The festivals listed in Lev 23 are not Jewish festivals, but God’s. Lev 23.5-8 talks about the Passover and the lamb was to be killed “between the evenings” (Bein Ha Eruvim) which was understood in the Temple to be around 3 pm. The “evening” was considered to be from 12 pm to 6 pm. In the Mishnah, tractate Pesachim (Passover), Chapter 5, it says that the Daily Whole Burnt Offering called the Tamid was moved earlier on Nisan 14 so that the lambs can be done at it’s “appointed time” of “between the evenings.” Normally, the Tamid was offered at this time, so they had to move it up. The Passover lamb was not a Korban Chata’at (Sin Offering), but a Korban Shelem (Peace Offering). Yeshua did not eat a Passover meal at what was called “The Last Supper” because it was not the “appointed time.” It was only the 13th of Nisan. Many have taught that it was a Passover meal, but there is no lamb mentioned, it was the wrong day and the word for bread used there is for leavened bread. There are other reasons but that is for another time. Yeshua desired to eat the Passover the next day, but he would be dead. He would be slain on the 14th and in the grave when everyone else was eating the Passover. Many teach that he and his talmidim ate a Passover, but that is incorrect. There was a rabbinical ruling that said you could eat a Passover early because of an obscure passage in the Tosefta, tractate “Pisha” (Aramaic for Passover), but Yeshua would have never followed that rule because it was in violation of the specific command in Lev 23.5-8. However, there is a provision in the Torah in Num 9.10-11 that said if you missed Passover on the 14th of Nisan because you were on a journey, or you became unclean because of the dead, you could celebrate it one month later on the 14th of Iyar. God was very specific about when to slay the Passover, and it was Nisan 14 “between the evenings.” Now, the definition for “keeping and observing” the commandments is this: “to incorporate the things of God and to stay true to the “tavnit” (pattern) God has given for a specific time, a specific place and to do specific things that have specific themes.” Anything less than that is not “keeping” the commandment. This definition is a must to remember.
Caiaphas has not eaten the Passover yet during the trial of Yeshua before Pilate (John 18.28) because he would not enter the Praetorium, which is one of the 18 Edicts of the School of Shammai. The point is, the Passover had not been eaten yet. Yeshua died on Nisan 14 at the designated time by God, “between the evenings.” At sundown, it was the 15th of Nisan and the first day of Hag Ha Matzah (Unleavened Bread). He resurrected on the first day of the week of Hag Ha Matzah, which would have been the 17th of Nisan that week. Yeshua was placed on the cross at the third hour (9 am), the same time the Tamid lamb was slain and he dies at the time the Passover lambs are being slain, 3 pm. He is keeping the “moed” (appointed time) exactly.
Many have the concept that the Passover lamb “takes away the sins of the world” but it was not a sin offering. The Passover lamb was a peace offering and it carries the idea that peace is completed, finished. That is why Yeshua said “It is finished” on the cross. Peace between God and man has been accomplished. A sin offering is considered Kodshai Kodeshim, or “most holy.” That means that a sin offering can only be eaten in the Azarah of the Temple. The Passover lamb is a peace offering, and considered “Kodshai Kelim” which means “holy.” That means that the Passover lamb can be eaten anywhere within the walls of Jerusalem.
On the 15th of Nisan, the festival of Hag Ha Matzah begins and it goes for seven days, to the 21st of Nisan (Lev 23.6-8). The 15th and the 21st are what is called a “Shabbaton” or “High Sabbath.” Yeshua is crucified on the 14th and he is buried by sundown leading to the 15th of Nisan. To understand God’s plan you must study the festivals from three vantage points: agricultural, historical and eschatological. We learn from Luke 11.29-32 that Yeshua gave the people the “sign of Jonah.” That means just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights, he would be in the belly of the earth three days and nights. Yeshua was in the tomb by the 15th and raised early on the 17th. We have already looked at historical events on the 17th of Nisan in earlier posts. Remember, Pharaoh only let Israel go into the wilderness for three days, not permanently like in the movies. This three day period ties into the sign of Jonah.
In John 2.19 Yeshua says, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Yeshua will be resurrected on the festival of Bikkurim (First Fruits), on the “morrow after the Sabbath (weekly), which will be Nisan 17 of the week Yeshua was crucified. Now, the term “morrow after the Sabbath” in Lev 23.11 was a controversial statement in the first century. The Pharisee’s taught that the Sabbath mentioned there was the High Sabbath of the 15th of Nisan, the first day of Hag Ha Matzah. The Sadducee’s taught that this Sabbath was the weekly, seventh day Sabbath. Lev 23.15 says that there must be seven complete Sabbaths until Shavuot. You begin counting to Shavuot, so what day you start counting is important. You must have seven weekly Sabbaths to get 49 days to Shavuot, so the Sadducee’s were correct to say you begin counting the day after the weekly Sabbath. As a result, you waved the Omer on the first day of the week. So, in the week that Yeshua died, you factor in the sign of Jonah (three days), the resurrection happened on the first day of the week, the morrow after the weekly Sabbath, the same day you waved the Omer, and for the week Yeshua was crucified, it was Nisan 17.
We know that in 30 AD, the year Yeshua was crucified, the Sadducee’s controlled the Temple ceremonies until about 55 AD. So, let’s look at the ceremony of the waving of the Omer in the Temple briefly. In the Mishnah, Menachot 10.1, it begins to tell us about this ceremony. The priests would go out before dawn on the morrow after the Sabbath (first day of the week) and cut down the designated barley, and it had to be ripe. In the same way, as the priests were performing this duty, Yeshua resurrected before dawn and “plucked up” believers from the ground (Matt 27.52-53) as “first fruits” probably at the exact time they were doing this. This barley was sifted through 13 sieves called “Solet” and it had to be very fine (barley was coarse). The sieves had holes that got finer and finer as the barley passed through them. It had to be so fine that the Gabbai Tzedekah (treasurer of the Temple) could put his hands in it and nothing would stick. It has changed from corruptible to incorruptible. Now, Paul is talking about the resurrection in 1 Cor 15.20-55, and he uses imagery from the festival of First Fruits to convey spiritual principles. He uses these very terms when talking about how we will “put on” an incorruptible body at the resurrection, just like the coarse grain must “put on” the finest grain. Paul is talking this way because he knows Yeshua was resurrected on the festival of Bikkurim (First fruits) and he taught the “times (festivals) and seasons (festival seasons, etc) wherever he went (1 Thes 5.1). He even uses that term in 1 Cor 15.23. So, this festival is a picture of the resurrection of Yeshua and his people, “each in his own order” (1 Cor 15. 23). The barley has “transformed” and all Israel had to wait till this ceremony was performed in the Temple before they could eat new grain. You could eat the old grain, but not the new grain until this ceremony. Everything had to be done “in order.” Then they began to count the days till Shavuot. Israel came out of Egypt on the 15th and went 47 days to Sinai. They arrive on Sivan 3 and sanctify themselves for three days (Exo 19.1-11). This brings us to Sivan 6 and the giving of the Torah at Sinai, the first Shavuot. This is exactly the same days the year Yeshua died, and the events leading up to Shavuot in Acts 2. Psalm 67 is part of the ceremony of the waving of the Omer at First Fruits and it will directly relate to the Gospels and Epistles.
In Part 13, we will pick up here, now that we have arrived at Shavuot, seven complete Sabbaths.