Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):

The Passover in Review

When we look at the whole Passover picture, the truth stands out clear as day. When we analyze the arguments on every side, carefully and cautiously, we can come to only one conclusion: The true Passover must be celebrated and eaten in the night of Nisan 15. The daylight part of Nisan 14 was the time Israelites were preparing for the Passover lambs which were killed that afternoon. The lambs were slain about 3-5 PM in the afternoon, at the "going down of the sun" (Deut.16:6), or "between the two evenings" (Exo.12:6). The Passover was eaten on Nisan 15, after being roasted with fire for several hours until properly done.

by HOIM Staff

YEHOVAH God says in His Word: "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is shame and folly unto him" (Prov.18:13).

In the past, I have attempted to set forth the plain truth abut the Biblical Passover. I hope that I have made it plain and easy to understand. Let us now review briefly some of the things that we have learned.

During the year of the Exodus, about 1492 years before the Messiah, the 15th day of the second month (Exodus 16:1) was the weekly Sabbath day (see the whole chapter to prove this). On that afternoon, YEHOVAH God sent the quail to feed the hungry Israelites. Extending the calendar back to the first month, 30 days earlier, then we find that Passover that year was the same as it was in the last year of the Messiah's ministry.

The daylight part of Nisan 14 was the time Israelites were preparing for the Passover lambs which were killed that afternoon. This fact is documented in Josephus, Antiquties of the Jews, as well as in Jewish tradition, exegesis, the Talmud, Mishnah, and other writings. The lambs were slain about 3-5 PM in the afternoon, at the "going down of the sun" (Deut.16:6), or "between the two evenings" (Exo.12:6). The Passover was eaten on Nisan 15, after being roasted with fire for several hours until properly done. The death angel killed the Egyptian firstborn at midnight, on Nisan 15th, but "passed over" the Israelites homes which had the blood of the Passover lambs daubed on the door posts and lintels.

The next morning, still on Nisan 15, the Israelites departed from Rameses (Num.33:3), where they had already been gathered, as Josephus points out. In Antiquities of the Jews we read:

"But when God had signified, that with one more plague he would compel the Egyptians to let the Hebrews go, he commanded Moses to tell the people that they should have a sacrifice ready, and that they should PREPARE THEMSELVES ON THE TENTH DAY of the month Xanthicus, against the fourteenth, (which month is called by the Egyptians Pharmuth, and Nisan by the Hebrews . . .) and that he should carry away the Hebrews with all that they had. Accordingly, he having got the Hebrews ready for their departure, and having sorted the people into tribes, he KEPT THEM TOGETHER IN ONE PLACE: but when the fourteenth day was come, and ALL WERE READY TO DEPART, they offered the sacrifice . . ." (book II, XIV, 6).

Obviously, when Nisan 14 came, the children of Israel were ready to march. In fact, they were commanded to eat the Passover fully clothed, staff in hand, ready to depart on the morrow (Exodus 12:11). Why would YEHOVAH God have commanded them to eat it in this manner, if they were not going to depart out of Egypt until the next night?

The truth is, the Israelites did not wait around all the daylight part of the 14th, "gathering," and getting "organized," as Josephus points out. They were already gathered!

Furthermore, if they had remained in Egypt for all the next day, until evening, their bread would have become leavened. It only requires a few hours at most for bacterial spores in the air to infiltrate dough, and to cause it to begin to ferment, and rise!

Yet we read: "During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, 'Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said and go. And also bless me.' The Egyptians urged the people to HURRY and leave the country. 'For otherwise,' they said, 'we will all die!' So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. . . . With the dough they had brought from Egypt, they baked cakes of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been DRIVEN OUT of Egypt and DID NOT HAVE TIME to prepare food for themselves" (Exodus 12:31-39, NIV).

Does this sound as if they waited ALL DAY before leaving? Did they wait until the next night to leave? If they had, their dough would have been full of leavening!

The truth is, the children of Israel left at daybreak and marched out in the SIGHT of the Egyptians -- not stumbling around in DARKNESS. We read, "The Israelites set out from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover. They marched out boldly IN FULL VIEW OF ALL THE EGYPTIANS, who were burying all their firstborn" (Num. 33:3-4). The fact that YEHOVAH God says He brought them out "by night" (Deut.16:1) refers to the slaying of the firstborn in Egypt at midnight which is the single, solitary act which caused Pharaoh to change his mind and release the Israelites -- that very night. It does not mean Israel left Egypt at nighttime, marching in darkness all night long. No doubt, however, that they did begin leaving very early in the morning while it was yet dark. Since a "pillar of fire" went before them at night, providing light, this would have been possible.

The Spoiling of the Egyptians

Yet some argue that it would have taken the better part of a day for the Israelites to "spoil" the Egyptians. What about the "spoiling of the Egyptians"? Let's look at the scene:

1) Exodus 3:1-2 -- YEHOVAH God makes Himself known to Moses and in v.8-10 tells Moses He is going to deliver the Israelites, using Moses. Therefore, Moses knew well in advance that YEHOVAH God was going to bring them out of Egypt. YEHOVAH also told him they would "spoil" the Egyptians (Exo.3:21-22).

2) Exodus 4 -- YEHOVAH God sent Moses to the elders of Israel with three miracles to give him credibility.

3) Exodus 4:29-31 -- Now the children of Israel knew YEHOVAH God was going to deliver them. Verse 28 says Moses told Aaron ALL the words that YEHOVAH told him, and Aaron spoke ALL the words to the people (including the words about spoiling the Egyptians).

4) Exodus 11 -- YEHOVAH God now tells Moses after one more plague, Pharaoh will let Israel go (v.1-3). He tells Moses to tell the people now to spoil the Egyptians. Verse 3 -- the Egyptians were pleased to give to them because YEHOVAH gave the Israelites favour in their sight. Notice! This was many days BEFORE the Passover!

5) Exodus 12:1 -- YEHOVAH God tells Moses that this day is the beginning of months (the first day of Nisan). YEHOVAH God goes on to explain the events leading up to the Passover. This means that the children of Israel had at least 14 days' notice, before the Passover, of their coming departure -- fourteen days in which to "spoil" the Egyptians which Moses had already told them to do (Exo.11:2-3).

Says the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary:

"This demand, however, was not made, as has been alleged, only at the eleventh hour. The order for making it was issued, and, doubtless, acted upon, previous to the infliction of the last plague (ch.11:2)."

In Exodus 12:35-36, the Israelites did according to the word of Moses and spoiled the Egyptians. This is a statement showing that they had done this. It does not say "when" they did it. It merely recounts the fact that it was done, prior to their leaving Egypt. No doubt some last minute "demanding" and "asking" of remuneration could have occurred that final morning, as they were leaving -- but much of it had already been done.

New Testament Evidence

But what about the arguments some make from the New Testament? Didn't Yeshua the Messiah call his last supper the "Passover," saying, "Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover" (Luke 22:7-8)? What does this mean? Many people stumble over this verse and assume that Yeshua must have observed the Passover that very night. But is this necessarily so?

At first glance it may seem as if, in Luke 22:7-8, Yeshua told his disciples to go and "prepare the passover" for that very night, but notice! Since at the time Yeshua gave this command, it was already after sunset, and the 14th had begun at sunset (Luke 22:7), doesn't it seem as if that was AWFULLY SHORT NOTICE to tell them to "prepare us the passover" if it was to be eaten THAT SAME EVENING?

To "prepare" properly, they would have to kill the lamb, skin it, roast it, taking several hours, prepare the meal, purchase the necessary items -- bitter herbs, unleavened bread, wine, and so forth. There is no indication at all that they did these things that evening. So what did Yeshua mean by "prepare the Passover"?

Actually, the "Passover" was the ENTIRE SEVEN DAY FEAST. We read in Ezekiel: "In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, A FEAST OF SEVEN DAYS; unleavened bread shall be eaten" (Ezek.45:21).

When the disciples "made ready the passover," this means they prepared for the upcoming seven day feast -- they secured the room, as Yeshua had instructed them, and bought the necessary provisions at least to begin the celebration of the festival.

That same evening, Yeshua said to his disciples, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer" (Luke 22:15). Was he calling that evening meal itself the "Passover"? Why should we assume such is the case? All the verse really says is that when the time came, or the hour was come, Yeshua sat down with his disciples at the table -- obviously to eat dinner (v.14). When Yeshua said he desired to eat "this passover" with them, he was referring to the whole FEAST of Passover (as Ezekiel shows) -- not that one meal which was actually the day before the Passover!

How do we know this? The answer is simple. The Scriptures do not contradict (John 10:35). John makes this fact very plain, since he calls this meal a "supper," not the Passover (John 13:2, 4), and says it was "BEFORE" the Passover (John 13:1; see also John 18:28; 19:14, 31 ).

Some people, however, argue that the disciples "very clearly thought they were observing the Passover on the right day," because they didn't protest or even comment on it. One man wrote to me saying that the Jews also thought they were keeping it on the right day. He then asked, "Just who was deceived? Was it Jesus and His disciples? Or could it have been the Pharisees and the Jews?"

But isn't this what is commonly called "begging the question" or "reasoning in a circle"? People ASSUME that what Yeshua and the disciples ate was the "Passover," and then conclude (circular reasoning) that the disciples must have been used to keeping it that night since they made no comments about it.

But wait a minute! It would be just as possible or likely that they made no comments about it since they knew that particular meal was NOT the Passover!

Furthermore, such a conclusion pits Yeshua and the disciples AGAINST the Pharisees, who observed Passover on Nisan 15, with all the Jews. But there is no evidence in history that anybody observed Passover on the eve or beginning of Nisan 14. If Yeshua disagreed with the Pharisaic Passover, then why didn't he ever say so in the Gospel accounts? Why didn't he correct them on this crucial issue, if indeed they were wrong?

Yet Yeshua himself said: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. SO YOU MUST OBEY THEM AND DO EVERYTHING THEY TELL YOU. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach" (Matt. 23:2-4, NIV). Clearly, Yeshua regarded the Pharisees as sitting in Moses' seat, and acknowledged their authority, in general. He did not dispute their authority, nor did he ever dispute their teachings concerning the Passover!

When it came to the question of their teachings concerning the laws of YEHOVAH God, Yeshua did not find fault with the Pharisees. On the contrary, he generally endorsed their authority. Therefore, we should not try to "pit" Yeshua's words against the Pharisees, who sat in Moses' seat. Yeshua was very plain and specific when he found fault with their teachings, and embellishments on the law of YEHOVAH God (Matt. 15, 23). But nowhere in the gospels did he EVER find fault with the date or manner in which they observed the PASSOVER! If he had, don't you think the apostles would have recorded his words somewhere in the pages of the Gospels?

What about the apostle Paul? The apostle Paul said that the Pharisees taught the law of YEHOVAH God correctly -- "perfectly." He wrote, "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was THOROUGHLY TRAINED IN THE LAW of our fathers" (Acts 22:3, NIV). Paul also wrote to the Philippians, saying, "If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the LAW, A PHARISEE; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for LEGALISTIC RIGHTEOUSNESS, FAULTLESS" (Phil. 3:5-6).

Paul says he had observed the law of YEHOVAH God, including the Passover, all his life as a Pharisee, blamelessly. Without fault! What is one to do with these Scriptures?

Yeshua and his parents observed the Passover all their lives WITH THE JEWS. "Now his parents went to Jerusalem EVERY YEAR at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem AFTER THE CUSTOM of the feast" (Luke 2:41-42).

Now, IF, just for the sake of argument, Yeshua and his disciples observed Passover on a different night than the Jews, WHY DIDN'T THE JEWS EVER CHALLENGE HIM ON THIS VITAL POINT? We know they challenged him regarding such things as plucking grain on the sabbath, healing on the sabbath, and for not following the "traditions of the elders" (Matt. 15:2), such as not washing the hands, etc., some relatively minor matters. Surely, then, they would have challenged him and the disciples if they observed the Passover a different night!!!

Furthermore, if they were keeping the WRONG night, then WHY OH WHY didn't Yeshua even once correct them for this major error and false teaching? WHY? WHY? Do you see the absurdity of such a conclusion? There is NO WAY he could have been observing a different day or night for the Passover, and get away with it, without attracting the attention of the Pharisees, who would have viciously accused him on this point!

Furthermore, if they were in error in keeping Passover on Nisan 15, then Yeshua would have likewise denounced their error with scathing rebuke and excoriating words of fury, such as we find in Matthew 23, where he denounced them for many other sins -- but nothing so flagrant or obvious as it would have been if they had indeed changed the very day of worship and of holding the Passover!!!

Its Time to Take a Stand for the Truth!

When we look at the whole Passover picture, the truth stands out clear as day. When we analyze the arguments on every side, carefully and cautiously, we can come to only one conclusion: The true Passover must be celebrated and eaten in the night of Nisan 15.

Personally, I will not compromise with the truth of YEHOVAH God. I have had enough of man's carnal authority, and man's misleading interpretations of simple and clear Scriptures, as they attempt to obfuscate and deny the truth of YEHOVAH God. I have had enough of those ministers who trample all over the Word of YEHOVAH God, and profess to be righteous men of YEHOVAH God. I have had my fill of those churches who deny the truth about the Passover, who refuse to look into the questions, and who sweep the truth under the carpet because they don't want to be "bothered" or "corrected."

I rebuke their error, and I repudiate their conclusions.

"Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall," Solomon wrote (Prov. 16:18). Many modern ministers of YEHOVAH God are heading for a serious fall. Many brethren in the End-time churches of God, also, are treading on dangerous ground, as they refuse to study into the issues concerning the true Passover of YEHOVAH God our Creator!

If I am proved wrong, then I pray for YEHOVAH's grace to see it and to repent and change. But if I am right, then I dare not change, or compromise, or bend, or seek to please men.

Remember what Herbert W. Armstrong said in the article quoted in the Foreword to this book? He wrote:

In the meantime, we must all be very careful, lest we become deceived. I urge all of God's true people, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15, NIV). Continue your studies, and don't leap from the frying pan, as they say, into the fire. Be careful. Don't let Satan the devil make mincemeat of you. Don't assume you are right. "TEST EVERYTHING. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil" (I Thess. 5:21-22).

Thank YEHOVAH God that the Messiah, our King and Brother, is coming soon, to deliver us from this planet full of hate, bigotry, and violence! Amen! Even so come, Lord Yeshua!


Hope of Israel Ministries -- Leading the Way in the Search for Truth!

Hope of Israel Ministries
P.O. Box 853
Azusa, CA 91702, U.S.A.

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