Answering the questions about what time of day to observe the Passover Memorial, whether Passover is the 14th or 15th of Abib, and whether or not Yahshua Himself observed the Passover memorial before He died
The root meaning of “Passover” (Hebrew Pacach, Strong’s No. 6452) is to “hop, skip over.” Its name is derived from the death angel’s “passing over” the homes of the Israelites on the 14th at midnight, Exodus 12:29. The Passover memorial and subsequent applying of the protective blood to the homes of the Israelites was observed at dusk prior to the angel’s passing over. Here is confirmation of these facts from the Scriptures.
A key passage to knowing the time of Passover is Deuteronomy 16:6: “But at the place which [Yahweh your Elohim] shall choose to place his name in, there you shall sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.”
The time of year the Passover was observed was Abib, the month of green ears of barley, Deuteronomy 16:1. “Going down” of the sun is the Hebrew bow. This key Hebrew word shows what time of day the Passover memorial is to be taken. “At even” is the Hebrew ben ha arbayim meaning between the evenings or between sunset and dark. We will look at the meaning of the Hebrew bowfirst.
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Hebrew Dictionary shows the meaning of bow (935): to go in, enter, come, go, come in. It means the sun as it goes down into the horizon.
The following verses illustrate the translation of the Hebrew word bow. These passages confirm that bow means at sunset or when the sun goes into the horizon, according to Brown, Driver and Briggs Hebrew Lexicon:
Genesis 15:12, the sun was about to set, and verse 17; when the sun set;
Genesis 28:11, the sun had set;
Exodus 17:12, until the sun set;
Exodus 22:26, before the sun sets;
Leviticus 22:7, as soon as the sun sets;
Deuteronomy 23:11, at sundown; 24:13, at sun down; 24:15, same day before the sun sets;
Joshua 8:29, at sunset; 10:13, did not press on to set – [hasted not to go down]; 10:27, at sunset;
Judges 19:14, the sun set;
2Samuel 2:24, the sun was setting.
Note that the lamb was to kept UNTIL the fourteenth (“until” is the Hebrew “ad,” meaning “as far as,” “even unto,” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance No. 5704). According to the preposition, it was not to be kept up to the END of the fourteenth, but up to the BEGINNING of the fourteenth.
Here is how various translations render Deuteronomy 16:6:
New American Standard
“But at the place where [Yahweh your Elohim] chooses to establish His name, you shall sacrifice the Passover in the evening at sunset, at the time that you came out of Egypt.”
New Revised Standard
“But at the place that [Yahweh your Elohim] will choose as a dwelling for his name, only there shall you offer the passover sacrifice,in the evening at sunset, the time of day when you departed from Egypt.”
Complete Jewish Bible
“But at the place where [Yahweh your Elohim] will choose to have his name live – there is where you are to sacrifice the Pesach offering, in the evening, when the sun sets, at the time of year that you came out of Egypt.”
The Bible in Basic English
“But in the place marked out by [Yahweh your Elohim] as the resting-place of his name, there you are to put the Passover to death in the evening, at sundown, at that time of the year when you came out of Egypt.”
New King James Version
“But at the place where [Yahweh your Elohim] chooses to make His name abide, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight, at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt.”
Young’s Literal Translation
“Except at the place which [Yahweh your Elohim] doth choose to cause His name to tabernacle — there thou dost sacrifice the passover in the evening, at the going in of the sun, the season of thy coming out of Egypt.”
“There you must sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversary of your departure from Egypt.”
Tanak “But at this place where [Yahweh] your Elohim will choose to establish His name, there alone shall you slaughter the Passover sacrifice, in the evening, at sundown, the time of day when you departed from Egypt.”
James Moffatt on Exodus 12:6: “But you must keep it till the fourteenth day of the same month, when every member of the community of Israel shall kill it between sunset and dark.”
Holman Christian Standard Bible “You must only sacrifice the Passover animal at the place where [Yahweh your Elohim] chooses to have His name dwell. [Do this] in the evening as the sun sets at the [same] time [of day] you departed from Egypt.”
(NOTE: These Bible translators had no doctrinal agenda to promote or gain in their translation of this verse. They simply translated the Hebrew in the clearest, most precise way they could.)
Leviticus 23:5 reads, “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is Yahweh’s passover.”
The word even is the Hebrew ereb = even (6150) rendered “evening, night, sunset” (Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon. It is translated thusly = “even” 72 times, “evening” 47 times, “night” 4 times)
Hebrew scholars confirm that ben ha arbayim means dusk, twilight:
Ben Yehudah’s English and Hebrew Dictionary, page 98, says “dusk” is English for the Hebrew phrase “beyn-ha-arbayim.”
J.H. Hertz, a Jewish commentator who edited the Pentateuch and Haftorah, translated “between the two evenings” as “dusk,” inLeviticus 23:5, Exodus 12:6, Numbers 9:1 and 11.
The Jewish Family Bible according to the Masoretic text (editors Rabbi Morris A. Gutstein, Ph.D., D.H.L. and Rabbi David Gravbart D.D., Ph.D.) translates “between the two evenings” as “dusk.”
Dictionaries define dusk as the time after sunset and before total darkness:
Oxford English Dictionary (OED): dusk = “dark from the absence of light. The dark stage of twilight before it is quite dark at night; to become dim, grow dark.”
Dusk is synonymous with twilight:
OED: twilight = “The light diffused by the reflection of the sun’s rays from the atmosphere before sunrise and after sunset.”
The Sadducees, the Karaites, and Samaritans, who were in charge of temple worship, observed Passover at sunset at the start of the 14th, not mid-afternoon of the 14th. The Pharisees later changed the Passover to the 15th, adding many other non-scriptural traditions the rabbinical Jews still follow today.
The Interpreter’s Bible confirms that the Hebrew expression, “ben-ha-arbayim” has been reinterpreted by the Jews, revealing that the rabbinical teaching of from noon onward is a newer teaching. Notice: “The usage of the time referring to that after sunset and before darkness is the older practice,” page 919.
When the Spoiling of the Egyptians Occurred
The people were not told to spoil the Egyptians until just before the last plague fell, as we read in Exodus 11:1-2:
“And [Yahweh] said to Moses, I will bring but one more plague upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; after that he shall let you go from here; indeed, when he lets you go, he will drive you out of here one and all. Tell the people to borrow, each man from his neighbor and each woman from hers, object of silver and gold.”
This is the first time that Moses is allowed to tell the entire congregation of Israel that they are to spoil the Egyptians. Moses told only the elders of Yahweh’s plan before this time, Exodus 3:16, 22. Later, the King James reads, “Speak now in the ears of the people…” Exodus 11:2. Up to this point Moses had not made this known, but now—just before Passover—the people shall learn that they are to borrow from the Egyptians.
Passover is on the 14th, Feast of Unleavened Bread is on the 15th—two separate observances
*Passover is SPECIFICALLY commanded as the 14th of Abib: Lev. 23:5; Num. 9:3,5, 11; 28:16; 2Chron. 30:15; Ezra 6:19;Josh. 5:10
*Feast of Unleavened Bread is SPECIFICALLY commanded as the 15th of Abib: Lev. 23:6; Num. 28:17
A revealing admission is found in the Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 13, article “Passover,” page 169: “The feast of Passover consists of two parts: namely, Passover ceremony, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Originally, both parts existed separately; but the beginning of the exile they were combined.”
The Jewish Encyclopedia on page 553, dealing with Passover and the days of Unleavened Bread, says, “Two festivals, originally distinct, have become merged.”
Hastings Bible Dictionary says on page 686, article “Passover,” “Passover is always carefully distinguished from mazzoth [unleavened], which begins on the following day.” Hastings points out that each constitutes a separate observance, each on an entirely different day.
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, page 729, article, “Passover, “ states:“Originally, both were separate feasts…”
Yahshua ate the Passover with His Disciples at the start of the 14th exactly as the Law mandated, or else He risked being “cut off”:
“On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to [Yahshua], saying, Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover? He said Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, The Teacher says, ‘My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples,’” Matthew 26:17-18 NRSV.
The parallel account in Mark reads, “The Teacher asks, where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples…Make preparations for us there, “ Mark 14:14-15.
Luke 22:7 quotes the Messiah saying to Peter and John, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.” To the owner of the house they are to ask, “The Teacher asks you, ‘where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’” NRSV.
Later we are told in Matthew 26:20-21 at evening Yahshua took His place with the twelve, “and while they were eating…” Verse 26 again reveals,” While they were eating…” NRSV
Mark 14:18 reads, “And when they had taken their places and were eating, [Yahshua] said, Truly I tell you, one of you will betray Me who is eating with me.” Mark 14:20 reveals, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowwl with me.” NRSV