THE NIGHT TO BE MUCH OBSERVED
An old friend asked me a few days after passover in the Gregorian calendar year 2006, why do we observe "The Night to Be Much Observed?" I referred him to the scripture Exodus 12:42. That scripture and Deuteronomy 16:1 were the primary scriptures that the former Worldwide Church of God taught in order to support the tradition of observing "The Night To Be Much Observed" unto the Lord for bringing Israel out from the land of Egypt. On this night, at the beginning of the fifteenth day of the first month, the tradition of eating a special meal with wine and different recipes of unleavened bread and delicious unleavened desserts were enjoyed with other brethren.
The friend then asked me if there is an example in the New Testament of Jesus Christ and the apostles observing such a meal and night. This time I did not have a scriptural answer, because I could not recall such an event taking place in the New Testament.
The apostle Paul gave some very sound instruction to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." At this time, we will go back to the Old Testament and review what the scriptures say about the Lord bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt, and try to prove what this Night To Be Much Observed unto the Lord is, and when it is to be observed.
We will start in Exodus 10:21-29, where the Lord instructs Moses to start the ninth plague upon Egypt. 21 "And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. 22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: 23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. 24 And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you. 25 And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the Lord our God. 26 Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the Lord our God; and we know not with what we must serve the Lord, until we come thither. 27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go. 28 And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die. 29 And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more." (Note: Moses did not leave Pharaoh's presence until Exodus 11:8.)
Continuing in Exodus 11:1-2, 1 "And the Lord said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether. 2 Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow (#7592, sha'al; to ask) of his neighbour, and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold.
Verse one is a very important verse to remember, the Lord said unto Moses what he would do: bring one more plague upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards Pharaoh will let you go. In verse two the Lord did instruct Moses to speak directions to the people to borrow from the Egyptians.
Starting in verse four is where the tenth plague is told to Pharaoh by Moses of what the Lord would do one night about midnight. Exodus 11:4, "And Moses said, thus saith the Lord, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: 5 And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. 6 And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. 7 But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. 8 And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in great anger."
In verse eight, Moses was telling Pharaoh how he would know when Pharaoh gave permission for the Israelites to leave Egypt, because Moses told Pharaoh in Exodus 10:29, "Thou has spoken well, I will see thy face again no more."
Exodus 12:1-2 is where the Lord begins giving Moses and Aaron instructions about the beginning of the festival year. In verses 3-14, 21-36, and 42-50 the Lord gave instructions to Moses and Aaron about the passover. In the following verses in Exodus, chapter 12, instructions were given for the Days of Unleavened Bread, verses15-20, 37-41, and 51.
Exodus 12:3-6, 3 "Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, in the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: 4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. 5. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6 And ye shall keep it up until (Strong's #5704 = as far (or long, or much) as, even unto) the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. (#6153, ereb; from 6150; dusk. 6150, arab, to grow dusky at sundown).
We need to understand when the day begins in order to know how to count to the feast when the passover animal was to be sacrificed and to know when the seven day feast of unleavened bread begins. Above, in verses 3-6, the Lord instructed Moses and Aaron to speak unto Israel and tell them in the tenth day of the first month to take a lamb and keep it up until the fourteenth day of the first month which would have been at the end of the 13th day and the beginning of the 14th day.
In Leviticus 23:26-32 the Lord gave instructions to Moses about a sabbath of rest, a day of atonement, when they afflict their souls, on the tenth day of the seventh month. The Lord states in verse 32 when the tenth day begins by telling them when to start afflicting their souls, at even the end of the ninth day and the beginning of the tenth day. They were told how long the day is by telling them how long to afflict their souls; the length of the day was from even of the ninth day unto even of the tenth day. 32 "It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even (#6153, ereb; from 6150; dusk. 6150, arab, to grow dusky at sundown), from even (#6153) unto even (#6153), shall ye celebrate your sabbath."
The sun rules the beginning and ending of a day with the sign of the sun setting below the horizon of the earth at the location of the observer. So, the present day ends and a new day begin when the top of the sun sets below the horizon, at even or evening. Genesis 1: verses 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, and 31 tell us how God counts a day: "And the evening (#6153) and the morning were the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth day." (Read the article titled: "THE PURPOSE OF THE SUN AND MOON.")
The feast date when the first passover animal was to be sacrificed was at the end of the 13th day and the beginning of the fourteenth day at even or evening, at the going down of the sun. Exodus 12:14 "And this (14th) day (passover) shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations: ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever." Leviticus 23:5-8 also tells us the date of the feast of passover and the beginning date of the seven day feast of unleavened bread. 5. "In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's passover. 6 An on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. 7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein." (Exodus 12:8 tells us that the flesh of the passover animal was to be eaten with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs. This is the reason passover is called a day of unleavened bread.) Let's read Exodus 12:18-20, 18 "In the first month on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread until (#5704 = as far (or long, or much) as, even unto) the one and twentieth day of the month at even." (Note: The 14th day through the 21st day is a total of eight days which include the feast of passover and the seven day feast of unleavened bread.) 19 "Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. 20 Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread."
Because unleavened bread was eaten with the flesh of the passover animal on the night of the fourteenth day of the first month, some of the disciples, Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote and called the one day feast passover, the feast of unleavened bread. The names passover and days of unleavened bread were interchanged, meaning to alternate the names. Matthew 26:17, "Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?" Mark 14:12, "And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?" Luke 22:1, 7-8, 1 "Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the passover. 7 Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. 8 And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat." (Note: Jesus stated the name correctly.)
The "Last Great Day" (John 7:37) is also called the eighth day because it follows the seven day Feast of Tabernacles, (Leviticus 23:33-36, 39; Numbers 29:12-39).
In Exodus 12:15-20, Moses gives the first instructions for the seven days of unleavened bread which begin at the end of the 14th day and the beginning of the 15th day. The first day of unleavened bread represents the day when Israel departed from Egypt. 15 "Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. 16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. 17 And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame (15th) day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this (15th ) day in your generations by an ordinance for ever."
Numbers 33:3, "And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow (#4283, tomorrow, the next day.) after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians."
In Exodus 12: 21-36, Moses called for all the elders, the head of each tribe of Israel, and gave them the final instructions before the first passover. 21 "Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. 22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. 24 And ye shall observe this thing (passover, verse 21) for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. 25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. 26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? 27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. 28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they." (Note - IF the tribe of Judah had waited until the 15th day to observe the passover like the Jew's did at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and like most of them do today, all the firstborn of Judah would have died on the night of the 14th, passover.)
Verse 29 tells us when the firstborn in the land of Egypt was killed and when Pharaoh gave Moses and Aaron permission to leave Egypt in verses 30-33. 29 "And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. 31 And he called (#7121, to call out) for (sent message to, margin of Companion Bible) Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said (Ex. 11:8). 32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said (Ex. 10:25-26), and be gone: and bless me also. 33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, we be all dead men."
Notice in verse 31, the phrase by night is used in association with the night of the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians. Also, the things that occurred in verses 31-33 were as Moses had told Pharaoh in Exodus 10:29 where Moses said, "Thou has spoken well, I will see thy face again no more," and Exodus 11:8, "And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out."
At this time let us ponder the scriptures and consider carefully about what the children of Israel did from the morning of the thirteenth day of the first month to the time they left Israel on the fifteenth day of the first month.
The adults probably arose from sleep around sunrise on the morning of the thirteenth day and "at even, at the going down of the sun" (Deut. 16:6), the end of the thirteenth day and beginning of the fourteenth day, "the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it (passover animal) in the evening" (Exodus 12:6).
Exodus 12:7-10, 7 "And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden (#1310, bashal; to boil) at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance (#7130, the nearest part; i.e. the center; inward parts) thereof. 10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire." Continuing in the last part of verse 22 .... "and none of you shall go out the door of his house until the morning." Most likely the adults and their neighbors did not sleep the night of the fourteenth, passover night.
As we read earlier in Exodus 12:29 -33, Pharaoh had given Moses permission by night of the passover for Israel to leave Egypt as the result of what the Lord did at midnight, he killed all the first born of man and beast in Egypt. Exodus 12, verses 34-36 took place in the daylight period of the fourteenth day because they were instructed: "none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning." 34 "And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders." (Note: The Israelites were not going back to their dwellings in the land of Goshen (Gen. 45:10; 47:27; Ex.8:22-23) but to spoil the Egyptians and then assemble in Rameses (Ex. 12:37-38) with their flocks, herds and families according to their tribe.)
Continuing in verse 35 "And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: 36 And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians."
Back in Exodus 6:28-30 and Exodus 7:1-6, the Lord told Moses in the land of Egypt that he was going to use Moses and Aaron to speak to Pharaoh that he send the children of Israel out of his land. Notice what Exodus 7:4 states, "But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I
may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies (#6635, army, military host), and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments."
Also notice now Exodus 13:18, last part of the verse states how the Lord led Israel out of the land of Egypt. ".... and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt." The word harnessed is Strong's #2571, chamush; staunch, i.e. able bodied soldiers: -- armed (men), harnessed." Also from the margin notes of The Companion Bible about the word harnessed = armed, as in Joshua 1:14 and Judges 7:11. Harnessed and armed point to order and organization. They were an ordered "hosts" when they went out from the land of Egypt, (Ex. 12:41). Also in Exodus 13:19, "And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you." This is another evidence of order.
In the book of Numbers 1:3-4, we can learn more about the Lord's view about armies. 3 "From twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: thou and Aaron shall number them by their armies. 4 And with you there shall be a man of every tribe; every one head of the house of his fathers."
When the children of Israel came out of Israel, the armies of the Lord were men able to go forth to war. There was an army in each tribe of Israel. The people of each tribe probably traveled together behind their army.
Most likely there was not an opportunity for the adults to sleep during the daylight part of the fourteenth day. Can you imagine how tired, sleepy and exhausted they were by this time? From the morning of the thirteenth day through the fourteenth day is approximately 36 hours of no sleep. Because of the lack of sleep, Israel most likely slept some during the night of the fifteenth before they left Egypt.
In the first instructions for the seven Days of Unleavened Bread, Moses stated in Exodus 12:17, "And ye shall observe the ‘feast of unleavened bread'; for in this ‘selfsame day' (15th day) have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever." (Note: The ‘selfsame day' that is used in verses 17, 41, and 51 in this chapter is referring to the 15th day of the first month, the first day of unleavened bread. These scriptures and Leviticus 23:6 also tell us when the Lord brought the armies out of the land of Egypt.) Leviticus 23:6, "And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the ‘feast of unleavened bread' unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread."
Other scriptures that pertain to the Days of Unleavened Bread are found in Exodus 12:37-41. Exodus 12:37 tell us how far the children of Israel journeyed on the first day, "And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. 38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual. 40 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame (15th) day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt."
Exodus 13:20-22, tells us how far Israel journeyed the second day, and how the Lord led the way. 20 "And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day (#8119, yowmam; daily) in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, to go by day and night. 22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people." (Notice it was the journey of the second day before the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire is mentioned because they journeyed the first day from Rameses to Succoth during daylight in sight of all the Egyptians.)
Numbers 33:1- 5 also tells us without any doubt when Israel left Egypt. 1 "These are the journeys of the children of Israel, which went forth out of the land of Egypt with their armies under the hand of Moses and Aaron. 2 And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of the Lord: and these are their journeys according to their goings out. 3 And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day (#3117, yowm; from an unused root meaning to be hot; a day [as the warm hours]; time period) of the first month; on the morrow (#4283, mochorath; tomorrow, next day) after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians. 4 For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn (the NKJV and The Amplified Bible states "were burying all their firstborn") whom the Lord had smitten among them: upon their gods also the Lord executed judgments. (Evidently it was daylight of the fifteenth day when the Egyptians were burying their firstborn and they were able to see Israel as they were leaving Egypt. It is also interesting that Moses did not write down here that they departed from Rameses in the first month, by night, on the fifteenth day of the first month. Instead, he wrote the children of Israel went out in the sight of all the Egyptians.) 5 And the children of Israel removed from Rameses, and pitched in Succoth."
It is evident that Israel departed from Rameses in the daylight portion of the day, on the fifteenth day of the first month; "on the morrow after the Passover," as Moses wrote in Numbers 33:3.
Now notice Deuteronomy 16:1, "Observe the month Abib, and keep the passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night."
From this verse, the former Worldwide Church of God did teach Israel came out of Egypt by night, meaning that it was dark when they came out of Egypt. We have already read when Moses said they came out of Egypt on the 15th day, the first day of unleavened bread in Exodus 12:17, Leviticus 23:6 and Numbers 33:3.
Remember, this phrase by night was used earlier on the night of the passover in Exodus 12:31, when Pharaoh sent the message to Moses and Aaron "by night," and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said.
This is where my friend that I mentioned in the introduction differs on the meaning of by night in Deut. 16:1. He states the verse is talking about what brought Israel out of Egypt, not when they came out of Egypt. The first part of Deuteronomy 16:1 states what Israel is instructed to do, "Observe the month Abib, and keep the passover unto the Lord thy God." The latter part of the verse states what brought them out of Egypt; "for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night" (The Lord brought them out of Egypt by what he did by night of the passover, the death of all the firstborn in Egypt. Israel was given permission to leave Egypt from the result of what happened by night of the passover, not as a result of when they left Egypt. Pharaoh did not give Moses and Aaron permission for Israel to leave Egypt until what occurred at midnight, by night of the Passover.)
In Exodus, chapter 13, the scriptures do support my friend's thoughts about what occurred by night of the passover. Let us read what Moses told Israel about what brought Israel out of Egypt in Exodus 13:14-16. 14 "And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? That thou shalt say unto him, By strength of the hand of the Lord brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: 15 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the Lord slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem. 16 And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by the strength of the hand of the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt."
Now let us go back to Exodus, chapter 12, to the other passover scriptures, 42-50. Exodus 12:42 "It is a night to be much observed (#8107) unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed (#8107) of all the children of Israel in their generations. 43 And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof." Verse 43 defines the night to be much observed as the ordinance of the passover in the same manner as service is defined in verses 24-27 as the sacrifice of the Lord's passover. Verses 44-50 continue to define the ordinance (statute) of the passover.
Let us go back and get Strong's definitions of observed in verse 42. observed, #8107, shimmur; from 8104; an observance: --- observed. [Note: The Hebrew word shimmur is used only two times and only in this verse and it means an observance.] WEBSTER'S NEW WORLD DICTIONARY © 1984, defines the English word in italics: observance, noun 1. the observing of a law, duty, custom, etc. 2. a customary act, rite, etc. (Note: The passover is the night to be much observed.) Israel was instructed to observe the Lord's passover for ever, and in their generations in Exodus 12:11-14, 24-27, 42-43.
The Hebrew word shimmer is from #8104, shamar; a primitive root; properly to hedge about (as with thorns); i.e. guard; generally to protect, attend to, etc.
On the night of the passover, were the Israelites like a hedge, to guard, protect, attend to the young children in all the houses where the sacrifice was eaten to prevent them from going out at the door of the house so they would be protected from the destroyer that killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt? Israel was instructed: "and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning." Is this where the night of the passover became known as a "night vigil" in the sense of "night of watching?" Read Exodus 12:21-24.
The Hebrew word shimmer is from shamar not from shimmurim which means "night vigil" in the sense of "night of watching" as defined by Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words in Strong's Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible © 2001.
In the New Testament, Jesus knew when the passover was to be observed because he told his disciples in Matthew 26:1-2, 2 "Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified," Jesus and the disciples ate their last Old Testament (Old Covenant) passover meal at the beginning of the fourteenth day and then Jesus instituted the New Testament (New Covenant, "this do in remembrance of me") Passover (1 Cor. 11:23-26; Luke 22:19) of bread, the symbol of Jesus' broken body and wine the symbol of Jesus' blood which is shed for many. In John 6: 47-59, Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum saying "I am that bread of life and he said, except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you." Read about Jesus eating his last passover with his disciples in Mark 14:12-26, 43-46, 53-64; 15:1. It was early in the morning of the fourteenth day when Jesus was taken to Pilate at the hall of judgment. John 18:28, "Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment; and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover." The Jew's would not go into the judgment hall and be defiled by Jewish tradition because Pilate was a Gentile. "Pilate then went out unto them," (John 18:29). Peter states this Jewish tradition in Acts 10:28. "And he said unto them, Ye know how that is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean." (Note: The Jews had not observed their passover at that time, they were going to kill their passover animal in the afternoon of the fourteenth day and eat their passover meal in the fifteenth day according to their Jewish tradition. The Jewish tradition of eating their passover meal on the night of the fifteenth is what the Jew's were doing at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Where did the Jewish tradition of eating the meal of sacrificial passover lamb on the 15th day of the first month come from? The tradition was established at the beginning of the Babylonian captivity and thus later became part of the Babylonian Talmud. The original instructions God gave Moses and Aaron was to keep up the passover lamb until (as far as, even unto) the 14th day of the first month and kill it in the evening and they were to eat the flesh in that night of the 14th, roast with fire, and unleavened bread and with bitter herbs. This night all the firstborn of Egypt was killed, (Exodus 12: 6-12). The seven day feast of unleavened bread began on the 15th day of the first month. Two separate feasts as Leviticus 23:5-6 states. The Encyclopedia Judaica confirms this. Quoting: "The feast of Passover consists of two parts: The Passover ceremony and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Originally both parts existed separately; but at the beginning of the Exile they were combined. Passover was originally not a pilgrimage feast, but a domestic ceremony consisting of the slaughtering and eating of the paschal animal. Originally, the Passover was celebrated among the families (Ex. 12:21)... After the cultic centralization of King Josiah, the celebration of the Passover was transferred to the central Sanctuary in Jerusalem." (Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. 13, page 170)
On date Tue, 26 Feb. 2008 a Karaite Korner Newsletter #321 was sent to me advertising a book titled "The Biblical Karaite Passover Haggadha." This explains the Jewish tradition of eating their Passover meal on the fifteenth day of the first month.
The Karaite Korner Newsletter states some of the Jewish laws and customs of Passover which clarify what their "night of watching" tradition is. Notice it states that the night of the 15th of the first month was when the children of Israel set up all night eating the Passover sacrifice. It also states why they do not bring the Passover sacrifice today and observe the Seder meal instead. The Haggadha also contains the specific traditions of the Hebrew Seder which means the order of the Passover service. The following is a copy of the contents of the newsletter. Part of the copy has been highlighted in bold print for emphasis.
KARAITE KORNER NEWSLETTER #321:
"Karaite Passover Haggadha by Hakham Meir Rekhavi
We proudly present for the fifth consecutive Passover: The Biblical Karaite Passover Haggadha.
This newly revised Karaite Haggadha bound in a full colour graphic designed cover includes an original English translation by Hakham Meir Rekhavi side-by-side with the Hebrew text, in addition to an introduction to the Haggadha and the Passover Seder along with a short description of the laws and customs of Passover.
The Tora teaches us that the night of the 15th of the First Month is to be a "night of watching". In ancient times, the Passover sacrifice was brought on this evening and the Children of Yisrael set up all night eating the meat of the sacrifice lest any be left until morning.
During this night time vigil they told their children the great miracle of the Exodus from Egypt and the redemption of Israel.
Today we are unable to bring the Passover sacrifice. Daily our Temple is trodden by heathens while the altar lies in ruins.
So without the Passover Sacrifice all we have left is the night of watching on which we tell over the story of the Exodus. The Haggadha is the narrative of the Exodus from Egypt that is read on Pesah (Passover) Night at the Sedher, a word that means order. The name Haggadha comes from the Hebrew word meaning to tell or to relate and this is the very function of the Haggadha, to relate the events of the Exodus, "And in order that you may tell in the ears of your son and of your son's son, that I acted severely in Misrayim, and my signs that I have placed upon them; that you may know that I am YHWH." (Ex. 10:2) Therefore, it is the duty of the head of the family to recount the story of the Exodus from Egypt and to explain its significance to the children and adults alike.
The slavery in Egypt and the redemption from that bondage are told in the early chapters of the Book or Exodus, which relate to YHWH's promises and deeds in connection with our redemption, and it is from those chapters that the majority of the material for the newly revised Karaite Haggadha is drawn. This Haggadha is therefore a truly Biblical Haggadha giving a full narrative of that miraculous event, from the promise of nationhood by YHWH to Avraham, to the enslavement in Egypt and Moshe's call at Mt. Sinai to be YHWH's prophet. Continuing through to YHWH's great wonders and marvels that manifested in the plagues that befell Egypt to the final act of that great redemption at the shores of the Sea of Reeds. The last pages of this Haggadha reiterate the promise of the future redemption, not unlike the first, by the hand of YHWH as foretold by our great prophets.
Order your copy now to make sure that you will receive it before Passover."
The former Worldwide Church of God observed the New Testament passover after sunset at the beginning of the fourteenth day of the first month. They also taught the Jewish tradition of observing a special meal on the night of the fifteenth day of the first month and called it the "Night to Be Much Observed" which is identified as the ordinance of the passover in Exodus 12:43. What they were actually doing was observing a meal similar to the traditional Jewish passover Seder meal which the Jew's eat on the fifteenth day of their first month.
Looking back, it should not be a surprise that the former Worldwide Church of God did observe a form of the Jewish Seder on the night of the 15th because they did use the traditional Jewish calculated seventh month new moon dates of Judaism to calculate their annual feast dates. These calculated seventh month new moon dates originated about 358/359 AD by Hillel II, which include postponement rules and intercalated months already calculated into their seventh month new moon dates. They counted 177 days (three 30 day months and three 29 day months) from Judaism's seventh month new moon date to determine their "First Day of Sacred Year" which seldom falls on the date of the beginning of the true new moon that the Lord appointed to determine the Lord's feasts. Today, most of the splinter groups from the former Worldwide Church of God still observe the annual feasts of Judaism, which are the commandments and traditions of men which usually delay the Lord's feast dates. The fifteenth day of the first month at even is the traditional Judaism passover, not the Lord's passover, (Leviticus 23:5).
A special meal is not mentioned to be observed at the beginning of the fifteenth day of the first month in Leviticus, chapter 23, where the Lord spoke to Moses concerning all the feasts (#4150, appointed times, set feasts) of the Lord. Leviticus 23: 4-8 instructs us when to observe the Lord's feast passover and the seven day feast called the feast of unleavened bread. 4 "These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations; which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. 5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. 7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein." Also read Numbers 28:16 -18, 25.
Deuteronomy 16:6 also tells us when the passover animal was to be sacrificed and when even occurs. (6) "But at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt."
Instructions to observe the passover on the 15th day of the first month are not found in Leviticus, chapter 23, Numbers, chapters 28 and 29, or in Deuteronomy, chapter 16, where the feasts of the Lord are listed. There is no evidence that Jesus Christ or the apostles kept this Jewish tradition. Observing the passover on the 15th day of the first month is Jewish tradition, commandments of men. Let us read what Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees about their traditions in Matthew 15:7-9. 7 "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias (Isaiah) prophesy of you saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain (#3155, folly, i.e. to no purpose.) do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Also read Mark 7:6-9.
Notice what Jesus told his disciples about the scribes and Pharisees and the blind that follow the Jew's traditions in Matthew 15:13-14. 13 "But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." (#999, a hole (in the ground) a cistern = a deep hole for storing water.) Jesus Christ called those who follow the Jew's traditions, the commandments of men, blind leaders of the blind. Do not be the blind that the blind leaders are leading astray with the Jewish traditions, commandments of men.
In order for us to not be the blind that follow the blind leaders, we must realize and understand the following: "The head of Christ is God," (1 Corinthians 11:3). "Jesus Christ is the head of the body, the church," (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18). "The Holy Spirit (Comforter) will teach you, you need not any man teach you, (1 John 2:27; John 14:26).
Some of the things we must do: "Study (#4704, to use speed, i.e. to make effort, be prompt or earnest) to show thyself approved (#1384, acceptable) unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (#3718, to make a straight cut, i.e. (fig.) to dissect (expound) correctly) the word of truth," (2 Timothy 2:15). "Prove (Strong's #1381, to test (lit. or fig.); by implication to approve) all things; hold fast that which is good," (I Thess. 5:21).
The former Worldwide Church of God tradition of observing the Night to Be Much Observed, also often called The Night to Be Remembered on the night of the fifteenth is the same Judaism tradition of eating the passover Seder meal on the fifteenth day of the first month.
In the beginning of the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's passover. The New Covenant passover is A NIGHT TO BE MUCH OBSERVED IN REMEMBERANCE OF JESUS CHRIST, (I Corinthians 11:23-26).
5-6-09, Art Ryan