THE TEMPLE - ITS MINISTRY AND SERVICE #12
(We now come to chapters that are interesting, concerning the
Feasts of the Lord; but Edersheim presents a lot of Pharisee
teaching, traditions, and many times, VERY WRONG practices, which
many of them have been carried over into the modern Jewish
religious life. Some even into modern Messianic Judaism, and some
into the very Church of God. I will be commenting as we proceed -
'Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump,
as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed
for us.'-I COR. v.7.
THE cycle of Temple-festivals appropriately opens with 'the
Passover' and 'Feast of Unleavened Bread.' For, properly
speaking, these two are quite distinct, 1 the 'Passover' taking
place on the 14th of Nisan, and the 'Feast of Unleavened Bread'
commencing on the 15th, and lasting for seven days, to the 21st
of the month. 2 But from their close connection they are
generally treated as one, both in the Old and in the New
Testament; 3 and Josephus, on one occasion, even describes it as
'a feast for eight days.' 4
(And that is the truth if we put the passover day with the
unleavened bread days, it all equals 8 days, NOT seven as the
Pharisee Jews came to practice in Christ's day as well as to the
very present day - Keith Hunt)
There are peculiarities about the Passover which mark it as
the most important, and indeed, take it out of the rank of the
other festivals, It was the first of the three feasts on which
all males in Israel were bound to appear before the Lord in the
place which He would choose (the two others being
the Feast of
1 Lev. xxiii. 5,6; Numb. xxviii.16,17; 2 Chron. xxx.15,21;
Ezra vi.19,22; Mark xiv. I.
2 Ex. xii.15.
3 Matt. xxvi.17; Mark xiv.12; Luke xxii.I.
4 "Antiq." ii. I5, I; but comp. iii. 10,5; ix.13, 3.
Weeks and that of Tabernacles 1). All the three great festivals
bore a threefold reference. They pointed, fist, to the season of
the year, or rather to the enjoyment of the fruits of the good
land which the Lord had given to His people in possession, but of
which He claimed for Himself the real ownership. 2 This
reference to nature is expressly stated in regard to the Feast of
Weeks and that of Tabernacles, 3 but, though not less distinct,
it is omitted in connection with the feast of unleavened bread.
On the other hand, great prominence is given to the "historical
bearing" of the Passover, while it is not mentioned in the other
two festivals, although it could not have been wholly wanting.
But the feast of unleavened bread celebrated the one grand
event which underlay the whole history of Israel, and marked
alike their miraculous deliverance from destruction and from
bondage, and the commencement of their existence as a nation.
For in the night of the Passover the children of Israel,
miraculously preserved and set free, for the first time became a
people, and that by the direct interposition of God. The third
bearing of all the festivals, but especially of the Passover, is
typical. Every reader of the New Testament knows how frequent
are such allusions to the Exodus, the Paschal Lamb, the Paschal
Supper, and the feast of unleavened bread. And that this meaning
was intended from the first, not only in reference to the
Passover, but to all the feasts, appears from the whole design of
the Old Testament, and from the exact correspondence between the
types and the
1 Ex. xxiii.14; xxxiv.18-23; Lev. xxiii.¢-22; Deut. xvi.16.
2 Lev. xxv.23; Psa. Ixxxv. 1; Isa. viii.8, xiv.2; Hos. ix.3.
3. Ex. xxiii.14-16; xxxiv.22.
antitypes. Indeed, it is, so to speak, impressed upon the Old
Testament by a law of internal necessity. For when God bound up
the future of all nations in the history of Abraham and his
seed, 1 He made that history prophetic; and each event and every
rite became, as it were, a bud, destined to open in blossom and
ripen into fruit on that tree under the shadow of which all
nations were to be gathered.
SPECIAL NATURE OF THE SABBATH
Thus "nature" - "history," and "grace" combined to give a
special meaning to the festivals, but chiefly to the Passover. It
was the feast of spring; the spring time of nature, when, after
the death of winter, the scattered seeds were born into a new
harvest, and the first ripe sheaf could be presented to the Lord;
the springtime of Israel's history, too, when each year the
people celebrated anew their national birthday; and the
spring-time of grace, their grand national deliverance pointing
forward to the birth of the true Israel, and the Passover
sacrifice to that 'Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the
world.' Accordingly, the month of the Passover, Abib, or, as it
was called in later times, Nisan, 2 was to be unto them `the
beginning of months' - the birth-month of the sacred, and at the
same time the seventh in the civil, year. Here we mark again the
significance of seven as the sacred or covenant number. On the
other hand, the Feast of Tabernacles, which closed the festive
cycle, took place on the 15th of the seventh month of the sacred,
which was also the first in the civil, year. Nor is it less
significant that both the
1 Gen. xii.3.
2 Abib is the month of 'sprouting' or of 'green ears.' Esth. iii.
7; Neh. ii.1.
Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles fell upon the 15th day of
the month; that is, at full moon, or when the month had, so to
speak, attained its full strength.
ORIGIN OF THE NAME
The name of the Passover, in Hebrew "Pasach," and in
Aramaean and Greek Pascha, is derived from a root which means to
'step over,' or to 'overleap,' and thus points bak to the
historical origin of the festival. 1 But the circumstances
in which the people were placed necessarily rendered its first
celebration, in some particulars, different from its later
observance, which, so far as possible, was brought into harmony
with the general Temple practice.
Accordingly, Jewish authorities rightly distinguish between
'the Egyptian' and the 'Permanent Passover.' On its first
institution it was ordained that the head of every house should,
on the 10th of Nisan, select either a lamb or a kid the goats, of
the first year, and without blemish. Later Jewish ordinances,
dating after the return from Babylon, limit it to a lamb; and it
is explained that he four days previous to the slaying of the
lamb referred to the four generations that had passed after the
children of Israel went down into Egypt.
(a Jewish tradition of understanding - no Scripture supports that
idea - Keith Hunt)
KILLING OF THE LAMB
The lamb was to be killed on the eve of the 14th, or rather,
as the phrase is, 'between the two evenings.' 2 According to the
Samaritans, the Karaite Jews, and many modern interpreters, this
means between actual sunset and complete darkness (or, say,
between six and seven P.M.) [but from the contemporary testimony
of Josephus, and from Talmudical authorities, there cannot be a
doubt that, at the time of our Lord, it was regarded as the
1 Ex. xii.
2 Ex. xii.6; Lev. xxiii.5; Numb. ix.3,5.
3 "Jew. Wars," vi.9,3.
interval between the sun's commencing to decline and his actual
disappearance. This allows a sufficient period for the numerous
lambs which had to be killed, and agrees with the traditional
account that on the eve of the Passover the daily evening
sacrifice was offered an hour, or, if fell on a Friday, two
hours, before the usual time.
(The latter was the false teaching of the Pharisees, to
accommodate their false teaching of slaying the lambs in the
Temple, for the Passover, and their just as false teaching that
the evening sacrifice was not done in the evening, but late
afternoon. Many things in the Temple had been altered from the
original given instructions under Moses - Keith Hunt)
HOW ORIGINAL LAWS
In the original institution the blood of the sacrifice was
to be sprinkled with hyssop on the lintel and the two doorposts
of the house, probably as being the most prominent place of
entrance. Then Institution of the whole animal, without breaking
a bone of it, was to be roasted, and eaten by each family - or,
if the number of its members were too small, by two neighbouring
families - along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, to
symbolise the bitterness of their bondage and the haste of their
deliverance, and also to point forward to the manner in which the
true Israel were in all time to have fellowship in the Paschal
Lamb. 1 All who were circumcised were to partake of this meal,
and that arrayed as for a journey; and whatsoever was not
consumed was to be burnt on the spot. These ordinances in regard
to the Passover were afterwards modified during the journey in
the wilderness to the effect, that all males were to appear 'in
the place which the Lord shall choose,' and there alike to
sacrifice and to eat the lamb or kid, bringing at the same time
also another offering with them. 2 Lastly, it was also ordered
that if any man were unclean at the time of the
regular Passover, or in a journey afar off, he should
celebrate it a month later. 3
1 I Cor. v.7,8.
2 Ex. xxxiv.18-20; Deut. xvi.2,16,17.
3 Numb. ix.9-11.
THE MISHNAH ON PASSOVER
"EGYPTIAN" AND "PERMANENT"
The "Mishnah" 1 contains the following, as the distinctions
between the 'Egyptian' and the 'Permanent' Passover:
The Egyptian Passover was selected on the 10th, and the blood was
to be sprinkled with a sprig of hyssop on the lintel and the
two door-posts, and it was to be eaten in haste in the first
night; but the Permanent Passover is observed all the seven
days;' i.e. the use of unleavened cakes was, on its first
observance, enjoined only for that one night, though, from
Israel's haste, it must, for several days, have been the only
available bread; while afterwards its exclusive use was ordered
during the whole week. Similarly, also, the journey of the
children of Israel commenced on the 15th of Nisan, while in
after-times that day was observed as a festival like a Sabbath. 2
To these distinctions the following are also added: 3 In Egypt
the Passover was selected on the 10th, and killed on the 14th,
and they did not, on account of the Passover, incur the penalty
of 'cutting off,' as in later generations; of the Egyptian
Passover it was said, 'Let him and his neighbour next unto his
house take it, while afterwards the Passover-companies might be
indiscriminately chosen; in Egypt it was not ordered to sprinkle
the blood and burn the fat on the altar, as afterwards; at the
first Passover it was said, 'None of you shall go out of the door
of his house until the morning,' which did not apply to later
times; in Egypt it was slain by every one in his own house, while
afterwards it was slain by all Israel in one place; lastly,
formerly where they ate the Passover, there they lodged, but
afterwards they might eat it in one, and lodge in another place.
1 Pes. ix.5.
2 Ex. xii.16; Lev. xxiii.7; Numb. xxviii.18.
3 "Tos. Pes." viii.
(Of course as we clearly read from Exodus 12 and 13 there were
specific regulations for Israel concerning the first Passover,
which would not apply to any Passover afterwards. It is correct
that the Israelites departed from Egypt on the 15th in respect to
leaving Rameses on the 15th. All fully delt with in my many
studies on the Passover found on this Website, under "Festivals/Feasts
of the Lord" section - Keith Hunt)
OF THE FEAST
Scripture records that the Passover was kept the second year
after the Exodus, 1 and then not again till the Israelites
actually reached the promised land; 2
(Such does NOT mean the Passover was NOT observed during the 40
years in the wandering of the wilderness. There was a Tabernacle
and Priesthood, and all other things that made it possible to
observe all of God's Feasts, including the Passover during that 40
years - Keith Hunt)
but, as the Jewish commentators rightly observe, this
intermission was directed by God Himself. 3 After that, public
celebrations of the Passover are only mentioned once during the
reign of Solomon, 4 again under that of Hezekiah, 5 at the time
of Josiah, 6 and once more after the return from Babylon under
Ezra. 7 On the other hand, a most significant allusion to the
typical meaning of the Passover-blood, as securing immunity from
destruction, occurs in the prophecies of Ezekiel, 8 where 'the
man clothed with linen' is directed to 'set a mark upon the
foreheads' of the godly (like the first Passover-mark), so that
they who were to 'slay utterly old and young' might not 'come
near any' of them. The same symbolic reference and command occur
in the Book of Revelation, 9 in regard to those who have been
'sealed as the servants of our God in their foreheads.'
But the inference that the Passover was only celebrated on
the occasions actually mentioned in Scripture seems the less
warranted, that in later times it was so punctiliously and
(Just because you only hear of a certain observance of a weekly
Sabbath, does not mean it was not being observed; hence the same
applies to the Feasts of the Lord. Obviously the weekly Sabbath
and Feasts of God were being observed under the reign of David
and Solomon, so also then under Joshua. Whenever a righteous king
reigned in Israel it automatically meant the laws of God were
being followed, which would mean the Passover and all Feasts were
being observed, even if only hearing about one in specific
recorded words. Common sense would declare such as logic - Keith
We can form a sufficient accurate idea of all the
circumstances attending it at time of our Lord. On the 14th of
Nisan every Israelite who was physically able, not in a state of
Levitical uncleanness, nor further distant from the city than
fifteen miles, was to appear in Jeru-
1 Numb. ix.1-5.
2 Josh. v.10.
3 Ex. xii.25; xiii.5.
4 2 Chron. viii.13.
5 2 Chron. xxx.15.
6 2 Kings xxiii.21.
7 Ezra vi.19.
8 Ezek. ix.4-6.
9 Rev. vii.2,3; ix.4.
salem. Though women were not legally obliged to go up, we know
from Scripture, 1 and from the rules laid down by Jewish
authorities, 2 that such was the common practice. Indeed, it was
a joyous time for all Israel. From all parts of the land and from
foreign countries the festive pilgrims had come up in bands,
singing their pilgrim psalm's, and bringing with them burnt-and
peace-offerings, according as the Lord had blessed them; for none
might appear empty before Him. 3 How large the number of
worshippers was, may be gathered from Josephus, who records
that, when Cestius requested the high-priest to make a census, in
order to convince Nero of the importance of Jerusalem and of the
Jewish nation, the number of lambs slain was found to be 256,500
which, at the lowest computation of ten persons to every
sacrificial lamb, would give a population of 2,565,000, or, as
Josephus himself puts it, 2,700,200 persons, while on an earlier
occasion (A.D.65) he computes the number present at not fewer
than three millions. 4 Of course, many of these pilgrims must
have camped outside the city walls. 5 Those who lodged within
the walls were gratuitously accommodated, and in return left to
their hosts the skins of the Passover lambs and the vessels which
they had used in their sacred services. In such festive 'company'
the parents of Jesus went to, and returned
1 i Sam. i.3-7; Luke ii.41,42.
2 Jos. "Wars," vi- 9-3; and "Mishnah Pes." ix. 4, for ex.
3 Ex. xxiii.15; Deut. xvi.16,17.
4 "Jew. Wars," vi. 9, 3; ii. 14, 3. These computations, being
derived from official documents, can scarcely have been much
exaggerated. Indeed, Josephus expressly guards himself against
5 It is deeply interesting that the Talmud (Pes. 53) specially
mentions Bethphage and Bethany as celebrated for their
hospitality towards the festive pilgrims.
from this feast 'every year,' taking their 'holy child' with
them, after He had attained the age of twelve - strictly in
accordance with Rabbinical law (Yoma, 82 a) - when He remained
behind, 'sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them
and asking them questions.' 1 We know that the Lord Himself
afterwards attended the Paschal feast, and that on the last
occasion He was hospitably entertained in Jerusalem, apparently
by a disciple, 2 although He seems to have intended spending the
night outside the city walls. 3
PREPARATIONS FOR THE
But the preparations for the Passover had begun long before
the 14th of Nisan. Already a month previously (on the 15th of
Adar), bridges and roads had been repaired for the use of the
pilgrims. That was also the time for administering the testing
draught to wamen suspected of adultery, for burning the red
heifer, and for boring the ears of those who wished to remain
in servitude - in short, for making all kinds of preliminary
arrangements before the festive season began. One of these is
specially interesting as recalling the words of the Saviour.
In general, cemeteries were outside the cities; but any dead body
found in the field was (according to an ordinance which tradition
traces up to Joshua) to be buried on the spot where it had been
discovered. Now, as the festive pilgrims might have contracted
'uncleanness' by unwitting contact with such graves, it was
ordered that all 'sepulchres' should be 'whitened' a month
1 Luke ii.41-49.
2 Matt. xxvi.18; Mark xiv.12-16; Luke xxii.7-13.
3 Matt, xxvi.30,36; Mark xiv.26,32; Luke xxii.39; John
before the Passover. It was, therefore, evidently in reference to
what He actually saw going on around Him at the time He spoke,
that Jesus compared the Pharisees 'unto whited sepulchres, which
indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead
men's bones, and of all uncleanness.' 1 Then, two weeks before
Pesach, and at the corresponding time before the other two
great festivals, the flocks and herds were to be tithed, and also
the Temple treasury-chests publicly opened and emptied. Lastly,
we know that 'many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before
the Passover to purify themselves.' 2 It is this practice which
finds its spiritual application in regard to the better Passover,
when, in the words of St.Paul, 3 'whosoever shall eat this
bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be
guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man
examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of
The modern synagogue designates the Sabbath before the
Passover as 'the Great Sabbath,' and prescribes particular
prayers and special instruction with a view to the coming
festival. For, according to Jewish tradition, at the original
institution of the Passover, 4 the 10th of Nisan, on which the
the sacrifice was to be selected, had fallen on a Sabbath. But
there is no evidence that either the name or the observance of
this 'Great Sabbath' had been in use at the time of our Lord,
although it was enjoined to teach the people in the various
synagogues about the Passover during the month which preceded the
festival. There is also a
1 Matt. xxiii.27.
2 John xi.55.
3 1 Cur. xi.27,28.
4 Ex. xii.3.
To be continued