What does the book of Exodus really say regarding the observance of the Festival of Passover? Also, what about the Festival of Unleavened Bread?
There are two main popular understandings:
• According to the Hasidic Jewish view (System B) the Passover lamb was killed during the afternoon of Abib 14 and the Passover supper took place after sundown on Abib 15.
Abib 14 is a preparation day and not a High Sabbath. Abib 15-21 is the 7-day Festival of Unleavened Bread. Abib 15 and 21 are High Sabbath days. There are 8 days of eating unleavened bread.
• Among the Sacred Name groups of today, most hold to the Modern Hybrid view (System G) whereby, at the Exodus, the Passover lamb was killed at the start of Abib 14 after sundown and the Passover supper eaten that night.
Like the Hasidic Jews holding toSystem B, they consider Abib 14 to be a preparation day and not a High Sabbath. Abib 15-21 is the 7-day Festival of Unleavened Bread. Abib 15 and 21 are High Sabbath days. There are 8 days of eating unleavened bread.
For the seeker of truth, we are only left with the following possibilities.
1. One system is right. 2. Both systems are wrong.
If you have a strange suspicion that the second answer is more correct, then it is suggested that you read on.
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])?
As we continue our discussion regarding the connection between Passover and Pentecost, we discover that there were three other requirements attached to the Festival of Weeks: (1) appearing and being worthy, (2) rejoicing, and (3) remembering.
Our next effort in defining the Passover supper and the seven days of eating unleavened bread is to give an overall summary of the Exodus experience. This event was the first time in which a Passover animal was commanded to be sacrificed and eaten by the Israelites.
On its primary level, the yearly observance of the Passover and seven days of eating unleavened bread is meant to recall the Israelite Exodus out of Egypt.1
Theחג(Khag; Festival) of Unleavened Bread forms part of theמועדי(moadi; appointed times) commanded by Yahweh, which gain their legal authority by means of aחקת(khoquth; statute).1
The term חג (khag) is also used when the entire seven days of eating unleavened bread is called the Passover.2
The first and seventh day of this khag are described as sacredמקראי(miqrai; gatherings for reading),3i.e., a sacred convocation on a Sabbath or high Sabbath day during which Scriptures are to be studied.4
To understand the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread, we must first define the meanings of these two terms and explain what prompts them to be festival observances.
The first two tasks that shall be employed toward solving the Passover controversy will be to examine and define the different Jewish and Christian schools with regard to their observance of Passover, its seven days of Unleavened Bread, and Shabuath (Pentecost).
Different Jewish Schools Our initial inquiry shall delve into the practices of the Jewish schools. In this effort, we will explore the history, culture, and origin of three major Jewish schools of thought regarding the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread and the Festival of Pentecost.
The three basic Jewish systems for observing the Passover and the seven days of Unleavened Bread were as follows: