Keith Hunt - Passover Lamb Temple Sacrifice, When? Restitution of All Things


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Passover Lamb

Temple Sacrifice,
When?

                              By

                         Keith Hunt

     Can we know the background as to when the Israelites, and
specifically the people of Judah, started to practice a Temple
killing of the Passover lambs?  To some extent we can possibly
see from a few passages of Scripture the circumstances that led
to the theology practice and belief of the Pharisee sect, in
formulating a Temple Passover lamb killing on the day light
portion of the 14th of Nisan or Abib. It was the Pharisee sect of
Juadism that taught and practiced such a custom. The Pharisee
sect had its start probably during the Babylonian captivity
of Judah, from the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. when the small
group synagogues were formed among the scattered Jewish people
while in exile in Babylon territory, and lay leaders within
these small groups were needed to keep alive some form of the
religion of the true God. 
     The Pharisee sect became the popular religious sect of the
common people after the Jews returned to re-build Jerusalem and
the Temple, when the 70 years captivity that God had ordained,
had come to an end.  It was only this Pharisee sect that taught
and practiced a 14th afternoon killing of the Passover lambs in
the Temple at Jerusalem by the Priesthood. And then going into
the evening of the 15th day to eat the Passover meal.

     Through all the history of Israel we find no account of a
Passover lamb killing in the Temple UNTIL way down to about 120
years before Judah was take captive by the Babylonian armies. It
was just before the final deportation and captivity of the
Northern House of Israel. We find the account in 2 Chronicles
chapter 30.

     A great religious revival back to the true worship of the
true God of Israel was being led by king Hezekiah. He sent
letters to all Israel, including the great tribes of Ephraim and
Manasseh, that they should come and observe the Passover at the
house of God in Jerusalem. To the king this was a wonderful way
to return back to the worship of the Lord, from the idolatry
they had been in for decades.

     When the king decided to invite the people of Israel to
Jerusalem to observe the Passover feast, it was too late in the
year to keep it in the first month as given in the law of Moses,
but he did see that for some special circumstances God allowed
the Passover to be observed on the 14th day of the second month
of the year. This was also written in the law of Moses. Hence the
king and his counsellors, together with the princes and the
people at Jerusalem, would observe the Passover in the second
month.  Besides the people from various parts of Israel not
having enough travelling time to get to Jerusalem for the 14th of
the first month, the priests also could not sanctify themselves
sufficiently (as they had to do according to the various physical
laws outlined by the word of God in the books of Moses) in time
to keep the 14th of the first month.

     All of this is found in the first verses of 2 Chronicles 30.

     Hezekiah sent out the letters to all Israel, calling for a
national repentance and a turning away from false worship of
false gods to true worship of the true God. Most of Israel just
laughed at Hezekiah's pleading, yet some in Israel did head and
desired to reform themselves (verses 6-11).
     There was much more sincere religious revival in the hearts
of those in the land of Judah (verse 12). They were willing to do
the commandment of the king and the princes. 

     As we further read, we come to see that this Passover
observance in many ways was NOT performed as originally written
in the laws of Moses (verse 18) for this was a unique time and
situation for the people of Israel and Judah, as the whole
context clearly brings out.

     Verse 15 tells us they killed the Passover lambs on the 14th
day.  Some argue that because the Hebrew phrase "between the two
evenings" is not used in this chapter, they then must have killed
the lambs during the day-light hours of the 14th. This then being
the first time recorded for us that such was ever done. While it
is indeed possible that this may have been the case, and we are
then reading an account recording for us the very first time the
Passover lambs were killed in the Temple by the Priests and
Levites during the day-light hours of the 14th day, it is in my
view, not a conclusive proof that such was the case. There are
other passages in the Bible talking about the Passover being on
the 14th day, which also do not use the phrase "between the two
evenings" but merely are stating a fact that the 14th day of the
first or second month (for unusual situations) was Passover day.
It is other clear verses that prove the killing of the Passover
lambs was to be at the beginning of the 14th, as I have brought
forth in other studies on this subject.
     
     The argument is also put forth that the evening sacrifice
and the killing of the Passover lambs could not take place within
the same evening, the beginning of the 14th. This I see is not
impossible for both to have been performed in the evening of the
14th. The Priests would have been doing the evening sacrifices,
or some of them, for it would not have taken all the Priests
to perform that ritual service.  But we are specifically told
that it was the Levities (another large group of Temple workers
apart from the Priests) that had the CHARGE of KILLING the
Passover lambs for every one that was not clean (verse 17).
     Did the Priests first perform the evening sacrifice and then
afterwards have the Levites kill some of the Passover lambs for
those unclean?  Maybe. We are not told the specifics. It may
have been a long evening for the Temple workers and some of the
people. Remember this was an unusual Passover and religious
revival at the same time. It may well have gone into the late
night (close to morning) before the people had to "leave nothing
of it remaining until the morning, but that which remains of it
until the morning you shall burn with fire" (Ex.12:10).


     Many were clean, and would have killed their own Passover
lambs in the original and long established household or domestic
Passover lamb killings, as detailed in Exodus chapter 12.
The Levites were only charged to kill Passover lambs for people
that were in some way "not clean" according to the laws of Moses.

     So under that situation, and reading no more into the
account than is stated, I see that it would be indeed quite
possible for all this "evening sacrifice" and Levite Passover
lamb killings for just some of the people, to have all been
performed during the evening and night of the beginning of the
14th day of the second month. This account does not of itself
prove a first time recorded instance of an afternoon Passover
lamb killing, as later taught and practiced by the Pharisee sect
of Judaism. Yet, I will leave it open that this could have been
the case, I just do not see enough evidence in this chapter to
nail it down as absolute proof this was the fact.

     Now, what IS taught here is that under this very distinct
situation in the history of Israel and Judah, we have people
gathering together at Jerusalem, and in specific, to the Temple
in Jerusalem, whereby some still being in a "not clean" condition
(at least they did not feel in a clean condition for whatever
reasons to kill the Passover lamb)  were willing to have the
Levites of the Temple service, kill their Passover lamb.
     King Hezekiah and his counsellors, the Priests and the
Levites, all agreed that this could be done for the people UNDER
THAT specific circumstance of that day and time.

     It is clearly stated in verse 18 that some things done in
eating that Passover was NOT according to the laws of Moses. But
Hezekiah had inquired of the Lord concerning it all, and the
Lord had given His approval for some things to be done
differently for THAT Passover than was written in the law of the
Lord.
     God, at times, is willing to vary the letter of the law,
when the spirit of the law is in the hearts of the people.

     This passage cannot conclusively prove that this was a first
time 14th day-light killing of the Passover lambs, the limited
killings for the "not clean" people by the Levites could well
have taken place in the evening of the beginning of the 14th, as
was the instruction of the Lord from the first Passover of Exodus
12. 

     What this passage does record is a first recording of some
Passover lambs being killed by Temple workers at the Temple in
Jerusalem, sometime on the 14th day of the second month.

     It may well have been used by the yet to arise Pharisee sect
to justify their practice of a 14th afternoon killing of Passover
lambs in the Temple by the Priesthood, a tradition and practice
that became to them akin to a written law of God, but which in
reality has no written law of God to give it support.
     What God allows to some degree for ONE specific situation as
this one under the religious revival by Hezekiah, does not
nullify or replace the bottom line ground commandments of how to
observe the Passover for the Old Covenant on a normal every year
cycle, under normal religious life within the written laws of the

Lord. 
     Any people who take "exceptions to the rule" as God allows
from time to time, and makes them the rule, has cast aside the
basic laws of God, to establish traditions of their own in
place of the commandments of God. This the Pharisee sect of later
times were profuse at doing, and so the words of Christ in Mark
7:7
     
     What was allowed here by God in this specific Passover was
allowed under a religious revival, and those in charge inquired
of the Lord if He would allow it. The differences here from
the written laws of God concerning Passover observance was
allowed by the Lord for THAT one time situation. It was never
intended by the Lord to surpass and replace, on a yearly
practice, His already written laws of Passover and Feast of
Unleavened Bread observance.  You will notice that the whole
assembly took counsel to observe another 7 days of UB after the
original 7 days (verse 23). God allowed this, but never intended
that His law would now, from that time forward, mean there would
be 14 days of UB feast. Not even the Pharisee Jews practice such
a thing as a 14 day feast of UB.
     Actually to get specific, as in the written laws of God
given under Moses, the Lord only allowed for a keeping of a
SECOND Passover in the second month, if not being able to observe
it in the first month for some situation beyond your control. He
never allowed for a second UB feast in the second month. If you
missed that feast, you just had to wait until the following year
to observe it. The same actually for all the other Feasts of God,
only the Passover could you have a second chance to observe in
the same year.

     So, there are a number of things about this Passover and
Feast of UB in the days of revival under Hezekiah, that are
different, unusual, and only for that one time, that God allowed,
for that one time only situation.

                      JOSIAH'S PASSOVER    

     After the death of Hezekiah, the people of Judah once more
fell into pagan idolatry. It was this way when young king Josiah
took the throne being at the very tender age of 8 years old
(2 Chronicles 34:1).
     In the 12th year of his reign (making him 20 years old)
Josiah began to purge Judah and Jerusalem (even into some of the
land of Israel) from the false pagan worship places the people
had built to worship the many false gods of the nations around
them (verses 3-7). It took him another 6 years before the land
was fully cleansed from false god influence (verse 8).

     The king wanted the House of God restored, cleaned and
polished up so to speak. In doing that work they found the book
of the law as given by God through Moses. 
     Word was brought to the king that God intended to punish
Judah for all their backsliding and sins, but because Josiah's
heart was like that of his famous father king David, right and
correct towards the Lord, all the curses and punishment to befall
Judah would not happen in king Josiah's life time (verses 14-28).

     The king went to up into the House of the Lord in complete
humility. He, with his example and influence brought about a
mighty repentance in the land of Judah, and those left in

Israel. He took away all the abominations that the Lord hated,
and he and all the people served God all the days of his life
(verses 29-33).

     Now, we come to chapter 35. Here it is recorded that Josiah
kept "A Passover, unto the Lord" (verse 1).
     It was a ONE TIME Passover celebration, not something done
year after year. The context with all that is written concerning
THAT Passover should make it clear that it was just a one
time event. Note verse 18. No Passover from the days of Samuel
had been observed like that undertaken by Josiah. It was even
greater than the Passover we have looked at above under the
reign of king Hezekiah.

     This section of Scripture is a little hard to follow because
of its details with specific numbers of animals given by the king
and others for sacrifice in this Passover feast celebration.
The number of animals sacrificed in total, would seem to indicate
that we are looking at a sacrificing that took place over not
only the Passover day but the 7 days of the feast of Unleavened
Bread (see verses 16, 17).
     
     To be sure, the amount of sacrificing for the Passover
sacrifice itself (from the flock, lambs and kids (verse 7), as
well as other sacrifices according to the laws of Moses, was so
great that this is one of the reasons it is written that no
Passover was like it since the days of Samuel.
     One thing is plain, the killing of all these sacrifices
(Passover lambs and other sacrifices) WAS PERFORMED by the
Priests and the Levites WITHIN the House or Temple of God.
     We are told in verse one that the Passover was killed on the
14th day of the first month. The context shows this Passover in
many ways was different again from the Passover conducted by king
Hezekiah. The sacrificing in every way was much greater. It was
ALL done by the Priesthood and the Levites in the Temple. Did
they start in the evening of the 14th, the beginning of the 14th
day?  Was it all completed for the Passover sacrificing in that
evening and night of the 14th?  Maybe it was possible if they
decided to continue on into the late night, but making sure that
nothing remained until the morning (as is written in Exodus 12).
Then again, this was an unusual and different Passover, one that
had never been the like since the days of Samuel. And the king's
commands entered the picture (verse 16).

     It is possible indeed that within the context of all this
description of this most great and unusual Passover, that the
king's command in having all these sacrifices done by the workers
in the Temple, left no choice but to continue sacrificing not
only on the evening of the 14th, but in the morning and in the
afternoon of the 14th as well.
     I see no difficulty in imagining that that would have been
the case. I am open to believe that in this particular situation
that most of the entire 24 hours in the 14th day was devoted to
sacrificing in the Temple for the Passover lambs and the other
sacrifices prescribed under the laws of Moses.
     
     This Passover was an "exception to the rule" in no uncertain
way. So much so was it an exception to the rule that it is

clearly told us that no Passover was ever like it from the days
of Samuel, and that no king of Israel had ever kept such a
Passover as that commanded by the king Josiah.

     Obviously, we are to take from this whole teaching and
written record that once more God allowed and gave His consent to
the king, to observe such a Passover as outlined in this 35th
chapter of 2 Chronicles.
     Yet as I have stated above, what is allowed by God under a
specific situation like a nation coming to collective repentance,
and showing forth that repentance and rededication to the true
ways of the Lord, at a most opportune time such as the Passover
and days of Unleavened Bread, does NOT mean God is re-vamping His
normal laws of observing the Passover, as written in His
law under the Old Covenant.
     To be sure, there is no written record in the Word of God or
in Jewish written records of history that show Josiah's great and
unusual Passover became the accepted norm of practice each year,
from that time forward. In fact the context here of chapter 35
would prove just the opposite. This was a one time only
observance of a Passover that was so different in many
respects from what God originally commanded and intended in
Passover observance, that it is stated to have been such. And if
sacrificing continued through nearly all the hours of the 14th,
then such a special, unusual, and great Passover as this one,
could certainly include an all day performing of sacrifices, be
it Passover lambs and other types of sacrifices.

     Once more we need to understand as the writer of Chronicles
gives us in no uncertain manner, this was not a normal Passover
celebration, and many things were done that were exceptions to
the basic rules of the Lord for Passover observance, but which
for that time and situation of a nation coming to full
repentance, God allowed and accepted.

                     PASSOVER UNDER EZRA

     The Lord brought about His word. Judah was punished for
their sins with a 70 year captivity in the land of Babylon.
     Then under Ezra and Nehemiah the Jews were restored to their
homeland and Jerusalem and the Temple were rebuilt.
     The time of the finishing of the rebuilding and dedicating
of the Temple is given to us in Ezra chapter 6 and verses 15-18.
     It was once more a very special time. The circumstances and
historical setting of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah clearly show
this to be the case. We are told in Ezra 6:19 that the children
of Israel kept the Passover on the 14th day of the first month.
Once more the context here does NOT prove this was a killing of
the Passover lambs on the afternoon of the 14th. 
     What is clear is that it is written that the Priests and the
Levites killed the Passover lambs for the children of the
captivity that had returned to Jerusalem and for themselves.
Other parts of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell us how many
had returned from Babylon to Jerusalem, and it was not a great
number at all, only a little more than 40,000. Following the law
of Exodus 12:4 concerning the number of people for each lamb,
there would not have been that many lambs to have been slain by

the Priests and Levites for this Passover observance under Ezra.
The killing of the lambs could have all been done within the
evening and early night of the beginning of the 14th, especially
if they were going to make this an all night Passover and making
sure nothing was left until the morning, as given in Exodus 12.
     
     It was a unique time and a special Passover for the children
of Judah under Ezra. Once more the main thing told us for our
observation is that the killing of the Passover lambs was done by
the Priests and Levites. Such a statement is telling us that such
a killing of the Passover lambs was not the norm, but a specific
exception to the normal rule of Passover observance.  The normal
rule and laws of God for Passover observance under the Old
Covenant I have presented in other in-depth studies on this
subject.

                   HERE COME THE PHARISEES

     It was after the days of Ezra that the Pharisee sect really
began to gain strength and popularity among the common people.
They became the religious denomination of the local towns and
villages. They were the sect that ran the local town synagogues.
The Sadducee religious sect were the Priests of the Temple. Both
had their religious theology views and teachings. And on some
theology issues they disagreed with each other in no uncertain
ways.
     Such was the case with WHEN the Passover lambs should be
slain. The Sadducees said that the phrase "between the two
evenings" of Exodus 12 and elsewhere, meant sunset or between
sunset and dark, what we call "dusk" or "twilight."  The
Pharisees said it meant from 12 noon to sunset.
     The Pharisees were also very ritualistic. Some where in
Jewish history after the days of Ezra and the return of the Jews
form Babylon to Jerusalem (we have no written record of when
exactly it all formulated) the Pharisees' theology on Passover
observance was formed and put into practice. Together with their
teaching of the meaning of the phrase "between the two evenings"
and their ritualistic fanaticism they formulated that the
Passover lambs should be slain in the Temple by the Priesthood
and Levites on the afternoon of the 14th day of the first month,
from about 1 p.m. to sunset. Many have mistakenly thought they
started at 3 p.m. but on Passover day they moved up the evening
sacrifice to noon so they could have more time to kill Passover
lambs, starting about 1 p.m. 

     They may have seen the few examples, the few exceptions to
the norm, that we have studied above, and with their false
understanding (and I have before in other studies clearly
proven from the Bible, the Pharisees were incorrect on their
understanding of what "between the two evenings" meant, while in
fact the Sadducees had understood it correctly. Sometimes one or
the other understood a truth while the other did not) of what the
phrase "between the two evenings" meant, they had formulated the
idea that the Passover had always been killed by the Priesthood
in the Tabernacle or in later times in the Temple, on the
afternoon of the 14th day, then eaten that evening, on into the
15th Sabbath day of the feast of Unleavened Bread. Hence in their

teaching and practice the two festivals merged into one, as it is
still practiced to this very day by most of Judaism.

     Whenever it all came about in past history, by the time of
Christ, that theology teaching and practice of the Pharisee
observance of the Passover was firmly established. They had
gained so much popular support by the common people that they had
enough power to force the Sadducean Priests of the Temple to
comply with all their Temple ritualistic beliefs and wishes
in what they wanted done in the Temple, on the days they wanted
it done.

     Did Jesus follow and comply with the teachings and practices
of the Pharisees when they were NOT according to the Word of the
Lord?  NOT FOR ONE SECOND!!
     Jesus' only foundation that He stood on was the foundation
of the truth of God's Word (John 17:17). Whatever others taught,
individually or as an organization, if it did not line up with
the truth of the word of God, He cast away as chaff in the wind.
It made no difference who was teaching or saying it, if it was
incorrect it was the leaven of sin and deception.
     Notice what Jesus said about such doctrinal errors of the
two famous Jewish sects of His day, the Sadducees and the
Pharisees. It is found in Matthew 16 and verses 6 to 12. Jesus
tells His disciples to BEWARE of the LEAVEN of the Pharisees and
the Sadducees. At first the disciples did not get the picture,
did not understand what Jesus was getting at. Then they did
finally see the light of what Jesus was teaching them.
     "Then understood they how that He bade them not beware of
the leaven of bread, but of the DOCTRINE of the Pharisees and of
the Sadducees" (verse 12).
     Not everything taught by these two religious sects were in
error. No religious sect is ever in full error on everything they
teach, it is a mixture of truth and error, otherwise they would
gain no following in matters of people wanting to serve God.
Jesus was here telling His disciples that the errors and false
doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees were so large, so many,
so deceptive in the overall of "religion" towards God that they
had better be VERY CAREFUL with the doctrines proclaimed by these
two prominent Jewish sects.
     At another time Jesus laid it on the line in no uncertain
way with the Scribes and the Pharisees. We find Jesus' clear and
cutting words recorded for us in Mark 7: 6- 9.

     "He answered and said to them, Well has Isaiah prophesied of
you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with
their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain
do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of
men. For laying aside the commandments of God, you hold the
traditions of me......Full well you reject the commandments
of God, that you may keep your own traditions."

     The truth of God on this Passover subject can be understood,
the truth of it all is in the pages of the Bible. But you must
put Scripture with Scripture, search the Scriptures, let the
Scriptures interpret themselves. If you do all that, you can know
the truth as opposed to the traditions of men.
                 ..........................
Written April 2001
 

 
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Other Articles of Interest:
  NT Proof the Passover lambs were
being slain at the Beginning of the 14th
Passover Day? Passover, Goshen, and Rameses?

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