Passover, Unleavened bread, Firstfruits, and Weeks
One of the stickiest subjects regarding the Festivals/Feasts of Yahuweh (Passover/Pesach, Unleavened Bread/Matstsah, Firstfruits/Re’shiyth, Weeks/Pentecost/Shabuwa’, Trumpets/Taruw`ah, Reconciliations/Kippuryim, Tabernacles/Sukkah) is when exactly to date them, with regards to both the Hebrew calendar, and our Gregorian calendar.
As with all things it’s probably best to let Yahuweh tell us how this all pans out, so as to make an informed decision.
When it comes to Passover/Pesach, the dating is quite easy. Yahuweh tell us in Leviticus 23:4‑5: These are the appointed feasts of Yahweh, the Set-Apart (qodesh) Assemblies (migra’ (although as this is in its plural form, this is pronounced mirqra’ay)), which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them. In the first month, on the fourteenth [day] of the month at twilight, is Yahweh’s Passover.
Pretty simple, is it not? In the first month (called Aviv in the Hebrew calendar), on the fourteenth day of the month, we are to celebrate Yahweh’s Passover (notice the fact that Yahweh says this is His Passover, not “man’s” or “the Jew’s”, whom people seem to think that Passover was only for – it isn’t, by the way). The main point of contention with regards to Passover is when exactly to eat it. The Hebrew word translated as “twilight” above is ‘ereb/ערב which means “evening, sunset, night”. The problem is that according to Yahweh, days end and start at sunset/evening, compared to our common timing of days which is from midnight to midnight.
So the question is: which sunset are we to eat the Passover? Do we eat it at the starting sunset, that is, the beginning of the day, or do we eat it at the finishing sunset, the end of the day?
The problem, I think, with presuming that we’re to eat it at the finishing sunset, is the fact that the finishing sunset is also the starting sunset of the fifteenth day of the month of Aviv. Therefore, as far as I’m concerned, if Yahweh had wanted us to have the Passover meal on the finishing sunset of the fourteenth/starting sunset of the fifteenth, is that Yahweh would’ve said “you are to eat it at the start of the fifteenth day of the first month”, not “on the fourteenth of the month at twilight/sunset”. So from what I can see, is the fact that we’re to eat the Passover meal sometime during the day of the fourteenth of Aviv, and not as a dinner on the fifteenth of Aviv.
Another reason to also trust that the Passover meal is to be consumed during the day of the fourteenth is the fact that the Hebrew definite article ha/ה precedes the Hebrew ‘ereb/ערב, literally giving the translation “the evening/sunset”, which would give the translation for Leviticus 23:5 as In the first month, on the fourteenth of the month, at the evening, is Yahweh’s Passover.
What also shouldn’t be overlooked is the fact that ‘ereb/ערב is in its dual form (ערבים/’erbayim), literally giving “evenings” or “sunsets”. And the word translated as at is actually the Hebrew beyn/בין which means “between”.
So, the full translation of Leviticus 23:5 is as follows: In the first month, on the fourteenth of the month, between the evenings/sunsets, is Yahweh’s Passover.
As a result, Leviticus 23 makes it quite clear that Passover is between the two “evenings”, and doesn’t overflow into the fifteenth, which would be the first day of unleavened bread.
Exodus 12, where Passover is first mentioned by name, also gives the words beyn ha ‘erbayim in Exodus 12:6, where Yahuweh states …and all of you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Yisra’el shall kill him between (beyn) the (ha) evenings (‘erbayim).
Then, regarding when we’re to eat it, Yahuweh says in Exodus 12:8: And they shall eat the flesh during this very night (literally “the night, this”), roasted on a fire; they shall eat him with unleavened bread over bitter herbs.
With this in mind, there is only one “night” between “the evenings”, and that is the night of the fourteenth of the month of Aviv.
Accordingly, I’m confident in the fact that the Lamb was to be eaten on the fourteenth of the month of Aviv, and not anytime on the fifteenth. Whilst people might make the argument that killing a roasting a lamb would take quite a while, I agree with you: it would, which would mean that the Passover Lamb should actually be eaten sometime around midnight, when the night would be at its darkest.
I also think that this means that no one would actually be sleeping on Passover night, and everyone should actually be awake and ready, as Yahuweh tell us in Exodus 12:11.
Unleavened bread is a lot easier to date and decide what things are to be done on it. In Leviticus 23:6-8, Yahuweh says: And on the fifteenth day of this very month is the Festival of Unleavened bread to Yahweh; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day all of you shall have a Set-Apart Assembly; none of you shall do any labourious occupation. But all of you shall approach to draw near to Yahweh for seven days. On the seventh day is a Set-Apart Assembly; none of you shall do any labourious occupation.
This is brilliantly straight forward and explanatory. Knowing when and how to celebrate the festival of Unleavened Bread: From the fifteenth day of the first month, for seven days, is the festival of Unleavened bread. The first and last days are Set-Apart Assemblies, on which none of us are to do any “labourious occupation” (basically, what you’re employed to do). And for each of the seven days of Unleavened Bread week, we are to “approach to draw near to Yahweh”. We couldn’t’ve asked for a better thing to do. There really is no contention regarding the Festival of Unleavened bread.
Firstfruits, contrary to Unleavened bread, has quite a lot of contention about when it’s to be celebrated. A common interpretation is that the feast of Firstfruits is to happen on the sixteenth of Aviv, the day after the first day of Unleavened Bread. This therefore coincides with a pattern of one – two – three, each and every year.
However, what does Yahuweh say about the dating? Leviticus 23:10-11: Speak to the sons of Yisra’el, and say to them, ‘When all of you come into the land that I give to all of you, and reap its harvest, then all of you shall bring the sheaf of the Firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh, so that all of you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.
Previously, on the feast of Passover and festival of Unleavened bread, Yahuweh has specifically stated the date that they were to happen on. For Passover, Yahuweh specifically states that it is to happen on the fourteenth; for Unleavened bread, Yahuweh specifically states that it is to start on the fifteenth. Yet here, for Firstfruits, Yahuweh does not specifically state a date when the feast of Firstfruits is to commence. This is rather odd, is it not, for Yahuweh to specifically state a date when two feasts/festivals are to fall on, yet for this he doesn’t state a specific day of the month when it is to occur?
So either we have a corrupt Hebrew original, Yahuweh is inconsistent, or, more probably, Firstfruits does not always happen on the sixteenth of Aviv. If it was to always happen on the sixteenth of Aviv, Yahuweh would’ve said so. This therefore means that the Feast of Firstfruits fluctuates the day that it is on each and every year.
However, Yahuweh doesn’t leave us in the dark as to when Firstfruits is to occur. As Yahuweh has stated above in Leviticus 23:11: On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it (this being the sheaf of the Firstfruits).
Now, those who say that Firstfruits is always on the sixteenth of Aviv like to argue that when Yahuweh refers to “the Sabbath” in Leviticus 23:11, He is referring to what they call the “High Sabbath” of Unleavened bread, that being, the first day of Unleavened bread. This therefore means that it goes Passover (14th); Unleavened bread/High Sabbath of Unleavened bread (15th); Firstfruits/after High Sabbath of Unleavened bread (16th).
That seems logical, doesn’t it?
Well, it would be, if it wasn’t for the fact that Yahuweh never, ever refers to the first day (or last day for that matter) of Unleavened bread as a “High” Sabbath. Yahuweh doesn’t actually even refer to it as a Sabbath, never mind a “High” one. The clause “High Sabbath” doesn’t actually appear anywhere in Scripture. This therefore means that the clause “High Sabbath” is completely made up by men, and as Yahuweh tells us numerous times, men aren’t to be trusted.
All Yahuweh says regarding the first and last days of Unleavened bread is that we’re to not do any “labourious work”. Yahuweh never calls these days “Sabbaths”. The only time Yahuweh has referred to the Sabbath in Leviticus 23 is all the way back in Leviticus 23:3, where Yahuweh has stated: Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a Set-Apart Assembly. None of you shall do any work. It is a Sabbath to Yahweh in all of your dwellings.
So, when Yahuweh states in Leviticus 23:11 that Firstfruits is to occur on “the day after the Sabbath”, what day do you think He’s referring to as “the Sabbath”? The only logical, rational, and Scriptural conclusion is that He’s referring to the Seventh day Sabbath, and not this imagined “High Sabbath” of Unleavened bread.
If Yahuweh had wanted Firstfruits to occur on the sixteenth of Aviv each and every year, He would’ve stated so as He did with Passover and Unleavened bread. But seeing as though Passover and Unleavened bread won’t fall on the same day each year, this means that the date of Firstfruits would fluctuate as well.
Due to the fact that the festival of Unleavened bread is always a week long, this means that a Seventh day Sabbath will always fall in the midst of the week. And then, as Yahuweh has stated, we are to celebrate the feast of Firstfruits on “the day after the Sabbath”, which would always be a Saturday sunset to Sunday sunset.
Now I know this will probably offend a few people, but it is quite clear: Firstfruits will always fall on a “Sunday”. This isn’t an argument for a “Sunday Sabbath” as Christians would like us to believe, but only the fact that on one Sunday a year, we’re to have a special feast, as ordained by Yahuweh Himself.
The final feast for this part we’re going to look at is the feast of weeks (more commonly known as “Pentecost”, based on the Greek πεντηκοστη/pentekoste meaning “fifty”).
Yahuweh tells us to count it this way in Leviticus 23:15-16: All of you shall number seven full Sabbaths, from the day after the seventh Sabbath, from the day that all of you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days, to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall bring a new offering to Yahweh.
Now, most English translations like to translate the first mention of “Sabbaths” above as “weeks”, despite the fact that Hebrew has a word that means “week” – shabuwa’/שבוע. If Yahuweh had wanted to say “weeks” here, I’m absolutely certain He would’ve used the Hebrew word that meant “weeks”, and not use the plural form of the Hebrew shabbat/שבת instead.
This gives further credence to the feast of Firstfruits being on the day after the Sabbath, as Yahuweh has reiterated that the sheaf of the Firstfruits offering was waved on the day after the Sabbath, and hasn’t specified the sixteenth day of the month of Aviv.
The dating of Weeks/Pentecost is therefore quite straight forward. Starting from the day that the feast of Firstfruits was on (a Sunday – day one), we are to count “seven full Sabbaths” until the day after the “seventh Sabbath”, when we are to bring a “new offering” to Yahuweh. This would mean that the first Sabbath would be the seventh of the fifty days, the second Sabbath would be the fourteenth of the fifty days, all the way up to the seventh Sabbath which would be the forty-ninth day that we’re to count, and then on the fiftieth day, the day after the seventh Sabbath, is the Feast of Weeks.
Consequently, this means that not only does the feast of Firstfruits fall on a Sunday, but that the feast of Weeks shall also fall on a Sunday (more specifically, Saturday sunset to Sunday sunset), as it is again on “the day after the Sabbath”.
So there you go. Yahuweh has specifically told us the dates that Passover and Unleavened bread are to be on (fourteenth and fifteenth of Aviv respectably), and the days (not dates) that Firstfruits and Weeks are to be on (the day after the Sabbath during the festival of Unleavened bread, and the day after the Seventh Sabbath respectably).
Passover and Unleavened bread are always on the same dates in the Hebrew calendar each and every year, but Firstfruits and Weeks, whilst being on the same day of the week, are on different dates each year in the Hebrew calendar.
(Please also refer to the Blog Acts 20:7: Did they really meet on a Sunday? for a slightly different discussion on the dating of certain feasts and festivals mentioned here)