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Passover Details

Passover, Unleavened bread, between the evenings, Christian Passover, Law Moses, Law of Moses, animal sacrifice, Abraham covenant, Israel exodus

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Although the celebration of the Passover is explained in Exodus 12, Deuteronomy 16 also gives instruction on how to keep the Passover. However, there are many differences in the instruction there compared with the instruction in Exodus 12. Some claim it is a different festival. Other have decided the account is confused and dismissed it. When one understands the cause and purpose of the Law of Moses things fall into place.


"But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt." (Deu 16:6 KJV)


Why would Israel be told to sacrifice the Passover at the time they came out of Egypt? Why not at the time they originally killed the Passover? Also, the Passover was originally kept in individual homes not as a group at the temple. "Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are..." (Ex 12:13a, see also 12:4, 22, 46). They were to do it as originally done according to the instruction that came a year later when it was time to keep the Passover again. "On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight [between the evenings], you shall keep it at its appointed time. According to all its rites and ceremonies you shall keep it" (Num 9:3). However, the instruction in Deuteronomy 16 talks of coming together at a single place. Indeed, it forbids sacrificing the Passover on the private property or in their local communities.


"You may not offer the passover sacrifice within any of your towns which the LORD your God gives you; 6 but at the place which the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the passover sacrifice, in the evening at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt. 7 And you shall boil it and eat it at the place which the LORD your God will choose; and in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents." (Deu 16:5-7, RSV)


The instruction in Deuteronomy 16, is significantly different from Exodus 12. Not only are they to come to the tabernacle/temple to offer the Passover, but they were instructed to boil it. This was specifically forbidden on the original night (Ex 12:9). The Hebrew word for 'boil' forbidden in Exodus 12:9 is the same as instructed in Deuteronomy 16:7. Also, where the original instruction specified "between the evenings" as the time to execute the sacrifice, Deuteronomy 16:6 states the 'evening' (Heb. 'ereb). (We'll examine 'evening' and 'between the evenings' shortly.)  It clarifies this somewhat by adding "at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt", which would put the sacrifice before sundown.   Deuteronomy 16:2 also indicates either sheep or cattle could be sacrificed. One could assume that in saying "herd", it is referring to goats. However, goats are described as coming from the flock (Heb tsaone) in many places including Genesis 27:9 and II Chronicles 35:7. The Hebrew for herd is "baqar", which is consistently used of bovine animals. Goats were consistently considered part of the flock (Gen 27:9, II Chron 35:7). If the Creator wanted to restrict the animal to a lamb or goat kid, why say "baqar" instead of "'az", goat? 


At Josiah’s great Passover it appears they took advantage of this allowance and included cattle as Passover sacrifices (II Chron 35:7-14).  The text seems to indicate there were offerings done this evening that were not Passover offerings (vs. 13). It is easy to assume those are the cattle.  Yet over 3800 cattle were given as Passover offerings (vs 7-9).   The account seems to distinguish between the ‘Passover’ offerings prepared this evening and other offerings.  Exodus 12 clearly requires the lambs and kids be roasted in fire.   Deuteronomy 16 allows more options for how the sacrifices for this evening are prepared (vs 7, see the Hebrew).  Likely they tried to follow Exodus 12 with regard to the lambs and kids and Deuteronomy 16 with regard to the cattle.  In fact, all the Passover sacrifices were holy sacrifices.  Everything was distributed among the people who were there to eat the Passover.


It is also apparent at Josiah’s Passover the Passover offerings were generally given to the Levites to prepare.  They were to prepare the meat for that night.  Each family did not choose its own sacrifice and keep it from the 10th to the 14th (II Chron 35:6-9).  In later years anyway, the Jews understood the requirement to burn the leftovers in the morning also didn’t apply (Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 96a).


If it were not that the Deuteronomy 16 instruction is obviously talking of the Passover one could think that this is a different celebration. There is very little similarity between the Passover instruction in Deuteronomy 16 and Exodus 12. About the only connection is the name, Passover. This has led some to speculate that the instruction of Deuteronomy 16 is actually intended to be directed toward the sacrifices of the first day of Unleavened Bread (Num 28:17-25). However, those sacrifices indicated in Numbers 28:17-24 for Unleavened Bread are not to be eaten by the general population and are very limited in number.  Typically they would be offered during the 15th daylight, not the evening of Passover.  Certainly the over 3800 cattle donated at Josiah’s Passover was way beyond the 14 bulls required in the daily offerings.


Those who recorded for us Josiah's account knew the distinction between the Passover and Unleavened Bread (35:17).  They did not confuse the sacrifices offered.


So why are things so different? What happened?


If you have not already examined the covenants as explained at CreatorsCovenant.org I would strongly urge you to do so. In short, Deuteronomy is a second covenant (Deu 29:1, 31:24-26) the Creator required of Israel because they proved themselves incapable of upholding His original covenant with them. He wanted the whole nation to represent Him (Ex 19:5-6). They were to be an example of His ways to the world. Within about 50 days of making that statement He was about to destroy them (Ex 32:7-10).


The tribe of Levi was set in place to be the priests to represent the Creator. Israel as a whole couldn't be trusted. The tribe of Levi was set up as caretakers of the tabernacle. Israel was required to worship under their supervision. Any sacrifice they wanted to offer was to be officiated by a Levite. This would have included the Passover.


Lev 17:3-5 "Whatever man of the house of Israel who kills an ox or lamb or goat in the camp, or who kills it outside the camp, 4 and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting to offer an offering to the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD, the guilt of bloodshed shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people, 5 to the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they offer in the open field, that they may bring them to the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to the priest, and offer them as peace offerings to the LORD."


Deu 12:3 "And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. 4 "You shall not worship the LORD your God with such things. 5 But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go. 6 There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks.... 8 "You shall not at all do as we are doing here today-every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes- 9 for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the LORD your God is giving you. 10 But when you cross over the Jordan ... 11 then there will be the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the LORD. 12 And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion nor inheritance with you. 13 Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see; 14 "but in the place which the LORD chooses, in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you. "


The people of Israel simply could not be trusted to offer sacrifices unsupervised. Originally anyone was permitted to offer on an appropriately constructed altar. "An altar of earth you shall make for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you" (Ex 20:24). Neither were they restricted to one specific location. That changed with the implementation of the Law of Moses that was described in Deuteronomy and confirmed in the land of Moab (Deu 29:1, 26:16-18).  Their relationship with the Creator changed.  Israel as a whole could not be trusted to uphold His standards.


So perhaps this explains why Israel needed to be told to keep the Passover of Numbers 9 identical to the first one. The instruction of Leviticus 17 was probably given shortly after the episode of the golden calf (Lev 1:1, Ex 33:7). This was before their second observance of the Passover. They knew a change was coming that would affect the Passover. Since the change was not yet confirmed as law, Passover was kept in accord with the original practice. The new Law was confirmed with Deuteronomy in Moab (Deu 1:1-5, 29:1, 9, 12, 31:24-26). After that the change of Leviticus 17 and Deuteronomy 12 became official. So Israel was told to keep it as it was originally intended to be kept in Numbers 9. Once the covenant of Moab/Deuteronomy was confirmed they needed to keep it according to that instruction.


The work of the administration and function of Levi was known at the time Leviticus 17 was given since their priesthood is assumed in that instruction. Aaron and his sons had been anointed only seven days by the time of the Passover of Numbers 9 (Ex 40:1-17). They were to officiate at all sacrifices. However, that function was not fully implemented until the covenant of Deuteronomy/Moab was confirmed. It is evident in Deuteronomy12, quoted above, that there is a change taking place with the covenant confirmed that day in Moab. Until that happened the instruction of the Law was not necessarily binding. They were still expected to live according to the Sinai covenant (Ex 34:11-27). As such they would still observe the Passover according to the original instruction.  They were not likely to misdirect their sacrifices since they were all camped together under Moses direct supervision.


For the long term Israel could not be allowed to keep the Passover as it was originally intended to be kept. They couldn't be allowed to become comfortable with doing their own sacrifices without some sort of supervision. With the implementation of the Law of Moses they were to appear at the one place, the tabernacle/temple at each of the joyous festivals. For many this would mean a journey of multiple days. They could not keep the Passover at home the beginning of the mo'ed and be at the place of the solemn assembly to finish the memorial day.


This complicated the celebration of the Passover. There were also a limited number of Levites and a limited amount of temple space in which to oversee the sacrificing of the lambs. Additional time was undoubtedly needed to prepare the Passover meal. The exact timing was relaxed. The killing was no longer required to be "between the evenings", but just general evening time. Evidently cattle were allowed to be used in order to reduce the amount of effort needed, although at least in later years, the Jews evidently did not take advantage of this.


Hebrew 'bashal', 'boil' has a secondary meaning of general 'cook'. That is probably the intention of Deuteronomy 16:7. Likely they were being given the option to prepare it whatever way would work for them.


The difference in the instruction between Exodus 12 and Deuteronomy 16 is due to the implementation of the Law of Moses. This involved the location, an expansion of the timing, the sacrifice and the methods of preparation. This was implemented with the confirmation of the Deuteronomy/Moab covenant and Israel's' entry into the Promised Land (Deu 12:10, quoted above). When Israel kept their first Passover in the Promised Land, we are told they kept it at evening ('ereb) as is specified in Deuteronomy 16, not "between the evenings" as in Exodus 12 and Numbers 9 (Josh 5:10 also uses evening, 'ereb).


During the time of the judges Israel was gathering at the tabernacle to observe the joyous festivals (Judges 21:19). The tabernacle happened to be located at Shiloh then. Samuel's family also went yearly to the tabernacle to offer 'the sacrifice' (I Sam 1:21-24). Likely this was the Passover. Although the practice evidently began to wane after Samuel, Solomon had a feast attended by all Israel (I Kings 8:2, Josiah did as well, II Chron 35:18-19). This is in keeping with the instruction of Deuteronomy 12 and 16 to go to the place. ‘The place’ was the place of God’s dwelling (Deu 12:5).  Of course that was initially the tabernacle and later the temple once it was built.


The earlier instruction in Exodus 23:14-17 requires Israel to appear before the Creator, but not at a central location, not the place. Exodus 20:24 indicates He would be available in multiple locations.


I Kings 3:2 "Meanwhile the people sacrificed at the high places, because there was no house built for the name of the LORD until those days. ... 4Now the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place: Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar."


The recognized standard was to sacrifice at a single place. This standard was instructed shortly after the episode of the Golden calf but not implemented until the Law of Moses was confirmed and Israel went into the Promised Land (Lev 17:3-4, 8-9, Deu 12:8-11). The tabernacle was in Gibeon when Solomon became king, but it was evidently not the only place of sacrifice (II Chron 1:5-6, 13). They did not carefully follow the Law of Moses. Full endorsement was withheld from subsequent kings because they didn't destroy these other high places (I Kings 15:14, 22:43, II Kings 12:3, 14:4, 15:4, 35). Josiah removed all the altars outside Jerusalem (II Chron 34:3-7). This was one of the reasons Josiah was so highly regarded. Actually Hezekiah did this as well in some of Israel (II Chron 31:1).


II Kings 23:25 Speaking of Josiah: "Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him."


Josiah did not blaze new trails, but turned to the Lord with all His heart. Passover was included with all the other sacrifices that should have been offered at the temple.


Defining terms


Many disagreements about the timing of the Passover revolve around the meaning of "between the evenings" as used in Exodus 12:6 and other places. Although the meaning of this expression does not change the evening on which the Passover was to be offered, it is worthwhile to understand what it likely meant at that time.


The translators of the NKJV, NIV, ESV and NASB all translate this phrase as 'twilight', which directly supports a between sunset and dark meaning. That is what twilight is. Most other translations just use evening, which considering Genesis 1:5 and many other texts would likely put the sacrifice after sundown, but not absolutely so. Of course the 'twi' in twilight means two or twice. According to Webster's New World Dictionary (1972), 'basic sense is prob. "the light between"'. The sense is strikingly similar to the Hebrew expression "between the evenings".


Another example of "between the evenings" occurs early in Israel's exodus from Egypt. Exodus 16:12, "I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, 'At twilight (between the evenings) you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'"


This particular day when quail would arrive and manna would appear in the morning was likely the first day of the week by the Creators reckoning. The sixth day they received twice as much manna to cover the Sabbath (vs 22). However, some didn't pay attention and went to gather on the seventh day, which was the Sabbath (Vs 27). So it was the seventh day after the quail when some went out to collect the manna and defiled the Sabbath, thus upsetting their Creator (Ex 16:26-29). That makes the evening the quail arrived the evening after the previous Sabbath. Since the Creator was upset that some had attempted to gather manna on the Sabbath it seems obvious that He didn't want them gathering Quail on the Sabbath either. So 'between the evenings' when they would "eat meat", would be after sunset, after the Sabbath.


Actually the context in Exodus 16 makes the meaning of “Between the evenings” quite clear.  First it sets up a contrast of 'evening' and 'morning'.  Then they are to receive meat in the evening and bread in the morning.  This picture is then repeated in parallel with 'evening' replaced with “between the evenings”.  The time of evening and “between the evenings” overlap.  “Between the evenings” is a subset of the time of the evening. 


Ex 16:6 ‘Then Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, "At evening you shall know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt.  7 And in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD; for He hears your complaints   against the LORD. But what are we, that you complain against us?"  8  Also Moses said, "This shall be seen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to the full; for the LORD hears your complaints which you make against Him. And what are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the LORD."


Ex 16:12 "I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight [between the evenings]you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’  13 So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. "


When verse 13 indicates "quails came up at evening": this would also have been after the closing of the Sabbath. The eating of the quail "between the evenings" would have taken place after that. Indeed, the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states: "Sometimes, as in #Ex 12:6, the Hebrew reads literally, ‘between the two evenings,’likely ‘twilight,’the time interval between sunset and darkness in which there is a state of illumination."


Vines Dictionary generally agrees, stating: "The phrase means the period between sunset and darkness, "twilight" (Exod. 12:6; kjv, "in the evening")".


The oil lamps of the tabernacle were to be tended twice a day; once in the morning and once "between the evenings" (Ex 30:7-8). It would certainly make sense that these occasions were on opposite ends of the day as close to twelve hours apart as possible.


The evening sacrifice was also specified to be offered "between the evenings". Again, it would make sense that this would be about twelve hours later than the morning sacrifice.


The whole focus of the Passover instruction in Exodus 12 revolves around a single Memorial day. That would be the case if “between the evenings” began about sundown. There is no indication that some of this event was to happen the previous afternoon. The Passover could not revolve around one day if the sacrifice was executed the previous afternoon.


Leviticus 23:5 places the Creators ‘Passover’ “between the evenings” on the 14th day. If this is after sundown it is firmly on the Memorial day as explained in Exodus 12. If “between the evenings” is earlier, the Passover is not on the same day as the Memorial day explained in Exodus 12, but the previous day. This perspective attempts to undermine the clarity of Exodus 12.


Exodus 12:48-51 claims that the Passover was kept and Israel left Egypt the same day. They were walking out just before sundown (Deu 16:6 KJV).  If ‘between the evenings’ when the Passover was originally killed included time significantly before sundown, two days would have been involved. It could not have all been done the very same day.


However, there are other opinions and other things to consider. If we consider the time of the evening sacrifice, there is a problem. According to the historical information we have, the 'evening' sacrifice was offered in mid afternoon. Also, although not explicitly stated in the original Hebrew text, I kings 18:29 & 36 indicate that Elijah offered his offering in competition with the prophets of Baal about the time of the evening sacrifice. This was on Mount Carmel.


Elijah's sacrifice didn't take a long time, but after it the prophets of Baal were gathered and evidently walked down the mountain to the brook Kishon (vs 40). They were killed there. It was probably easier than killing them on the mountain and carrying them down. Elijah then hiked back up Mount Carmel where he sent his assistant to look for rain clouds. At first there was nothing, but after a while a small cloud was finally spotted. It was sometime later that "the sky became black with clouds and wind" (vs 45).


Certainly, if the offering was done "between the evenings", we're not talking about it being done at twilight. The time to go down the mountain, kill the prophets of Baal, come back up, multiple trips to look for clouds and then the time for the sky to become black with clouds, rather than black with nightfall, would seem to put the time of the sacrifice close to mid afternoon.


Easton's Dictionary indicates something different from Vine's on this subject. "The Hebrews reckoned two evenings of each day, as appears from Exo_16:12; Exo_30:8; Exo_12:6 (marg.); Lev_23:5 (marg. R.V., "between the evenings"). The "first evening" was that period when the sun was verging towards setting, and the "second evening" the moment of actual sunset." By ‘verging toward setting’ is meant shortly after the sun reaches its zenith and begins to fall, shortly after noon.


This reckoning is in accord with the Jewish Rabbi known as Reshi. He lived from 1040 to 1105 AD/CE.


This could mean that the Passover of Exodus 12 was killed on the afternoon of the 14th before the sundown of the 14th of Abib. Certainly it was not killed on the 13th. There is no mention of the thirteenth in any instruction regarding the Passover. If it were to have been killed on the thirteenth the instruction would certainly have made reference to the evening of the thirteenth day just like Leviticus 23:32 indicates Atonement is to be observed the ninth day at evening. Part I explained how the instruction for Atonement and Unleavened Bread had it being observed the evening of the previous day (Lev 23:32, Ex 12:18). Reference to a time earlier than evening would certainly have included reference to the earlier day.


These two perspectives on "between the evenings" are mutually exclusive. One starts at sunset, the other ends at sunset. They can't both apply to the instruction of Exodus 12:6. However, since the Passover is a ‘chag’ that seems to involve only one Sabbath/mo'ed day (Ex 12:14) a killing before sundown would confuse that. Also, the example of Exodus 16 that occurred about a month after the Passover of Exodus 12 strongly indicates that "between the evenings" was after sunset.  The record of Exodus 12:48-51 being the same day would also eliminate an afternoon of the 14th sacrifice of the Passover. That would then require two days. These matters strongly indicate “between the evenings” began at sunset.


If it came down to an arbitrary choice between one or the other, the examples from the time in question must be given more weight. Later practice must be considered secondary to earlier evidence contemporary with Moses.


A case could also be made that generally earlier examples are better examples. This is especially true when dealing with early events. The changes enacted with the Law of Moses could have influenced the perspective of those who were responsible for implementing the evening sacrifice. The Passover was allowed earlier, why not the evening sacrifice? The changes that came about as a result of the implementation of the Law of Moses could easily have clouded the distinction between a time when the sun was about to set and when the sun was down. The later examples cannot carry the same weight as the contemporary one.


The book of Jubilees also explains how between the evenings of Passover fame worked and the progression of a day.  Jubilees sees the day as divided into three parts; two for the day and one for the night/evening.  Note that the focus on the 14th consists of ‘the third part of the day to the third part of the night’.  The night follows the day.  It considers “Between the evenings’ to not be part of either day portion, but borders on the evening. 


Jub 49:10 “Let the children of Israel come and observe the passover on the day of its fixed time, on the fourteenth day of the first month, between the evenings, from the third part of the day to the third part of 11 the night, for two portions of the day are given to the light, and a third part to the evening. This 12 is that which the Lord commanded thee that thou shouldst observe it between the evenings. And it is not permissible to slay it during any period of the light, but during the period bordering on the evening, and let them eat it at the time of the evening, until the third part of the night, and whatever is left over of all its flesh from the third part of the night and onwards, let them burn 13 it with fire”


Exodus 12 is speaking of one ‘selfsame day’. The events of the memorial day were the events of one day, not two. Sacrificing the Passover before sundown would have that happening on the previous day. The Creator bent His rules to allow earlier sacrifice once the centralized Passover was established. One should not use Deuteronomy 16 to interpret the instruction of Exodus 12.  Details of the celebration were changed to allow Israel to live and inherit the Promised Land.


Exodus 12:6 tells us "the whole congregation of the assembly of Israel shall kill it between the two evenings." (DBY). Deuteronomy 16:6 indicates "at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt" (Deu 16:6de RSV). One could assume these times are equivalent since they both instruct when to sacrifice the Passover. Certainly many who have examined this matter of the Passover have made this assumption as well as all those translations that have just translated "between the evenings" as evening. With that assumption, it would be easy to assume that it must be OK to offer the evening sacrifice while the sun is going down too, before twilight, to match the change of the Passover sacrifice.


This confusion on the part of the Jews is illustrated in the Babylonian Talmud tractate Pesachim, folio 58b and 59a (Soncino Press).  The tractate discusses the order of the evening sacrifice, the burning of incense, the lighting of the lamps and the sacrifice of the Passover.  The authors were taught the Passover was sacrificed before the offering of incense and trimming of the lamps of the temple.  However, the general rule was that those things instructed to be done in the 'evening' and also ‘between the evenings’ should be last in sequence.  Instead of realizing these are two different sets of instructions they consider the repetition a form of intensity pushing the event later.

So, they know they have a “difficulty” because the burning of incense and lighting of lamps is only given in terms of ‘between the evenings’ (Ex 30:8) whereas the time of the Passover sacrifice is instructed both ways (Ex 12 & Deu 16).  According to their rule the Passover would normally be last because there are commands to kill the Passover in the evening (Deu 16:6) and between the evenings (Ex 12:6).  They see the two different times of the Passover sacrifice as reinforcing one another and pushing the event later, even though their definition of ‘between the evenings’ agrees with Easton’s Dictionary mentioned above.


They resolve the problem by another rule, saying the incense and the trimming of the lamps is done in the temple rather than outside where the altar is.  So the lighting of the lamps is not subject to their normal rule for deciding the order of events. They know the burning of incense and trimming of the lamps are to be the last duties of the priests work day. Nothing else happens until the incense and lamps are tended again in the morning.


It is also interesting that even though the authors of this tractate consider ‘between the evenings’ to be between the high point of the sun and sundown, the English translation of this phrase is frequently ‘dusk’.  The Soncino translators obviously didn’t agree with the interpretation of those who wrote the Talmud.  Neither did the author's own timing of the burning of incense and trimming of the temple lamps agree. It’s not difficult to understand these things should be done last.


Although there is reason to believe Exodus 29 and 30 were recorded outside of the context in which they were originally given they do indicate a close relationship between the evening sacrifice and the burning of the incense and lamps. The instruction appears together. The timing of the evening sacrifice is very similar, if not the same as the burning of the incense and the trimming of the lamps. It makes sense that the trimming of the lamps and the evening sacrifice would conclude the duties of the day just as the morning sacrifice and trimming began the day.


A clouding of meaning apparently also took place in the case of the allowance to sacrifice cattle for Passover and the allowance to boil the Passover. Some translations of Deuteronomy 16:7 specify 'roast' instead of 'boil' or 'cook'. The instruction of Exodus 12:9 to not boil, but to roast is assumed to still apply in Deuteronomy. So in some translations (KJV, NKJV) 'boil' is translated 'roast' even though there is little other evidence the word ever carries that meaning.


Also, at least beginning at the time of Ezra, only lambs or goats were used for the Passover sacrifice. The instruction of Exodus 12:5 apparently colored the understanding of Deuteronomy 16:2 and vice-versa. They didn’t fully recognize that cattle had been allowed.


Israel was not ever real diligent to follow the Law of Moses for long. By the time of Ezra the distinction between the Law of Moses and the Law of God was apparently lost or poorly understood. This may have led to assumptions, which led to imperfect decisions. It is especially the later Jewish sources that support "between the evenings" as indicating the afternoon. This opinion cannot be given the same weight as earlier examples.


The simple use of Hebrew "'ereb", evening, is not as restrictive as twilight (between the evenings). It is used about 137 times in the Old Testament. When the context distinguishes the meaning it overwhelmingly indicates a period that begins at or after sundown and extends to the next morning. However, there are two other exceptions besides that in Deuteronomy 16:6.


Deu 23:11 "But it shall be, when evening <06153 'ereb> comes, that he shall wash with water; and when the sun sets, he may come into the camp." The allowance is that he could wash at evening, before sunset. So evening could begin before sunset.


Jer 6:4 "Prepare war against her; Arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe to us, for the day goes away, For the shadows of the evening <06153 'ereb > are lengthening." After sundown there are no shadows. Evening can have shadows so the sun could still be up.


In I Samuel 20 a meeting between David and Jonathan could be interpreted to put evening in the morning. This is very much out of character for the word. A careful reading does not clearly indicate this connection is intended or defines evening.


In any case, evening can refer to a time shortly before sundown, when evening is getting close. The early example refers to the dark half of the day, night (Gen 1:5). By far the meaning of 'ereb is evening, night, sunset (Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew Lexicon). Usage does allow some variation. Particularly Deuteronomy 16:6 connects evening with the time when the sun is still going down.


The mo'ed of the fourteenth-fifteenth in history.


Let's consider the mo'ed of Abib, Unleavened Bread, in history. In the examination of Exodus 12 we saw that: "And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years-on that very same day-it came to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt" (vs.41). Because of the previous verse it appears that the 430 years was from Jacob's entry into Egypt. However, Galatians 3:16-17 indicates that there was a law given about 430 years after the promises to Abraham. If Israel was in Egypt for 430 years, the 430 years after the promises to Abraham would have ended while Israel was in Egypt. In that case there must have been a law given to Israel by the Creator while they were in Egypt. We have no record of that. That seems a significant oversight in the record of the Law.


The Septuagint version of Exodus 12:40 indicates something different from the Masoritic text on which most Christian Bibles are based. "And the sojourning of the children of Israel, while they sojourned in the land of Egypt and the land of Chanaan, was four hundred and thirty years." The Samaritan Pentateuch indicates the same thing. With this in mind the 430 years of Exodus 12 includes some of the time the patriarchs were still in Canaan. Josephus also supports this (Ant 2.15.2).


Moses grandfather, Kohath, was with Levi and Jacob when they migrated into Egypt (Gen 46:8, 11). People of that era evidently did live to be well over 100 years of age, but not long enough to account for 430 years in less than three generations. Moses was about eighty at the exodus (Ex 7:7). The generally accepted length of Israel's stay in Egypt is about 215 years. That fits with the number of generations, the length of their life and Paul's statement of Galatians 3:17.


With that in mind, the law that was about 430 years after the promise to Abraham would be the law given in Exodus 20. The promise to Abraham would be the cutting of the covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15. This is also the start date of the 430 years which terminated that very same day that Israel went out from Egypt. That was the self-same day as God’s promise to bring them out 430 years before. The connection to the law is a general, imprecise reference. The coming out of Egypt is precise.


Gen 15:13 'Then He said to Abram: "Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.  14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions... ". 17 And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark<05939>, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. 18 On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates-"'


Abraham's covenant was evidently confirmed on the same evening as the Passover. The next day, daylight, 430 years later, Israel came out of Egypt. It was the same day as far as the Creator is concerned.  No wonder it is a 'chag' and a special memorial day.  Abraham's covenant was confirmed after dark (Gen 15:17), likely at twilight. Hebrew “‘alatah” (Str. 5939) is typically translated twilight in the KJV. It is used in Ezekiel 12:6 & 7 of a time at evening when it was still relatively easy to see. Ezekiel was acting out the flight of the ruler in Jerusalem. Ezekiel wanted to be seen so those around him would know what he was foretelling.  The original Passover was likely killed about the same time, after sundown (between the evenings) and eaten after dark. The whole event was intended to be on the special memorial 'chag' evening.


The account in Exodus 12 does not indicate that two days, the day of the fourteenth and the mo'ed that evening, are involved in the Passover ordinance. It indicates a single day is involved, the first day of the 'chag', the joyous festival. This is another support for 'twilight' meaning "between the evenings". Israel started out of Egypt the next daylight, still on the first memorial day, in plain sight.  Beginning with the killing of the Passover everything was done on this special memorial of the everlasting ordinance.


The sacrifices for Abraham's covenant were in place before sundown (Gen 15:10-12). It is understandable that the Creator would allow the Passover to be killed before sundown of the mo'ed. These sacrifices did not confirm Abraham's covenant. It was the presence of the Creator passing though those pieces that confirmed the covenant (Gen 15:17-18). That was likely at dusk/twilight.


The Passover accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke also include an indication of a new covenant. "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Mat 26:28). Their meal continued into the dark (John 13:26-30). This would be a natural fit for the mo'ed, but without precedent for the evening before the memorial 'chag' day when Messiah and the disciples actually ate their meal.  The date of their meal is inappropriate as a memorial of Messiah’s death and/or the New Covenant. The covenant wasn’t confirmed on that day nor did Messiah die at that time. Those events took place almost a full day later and are connected with the occasion of Passover and the memorial ‘chag’ day.


Heb 9:15 "And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood."


The New Covenant was enabled by Messiah's death. The scriptures that deal specifically with this matter do not state precisely when the covenant was confirmed.  Certainly it had to be accepted by the Father just like the ‘torch’ had to commit and agree by walking through the sacrifices Abraham set out. The precedent has this being done on the memorial day.  The New Covenant was likely confirmed about the time the disciples took the symbols, after dark. In any case, the emphasis is on the memorial evening of the mo'ed in Genesis 15, Exodus 12 and the synoptic Gospels.


Yeshua/Jesus instructed the disciples about the symbols they ought to use to mark His death. 'And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me. 20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you"'(Luke 22:19-20).


All synoptic accounts put Messiah's last supper in the evening at about the time the Passover meal would normally be eaten. Judas left when it was dark after receiving the sop (John 13:30). Matthew and Mark indicate the symbols of the bread and wine occurred after that (Mat 26:21-27, Mark 14:18-23). So the symbols picturing Messiah's death were instructed after dark. The purpose of the Lord’s Supper gathering was to establish the setting and symbols of Messiah’s Memorial. The timing falls in well with the confirmation of Abraham’s covenant, the original Passover sacrifice and the eating of the Passover meal in the Promised Land.  The significant link is to the occasion of the everlasting ordinance rather than to the exact time of Yeshua’s death before twilight.  Yeshua and the disciples rehearsed the symbols about that time.  It stands to reason that Messiah’s and the New Covenant Memorial would restore the original timing rather than continue the earlier timing allowed because of Israel’s failure.  This is after dark on the special memorial mo’ed day.


The Law of Moses was the default law until the New Covenant was confirmed unless Messiah acted or spoke in opposition. Consequently, Messiah could be killed with the Passover lambs before the mo'ed even though the "everlasting ordinance" (Ex 12:14) intended the memorial day be the day of notoriety and celebration.  The sacrifices of Abraham’s covenant were in place before the actual memorial day


This meal that looked forward to Messiah's sacrifice was billed as a Passover meal in all the accounts that describe the new symbols. The confirming symbols were likely eaten after dark, just as the traditional Passover meal was eaten after dark and Abraham's covenant was confirmed about the same time. The Passover sacrifices, including Messiah, were allowed to be done before dark because of the Creators desire to deliver Israel for Moses and the patriarchs. The original intention was evidently that the Passover all happen on the memorial day.  In billing their meal as a Passover meal it is easy to understand that the death of Messiah before the mo'ed was intended to be memorialized on the mo'ed when the New Covenant was accepted.  His death and the New Covenant are bound together in these symbols.  The synoptic writers were modeling Messiah's last supper as the Passover because that was the time His death ought to be remembered. They were having a memorial in advance, a dress rehearsal, a model for future Passover evenings. With Messiah’s and New Covenant Memorial the observance is being restored to the original time, completely on the day of the “everlasting ordinance”.


John indicates this dinner took place before the Passover, but mentions nothing of the symbols of bread and wine. He must have been aware of the other accounts since his gospel was written so much later. He chose not to clarify. Undoubtedly, during his time this was not an issue. Of course now, after almost 2000 years of tainted teaching, the Christian community is totally baffled by this and many other things.


The disciples began preparation “on the first day of unleavened” (Mark 14:12, EGNT).  Actually ‘unleavened’ here is plural.  It is obviously making a connection to the days of Unleavened Bread, but not necessarily precisely to the mo’ed of Unleavened Bread.  To begin preparation on the first day of the mo’ed would make the disciples too late.  The Passover was to be eaten the evening that began the mo’ed.  The evening of the mo’ed, (“On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight[between the evenings] is the LORD’S Passover” Lev 23:5), unleavened bread was to be eaten.  So the fourteenth of the month was an unleavened day also, in that sense, even though the whole day was not unleavened, just the evening.  So we would conclude that the disciples are intending to communicate that they came to Yeshua earlier on the fourteenth to find out where to prepare the Passover.  The meal that evening must have been the intended Passover.


The account in Matthew 26:17-20 is very similar to that in Mark.  It also indicates the disciples sought instruction as to where to prepare the Passover on the first of the unleavened days.  They prepared the Passover and Yeshua came and ate with them in the evening.  Again, this preparation was either indicating after the fourteenth day and too late, or on the fourteenth day before evening.  That evening would have been the anticipated Passover.  All three synoptic accounts are pinning this meal to the Passover even though from other context it can be determined that the authors knew that evening was not the Passover.  It was not the beginning of the memorial chag day.  It was the template for that day.



Fulfilled in the Kingdom


The account in Luke records a little more of the conversation that took place during the "Passover" meal than does Matthew or Mark. Some of this deserves notice.


'Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God."' (Luke 22:15-16)


The Greek behind 'fulfilled' is 'pleroo' (Str. 4137). The primary meaning is "to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full" (Online Bible Greek Lexicon). This isn't a word that would typically be used to indicate just another celebration of an event. Indeed, this word is frequently used to refer to the accomplishing of an earlier prophesy. 'and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled <pleroo> which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son."' (Mat 2:15) It can also be used in the sense of to complete. "Fill up <pleroo>, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt." (Mat 23:32)


It seems Yeshua is intending more than just a reference to another observance of this occasion. Two verses later He also mentions: "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes" (Luke 22:18b). It is also noteworthy that Matthew and Mark include this same thought in their brief accounts (Mat 26:29, Mark 14:25). Their accounts are very much focused on the symbols of the new covenant.


There doesn't seem to be any notable eating event in the kingdom prior to the great marriage supper of Revelation 19:7-9. One would assume there will be wine at this wedding celebration. That celebration could then be the ultimate fulfillment of the mo'ed of the fifteenth day of the first month. On that day in the kingdom those who are faithful to Messiah will come under His permanent protection. It will not be a long distance relationship as was that of the children of Israel to Yahweh or even His relationship with His friend Abraham.


It will be an intimate relationship of mutual help and support. Messiah sits at the right hand of the Father. The faithful will likely be directly supporting whatever the Father is doing. "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name." (Rev 3:12, 14:1)




Let's consider the timing of Israel's departure. Israel did not sneak out of Egypt. They went out in plain sight. They were evidently well underway by sundown.

Numbers 33:3 "They departed (Qal, Imperfect) from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day [daylight] after the Passover the children of Israel went out with boldness in the sight of all the Egyptians."


They certainly started out in plain sight, probably in full daylight. They were not to leave their homes until the morning after the Passover (Ex 12:22). It appears they had already taken care of collecting things from the Egyptians (Ex 12:35-36). They had been instructed to do this in advance (Ex 11:2-3).


They were apparently already gathered together before the Passover. Exodus 12:6 mentions the ‘whole assembly of the congregation’ (see also Num 14:5). Josephus in Antiquities 2.14.6 indicates that Israel was gathered together and was already organized according to tribes before the Passover. A number of scriptures describe them as armies (Ex 6:26, 7:4, 12:51). This fits with other descriptions as being organized according to tribe (Num 10:15-27). They had to burn whatever remained of the Passover, fold down their tents again and then move out.


Some have assumed that Israel came from all over Rameses/Goshen after the Passover and then postulated that it would be impossible for Israel to organize so large a group in a few hours. They often site military planning people to give a sense of the logistics. It should be noted that the American Indians traveling with women and children could make the US military look totally inept when it came to mobility. The story of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce is a classic example. However, the reference to being in assembly and Josephus statements make it apparent Israel was organized to go before the Passover. They were evidently smart enough to know that if they were to eat the Passover in haste, with their belt and shoes on and their staff in their hand (Ex 12:11), that they shouldn’t waste time getting organized for their march later.


We already quoted Deuteronomy 16:6. It indicates "...there you shall offer the passover sacrifice, in the evening at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt." (Deu 16:6bc RSV)


The RSV here is more true to "'ereb", even, (evening) and its description of Israel's departure. As the sun was going down Israel was marching out of Egypt. The departure was fully under way.  Israel was coming out at sundown.


Ex 12:41 "And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years-on that very same day-it came to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out <03318> (Qual Perfect) from the land of Egypt."


Although the verb tense of this particular verse would tend to make us think Israel was entirely out of Egypt on this day it is more likely it is agreeing with the many other similar statements.  They were fully under way.  “the perfect of intransitive verbs is used where English uses the present;  The perfect in Hebrew in such a case emphasizes a condition which has come into "complete existence" and realization.” (Online Bible Hebrew Lexicon)  The departing was accomplished, not necessarily the full exit.


Ex 13:3 'And Moses said to the people: "Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. 4 On this day you are going out, in the month Abib."'


Ex 12:17 "So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought <03318, 8689> (8689, Hiphil, causative perfect) your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance."


This reference is not necessarily indicating the fully executed departure from Egypt on the first day of Unleavened Bread. It indicates the departing was accomplished. Everything that needed to happen to bring about the event was done and the event was underway. 


As it turns out Hebrew 'yome', (day) carries a secondary meaning of general 'time'. It is interesting that one reference to the full departure from Egypt puts it at night. If Israel was marching out as the sun set this night would actually be after the first day of the mo'ed of Unleavened Bread. It is also interesting that many references to coming out do not refer to a particular day, but to a general time period, the month Abib.


Ex 23:15 "You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed (mo'ed) in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty)."


Ex 34:18 "The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed time (mo'ed) of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt."


Deu 16:1. "Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover to the LORD your God, for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you out <03318> (8689, Hiphil, perfect, completed causative action) of Egypt by night (03915 layil, night)."


This reference also indicates He caused the departure. The departure included travel at night, but this doesn't point to a particular day, but the whole first month.


Ex 12:51 "And it came to pass, on that very same day, that the LORD brought <03318> (8689 Hiphil, Perfect causative complete) the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt according to their armies."


Because of the connection with the Passover in verse 48, this verse is more specifically indicating a particular day. This day is the first day of the "mo'ed". That is inclusive of the evening and the next daylight. It may well be that they were out of populated Egypt by the end of the first day of the "mo'ed". It seems a bit more likely that they didn't get all the way out of Egyptian dominated territory for a number of days. Initially, they marched day and night (Ex 13:21). It may boil down to where one puts the border.


The time Israel was fully out of Egypt was most likely after the time of the transition from one of the Creator's days to the next. The departure is associated with the date of the fifteenth. By that day the departing was accomplished. That is the memorial day of the "mo'ed"/chag. In combination with Deuteronomy 16:6 it seems the march was fully underway by sundown, but they didn't necessarily make it all the way out of Egypt before the first day ended.


Considering that Egypt was a major nation and there is little mention of the neighbor to the east, it seems odd that they crossed Egypt's eastern border with just a single night's journey. Consider that a natural border to the east would have been the Red Sea. Shortly after crossing the Red Sea Israel had to do battle with Amalek (Ex 17:8). They apparently didn't encounter anyone but the Egyptians before the crossing. It is apparent that they crossed the dried basin of the Red Sea at night (Ex 14:20-28). This could be why Deuteronomy 16:1, Exodus 23:15 and 34:18 do not focus on a particular day.  They may not have crossed the de facto border for a few days. The night Deuteronomy 16:1 is referring to may be the night of the Red Sea crossing.  Since there is another special Sabbath at the end of the festival of Unleavened Bread, it would make sense that the crossing of the Red Sea took place the evening beginning that seventh mo’ed day. Certainly the next daylight was a time of great rejoicing for Israel.  This should be no surprise for a ‘chag’ like Unleavened Bread.


Jewish tradition holds that the last day of Passover/Unleavened Bread was the day of the parting of the Red Sea according to: http://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/1699/jewish/The-Seventh-Day-of-Passover.htm


The 'yome', 'day', of Exodus 12:17 may also be referring to the time of the whole Festival of Unleavened Bread. 'So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day[time] I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day [time] throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance." It is not impossible that it would be drawing attention to the entire festival time as well as emphasizing the first day "on this same day".


The community of Biblical scholars has generally agreed that a word that appears in the text multiple times in the same context should generally be translated the same way in each occurrence. This seems to reflect how people usually communicate. In accord with that 'yome' is consistently translated 'day'. However, Hebrew writers seem to like wordplay and general rules are not absolutes. The coming out of Israel is not always focused on a particular day. Certainly the first day, the memorial of the fifteenth, is highlighted. On that day Israel was fully on their way out of Egypt, a major milestone.


However, the departure from Egypt is also connected with the whole Festival of Unleavened Bread and the whole month of Abib. The Egyptians may not have been nearly as concerned about national boundaries as we are today. The area to their immediate east was likely a wasteland. If we consider that certainly the Red Sea was a natural border, Israel was not totally out of Egypt’s area of immediate influence even after three or four days. Pharaoh apparently didn't think twice about pursuing them. It is unlikely any other people controlled the area they traveled. Certainly, if they were marching out as the sun went down on the daylight after the Passover, it is highly unlikely they considered the eastern edge of Rameses the border.  Numbers 33:3 does not clearly indicate they were completely out of Rameses on the first day of the mo'ed. The verb 'departed' in the Hebrew text is actually in the imperfect tense indicating a continuing process.


So, while Israel was fully underway on the mo'ed of the fifteenth, they may not have actually been completely out of Egyptian dominated territory until the final day of Unleavened Bread. Certainly the Egyptians were still a threat until the sea closed upon them. Six days of marching could have put them in range of a number of crossing options. There are a number of opinions extant as to exactly where they crossed.


Seventh day of Passover (Shevii shel Pesach) is explained at http://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/1699/jewish/The-Seventh-Day-of-Passover.htm to be the day of the splitting of the Red Sea according to Jewish tradition.  See also http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Passover#Seventh_day_of_Passover.


Israel crossed the Red Sea at night. The Egyptians attempting the same were destroyed. The next daylight was then dedicated to celebration. The rush to get away from Egypt was over and except for the requirements of the mo’ed, likely the need to eat their bread unleavened in haste was behind them as well.