In 1 Chr 28.11-19 we read that the Lord gave the tavnit (pattern) and the avodah (sevices) to David, who in turn gave them to his son Solomon. In the Jewish world today there are two basic divisions of Jews, the Askenazic and the Sephardic. The way they structure the prayers are different from each other, but it was not that way in the Temple. When the Temple was destroyed, the avodah was transferred to the synagogues, but there was not korbanot service. But, they tried to keep alive some of the elements of the Temple and would have commentary on what was done in a prayer book called a “Siddur.” As you can see, this word is very similar to the word “seder” which we have discussed previously.
When we talk about the tavnit and the avodah, we are talking about the ceremonies like the Red Heifer, the Sukkot ceremonies and so on. The Shacharit service in a synagogue teaches about the morning service in the Temple, as does the Minchah service in the afternoon. The Mussaf service are the additional korbanot that were offered on the Sabbath and festivals, and in the synagogue it is an extra service and prayers. The Incense service is centered around the Shemonah Esrai, or the 18 Benedictions. There are prayers, blessings, psalms, songs and different actions associated with these areas.
The word “korban” means to “draw near” to the Lord, and you do that in five different ways. The Olah is the burnt offering, the Chata’at is the sin offering, the Asham is the guilt offereing, the Shelemim is the peace offering and the Minchah is the bread offering. The term Kodshai Kodashim means “most holy” and it means that the animal has to be eaten with the Azsarah. The term Kodshai Kelim means “holy” and means an offering can be eaten within the walls of Jerusalem, so these terms tell you where these offerings can be eaten.
Israel is divided into three camps. The Machaneh Kohanim (camp of the priests), the Machaneh Levi’im (camp of the Levites) and the Machaneh Israel (the camp of Israel). Now, the camps are divided like this. Of you have a Temple floorplan, the Machaneh Kohanim is the Azarah and inner courts. The Machaneh Levi’im is the outer courts and the Machenah Israel is within the walls of Jerusalem. These designations go back to the time in the wilderness. Zevachim 5.3-8 in the Mishnah tells you where the korbanot can be eaten, whether it is in the Machaneh Kohanim, Levi’im or Israel.
We know that there are four chambers in the Azarah (Ezek 42.13-14). These buildings were 100 cubits long, going from south to north, and fifty cubits wide, going from east to west. Certain korbanot can be consumed in the buildings that join the Azarah, and by certain times. If a korban had a certain level of kedushah on them, they could not be removed and consumed in a location with a lower kedushah. The korbanot had to be eaten within a certain time period (Lev 10.16-20). The highlight of the korban was when they took the pieces of the animal into the chamber to be eaten. The eating of the korban was seen as a seder, and a meal consecrated to God. All korbanot, except for the Olah, had to be eaten in it’s appropriate place by qualified individuals within a prescribed time. There were blessings, psalms and stories that accompanied these meals.
The Passover lamb was slain and prepared in this way, but this will not be a full exposition of it. For more information, you can go to the tractate Pesachim in the Mishnah. The afternoon Tamid service was pushed back at least an hour to make room for the slaughtering of the Passover lambs. People arrived to offer the lambs and waited on the Chel in three groups. The Levitical choir began singing the Hallel (Psa 113-118) and the first group came into the Azarah. The kohanim were lined up in two rows. A vessel called the “mizrak” had a long handle on it and no flat bottom. This was because once the blood was received, you could not put the mizrak down because you could not let the blood coagulate. The priest was to take the blood and put it on the appropriate place on the altar. You could not stop and talk to a priest who was ascending the altar until he presented the blood. This gives us insight into Yeshua’s statement to Mary after his resurrection in John 20.17.
The Passover lamb was slain, and the blood was caught in the mizrak, and then passed to a priest next to him in the row. He then turned and passed the mizrak to the next priest, and so on down the line. It looked like a “bucket brigade” in the old days to fight fires. After the blood was put on the altar, the mizrak was returned by the other row to be filled again, and on it went. After the lamb was slain, it was skinned and that group left with their lambs. The second group would then come in and the Levitical choir continued to sing the Hallel. This was repeated for the third group. The Levitical choir never had to sing the Hallel more than three times. In order to do all of this in such a short time, it took a lot of organization, training and timing.
The lambs were taken to the place where the seder was to be eaten and roasted in a special oven for Passover. These ovens were like “bee hives” and the lamb was roasted with a pomegranate stick passing through it’s body vertically, with its legs tied. It looked like a person on a cross. The lamb was called the “crowned sacrifice.” You had to have a minimum of ten people at the seder, but no more than twenty. If twenty people were there and you needed more to have the seder, a second offering called a “chagigah” was offered among the sheep or goats.
The Passover lamb was a korban shelemim, or a peace offering. It was kodshai kelim, or “holy”, and so it was eaten within the walls of Jerusalem. The time restriction was that it had to be eaten by midnight of the 15th of Nisan. Only those who were circumcised could eat of the lamb. In the Passover seder today, a shank bone of a lamb is used called the Zeroah (arm) and the Beitzah (egg). These are called a “zeker” or a “remembrance” of the Passover lamb. There is nothing in the Scriptures that say this is allowed, and as we have said before that Passover cannot be “kept” today. Remember, to “keep and observe” means you are holding true to the pattern and the tavnit, and you are learning and understanding what is happening. This seder can be seen in Exo 12.8-12. Also remember, the word “seder” means “order” so there is a structure to this meal.
A Passover seder today has 15 steps, and these steps correspond to the 15 steps at the Nikanor Gate in the Temple. They also correspond to the 15 Psalms of Ascent (Psa 120-134). The seder in many places is sung in Hebrew. The seder today is much different than what was done in the first century. For example, anciently there were 2 cups of wine, and then Elijah’s Cup. Now there are 4 cups of wine and Elijah’s Cup. The section on the Four Questions was added also. Now, these changes came about after the destruction of the Temple and were added by the Pharisees who survived. So, many of the rabbis and concepts presented in the Haggadah (the book read at Passover) are how the Pharisees saw things. One needs to keep that in mind when studying from any of the books in Judaism. These books have value when talking about how things were done in the first century, and they can present concepts that will help us understand the Scriptures. However, things written after the destruction of the Temple will give us a view of how the Pharisees saw things, and other groups are seen as not having understanding. For instance, in the Passover today the “wise son” was the Pharisaic view of things, and the “unwise son” was the Sadducees and their views.
In Part 3, we will pick up here and talk briefly about how the obedience of the peoples will be to the Messiah, and how we should not tinker with the tavnit, or pattern, given by God (Deut 4.2). We will also talk about how this has been ignored in many ways and give several examples of why this is true. Then we will talk about the Sabbath seder and what that has to teach us. After that, we will begin to talk about the kohanim (priests) and give insight into their service.