The first of Israel’s seven annual festivals is a one-day festival, the Passover. It is followed immediately by the second of Israel’s festivals, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Since the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins the very next day, these two festivals are often thought of as one long eight-day festival (and even Yahweh refers to them in this regard). These two opening festivals speak of Israel’s Redemption from slavery and bondage; and because it will clear up some common theological misconceptions later on, let us review the story here.
Avraham begat Yitzhak (Isaac), and then Yitzhak begat Ya’akov (Jacob, later called Israel). From Israel’s loins arose Yosef (Joseph), whom his brothers sold into slavery in Egypt. After serving time in prison, Yosef went on to become second in command of Egypt, to fulfill the word of Yahweh that was given to Avraham.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 15:12-14
12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him.
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.”
Yosef was made second in command of all Egypt because it was clear that he was filled with the Spirit of Elohim, and because he served Pharaoh so well. Pharaoh even invited Yosef to bring his family down to the Land of Goshen (the Nile Delta). However, after all of these honors a new Pharaoh arose, who did not know Yosef. This new Pharaoh placed Israel into slavery, and eventually attempted to exterminate them. Israel wept bitter tears because of the harsh treatment, and the attempts at genocide. Israel’s cry reached Yahweh’s ears, and He put His divine plan into action, to deliver them from bondage.
Yahweh sent Moshe (Moses) to tell Pharaoh to let His people go, but Pharaoh hardened his heart, and refused. Yahweh therefore brought a series of plagues upon the Egyptians, in order to change Pharaoh’s mind. This where we pick up the story.
By Exodus Chapter 10, nine of the ten plagues have already come and gone. Then in verse 28, Pharaoh tells Moshe that he will never see his face again. In the next verse (29) Moshe prophesies that what Pharaoh has said will come true: Pharaoh will never see his face again.
Shemote (Exodus) 10:27-29
27 But Yahweh hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go.
28 Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!”
29 So Moshe said, “You have spoken well. I will never see your face again.”
Then in Exodus 11, Yahweh tells Moshe that He will bring a tenth and final plague upon Egypt; and that this plague will be so horrific that Pharaoh will drive Israel out of Egypt, just to be rid of them, and the plagues.
|Shemote (Exodus) 11:1
1 And Yahweh said to Moshe, “I am bringing yet one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that he is going to let you go from here. When he lets you go, he shall drive you out from here altogether.”
|(1) וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה עוֹד נֶגַע אֶחָד אָבִיא עַל פַּרְעֹה וְעַל מִצְרַיִם אַחֲרֵי כֵן יְשַׁלַּח אֶתְכֶם מִזֶּה | כְּשַׁלְּחוֹ כָּלָה גָּרֵשׁ יְגָרֵשׁ אֶתְכֶם מִזֶּה|
The word ‘drive’ is “garesh y’garesh”, (גָּרֵשׁ יְגָרֵשׁ), which is a doubling of the word “to drive out.”
OT:1644 garash (gaw-rash’); a primitive root; to drive out from a possession; especially to expatriate or divorce:
That Yahweh said Pharaoh would ‘drive’ Israel out of Egypt indicates that the Exodus would not be a slow event, but that it would take place very rapidly.
Then, in the next verse, days before the actual Exodus was to take place, Yahweh told Moshe to have the children of Israel plunder Egypt, by asking the Egyptians for objects of silver and gold. The language seems to indicate that the children of Israel asked for these objects right away, since “Yahweh gave the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians” at that time.
Shemote (Exodus) 11:2-3
2 “Speak now in the hearing of the people, and let every man ask from his neighbor and every woman from her neighbor, objects of silver and objects of gold.”
3 And Yahweh gave the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians. And the man Moshe was very great in the land of Egypt, in the eyes of Pharaoh’s servants and in the eyes of the people.
Then, after Israel took the plunder, Yahweh commanded each family in Israel to take a lamb on the tenth of the month, in preparation for the first Passover.
Shemote (Exodus) 12:3-5
3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.
4 And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb.
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.’”
This spotless and blemishless lamb, of course, was a prophetic shadow picture of Yeshua. Verse 6 tells us that the children of Israel were to keep these lambs until the fourteenth day of the same month, and then they were then to kill them “between the evenings.”
6 “Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it between the evenings.”
|(6) וְהָיָה לָכֶם לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת עַד אַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה | וְשָׁחֲטוּ אֹתוֹ כֹּל קְהַל עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל בֵּין הָעַרְבָּיִם|
Scholars debate the meaning of the phrase ‘between the evenings’ (בֵּין הָעַרְבָּיִם). Some believe it means ‘at sunset,’ but this does not really work. It takes several hours to slaughter and dress out a lamb, and there is not enough time if one begins at sunset.
Many scholars believe there were two evenings in Hebraic thought: one at noon, and the other at dusk. The time in ‘between’ those two evenings refers to mid-afternoon, when the sun had started to descend, but had not yet set. This harmonizes with Deuteronomy 16:6, which tells us the Passover was to be sacrificed at the time ‘when the sun comes’ (כְּבוֹא הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ) [back to earth].
6 “but at the place where Yahweh your Elohim chooses to make His name abide, there you shall sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun comes (back to earth), at the time you came out of Egypt.”
|(6) כִּי אִם אֶל הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְשַׁכֵּן שְׁמוֹ שָׁם תִּזְבַּח אֶת הַפֶּסַח בָּעָרֶב | כְּבוֹא הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ מוֹעֵד צֵאתְךָ מִמִּצְרָיִם|
The passage continues with the instructions as to how the first Passover was to be eaten.
Shemote (Exodus) 12:7-10
7 “‘And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.
8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9 Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire — its head with its legs and its entrails.
10 You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire.’”
Next, verse 11 specifies we are to eat the Passover in haste, with our loins girded, sandals (or shoes) on our feet, and our staff in our hand.
“And so shall you eat it: loins girded (belt on your waist), your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Passover to Yahweh.”
|(11) וְכָכָה תֹּאכְלוּ אֹתוֹ מָתְנֵיכֶם חֲגֻרִים נַעֲלֵיכֶם בְּרַגְלֵיכֶם וּמַקֶּלְכֶם בְּיֶדְכֶם | וַאֲכַלְתֶּם אֹתוֹ בְּחִפָּזוֹן פֶּסַח הוּא לַיהוָה|
The word ‘naaleichem’ (נַעֲלֵיכֶם) can mean sandals, but it can also mean shoes. A direct translation would be something like, “what you go (i.e., walk) upon.”
The phrase ‘in haste’ is בְּחִפָּזוֹן (‘chippazown’), which means, ‘in hasty flight.’ From Strong’s OT:2649:
OT:2649 chippazown (khip-paw-zone’); from OT:2648; hasty flight:
Looking up the reference to Strong’s OT:2648, we get:
OT: 2648 chaphaz (khaw-faz’); a primitive root; properly, to start up suddenly, i.e. (by implication) to hasten away, to fear:
In other words, the Passover is to be eaten hastily, as if we are ready to flee. This is how our forefathers ate the Passover in Egypt, since they had been told they would be ‘driven’ out after Yahweh had struck all the first born.
Shemote (Exodus) 12:12-13
12 “’For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the elohim (gods) of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am Yahweh.
13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.’”
The blood on the doorposts was to be a sign that the persons within the house were faithful to Yahweh, and that they were keeping His commandments. Because they were faithfully keeping His commandments, Yahweh would spare them from the destruction that was to come. This was prophetic of how Yeshua Messiah’s blood would ‘mark the doorposts of our hearts’, so that we also might be saved.
While Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are technically two separate festivals, Yahweh refers to them as if they are one in the same. For example, verse 14 tells us that “this day” (i.e., the Passover) is a memorial, and a feast by an everlasting ordinance.
Shemote (Exodus) 12:14
14 “’So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to Yahweh throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.’”
However, still referring to the Passover, Yahweh tells us to eat unleavened bread for seven days, and that whosoever eats anything leavened, or whosoever does not remove the leaven from his house shall be cut off from Israel.
Shemote (Exodus) 12:15
15 “‘Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.’”
The reason Yahweh considers Passover and the Feast of Unleavened to be all one festival is that the First Day of Unleavened fades in as the Passover fades out. Next, verses 16 through 18 (below) tell us to assemble on the first and the last days of Unleavened Bread, and not to do any manner of work on those days, except for cooking our food.
Shemote (Exodus) 12:16-18
16 “‘On the first day there shall be a set-apart gathering, and on the seventh day there shall be a set-apart gathering. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat — that only may be prepared by you.
17 So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance.
18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.’”
We are commanded to eat unleavened bread from the evening ending the 14th day until the evening ending the 21st day (the start of the 22nd day). We are to have no leaven in our houses at all during that time. Notice that the only way this commandment works is if we hold the Passover on the conjunction of the 14th/15th.
Shemote (Exodus) 12:19-20
19 “‘For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land.
20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.'”
Now let us skip ahead in the narrative, and we will come back to verses 24-25 later. Verses 29-35 show us that the children of Israel did not have time to take an extra day to plunder Egypt, in that they were sent out of Egypt in haste.
Shemote (Exodus) 12:33-34
33 And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.”
34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, having their kneading bowls bound up in their clothes on their shoulders.
Sometimes verses 35 and 36 (below) are used to say that the Exodus was actually a slow event (or that the Passover took place on the conjunction of the 13th/14th of Aviv), because the plundering is mentioned in the narrative the morning after the Passover. However, let us notice that the narrative mentions the plundering of Egypt in the past tense (“had asked”), showing that the children of Israel had already plundered the Egyptians before the morning they were driven out.
35 And the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moshe, and they had asked from the Egyptians objects of silver, and objects of gold, and garments.
36 And Yahweh gave the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians, so that they gave them what they asked. And they plundered the Egyptians.
|(35) וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל עָשׂוּ כִּדְבַר מֹשֶׁה | וַיִּשְׁאֲלוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם כְּלֵי כֶסֶף וּכְלֵי זָהָב וּשְׂמָלֹת
(36) וַיהוָה נָתַן אֶת חֵן הָעָם בְּעֵינֵי מִצְרַיִם וַיַּשְׁאִלוּם | וַיְנַצְּלוּ אֶת מִצְרָיִם
Verse 39 also confirms that the Exodus was a hasty event, in that the children of Israel had not been able to delay. They were in such a hurry that they did not even have time to prepare food for themselves.
Shemote (Exodus) 12:39
39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt, and had not been able to delay, nor had they prepared food for themselves.
Next, Exodus 12:51 gives yet another witness that the children of Israel did not take an extra day to plunder Egypt, for Yahweh says He brought the children of Israel out of Egypt “on that same day” (as the Passover/First Day of Unleavened).
Shemote (Exodus) 12:51
51 And it came to be on that same day that Yahweh brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt according to their divisions.
Now let us double-back in the narrative and look at verses 24 and 25, because they show us something interesting.
24 “And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your children forever.
25 “When you come into the land which Yahweh will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this service.”
|(24) וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה | לְחָק לְךָ וּלְבָנֶיךָ עַד עוֹלָם:
(25) וְהָיָה כִּי תָבֹאוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יִתֵּן יְהוָה לָכֶם כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֵּר | וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת הָעֲבֹדָה הַזֹּאת
Verse 24 tells us that the Passover is an ordinance for us and our children forever; but verse 25 tells us we will perform a Passover offering when we come into the Land (וְהָיָה כִּי תָבֹאוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ). While this verse can be understood in several different ways, basically what it says is that we need to offer a Passover sacrifice when we live in the Land of Israel. We should not, however, offer Passover sacrifices in the Dispersion, as we explain in the study, ‘About Sacrifices.’
However, the children of Israel kept the Passover while they were still in the Wilderness. In the second year after the Exodus Yahweh commanded the children of Israel to keep the Passover in the same fashion as they had done during the Exodus, even including the same rules and regulations.
Bemidbar (Numbers) 9:1-3
1 Thus Yahweh spoke to Moshe in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying,
2 “Now, let the children of Israel observe the Passover at its appointed time.
3 “On the fourteenth day of this month, at evening, you shall observe it at its appointed time; you shall observe it according to all its statutes and according to all its ordinances.”
Notice, though, that in addition to all of the previous Passover ordinances, Yahweh gave us some additional ordinances in verses 6-14. These pertain to those who are unclean because of a dead body, and those who are away on a long journey (who cannot celebrate the Passover in its time).
Bemidbar (Numbers) 9:6-14
6 Now there were certain men who were defiled by a human corpse, so that they could not keep the Passover on that day; and they came before Moshe and Aharon that day.
7 And those men said to him, “We became defiled by a human corpse. Why are we kept from presenting the offering of Yahweh at its appointed time among the children of Israel?”
8 And Moshe said to them, “Stand still, that I may hear what Yahweh will command concerning you.”
9 Then Yahweh spoke to Moshe, saying,
10 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If anyone of you or your posterity is unclean because of a corpse, or is far away on a journey, he may still keep Yahweh’s Passover.
11 On the fourteenth day of the second month, between the evenings, they may keep it. They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
12 They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break one of its bones. According to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it.
13 But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and ceases to keep the Passover, that same person shall be cut off from among his people, because he did not bring the offering of Yahweh at its appointed time; that man shall bear his sin.
14 ‘And if a stranger dwells among you, and would keep Yahweh’s Passover, he must do so according to the rite of the Passover and according to its ceremony; you shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger and the native of the land.’”
Notice that Yahweh added additional rules for those who were unclean for a corpse, and for those who were away on a distant journey. But why would Yahweh have more rules for the second Passover, than for the first?
As explained in the Nazarene Israel study, the Torah tells us that in order to participate either in the Sabbath, or in Yahweh’s Festivals, we must follow special rules for ritual purity (and these rules are different for some of the festivals, than for others). It may be that Yahweh decided not to give any these rules to Israel until after they were safely out of Egypt, because He did not want anyone getting confused. Perhaps He wanted all of Israel to apply the blood to their doorposts without fail; and therefore He only gave these rules after the Exodus as kind of a ‘next level of learning.’ If so, then it shows His love for us, in that He wanted to ensure that all Israel would be able to take part in the Exodus.
The next time Scripture records the children of Israel as offering the Passover is at Joshua 5:10, just after they arrived in the Promised Land.
10 Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evening on the plains of Jericho.
|(10) וַיַּחֲנוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּגִּלְגָּל | וַיַּעֲשׂוּ אֶת הַפֶּסַח בְּאַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ בָּעֶרֶב בְּעַרְבוֹת יְרִיחוֹ|
Our forefathers would not have slaughtered the lambs by houses, as they had done in Egypt. Rather, they would have brought the lambs to the Tabernacle, and would have slaughtered them there. This is because Yahweh gives us some special instructions for how we are to hold the festivals whenever we live in the Land of Israel.
1 “These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which Yahweh, the Elohim of your fathers, has given you to possess as long as you live on the soil.”
|(1) אֵלֶּה הַחֻקִּים וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר תִּשְׁמְרוּן לַעֲשׂוֹת בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נָתַן יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֶיךָ לְךָ לְרִשְׁתָּהּ | כָּל הַיָּמִים אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם חַיִּים עַל הָאֲדָמָה|
When Israel came into the Land, they were still to hold the Passover in the month of the Aviv; only now, instead of holding the Passover in their homes they were to make a pilgrimage to wherever Yahweh would choose to establish His name.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:1-2
1 “Observe the month of Aviv and celebrate the Passover to Yahweh your Elohim, for in the month of Aviv Yahweh your Elohim brought you out of Egypt by night.
2 “You shall sacrifice the Passover to Yahweh your Elohim from the flock and the herd, in the place where Yahweh chooses to establish His name.”
When the Tabernacle stood, the place Yahweh chose to place His name was wherever the Tabernacle was. Later, that place became the Temple in Jerusalem.
Melachim Aleph (1st Kings) 14:21
21 Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which Yahweh had chosen from all the tribes of Israel to put His name there.
Yet while it is certainly a blessing to go up to Jerusalem for the festivals, Israel’s males are only required to go up to Jerusalem for the festivals when they live in the Land of Israel. We can see confirmation of this in the Apostle Shaul’s example. Had it been vital to go up to Jerusalem three times a year no matter where one lived, the Apostle Shaul would certainly have gone; and yet Shaul did not go up to the Temple during the fourteen years he was outside of the Land.
Galatim (Galatians) 2:1
1 Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also.
Until Yahweh brings us back to His Land we can keep the Passover either in our homes, or with our local fellowships. However, once we are gathered back into the Land, we will again hold the Passover at the new Temple in Jerusalem, in keeping with Deuteronomy.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:5-6
5 “You are not allowed to sacrifice the Passover in any of your towns which Yahweh your Elohim is giving you;
6 but at the place where Yahweh your Elohim chooses to establish His name, you shall sacrifice the Passover in the evening when the sun comes (back to earth), at the time that you came out of Egypt.”
Ezekiel 40-46 also speaks to this time when all twelve tribes of Israel are brought back to the Land of Israel, and the Temple is rebuilt. Ezekiel 45:21-23 tells us that the Passover will again be offered in the Temple.
Yehezqel (Ezekiel) 45:21-23
21 “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall observe the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.
22 And on that day the prince (Hebrew: נשיא ‘Nah-see’) shall prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bull for a sin offering.
23 On the seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt offering to Yahweh, seven bulls and seven rams without blemish, daily for seven days, and a kid of the goats daily for a sin offering.”
We explore this in more detail in Revelation and the End Times, but one reason the prince in this passage cannot be Yeshua is that the prince of this passage (above) offers up a sin offering not just for the people, but also for himself. But if Yeshua was the sinless, spotless Passover Lamb, then why would He have to offer a sin sacrifice for Himself? This is inconsistent with the idea that the prince here is Yeshua.
While ideally we would all live in the Land of Israel and make the pilgrimages to Jerusalem three times a year (at the Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Sukkot/ Tabernacles), at the time of this writing we are still in the Dispersion and the Temple lies in ruins. How then should we offer the Passover? Should we offer it in our homes, as was done in Egypt, because the Dispersion is a ‘type’ of Egypt? Proponents of this theory remind us that the Passover service was given as an ordinance forever; therefore they reason we should follow the service that was given in Egypt, whenever we do not reside in the Land of Israel.
Shemote (Exodus) 12:24
24 And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your children forever.
The majority of scholars, however, believe that:
- Since Yahweh has again chosen Jerusalem, but
- Since no Temple is presently standing, that
- We cannot sacrifice a lamb until the Temple is rebuilt. (The present author agrees with this view).
One of the requirements of the Passover is to teach our children about our bitter slavery in Egypt, and how Yahweh miraculously delivered us out of it.
Shemote (Exodus) 12:25-27
25 “It will come to pass when you come to the land which Yahweh will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service.
26 And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’
27 that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of Yahweh, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.'” So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
But if one of the purposes of the Passover is to teach our children about the first Passover, how do we do this if we cannot offer a lamb until the Temple is rebuilt? Rabbinic Jews teach their children about the Passover by holding a traditional meal that they call a Passover ‘Seder’ service. The Jews began eating a seder meal in the Exile to Babylon, and although the Seder plate no longer contains lamb, the seder service remains largely the same as it was in the first century. Further, if we read the account of the Last Supper with the idea that Yeshua was leading a Seder, we can see some striking similarities.
In the Middle East, slaves traditionally stood to wait on their masters as they ate. However, the rabbis taught that since the children of Israel were now free, they no longer had to stand and serve their Egyptian masters. Therefore, the rabbinical tradition became to lean or recline at the Passover table as much as one could, to celebrate their freedom.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 26:20
20 Now when evening came, Yeshua was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples.
In the Passover Seder service, one also dips food into a bowl (or dish).
Mattityahu (Matthew) 26:23
23 He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me.”
One blesses Yahweh, breaks bread, takes four cups of wine (each at specific times), and gives thanks.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 26:26-28
26 And as they were eating, Yeshua took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you,
28 For this is My blood of the New (Renewed) Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
The Passover Seder service usually concludes with the singing of one or more psalms (or hymns) in praise.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 26:30
30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
The Peshitta Aramaic tells us that Yeshua and his disciples sang praises (i.e., Psalms).
Mattityahu 26:30 (Murdock Peshitta)
30 And they sang praises, and went forth to the mount of Olives.
However, even if the Last Supper was held as a seder service, it is important to remember that the Last Supper had to be held the evening before the Passover itself (i.e., on the evening of the 13th/14th), because Yeshua was offered up as the Passover Lamb, which Torah commands on the afternoon of the 14th of Aviv.
Qorintim Aleph (1st Corinthians) 5:7b
7b For indeed Messiah our Passover was sacrificed for us.
Both the Aramaic and the Greek texts seem to support the idea that the Last Supper took place the evening before the Passover proper, because the words used seem to indicate that the bread used during the Last Supper was leavened (and leavened bread could not have been eaten during the Passover week). For example, in the Peshitta the word bread is לחמא, which is the Aramaic counterpart to the Hebrew word ‘lechem’ (לחם, leavened bread).
And as they were eating, Yeshua took bread, and blessed, and brake; and gave to his disciples, and said: “Take, eat; this is my body.”
|Matthew 26:26 (PE)
כַּד דֶּין לָעסִין שָקֶל יֶשֻוע לַחמָא ובַרֶך וַקצָא ויַהב לתַלמִידַוהי וֶאמַר סַבו אַכֻולו הָנַו פַּגרי
The Greek also seems to support the idea of a raised (or a leavened) loaf, in that the word ‘artos’ is Strong’s NT:740, meaning a raised (or leavened) loaf.
NT:740 artos (ar’-tos); from NT:142; bread (as raised) or a loaf.
26 And as they were eating, Yeshua took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
|BGT Matthew 26:26
Ἐσθιόντων δὲ αὐτῶν λαβὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἄρτον καὶ εὐλογήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ δοὺς τοῖς μαθηταῖς εἶπεν· λάβετε φάγετε, τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου.
However, while this does seem to indicate that the Last Supper was held the night before the Passover, it is not conclusive in and of itself, for even the Torah uses the terms for leavened bread (לֶחֶם) and unleavened bread (מצות) interchangeably in some places. For example, in Exodus 29:23 Yahweh commands Moshe to take leavened cakes (לֶחֶם) from a basket of unleavened bread (מַּצּוֹת).
23 “one loaf of bread, one cake made with oil, and one wafer from the basket of the unleavened bread that is before Yahweh….”
|(23) וְכִכַּר לֶחֶם אַחַת וַחַלַּת לֶחֶם שֶׁמֶן אַחַת וְרָקִיק אֶחָד | מִסַּל הַמַּצּוֹת אֲשֶׁר לִפְנֵי יְהוָה|
Some suggest that the Last Supper was a traditional Sabbath meal, since traditional Jews often share a loaf of leavened bread called ‘challah’ at the start of the Sabbath. However, the Last Supper could not have been held on the Sabbath, because Yeshua was in the earth for three full days and three full nights.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 12:40
40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
Yeshua was risen on the first day of the week, having been raised either on the Sabbath, early on the first day of the week, or on the junction of the two.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 28:1
1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
The reason the Last Supper was not held on a Sabbath is that if Yeshua was raised either on the Sabbath or the first day of the week, and He had been in the earth for three days and three nights, then the Passover could only have taken place on the fourth day of the week, as per Daniel 9:27.
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
One popular argument is that the Last Supper was the Passover meal itself (the evening of the 14th/15th). The big problem with this argument is that it would require Yeshua to be sacrificed not on the Passover (the 14th of Aviv), but on the afternoon of the First Day of Unleavened Bread (the 15th of Aviv). This would make Yeshua not our Passover Lamb, but our First Day of Unleavened Bread Matza. Nonetheless, this argument is popular in that it seems to find support in the English translations of the Synoptic accounts. For example:
Mattithyahu (Matthew) 26:17 NKJV
17 Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to [Yeshua], saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”
However, the word that is translated as ‘first’ is the Greek word ‘protos’ (πρώτῃ).
17 Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Yeshua, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”
|BGT Matthew 26:17
Τῇ δὲ πρώτῃ τῶν ἀζύμων προσῆλθον οἱ μαθηταὶ τῷ Ἰησοῦ λέγοντες· ποῦ θέλεις ἑτοιμάσωμέν σοι φαγεῖν τὸ πάσχα;
This word ‘protos’ (πρώτῃ) can mean first, but it can also mean, ‘in front of’, ‘before’, or ‘prior to.’
pro (pro); a primary preposition; “fore”, i.e. in front of, prior (figuratively, superior) to:
KJV – above, ago, before, or ever. In comparison it retains the same significations.
What Matthew is really saying, then, is that the Last Supper was held ‘before’ the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Mattithyahu (Matthew) 26:17
17 Now [before] the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to [Yeshua], saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”
Mark uses the same word ‘protos’ (πρώτῃ), which should again be translated not ‘first’, but ‘before.’
|Marqaus (Mark) 14:12
12 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?”
|BGT Mark 14:12
Καὶ τῇ πρώτῃ ἡμέρᾳ τῶν ἀζύμων, ὅτε τὸ πάσχα ἔθυον, λέγουσιν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ· ποῦ θέλεις ἀπελθόντες ἑτοιμάσωμεν ἵνα φάγῃς τὸ πάσχα;
While Matthew uses the word ‘protos’ (πρώτῃ), John uses a related word ‘pro’ (Πρὸ), which is correctly rendered as meaning ‘before.’
|Yochanan (John) 13:1
1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Yeshua knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
|BGT John 13:1
Πρὸ δὲ τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ πάσχα εἰδὼς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἦλθεν αὐτοῦ ἡ ὥρα ἵνα μεταβῇ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, ἀγαπήσας τοὺς ἰδίους τοὺς ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ εἰς τέλος ἠγάπησεν αὐτούς
Luke uses different phraseology altogether:
Luqa (Luke) 22:7-8
7 Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed.
8 And He sent Kepha (Peter) and Yochanan (John), saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.”
There are several issues here. First, in Exodus 29:23 (above), we saw that Yahweh sometimes uses the terms for leavened and unleavened bread interchangeably, leaving it to the reader to figure out the meaning based on context. We also saw in Exodus 12:15-18 (above) that Yahweh refers to the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened as one big long festival (since the Feast of Unleavened begins as the Passover ends). Note, then, that since Yahweh refers to Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread interchangeably, Yeshua and His disciples probably did the same. Further, ancient Hebrews did not always think with the same kinds of ‘split-second precision’ as modern western cultures do. In a modern western culture, if one says, “Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread”, one might think it was the Day of Unleavened Bread itself. However, in an ancient Hebraic culture this can mean, ‘the Day of the Passover drew near.’
If we will simply understand that the word ‘protos’ means ‘before’, the synoptic accounts automatically reconcile themselves with Yochanan. However, some scholars persist in their attempt to place Yeshua’s execution on the First Day of Unleavened Bread, rather than the Passover. One theory called the ‘Second Hagigah Hypothesis’ even inserts a full day in between the Last Supper in Yochanan 13-17, and Yeshua’s arrest in Gethsemane in Yochanan 18. Why?
Some who teach the ‘Second Hagigah Hypothesis’ suggest that Yeshua’s trial took place on the 13th of Aviv, as the ‘Preparation Day’ of the Passover.
Yochanan (John) 19:14
14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”
However, this is not correct. What Yochanan calls the ‘Preparation Day of the Passover’ is really the day of the Passover slaughter (i.e., the afternoon of the 14th), as this is sometimes thought of as a day of preparation for the Passover meal, which is eaten on the evening beginning the 14th/15th. Once we understand how Yochanan is applying his terms the apparent conflict dissolves, and we see that Yeshua was put to death on the afternoon of the 14th, perfectly fulfilling the Feast of the Passover. This also makes sense when one considers that the priesthood could have been involved with Yeshua’s trial on either the 13th or the early 14th, but would have been busy with Temple matters on the afternoon of the 14th, and would have been unable to participate in any kind of a trial held on the 15th, since it was a high day.
While the Talmud is not Scripture, the Talmud also witnesses to the fact that Yeshua was put to death on the afternoon of the 14th. Yeshua is here called ‘Yeshu’ (which is a rabbinic slur on His name), and He is accused of using sorcery as the source of His miracles. However, if the entries here are accurate (which is itself another question), it also disproves the so-called ‘Second Hagigah’ hypothesis, and proves our timeline instead.
AND A HERALD PRECEDES HIM etc. This implies, only immediately before [the execution], but not previous thereto.
33 [In contradiction to this] it was taught: On the eve of the Passover Yeshu [sic]
34 was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed Israel to apostacy. Any one who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover (i.e., the 14th)!
35 ‘Ulla retorted: Do you suppose that he was one for whom a defence could be made? Was he not a Mesith [enticer], concerning whom Scripture says, Neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him?
36 With Yeshu however it was different, for he was connected with the government [or royalty, i.e., influential].
[Babylonian Talmud Tractate 43a]
While these comments in Talmud are blasphemous, the fact that Yeshua is recorded in the Talmud gives us yet one more witness to Yeshua’s existence; for had Yeshua never existed, the Talmud would not bother to speak of Him.
One question that is frequently asked is whether or not Yeshua instituted a new day of worship at the Last Supper, telling His disciples that whenever they partook of the bread and the wine, they should do it in remembrance of Him.
|1st Corinthians 11:23-26
23 For I received from the Master that which I also delivered to you: that the Master Yeshua on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;
24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Master’s death till He comes.
|TR 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ¶
23 εγω γαρ παρελαβον απο του κυριου ο και παρεδωκα υμιν οτι ο κυριος ιησους εν τη νυκτι η παρεδιδοτο ελαβεν αρτον
24 και ευχαριστησας εκλασεν και ειπεν λαβετε φαγετε τουτο μου εστιν το σωμα το υπερ υμων κλωμενον τουτο ποιειτε εις την εμην αναμνησιν
25 ωσαυτως και το ποτηριον μετα το δειπνησαι λεγων τουτο το ποτηριον η καινη διαθηκη εστιν εν τω εμω αιματι τουτο ποιειτε οσακις αν πινητε εις την εμην αναμνησιν
26 οσακις γαρ αν εσθιητε τον αρτον τουτον και το ποτηριον τουτο πινητε τον θανατον του κυριου καταγγελλετε αχρις ου αν ελθη
Again that this passage tells us to observe the Master’s Supper with ‘artos’ (a;rton), meaning ‘leavened bread.’
The terms leavened and unleavened bread might be interchangeable here as they were in Exodus 29:23 (above). The Renewed Covenant does seem to use ‘artos’ as a generic term for bread, as at the supper after Yeshua’s disciples met Him on the road from Emmaus (during the Feast of Unleavened Bread).
|Luqa (Luke) 24:30
30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
|Luqa 24:30 (TR)
30 και εγενετο εν τω κατακλιθηναι αυτον μετ αυτων λαβων τον αρτον ευλογησεν και κλασας επεδιδου αυτοις
However, the Passover and the Master’s Supper are two different celebrations; and in First Corinthians 5:8, the Apostle Shaul tells us to keep the Passover with specifically unleavened bread (‘azumois’).
|1st Corinthians 5:7-8
7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Messiah our Passover also has been sacrificed.
8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
|TR 1 Corinthians 5:7-8
7 εκκαθαρατε ουν την παλαιαν ζυμην ινα ητε νεον φυραμα καθως εστε αζυμοι και γαρ το πασχα ημων υπερ ημων εθυθη χριστος
8 ωστε εορταζωμεν μη εν ζυμη παλαια μηδε εν ζυμη κακιας και πονηριας αλλ εν αζυμοις ειλικρινειας και αληθειας
The word ‘azumois’ in verses 7 and 8 means specifically “unleavened” (bread). Therefore the command here is to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread with unleavened bread. In contrast, we are not told to use specifically unleavened bread in First Corinthians 11:23-26 (above). Instead, we are told to keep the Master’s Supper with (artos), which can mean leavened bread.
So what did Yeshua mean by telling His followers to think of Him whenever they broke bread and drank wine? It was probably that Yeshua was telling His disciples to think of Him whenever they took bread and wine in their weekly Sabbath meals, since religious Jews customarily share leavened bread and wine when they get together for fellowship at the start of the Sabbath.
One can argue that Yeshua did institute a new festival day, but these arguments are impossible. Yeshua kept the Torah perfectly, and the Torah forbids us to add to the festivals given in Torah.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 12:32
32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.”
However, this then begs the question, “If the Master’s Supper is something we do when we gather together on Sabbath Eve, then how do we hold the Passover?” Rather than relaxing and reclining during a Passover Seder service, the Torah tells us to eat the Passover meal quickly, with our loins girded, with bitter herbs, with sandals (or shoes) on our feet and staves in our hands.
Shemote (Exodus) 12:11
11 “‘And so shall you eat it: loins girded (belt on your waist), your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Passover to Yahweh.’”
The Torah also tells us to teach our children how Yahweh miraculously delivered us from slavery in Egypt.
Shemote (Exodus) 12:26-27
26 And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’
27 that you shall say,’ It is the Passover sacrifice of Yahweh, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.'” So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
Finally, Exodus 12:48 says that only those who are physically circumcised should partake of the Passover. No uncircumcised may eat it. This is the general rule, although we will see an exception for the Dispersion.
Shemote (Exodus) 12:43-49
43 And Yahweh said to Moshe and Aharon, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it.
44 But every man’s servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it.
45 A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it.
46 In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones.
47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.
48 And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to Yahweh, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.
49 One Torah shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.”
In the study, “Circumcision and The Passover” (which is part of Nazarene Scripture Studies Volume 2) we will see that although this remains the general rule, no one should be excluded from partaking of the Passover while in the dispersion. This “exception to the rules” will end when Israel is gathered back to the land. [For more information as to why the requirement of physical circumcision was not done away with at Yeshua’s death, please see the Nazarene Israel study.]