Chapter 16


The Festival of Passover

        • Each year, you are to celebrate the Passover in the month of Abib because that is the month in which He brought you out of Egypt at night. You are to make a Passover sacrifice, taken either from your herd or your flock, to the Lord your God in the place He has chosen for His name to dwell.

        • Messianic Jew, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, provides the following information about the Festival of Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) which was celebrated on the fourteenth day of Abib, in his resource The Feasts of Israel:

            • (Pesach) Commemorates (the) night before the Exodus when the death Angel destroyed all first born of Egypt (Exodus 12) but passed over all the Israelite homes protected by the blood of the lamb.”

        • Isaiah 53:1-9 predicted that Messiah would be the final paschal sacrifice, the final sacrifice for sin. Messiah Jesus is represented as ‘our passover’ in I Corinthians 5:6-7. Yeshua is portrayed as this final Passover Lamb in four New Testament passages: John 1:29, 1:35-36, I Peter 1:18-19, and Revelation 5:6. John the Baptist introduced Him as the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world!”

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “The Exodus was such a significant event in Israel’s history that the month of Abib, when the Exodus took place, became the beginning of Israel’s annual calendar (see Exodus 12:2).” The same source adds, “…the first month of the Hebrew calendar, usually occurs within the months of March and April.”

The Festival of Unleavened Bread

        • You must not eat bread that contains leavening (yeast) in it with your Passover sacrifice. For seven days you must eat unleavened bread, the bread of suffering, so you will remember for the rest of your life the hurry in which you left Egypt. All yeast must be removed from your land for seven days. Also, your Passover sacrifice must only be made at the location the Lord your God has chosen for His name to dwell- this sacrifice must not be made in any of your towns. You are to make this sacrifice in the evening as the sun sets- the same time that you left Egypt. None of the meat which you sacrifice in the evening can be leftover the next morning. You must cook it and eat it in the location that the Lord your God chooses, then go back to your tents the next morning. Unleavened bread is to be eaten for the next six days and on the seventh day there must be a solemn assembly held in honor of the Lord your God and you must not do any work.

        • HCSB points out a common misunderstanding in this passage, “The contradiction relative to the number of days on which unleavened bread must be eaten (seven and six respectively) is only apparent. Clearly v. 8 refers to the six days leading up to the solemn assembly on the seventh, when leavened bread also could not be eaten. This equals the seven days of v. 3.”

          • On the Festival of Unleavened Bread (Hag Hamatzot in Hebrew) which was celebrated on Abib 15th-22nd, Fruchtenbaum writes:

          • On the original passover, in haste of preparation for flight, there was no time for the Israelites to wait for the bread dough to rise. They ate matzah (unleavened bread) on departure… The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasted for seven days following the Feast of Passover, which is only one day. Since they are back to back feasts, there are actually eight holy days. This is the reason Jews often speak of ‘the eight days of Passover,’ although technically, only the first day is Passover and the next seven days are the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Biblical practice was that no leaven could be eaten during this period.”

          • A symbol of purity (1 Corinthians 5:8) and a picture of freedom from the slavery of sin. Whenever the word leaven is used symbolically in Scripture, it is always a symbol of sin. This is the reason God would not even allow this symbol of sin to be eaten by the Jewish people during this period or to have it in their homes or to have it anywhere in the Land of Israel. While Passover itself was fulfilled by the death of the Messiah, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is fulfilled by the sinlessness of His blood offering, according to Hebrews 9:11-10:18. In this passage, His offering of sinless blood accomplished three things: first, the cleansing of the heavenly tabernacle; secondly, the removal of the sins of the Old Testament saints; and thirdly, the application of the blood to the New Testament saints.”

Feast of Weeks

        • You are to count off seven weeks from the time you first put your sickle to your standing grain to harvest, then celebrate the Feast of the Firstfruits to the Lord your God by offering a free will offering in proportion to how He has blessed you. You, your children, your slaves, the Levites living in your town, the foreigners living among you, and the orphans and widows living among you are to come rejoice before the Lord your God in the place He has designated for His name to dwell. Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt and be careful to follow these statutes.

          • On the Festival of Weeks (Shavuot in Hebrew), Fruchtenbaum (in a different article- The Feasts of Israel) provides the following:

          • Fruchtenbaum clears up a common confusion by noting the distinction between the “Feast of the Firstfruits” and the “Day of the Firstfruits,” the latter of which is included in the Festival of Weeks: “The firstfruits of the summer harvest are offered on this occasion while the firstfruits from the spring harvest were offered in the Feast of the Firstfruits.”

            • By contrast, The Feast of the Firstfruits (which is described in Leviticus 23:9-14), pertains to the “firstfruits of the barley and grain harvests.” Additionally, “According to Paul, Yeshua was the firstfruits of the Resurrection…While the Feast of Passover was fulfilled by His death, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread was fulfilled by the sinlessness of His sacrifice, the Feast of Firstfruits is fulfilled by His Resurrection…The firstfruits always means ‘the first of more to come later.’ Indeed, someday believers will be the ‘more to come later.’”

          • …it marked the end of the first cycle of festivals… there are seven different festivals mentioned in Leviticus 23 that are grouped in two sets. The first four feasts come within fifty days of each other; the next three come within two weeks of each other. Between the first cycle of festivals and the second cycle of feasts, there is a period of four months.”

          • …the most familiar name among Gentile believers is the ‘Feast of Pentecost’” which “comes from a Greek term that means ‘fifty’ because it occurs fifty days after Passover.”

          • The Feast of Weeks is specifically fulfilled by the birth of the Church (Acts 2:1-4). It is no accident that the Church was born on the Feast of Weeks…It was on this occasion that the Holy Spirit began a new ministry…What was new in Acts 2 was not the coming of the Holy Spirit as such, but rather, a new ministry of the Holy Spirit: the ministry of Spirit baptism…It is a unique ministry that concerns the Church and the Church alone…First, it is stated in Colossians 1:18 that the Church is the body of the Messiah. Second, it is stated in Ephesians 2:11-16 that this Body, the Church, is composed of Jewish and Gentile believers united into one Body. Thirdly, it is stated that the entrance into this Body is by Spirit baptism in 1 Corinthians 12:13…”

          • The firstfruits aspect is fulfilled by virtue of the fact that Jewish believers were the first ones in this Body in the first century.”

Feast of Tabernacles

        • After all of your harvest has been gathered from your threshing floors and your winepresses, you are to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days in the designated place the Lord your God has chosen for His name to dwell. You, your children, your slaves, the Levites, the foreigners living among you, and the orphans and widows that live among you are to rejoice with abundant joy because the Lord your God will bless you with bountiful harvests and also in everything you do.

        • On the Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth in Hebrew) celebrated, Fruchtenbaum writes:

          • A 7-Day festival recalling the 40 years of Wandering in the Wilderness, when God miraculously provided for Israel as they traveled and dwelt in Succoth, referring to portable booths or tents.”

          • In his second article Fruchtenbaum notes, “Ultimately the Feast of Tabernacles is to be fulfilled by the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom according to Zechariah 14:16-19.”

        • Each year every male is to come before the Lord your God on these three occasions at the place the Lord your God designates His name to dwell: The Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. No one must appear before the Lord without a gift. Each person must give as they are able, in accordance with the blessings the Lord your God has given to you.

          • Did women not have to attend? HCSB explains, “The absence of the reference to females does not mean they were disqualified from attending the festivals; it only indicates that they were not required to do so…headship of the family was vested in the father. On festive occasions and other major community assemblies, fathers and other adult males represented their families.”

Appointing Judges and Officials

        • Appoint judges and officials for all of your tribes in all of your towns to judge the people righteously. They must not deny justice or show partiality to anyone. They must not accept bribes because a bribe makes the eyes of the wise blind and twists the words of the righteous. You must only seek true justice so that you’ll live in and possess the land the Lord your God is giving to you.

        • Poole’s commentary points out that “judges” and “officials” are not synonymous, but two separate positions:

          • Judges; chief magistrates to examine and determine causes and differences.”

          • Officers, who were inferior and subordinate to the other, to bring causes and persons before them, to acquaint people with the mind and sentence of the judges, and to execute their sentence, Deu 20:5,9 Jos 1:10,11 3:2,3.”

        • The NLT Illustrated Study Bible likens these officials to modern day police officers.

Forbidden Worship

        • You must not set up an Asherah pole or place a sacred pillar beside the altar that you build for the Lord your God because He hates them.

        • Some translations render this passage a little differently, saying instead something to the effect of “one must not plant yourself a tree.” However, Keil and Delitzsch’s commentary on the OT disagrees with this translation on the following grounds:

          • Thou shalt not plant thee as asherah any wood beside the altar of Jehovah. to plant, used figuratively, to plant up or erect, as in Ecclesiastes 12:11; Daniel 11:25; cf. Isaiah 51:16. Asherah , the symbol of Astarte (see at Exodus 34:13), cannot mean either a green tree or a grove (as Movers, Relig. der Phönizier, p. 572, supposes), for the simple reason that in other passages we find the words make (1 Kings 14:15; 1 Kings 16:33; 2 Kings 17:16; 2 Kings 21:3; 2 Chronicles 33:3), or set up ( 2 Kings 17:10), stand up (2 Chronicles 33:19), and build (1 Kings 14:23), used to denote the erection of an asherah , not one of which is at all suitable to a tree or grove. But what is quite decisive is the fact that in 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 17:10; Jeremiah 17:2, the asherah is spoken of as being set up under, or by the side of, the green tree. This idol generally consisted of a wooden column; and a favourite place for setting it up was by the side of the altars of Baal.”

          • Barnes’ Notes says the same in simplified language, “The word is rendered ‘grove’ by the King James Version also in Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:3; Exodus 34:13; Judges 6:25, but cannot be maintained, for the word is connected with various verbs which are quite inapplicable to a grove. The wooden idol in question was the stem of a tree, stripped of its boughs, set upright in the ground, and rudely carved with emblems.”

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