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sermon: Passover (Part Three)

John 6
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 11-Apr-92; Sermon #014; 76 minutes

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Nine steps had to be included with the Passover process, including the eating of the lamb, all within the house until the morning. The time frame designated for Passover was ben ha arbayim—a period of time between the going down of the sun and complete darkness (dusk), totally within the confines of the designated day, in this case the fourteenth, as God had commanded. To use scholarship that contradicts the Bible—relying upon tradition rather than God's Word—is not unlike carrying the Ark of the Covenant in the oxcart.

I want to rehearse some of the things that we have gone through in the last two sermons. I really want to burn these principles into our minds in regards to Passover because they are basic, fundamental things upon which the keeping of the day are really founded.

We saw the importance of Passover in that Jesus said, in John 6:48, that He is the bread of life. He reminds us that our fathers ate manna in the wilderness and are dead. He is the bread that comes down from heaven, and, if we eat of it, we may not die. He said, "I am the living bread." And He says, "The bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world." (John 6:51)

John 6:53 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you."

Certainly that ought to point out to us the importance of the Passover, because we understand that He is speaking symbolically (figuratively) of His own death, His burial, and His resurrection. And that these symbols would be part and parcel of the way of life that He gave to us—something with which we would be renewing our commitment to Him and to His Father.

John 6:54-58 "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides [or "lives," or "dwells," or "continues"] in Me [That is, He is saying that it is a life-giving substance.], and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever."

I think that summarizes. It points out the importance of the Passover to you and me. If we do not take the Passover, and take it properly; we simply have no eternal life in us. It is just that important!

The second thing that we saw is that Passover is named for God passing over the Israelitish people while they still remained in their homes. Please remember that. In their homes—not in tents, gathered in some place, but in their houses. That is very specifically pointed out.

Exodus 12:13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

Exodus 12:25-27 "It will come to pass when you come to the land which the LORD will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. And it shall be, when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?' That you shall say, 'It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.'" So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.

That little phrase, "in their houses," is going to become important a little bit later on, as we evaluate some of the circumstances regarding the Exodus—the leaving of the children of Israel from Egypt. But the Passover is named for God passing over the children of Israel—while still in their houses.

We see this confirmed in Leviticus 23 that Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are two distinct and separate festivals.

Leviticus 23:5-6 On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD's Passover. And on the fifteenth day [a separate festival altogether, though coming closely on the heels chronologically] of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread. [It celebrates, it memorializes, a different event altogether.]

At the beginning of last week's sermon, I went through quite a number of scriptures showing from the Bible that the Jews are not to be trusted any more than any other people regarding spiritual things. We saw this proved by many, many scriptures. And I want us to see this very clearly once again. This is the apostle Paul's own record regarding the Jews.

Romans 10:1-2 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

There is no doubt that the Jews were a religious people. There is no doubt that they were attending synagogue. There was no doubt that they were looking into things in the Bible. There was no doubt that they were talking with one another—even as people today, in this nation, talk to one another about religion. They go to church on Sunday, or on Sabbath, or maybe on Friday. We are a reasonably (or, fairly) religious people; but I think that you would have to agree with me that it is not according to knowledge. Same thing with the Jews back in the time of Christ, back in the time of the apostle Paul, and both before and after those times, as well.

Romans 10:3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness. . .

"Ignorant" does not mean that they were stupid. It simply means that they were uninformed. They did not know. They had no knowledge of, no grasp of, God's righteousness.

Romans 10:3 . . . and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.

They were ignorant of God's righteousness. Righteousness simply means "right doing; rectitude." According to Psalm 119:172, righteousness is defined as the commandments of God. That is right doing! So we see here that, by definition, these people did not know of God's right doing—God's right way, God's right method, God's commandments. We see that confirmed in Mark 7, where Jesus said:

Mark 7:9 "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition."

He said that about the Jews. The Jews went about and they established their own standard, their own forms of righteousness, and their own religion—called today "Judaism" (called in the King James Bible "the Jews' religion"). The Jews' religion was not the religion of God. It had bits and pieces and parts of it; but it did not exemplify the right and the true way of Godat all.

That is why there is so much disagreement between Christ and the Pharisees and the Sadducees. There they were—the religious leaders—representing the way of Judaism, and Christ called them into account for the things that they were doing.

So that pretty well summarizes it—that is, the standing of the Jews. I do not mean, in any way, to put them down. God simply was not working with them. He was not attempting to convert them. He called out a few here and there. There was always "a remnant" that was doing the truth of God, but, by and large, those in the public eye—those who were setting the standards; those who were leading the great bulk of the people—were not the ones that God was working with. They were the ones who "left the record." They were the ones who did the bulk of the writing, but their writings did not agree with the Scriptures of God.

You will recall that, towards the end of last week's sermon, I quoted Drs. Grabbe and Kuhn—from their book "The Passover in the Bible and the Church Today;" pages 14-15—as saying:

The only part of the ceremony specified for the fourteenth, 'between the two evenings,' is the slaughter of the lamb. The eating, and other aspects of it, did not have to come at that time.

I want to impress upon us that what they said is "true;" but it is misleading, because it begins to set one up to think that killing the lamb was all there was to Passover, and that Passover could be over in about one hour. But actually, there are nine steps (in all) connected to Passover, and eight of those steps had to take place on the fourteenth. The only one that did not have to take place on the fourteenth was the selection of the lamb, or the goat. That took place on the tenth, and that was the first of the nine steps connected with the keeping of the Passover.

Those nine steps, just to reiterate, were:

  1. To select the lamb on the tenth day of the first month.
  2. To kill the lamb "between the evenings" on the fourteenth.
  3. To strike the doorposts and the lintel with the blood.
  4. To roast the whole lamb with bitter herbs.
  5. To eat the lamb that night.
  6. To not boil the lamb, or eat it raw.
  7. To burn any remains by morning.
  8. No alien (no stranger, no foreigner) was to eat it unless he was circumcised.
  9. They were not to leave their house until the morning.

We also saw in Numbers 9 and please turn there; because, again, I want us to see this written right in the Bible.

Numbers 9:3 On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight [again, "between the two evenings"], you shall keep it [that is, the Passover—referring back to verse 2] at its appointed time. According to all its rites and ceremonies you shall keep it.

Remember that I gave you the time element here in Numbers 9. It was one year later—after the Israelites left Egypt. It was the first month of the second year. Nothing has changed in regard to the keeping of the Passover! God makes it very clear: "According to all its rites and ceremonies you shall keep it."

That tells you, right there, that Passover consisted of more than just the killing of the lamb. If it consisted of only that one rite, then it could not be worded as "all of its rites."

If you have a Bible with a center reference (or footnotes, or something), you will also see that the word "rites" is actually the word translated in other Bibles as "statutes"—meaning that these things now have the force of law. So, "according to all of its laws." Thus, these other things (like striking the doorposts and lintel, and not going out of the house), they have the force of law!

Continuing in Numbers 9, where he is talking about the second Passover:

Numbers 9:12 They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break one of its bones. According to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it.

Even if a person missed the first Passover (because of being on a journey, or because he was unclean), that person was not excused from leaving anything out of the ceremonies, or rites, connected with Passover. It had to be done exactly the same way as it would have been done when everybody else was taking the Passover (one month before that). Thus, here we have substantiation—one year later. They are not in Egypt any longer. They are out in the wilderness. And, if God intended things only to be done one time that way, then He would have made a change. "Well, we're no longer in Egypt. You don't have to worry about the Death Angel going over. So, we're going to eliminate those other things that are connected with it. All you have to do is kill the lamb, and that's good enough." No! He did not say that! Rather, He made very sure that it was reconfirmed in the minds of the Israelites that nothing was to be left out! Things were to be done in this [second] Passover exactly the same way as it was done in the first Passover.

Exodus 12:43-48 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the ordinance of the Passover; no outsider shall eat of it. [An "outsider" meaning an alien, a stranger, a foreigner.] A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it. In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. And when a stranger sojourns with you and wants to keep the Passover of the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it."

I read that, because I want you to see that here is God's final instruction in regard to keeping the Passover (the very first Passover, you see); and what does He emphasize—the killing of it? No, but the eating of it is what is emphasized. That is an important distinction because God is letting us know that keeping the Passover does not just begin and end with the killing of the animal. He seems to be more concerned with the eating of the animal, rather than the killing of the animal. (Of course, the animal had to be killed.)

I want you to connect this with John 6. Jesus was concerned with the eating of Him. We are going to find that the emphasis is really on the eating of the animal (or, the "eating of" Christ) more than it is on the killing of the animal (or, the actual death of Christ). There is reason for that.

I want to just rehearse in our minds, once again, something that I went through maybe rather hurriedly. But I again want to remind us that God shows us very clearly that He does not takelightly the things that He commands us. And He does not want us to "take lightly" those things either—because there is very precious teaching involved in even the things that we might consider not being very important. So, from time to time in the Bible, He has left us with a witness (with an example) of how closely He wants us to follow the orders (the commands, the rites, and the ceremonies) that He has given to us.

Right in the book of Leviticus, in chapter 10, we have the example of Nadab and Abihu. Though they were the sons of the greatly-loved Aaron, God struck them dead (apparently by lightning)—burning their bodies, because they put "strange" fire into the incense altar. The fire, or the coals, that were put into the incense altar were to come from the brazen altar. They took common, ordinary coals from a common, ordinary fire; and they put it into the incense altar that then put the incense on top of it. Now, we might think that is a minor thing, but God struck them dead! And just because they were the children of Aaron did not make a bit of difference.

God left us a witness.

There are eight steps to be carried out in the keeping of the Passover on the 14th—and not one of them is to be left out!

We rehearsed the example of David—a man greatly loved in God's eyes, a man "after God's own heart." But when it became time to carry the Ark back to Jerusalem, he chose not to consult the Scriptures. He chose not to consult the high priest, or the Levites. Instead, he consulted with others, and they prescribed the carrying of the Ark back to Jerusalem on a new cart pulled by a couple of heifers. That was not what God's Word said!

And so, when the cart wobbled, and the Ark was in danger of falling over, Uzzah reached out his hand (a very natural reaction). He touched the Ark, and God struck him dead—because the Ark was not to be touched! Though those things may have been hundreds of years apart, it was time (once again) for God to give an example that His word means what He says.

We gave the example of Saul, and how he turned aside from the command that was given to him two different times (two different occasions) by God's prophet, Samuel. As a result (1) of not carrying out God's orders to kill all of the Amalekites and (2) of him making the offering, when Samuel was supposed to make it—Saul had the kingship stripped away from him. It was given to a man whom God said was better than he was.

So, I think we begin to see that, in regards to Passover, God does not want us to just play willy-nilly with it and do whatever we feel is right in our own eyes. God wants us to carry out what He says. Keeping the first part of the Passover on the fourteenth and keeping the rest of it on the fifteenth is not keeping the Passover according to the instructions that God gave!

Now, eating the Passover is part and parcel with keeping the Passover. Let us look at this confirmed back in the New Testament.

Luke 22:8 And he sent Peter and John, saying, "Go prepare the Passover for us, that we may [Kill it? No. That is not what it says. Rather, that we may...] eat."

Do you see the relationship that our Savior—God with us; the One who never disobeyed God—made with the Passover? It was not with the killing of the animal, but rather with the eating.

Luke 22:9-16 So they said to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare?" And He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. Then you shall say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says to you, "Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?"' So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover. When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God."

These scriptures show very clearly that Jesus and His disciples understood very clearly that keeping the Passover meant eating the Passover. And I think that we can begin to see that eating the Passover might, indeed, be the more important of the two.

In John 18:28, we have the example of the Jews. Both the Sadducees and the Pharisees had departed from the original Passover instructions; but they still considered eating the Passover as keeping it, even though they did not obey properly in regard to the time element. (They did it one day late.)

John 18:28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.

That is where the concern was—about whether they could eat it. And what irony there is here! They hated Jesus Christ. They were plotting and planning on killing Him. And yet they were so careful to be ceremonially clean so that they might eat the Passover. And, all they while, they were participating in killing the true Passover! What irony there is there!

Exodus 12:47 "All the congregation of Israel shall keep it."

This is the Hebrew word asah (phonetically). It means to observe, to celebrate, to accomplish, or (as we say) to keep.

Exodus 12:48 "And when a stranger sojourns with you and wants to keep [There it is again.] the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it [There it is again.]; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it."

In Hebrew, this word "eat" is akal (phonetically); and it means the same as our English word—to consume, to devour, or to dine.

Exodus 12:6 "Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight."

This is the Hebrew word shachat, which means "to kill." It is the same word that is normally used, throughout the Bible, to indicate a sacrifice (as at the altar). So, the Passover is to be sacrificed, and it is to be eaten.

I think that anybody ought to be able to see (looking at these things in their context) that keeping and eating are equated. Keeping the Passover means eating the Passover. And it had to be done on the fourteenth! Our Bible is the clearest evidence of this. Really, nothing could be clearer. Even our Savior was concerned about eating it on the fourteenth, and He did it correctly.

Symbolically (figuratively), killing the Passover emphasizes—to the person who is doing it—responsibility for the death of the Savior and, therefore, a recognition of sin. That is, that we are responsible for the Passover Lamb's death; and therefore, then, the payment for those sins is the death of the Savior. And that is certainly important. However, eating it (eating the Passover) emphasizes the more important continuance!

You remember how Jesus related it (in John 6) to the manna? How every day the manna came down. And, thus, every day the people received the strength to live another day. The eating of the Passover emphasizes the continuance of the relationship (that is, with Christ our Savior and with God our Father) and the "dwelling in Him" (or, abiding in Him)—the development of the relationship that ends in marriage! It is through this process that we become "one with Him."

Anybody (I might say) is able to recognize that Christ is the payment for our sins. But if one never develops beyond that and goes on to living in Christ, then the relationship will never develop—the marriage will never occur. The emphasis has to be on the eating—on the continuance—of it (of the relationship, of the development), because that is what leads to becoming one with Him and to themarriage supper of the Lamb. That is, by far and away, the more difficult of the two, and that is why it is emphasized in the Scriptures.

Let us turn to one more scripture in regard to this. This took place after the Jews returned from their seventy-year captivity in Babylon.

Ezra 6:19-21 And the descendants of the captivity kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves; all of them were ritually clean. And they slaughtered the Passover lambs for all the descendants of the captivity, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves. Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate [Do you want to see where the emphasis is on? The eating of it!] together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the LORD God of Israel.

So, certainly the lamb had to be killed; but Passover has not been "kept" until it is also eaten.

With that in mind, the next thing that we have to do is to begin to establish a more precise time for the beginning of these events on the fourteenth—that is, the time when the lamb is to be killed.

Now, the Jews observed a mid-afternoon to sunset definition of this term "between the two evenings." Does this fit what God gave Moses? Are they "rightly dividing the word of truth"?

I am going to give you a number of quotes from Jews who have left us writings in regard to this usage of the word, of this usage that they have put it to. I am going to begin with a rabbi by the name of Rashi. He is one of the more famous Jewish commentators; and his work is considered (by the world, anyway) to be one of the best that is available for you and me to study into—especially in regards to his commentary on the Torah.

Rashi translates this word (spelled phonetically) ben ha arbayim. This is the word translated into English in many Bibles as "dusk," "twilight," "between the two evenings," or "evening." (We will see some examples of this in just a little bit.) But Rashi translates this word "dusk." Here is Rashi's definition of this word ben ha arbayim.

From six hours ["Six hours" meaning the sixth hour of the day. To you and me, that is "noon."] and upward [i.e., towards the evening.] is called ben ha arbayim, when the sun declines towards the place of its setting to be darkened. And the expression ben ha arbayim appears in my [Rashi's] sight [to refer to] those hours between the 'evening' of day, and the 'evening' of night. The 'evening' of day is at the beginning of the seventh hour [That is 1:00 p.m., by our reckoning.] from [the time that] 'the shadows of evening are stretched out,' and the 'evening' of night at the beginning of the night.

Now, are you all confused? That sounds like a Jewish definition, does it not? What he said is this: that ben ha arbayim begins no later than 1:00 p.m. and ends at sunset. Thus, in order to fulfill what God says there in Exodus 12, Passover would have to be at the end of the fourteenth and on into the beginning of the fifteenth. By that definition, that is the only time that Passover could be held. But that conflicts with Exodus 12, and much more besides, as we are going to see as we go along.

Now, another rabbi: This man is more modern. His name is Kaplan. He has done to the Old Testament for the Jews what the Revised Standard Version and the Amplified Version have done for (let us say) for the Protestant and Catholic world. He has updated it and put it into modern language (in his translation, "The Living Torah"). Of Exodus 12:6, he says "The entire community of Israel shall then slaughter [their sacrifices] in the afternoon."

You can see that that definition agrees with Rabbi Rashi. That is clearly (as we are going to see) an interpretation inserted into the Scriptures in much the same way that the Amplified and Living Bibles do. I want you to hold on to that definition (to that translation) because a little bit later it is going to become very interesting—in fact, rather humorous. We are going to see that that definition is wholly incorrect whenever the Bible is allowed to interpret its own terms.

A quote from Alfred Edersheim. Edersheim was a Jew, a scholarly man, a man who had delved a great deal into the Jewish religion. He converted to this world's Christianity, and then he used his background in Judaism to write quite a number of books regarding Jesus Christ, and His times. In his book entitled, The Temple, Its Ministry and Services, As They Were At The Time Of Christ, p. 222-223, he writes:

Ordinarily it was slain [Now, in this case, the "it" was the evening sacrifice. Not the Passover sacrifice, but the evening sacrifice.] at 2:30 p.m., and offered at about 3:30. But on the eve of the Passover [Here he means Unleavened Bread, but he is calling it by the name the Jews applied to the whole Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. They called the whole thing "the Passover. So, we would say, "On the eve of Unleavened Bread"], as we have seen, it was killed an hour earlier; and if the 14th of Nisan fell on a Friday—or rather from Thursday at eve to Friday at eve—two hours earlier [1:30 p.m.], so as to avoid any needless breach of the Sabbath.

What he is doing, he is showing you and me that his interpretation also is the same as Rashi's and Kaplan's. The Jews (we have to give them credit) are fairly consistent in this. However, there is other information that begins to show that this kind of interpretation was forced on them, because of things found in the Bible (and we will get to that a little bit later). The reason behind it was that they had to find some way to "justify" slaughtering (killing) the Passover sacrifice at the Temple.God gave no command at all for sacrificing the Passover at the Temple. Remember that! It is very clear, in Exodus 12—the Passover was to be slain at the house. That was never changed!

(That is a very interesting history; and it is in the Bible—how it came to be that the Jews began to sacrifice the Passover at the temple, when God did not give any command regarding that. We are going to see that, as we go along.)

Before we leave this, I want to give you Webster's definition of the English word "evening." (We are going to see that it agrees with God's definition.) The English definition of the word evening is "the latter part and close of the day, and early part of night." That is so clear.

A second definition (and it is interesting)—Webster's Ninth Collegiate says this is something common in the south—“the period from sunset, or the evening meal, to bedtime.”

It is even more interesting to me that the root word of our English word "evening" (very ancient origin) means "to reach" or "the extent of." Now you begin to put that into our use of the word "evening." Evening is the extent, or the furthermost part, of the day—the very end of it. That is exactly what "evening" is—the very end of the day. Not one o'clock in the afternoon! It is the end of the day. (I will tell you, sometimes 'logic' just goes right out the window.)

I am going to give you a couple more quotes. This one is from Josephus, a Jew. We have to be very careful in using his books. At this time, I am just going to quote from a couple of them. (He is the author of several books.) I just want you to see that Josephus makes a very interesting distinction that is important to understanding the confusion that was going on at the time that he wrote (which was, roughly, at the tail end—at the "evening" part—of the first century, around 90 AD)

This is from Josephus' book, Wars Of The Jews, Book 6, chapter 9, section 3:

So these high priests, upon the coming of their feast which is called the Passover, when they slay their sacrifices from the ninth hour [That would be 3:00 p.m.] to the eleventh, but so that a company not less than ten belong to every sacrifice (for it is not lawful for them to feast singly by themselves,) . . .

That is as far as I want to go. Remember (in this quote) who did the sacrificing? The priests did the sacrificing, and they did it at mid-afternoon. Remember the original instruction—the head of the house was to do the sacrificing at his house. So, we see here (in the Wars Of The Jews) that Josephus is recording that the Jews were making the sacrifice at the Temple.

From a different book [also by Josephus], Antiquities of the Jews, Book 2, chapter 14, section 6:

But when the fourteenth day was come, and all were ready to depart [Now, he is giving a commentary on Exodus 12 here], they offered the sacrifice, and purified their houses, using bunches of hyssop for that purpose; and when they had [eaten] supped, they burned the remainder of the flesh, as just ready to depart. Whence it is that we do still offer this sacrifice in like manner to this day . . .

Do you get the importance in it? Both observations of the Passover were going on at the same time! Some of the Jews were doing it at the temple. Others, of the Jews, were doing it at their homes—the way God commanded it.

This is going on today, in regard to the Passover. I want you to note that today, in our time, we have the true "Jews" (the church of God) who are keeping God's holy days on the days that God specified. That is, on the fifteenth day of the first month and the twenty-first day of the first month. Next, at Pentecost; and then, the first day of the seventh month, the tenth day of the seventh month, the fifteenth day of the seventh month, and the twenty-second day of the seventh month.

At the same time that this is going on (in the church of God, being observed by the true "Jews"), those who call themselves "Jews" are keeping two days for each one of those holy days. (Except for the Day of Atonement, when they do not want to fast for two days!) The same thing was happening in the days of the apostles, and in the days of Christ—both before and after it. There were those who were "doing it right." There were those who were "doing it wrong." (As reported by a man [Josephus] who was right on the scene at the time.)

Again from Drs. Grabbe and Kuhn, on page 13, in regards to ben ha arbayim:

But exactly what did the term 'between the two evenings' include? We know that later Jews defined it [I am going to emphasize some things] as the period between mid-afternoon and sundown. Is this interpretation a permissible one? One passage certainly gives us good reason to think that the term 'between the two evenings' includes a period before sunset. Exodus 29:38-39, states: 'This is that which you shall offer upon the altar every day on a continual basis: two yearling rams, one in the morning and the second 'between the two evenings.' [JPSA] These are apparently the only passages which give any precise information about 'between the two evenings.' They indicate that the daily offering consists of a morning offering and an offering before sunset when the new day began. Yet, the second offering of the day was offered 'between the two evenings,' showing that the first evening took place before sunset. (emphasis oursx)

I could not help but think, as I was reading that, that these fellows sound like evolutionists trying to establish 'fact' from obscure, uncertain, observations. ("Reason to think..." "Apparently..." "Indicates...")

Now listen to this quote from page 12 of the same book:

'Between the two evenings' is usually taken to mean between sundown and dark, a period of about an hour or so. This may be correct as far as the original Passover instructions were concerned. At least some later Jewish groups interpreted the original instructions this way, including the Karaites and the Samaritans. However, such a narrow definition is possible only where a small number of animals are slain or where all can be slain at the same time, as was the case in the original Passover.

I think that is a remarkable admission, in light of the fact that they have dedicated their entire dissertation to try to disprove that ben ha arbayim means that period of time following sunset. They admit that as it appears in Exodus 12, indeed, it means that period of time right after sunset. Did you see what they were using as the basis of their reasoning? The time factor for sacrificing the animals at the Temple! And so, in order to substantiate a Jewish tradition (that is, sacrificing at the Temple); they are going to try to twist the Bible into that preconceived form. I will tell you—that is not "looking for truth"!

Quoting again from their [Kuhn and Grabbe's] book, page 13:

If there was any other legitimate way to interpret the expression [ben ha arbayim] when consideration of time [required for the Temple sacrifice] did not allow slaughter of the Passover lambs in the twilight period, we have no record of it.

It is beginning to become clear as to why the attempts are being made. They chose to follow a Jewish tradition, and in so doing, they have either ignored or rejected the plain commands that God gave with the original Passover, which has been preserved in His Word. God never once altered those commands given in Exodus 12!

Drs. Grabbe and Kuhn's challenge to any who would dare to question their conclusion will show that their final authority is not the Word of God, but rather human scholars. Again quoting:

Any attempt to make the phrase "between the two evenings" refer to the beginning of the fourteenth is contrary to all ancient scholarship known and goes against modern scholars who have discussed the subject.

Did you notice that they did not say that it was contrary to what the Bible says? It is contrary to "scholarship." There is a way to prove from the Bible what ben ha arbayim means. So we do not have to tremble before the scholarship of men with "Drs." names (before or after). Anybody with a normal education, who is willing to submit to the truth of God, can prove it. It does not take a great deal of scholarship at all.

The apostle Paul ran into something like this; and it is recorded in Galatians 2—when there were attacks being made by what he calls "the circumcision party." They were trying to get everybody in the church to be circumcised. The apostle Paul said to them, "I do not accept what you say unless it also agrees with the Word of God, because God accepts no man's person." We do not have to tremble before these people at all. God's truth is plain! It may be a little bit difficult to dig it out, but once we are confronted with it, it is so plain and clear.

Now, before we get to ben ha arbayim's definition, we have to go to one other word—because this other word (a Hebrew word) works in conjunction with ben ha arbayim. We are going to go to Leviticus 23. This is in regard to the Day of Atonement.

Leviticus 23:26-31 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: "Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. [Now, notice verse 28.] And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. And any person who does any work on that same day, that person will I destroy from among his people. You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings."

Did you notice that? "No manner of work. . ." "Cut off from his people. . ." "I will destroy. . ." No manner of work whatsoever could be done on the Day of Atonement, and death and destruction awaited those who would not keep this as it was commanded. And because of the severe punishment that awaited those who broke this commandment, God wanted to be very sure that people understood (1) when it began and (2) when it ended.

Now, using the reasoning of Rashi, Kaplan, and Edersheim, and undoubtedly millions of Jews, (believe it or not) the time for the keeping the Day of Atonement could have differed by as much as six hours. Would you want to take the chance of being possibly six hours off and be working on the Day of Atonement? No, you do not want to be "off" on that day! You want to hit it "right on the money" when that day comes along. So, God made it very clear when the Day of Atonement (the tenth day of the month) begins and when it ends.

Leviticus 23:32 "It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath."

This word translated "evening" is the Hebrew word ba erev. Everybody who is a converted adult, know that days in the Bible begin and end with sunset. That is what ba erev means—"sunset." The Day of Atonement (1) begins when sunset occurs on the ninth day; and (2) it ends when sunset occurs on the tenth day! The tenth day begins at sunset (at ba erev) of the ninth! That very clearly delineates the beginning and the ending of days in the Bible—from "even to even," from ba erev to ba erev.

Ba erev means sunset. It is very specific. It includes no time before sunset. It is a period that begins whenever the edge of the sun hits the edge of the horizon. If you stood and watched how long ba erev takes, it takes about three to five minutes of time. It is very specific. We can see then, by comparing Leviticus 23:32 with Leviticus 23:27, that the Day of Atonement—the tenth day—begins at sunset on the ninth; and it ends at sunset on the tenth. (That is very similar—in fact, exactly the same—as it is with us in regard to the Sabbath. It begins at sunset on Friday evening. It ends with sunset on Saturday evening.)

God leaves no doubt what ba erev means:

Exodus 12:18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, [ba erev, not ben ha arbayim. When ba erev occurs on the fourteenth, the fifteenth day is beginning.] you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening [ba erev].

So the Days of Unleavened Bread begin when ba erev occurs on the fourteenth; that is, at the end of the fourteenth. Then, the fifteenth begins. We have to eat unleavened bread, and it continues precisely until the time that ba erev occurs on the twenty-first day (and the twenty-second day is beginning). That is so clear! Ba erev means sunset.

Now, back to ben ha arbayim. These two words, ba erev and ben ha arbayim, work together.

Exodus 16:12-13 "I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, 'At twilight [ben ha arbayim] you shall eat meat, and in the morning [You might start writing this word down—because it is going to become important a little bit later— boqer.] you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the LORD your God. So it was that quails came up at evening [ba erev] and covered the camp, and in the morning [boqer] the dew lay all around the camp.

Before, I mentioned to you Rabbi Kaplan. Remember, the other one was in Exodus 12. Now we are in Exodus 16. Rabbi Kaplan's interpretation of Exodus 16:12-13 says: "I have heard the complaints of the Israelites. Speak to them and say, In the afternoon [ben ha arbayim], you will eat meat and in the morning, you will have your fill of bread. . . That evening [ba erev], a flock of quail came and covered the camp."

Again we see that this is clearly the insertion of a traditional Jewish belief into the Scriptures.

Exodus 16 holds the key to the scriptural meaning of ben ha arbayim, "twilight," "between the two evenings." So, I think that it is good that we study it in its context. Exodus 16 gives us the exact time setting.

Exodus 16:1 And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt.

The occurrences in chapter 16 take place thirty days after leaving Egypt. It was one whole month—the fifteenth day of the second month. (They left on the fifteenth day of the first month.) This is also only forty-five days after God gave Moses the instructions for keeping the Passover. I bring this up now, because I want to impress on your minds the short time period between Exodus 12 and Exodus 16. There was not enough time for the language to change. Ben ha arbayim means the same thing in Exodus 12 as it does in Exodus 16. (That is only 45 days later.) No change at all in the usage of the word! So, we are talking here about a period of less than seven weeks.

As we begin to examine the entire chapter, we are going to find out that the fifteenth day of the second month was a weekly Sabbath. Now the way we do this is a matter of simple deduction. This is the chapter in which God gives the instructions regarding the manna. What we see, in chapter 16, is what occurred during a one-week period—beginning with part of a Sabbath (on the fifteenth), continuing through Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then the beginning of the Sabbath (on the twenty-second day of the month). I do not think I need to go into a great deal of detail, because you are aware.

Exodus 16:4 The LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not."

What law? The Sabbath law! And He is going to do it with the manna. He is going to do a couple of things at once here. (1) He is going to bless His people with food; (2) He is going to give them a test; and (3) He is going to reveal to them which day is His Sabbath. Make it abundantly clear (as we will see) at the beginning and at the end of the week. Not just the end of the week. Everybody's real familiar with the one at the end of the week.

Then next day, sure enough, the manna was out there on the ground. So, the people collected—second day, third day. They began to find out that, if they kept the manna over, it bred worms and it stank. Come Friday, they find that they can collect two times as much, and so they do.

Moses instructs them, "This is what we've said. Now, there won't be any out there tomorrow—because tomorrow is the Sabbath day." Sure enough, they went out and looked. No manna! And they got yelled at for going out and looking. God made it very clear—through the giving of the manna—when His Sabbath was. That is a very important point.

The whole purpose of the manna was to feed God's people, to show God's people that He was their Provider, and to keep them in continual memory of the Sabbath day. So, even if they did not have a calendar, every seventh day there was no manna out there, and they knew then that it was a Sabbath. With that in mind, let us go back to verse 6.

Exodus 16:6 Then Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, "At evening [at ba erev, sunset] you shall know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt."

What day are we talking about? The fifteenth, or the twenty-second? It is the fifteenth! The events of the week have not yet unfolded. God has spoken, through Moses, on the fifteenth. And it is very likely that this occurred during a Sabbath message that Moses was giving to the people of Israel while they were in the wilderness.

So then, "at evening" (at ba erev)—do you see that? At evening, at sunset, of the fifteenth day, something was going to happen to let those people know that God had brought them out. Now, what was it? It was not the bread, the manna. That did not come until Sunday morning, the next day. But something was going to happen at sunset that was going to let them know that God was with them, and providing.

Exodus 16:7-8 "And in the morning [boqer, sunrise] you shall see the glory of the LORD, for He hears your complaints against the LORD. But what are we, that you complain against us?" [Here, "the glory of the LORD" is the manna.] And Moses said, "This shall be seen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening [I want you to notice the difference in the words—meat at baerev.], and bread [manna] in the morning [boqer, sunrise].

"Meat" at sunset. "Manna" at sunrise.

Exodus 16:12 "I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, 'At twilight [A different word now. Not "ba erev," but ben ha arbayim—"between the two evenings;" "at dusk."] you shall eat meat. . .

Do you notice the difference? God is differentiating between ba erev and ben ha arbayim.

Exodus 16:12-13 . . . and in the morning [boqer] you shall be filled with bread [the manna]. And you shall know that I am the LORD your God." And so it was that quails came up at evening [ba erev] and covered the camp, and in the morning [boqer] the dew [the manna] lay all around the camp.

This absolutely proves that ben ha arbayim, twilight, follows ba erev.

Here is the order of events. Here are the Israelites—camped, listening to the message that Moses has for them from God. It is the Sabbath day. The reason God is giving this illustration (this living example, this lesson) was to teach them the importance of keeping the Sabbath. He does not want them working on the Sabbath. So, the lesson begins with an example of when the Sabbath ends; and then it ends with an example that they should not be working (because there is not going to be any manna out there).

If God had brought the quail before ba erev (sunset), what would the people have done? They would have run out, begun to gather the quail, kill the quail, clean the quail, roast the quail, and then all of that would have been done on the Sabbath day. So, in order for God to make sure that He gave them the lesson and that they did not work on the Sabbath day, He did not bring the quail until sunset. The [Sabbath] day was over!

And then, during ben ha arbayimtwilight (that period of light between the going down of the sun, ba erev)—they killed the quail, they cleaned the quail, and they began to roast the quail. Indeed, they may very well have begun to have eaten some of the quail during that period of time. Ben ha arbayim follows immediately on the heels of ba erev; and it is the actual beginning of the next day. It begins with "light"—not total darkness.

Is that not the way the creation began? The creation began with light for a short period of time; and then darkness descended upon the creation. There is a beautiful lesson here. Light is going to come with the return of Jesus Christ—which God's Sabbath represents (the coming of Light to mankind).

Ben ha arbayim follows ba erev. It is that period of time between the going down of the sun and complete darkness. How long is ben ha arbayim? Well, it depends upon what time of the year. It begins at the instant that the sun disappears below the horizon and it ends with the "dark" of night.

In winter (a three month period), it may be anywhere from as long as almost an hour to as short as about thirty minutes. In spring and fall, it will be about one hour to one hour and fifteen minutes long. In summer, about one hour and fifteen to one hour and thirty minutes long. Other factors (such as the cloud cover, or the phases of the moon) would also lengthen, or shorten, the period of ben ha arbayim.

At Passover time, we are in the spring. Passover also occurs when the full moon is occurring. So, ben ha arbayim is going to be a fairly long period of time because of the springtime element, and because of the phases of the moon (that phase being at "full"). So, it would probably be at least one hour and fifteen minutes long. They had plenty of time to kill the Passover lamb during that period of time, and even begin to get to roasting it, as well.

The second Passover (and this period of time that we are talking about here in Exodus 16) would be one month later. It would be into that period of time of late April, or early May—in our reckoning. And it would be a good hour and twenty minutes, as well as having a full moon, for these people to gather the quail and then begin to kill them, prepare them, and eat them.

Ben ha arbayim stands revealed as to its meaning by Bible usage. It is that period of time following ba erev (sunset). It is "between the two evenings." It is "twilight." It is "dusk."

In Leviticus 23 that word is translated in the New King James, in the New International Version, and in the New American Standard as "twilight."In the Jewish Publication Society, it is "dusk." In the King James Version and the Revised Standard Version, it is "in the evening." The Revised English Bible says "between dusk and dark." The Moffatt Translation says "between sunset and dark." Moffatt has it exactly right, as does the Revised English Bible.

I think that is about as far as we will go. What we will do next week is that we will summarize the eight steps that it took to complete the Passover, and we will see there some additional things that we have not yet gone into. We will add to the fund of information that will prove to you even further that you were taught correctly when you were taught by Mr. Armstrong that Passover is at the beginning of the fourteenth day. And we will keep adding information on top of information, so that your confidence regarding the original instruction that you have is in the right place.


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