­lations, NIV) pertaining to it. Noth­ing pertaining to Passover was to be done on the 15th.

“And they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that Yahweh com­manded Moses, so did the children of Israel” (Num. 9:5).

“And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of Yahweh. And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten” (Num. 28: 16-17).

“And the children of Israel en­camped in Gilgal, and kept the Pass­over on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jeri­cho. And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow af­ter the Passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day” (Josh. 5:10-11).

“Then they killed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into the house of Yahweh” (2Chr. 30: 15).

“Moreover Josiah kept a Passover unto Yahweh in Jerusalem: and they killed the Passover on the fourteenth [day] of the first month” (2Chron. 35:1).

“And the children of the captivity kept the Passover upon the fourteenth [day] of the first month” (Ezra 6:19).

Unmistakable Sequence

The above verses distinctly state that the 14th is the Passover, and the 15th is the Feast (of Unleavened Bread). The follow­ing verses are a real problem for those who mistakenly insist upon a 15th Pass­over. Note the similar wording describing when the Passover and the Feast of Tab­ernacles will be observed in the Kingdom:

• “In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, you shall’ have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleav­ened bread shall be eaten” (Ezek. 45:21, note the similar wording, keeping it on the 14th).

• “In the seventh month, in the fif­teenth day of the month, shall he do the like in the feast of the seven days, accord­ing to the sin offering …” (Ezek. 45:25).

If keeping the Passover at the end of the 14th is the correct time, then one should observe Tabernacles at the end of the 15th as the 16th begins and keep it seven days! This is an important compari­son, for the wording about both is almost exactly duplicated. If this means that Passover in the Kingdom will be kept at the end of the 14th just as the 15th begins, then Taber­nacles also will be kept a day later, at the end of the 15th as the 16th begins. But the Bible says that Passover is on the 14th of Abib and Tabernacles begins on the 15th of Tishri.

The sequence of events given in Yahweh’s Word is clear and logical. All verses dealing with Passover harmonize with a 14th Passover and 15th as the High Sabbath, the first day of Unleavened Bread. After sunset ending the 13th, the 14th would begin, which signaled the time to slay the lamb and smear blood on the doorposts and lintel. The lamb was roasted and eaten that night before mid­night when the destroyer came over.

On the morning of the 14th, the re­mains of the lamb were taken out, and the people began gathering their fam­ily, flocks, and herds and assembling at Rameses some 30 miles from Goshen (Num. 33:3) and spoiled the Egyptians. From Rameses they left Egypt as the 14th ended and the 15th began, which Deuteronomy 16:1 says was by night. This took time, as an estimated total of 2-3 million Israelites left, Exodus 12:37.

“Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto Yahweh your Elohim: for in the month of Abib Yahweh your Elohim brought you forth out of Egypt by light” (Deut. 16: 1).

Once gathered at Rameses, Israel prepared themselves in marching order with their families and livestock to­gether and prepared to leave Egypt on the full moon night of the 15th.

“And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow af­ter the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians” (Num. 33:3).

Yahshua Observed It Properly

Yahshua kept the Passover at the proper time and fulfilled all righteous­ness right up to the time of His death. Even by that time the Jews were keep­ing Passover a day later, just as they do today, John 18:28. Notice that the dis­ciples were not confused about when He was keeping the Passover, Matthew 26: 18-19; Mark 14; Luke 22:8-14; John 13. All Evangels say Yahshua was entombed on the preparation day: Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54, John 19:31, 42. This in itself shows that Yahshua kept the Passover as the 14th began; was on trial that night, and was impaled as morning came.

Yahshua kept the Passover with His disciples and shortly afterward was taken prisoner and then severely beaten and scourged, His flesh ripped open. By His stripes we are healed. If He kept the lawperfectly, should we not also keep Passover on the beginning of the 14th?

We are told we should follow the practice of the Jews in observing the Passover on the 15th. Today, far too much credence is given to the practice of the Pharisees, who already in Yahshua’s time kept Passover a day late.

Beware of Jewish Custom

The Jews freely admit that the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread were at one time two separate festivals. However, following their return from Babylon, the two were merged into one observance .and Passover is now kept by Jews on Abib 15. That they kept Passover a day late is clear from John’s Evangel:

“Then led they Yahshua from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover” (John 18:28).

The Encyclopedia Judaica admits that the Jews have fused the two obser­vances and now keep Passover a day late on the 15th, observing it along with the first day of Unleavened Bread: “The feast of Passover consists of two parts: the Passover ceremony, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Origi­nally, both parts existed separately; but at the beginning of the exile they were combined” (Vol. 13,“Passover,” p. 169).

It is clear that the Bible knows noth­ing about Passover’s being observed on the 15th. Bible references show that Pass­over is to be on the 14th of Abib, which has to be in the evening when the 13th ends at sunset, and the 14th begins. Those who anchor their Passover to the Jews ignore the plain statements of Scripture that Passover is on the 14th. They depend upon a  misunderstanding ofMatthew’s statement. “Then spake Yahshua to the multi­tude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not you after their works: for they say, and do not” (Mat. 23:1-3).

Yahshua is telling us that when the scribes and Pharisees read the Old Tes­tament as Moses did, they will be quot­ing these same verses. These teachings, when from the Bible, we are to obey. We are not to DO what the Pharisees do, however, for they say one thing and do another. They tell us from their reading of the Bible to keep the Pass­over on the 14th. But in their practice they keep Passover on the 15th. “Do not after their works,” says our Savior. He also so much as says that the Phari­sees will not have everlasting life, Mat­thew 5:20. Why should we want to fol­Iow a custom of those who were fatally wrong in their practices?

Yahshua is telling us not to follow Jewish custom. We are to keep Pass­over on the 14th as Moses wrote, not as the Jews do today.

There is not one verse in the Bible telling us to keep Passover or any rite or ceremony thereof on ANY day except the l4th! We find no saints keeping Passover as the 14th ends and 15th starts. Yahshua kept the Passover at the beginning of the 14th, and we are to walk in His steps.

His Later Practice

The four Evangels show that the Sav­ior and His disciples were prepared to eat the Passover (Mat. 26:17-20; Mark 14:12-17;Luke 22:7-18; John 13:1-2). Not one of these references shows the disciples questioning why the Savior is preparing to partake of the Passover early (or late).

In both Matthew and Mark the dis­ciples asked Yahshua where they should prepare for Him to eat the Pass­over. The disciples knew when Passover was to be held. They had no problem with keeping this special time correctly and went to make ready the Passover.

A Fabled ‘Memorial Supper’

Nowhere do we find any disciple keep­ing Passover a day later with the Jews, who apparently observed the 15th. The question is, why did the Jews keep Passover a day later than the Savior?

The Savior had already kept the Passover in John 13, five chapters earlier. Somehow a fable has arisen that Yahshua kept a sort of “memorial sup­per,” separate from the Passover. “Memorial Supper” nowhere ap­pears in Scripture. A careful reading of the four evangels shows that Yahshua and His disciples did indeed keep the Passover on the “preparation day,” which is the 14th of Abib. Further­more, the Bible says Yahshua ate the Passover meal with the Disciples.

“Now when the even was come, He sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and be­gan everyone of them to say unto him, Master, is it I? And He answered and said, He that dips his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me” (Mat. 26:21-23).

Some historians and Bible dictio­naries admit that Passover was held on two consecutive dates in the year 31 C.E., including The Dictionary of the New Testament.

Passover is not a “Sabbath” or Shabbathown. It is a time to prepare for the ensuing week of Unleavened Bread. That is baking the “bread of affliction,” and ridding our domiciles of all leav­ening. Passover is for those immersed into the Savior’s Name and is to be ob­served religiously as a Feast Day every year in the spring:

“And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and you shall keep it a feast to Yahweh throughout your gen­erations; you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever” (Ex. 12:14).

If the Savior kept the Passover early and at the wrong time, as some allege, then He sinned and did not keep the law perfectly! He also made His dis­ciples to sin by misleading them to keep Passover on the wrong day!

Night of Watching

As He kept the Passover, Yahshua observed a much neglected command along with His disciples, given back in Exodus 12. We read little about it, but scholars con­tend that the following Passover verse tells those keeping Passover to go back to their tents in the morning after keep­ing a Shimmurim or all-night vigil, a “Night of watching”: “And you shall roast and eat it in the place which Yahweh your Elohim shall choose: and you shall turn in the morning, and go unto your tents” (Deut. 16:7).

This command is found where the Passover is first mentioned: “It is a night to be much observed unto Yahweh for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of Yahweh to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations” (Ex. 12:42).

Yahshua and the disciples kept the correct Passover on the 14th and fol­lowed it by keeping the “Night of Watching” when they went out to the garden. There Yahshua asked the dis­ciples to stay awake and pray: “Then said Yahshua unto them, All you shall be offended because of me this night: for it is writ­ten, I will smite the shep­herd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad … Then said He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry here, and watch with me” (Mat. 26:31-38).

Matthew clearly states that the disciples were asked to “watch” with the Savior that night. Three times He came to them, and they were sleeping. Reading the Evangels, we learn there were many Jews, priests, and even young maidens up and about in this chilly “night of watching” when Peter warmed himself outside.

Yahweh watched out for Israel dur­ing the night the destroying angel was about, and now His people are to keep a watch for Him.

by Donald R. Mansager

Passover Communion easter

Passover or Communion?

“So you keep the Passover?” the young man asked. “I thought that observance was just for Jewish people.”  I then asked him, “Do you practice ‘Communion’”?  “Yes,” he responded.  “Every week.” “Then you yourself keep a vestige of the Passover,” I told him. “The difference is that what you observe has become disconnected from the original truth of the Passover Memorial.”

Passover as the original event is an annual observance, not a weekly, monthly, or semiannual event. It com­memorates the slaying of the Passover lamb on the 14th of Abib, the lamb Yahshua was to become as He fulfilled what the Passover lamb foreshadowed. He provided new meaning in the symbols of the unleavened bread and cup, as now our sins could actually be paid for and removed and not just covered over as they were with animal blood. (Heb. 10:4) Just as He kept the Passover annually, so do His people.

Saved Through the Passover Blood

Why do Yahweh’s people continue to keep the Passover once every year and the Feast that follows? The answer is rooted in the first Passover recorded. In Exodus 12, the families of Israel were to take a lamb and at the start of the 14th day slay it and put its blood around the doors of their homes. That blood would protect the firstborn of the Israelite families from the death angel to come at midnight. Firstborn are firstfruit offspring of their parents. Yahweh’s people are typi­cally referred to as firstfruits in Scrip­ture. The firstfruit sheaf of grain be­longed to Yahweh and was presented to Him during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Yahweh told Israel that unless they kept the Passover and protected their houses with the blood of the lamb, their firstfruits would die, Exodus 12:13.When the angel sees the blood he will “pass over” that house, Yahweh said.

Hence the name Passover

The lesson is clear. As firstfruits, Yahweh’s people must have the protec­tion and salvation that Passover blood of Yahshua provides. For salvation, the Passover is not an option, it is essential! Unless they keep the Passover, ap­plying the blood of the Lamb where they live – meaning to their personal lives – ­they will not be protected from the everlasting, second death. This is the significance of the death angel and sacrificial blood.

Passover is filled with significance directly relating to salvation. Church­ianity has lost that meaning by replac­ing the sin-cleansing of Yahshua’s Passover with the Easter resur­rection observance. It has ripped the memorial of the bread and cup from the Passover and used it in a hybrid observance, complete with new times and its own meaning. How can we find blessings in making up our own worship?

Proper Timing is Essential

As important as the observance itself is, the timing of the memorial is also critical. Had any Israelites kept the Passover a day late, the death angel would have already struck their firstborn dead. Keeping the Passover daily, weekly or monthly would have done them no good. Yahweh would not have honored it. Passover had to be kept at the beginning of the 14th day of the first month of the year as the law specified. Any other times or substitute observance constitutes adding to the Word and is a fruitless, even fatal act (Rev. 22:18; Deut. 4:2; 12:32).

passover salvation lesson

Passover and Salvation

A key to Yahweh’s salvation plan is found in the timeless Passover

Many today have the idea that Yahshua’s plan of redemption was finished when He was impaled on Passover day. His death, they believe, marked the end of the old Jewish system, the virtual end of Israel as the chosen of Yahweh, and the end of the laws of the Old Testament. They firmly believe that Yahshua’s death on the tree, followed by His resurrection, marked the beginning of the Christian era. Along with that assumption is that the New Testament Scriptures, and only those Scriptures, are in effect today.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Yahshua as the Passover lamb held the key role in a continuation of Yahweh’s design for His human creation.

The Passover is the first of the yearly observances of Yahweh and in the New Testament represents the beginning of the rest of Yahweh’s plan, not the complete scrapping of everything He had done up to that point. Granted, the original hopes for an exclusive, special people who would follow and worship only Him had now changed. Because of Israel’s continual rebellion, Yahweh opened His calling up to all who would repent and turn to Him, Israel included. Romans 9:27 is clear that a remnant of Israel shall be saved. Yahweh is certainly not finished with Israel. Therefore, when we look at the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread that follows, we see a progression — and not an ending — 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 are also shadows of events to occur later in the New Testament. What Yahshua did by becoming the Passover Lamb was fulfilled only in part. He spoke of a yet another fulfillment of Passover in the future. Throughout history we see the importance of this special observance. From ancient days to the Kingdom, the Passover is key to Yahweh’s blueprint for salvation of His creation. When the Egyptian firstborn from every house died, Yahweh sent a clear message of obedience to all of mankind. It was the firstborn that got twice the family inheritance, which was known as the birthright.

With the death of Egyptian firstborn, Yahweh dramatically demonstrated that those not covered by the blood of the lamb will have no life or inheritance in the Heavenly Father’s Kingdom. The other lesson we learn is that we are covered by that blood only if we follow Yahweh’s instructions explicitly. If anyone in Israel had not done exactly as Yahweh commanded, not putting the blood on the top of the doorpost but only on the sides, for instance, he would have faced the same consequences as the Egyptians. Yahweh had to see the blood on the lintel, as well as on the doorposts, Exodus 12:23. The entire door frame had to have a blood covering, symbolic of a complete protection from death by the blood of the lamb. For us, it means that if we aren’t totally covered by the blood of Messiah, we face everlasting death. Rather than having less meaning for us today, the Passover and Feast have much more serious implications than they ever had for ancient Egypt and Israel.

The physical consequences anciently for disobedience now translate into serious spiritual consequences for us if we are not in obedience.

Looking back in history, we see that Yahweh began a re-calling of His people at the Passover, ultimately to take them out of the Egypt of sin and unto Himself. He does the same today in the New Covenant observance of the Passover. It is an annual reminder for all who would be His elect not to get involved in the sin of this world or it will enslave us, just as Israel was enslaved in Egypt because they had repeatedly refused to obey their Heavenly Father. Passover offered a chance to rededicate their lives to Him, to turn back again in sincerity.

Exodus 12:19-20 is a warning against anyone who would not take the Feast of Unleavened Bread seriously as well. Therefore, each time that we participate in the Passover and Feast that follows, we undergo a renewal with Yahweh. That is why it is so important to keep these annual set times. Most important of all, they are called His. They honor Him. And they are central to the redemption of His people. At that time of year we rededicate our lives to the Father as we recount the sacrifice of the Son, and remove leaven from our lives in the seven-day Feast that follows Passover. Yeast is only one substance that we are to refrain from 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 fermentation would be classified as leavening. What leavening symbolizes is what is important. Leavening in the Scriptures pictures hypocrisy, false teachings, and wickedness. When leaven is removed, these evils that it represents are symbolically removed as well. His people are called peculiar in Titus 2:14 and we should be different. The context of this verse is of Yahshua’s sacrifice at Passover and what it does to renew our dedication to Him. 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 a light of righteousness to those around them. And the further this world sinks into the abyss, the more your light should stand out in the darkness.

Yahweh’s people should be vastly different from the world. Yahweh’ standards are right and true and stand forever. And if we don’t meet them, we face our own personal judgment. The insidious, moral collapse occurring everywhere is nothing less than the action of leavening. It permeates and works slowly to induce a change. And spiritually, it spells corruption of the heart. Leavening induces a chemical change. In a chemical change, the nature of the substance itself is altered. To be constantly exposed to the leaven of hypocrisy, false teachings and wickedness of the world will eventually create a spiritual change in a person, not unlike the chemical change brought on by leavening.

The lesson of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is to make us aware that influences exist and are real and can change us if we are not circumspect. To be unaware of leaven is to be unaware of the Satanic influences that will destroy us spiritually.

You cannot constantly be bombarded by trash day in and day out and not expect to get some of it on you, to be influenced by it, and even come to consider it normal. That is what we see in our society today. Many are searching for meaning today, but in all the wrong places. Yahweh says here is the way, walk in it. The Passover was a night when Yahweh executed judgment on the false religion of Egypt, and hence the false religions of the world. The lessons remain for us. Revelation shows that Many of the same plagues unleashed on Egypt will again be loosed on this earth in the last days. To keep the Passover correctly and on the right day is a serious matter. Salvation itself is tied to this observance. That is why Yahweh’s people will not ever neglect it. Many think of Yahweh not as a Heavenly Father, but as a kindly old Grandfather, who would never harm anyone and who puts up with His spoiled children forever. But Yahweh punished even believers in the New Testament with sickness and death for observing Passover carelessly, 1Corinthians 11:27-31.

Come out of a world deceived by traditions and practices that are not in the Scriptures. Come to truly know your Heavenly Father by keeping the only days commanded in His Word. The seven annual Feasts and Sabbaths of Leviticus 23 are the real Scriptural holidays that the True Worshiper should be observing.

passover or communion; is the communion the passover; should we do communion; Leavening; puffed up

Passover: The Original and Exclusive Memorial

“So you keep the Passover?” the man asked. “I thought that was just a Jewish holiday.”

Then I asked him, “Do you happen to practice communion?”

“Yes, every Sunday,” he responded.

“Then you keep a trace of the Passover,” I told him. “The problem is that what you and many others observe has become disconnected from the original truth and meaning of the death memorial of Yahshua.”

The Passover as the original event of His death is an annual observance, not a weekly, semimonthly or monthly event. It commemorates the slaying of the Passover lamb on the 14th of Abib, which looked forward to the ultimate sacrifice of Yahshua the Messiah. He fulfilled what the lamb only foreshadowed. He provided the greater sacrifice that not just covered the sin, but also removed its penalty for those who trust in Him.

He as our example kept the Passover annually, as did His earthly parents and His ancestors before that. The Passover is a New Testament observance every bit as important as it was in the Old Testament. Even more so, considering the ramifications for sin.

The Passover is not an option but a necessity for our salvation. Anyone in Israel who did not observe it was cut off, Numbers 9:13. Yahweh’s people require the protection and payment for their sin that Yahshua’s blood provides.  Without it we must pay our own penalty of eternal death. That is why the Passover is essential for us today.

His blood was foreshadowed by Israel’s placing the blood of the lamb on the doorposts, which protected them from the death angel. Similarly, Yahweh’s “Israel” today must be protected from everlasting death through His shed blood. Passover is filled with meaning directly related to our very salvation. Churchianity lost that significance when it traded the Passover observance for the Easter celebration allegedly honoring His resurrection. But there is no command in Scripture to keep a memorial to His resurrection. No one in the Bible ever did.

In the communion they have also torn the memorial of the cup and bread away from Passover and created a hybrid to add additional spiritual dimension to the mostly secular Easter observance, complete with its own time and meaning.

Keeping the Passover daily, weekly or monthly would have done Israel no good. Yahweh would not have honored it because He had told them exactly when to keep it, and He never allowed anyone to fiddle with His laws. His command is the same for us today:

“These are the feasts of Yahweh, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons. In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is Yahweh’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Yahweh: seven days you must eat unleavened bread. In the first day you shall have an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein,” Leviticus 23:4-8.

Substituting other rites and times for what is commanded is a fatal act. Revelation 22:18-19 warns, “For I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, Yahweh shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, Yahweh shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

Yahshua and His disciples all kept the Passover religiously, and He even said He would keep it again with them in the Kingdom,Matthew 26:29. Clearly this is an observance that has not gone away. This is one of the seven annual observances that are appointed in the Bible.

None of the world’s holidays have any Scriptural sanction. None of them were kept in the days of the Bible. None of them are commanded. But Yahweh’s holy days were commanded, kept and promised for a future fulfillment.

Which are you going to keep?

Passover Observed In the New Testament

∙ Yahshua ordained Passover
Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20

∙ Yahshua observed Passover
Matthew 26:17-20; Luke 22:15; John 2:13, 23

∙ Yahshua’s family attended the Passover annually
Luke 2:41-42

∙ Yahshua impaled at the time of Passover
Matthew 26:2; Mark 14:1,2; John 18:28

∙ Yahshua is even called “our Passover”
1 Corinthians 5:7

∙ Passover continues after Yahshua
1Corinthians 10:16-17

Lessons in Leavening

Eating nothing but flat bakery goods for a week may seem strange in modern society. But is it any stranger than people dressing up in rabbit suits, coloring eggs supposedly laid by rabbits, and hiding them all over the house and yard and telling children to go search for them—all to celebrate the resurrection of the Savior? Where is there any possible connection between the ritual and the observance?

Yahweh’s people have a solid Scriptural basis for what they observe. Churchianity cannot say the same when its celebrations like Easter are rooted in ancient practices of heathens and their fertility deities, then rewrapped, relabeled and inconceivably tied to a supposed Biblical holiday.

It is the Father’s Decree

Following the Passover Yahweh commanded, “You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall you eat unleavened bread.” (Exodus 12:20) Yahweh tells us to remove what is leavened and eat only what is unleavened in an effort to teach us significant lessons.

“Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread; even the first day you 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” (Exodus 12:15).

It takes some diligence to do this as there are different kinds of leavening to watch for (see listing below).

But why does Yahweh have us avoid leavening? Why not hot sauce? Or meat? If leaven strictly represented sin, obviously it would not have been placed in other offerings presented before Yahweh (Leviticus 7:13).

We must look closely at the characteristics of leaven, its typology and metaphor to get the real teaching.

How Leavening Works

The main thing leavening does, and it does it quite well, is to spread rapidly throughout a substance.

In Matthew 13:33 Yahshua used this process to describe a parable about the Kingdom. Here His symbol of a woman refers to the assembly of believers. The truth grows as the leavening is placed in different areas. We see it at work when a believer learns of the truth and then tells friends and relatives, who in turn do the same. And thus the truth can grow exponentially.

Specifically, Yahshua was emphasizing the action of leavening – how it works and how it increases.

Yahweh’s Kingdom will grow in the same way. We are the firstfruits among many brethren. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end (Isaiah 9:7).

Matthew 13:31-32 shows how small it starts and how large it grows.

“But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which Yahweh hath prepared for them that love him” (1Corinthians 2:9).

We haven’t even fathomed what is designed for our future. If you have ever had the experience of traveling and coming around a bend and seeing a magnificent panorama of mountains and valleys open up before you – it takes your breath away. Perhaps that is what it will be like when Yahweh’s plan is revealed. No human experience will be able to compare to what Yahweh will one day show us!

We look through a dark glass now. We can only see shadows and images of the real thing. It is not always clear but we do the best we can. Once everything comes into sharp focus by the revealing of Yahweh, we will see why Yahweh has us doing what we do now in simple obedience.

Now let’s look specifically at what leaven represents. In Matthew 16:5-12 Yahshua discusses how the doctrine of these religious men was compared to leaven and how leaven spreads.

In Mark 8:14-15 we have the same analogy but directed at yet another type of leaven. What is the leaven of Herod? Actually it refers to the Herodians. They were members of an aristocratic Jewish group who supported the Roman government and favored the policies of Herod Antipas. They tried to trap Yahshua in not paying taxes to Rome (Matt. 22:15, 21 – “give unto Caesar”).

The leaven metaphor here deals with an evil disposition that these who were trying to entrap Yahshua had: hypocrisy, malice and wickedness. In fact, Paul talks about the same in 1Corinthians 5:6-8.

Take note how flat bread even looks humble. The opposite of prideful glory.

Verse 2 – These Corinthians were proud of themselves. “Puffed up” comes from a Greek word meaning to swell up. Leaven can refer to several things: bad doctrine; hypocrisy, malice, wickedness; self glory, insincerity; and falsity.

Why would Yahweh command leaven in the peace offering and the wave loaves for Pentecost? Certainly not because of what leaven represented, but for what leaven can do. It starts with just a little and grows. The baker would keep back a little sourdough to leaven the next batch. The use of yeast in breads is a more recent practice.

We are used in the same way by Almighty Yahweh to create a new batch of believers. The Word spreads by the influence of one or two and then grows by infusion of right teachings and good examples of living. This Feast teaches on many levels the ways and designs of Almighty Yahweh.

Get the Leavening Out

During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Yahweh commands that no leavening be eaten or found on our premises: “Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eats that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall you eat unleavened bread,” Exodus 12:19-20.

A leavening agent (sometimes called just leavening or leaven) is a substance used in dough and batter that causes them to rise. Nearly all breads, rolls, doughnuts, and cakes are made this way and are leavened. Some pies are, too.

Included here is a list of common leavening agents found in a variety of foods that must be used up or removed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Incidentally, it is not acceptable to remove leavening from your property only to bring it back once the Feast is over, Exodus 12:15, 13:7. The lesson is to remove corrupting activity entirely from our lives, which leaven represents here. To bring it back at the end of the Feast confounds the purpose of the lesson.

Here are leavening agents in products to avoid during the Feast of Unleavened Bread:

baker’s yeast
active dried yeast
baking powder
baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate)
ammonium carbonate
ammonium bicarbonate
potassium carbonate
potassium bicarbonate
dipotassium carbonate

Also on the list:

Beer/wine/alcohol (leavened by yeast)
Preparation H (contains yeast)
Cat and dog foods with yeast
Toothpastes with baking soda

False Leavening

The following are foods or ingredients not leavened, although they may be mistaken for leavening or leavened food. They pose no problem for Unleavened Bread:

  • Puffed cereals Some food products are “puffed up” by mechanical means but cannot be used as a contact spreading agent.  They are just puffed up by air and are not chemically leavened.  They include: popcorn, beaten eggs, and air puffed cereal like puffed rice or wheat.
  • Brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is an inactive yeast, meaning the yeasts have been killed and have no leavening ability. This is the yeast remaining after beer making. It is used as a nutrient supplement to increase the intake of B vitamins.
  • Yeast extract, autolyzed yeast extract When yeast cells die, they automatically break up, a process called autolysis in which the yeasts’ digestive enzymes break their proteins down into simpler compounds. What remains is a collection of protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer.
  • Soda pop Although its name says “soda,” soda pop is not leavened as if with bicarbonate of “soda.” It is made with carbonated water, which has been infused with carbon dioxide in a non-leavening process.

The lesson of leaven is clear. Remove the corrupting influence that leads to sin. Become pure and unleavened in a world of impurity and corruption.

Yahweh's Restoration Ministry

Keeping Passover at the Proper Time

The Passover observance was to begin at a specific time of the day. Leviticus 23:5 and other passages define this time as being “at even” in the KJV, or in the Hebrew, “between the evenings,” Leviticus 23:5.

Some believe that the Passover should be observed in the afternoon on the 14th of Abib, contending that “between the evenings” means any time from noon to sunset. Others maintain that it means at dusk at the beginning of the 14th of Abib. A proper understanding of the term “between the evenings” will show us the proper time to observe the Passover.

Between the Evenings – Ben ha arbayim

The phrase “between the evenings” is from the Hebrew ben ha arbayim. It is this phrase that describes the time that the Passover lamb or goat was slaughtered on Abib 14. The exact definition of ben ha arbayim has long been debatable. The goal of this article is to establish a well-defined and scripturally supportable definition of ben ha arbayim.

There are two differing definitions attached to ben ha arbayim. The Pharisees, in accordance with their man-made Talmudic adherence, defined ben ha arbayim as any time from afternoon to sunset. Conversely, the Sadducees, Karaites, and Samaritans, in accordance with the Biblical Torah (law), all interpreted ben ha arbayim as being the time from sunset to complete darkness.

Exodus 12:6 reads, “And you shall keep it [the Passover sacrifice] up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening” (literally, “between the evenings.”). The Pharisees interpreted this as meaning between midafternoon, when the sun’s heat abated, and sunset, whereas the Sadducees took it to mean between sunset and dark” (Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary, note at Ex. 12:6).

Another authority says, “In the evening. Hebrew, between the evenings. From very early days opinions have differed as to the exact time of the sacrifice. The Samaritans and the Karaites construed it as the time between sunset and complete darkness. The Pharisees held to the traditional explanation that it was from the beginning of lengthening shadows to sunset, approximately 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., and with this the Talmud agrees” (Wycliffe Bible Commentary, note at Ex. 12:6).

And yet another source explains, “Between the evenings – Different opinions have prevailed among the Jews from a very early date as to the precise time intended. Aben Ezra agrees with the Caraites and Samaritans in taking the first evening to be the time when the sun sinks below the horizon, and the second the time of total darkness; in which case, ‘between the evenings’ would be from 6 o’clock to 7:20…According to the rabbinical idea, the time when the sun began to descend, viz. From 3 to 5 o’clock, was the first evening, and sunset the second; so that ‘between the evenings’ was from 3 to 6 o’clock. Modern expositors have very properly decided in favor of the view held by Aben Ezra and the custom adopted by the Caraites and Samaritans” (Commentary on the Old Testament, The Second Book of Moses).

It should be noted that the Pharisees, the political-religious leaders during the time of the Messiah, based their understanding not only the TANAKH, but also on their own rabbinical teachings that are found in the Talmud. The Messiah in Matthew 15 and Mark 7stated that the Pharisees transgressed Yahweh’s Word because of their traditions, referring to their rabbinical teachings found in the Talmud.

On the other side, the Sadducess and Karaites used only the TANAKH to establish their beliefs. Why is this important? Because we know that Yahshua kept the Passover not on the day that was reckoned by the Pharisees, but on the day established by Yahweh’s law and followed by the Sadducees, who were in charge of the Temple. Because Yahshua kept the Passover on the 14th of Abib as did the Sadducees, then He kept the Passover memorial between sunset and complete darkness. That could only have occurred at the start of the 14th to meet the requirement that the entire Passover be observed on the 14th (Num. 28:16).

Other Arguments Answered

Let’s look at some examples where ben ha arbayim is used in the Scriptures.

“I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even (between the evenings) you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am Yahweh your Elohim” (Exodus 16:12).

Exodus 16:12 states that Yahweh gave quail to the children of Israel between the evenings. Some speculate that this was done prior to sunset, thus being easier to capture the quail before nightfall. It is also a fact, however, that at sunset or dusk such birds are less active and more docile and confused because they have more difficulty seeing at twilight, thus making them easier to capture. There is, however, no evidence that this event occurred in midday or sunset.

In the Old Testament Yahweh instructed the Levites to offer one lamb in the morning and another lamb “between the evenings.”

“And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering. And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even (between the evenings), and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto Yahweh” (Ex. 29:40-41).

Both lambs were to be offered on the same day. Some say that this proves that “between the evenings” is before sunset, because at sunset one day ends and another day begins.

This argument also lacks definitive evidence that “between the evenings” refers to midafternoon. Scripturally, at sunset one day ends and another day begins. If a lamb was offered at the start of the day after the sun set (ben ha arbayim), and the other lamb was offered the following morning of that same day, both would be offered the same day. See Exodus 29:41 and Numbers 28:4, 8 for additional reference to the daily sacrifices.

Another example of ben ha arbayim is when Aaron the High Priest was commanded to light the menorah between the evenings.

“And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even (between the evenings), he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before Yahweh throughout your generations” (Ex. 30:8).

The lamp that Aaron was commanded to light every morning and evening (between the evenings) was located in the Holy Place within the tabernacle. This particular place could not have natural light. The only source of light within the Holy Place was that light that the seven-branch menorah produced.

Therefore, because the holy place of the tabernacle had no natural light it would make no difference whether it was lit midafternoon or at sunset. This again lacks anything definitive one way or the other for ben ha arbayim.

The last example of ben ha arbayim that we will look at is in connection with the Passover lamb.

“And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening [between the evenings]” (Ex. 12:6).

This passage alone does not precisely pinpoint the time of ben ha arbayim. However, by looking at the entire context of the Passover the exact time will be made clear, along with the proper meaning of ben ha arbayim. A few facts must be established to understand this crucial Hebrew phrase and the timing of the Passover.

Fact One: the entire Passover service, and everything connected with it, must be kept on the fourteenth of Abib.

“In the fourteenth day of this month, at even (between the evenings), you shall keep it [Passover] in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall you keep it” (Numbers 9:3).

The Passover cannot start on the thirteenth or go through the fifteenth. Yahweh says unequivocally that His Passover is on the fourteenth day of Abib. And ALL rites and ALL ceremonies of the Passover must take place on the 14th, Numbers 9:3.

Further, no part of Passover can be on the 15th because the Feast of Unleavened Bread is commanded to be on the 15th day of Abib (Lev. 23).

Fact Two: Yahweh’s day begins at sunset, and thus the Passover began at sunset. The importance of this fact will be clear after fact three.

Fact three: the death angel that killed the firstborn of both man and beast “passed over” at midnight on the fourteenth day of Abib. “And it came to pass, that at midnight Yahweh smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle” (Ex. 12:29).

If the children of Israel had waited to slaughter the lamb between midafternoon and sunset on the fourteenth day, all their firstborn would already have died, because it is written that the death angel came through at midnight (Ex. 12:29). Another contradiction: Slaughtering the Passover lamb between midafternoon and sunset on the 14th would also demand that the death angel would have had to pass through at midnight on the fifteenth day of Abib, not the 14th, which also opposes Scripture. All Scriptures maintain that the Passover is on the fourteenth day of Abib. Not one verse in the Bible allows otherwise. Yahweh reserved the 15th for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which specifically had to be kept in the wilderness and not in Goshen with the Passover, Leviticus 23: 6; Ex. 5:1.

Understanding Yahweh’s Passover is much like a puzzle. The complete, accurate picture becomes clear when all the pieces are put together correctly. It is a matter of Scriptural fact that Abib fourteen began at sunset and that the death angel came through at midnight, which would have been approximately six hours after sunset. Therefore, the lamb had to be slaughtered at or after sunset on the fourteenth, but before midnight on that selfsame night. Thus, we can quantitatively establish that ben ha arbayim means from sunset to complete darkness, not from midday to sunset.

Modern Translations Support Sunset

Most modern versions, including the TANAKH, New Revised Standard, New American Bible, New Jerusalem Bible, New King James, and New International Version, use the word “twilight” in Exodus 12:6 to describe ben ha arbayim. The Britannica World Language Dictionary defines twilight as, “The light diffused over the sky from sunset to dark and from dark to sunrise, caused by the reflection of sunlight from the higher portions of the atmosphere; hence, any faint light.”

In addition to the above Bible translations, the Revised English Bible, James Moffatt Bible, Lamsa Bible, Five Books of Moses, Harper Collins Study Bible, and Insight on the Scriptures all say that ben ha arbayim is from sunset to complete darkness.


• “Have it in safe keeping until the fourteenth day of this month, and then all the assembled community of Israel must slaughter the victims between dusk and dark” (Ex. 12:6, Revised English Bible).

• “Lamb or a kid, but you must keep it till the fourteenth day of the month, when every member of the community of Israel shall kill it between sunset and dark” (Ex. 12:6, James Moffatt).

• “And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at sunset” (Exodus 12:6, Lamsa Bible).

• “Between the evenings: at Twilight” (The Five Books of Moses, note at Ex. 12:6).

• “Twilight, lit. “between the two settings,” apparently between sunset and the last of the residual light in the sky” (HarperCollins Study Bible, note at Ex. 12:6).

• “From the foregoing, and particularly in view of such texts as Exodus 12:17, 18, Leviticus 23:5-7, and Deuteronomy 16:6, 7, the weight of evidence points to the application of the expression “between the evenings” to the time between sunset and dark” (Insight on the Scriptures, article: Passover).

Likewise, the same support is found in many concordances and lexicons.

• “Between the evenings, i.e. prob. between sunset and dark” (The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon).

• “Even, Evening, Eventide – “To be or grow dark. The evening, when the day begins to be obscured. Between the evenings, the time when…the paschal lamb was slain” (Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies).

• “Evening, twilight, dusk, the fading of the day; twilight can be extended to the dark of the night” (Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance).

• “Through the idea of covering with a texture; to grow dusky at sundown(Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible).


Overwhelming Scriptural and scholarly verification concludes that ben ha arbayim is from sunset to complete darkness. That is when the Passover observance was to commence, both anciently and today. This is provable from Biblical context, modern translations, and the majority of Biblical word studies.

passover high day; is passover a high day; passover is a memorial not a high day; is passover a feast day

10 Proofs Passover Is a Memorial, Not a High Day

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Throughout history a debate has raged concerning the proper timing of Yahweh’s Passover. Many observe the Passover on the 14th of the first month (Abib) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the 15th. Others believe that both the Passover and the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are on the 14th. Still others observe the Passover and first day of the Feast on the 15th of Abib. Why so much confusion? It need not be.

This study will harmonize both Old and New testaments to show that the two observances are clearly separate and distinct.

Part of the error is historical. After Judah and Benjamin went into Babylonian exile by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, these two Israelite tribes combined what is known in the Bible as the Passover and the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

No one knows exactly when these two observances were combined, but what is known is that it happened during the Exile in Babylon. Israelites picked up a number of errors while under Babylonian influence, and the joining of Passover with the Feast was one of them. Because of this error some believe Passover is also the first high day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The Encyclopaedia Judaica confirms the mistake committed by these Jews: “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.

The book, The Torah, by W. Gunther Plaunt, corroborates, saying, “The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread rituals were originally two separate observances which were combined sometime between the events of the Exodus and the redaction of the text” (p. 445).

Clearly, the Scriptures proclaim that the 14th of Abib marks the Passover memorial, while the 15th of Abib starts the Feast of Unleavened Bread. But two particular deviations from this truth exist. One is that the Passover is the first high Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and falls on the 14th of Abib. The second is also that the Passover is the first high day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but occurs on the 15th of Abib.

One central fact plainly obvious in Yahweh’s Word is that the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are separate observances. Consider the following passages (from the NIV):

  • “[Yahweh’s] Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month [Yahweh’s] Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast” (Lev. 23:5-6).
  • “And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of [Yahweh]. And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten” (Num. 28:16-17). Other translations are just as plain, including the KJV.

Clearly, the Passover is on the 14th of Abib, while the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the 15th of Abib and advances through the 21st day of Abib, making a seven-day Feast.

Ten Plain Proofs

At least 10 clear distinctions separate the Passover from the high day or the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread that follows it.

The first proof that Passover is a separate memorial comes when Moses was told that Israel could not keep a feast among the Egyptians. He emphasized twice to Pharaoh that he could not stay and hold a feast where Israel was living at that time in Egypt, in a region called Goshen:

— “Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, This is what Yahweh, the Elohim of Israel, says: Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert” (Ex. 5:1).

— “Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, go, sacrifice to your Elohim here in the land. But Moses said, That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer Yahweh our Elohim would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us?” (Ex. 8:25-26).

Moses knew that holding the Feast of Unleavened Bread among the Egyptians would be disastrous. First, Yahweh prohibited it. Second, the Egyptians were notorious for animal worship. They held sacred some of the same animals that Israel was required to sacrifice during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Moses realized this fact and knew that by sacrificing these animals that he would be signing his own death warrant.

Among other animals, the Egyptians worshiped bulls and cows to the god Hathor. They even venerated crops to honor Osiris, the god of vegetation and maker of grain. No wonder Moses could not hold Yahweh’s Feast among them, with all of the daily animal and meal offerings that were required of Israel during the Feast.

Moses told Pharaoh that it was not possible to hold a Feast at that location. Still, they kept the Passover there in Egypt. Yahweh had commanded Israel to hold a feast to Him in the wilderness, not among the Egyptians where they observed that Passover. How, then, could Passover be the first day of the Feast?

2 Another difference between the two observances is the characteristic mood of each. The Passover symbolizes a day of suffering and pain, while the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a time of joy. Let us detail these differences.

Two major events contribute to the solemnity of Passover. First, Passover is the day that the death angel passed over Egypt destroying all firstborn of both man and beast. Second, this is the day that Yahshua our Savior was impaled on the torture stake for our sins.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is memorable for one great event. It is the day on which the Israelites were freed to leave and were no longer serving the Egyptians as slaves. Their harsh, brick-making days were over.

3 A third reason that Passover could not be a High Day is that there was only one sacrifice offered on Passover, while many sacrifices were commanded for the Feast days.

In Numbers 28:24-25 Yahweh commands Israel to offer various sacrifices during the Feast of Unleavened Bread: “In this way prepare the food for the offering made by fire every day for seven days as an aroma pleasing to Yahweh; it is to be prepared in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. On the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.”

Here is an unmistakable command for additional offering for all seven days of the Feast. Nowhere in the Bible do we find these sacrifices commanded or offered by Israel or any other people during the Passover.

How could the Passover be the first day of the Feast, with no evidence of these other offerings given on the Passover?

In addition, the unleavened bread on Passover specifically represents Yahshua’s sacrificed body given in death for us (Matt. 26:26). But the unleavened bread of the Feast has a different meaning. Paul writes in 1Corinthians 5:8 that the unleavened bread of the Feast stands for “sincerity and truth.” Confusing these by combining the two observances perverts the different purpose and design for these unleavened symbols.

4 A fourth fact is that Passover is never called a  Sabbath or High Day. InExodus 12:25-26 and Exodus 13:5 Passover is called a “service.”

The Hebrew word for service is No. 5656, abodah in Strong’s Concordance, and is defined as “work of any kind.” How could the Passover be a Sabbath when the Hebrew word that depicts the Passover means to engage in work? Work is strictly prohibited on a Sabbath or Feast High Day.

A fifth and often overlooked criterion for Passover as a non-High Day is that the Passover is referred to as a Preparation day for the Feast in the New Testament.

In Mark 15:42-43 Joseph of Arimathaea asks for the body of Yahshua the day before the first high Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread: “And when even was now come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, there came Joseph of Arimathaea, a councilor of honorable estate, who also himself was looking for the kingdom of [Elohim]; and he boldly went in unto Pilate, and asked for the body of [Yahshua]” (American Standard).

Yahshua was impaled on the Passover, which is called the Preparation day, the day before the High Sabbath or the first High Day of the Feast.

Joseph of Arimathaea knew that he had to remove Yahshua from the stake before sunset, which started the first High Sabbath of the Feast.

Another passage that validates the Passover as a day of preparation is Luke 23:53-54. In this passage Joseph of Arimathaea removed the body of Yahshua from the stake and prepared it for burial: “And he took it down, and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid him in a tomb that was hewn in stone, where never man had yet lain. And it was the day of the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew on” (American Standard).

Note the plain statement that the Passover was the Preparation day while the High Sabbath was yet to come. The Hebrew word for Preparation in Strong’s Greek Dictionary is No. 3904, paraskeue, “as if from No. 3903; meaning, to make ready or prepare one self.” The day of Preparation is the Preparation day for the Feast that follows the Passover.

The Passover is a day to make ready for the Feast of Unleavened Bread by removing all leavening from one’s premises. Remember that Passover is also called a service, pertaining to work.

“Drew on” is epiphosoko in the Greek and literally means “to begin to” or draw on toward.” The High Day was about to begin, not come to an end, after Yahshua was taken down and put in the tomb.

If the women would not so much as visit the tomb on the weekly Sabbath (Luke 23:56-24:1), how could Joseph of Arimathaea, a Jewish follower of Yahshua, literally work to take the body down and prepare it for burial on a High Sabbath?

6 A sixth distinction that eliminates the Passover from  a High Sabbath of the Feast is that the commandment of the Passover was only for the circumcised, while the Feast and Sabbaths were commanded for ALL in the household to observe, circumcised as well as uncircumcised.

In Exodus 12:19 Yahweh commands all of Israel, including the uncircumcised stranger, to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread: “For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born” (NIV).

Yahweh says in Exodus 12:43, however, that no stranger or alien may partake of His Passover. All must be circumcised: “[Yahweh] said to Moses and Aaron, These are the regulations for the Passover: No foreigner is to eat of it” (NIV).

A seventh factor that clearly separates the Passover  from a Sabbath or High Day is the strict prohibition against working on the Sabbaths.

This regulation can be seen in two passages. In Exodus 20, starting with verse 8, we have the Fourth Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your Elohim. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son nor daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Yahweh commanded no work whatsoever be done on His Sabbath day. This command is the same for the High Days of the Feast in passages found in Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23.

In Luke 23:26 Simon of Cyrene comes out of the country — a literal field — on Passover day. “And when they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and laid on him the stake, to bear it after [Yahshua]” (American Standard).

The Greek word for country in this passage is No. 68, agros. Strong’s defines agros as: “a field (as a drive for cattle): generally the country, spec. a farm, i.e. hamlet.” Incidentally, from agros we get our word agriculture.

Here one of Yahshua’s own disciples comes out of the agros or field on Passover day, indicating that Simon was working in the fields on Passover day. Neither Simon nor any other disciple would have done this on a Sabbath or High Day because of the strict prohibition against work on a High Day.

8 An eighth factor witnessing against a High Day  Passover is that no buying or selling is permitted on a High Day. When Israel returned to Jerusalem under Nehemiah, Nehemiah commanded them not to buy or sell on Yahweh’s Sabbath or Holy Day (Neh. 10:31): “When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day” (NIV).

We find an additional proof in John 13:26-30, when Yahshua dips the bread (“sop” means a morsel, not a slice of leavened bread) and gives it to Judah Iscariot, the one that was soon to betray him. Yahshua said, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish. Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judah Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judah took the bread, Satan entered into him. ‘What you are about to do, do quickly,’ Yahshua told him, but no one at the meal understood why Yahshua said this to him. Because Judah had charge of the money, some thought Yahshua was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judah had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.”

We see two key facts within this passage. One is that Yahshua’s disciples acknowledged that the Feast had not yet begun, therefore the statement, “to buy what was needed for the Feast.” Remember that this was the start of Passover night. The other fact is that Yahshua’s disciples thought that Yahshua gave the money to Judah Iscariot in order to purchase supplies. But that would violate the commandment not to buy or sell on a High Day or the Sabbath. Would Yahshua have prompted his own disciple to break Yahweh’s law if this Passover were a High Day?

By His own instructions to Judah Yahshua shows that the Passover is neither Sabbath nor High Day. Nowhere does the Bible contain a prohibition against buying or selling on Passover.

A ninth fact is found in the Seder service held by  the Jews today. The Jews hold a Seder on the 14th of Abib to commemorate the Passover meal. The Seder service consists of prescribed foods, each of which symbolizes some aspect of the first Passover in Egypt. For example, they partake of horseradish, which signifies the bitterness of the first Passover. They also eat a blend of chopped nuts and apples, which symbolizes the building mortar used by the Israelites in their slavery. Also during this memorial the account of Exodus is retold and prayers of thanksgiving are offered to Yahweh. The entire family always observes the Seder service together.

What is interesting is that the Seder service is not a High Day service, but a memorial on the 14th, just as was the Passover.

On the one hand the Jews today honor the 14th Passover by observing the Seder service as a memorial, but at the same time they hold Passover on the 15th of Abib. Clearly we see a blending of the true Passover on the 14th with a tradition of keeping the 15th Passover that emerged from their Babylonian captivity.

10 A tenth reason why Passover is not a High  Day or the first day of the Feast may be found in two passages contained in Matthew 26:5 and Mark 14:2:

— “When [Yahshua] had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, ‘As you know, the Passover is two days away — and the Son of Man will be handed over to be impaled.’ Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest [Yahshua] in some sly way and kill him. ‘But not during the Feast,’ they said, ‘or there may be a riot among the people’ ” (Matt. 26:1-5, NIV).

—  “Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest [Yahshua] and kill him. ‘But not during the Feast,’ they said, ‘or the people may riot’” (Mark 14:1-2, NIV).

The Jewish religious authorities were planning to take and kill Yahshua, but they knew that it would not be possible to do so on a Feast day, for that was against the Law of Moses. Therefore, they knew that He had to be taken and killed before the Feast. Instead, they accomplished their deeds on Passover itself, proving it was not a Feast High Sabbath.

Let’s Review the Facts:

The Passover is commanded for the beginning of the 14th of Abib, at dusk, while the Feast of Unleavened Bread comes on the 15th. The Passover is a memorial separate from the first day of the Feast. We have detailed in this booklet the following ten points, which offer unmistakable proof of this fact:

  • Yahweh said Israel could not keep a Feast among theEgyptians; they were able to keep the Passover in Goshenbecause it was not a Feast. Passover is a memorial ser-vice of the death angel’s Passing over as well as thedeath of Yahshua under the renewed Covenant.
  • Passover is a time of pain and suffering; the Feast is atime to joyfully celebrate freedom.
  • Passover had only one sacrificial offering, while each dayof the Feast had many commanded sacrifices.
  • The unleavened bread of the Passover service has dif-ferent meaning and significance from the unleavenedbread eaten each day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
  • Work was done on the Passover; work was prohibitedon the High Days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
  • Only the circumcised could observe Passover; all werecommanded to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
  • Passover is never called a High Day or Sabbath. Rather,it is called the Preparation day for the Feast.
  • Commerce was done on Passover day; commerce wasprohibited on all Feast High Days.
  • The Seder on the 14th is a throwback to the true Pass-over and is not a High Day.
  • The Jewish leaders would not take and kill Yahshua on aHigh Day; but they did do so on the Passover.

Our desire is to keep the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread properly as commanded in the Scriptures. If we take all the evidence into consideration, we are left with only one conclusion: Passover is on the 14th, the Feast of Unleavened begins with a High Day on the 15th.

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wine grape juice passover

Wine or Grape Juice for Passover?

Many people assume from their experience with “communion” that wine is the proper liquid to represent the memorial shedding of the Savior’s blood at Passover.

But was it wine that was in the Passover cup? There was once a group that could not decide, so they offered both wine and grape juice at the Passover memorial. Are we not commanded to discern what is right and proper from what is not? According to IKings 18:21,we are.

Have you ever investigated the meaning of the Passover cup and its symbolic contents?

Life in the Blood

A basic principle in the Bible is that the only possible atonement for the act of sin is a giving up of life. And the ONLY way we can be free of sin’s death penalty, which we have all earned because of our sins, is through blood, which contains life, Leviticus 17:11.

Israel’s sins were covered under an elaborate system of sacrifices in which animal blood was shed. That system gave way to a better sacrifice in the New Testament. Yahshua shed His blood on the torture stake as the perfect sacrifice. His blood paid the death penalty for our sins, just as the blood of animals was shed under the Old Covenant merely to cover Israel’s sins (but not take them away). Read Hebrews 9:13-15.

Contrary to what many believe, the principle of sacrifice remains, only now instead of animal sacrifice, it is the sacrifice of the Savior and the shedding of His blood that we trust in.

What Represents Blood?

Our Savior instituted a new symbol at that New Covenant Passover–the cup. This symbol represented the blood of the perfect Lamb, which was He Himself.

The question is, what liquid represented His pure, sinless life? Wine? Grape juice? Water? Is there any way we can know?

Yes, there is! Does it really matter? It certainly does, because one is right and proper, the rest are wrong and of no effect. Some readJohn 4:46 and say the cup should contain water, because Yahshua changed water into wine at Cana. They also opt for water in the cup because both blood and water came out of the Savior’s side when He was pierced by the Roman soldier while on the stake.

But the cup must symbolize blood. At best, John 4:46 shows only an association between water and wine, not water and blood.

The fact that both water and blood issued from His pierced side proves nothing in relation to the Passover cup. If He had shed only water on the torture stake, then we could conceivably call water his shed “blood.” But His blood is what saves us, not water. Therefore, we must find something other than water as the proper symbol for His blood.

Grape Juice Analogous to Blood

The Old Testament never mentions a cup for Passover–only the lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. You might be wondering, but what about the drink offering?

The drink offering used in regular Old Testament sacrifices comes from the Hebrew word “nacak,” and it means to pour out. Although called a “drink” offering because it was liquid, it was not drunk but always “poured out” at the altar. Paul wrote to Timothy that he was ready to be offered (Greek “spendomai,” poured out like a drink offering”) at the end of his ministry. The drink offering, therefore, can give us no clue as to the contents of the cup that was drunk in the New Covenant Passover service.

An important indication of the cup’s contents, however, is found in the Hebrew word for blood, “dam.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Hebrew Dictionary defines “dam” or blood: “(as that which when shed causes death) of man or an animal; by anal. the juice of the grape; fig. (especially in the plur.) bloodshed(i.e. drops of blood).”

‘Wine’ Never Used for ‘Cup’

Both Yahshua and Paul referred to the Passover beverage simply as “cup” or “fruit of the vine.” They NEVER used “wine” in referring to the cup.

Fermented wine is the Greek “oinos,” used 28 times in the New Testament, but NEVER for the contents of the Passover cup.

What we can deduce, then, is that “fruit of the Vine” properly represents His blood (Luke 22:20). But is that fruit of the vine fermented, or is it the pure, unadulterated juice of the grape? Had the New Testament writers used “gleukos,” the other word for fermented wine (occurring one time in Acts 2:13), the meaning would be clear.

But just as they did not use “oinos” (fermented wine), neither did they employ “gleukos” in reference to the Passover cup. Why? Is there a reason they did not use “wine” when speaking of the Passover cup?

Wine Symbolic of Retribution, Celebration

Let’s look at the symbolic attributes of wine and see whether this substance would be appropriate for the solemn, redemptive Passover observance. In the prophetic Book of Revelation we find clear, symbolic meaning in wine. In 14:8 wine represents wrath unleashed for Babylon’s fornication. Verse 10 reads, “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of Elohim, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation…”

Wine (“oinos”) symbolizes the fierceness of Yahweh’s wrath in Revelation 16:19. He calls it “wine of her [Babylon’s] fornication” in 17:2. The use of wine (“oinos”) in other parts of the New Testament is significant as well.

In the New Testament wine is used in celebration, during times of rejoicing. The first miracle Yahshua performed was to change water to wine at a wedding feast, John 2. It is a celebration drink.

Upon Abraham’s victorious return from battle with the kings, Genesis 14:18, Melchizedek greeted him with bread and wine (“yayin”–a fermented drink).

Similarly, in Deuteronomy 14:26 we find that wine is expressly used for REJOICING at Yahweh’s joyous Feasts (“wine” here is the Greek “shekar,” an intoxicant, but we are commanded against drunkenness, Eph. 5:18).

Wine, therefore, would be inappropriate for the solemn, deadly SERIOUS and even frightening observance of the Passover (recall that the death angel struck absolute FEAR into the hearts of Israel).

Paul chastized the once pagan Corinthian Assembly for coming together at Passover to gorge themselves on food and drink. He showed in 1Corinthians 11 that the Passover was a solemn occasion and not a festive time. It is a time for sober introspection, v. 28.

Wine at the Passover would be inappropriate in light of what Paul was teaching about sobriety and humility at Passover. Both wine (yayin) and “strong drink” were expressly forbidden during worship services, “that you may put difference between holy and unholy, between clean and unclean.” This was a statute Yahweh gave forever, for “all generations” (Lev. 10:9-11). Under the New Covenant, an elder is not to be “given to wine,” 1Timothy 3:3.

Intoxicants simply have no place in a worship setting.

Wine: Chemically Altered and Leavened

Wine is not a firstfruit of the grape. It is a byproduct. Wine is produced when yeast, a leavening agent, acts on the sugar molecule of fruit juice to produce ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide. Wine, then, is juice that has been chemically changed into something different. It is not the original, pure fruit of the vine, but a secondary byproduct. As a symbol for the pure, uncorrupted, sinless blood of Yahshua, a modified substance like wine would be inadequate. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Messiah?…” (1Cor. 10:16)

More importantly, wine has been leavened in the same way bread is leavened by yeast. The Passover was to be eaten only with unleavened bread, Exodus 12:8. Nothing leavened was to be used at the Passover Memorial.

Unleavened bread represents Yahshua’s body unchanged by the corruption of sin, Mark 14:22. Similarly, the cup represents His pure blood, untainted by outside influences of the sinful world. Would a chemically altered drink like wine best represent His pure, unadulterated blood, or would the virgin juice from the grape?

Blood of the Grape

Biblically, the symbolism between blood and the pure juice of the grape is unmistakable.

In Genesis 49:11 we find a reference to the “blood of grapes.” A citation to drinking the “pure blood of the grape” is found inDeuteronomy 32:14.

Isaiah 63:1 speaks prophetically of the returning Messiah Yahshua, who comes from Edom (“red”) with dyed garments (red from blood) from Bozrah (meaning “vintage”–the yield of grapes from a grape crop).

Verse 2 reads, “Wherefore are you red in your apparel, and your garments like him that treads in the winefat?” “Winefat” is the Hebrew “gath,” which means to tread out grapes. It is not “yekeb,” which would be a wine-vat or a container storing wine.

“I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with Me: for I will tread them in Mine anger and trample them in My fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garment, and I will stain all My raiment,” Isaiah 63:3.

“Winepress” is a misnomer. It is in fact a trough for squeezing grape juice, with a drain at one lower end. The grapes were pressed down and the juice flowed out the drain. Here, the juice that flows from the grapes is equated with the blood of those whom Yahshua will destroy when He returns. Their blood is equated with the “blood of the grape”–grape juice.

The analogy is complete in Revelation 14:20, where “blood came out of the winepress.” “Blood” here is the Greek “haima,” and according to Strong’s Concordance Greek Dictionary means: “Blood, lit. (of men or animals), fig. (the juice of grapes) or spec. (the atoning blood of [Messiah]).”

Savior as a Firstfruits

Yahshua is the firstfruit sacrifice for man, 1Corinthians 15:20. The people were to offer the firstfruits of their produce to the priests,Deuteronomy 18:4–“…the firstfruit also of your corn, of your wine…” “Wine” here is “tirosh.”

For more uses of “tirosh” as freshly pressed juice of the winepress, see 2Chronicles 31:4-5 and Nehemiah 10:37-39; 13:5, 12. Just as the winepress is really a giant grape juice press, so wine is also used metaphorically for grapes. “As the new wine [Heb. “tirosh,” fresh grape juice] is found in the cluster…” Isaiah 65:8. We don’t find wine in a cluster, but we do find grapes that way.

“New wine” signifies the best–that juice which squeezes out by the sheer weight of the grapes in the winepress, before the treading. Thus, it is the firstfruits of the grape batch.

Yahshua is called the firstfruit of the dead, and the true vine. This pure firstfruit can only equate with the first of the freshly squeezed grape juice, not with a byproduct or wine, adulterated through chemical change.

Pure, unadulterated juice is the only proper symbol of the pure, saving blood of Yahshua the Messiah in the Passover. Grape juice is the only symbol that fits all the criteria and offers the only symbolism that is unique to His pure, precious blood.

Paul tells us that the Savior represents the first of the harvest: “But now is the Messiah risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1Cor. 15:20).

Firstfruits offerings were commanded of Israel in Deuteronomy 18:4: “The firstfruit also of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil…” “Wine” here is the Hebrew “tirosh,” meaning freshly pressed juice. Similarly in Isaiah 65:8 we read of the “new wine [“tirosh,” fresh grape juice] found in the cluster” (see 2Chron. 31:4-5; Neh. 10:37-39; 13:5, 12).

Yahshua is actually the first of the firstfruits, 1Corinthians 15:23, and the true vine, John 15:1. This pure Firsfruit can only equate with the first of the freshly squeezed grape juice, not with the byproduct known as wine, which has been mixed with yeast spores and changed through aging and chemical action.

Can Grape Juice Be Preserved?

Some years ago a number of wine producers and processors of grape juice were contacted with the question, “Could grape juice have been preserved in the Holy Land 2,000 years ago from the fall of the year until early spring?” The response was equally divided. Those producing wine expressed doubts that grape juice could be preserved. Those producing grape juice stated it was possible even under primitive conditions, to do so. Furthermore, grapes in Israel had a high content of sugar, which was an advantage in preservation, some pointed out.

The Living Bible Encyclopedia in Story and Pictures explains how grape juice could be preserved: “The means for preserving grape juice were well known. Kato (De Agri Cultura CXX) has this recipe: ‘If you wish to have must [grape juice] all year, put grape juice in an amphora and seal the cork with pitch. Sink it in a fish pond. After 30 days take it out. It will be grape juice for a whole year’” (vol. 16, pp. 2088-2089).

Another method of preserving grape juice was to concentrate the juice by boiling it into a syrup. Stored in a cool place, this concentrate would not ferment. Adding water later yielded a sweet, unfermented grape juice. This was common in ancient times.

Still another way to have grape juice all year was to finely chop raisins, which are dried grapes–and then add water to produce the reconstituted juice.

Yahshua Kept His Promise

As Yahshua was participating in His memorial with His disciples, He said: “Drink you all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:27-29). About to die, Yahshua said He would not drink of the “fruit of the vine” until He was with them in the Kingdom. If the Passover cup contained wine, as some allege, then He broke that promise. Why is that? Simply this:

John 19:28-29 reveals that Yahshua’s thirst was satisfied when on the tree they gave Him “vinegar” (“oxos” in Greek), which is described as an inferior, common wine drunk by soldiers and laborers. (The Complete Biblical Library) “When Yahshua therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the Spirit” (John 19:30).

Yahshua had refused the wine (“oxos”) four times, but just before His death He did receive the wine. Had the previous Passover cup contained wine instead of “fruit of the vine” (grape juice), He would have broken His word not to drink of it again after the Passover and before the Kingdom.

Grape juice had to have been in the Passover cup. Pure, unadulterated “blood of the grape” is the only proper symbol for the pure, saving blood of Yahshua the Messiah in the Passover.