Some time ago, a popular Sacred Name group published a list titled “10 Key Passover Facts,” found in their Jan-Feb 2018 magazine.
We will address Fact #5, which reads:
While leavening is not prohibited on Passover day, Abib 14, it is disallowed with the Passover memorial, Exodus 12:8. The Passover is a time of removing leavening in preparation for the Feast of Unleavened Bread that follows.
Modified Version For many, this would seem to be a reasonable statement because this reflects the present-day acceptance, by most, of a modified version of the Hasidic/Pharisaic practice of Passover and Unleavened Bread which encompasses the dates of Abib 14-21 with the result of an observance consisting of 8 days.Continue reading “The Math of Passover & Unleavened Bread”→
As found with the celebration of Passover, there existed a great debate among the various Jewish factions, beginning in about the second century B.C.E., with regard to just how and when one was to count to the Khag of Shabuath (Weeks), also called Pentecost.
This debate was sparked by the fact that there is no direct statement found in Scriptures telling us exactly on which date one is to keep the Festival of Weeks.
A late innovation of the Aristocratic understanding of בין חערבים (byn ha-arabim) arose sometime after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., becoming clearly manifested in records by the 8th century C.E.
This new interpretation (System C) was built under the heavy influence of the Talmudists (spiritual offshoots of the Pharisees). It flourished primarily among the Karaites and neo (later)-Samaritans but was also practiced by some less well-known groups.
Like those of the Aristocratic school (System A), these neo (later)-Aristocratic groups (System C) understood byn ha-arabim as the period of twilight that follows sunset.
The Aristocratic understanding (System A) of “בין חערבים (byn ha-arabim)” was represented by the Jews called Sadducees, the Boethusian Sadducees, and by the ancient Samaritans.
Moreover, the Aristocratic practice was utilized by Yahushua the messiah, his apostles, and the early assemblies that followed him.1
Very few writings which discuss just how to observe Passover have come down to us directly from any acknowledged Sadducean, Boethusian, or ancient Samaritan source. So, for an acquaintance with their opinions, we are mainly dependent upon their antagonists.2
These antagonists, and records which are derived from the later variations of this view (as demonstrated by the neo-Samaritans and Karaites),3show that, contrary to the Hasidic views, the Aristocratic approach understood that the first ערב (arab; intermixing of light and dark) occurred at sunset and the second at deep twilight (the setting of darkness).
In this second and final half of our discussion we will now look to the ancient records that demonstrate the Hasidic view regarding Passover.
The Book of Jubilees The Book of Jubilees, originally composed in Hebrew by the Hasidim in the late second century B.C.E.,1gives us the earliest representation of the Hasidic argument. To date, the most complete version of this text is found in the Ethiopian edition. It reports:
Since the first century C.E., the most prevalent and popular view for the observance of Passover and the seven days of Unleavened Bread has beenHasidic System B—an interpretation first expressed by the ancient Hasidim.
This practice has the Passover sacrifice offered during during the afternoon of Abib 14 with the Passover meal eaten at the beginning of Abib 15. All leavening is removed from one’s home by noon on Abib 14. Abib 15 begins the 7-day Feast of Unleavened Bread and continues through Abib 21. There is a total of 8 days of Unleavened Bread counted from Abib 14-21.
The questions that must be asked are:
• What is the ancient evidence of this interpretation? Also, just how and on what days did they keep the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread?
• When did this Hasidic view of Passover and the seven days of Unleavened Bread first appear?
• What issues created their interpretation and how did they derive their understanding of בערב (be-arab; in the mixing of light and dark [twilight]) and its cognate term בין הערבים (byn ha-arabim; between/among the mixings of light and dark [twilight])?
In our first installment titled10. Passover – Sadducees & Pharisees I, we discussed the religious philosophy of the Sadducees. With our second installment we will proceed to address the viewpoint of the Pharisees and their power struggle with the Sadducees.
It is within the framework of the evolving political and religious conflict between the Sadducees and Pharisees that we can understand just how and why the Pharisees ultimately became victorious in the officially recognized practice of Passover and Unleavened Bread which we have labeled “Hasidic System B.”
The Pharisees The “Hasidic System B” Passover and Unleavened Bread method originated among the early Hasidim but became dominant as a religious practice because of the political power of their spiritual descendants, the Pharisees.1
From Pharisaism derived what is now called Orthodox Judaism.2Their conflict with the Sadducees was in force from the time of the Hasmonaean revolt.
With the proper historical and cultural context in hand per our previous posts dealing with “The Dark Period,” we shall now turn our attention toward the two leading Jewish religious parties: the Sadducees and the Pharisees.
These two religious groups held opposing interpretations for בין הערבים (byn ha-arabim; between the evenings), for the day on which the Passover was eaten, and for the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
The Sadducees reflected theAristocraticview while the Pharisees carried on theHasidic tradition.
One of the most important historical and cultural developments in Judaism during the Hellenic period was the formation of the movement, during the late third century B.C.E., that later became the Hasidim.
From them are derived the Pharisees, Essenes, Zealots, and others, including the later Rabbinists and Talmudists, who are their spiritual descendants.1
The name Hasidim means “pious, devout” ones.2These early Hasidim must not be confused with the German mystics of the 12th–13th centuries C.E. or with the modern Hasidic movement, founded in 18th century Poland by Israel ben Eliezer.3