The Truth About Pesach/Passover

The Redemption and Deliverance of Elohim

by Lamb's Blood

By David M Rogers

www.BibleTruth.cc

Published: April 2009

Updated: April 2014

Table of Contents

What is "Passover"?

The Egyptian Pesach

Was Pesach an Appointed Time Before the Deliverance from Egypt?

Is Pesach Done Away With?

Pesach as a Memorial and Sign of the Covenant

The Leavening Prohibition

When is Pesach to be Observed?

The Confusion Over the Time of the Pesach Meal

Who May Partake of the Pesach?

Where is the Pesach to be Observed?

Can We Properly Observe the Pesach Today in the Exile?

The Pesach Lamb

Eating the Pesach

Pulling an All-Nighter - the Command to be Vigilant

The Future Passover Deliverance - The Greater Exodus

Conclusion

 


Among the most well known celebration observances in history stands the Pesach (pronounced -săhk, known also as "Passover").  Celebrated every year for about 3500 years, Pesach is a remembrance of the mighty hand of Yahuwah working to secure freedom for his covenanted people.  Some of the greatest epic stories of history derive from the first Pesach - the famous 10 plagues of Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the appearance of manna for 40 years in the desert to feed over a million people - to name a few.  In the Pesach story we find an ancient story of the struggle of an enslaved people for freedom.  And we see the triumph of the goodness of God over the evil of the oppression of men.

What is "Passover"?

In a nutshell, the Passover of history was that event in which Elohim performed a spectacular deliverance of his people Israel from their bondage of slavery under the Egyptian Pharaoh.  Yahuwah, the Elohim of Israel, had sent Mosheh and Aharon (Mosheh's brother) to the Egyptian monarch Pharaoh to demand that he release them from their slavery and allow them to leave his land.  Yahuwah sent ten wide sweeping plagues which devastated the kingdom of Pharaoh in order to convince the king to release the sons of Israel.  The tenth of those plagues was the slaying of all the firstborn sons in all Egypt, including Pharaoh's own son.

However, Yahuwah, the Elohim of Israel, provided a great deliverance for his people Israel.  He instructed each household in Israel to slaughter a year old lamb and to spatter its blood on the lintel and doorposts of their dwellings.  Then they were to roast the lamb and consume it that night while waiting for the great deliverance of Yahuwah.  The slaughtering angel would pass through all Egypt that night and visit every home, and when he saw the blood on the doorposts of the Israelites, he would pass over that home.  In all other homes, the death angel put the firstborn of each family to death.  The following morning, Pharaoh ordered that Mosheh and all Israel leave his country at once - and thus was born the greatest story of deliverance in the history of mankind.

The Passover represents the great working of Elohim for his people and the superiority of Yahuwah over any and all other so-called "gods" that people worship.  The Passover is the pinnacle of Yahuwah's intervention on behalf of his people.  It calls to mind his greatness and his power to help his people.  The story elicits the excitement of praise among his people as they rehearse and "relive" the event of the deliverance on its anniversary every year.

The Egyptian Pesach

The Instruction of Scripture informs us that Passover (hereafter referred to by the Hebrew term "Pesach") had to occur at an appointed time.  Following the first nine plagues which were laid upon a hard-hearted Pharaoh and Egypt, Yahuwah declared the day of the new moon in the spring, at the time when the barley in the fields is "aviv" (Hebrew for a stage of ripeness in the kernel) to be

the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you (Exodus 12:2, NAS).

And in that month,

on the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers' households, a lamb for each household....  You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight (Shemot [Exodus] 12:3,6, NAS).

This is the Pesach:  Each family was to take a year old lamb without defect and slay it.  The blood of the slain lamb was to be spattered on the doorframes and lintel of every dwelling place where Yahuwah's people were so that they would be spared from the death sentence to be carried out on all the firstborn in the country:

Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.  They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.  Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with it s entrails.  And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire.   Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste-- it is Yahuwah's Pesach (Shemot 12:7-11, NAS, corrected)

Then, on whatever house the blood was seen, the death angel would pass by that house:

For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments-- I am Yahuwah.   The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt (Shemot 12:12,13).

This ceremony was to be a demonstration of the obedience of each household to Elohim's instruction and their faith in the protection Elohim would provide.  The result was a picture of putting to death an innocent victim (the lamb) in place of the one participating in Covenant relationship with Elohim (the firstborn inside that house).  Those who trusted Yahuwah to rescue them would demonstrate their trust in Him by spattering the blood of the animal which died in his place on the doorframes and lintel of his home, as Yahuwah commanded.  Each lamb that was sacrificed effectively took the place of a guilty "firstborn" in the family.  That lamb's life was taken instead of the firstborn of the house, and thus made "atonement" for that firstborn one.  The lamb was a foreshadowing of the perfect lamb of Elohim, in the person of Yahusha, who would die on behalf of all the guilty "firstborn" children of Israel.

Was Pesach an Appointed Time Before the Deliverance from Egypt?

Contrary to popular opinion, Pesach did not begin with Mosheh and the children of Israel.  Its roots go much farther back.  In fact, the groundwork for Pesach was laid during creation week, before there ever existed a human being on earth!  You see, on the fourth day of creation week, Elohim established the timeframe for Pesach.  He laid out His plans for its celebration.  On the fourth day of creation,

Elohim said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years (Genesis 1:14, NAS)

The phrase and for seasons in the text above is translated from the Hebrew, ~yd[]Aml.W , pronounced ule-mo-adim, from the Hebrew root d[eAm (mo-ed) which means appointed time or appointed meeting.  Elohim had placed the sun, moon and stars in their order on the fourth day of creation week as time markers.  These heavenly bodies would indicate the times when his special festivals were to be celebrated, when He would meet face to face with His people and on which he would accomplish a great work of salvation for his people.

The moadim were established at Creation to be the appointed times when Yahuwah would meet with his people.  Accordingly, we read that Avraham met with Yahuwah at the appointed time now known as Pesach (though few realize this). 

Yahuwah appeared to Avraham by the oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest time of the day.  Avraham looked up and saw three men standing across from him. When he saw them he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.  He said, "My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by and leave your servant.  Let a little water be brought so that you may all wash your feet and rest under the tree.  And let me get a bit of food so that you may refresh yourselves since you have passed by your servant's home. After that you may be on your way." "All right," they replied, "you may do as you say." 

So Avraham hurried into the tent and said to Sarah, "Quick! Take three measures of fine flour, knead it, and make bread."  Then Avraham ran to the herd and chose a fine, tender calf, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it.  Avraham then took some curds and milk, along with the calf that had been prepared, and placed the food before them. They ate while he was standing near them under a tree.  Then they asked him, "Where is Sarah your wife?" He replied, "There, in the tent."  One of them said, "I will surely return to you at the time of life, and your wife Sarah will have a son!" (Bereshith 18:1-10).

Though the text does not explicitly identify the time of this visitation, there are several hints that this was the appointed time now commonly known as Pesach. 

First, Yahuwah appeared - a clue that an appointed time is in view here.  Second, the flour was kneaded and baked quickly.  The dough could not have had time to ferment and rise.  Thus, they were eating unleavened bread.  And third is the calf.  The calf of the Pesach was to be a year old male and without blemish.  In the account above, the calf was "fine and tender."  The description of fine implies "without spot" or "without blemish."  And the tenderness of the calf, along with the animal being a calf, implies that it was young - fitting the qualification of the Pesach lamb which had to be a year old male without blemish.

The account that follows in chapter 19 of events that happened that same evening lends further support to our observation that this event occurred on the fourteenth day of the month of Aviv, going into the fifteenth day.

Yahuwah went on his way when he had finished speaking to Avraham. Then Avraham returned home.  The two angels came to Sodom in the evening while Lot was sitting in the city's gateway. When Lot saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face toward the ground.  He said, "Here, my lords, please turn aside to your servant's house. Stay the night and wash your feet. Then you can be on your way early in the morning." "No," they replied, "we'll spend the night in the town square."  But he urged them persistently, so they turned aside with him and entered his house. He prepared a feast for them, including bread baked without yeast, and they ate (Bereshith 18:33-10:3).

Again, a feast was prepared that evening which included, not just any bread, but unleavened bread.  The appointed time of Pesach marks the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Here, the historian goes out of his way to make sure we notice the detail that the feast which Lot prepared included unleavened bread.  Nothing else about the feast is detailed except for the inclusion of unleavened bread.

And the fourth clue given to us that this took place at the appointed time now referred to as Pesach and the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, is that Yahuwah executed judgment on his enemies - the idolatrous and wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah.  The Pesach of Moses was expressly enacted to be a means of saving those who are attached to Yahuwah from the judgment Yahuwah executed on the nation of Egypt.  And Yahuwah personally saw to it that Lot and his family were spared from the execution he was performing on those deviate cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

In combination, these four observations regarding the visitation of Yahuwah and its accompanying details and subsequent events, compel us to see and understand these events as occurring at the appointed time now known as Pesach.

Is Pesach Done Away With?

Pesach and Chag HaMatzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread) were NEVER to be done away with!  There are several reasons which bear out this fact of Scripture.  First, the Bible describes Pesach as a law that will have no termination point!

This day will become a memorial for you, and you will celebrate it as a festival to Yahuwah--you will celebrate the feast perpetually as a lasting ordinance (Shemot 12:14 ).

The Hebrew phrase, ~l'A[ tQ:xu chukat olam means "lasting ordinance, law, statute, enactment, decree that will never end."  Shemot 12:17 affirms this:

And you will keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because on this same day I brought your multitudes out from the land of Egypt, and so you must keep this day perpetually as a lasting ordinance (~l'A[ tQ:xu chukat olam).

And a few verses later, we read again,

And you will observe this event as an ordinance (chak) for you and for your children forever (le-olam) (verse 24).

How many times does Elohim have to say a thing before we believe it?  Here are three witnesses which indicate that the Pesach was to NEVER have an end.  It is an EVERLASTING LAW.  It is firmly established.

Pesach is to be remembered and observed according to the Laws and Right-rulings which Yahuwah has established for it:

In the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you are to observe it at its appointed time; you must keep it in accordance with all its rules (chukot) and all its customs (mishpatim, 'decisions or judgments')" (Bemidbar 9:3 ).

What are these instructions?   They are broken down into two categories: chukot (rules) and mishpatim (decisions, particulars, ways of doing things).  Every time the Pesach is observed, it is to be done according to all the instructions given for it, the first of which is that it is a lasting decree!

So, since Elohim said that the Pesach is a lasting law to be observed for the generations to come, and it is to be observed at the appointed time as established at creation, it's pretty clear that the Pesach was not done away with!

Pesach as a Memorial and Sign of the Covenant

The Pesach was given to be a lasting memorial of the redemptive work of Yahuwah on behalf of his people.  The observance and participation in the service of the Pesach was to be for all who join Elohim a memorial of the powerful working of Elohim's arm to deliver his people from bondage.

This day will become a memorial for you, and you will celebrate it as a festival to Yahuwah--you will celebrate the feast perpetually as a lasting law (Shemot 12:14).

The Hebrew word rendered memorial is !ArK'zI (pronounced "zeecharone") and means memorial, remembrance or commemoration.  This is the same root word used in Shemot 3:15 where the name Yahuwah is to be a zecher - the name to be remembered.

That night of redemption - the deliverance from Egypt - was to be remembered, relived and retold on the anniversary of the event, every year, forever.  In fact, the reliving and retelling of this event was indicative that the participant belongs to the community of Elohim's people.

And it will be a sign for you on your hand, and a memorial between your eyes, so that the Torah of Yahuwah may be in your mouth, for with a mighty hand Yahuwah brought you out of Egypt.  So you must keep this chukah (rule) at its appointed time from year to year (Shemot 13:9-10).

The observance of the Pesach service demonstrates that the participant is walking in obedience to the instructions of the Torah of Elohim.  This is an identifying mark for all of Elohim's people.  Those who are just pretenders, who do not belong to Elohim, do not participate in this service of the Pesach.  But the genuine family of the Almighty are required to observe it and will be doing this thing.

There are many in the world who think they call upon the Almighty.  There are many different religions in the world.  None of them bear the mark of authenticity because they do not follow these Instructions of Scripture.  Even most Christians do not take this mark of identification upon themselves.  They have other customs, traditions and practices which Elohim never commanded them to perform.  But those Christians who do not walk in obedience to this Pesach memorial, do not have the mark of Elohim - the sign of the covenant!

This memorial of the deliverance of Yisrael by Yahuwah's mighty power from the clutches of Pharaoh king of Mitzrayim is re-enacted when the children of the house ask the father to explain this unusual night:

And when your children say to you, "What does this service mean to you?," then you will say, "It is the sacrifice of Yahuwah's Pesach, when he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he destroyed Egypt and delivered our households" (Shemot 12:26-27).

Here is the first hint about what observing the Pesach is to be like in future years.  It is to be an opportunity to remember our experience of coming out of Egypt by the mighty hand and outstretched arm of Yahuwah.

A little later, we are commanded again to "tell the story" of the deliverance:

For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to Yahuwah.  Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders.  On that day tell your son, 'I do this because of what Yahuwah did for me when I came out of Mitzrayim.' This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of Yahuwah is to be on your lips. For Yahuwah brought you out of Mitzrayim with his mighty hand. (Shemot 13:6-9)

In verse 8, the word translated tell is from the Hebrew dgn (pronounced nagad).   HALOT Lexicon tells us this word means to propose, announce, inform, tell, recount, to provide an explanation.  From this word comes the Hebrew Haggadah.  The Haggadah is the Rabbinic order of service for the Pesach.  The Haggadah is indeed a retelling of the story of the Pesach and the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, but it contains additional Rabbinic Prayers, Rabbinic Blessings, and other Rabbinic Traditions.  The Scripture instructs us to retell the story, but the Haggadah is not, in my view, the best way to do this.  It is better to retell the account by reading the story from the Bible or by telling the story in our own words.  It's best not to get caught up and trapped by human tradition such as the Rabbis would have us do in their Haggadah.

The Leavening Prohibition

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is so named because one of the important elements of this seven day Feast is that no one in Israel is to eat any bread that has leavening in it.  Neither is there to be any leavening agent in all the borders of Israel.  These Scriptures bear that out:

For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Yisrael. On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat-- that is all you may do. "Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Mitzrayim. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Yisrael, whether he is an alien or native-born. Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread." (Shemot 12:15-20).

Then Mosheh said to the people, "Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Mitzrayim, out of the land of slavery, because Yahuwah brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast" (Shemot 13:3).

Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders (Shemot 13:7).

Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Mitzrayim in haste-- so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Mitzrayim.  Let no yeast be found in your possession in all your land for seven days (Devarim 16:3-4)

With the dough they had brought from Mitzrayim, they baked cakes of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Mitzrayim and did not have time to prepare food for themselves. (Exodus 12:39)

Now, several things need to be said here.  First, it is important that we continue in these rules and ordinances for this Feast.  If we are eating leavened bread then we aren't guarding the Feast.  It is not difficult to understand what leavening is prohibited here.  It is the leavening that is put into dough to make bread rise before it is baked.

Now some traditions still thrive among the Jews and in Messianic communities relating to ridding our dwellings of the leavening agents and leavened bread.  And many Messianics follow suit.  Those who would sell these products to a non-believer with the intent of buying it back after the conclusion of the Feast seem to have forgotten the plain instruction and the evident intention of this law where it says that yeast shall not be seen in your borders.  Any attempt to justify relocating the bread away from the home or selling it with the intention of reclaiming it seems to me to be a defiance against the Almighty.  Let's not play these games thinking we got over on Yahuwah.  He sees all and especially a wicked heart which wants to circumvent His commandment by tricky maneuvers.  The Pharisees got called out and embarrassed by Yahusha when they tried to do these kinds of things.

Next is the question about leavening products found in other foods and drinks.  Especially concerned are some regarding the use of fermented wines during the Festival week.  They are, after all, fermented with a type of leavening.  Are these wines, vinegars and other foods prohibited during the week of Unleavened Bread?  Some would zealously say so as they scour their homes and places of dwelling for every last speck and crumb of bread and every last fermented product.  The commandment does say, "nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders (Shemot 13:7).

It is my studied opinion that it is enough to rid our dwelling places of puffy breads and all leavening agents used to cause bread to rise.  Beyond that, each may have their own opinion about how far to go in getting wines out of their homes.  I think that when we take a bird's eye view of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we will realize that its the bread and the leaven used for bread that is in view here.

The Feast Week is called "Chag HaMatzot" or the "Feast of Unleavened Bread" for a good reason.  We are told that the Israelites hurried out of Egypt and didn't even have time to leaven their bread before they left:

With the dough they had brought from Mitzrayim, they baked cakes of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Mitzrayim and did not have time to prepare food for themselves. (Exodus 12:38)

Thus, the commemoration of this magnificent deliverance requires the participants to eat unleavened bread for the seven days because their ancestors ate unleavened bread when they came out of Egypt.

Again, in Deuteronomy 16, this point is made:

Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Mitzrayim in haste-- so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Mitzrayim. (Devarim 16:3)

It's very clear by the accounts given that the reason for the prohibition of leavened bread is that the nation came out of Egypt but had no time to prepare bread with leavening.  They hurried out of the city.

Nothing is said about leavened wines, drinks, or any other food products in the entire account of the first Pesach.  It's all about the breadIt's all about remembering what happened there and then.  Therefore, the commandment regarding the leaven applies to the bread, with nothing else in view.  So, we eat unleavened bread for the seven days of the Feast.

When is Pesach to be Observed?

The Scripture instructions are precise regarding the time of Pesach.  Christians base their reckoning of the "Easter" season based upon the first full moon following the spring Equinox.  Thus, the relationship between the position of the sun and moon are the factors.  But the Scripture instructions do not use sun and moon for the calculation.  This is where Christianity is mistaken in their computation of the time of their holidays. These different methods of reckoning account for the frequent difference between "Easter" and Pesach, and between the Rabbinic Pesach and the true, biblical Pesach.

The Scriptures instruct us to reckon the first month of the year to be the (sighted) new moon when the barley in the fields is aviv - that is, having a mature kernel in the bud.  When the new moon appears and the barley is aviv, then it is the month of the Aviv and it becomes the first month of the new year.  When these conditions exist, Yahuwah explains that

this month for you is to be the beginning of months; it will be your first month of the year.  Tell all the congregation of Yisrael, 'In the tenth day of this month they each must take a lamb for themselves according to the house of their fathers--a lamb for a house.  If any household is too small for a lamb, the man and his neighbor who lives nearby are to take a lamb according to the number of people--you will make your count for the lamb according to how much each one can eat.

Your lamb must be perfect, a male, one year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.  You must care for it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then all the congregation of the assembly of Yisrael will kill it between the evenings (Shemot 12:2-6).

Thus, on the fourteenth day of the first month (the month of the aviv), all Yisrael is to slaughter the lamb and roast it that evening and eat it with bitter herbs and unleavened bread.  There can be no deviation from this appointed time for slaughtering the Pesach lamb.  This point is repeated for emphasis in other places.

"In the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you are to observe it at its appointed time; you must keep it in accordance with all its rules (Hebrew, chukim) and all its customs (mishpatim)" (Bemidbar 9:3).

This ritual is of such an importance for the life of the one in covenant relationship with Yahuwah that to shun its observance is to reject relationship with the Almighty, and even more importantly, it prompts Yahuwah to reject the non-observant one from the community of Israel. 

For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Yisrael. (Exodus 12:15)

For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Yisrael, whether he is an alien or native-born. (Exodus 12:19)

Therefore, Yahuwah provided a second chance for its observance.  In the event of unforeseen, unintentional circumstances which would prevent the covenantee from participation in this event, a "makeup" time is allowed:

Tell the Israelites, 'If any of you or of your posterity become defiled by reason of a dead body, or be on a journey far away, then he may observe the Pesach to Yahuwah.  They may observe it on the fourteenth day of the second month at twilight; they are to eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.  They must not leave any of it until morning, nor break any of its bones; they must observe it in accordance with every statute of the Pesach (Bemidhbar 9:10-12).

Elohim is thus insuring that all who are sincere in their worship of him can participate in the required Pesach memorial, even if they have been prevented from doing so for reasons beyond their control.

The Confusion Over the Time of the Pesach Meal

There has been confusion and debate regarding the time of the day for the eating of the Pesach.  Some believe that the Pesach lamb was to be eaten during the evening which was the beginning of the 14th of the first month.  Others think that the "evening of the 14th of the first month" refers to the evening following the 14th which is actually the onset of the 15th!  To resolve this conflict, let's examine closely the pertinent Scriptures.

There are several relevant details regarding the Pesach account that help us to pinpoint the precise time that the meal was to be eaten.  First, an understanding of the expression "between the evenings" is essential.  Next, the teaching about 7 days of unleavened bread lends us a clue.  And third, the time of the exodus from Egypt indicates precisely when the meal was eaten.  We will see that each of these three details requires the eating of the Pesach to occur on the evening which follows the 14th (the beginning of the 15th).

Mosheh describes in detail the time of the eating of the Pesach lamb:

The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Yisrael must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast (Shemot 12:5-8).

The lambs were to be kept until the 14th day of the month, and then, "between the evenings" they were to be slaughtered and subsequently roasted over the fire.  What does the phrase "between the evenings" indicate?  What time of day does this occur?

The actual meaning of "evening" or erev in Hebrew supplies us with the needed insight.  Usually translated evening, the Hebrew erev actual means "descent of the sun."  The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament lists the following for our word:

br[: Arb. grb to go away, leave, go down (of the sun); Akk. erebu (AHw. 234f) to go in, go down (of the sun); MHeb. br[ hif. to do in the evening, MHeb. and JArm. itpe. to bow down in the evening, sink; Ug. rb (Gordon Textbook 19:1915; Aistleitner 2093) to go in, go down (of the sun); OSArb. rb, sbst. mrb the west (Conti 212a); Syr. reb; Eth.G arba and araba, CPArm. Mnd. (Drower-M. Dictionary 35b) rb to go down; rb and grb

Going down, or descent seem to be the predominant meaning of this word.

There are several popular theories about the meaning of decent.  The first supposes that it indicates the time between sunset and complete darkness.  This is most improbable because all Israel wouldn't have time to slaughter all their animals in so short a space of time.  Another theory supposes that the sunset to start the 14th and the sunset ending the 14th as those evenings being referred to.  This view makes good sense of the text and makes practical sense as well.

Yet a third theory, and one equally possible with the second one above is that which acknowledges two descents of the sun in any given day.  First, when it reaches its summit at midday, then it begins to descend.  This is the first erev.  Then, at sunset, when it descends below the horizon is the second erev.  Thus, the expression, "between the settings (evenings)" may more naturally refer to the time of day between midday and sunset.  This approximately five to six hours of daylight presumably provides enough time for the priests to slaughter all the hundreds of thousands of lambs at the place where Yahuwah's presence dwells.  And, of course, this daylight time has to take place during the daylight hours of the 14th, because the commandment explicitly says so.

As one who fulfilled the prophetic picture of the Pesach lamb, Yahusha was nailed to the tree in the early afternoon on Aviv 14, and died before sunset that same day.  The Fourth Gospel tells us that he was sentenced to death just after the noon hour:

It was the day of Preparation of Pesach Week, about the sixth hour. "Here is your king," Pilate said to the Yehudim.  But they shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!" "Shall I crucify your king?" Pilate asked. "We have no king but Caesar," the chief priests answered.  Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Yahusha. (Lazarus [John] 19:14-16)

His death occurred  "between the two settings" which was just before the sun setting.  The time of his death seems to affirm the third view above which left a short space of time for him to be quickly removed from the tree and wrapped and buried in the tomb before the second descent of the sun (at sunset). 

The second detail of the textual testimony which will lead us to an understanding of the correct time of the Pesach has to do with the duration of time when Israel was to eat unleavened bread.

For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to Yahuwah.  Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders.  On that day tell your son, 'I do this because of what Yahuwah did for me when I came out of Egypt.'  This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of Yahuwah is to be on your lips. For Yahuwah brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand.  You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year. (Shemot 13:6-10)

The evening of the 14th day of the first month, which is the evening following the daylight hours of the 14th, is, in Hebrew time reckoning, the beginning of the 15th day of the month.  Thus, though the lamb was slaughtered and prepared on the 14th of the month, it's roasting continued into the night, which was the beginning of the 15th, and wasn't actually eaten until nighttime.  Then, along with unleavened bread (and thus the onset of the Feast of Unleavened Bread) the sons of Israel were to eat the roasted lamb.

In another passage, we are informed that the Feast of Unleavened Bread was to last for seven complete days.

On the fifteenth day of that month Yahuwah's Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast.  On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.  For seven days present an offering made to Yahuwah by fire. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work'" (Vayiqra 23:5-8).

In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day.  For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born (Shemot 12:18,19).

In both of these texts we are told that unleavened bread was to be eaten for 7 days.  In the Leviticus passage we are told that the Feast begins on the 15th, but in the Exodus passage we are told that unleavened bread is to be eaten on the evening of the 14th.  Therefore, the reference to the "evening of the 14th" must be referring to the evening which follows the day of the 14th and not the evening which begins the 14th.  Otherwise, the Israelites would have been eating unleavened bread for 8 days.  

Since the Pesach lamb was to be eaten with bitter herbs and unleavened bread, and since the first day of unleavened bread is emphatically revealed as the 15th day of the month, it seems rather logical that the actual eating of the Pesach was on the "evening of the 14th," which is also the beginning of the 15th (and not the beginning part of the 14th).

The third detail of the text and the most convincing proof which indicates that the Pesach was eaten in the nighttime following the 14th is that of the time of the exodus from Egypt the following morning.  The Scriptures indicate that Pharaoh ordered Mosheh and the sons of Israel to leave his country immediately when he found his firstborn son dead in the middle of the night.

At midnight Yahuwah struck down all the firstborn in Mitzrayim, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well.  Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Mitzrites got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Mitzrayim, for there was not a house without someone dead.  During the night Pharaoh summoned Mosheh and Aharon and said, "Up! Leave my people, you and the sons of Yisrael! Go, worship Yahuwah as you have requested.  Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me."  The Mitzrites 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 (Shemot 12:29-34).

And on that very day Yahuwah brought the sons of Yisrael out of Mitzrayim by their divisions (Shemot 12:51).

As the sun rose after the night of eating the Pesach, all of Israel was gathering to march out of Egypt. 

Shemot 12:17 affirms that the Pesach was eaten on Aviv 15, the first day (beginning at nightfall) of the Feast of Unleavened Bread:

And you will keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because on this same day I brought your multitudes out from the land of Egypt, and so you must keep this day perpetually as a lasting ordinance (~l'A[ tQ:xu chukat olam).

What day was this when Israel left Egypt?  It was the 15th day of the month and the first day of eating unleavened bread:

Then Mosheh said to the people, "Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Mitzrayim, out of the land of slavery, because Yahuwah brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast.  Today, in the month of Abib, you are leaving. When Yahuwah brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites-- the land he swore to your forefathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey-- you are to observe this ceremony in this month: For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to Yahuwah. 

The 15th day of the month of the Aviv begins the 7 day Feast of Unleavened Bread, because on this day, Yahuwah brought the families of Israel out of Mitzrayim.  And this was the same night portion of the first day of the Feast that all Israel ate the roasted Passover lambs.

So, it is clear that the same day Israel ate the Pesach that they left Egypt.  They ate the Pesach during the night hours and then when morning came they left Egypt.  And that day was the day of commemoration, the 15th of Aviv, the beginning of the observance of the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread:

Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders.  On that day tell your son, 'I do this because of what Yahuwah did for me when I came out of Mitzrayim.'  This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of Yahuwah is to be on your lips. For Yahuwah brought you out of Mitzrayim with his mighty hand.  You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year (Shemot 13:3-10).

Who May Partake of the Pesach?

This question of who may partake of the Pesach is a profoundly important one.  In the Christian churches there is an ongoing debate over whether "the Lord's supper" should be open to the public or should be "for members only."  Some denominations insist on a "closed" observance while others invite the public and visitors to experience it with them.  The reason for the confusion is that there is no clear instruction in the New Testament regarding the proper observance of the partaking of the bread and the wine.

However, there are some very detailed and specific instructions about who may partake of the Pesach, which must be followed faithfully and without deviation.  Moreover, one's participation in the annual feast is indicative of his membership in the community of those who belong to Yahuwah.  Thus, no one outside of the house of Israel may partake of it.  A summary of these laws is stated thus:

And Yahuwah said to Mosheh and Aharon, "This is the right-ruling of the Pesach. No foreigner may share in eating it.  But everyone's servant who is bought for money, after you have circumcised him, may eat it.  A temporary resident and a hired worker must not eat it.  It must be eaten in one house; you must not carry it around outside from one house to another. And you must not break a bone of it.

 The congregation of Yisrael must observe itAnd when a foreigner lives with you, and wants to observe the Pesach to Yahuwah, all his males must be circumcised, and then he may come near and observe it, and he will be as one who is born in the land--for no uncircumcised person may eat of it.  The same instruction will apply to the person who is native-born and to the foreigner who lives among you" (Shemot 12:43-49).

The first law regarding participation in the Pesach is that no foreigner may partake of it.  The Hebrew word translated foreigner is rk'nE (pronounced nechar) and can roughly be rendered "foreigner, hostile, stranger."  Anyone who is an enemy of Israel or is unknown and unassociated with Israel may not partake of the Pesach. 

Furthermore, verse 45 clarifies for us that neither the temporary resident nor the hired worker may participate in the festival, either.  Who is the temporary resident and who is the hired worker?  The Hebrew bv'AT (pronounced to-shav) is resident alien, sojourner, sitter.  He is a resident of Israel from some other place, but not owning land in Israel.  The rykif' (pronounced sa-qeer) is an hireling, a hired labourer.  He is not a part of an Israeli household, but works for a landowner. Those who are not committed to Covenant with Yahuwah are excluded from the protection and deliverance which Yahuwah provides to his people, as remembered by the annual celebration of the Pesach.

But those who may partake are the native born (Hebrew xr'z>a, edz-rach, "one arising from the soil") and the sojourner (Hebrew rGE gair, one not hostile, but friendly and open to Israeli culture).  The sojourner may participate in the Pesach after he is circumcised.  The native born is already a citizen in Israel and has the birthright of participation in all the activities in Israel.

The second law regarding participation in the Pesach is that all Israel must partake of it.  If one chooses not to observe it, he forfeits his membership in the community and his covenant based relationship with Yahuwah.  This law is delivered in Shemot 12:3:

Tell all the congregation of Yisrael, 'In the tenth day of this month they each must take a lamb for themselves according to the house of their fathers--a lamb for a house....

And in Shemot 12:47:

The congregation of Yisrael must observe it.

And also in Vayiqra:

Speak to the sons of Yisrael and tell them, 'These are Yahuwah's appointed times which you must proclaim as set-apart assemblies--my appointed times....  'These are Yahuwah's appointed times, set-apart assemblies, which you must proclaim at their appointed time.  In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, is a Pesach offering to Yahuwah (Vayiqra 23:2, 4-5).

In the event that a son of the covenant misses the Pesach due to unforeseen circumstances outside of his control, the Torah provides an alternative time:

Tell the Israelites, 'If any of you or of your posterity become defiled by reason of a dead body, or be on a journey far away, then he may observe the Pesach to Yahuwah.  They may observe it on the fourteenth day of the second month at twilight; they are to eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.  They must not leave any of it until morning, nor break any of its bones; they must observe it in accordance with every statute of the Pesach (Bemidhbar 9:10-12).

It seems, in his kindness, Yahuwah has given us every opportunity to be in compliance to the command to participate in this most significant feast and remain in good standing as a citizen of Israel.

The third law regarding participation in the Pesach is that males must be circumcised before participating in it.

But everyone's servant who is bought for money, after you have circumcised him, may eat it....  And when a foreigner lives with you, and wants to observe the Pesach to Yahuwah, all his males must be circumcised, and then he may come near and observe it, and he will be as one who is born in the land--for no uncircumcised person may eat of it (Shemot 12:44 and 48).

A servant who is bought for money is one who is a part of the household.  Even the Sabbath commandment provides rest for the manservant and maidservant:

...the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahuwah your Elohim; on it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or your resident foreigner who is in your gates (Shemot 20:10).

Since such a servant is a member of the household, the servant is required to keep the Shabbat, and is required to be circumcised and partake of the Pesach.

In the instruction about the "foreigner who lives with you," the Hebrew word rendered "foreigner" is rGE (pronounced "gār" as in "Gary").  This word refers to a sojourner or "newcomer."  This person is different from the rk'nE (((pronounced nĕchăr) who is a "hostile" and NOT permitted to perform the Pesach; and from the bv'AT (tōshăv), "temporary worker," and from the rykif', (pronounced "săchĭr") who is a temporarily hired worker, who also may NOT participate in the Pesach.  The gār may not necessarily be a servant, but he is a neighbor or a figure in the community - someone who lives near you or "under your roof."  And as such, this one also must be circumcised and rest on the Shabbat on order to partake of the Pesach.

Another important and fascinating aspect of this teaching of circumcision is that the Torah here instructs us on how a non-native can become a member of the commonwealth of Israel.  Any gār ("non citizen") who wants to be a part of the community of Israel and attach to Yahuwah through Covenant Relationship has to first of all, be circumcised, and then partake in the Pesach according to all its rules.  The Covenant calls upon all willing ones to repent of their transgressing and to begin walking in the commandments and instructions of Yahuwah.  So, the first of these is circumcision and the next is Pesach.  When a non-hostile foreigner wants to belong to Israel, he merely needs to repent and begin doing the mitzvot (commandments), beginning with circumcision.

And the fourth law regarding participation in the Pesach is that all must follow the same rules and customs when they observe it.

If a resident foreigner (gār) lives among you and wants to keep the Pesach to Yahuwah, he must do so according to the statute (chuk) of the Pesach, and according to its custom (mishpat). You must have the same statute (chuk) for the resident foreigner and for the one who was born in the land (Bemidhbar 9:14).

One rule (chukah) must apply to you of the congregation and also to the resident foreigner (gar) who is living among you as a permanent rule (chukah) for your future generations; you and the resident foreigner (gar) will be alike before Yahuwah.  One Torah and one Mishpat must apply to you and to the resident foreigner who lives alongside you'" (Bemidhbar 15:15-16).

Amazingly enough, Yahuwah does not have different standards for different people.  There is no such thing as dispensationalism in Yahuwah's sight.  He treats everyone exactly the same.  The same standards and requirements apply to all people, both to the native born, and to the foreigner who joins himself to Yahuwah.

This teaching may be offensive to most Christians, who believe that "God changed the way he deals with people."  They believe that the Almighty "dealt with" Israel through a set of laws that he knew they couldn't keep; and that he now treats believers in Messiah with "grace and forgiveness."  That Christian teaching is most offensive and contradicts the clear revelation of Scripture regarding the unchangeable nature and attributes of Elohim.  Yahuwah could not possible show favoritism, which dispensationalist doctrine requires.

"Whosoever" wants to join himself to Yahuwah through Messiah Yahusha can do so by "believing in him" (i.e. by repenting of his wayward way [read "stop sinning"] and start walking in the commands of Scripture).  This process begins when a person places his trust in Yahuwah and acknowledges that its Messiah's death on the tree which provides atonement for sin.  This act of trust in Messiah corresponds to the faith of Israel to slaughter and eat the Pesach animal.  When one is serious about being in Covenant relationship to Yahuwah, he will accept the sign of the covenant by getting baptized (a ritual which marks the believer as a child of Elohim and demonstrates a change of heart, i.e. "circumcision of the heart") and then partake in the eternal law of the Pesach.,  Subsequently, the believer will proceed with learning Torah and following and obeying the commandments of the Covenant.

Where is the Pesach to be Observed?

It is also important to understand the instruction of the Torah regarding where the Pesach is to be observed.  The Egyptian Pesach was observed by each family in their own homes.

Tell the whole community of Yisrael that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.  If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat.  The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.  Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Yisrael must slaughter them at twilight.  Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs (Shemot 12:3-7).

So on that first Pesach, each family ate the Pesach either in his own home, or in the home of his neighbor.

The second Pesach was eaten by each family while in the wilderness.  It is not clear from the account in Scripture if the Pesach was eaten in each tent or outside in a community setting.  But the instruction in Devarim regarding future Pesach celebrations requires the participants to eat the meal in the presence of Yahuwah, at the place where he would dwell among his people:

Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Pesach of Yahuwah your Elohim, because in the month of Abib he brought you out of Mitzrayim by night.  Sacrifice as the Pesach to Yahuwah your Elohim an animal from your flock or herd at the place Yahuwah will choose as a dwelling for his Name.  Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Mitzrayim in haste-- so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Mitzrayim.

Let no yeast be found in your possession in all your land for seven days. Do not let any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until morning.  You must not sacrifice the Pesach in any town Yahuwah your Elohim gives you except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name. There you must sacrifice the Pesach in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversary of your departure from Mitzrayim.  Roast it and eat it at the place Yahuwah your Elohim will choose (Devarim 16:1-7).

At each Pesach to follow, the lambs were slaughtered by the priests in the presence of Yahuwah, either at the Tent of Meeting, or later, at the temple site in Jerusalem.  Then the animals were eaten right there as the congregation of Yisrael remained assembled in the presence of Yahuwah.

For a period of time, the Tent of Meeting wandered from place to place.  For about 380 years of time, the Tent and the Presence of Yahuwah was at Shiloh, and that's where the Pesach was celebrated.  All of Yisrael would gather to the mountains of Shiloh.  Later, the Tent was moved around some more and eventually landed in Jerusalem.  A short time later, the Temple was built by Shelomo.  Wherever the Tent of Meeting was or, later, the Temple stood, this is where the Feasts were celebrated and people would bring the tithes of their harvests to celebrate the Feasts in the presence of Yahuwah.

But the presence of Yahuwah left the temple site and the city of Yerushalayim.  He doesn't dwell in Jerusalem any more.  So it would make no sense to celebrate the Pesach in Jerusalem, because the Almighty isn't there, and his Instruction tells us to celebrate it in his presence.  So where is the Presence of Yahuwah so that we may celebrate before him?

Can We Properly Observe the Pesach Today in the Exile?

Most of the well known preachers and teachers of the Messianic, Hebraic Roots Movement have been teaching their congregations that we can't really "keep" the Pesach as in days of old.  And they offer many excuses why we can't.  Some even go so far as to "celebrate" the Pesach whenever its convenient to gather starving seekers to their conferences - typically on a weekend - thus blatantly ignoring the actual appointment time.

Some of the excuses that they use are very similar to the excuses we hear of in the Christian churces as to why we don't have to obey the commandments of our Father any more.  They say Jesus nailed the Law to his cross, that in doing so he has done away with the Law, and we don't have to obey God's Law anymore!  Of course, the Messianic teachers are quick to refute that line of reasoning by pointing out that Yeshua said plainly he had not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets, but had come to bring a proper understanding of the same.  And they are correct when they point this out.

Yet, these same Messianic teachers turn around and offer the same excuses for not properly observing the appointed time of Pesach.  Those excuses include the old standard reasoning that Jesus fulfilled the Pesach and thus we don't have to offer a lamb anymore.  Jesus is our Passover Lamb.  And they say that even if we wanted to sacrifice a Lamb according to the Law given for the Pesach, we can't do it because Yehovah no longer resides in Jerusalem and the temple service isn't happening in Jerusalem.  There you have it.  We can't do it!

Messianics are happy to point out that the Torah requres that we bring all sacrifices to the priests at the temple in Jerusalem, including the Pesach.  And the Torah also requres that we DO NOT offer any of these sacrifices or the Pesach anywhere else other than Jerusalem.  For them, this is an open and shut case.  Their conclusion is that we can only remember in some imperfect ways what happened in the great deliverance commemorated by Pesach.

However, I have a different insight and perspective.  I believe that we CAN "keep" the Pesach according to all its laws and right rulings, just as the Scriptures require of us.  I believe its important to do it the right way.  I believe we should be commemorating this colossal event in the manner which the Torah instructs us.  And here are my reasons why.

First, the annual Pesach sacrifices were always a shadow picture and a reminder of the once for all sacrifice of Yeshua our Pesach.  Thus, even after Yeshua's death on the tree, the Pesach is still a shadow picture and reminder of the redemption purchased by Yeshua.  The Pesach does not pretend to replace Yeshua's death, nor does it diminish his death.  The Pesach retells of Yeshua's redemptive death on our behalf.

Our Father in heaven has commanded us to "keep" the Pesach and the Feast forever.  This event is a perpetual statute for all generations.  There is no termination point for the Pesach or for the Feast.  Yeshua even pointed out that all these matters of the Torah will be in play for as long as heaven and earth are standing.

Next, Messianics insist that we can't do these things because there is no temple in Jerusalem.  And "the Torah is emphatic that you can't offer these things in any place but Jerusalem."  This line of reasoning also is short of true.  Nowhere does the Torah say that all these things can only happen in Jerusalem.  What does the Scripture say? 

You must not sacrifice the Pesach in any town Yahuwah your Elohim gives you except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name. There you must sacrifice the Pesach in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversary of your departure from Mitzrayim.  Roast it and eat it at the place Yahuwah your Elohim will choose. Then in the morning return to your tents. (Deuteronomy 16:5-7)

Jerusalem is never named in the Torah as the place where all sacrifices must be made.  The Torah actually says that sacrifices must be done ONLY in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name.

There have been several places Yahuwah chose to be a dwelling for his name.  Mt. Sinai was the first.  The tabernacle was Yahuwah's portable home through the wilderness journey.  When the sons of Israel settled in the Land, the tabernacle sat in Shiloh for nearly 380 years!

When the tabernacle was moved to Tsion (Jerusalem), David wanted to build a permanent structure for Yahuwah's Presence.  And Shelomo built the Temple.  Yet the temple was destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed, rebuilt, and destroyed again in 68 CE.  What now?

And what about the time when Israel and Yehudah were in captivity?  Was there no Set-Apart place of Yahuwah for those in the exile?  The Prophet Yechezqel answers this for us.  The Almighty provided another way for truth seekers to worship Him according to His laws and right rulings while in captivity.

"Therefore say: 'This is what Adonai Yahuwah says: Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary (a set-apart place) for them in the countries where they have gone.' (Ezekiel 11:16)

Even in the exile, Yahuwah provided a way and a place for worshippers to seek and find Him and worship Him in the manner he requires.  Yahuwah was Himself a set-apart place for his exiled ones.

Yahusha made clear in his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well that Yahuwah is not going to be worshipped in Jerusalem for a period of time:

"Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Yehudim claim that the place where we must worship is in Yerushalayim." Yahusha declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Yerushalayim. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Yehudim. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  Elohim is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (Yochanan 4:20-24).

We have been experiencing this very situation since the time of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 68 CE.  Jerusalem ceased at that time to be the place to worship the Living Elohim.

So, since Yahuwah in not in Jerusalem and is not to be worshipped in Jerusalem at this time, where is he so that we may worship him in spirit and in truth?  Yahusha again provides the answer:

"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:20).

Wherever the disciples of Yahusha gather in his name, that is where his presence resides.  To gather in his name means to meet with him at the appointed times, including Sabbath and the annual Feast Days.  Thus, those who want to worship him in spirit and in truth and celebrate in his presence the Pesach and all other appointed times, need merely to be gathered together, anywhere, for that purpose, and he is there in their presence.  The Pesach, then, in our times, may be celebrated anywhere the followers of Yahusha come together to worship Him.

The Torah does not forbid people coming together for the appointed gatherings to worship Him in the manner prescribed by the Torah.  Men have poorly interpreted the Scriptures and have come to that conclusion.  But in reality, the Torah only requires that we worship Him where He has placed his name.  Since he has placed His name in our midst when we gather together in His name, then it stands to reason that we can and should worship him according to all the laws and right rulings which he has given.

The Pesach Lamb

The instructions regarding the choosing of a lamb include the following:

Tell the whole community of Yisrael that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.  If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat.  The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. (Shemot 12:3-5)

Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. (Shemot 12:10)

The first point to be made is that a single lamb is chosen for each household.  However, if the household is small, it may be shared with the nearest neighbor.  Since all of the animal was to be eaten and none to be left over, each family should estimate the amount of lamb that they will use, and join with another family if they estimate they will not be able to eat all the animal.  By my estimation, a family of five who each eats a large portion of lamb will be able to consume all the meat part of the animal.  However, for a light meat eating group, a single lamb can feed up to twenty people.

The Pesach was to be a male yearling without defect.  Many female animals are pregnant at this time of year, so in order to multiply sheep, the females are to be left to live and produce offspring.  It must be a yearling because the yearling is still tender and tasty.  Also, this "sacrifice" would not be costly to the worshipper if one would slaughter the oldest, most feeble animal in the pen.  This offering to Yahuwah must be valuable, not expendable.

The lamb must also be without defect.  Again, a defective animal is not a valuable animal.  Yahuwah requires the best.  It is offensive to him to offer an animal that has a broken limb, is blind, or is defective in any other way.  The prophet reveals the same:

You place defiled food on my altar.  But you ask, "How have we defiled you?"  "By saying that Yahuwah's table is contemptible.  When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong?  When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong?  Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?" says Yahuwah Almighty. (Malachi 1:7-8)

Also, no bones were to be broken in the process of slaughtering or roasting the lamb:

Do not break any of its bones (Shemot 12:46).

This further explains the meaning of "perfect".

These are the cooking instructions for the Pesach animal:

They will eat the meat the same night; they will eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened cakes and with bitter herbs.  Do not eat it raw or boiled in water, but roast it over the fire with its head, its legs, and its entrails (Shemot 12:8-9).

The animal was not to be "processed."  The whole animal was to be taken - intact - and roasted over a flaming fire.  No boiling allowed.  And no eating it raw.

Though normally, we would not roast an animal without some preliminary processing, such as removing the head and filthy parts of the carcass, this is the clear instruction here.  It has been suggested that in order to avoid the contamination of the meat of the animal with the excrement inside, during the four days of "watching" the animal, one might feed it only what will cause it to eliminate everything in its digestive tract.  By doing this, there will be nothing to cause contamination of the edible portions, and the entrails can then be safely discarded and burned the next morning.  Another way of taking care of this would be to cut open the belly of the carcass and let the inward parts burn up in the flame while roasting.

This instruction of not boiling the lamb is related to another instruction of the Torah.  Three times it tells us not to cook a kid in its mothers milk.  It was a common practice of the pagans to cook a lamb this way.  The meat ends up, perhaps, a bit more tender when cooking it in milk, but it retains fat.  The sons of Israel were to have nothing to do with such pagan practices.  The reason for this prohibition may be clearer when we consider the following.

The Torah teaches Israel to always roast a lamb or young goat in the fire.  Never are they to boil it, let alone in its mother's milk.  First, the Pesach, which was a yearling from the sheep or the goats was to be roasted, never boiled:

That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. (Exodus 12:9)

The lambs that are used as sin offerings, guilt offerings, peace offerings are all done in the fire.  This is the only acceptable way to offer a lamb.

Eating the Pesach

Another instruction deals with our disposition during the celebration of Pesach:

And this is how you are to eat it--dressed to travel, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in trepidation. It is the Pesach of Yahuwah (Shemot 12:11).

The celebrants were to be ready to travel that night because Pharaoh was about the release them to go and worship Yahuwah.  Thus, everyone was to be dressed and ready to travel.

Traditionally, the Pesach is celebrated with the participants reclining and relaxing, not standing ready to march.  The reason for this is that slaves would stand and serve while family and guests - freemen - would typically recline and relax and be served.  But tradition is not always based in truth.  And this particular tradition seems to work against the clear instruction for Pesach.  Besides, the standing ready at Pesach is actually rehearsing for that future Pesach when Yahuwah will set free his enslaved people again.  Why not rather dress as instructed for this remembrance and rehearsal?  One can still sit at a table or on the floor dressed to travel and still be obeying fully the instructions for Pesach.

Also, Many translations read, "eat it in haste" rather than "in trepidation."  The Hebrew word employed here is !AzP'xiB. (pronounced "bĕchēpăzōn") which means "in trepidation, anxiety, apprehension, foreboding concern, hurried flight."  The idea here is not necessarily to eat it "quickly" but to eat it with a sense of foreboding and some "fear."  This would make sense when we consider that they death angel was coming to every house to kill all the firstborn.  Only those who obeyed the instructions given by Yahuwah were protected from wrath as many were dropping dead all around them.  So, the sons of Yisrael would naturally be full of apprehension as they heard the death screams all around them.

There may also be a foreshadowing element in this command to eat it in trepidation.  The Book of Revelation alludes to a future scenario wherein Yahuwah will bring his destructive plagues on the earth to punish those who refuse to obey his commandments.  And at that time he will perform another momentous deliverance of his people.  The similarities of the deliverance from Mitzrayim to the future judgment and deliverance of his people from the Beast suggests that this may occur at the appointed time of Pesach.  And thus, in that future Pesach, his people will be filled with trepidation as Yahuwah sets to deliver them again. 

Pulling an All-Nighter - the Command to be Vigilant

Another fascinating commandment for the Pesach is to keep vigil all night.

Because Yahuwah kept vigil that night to bring them out of Mitzrayim, on this night all the sons of Yisrael are to keep vigil to honor Yahuwah for the generations to come (Shemot 12:42).

Here is this instruction in some other popular translations:

It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations (KJV).

The night when Yahweh kept vigil to bring them out of Egypt must be kept as a vigil in honour of Yahweh by all Israelites, for all generations (New Jerusalem Bible).

It is a night to be observed for the LORD for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the LORD, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations (New American Standard).

The Hebrew text of this verse is somewhat confusing and could be interpreted as saying that it is Yahuwah who is to keep vigil on behalf of the sons of Israel for the generations to come.  However, there is additional instruction in the Torah which clarifies the meaning of this command.

You must not sacrifice the Pesach in any town Yahuwah your Elohim gives you except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name. There you must sacrifice the Pesach in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversary of your departure from Mitzrayim.  Roast it and eat it at the place Yahuwah your Elohim will choose.  Then in the morning return to your tents. (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 16:5-7).

Here, the instruction is plain that the Pesach is eaten and the story retold after sundown on the 14th, while all Yisrael is assembled in Yahuwah's presence.  Then in the morning, they were to return to their tents.  There can be no other understanding of this clear instruction, but to see that the assembled worshippers stayed vigilant all night in honor of Yahuwah and celebrating his great redemptive power before returning to their tents in the morning.  And this is the way it is to be correctly observed today - by honoring Yahuwah with our vigilance.

The Future Passover Deliverance - The Greater Exodus

Then, there will likely be another exodus of the people of Yahuwah from the slavery of the world system, accompanied by the judgment of Yahuwah happening all around them.  But with Yahuwah's protective covering, his people will escape the judgment and be delivered.  The prophet Yirmeyahu expressly speaks of that future "greater exodus":

So then, the days are coming," declares Yahuwah, "when people will no longer say, 'As surely as Yahuwah lives, who brought the sons of Yisrael up out of Mitzrayim,' but they will say, 'As surely as Yahuwah lives, who brought the descendants of Yisrael up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.' Then they will live in their own land." (Yirmeyahu 23:7-8)

At the time when the prophecies of the Messianic kingdom are fulfilled, Yahuwah will have performed another breath-taking deliverance of his people from the clutches of the evil forces of the world.

Yechezqel speaks of this rescuing also.  He tells of the re-gathering of all the lost and scattered sons of Israel:

When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations.  Then they will know that I am Yahuwah their Elohim, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. (Yechezqel 39:27-28)

Many of the prophets speak of this time when all the people of Elohim will be re-gathering and brought together into Israel as one people.  And they will have one king over them - the promised Prince Messiah.  A future Pesach is the time that suggests itself for this greater deliverance of Yah's people from all nations of the earth.  Thus, the annual practice of Pesach, with all its laws and regulations, at the appointed time, is actually a rehearsal of another grand exodus and deliverance.

Conclusion

Pesach is for all of Israel and that means everyone in Covenant relationship with the Almighty.  All the laws and customs of Pesach can and should be meticulously followed by those who call on his name.  Pesach is a reliving and retelling of the great deliverance Yahuwah performed, and Pesach is a rehearsal for another great deliverance to come.  The genuine followers of Yahuwah must celebrate this feast in obedience, lest one be found to not belong to Him!

 END