The Appointed Times of YHVH–the Festival of the Unleavened Bread Part I
In the Rabbinical Judaism the Passover and the Festival of the Unleavened Bread (Chag Matzot) seem to be fused into one feast. We need to clarify that according to the Torah, the actual Appointed Time is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, while “the Passover” is not part of it; Passover is the sacrificial lamb for the feast.
In the article Introduction to the Appointed Times of YHVH we discussed the festive seasons and the days which YHVH called מוֹעֲדִים moa’dim “appointed times”, appointed and fixed by the Creator from the very beginning of His Creation. Each of these appointed times is also called מִקְרָא mik’ra which means “meeting, convocation, assembly, and rehearsal” with the Creator.
While the Shabbat (Sabbath) is the weekly gathering with the Creator, which in an unbreakable chain of seven days, comes to us from Day One of the Creation, all other convocations or rehearsals are annual: they occur once a year.
In this article we will continue into Leviticus 23 with the second appointed time of YHVH which is also the first annual appointed time: the Unleavened Bread (Matzot in Hebrew). The Lord says:
These are the appointed times of Yehovah, set-apart gatherings which you are to proclaim at their appointed times.
In the first new moon, on the fourteenth day of the new moon, between the evenings, is the Passover to Yehovah. And on the fifteenth day of this new moon is the Festival of the Unleavened Bread to Yehovah – seven days you eat unleavened bread. On the first day you have a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work. And you shall bring an offering made by fire to Yehovah for seven days. On the seventh day is a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work. (Lev 23:4-8)
“8 days of Passover” vs. 7 days of Unleavened Bread
Firstly, we need to clear something which is very important to understand regarding the Festival of the Unleavened Bread (Chag Matzot). As we said, in the Rabbinical Judaism and in some circles of the Messianic Movement the Passover and the Festival of the Unleavened Bread (Chag Matzot) seem to be fused into one feast.
We need to clarify that according to the Torah, the actual Appointed Time is the Festival of the Unleavened Bread (Chag Matzot), while “the Passover” is not part of it. Moreover, “Passover” is not a feast day.
To be Biblically correct, the Passover is the sacrificial lamb for the Festival of the Unleavened Bread (Chag Matzot).
Historically, however, the fourteenth day of the first month (new moon in Hebrew) somehow became to be known as “the Passover” and even the whole Festival of the Unleavened Bread from the fifteenth until the twenty-first day is referred to as “Passover”. Thus, in the modern-day Judaism this holiday came to be known as “the eight days of Passover”.
In Hebrew the word for “Passover” is Pesach and this is not a feast, nor is it a holiday, let alone a name of a day.
The Pesach is the Sacrificial lamb that was slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the first month and eaten on the first day of the Festival of the Unleavened Bread in Egypt. The day when the Pesach is slaughtered is the last of the five days (from the tenth to the fourteenth day) when the Pesach was inspected for blemishes.
Therefore, in the Torah “Passover” is the name of the sacrifice, the lamb or goat, while the actual festival on whose first day the Pesach is to be eaten is called Chag HaMatzot in Hebrew or the Festival of the Unleavened Bread.
When exactly is ‘between the evenings?’
But, let us read what the Torah says regarding the fourteenth day of the first month? The Torah says, In the first new moon, on the fourteenth day of the new moon, between the evenings, is the Passover. It appears that between the evenings is called the Pesach.
But, as already mentioned, in Hebrew Pesach is the sacrificial lamb that is to be slaughtered and eaten on the first day of the Unleavened Breads The eating of the Pesach lamb is known as “the Passover dinner.” The Passover dinner, eaten on the first day of the Unleavened Bread, means that the Pesach (the Passover lamb) is the meal for the first day of the Festival, not a name given for that day.
Therefore, we are to understand this passage as thus: the Pesach (the Passover lamb) is to be slaughtered between the evenings. The Passover is not the period between the evenings, much less the whole day, but the sacrificial lamb.
How do we know this?
We read in Exodus 12, that the first new month is the beginning of new months for Israel, that is the first new month of the year (Exo 12:2). Then, on the tenth day of this new month one is to take for himself a lamb, according to the house (Exo 12:3). The lamb (or goat) is to be a perfect one, a year old male (Exo 12:5). The lamb will be kept until the fourteenth day of the month. Then, it is to be slain between the evenings on the fourteenth (Exo 12:6).
Therefore, when Israel heard the command in Lev 23:4-8 that between the evenings, is the Passover they already knew what it meant, because they were told in Exodus 12 that between the evenings the lamb was to be slaughtered. For more on the chronology of the Exodus when the first Pesach was slain, refer to Chapter The Beginning of Months of the present author’s book Reckoning of Time. And for more prophetic insight on “between the evenings”, refer to the article What Time Is It Now On the Creator’s Clock?
Passover is not the festival; Passover is the lamb for the festival of the Unleavened Bread
So, where did the notion of the Passover was a “feast” come from, because only twice the Torah seemingly makes reference to the Passover (the fourteenth day) as a chag (festival): in Exo_12:14 and Exo_34:25? We read:
And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I shall pass over you, and let the plague not come on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. And this day shall become to you a remembrance. And you shall celebrate it as a festival to Yehovah throughout your generations – celebrate it as a festival, an everlasting law. (Exo 12:13-14)
Do not slay the blood of My slaughtering with leaven, and do not let the slaughtering of the Festival of the Pesach remain until morning. (Exo 34:25)
In order to understand what these two passages are referring to, we need to do a textual criticism.
First, notice what the text is saying when I strike the land of Egypt. And this day … you shall celebrate it as a festival. When did Elohim strike Egypt? On the fifteenth day. This is the first day of the Unleavened Bread, this day is to be a remembrance and celebrated as a festival, because on it the Elohim of Israel struck Egypt and Israel came out of Egypt.
In Exo 34:25 we are told do not let the slaughtering of the Festival of the Pesach remain until morning. With all that being said, we understand that the slaughtering of the festival is the lamb or goat (Pesach) which is to be slaughtered on the fourteenth between the evenings and eaten on the fifteenth, and whatever is left is to be burned until the morning of the fifteenth.
From here we conclude that in Exo 12:13-14 and Exo 34:25 the Festival that is meant is the first day of the Unleavened Bread and by extension: all seven days.
Let us keep on reading:
And on the fifteenth day of this new moon is the Festival of the Unleavened Breads to Yehovah – seven days you eat unleavened bread. On the first day you have a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work. And you shall bring an offering made by fire to Yehovah for seven days. On the seventh day is a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work. (Lev 23:4-8)
We are told that for seven days of the Festival of the Unleavened Bread (Chag Matzot) we are to eat unleavened bread from where the name of the festival comes. The first day is a set-apart gathering and the last seven day is a set-apart gathering. These two days are days of rest: no servile word is to be done, that is, we shall do no work of servant.
We should notice in Hebrew that the first and seventh days of this Festival are not called Shabbats which is a ceasing from any kind of work, a complete rest. On these days we are allowed to cook and prepare food for the festival (Exo_12:16). Although it is not Shabbat, it is still to be a day of rest, for this is a festival and this is how we honor YHVH: by giving back His festival days to Him.
So, the Festival of the Unleavened Bread (Chag Matzot) is the first annual appointed time.
Does leaven represent sin?
Some teachers teach that leaven represents sin, but this is not how the Judaism sees it. Actually, leaven is represented as a good thing, not sin. Moreover, Yeshua the Messiah teaches us that the Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven (Mat_13:33), the Kingdom of God is like leaven, (Luk_13:20-21). Yeshua likens leaven unto teaching as seen in Mat_16:6-12. Shaul (Paul) the Apostle uses leaven as an example of how a little of something (teaching) can grow fast (Gal_5:9). He teaches us that we are to get rid of the old leaven at the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and start the new year in the spring with new leaven, as the Torah does say so.
And indeed, this is what the leaven represented when the Hebrews left Egypt. As the fifteenth day began to approach, the Pesach were slaughtered in the dwellings of the Hebrews between the evenings on the fourteenth. With the setting of the sun, the Feast of Unleavened Bread began and the Pesach (Passover lambs) were eaten in haste (Exo_12:8-11), while the firstborn of Egypt were dying after midnight (Exo_12:29). While yet dark, by the command of Elohim the children of Israel started leaving Egypt: Exo_12:31-39. Clearly this was the fifteenth, the day of Unleavened Bread, of the month of the aviv.
The children of Israel left the old leaven behind and at the appointed time set by Elohim left Egypt. For more insight on the timing of the Exodus, refer to the article When Did Israel Leave Egypt?
When the children of Israel were leaving Egypt, there was no time for the new lump to rise and for seven days they were eating unleavened bread, matzot, (hence the name of the festival) until the parting of the Red Sea (Yam Suph). The Targum Yonatan (the translation of Yonatan) renders Zech 14 – “As on the day that he fought the battle at the Red Sea”, thus referring to the night of the seventh day of Matzot, when the Egyptian pursuers were drowned in the Red Sea.
After having left Egypt, Israel was given a new bread to eat, manna, bread from heaven. This new bread the people would eat forty years until they entered the Land.
To learn more about all appointed time of the Creator, please, visit The Appointed Times of YHVH.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days