101 Bible Secrets
Bible Secret Number 80 

What Day Was the Passover?

On what day of the month and at what time of the day was the original Passover as ordained by Moses annually observed?
 

Hardly a subject has been more argued and debated than this one. However, the answer is quite clear. The time for killing the Passover animal was to be "between the two evenings" (Exodus 12:6 Hebrew). This is the same time that the daily evening sacrifices were to be offered in the Tabernacle at the time of Moses (Exodus 29:39), and this phrase "between the two evenings" is further defined in Exodus 30:8 as being at the time one lights the lamps in the Tabernacle. This indication shows the phrase means when it starts to get dark, or in simple terms "at dusk." Further confirmation of this is given in Deuteronomy 16:6 where it says it was "at the going down of the sun." And this phrase "at the going down of the sun" in other contexts of the Old Testament shows it means at sundown (not in mid-afternoon) (Deuteronomy 23:11; 24:13; Joshua 8:29; 10:27; II Samuel 3:35; II Chronicles 18:34). This means the Passover was killed "at dusk."

All of this shows that the Passover was to be killed in Moses’ time at the dusk period at the start of Nisan 14 and eaten before mid-night of that day. Indeed, this is the precise time that Christ had his Passover on the eve of his crucifixion. The Jews who were Pharisees at the time of Christ interpreted the phrase "between the two evenings" to mean from noontime to sunset, so they felt the Passover animal should be killed about that time and eaten after sunset on Nisan 15, which custom became standard among the Jews after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.

People who want to keep their own (and non-biblical) "Passovers" today are at odds over the matter. Should one go by the original time at the beginning of Nisan 14 or go with the Jews who have their Passover at the beginning of Nisan 15? Those who follow Christ’s example or obey his teaching to the Jews have authority to practice either mode, believe it or not. That’s right, either way is acceptable from the point of view of Christ’s teachings. Note this. If one wants to follow Moses and Christ in teaching and by example, then keep it at the beginning of Nisan 14, but Christ said the scribes and Pharisees sat in Moses’ seat and had the authoritative right to interpret Moses for the community of Israel, so in the teaching of Christ he also told his Jewish disciples to obey them (Matthew 23:2,3).

But what should modern day Christians do in this matter? The next question should clear up the situation if one will heed the teaching of the apostle Paul.


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