Some figure PASSOVER should be taken on the 15th, instead of the 14th Abib -- first month of the sacred calendar. And now comes the idea that the seven days of unleavened bread begin the 14th, instead of the 15th!
This idea has arisen from an ignorance of the meaning of the word "even" and "evening," and of the inspired original Hebrew for these words.
In Exodus 12:6, "And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation shall kill it in the evening." The Hebrew word for "evening" is ereb, pronounced "eh'-reb," derived from the Hebrew word for "arab" (aw-rab'), defined "dusk: and day, even (-ing, tide), night." Or, arab meaning "to grow dusky, at sundown; or to be darkened." It is a DUAL word. Literally there are TWO evenings combined in the word, and it may designate either, depending upon the way it is used. One evening is the late afternoon, before sunset -- that is, in God's reckoning, just prior to and leading to, the END of a day. The word is often used in the Old Testament to designate the CLOSE of a day at sunset. The other evening is the early night, after dark. In ancient times, the Hebrews, according to the technical information found in the commentaries, understood that this "evening" began when three stars became visible to the eye. Now there is a short period in BETWEEN these two "evenings" AFTER the sun has set and a new day actually began, which we call dusk, or twilight -- the short time between sunset and dark. This short dusk period always occurs in the very BEGINNING of a day.
In the New Testament, the Greek word is opsios. It is more clearly defined: "late afternoon, or nightfall." It is derived from opse, defined: "late in the day; or, by extension, after the close of a day." This is the word used in Matthew 28:1, "In the end of the Sabbath." Here opse is translated "in the end of," in the A.V., and in the American Revised as "Late on the Sabbath."
NOW -- here is the important point for us to understand: In Exodus 12:6, quoted above, the Hebrew word ereb is combined with the Hebrew preposition meaning "BETWEEN." The literal inspired Hebrew did not say "kill it AT ereb," but "kill it BETWEEN ereb." Or, as you will find in the MARGINAL REFERENCE in your Bible, "BETWEEN the two evenings." The Jewish translation into the English language renders it "at DUSK." Moffatt translates it "between sunset and dark." The technical expositions of the "higher critics" shows this is the correct meaning of the inspired original Hebrew. The lamb was to be killed AFTER the sunset, and before dark -- AFTER the first evening (late afternoon) had ended, AFTER a new day had begun, and BEFORE the second evening (early night) had begun. It was killed in the VERY BEGINNING MINUTES of the 14th day. Otherwise, if, as some believe, the lamb was killed during the late afternoon near the END of the 14th, then eaten after sunset on the 15th, then the OBSERVANCE of PASSOVER as an ordinance was the 15th, but Exodus 12, and Leviticus 23:5 and Numbers 28:16 all say the PASSOVER, as an ordinance, was IN the 14th, not after it.
Now notice Leviticus 23:5-8, "IN the 14th day of the first month at even (margin, "between the two evenings" or dusk) is the Lord's PASSOVER. And ON the 15th day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: SEVEN DAYS ye must eat unleavened bread."
NOTICE carefully! The PASSOVER and the FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD are two different, separate ordinances. The one ordinance, the PASSOVER, is IN the 14th day, at dusk, the very beginning of the day. The FEAST, lasting SEVEN DAYS, does not begin until 24 hours later, ON the 15th. The seven days of unleavened bread do not begin on the 14th. They do not begin until the 15th. The two are SEPARATE ORDINANCES, commencing on different dates!
Notice what Hebrew scholars say:
ADAM CLARK Commentary: "Ex. 12:15 -- seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread. This has been considered as a distinct ordinance, and not essentially connected with the Passover. The Passover was to be observed on the 14th day of the first month; the Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the 15th and lasted seven days, the first and last of which were holy convocations."
CHAS. GORE, "A New Commentary on Holy Scriptures:" "Ex. 12:14-20: This Festival, originally intended to celebrate the beginning of harvest, was distinct from the Passover, though it followed it immediately."
The ONE VOLUME COMMENTARY: "I Cor. 5:7-8: (keep festival' -- i.e., the festival of unleavened bread which followed the Passover.)"
WESTMINSTER COMMENTARIES: "Ex. 12:14 -- this day,' i.e., the first of the seven days' festival. The festival was quite distinct from the Passover, on which mazzath was eaten, though it immediately followed it. This is clearly shown by Lev. 23:5-6."
II Chronicles 35:17 shows the seven days of unleavened bread to be a festival SEPARATE from, and in addition to, the Passover: "And the children of Israel . . . kept the passover at that time, and the feast of unleavened bread seven days." Ezra kept the PASSOVER on the 14th. He did not kill it on the afternoon of 14th and keep the SERVICE on beginning of 15th -- but KEPT THE SERVICE on the 14th -- see Ezra 6:19. And then, AFTER THAT WAS OVER, they "kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy," verse 22. The "feast of unleavened bread" are the days when NO LEAVEN is to be found in our houses. There are SEVEN of them, not eight. Those seven days constitute a Festival SEPARATE and in addition to, and following, beginning a day AFTER the PASSOVER. Passover does not last a whole DAY. Passover is "BETWEEN THE TWO EVENINGS" -- at dusk, the very BEGINNING of the 14th. When the next morning comes, it is still the 14th all day, but it is no longer Passover -- because the Passover was held the evening before, and is all over by morning. The DAY of the 14th is "the PREPARATION" -- preparation FOR the FEAST which is to be eaten after sunset, 24 hours AFTER Passover!
Numbers 28:16-17 is almost word for word the same as Leviticus 23:5-6. It, too, proves Passover and the seven day Feast are two separate ordinances.
Now let's begin with Exodus 12:14-19. Verse 18 is the disputed one. Verse 14: "This day" -- which day? It is a "memorial," to be kept "a FEAST." This, then, as all commentaries quoted show, is the 15th of the month. The Feast is for SEVEN DAYS.
Verse 15: "Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread." Notice,we are to eat unleavened bread only SEVEN, not eight days. The question, then, is do we put leaven out of homes on the 13th and actually STOP eating it from the beginning of the 14th, or do we put it out on the PREPARATION day which is the 14th, and stop eating it BEGINNING the 15th? When do we put leaven away? The very next words TELL US PLAINLY -- listen! "even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses." The leaven is not to be OUT of our houses until the FIRST of these seven days. Now is this the 14th?
Verse 16: "And in the first day there shall be an HOLY CONVOCATION, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation." The FIRST of these seven days is a SABBATH day. Notice! This SETTLES IT! The leaven is not to be out of our houses UNTIL the FIRST DAY of these seven -- that is the day leaven is to be out of our houses, and THAT is also the annual SABBATH, and we know THAT is the 15th, and not the 14th! There are SEVEN days in which leaven is to be OUT. The first of these is a Sabbath. That is the 15th. The SEVENTH of these is a Sabbath -- the 21st of the month. HOW PLAIN!
Verse 17: "THIS DAY" -- the annual Sabbath -- the day leaven is to be OUT -- is the day Israel went out of Egypt -- the 15th, the morrow after the Passover.
Verse 18: In the first month, on the 14th day of the month AT EVEN, ye shall eat unleavened bread, UNTIL the one and twentieth day of the month AT EVEN." Here is the text which has confused some. Now here it does NOT say "BETWEEN ereb" -- the original Hebrew is "AT ereb." Now this same word is used all through the Old and New Testaments (Greek equivalent in New), and in SOME places it means LATE AFTERNOON, in some it means END OF DAY, and in others it means EARLY NIGHT. But EVERYWHERE the term is used with "UNTIL" -- that is "UNTIL the ereb" it means until the end of the LATE AFTERNOON. If they touched the carcass of an unclean animal they were unclean "UNTIL ereb" -- exactly as unleavened bread is to be eaten "UNTIL ereb" or until the end of the LATE AFTERNOON (first of the two evenings) on the 21st Abib. See Leviticus 11:24, 25, 27, 28, 31, 32, 39, 40; and 15:5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 16 -- ALL SAME HEBREW! Look at Judges 19:9 -- "day draweth toward evening" or "toward ereb" -- late afternoon toward END of that first of the two evenings, which ended the day. Now notice Leviticus 23:32. HERE IS THE TEXT WHICH TELLS EVERY SABBATH KEEPER WHEN TO START KEEPING THE SABBATH! "In the 9th day of the month AT EVEN, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your SABBATH." Now this is the day of Atonement, and we
know it is celebrated the TENTH day of the seventh month, not the ninth. Yet it BEGINS the ninth day AT EVEN, and lasts UNTIL the tenth day AT EVEN. Here is exactly the same expression, the same original Hebrew! Here the ninth day AT EVEN means the CLOSE of the ninth day AT SUNSET, as that day ENDS. Notice Exodus 12:18, "On the 14th day of the month AT EVEN . . . UNTIL the one and 20th day AT EVEN." The meaning is identically THE SAME. From the END of the 14th day at sunset, until the END of the 21st day AT SUNSET. The leaven, then, is not to be put out of our homes until the afternoon of the 14th, just before the HOLYDAY begins at sunset.
In the New Testament the same expression is used in Luke 24:29, "it is TOWARD EVENING, and the day is far spent," and again John 20:19, "The same day AT EVENING, being the first day of the week." In both cases, it is LATE AFTERNOON, near END of the day, same as Exodus 12:18.