Passover plus Unleavened Bread is only seven days, not eight
The writer was a deaconess in the Worldwide Church of God. She retired from SNE Telephone Co. after 36 years, including 14 years as an instructor and training supervisor. She is also a library technical assistant. Mary Moon receives mail at 13 Godfrey St., Groton, Conn. 06340, U.S.A.
By Mary Moon
GROTON, Conn.--Based solely on the Holy Bible, it is apparent that the Passover, together with the Days of Unleavened Bread (UB), is to be observed for only seven days, not eight.
Most Bible dictionaries, encyclopedias and Bible reference books claim the Passover to be an eight-day celebration.
Should we allow the books of men to unduly influence and blind us to the truth of Almighty Yahweh's Word?
Ecclesiastes 7:1 states that "a good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth."
Why do we set aside a whole day for the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, mere men, and devote just a few hours or less on the evening of Abib 14 to observe Christ's death?
Then on Passover day, still Abib 14, we go back to work and tend to business in the world as usual. Does this not show a lack of reverence for our Redeemer and the Author and Finisher of our faith and salvation?
Let us review the Scriptures that pertain to the proper understanding of this important subject.
"In the 14th day of the first month at even [13-14] is the Lord's passover, and on the 15th day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread" (Leviticus 23:5-7).
Note that it does not say first day of UB.
"In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do not servile work therein" (verse 7).
Verses 5-6 refer to the 14th and 15th consecutively, and the "first day" of these two days is the 14th, not the 15th.
Why is the 15th called the Feast of UB? Because the Israelites left Egypt in "haste" and had not prepared any "victual" (food) (Exodus 12:39).
The only "food" they had was unleavened dough, which they baked into unleavened cakes after coming out of Egypt on the 15th. These unleavened cakes were the only food they had to eat; thus the 15th is known as the Feast of UB.
The total seven days are the Feast of the Passover. Read on for scriptural proof.
"Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the passover . . . Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed" (Luke 22:1, 7).
Luke 2:41, 43 states that Jesus and His parents "went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover: "... When they had fulfilled the days [plural] . . ."
Mark 14:12 says: "And the first day of unleavened bread when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?"
One and the same
Matthew 26:17 also combines the first day of UB with the Passover. See also Mark 14:1-2.
Note that up to this point the indication is that Passover and the first day of UB are one and the same day, the 14th; that is, day one of the seven-day count.
The Bible commands us to eat unleavened bread seven days inclusively, no more, no less. Exodus 12:18: "In the first month on the 14th day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until [not including] the one and twentieth day of the month at even."
The word until seems to be a stumbling block. Words such as on, including and through are often substituted incorrectly. Webster's New World Dictionary defines until: Up to the time of; till (a specified time or occurrence); before (a specified time or occurrence).
Day one in verse 18 is the 14th, and day seven is the 20th, which is up to or before but not including the 21st.
Deuteronomy 16:2 says that "thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the Lord thy God, of the flock and the herd . . ."
Some apply this verse to the day of UB only, claiming that the word Passover is a misinterpretation or is misleading.
However, it is apparent that it is correct as it stands. Yes, the Passover sacrifice can be only from the flock, sheep or goats, but Deuteronomy 16:2-3 combines the Passover and Feast of UB.
Inasmuch as the Passover and the first day of UB are on the 14th and the Feast of UB on the 15th, it is apparent that the sacrifice from the flock was done on the 14th and, on the 15th, the sacrifice from the herd.
To be consistent, just as Abib 14 and 15 are to be taken consecutively in Exodus 12:14-15, here in Deuteronomy they are to be taken consecutively as well.
Before and after
The first day of UB was instituted on Abib 14 before the departure (Exodus) of the children of Israel. The observance of it did not take place till after the departure; that is, the night of the 15th, the second day of UB (Numbers 33:3).
Continue on to Deuteronomy 16:8: "Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord thy God . . ."
Why only six days? Because the six days include day one, Passover, as the first day of UB. The seventh, or last, day completes Yahweh's command to eat unleavened bread a total of seven days, not eight.
Another way to express it: There are six days between the 14th and 21st (Exodus 12:18), and adding day one, Passover, makes a total of seven days.
Finally, Ezekiel 45:21-23: "In the first month, in the 14th day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. And upon that day shall the prince prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bullock for a sin offering. And seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt offering to the Lord, seven bullocks and seven rams without blemish daily for seven days; and a kid of the goats for a sin offering.
Passover and first day combined
In summary, the following is apparent:
o We are to eat unleavened bread for only seven days, not eight.
o Abib 14 combines Passover and the first day of UB as day one of the seven days.
o Abib 14 is the first holy day, the whole day!
o The first day of UB was instituted on Passover, Abib 14, before the departure of the children of Israel.
o A key scripture, Exodus 12:18, states that the Feast of UB begins on the 14th and continues through the 20th, just seven unbroken days.
o The seven days of UB are called the Feast of the Passover.
o Abib 15 is the second day of the Feast of Passover and is called the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Almighty God Yahweh's Word commands us to observe only seven days and does indeed provide for, and require, a whole day for the celebration of the death of His beloved Son, Christ Yeshua.
This is followed by six more days of UB "that ye may be a new lump" taking in the righteousness of faith "with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).
Now to continue to the associated subject, the Night to Be Much Observed (should we observe it or not?):
Abib 15, day two of Unleavened Bread, is a "night to be much observed" (NTBMO) for bringing the Israelites out of Egypt. But in the New Testament (NT) there is a night much more to be observed and remembered; that is, Christ's last Passover night, on which He was betrayed, Abib 14!
The NTBMO was to be observed by all the children of Israel, who did not include all gentiles. It was to be observed "in their generations" (Exodus 12:42), which was up to the generation of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1).
Christ shed His blood for all mankind, Israelites and gentiles. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26).
The Passover in the Old Testament (OT) was based on physical promises. In the NT it is based on spiritual promises that, unlike the OT, include the promise of eternal life.
Today's proper focus
Coming out of Egypt is symbolic of a physical removal from the bondage of sin. More important, today our focus should be on our spiritual removal from the bondage of sin, which is through the shed blood of Christ for the remission of our sins unto eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
In the NT we find no record of Christ keeping the NTBMO and no command to have a festive meal the night of the 15th. Today we are to look forward to Christ and the Kingdom of God, not backward to Moses and Egypt.
What about the seder? The Jewish seder is a tradition.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Colossians 2:8).
1 Corinthians 11:23: ". . . That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come."
The Passover of the NT combined with the Days of UB (a total of seven days; see the first part of this essay) fulfills and supersedes the OT physical celebration of coming out of Egypt.
When we observe the Passover each year, it should encourage us to keep within our hearts and minds the remembrance of Christ's total sacrifice for us, our eternal redemption from the bondage of sin.
The method of observing the Passover was changed by Christ Himself. To "shew the Lord's death till he come" we now partake of the spiritual symbols of the "bread and the cup" and do the foot-washing ceremony each year.
This special remembrance that Christ commands us to keep helps us in "looking [forward] for that blessed hope [the Kingdom of God], and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:13-14).
"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ" (Galatians 3:16).
Part of the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 15:13-14 states: "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great substance."
This was spoken to Abram on Abib 14. The Exodus was a partial but direct fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham.
"Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was 430 years. And it came to pass at the end of the 430 years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt" (Exodus 12:40-41).
(Thirty of these years are said to cover the time Joseph brought his family to live in Egypt before the bondage took place.)
One day at a time
The coming out of Egypt (the Exodus) was just a partial fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. The Passover night of Abib 14 began the 430-year period, thusly:
o At the beginning of the 430 years, on Abib 14, Abraham received his promises from Almighty God Yahweh; this was the beginning of the OT covenant. On the next day (the 15th) they were ratified (Genesis 15:17).
o At the end of the 430 years on Abib 14 the Exodus was instituted before the departure. On that night (the 15th) the actual departure began (Exodus 12:41-42; Numbers 33:3).
o Both the beginning and ending of the 430-year period involved Abib 14 and 15 consecutively.
o The New Covenant was ratified on Passover (the 14th) by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, thus fulfilling God's promise to Abraham: ". . . And thou shalt be a father of many nations" (Genesis 17:4).
"And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29.
When Christ returns to set up the government of the Kingdom of God, the Abrahamic covenant will finally be fulfilled and the obedient will receive the gift of eternal life.
"Seeing then that we have such hope [the Kingdom of God], we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ, But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart" (2 Corinthians 3:12-15).
"Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first [covenant], that he may establish the second [covenant]. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:9-10; see also Hebrews 8:13).
Whole holy day
In the NT the night of Abib 14, Passover, is the "night to be much observed." The whole day, which is a holy day, is to be devoted to the celebration of Christ Yeshua's death. Continuing on to the 15th, which is the second day of the Feast of Passover, through Abib 20 (see the first part of this essay), we are to do all things in "remembrance of Him" so that He can live in us, through the Holy Spirit, and help us to be obedient to the will of Almighty God Yahweh.
Jesus Christ, Yeshua, is the only way to salvation.
Today we are under the NT, and our focus should be on looking forward to Jesus Christ, Yeshua, our true Passover sacrifice, and to the Kingdom of God, not backward to Moses and Egypt.
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me" (John 14:6).
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