“Not every prophetic writing is made clear in its own book.” 2 Peter 1:20
We love our Jewish People. We have looked to Yehudah for guidance in regard to how to keep Torah, how to fulfill the mitzvot [commands] of the Torah according to the practice in the time of Messiah, and approved of by Messiah by His participation. There are just some things we would not know ‘how’ to do without our Jewish People. But, we must bear in mind that most of our Jewish People missed Messiah due to erroneous leadership, so there is a need for scrutiny in regard to doctrine/halakha. Yeshua was addressing the predecessors of today’s Jewish Rabbis, the Pharisees, when He stated, “The Navi, Yesha-Yahu, well prophesied about you, O hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And they worship me in vain when they teach as doctrines the mitzvot of men.’” As believers in Messiah, Jewish OR Gentile, we have to be aware of this warning, understanding that it is the commandments and traditions/doctrines [teachings] of men that can actually cause us to err against the commandments of Elohim. And Yeshua said this is VAIN worship; empty, useless worship.
So, ultimately, our Rabbi is Messiah Yeshua, and it is HIS Halakha we follow, and not the later Rabbis, who followed in the footsteps of the Pharisees, and not the Footsteps of Messiah Yeshua. “Anyone who says “I abide in Him” must follow His halakha”. I John 2:6.
The scriptures of the Brit Khadashah were written to Jews who grew up in and understood Temple and Synagogue worship, and to Gentiles who had joined them and had been taught the same. Further, the Jewish people understood what the leaderships of the different sects were arguing at that time. One of the arguments was over the dates and times of keeping Pesakh. The Sadducees and many others, including Yeshua and His Talmidim, kept the Pesakh in the way we are about to describe, and the Pharisees kept it in the way they still do today in Modern Judaism, adding to their error a new calculated calendar. Whom all the ‘lay’ people followed in the time of Messiah is not known. But, we do know whom the Shlikhim [apostles] followed, and how they kept the Pesakh, and all their feasts. It is incumbent upon us, then, to endeavor to understand how Yeshua walked, and make our Halakhic conclusions based on His leadership by example, and not the Pharisees and later Rabbis who rejected Him and went even further into their error against Torah.
Pesakh as Messiah kept it, being the feast of the declaration of the Messiah’s death, is therefore of utmost importance in understanding how and when the Torah actually commands its observance, and thereby of all the feasts, and how and when Messiah Yeshua observed those as well. Doing so in any other way is in violation of His leadership, the Torah, and our “Mishnah” [Torah Expounded], the Brit Khadashah.
Clearly, Messiah Yeshua held His Pesakh Seder on the 14th of Nisan at dusk, the night before the Pharisees slew their lamb at 3 in the afternoon, when Messiah died. He died according to and because of their error! He died for ‘the sins of the world’, including the sin of moving Pesakh! And the one that actually hung Him on the tree, in the practical, was their not keeping the Pesakh of Torah. Their lack of recognizing and following the Messiah was part of why they hung Him on the tree! Otherwise, they would have held their Seder the night before as well, following Him as the Shlikhim did! They had Him slain after He kept His Pesakh Seder the night before.
We believe that the following, then, is the Messiah’s interpretation of the Pesakh feast and its instructions, based on HIS observance of Pesakh.
Elohim instructed Israel at the first Pesakh to do the following:
“And you shall keep it [the Pesakh lamb] unto the fourteenth day of the same khodesh; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Yisra’el shall kill it at dusk”.
There are three key words here to recognize and understand:
‘Up until’ is the Hebrew word “ahd”. It means “up until and not beyond”.
‘Khodesh’ is ‘renewed’, regarding the crescent of the ‘yare’akh,’ the orb of the moon. It is interpreted as ‘month’ in most renderings, which is misleading due to our understanding of a month being a calculated period of days; this was not done at the time of the Exodus. The math did not exist.
“Dusk” is the Hebrew “bein ha’arabayim,” literally meaning “between the evenings.” This is defined in other scripture as “dusk,” such as when water birds fly in to nest for the night, and when the priests are commanded to light the Menorah in the Mishkan. Elohim would not command the Menorah to be lit in the afternoon, wasting precious oil.
So, the lamb was to be kept up until dusk of the FOURTEENTH day after the new crescent, and not beyond. Remembering that Biblical days start in the evening, dusk precedes the evening of the 14th day [period of about 12 hours of light after the start of the 14th; a day begins with about 12 hours of darkness]. So, the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth days were the four days of examining the lamb and making sure that it met the specifications of יהוה. Then, יהוה said that they should eat it in THAT night:
“And they shall eat the flesh in THAT night”…what night? The night of the 14th! The start of the ‘yom’ of two twelve hour periods that begin with darkness.
This is when Messiah had His Pesakh Seder, having been examined by Yisra’el for four days, going back and forth from Beit Anya to Yerushalayim. The Pharisees did not observe their Seder until the 15th, after killing Messiah AND their lamb at 3pm during the DAY of the 14th , holding their Seder well AFTER dusk of the 15th! They still do this today!
This violates Torah.
This is how most Jews, including many Messianic Jews, do it today, following the Pharisees, and not Messiah Yeshua, our only true Rabbi [Great One, Teacher].
They argue that 3pm is ‘dusk,’ only meaning the latter part of the day. They [Rabbis] also argue that they have the power to change it [as do the popes]. But, ‘bein ha’arabayim’ means ‘between the evenings,’ and is defined by other scripture as just before sundown. And, the time of the offering for Pesakh is specifically clarified to be just at sundown in another passage!
“You shall sacrifice the Pesakh at evening, AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN.”
Clearly, this is NOT at 3 PM in the afternoon! But, what evening is this? At the END of the 14th day, before the 15th, or at the end of the 13th day AT DUSK, at the start of the 14th, to eat the lamb in the NIGHT of the 14th? The latter is what the whole narrative of scripture teaches!
Ex 12:6, 18
“And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Yisra’el shall kill it at dusk.”
“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat Matzot, up until [ahd] the one and twentieth day of the month at evening.” Lev 23:5
“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at dusk [bein ha’arabayim], is the Pesakh of ” יהוה
Num 9:3, 5
“In the fourteenth day of this month, at dusk [bein ha’arabayim], you shall keep it in its appointed season; according to all the statutes of it, and according to all the ordinances thereof, shall you keep it.”
Looking at each of these scriptures, and considering that Deuteronomy 16 adds the phrase “at the going down of the sun”, it is clear that יהוה would have us celebrate the Pesakh this way: eating the meal during the night of the 14th.
Further, the death angel came into Mitzrayim at midnight that night, the start of the 14th ‘day’. First, scripture defines a ‘day’ as an evening FIRST, and THEN a morning: “And there was an evening [12 hours of dark], then there was a morning [12 hours of light], A DAY.” [Bereshit/Genesis 1:5] So midnight was a mere six hours after the ‘dusk’ that followed the 13th day, just enough time to kill, roast, and eat the Pesakh!
“And it came to pass at midnight, that יהוה smote all the firstborn in the land of Mitzrayim, from the firstborn of Paroh that sat on his throne unto the first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.”
And the following ‘day’, still the 14th, they gathered the wealth of Mitzrayim, all their hosts, some strangers, and cattle, assembled, and prepared to leave. Exodus 12 does not specify the day they left, except that יהוה said that Matzot begins on the 15th day, the day He took them out of Mitzrayim. Verse 17 makes this clear.
“And you shall observe the feast of Matzot [unleavened bread]; for in this selfsame day have I brought your hosts out of the land of Mitzrayim; therefore shall you observe this day throughout your generations by an ordinance forever.”
Numbers 33 tells us clearly what day this was:
“And they journeyed from Rameses in the first khodesh, on the fifteenth day of the first khodesh; on the morrow after the Pesakh the children of Yisra’el went out with a high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians.”
Other scriptures make it clear that they ‘assembled the hosts’ on the 14th, and left on the 15th. The 15th marks the commemoration of the Exodus. The 14th marks the commemoration of the Pesakh. Together, the seven days are the SEASON of “Pesakh/Matzot”. That seven day season can be referred to either way, the ‘season’ of the Pesakh, or the ‘season’ of Matzot. Within it, there are two ONE DAY remembrances: Pesakh [14th] and Matzot [15th, starting SIX MORE days of eating Matzot]. The season is supposed to last for only SEVEN days, not the eight days to which the Rabbis have lengthened it. יהוה was very specific on this:
“In the first khodesh, on the FOURTEENTH day of the khodesh, at EVENING, UP TO the 21st day AT EVENING.
That is only SEVEN days, seven twenty-four hour periods, 7 evenings and mornings; and it must start on and include the 14th of the first khodesh! And this is what יהוה actually said!
“SEVEN DAYS you shall eat Matzot!”
So, in every discussion about Pesakh/Matzot in Torah, the 14th is the first day, and the 20th is the seventh day. It ends when the 21st day starts.
Here are the other scriptures that tell us to eat Matzot for SEVEN days, and that they LEFT on the 15th, and that the 15th is to be the commemoration of Matzot, NOT the Pesakh, but the bread they ate when they departed, the bread of affliction, celebrating their DEPARTURE:
“And you shall observe the feast of Matzot; for in this selfsame day have I brought your hosts out of the land of Mitzrayim; therefore shall you observe this day throughout your generations by an ordinance forever.” [How? By continuing to eat Matzot for six more days!]
“And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of Matzot unto יהוה; seven days you shall eat Matzot.
And on the fifteenth day of this khodesh shall be a feast; seven days shall Matzot be eaten.”
“And they journeyed from Rameses in the first khodesh, on the fifteenth day of the first khodesh; on the morrow AFTER the Pesakh, the children of Yisra’el went out with a high hand in the sight of all Mitzrayim”
Now, looking at the latter portions of the middle two verses above, it would appear that seven days from the 15th would be “Matzot”, and that is the justification the Rabbis use for fixing their Seders on the 15th, although they have EIGHT days for the whole season of Pesakh.
What happened is that יהוה fully intended for them to understand that the FIRST day of eating Matzot was the 14th, at their Seder! Remember, He said the seven days were very specifically from the beginning of the 14th UP TO the 21st! And that Matzot was to be eaten with the Pesakh Lamb!
“In the first khodesh, on the FOURTEENTH day of the month at EVENING, you shall eat Matzot UP TO [עַד] the 21st day AT EVENING.
Once again, Deuteronomy 16 clears the fog:
“Six days [After Pesakh! See verse 7] you shall eat Matzot; and on the seventh day [from Pesakh, the 20th] shall be a solemn assembly to יהוה your Elohim; you shall do no work therein.”
So, the first day of the SEASON is the 14th, the night of the Seder, and a solemn assembly in that day; and the last day of the SEASON, the 20th, is a solemn assembly.
The key verses to keep in mind are Exodus 12:18, specifying the EXACT DATES of the SEVEN DAYS of eating Matzot, and Deuteronomy 16:8, specifying only 6 days of eating Matzot AFTER Pesakh.
Deuteronomy 16 also makes very clear that the lamb was to be slain at sundown on the 14th, not at 3pm in the afternoon. We all understand that Biblical days start in the evening, so that sundown is at the start of that day.
This is how Yeshua kept it, and it is made clear in scripture that He was keeping His Pesakh Seder with His Talmidim on the night that He was betrayed. Much of Yisra’el was too, to include the Talmidim, who went to Yeshua and asked, “where would you have us prepare the Pesakh [Seder/Meal]?” The Pharisees did indeed keep THEIR Pesakh after the night of the 14th, killing their lamb on the DAY of the 14th and having their Seder the NIGHT of the 15th, as they still do to this day. “Choose THIS DAY whom you shall serve. As for me and my house, we shall serve יהוה .”
With all that in mind, now we have to make sure that we have the right KHODESH!
Reckoning the Khodesh!
As the previous section explained, we keep the Pesakh on the 14th Day of the FIRST KHODESH.
This is counted from the first day of the khodesh, which is only determined by the NEW, VISIBLE CRESCENT MOON.
When they saw the crescent moon again for the first time, the new khodesh started, in this case the FIRST khodesh. How do we know it is the first khodesh? Well, because we’ve been counting new crescents since last year, and we were previously in the 12th.
But, more importantly, the FIRST KHODESH is established by the AVIV. What is “AVIV?”
Some folks think it is the name of a “month.” Biblically, it is NOT.
Shemot/Exodus 13 tells us that it is the khodesh they came out of Mitzrayim:
“This day you go forth in the khodesh of The Aviv.”
The text actually reads “The Aviv” in Hebrew.
This means it can be read literally this way: “This day you go forth in the month of THE RIPENING.”
Aviv means that the grain [barley] is “in the ear,” almost ready to be harvested. Again, this was NOT the ‘name’ of a ‘month.’ יהוה NUMBERS the khodesh! This is the FIRST KHODESH [see Exodus 12:2, Lev 23:5] But, it also has to be the khodesh of the ripening, OTHERWISE it would be a 13th khodesh for that year! That is how Elohim in ancient Yisra’el adjusted time, instead of “leap years”.
The earth takes 365.256363 days to travel around the sun; back then, they did not know this. Neither did they have the mathematics to calculate it! So, in order to track time very easily and compensate for the shifting of the lunar cycle, which is 28.3 days, give or take depending on the time of year, to fill up 365 days, an extra khodesh is added, WHEN THE BARLEY DOES NOT RIPEN after the 12th khodesh and before the next! Another khodesh is added at that point, and the barley is surely ripe after that one. So, after the 13th khodesh, the next “moon” would then be the FIRST KHODESH. This is actually very, very simple to do; it requires no math, no telescopes, no knowledge of the stars and the equinox, no knowledge of ‘conjunction moon,’ [which knowledge did not even exist until the 20th century] etc., and it is how it was done in the Temple times.
In the Temple, messengers were sent out in the last days of the 12th khodesh to look for the “renewed moon.” When they saw it, they would report back to the Sanhedrin; once two reliable, qualified witnesses reported the sighting of the crescent new moon, the new khodesh and new year were “Sanctified” by the blast of the Shofar. NOTHING ELSE WAS REQUIRED NOR USED!
The fact that they ‘observed’ the CRESCENT NEW MOON is recorded in multiple places in the Mishnah, the early writing down of Temple tradition. Every other kind of ‘calculation’ is of later invention and pagan influence! The Jews did NOT do so, NOT ONCE in recorded history, until LONG after Messiah.
In Tractate “Rosh HaShannah,” Perek 1 in Mishnah 9, we read:
מִי שְׁרֹאה אֵת הַחֹדֶשׁ
“He who sees the Khodesh [crescent new moon]…”
There are those who insist that the word “khodesh” means “month.” We cannot ‘see’ months. It is fine for English translations to use ‘month’ in certain context, to get the ‘general’ idea, but that is not what is communicated in Torah. There was no such thing as a fixed calendar ‘month’ in the Exodus, nor in the 1st Century Hebrew mind. Neither was the idea of a ‘hidden, conjuction moon’ known at that time! That did not come about until the mid-20th century AD! The “khodesh” was the new crescent, VISIBLE, and the remaining 28ish days of the cycle until the next one. We know this, because the Mishnah uses the word for crescent interchangeably with the word “khodesh.”
The Hebrew word for “moon” is יָּרֵחַ ‘Yare’akh,’ and not “khodesh” either. So, we are not simply looking at the moon, since Yare’akh is the orb of the ‘whole moon.’ Mishnah number 5 in the same tractate tells us the following:
“Whether the crescent was visible, or whether it was not manifestly visible,” in discussing the sighting of the crescent to sanctify the khodesh.
The word used for crescent here is בָּעַליל ‘ba’alil.’ Note that it is NOT the word most ‘think’ means crescent and throw into this argument. They cite a verse that is speaking of pagan jewelry, and NOT of the crescent in the sky.
That verse is: Yesha-Yahu 3:18
בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יָסִיר אֲדֹנָי, אֵת תִּפְאֶרֶת הָעֲכָסִים וְהַשְּׁבִיסִים—וְהַשַּׂהֲרֹנִים
“In that day, Adonai will take away the bravery of their anklets, and the fillets, and the crescents.”
That word is ‘saharonim,’ which is in the plural. We know the earth only has ONE crescent, so this is in NO WAY speaking of the moon itself. Yes, their pagan decorations were shaped like a crescent moon, but it is not what the Torah uses [Khodesh] nor is it what the Mishnah uses [Khodesh or Ba’alil]. It is NOT a sin to ‘see’ the khodesh, the ba’alil! It is what they did in the Temple, according to ancient Jewish, priestly authority.
Mishnah 7 in tractate Rosh HaShannah reads,
“If a father and his son SAW the Khodesh…”
In chapter 2 Mishnah 6, we read,
“Relate how you SAW the “whiteness” [of the moon], regarding sighting the new crescent.
In Mishnah 8 of this chapter we read:
“Rabbi Gamliel had diagrams of the moon on a tablet and on the wall of his upper chamber.”
He used these diagrams to make sure that every witness who went out to see the Khodesh, which was a great honor, would report correctly how they saw it, to prove they had actually seen it, and that they were not just trying to be the witness for the sake of their own honor.
So, over and over, from first century officials of the temple, we see that the ‘khodesh’ was a new ‘crescent’ sanctified by being SEEN by more than two witnesses, witnesses whose ‘sight’ was tested by the Sanhedrin.
Now, there are those who THINK the vernal equinox was used, but it was not. Nowhere in scripture is this even mentioned, though many have tried to write it into the Torah. Neither is it even hinted at in the Mishnah, in any way! This is the only extra-biblical document telling us how they actually sanctified the new “Khodesh” in temple times. And, ‘equinox’ is GLARINGLY ABSENT FROM IT and THE TORAH!
We have determined to do it the way ELOHIM, יהוה TZEVAOT has commanded it, and nothing else. He instructed Yisra’el to hold the Pesakh in the FIRST Khodesh, the CRESCENT MOON that happens with THE RIPENING of the Barley.
This day you go forth in the month of THE Aviv. And it shall be when יהוה shall bring you into the land of the Kena’ani, and the Khitti, and the Amori, and the Hivi, and the Yevusi, which He swore unto your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this khodesh.
The feast of Matzot shall you keep; seven days you shall eat Matzot, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the Khodesh of THE Aviv–for in it you came out from Mitzrayim; and none shall appear before Me empty.
The feast of Matzot shall you keep. Seven days you shall eat Matzot, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the khodesh of THE Aviv, for in the khodesh of THE Aviv you came out from Mitzrayim.
“Observe the khodesh of THE Aviv, and keep the Pesakh unto יהוה your Elohim; for in the khodesh of THE Aviv יהוה your Elohim brought you forth out of Mitzrayim by night.”
This is also to be the first khodesh, as stated previously. [Ex 12:2, Lev 23:5, et al]
You can see that יהוה does not even HINT at the equinox; which is fascinating, but it does not even get a nod in these scriptures where He repeats Himself about when to observe Pesach/Matzot.
Jews went to a CALCULATED calendar in the late 7th century; this was probably good at the time, because they could not see the barley and the moon in Yisra’el when they were scattered throughout the world. Or perhaps not all their local climates grew barley.
The calculated calendar they use was created by Hillel II, a non-Messianic Rabbi. He used the vernal equinox, the 365 day AND 354.37 day lunar year to ESTIMATE when a “leap month” was needed [what the near-ripened barley would do under the control of יהוה, adding an extra ‘moon’]. The calculated calendar has served Judaism well. But it is still NOT what Elohim commanded. “Do not follow a multitude into error.” Given that we CAN observe both the khodesh and The Aviv, we should. Jews ARE back in the land, CAN see the Barley AND the New Crescent Moon, and can report it worldwide in SECONDS, so, we can even align ourselves with Yisra’el itself using modern technology to report it around the globe in seconds. Should we not obey יהוה? We have determined, for Bat-Tzion, that we should.
Some have said for the sake of unity we should not deviate from the calculated calendar. Well, we are far more concerned about our Unity with Elohim! And we are supposed to unify IN HIS COMMANDMENTS! Not in traditions for traditions’ sake, whether Jewish or Gentile traditions.
Do not be bewildered by what our Jewish People do, nor the popes, or intimidated into keeping the feasts according to man; the blindness and error of our Jewish people was used by Elohim to bring in the Gentile community into the house of Yisra’el, in order to provoke natural Yisra’el into following Torah, and not the traditions of the Rabbis. They are supposed to follow Messiah, we are NOT to follow them! They will follow Messiah; it will happen, “speedily, and soon, and in our day!” And we are a part of it!
A note on Pharisee Authority
Yeshua did indeed say, “The Scribes and Pharisees sit in the Seat of Moshe; therefore, in everything whatsoever they bid you observe, observe and do, but do NOT do THEIR works; for they say, and do not”.
This seems to tell us to follow the Rabbis, in spite of their error. But, what did Yeshua mean when He said “they sit in the Seat of Moshe?” Interestingly, this phrase has finally been unearthed in archeology! See the image above. The “Seat of Moshe” was the CHAIR in which the Synagogue’s readers of the Torah sat! So, ‘what they bid you “observe and do”’ is a Torah phrase meaning to keep the commandments of Elohim! Observe and do allude to the positive and negative commands. We “observe” negative commands, “do not bear false witness” and the like, but we DO positive commands, “Remember the Sabbath.” Yeshua is referring to the fact that these are the ones, the Scribes and the Pharisees, who are READING TORAH TO YOU WEEK AFTER WEEK! They’ SAY’ the Torah, but they do not DO the Torah! LISTEN WHEN THEY SPEAK FROM THE SEAT OF MOSHE! This is in STARK contrast to “their works,” not the least of which is the shifting of the dates of Pesakh, which Messiah clearly did not do!