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The Commanded Date and Time of Passover

God's commands vs. narratives

 "If you love Me, keep My commandments"
John 14:15

Currently the majority of the congregations of God observe Passover on the 14th day of the first month of the year. This date is often derived from historians, scholars, commentaries and analyzing the Israelite's actions on the first Passover. All Church of God doctrines currently teach that the ultimate authority is God's commands, but have we "rightly divided" God's commands from all other sources of information? (2 Tim. 2:15)

What date and time did God command for Passover?

God's commanded date and time of Passover

The only two verses in the entire Bible that are God's commanded date and time of Passover are Leviticus 23:5 and Numbers 9:3.

In the fourteenth [day] of the first month at even [is] the LORD'S passover.
Leviticus 23:5
In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.
Numbers 9:3

The Hebrew for 'evening' and 'between the evenings'

Both scriptures with the commanded date and time say 'at evening', and both use the same Hebrew words 'beyn ha arbayim', which literally means "between the evenings". (Hebrew concordance: Lev 23:5, Num 9:3 source: scripture4all.org) But other Hebrew words are translated as "at evening" as well, 'ba ereb".  Do these words mean the same thing? Do they happen at the same time?

The UCG doctrinal paper "Appendix to Passover of Exodus 12" compares the two different words, and their conclusion is emphatic, there is no timing difference between these two words.

Here the term is ba erev, which means sunset. This term is not disputed and these two verses taken together clearly identify beyn ha arbayim with ba erev.
...
Exodus 16:13 – “And it came to pass, that at even [ba erev] the quails came up, and
covered the camp; and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.”  Moses records for us exactly when the quail showed up - sunset - ba erev. So we see that God’s definition of beyn ha arbayim is sunset to dark.
....
This evidence from God's own words (recorded by Moses) that ba erev and beyn ha arbayim occur at the same time of day, sunset, is very significant. Even though one may be a point in time and the other a period of time, they both begin at the same time.
Appendix to Passover of Exodus 12 members.ucg.org/papers/exodus12.pdf
(emphasis added)

The beginning or the end of the day?

There are two evenings that border every day (the beginning and the end) and the current assumption is that "the 14th at evening" means the beginning of the 14th. But is this true? If "at evening" is at the beginning, then Passover should be on the night of the 14th (as we have kept it for years), but if at the end, then Passover is the night of the 15th.

Are there any scriptures that clearly demonstrate when "at evening" is?

The commanded date and time of Atonement

The date of Atonement is the 10th.

Also on the tenth [day] of this seventh month [there shall be] a day of atonement...
Leviticus 23:27

On what evening does is start? The evening of the tenth or the ninth?

...in the ninth [day] of the month at even, from even unto even,Leviticus 23:32

God's commanded timing for Atonement starts on the "9th at evening", the commanded date is the 10th. The "9th at evening" is not the 9th, it is the beginning of the 10th. This also means that the "14th at evening" is not the 14th, it is the beginning of the 15th.

The first day of Unleavened Bread

God's command in Exodus on when Unleavened Bread starts helps clarify the date of Passover. Is the first day of Unleavened Bread on the 14th or the 15th?

In the first [month], on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Exodus 12:18

Unleavened Bread starts the same time as Passover, "14th at evening" which is the beginning of the 15th.

And on the fifteenth day of the same month [is] the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORDLeviticus 23:6

Did Jesus or the apostles change the commanded date of Passover?

Did the date of Passover change from old testament times? From the UCG booklet "God's Holy Day Plan" a very clear statement is made about the date of Passover.

Neither Jesus Christ nor His apostles indicated that we should change when or how often we observe any of God’s festivals.
God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind http://www.ucg.org/booklets/

Israelite's actions in Exodus vs God's commands

The only source we have on the timing of events with the Israelites is in Exodus 12 and 13. The Bible is not specific as to how long or on what specific dates many of the tertiary events happened. For example on what date were Joseph's bones gathered? On what date did the Israelites plunder the Egyptians? We can guess the timing, but the Bible is not absolutely clear, and it's especially unclear as to how many hours it would take to do any of these activities.

Do the activities of the Israelites in Exodus alter, supercede or override God's commands?

Conclusion

The date of Passover was not changed in the New Testament scriptures. There are only two scriptures in the Bible that are God's commanded date and time for Passover, Leviticus 23:5 and Numbers 9:3 . The date of Atonement (the 10th) begins on the evening of the day before (9th at evening). Unleavened Bread starts the same time as Passover (14th at evening) which is the 15th day of the first month.


"And you shall again obey the LORD, and observe all His commandments..."
Deut. 30:8
(Jerimiah 7:23, Exodus 20:6, Deut 5:10, Joshua 22:5, Neh 1:5, Psa 119:47)


Iron sharpens iron

  1. Does scripture clarify something not addressed here?
  2. Is there something missing from this analysis?
  3. Is there a relevant scripture missing?
  4. Is there an error in reasoning or scriptural understanding?
  5. Was a scripture quoted wrong or another source incorrect?

Please submit any errors or corrections to this article.

Proverbs 27:17 says "Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another." God said in Isaiah 1:18 "let us reason together". And we are instructed in 1 Thes. 5:21 to "examine/prove all things". The Bereans were called "noble" in Acts 17:11  for "examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so."