Exodus 23:14–19, Three times you shall keep a feast. The Scriptures teach us that during the three biblical pilgrimage festivals of Passover/Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles all Israelites were to leave their places of individual isolation and were to go up to where the presence of Elohim of Israel was. This sacred rendezvous was to occur according to the festival cycle or circle (Heb. chag) around the common sanctuary (where YHVH had chosen to place his name, Deut 16:2, 11, 15).
In fulfilling this command,each Israelite would become conscious in a real way that he was connected to all the other members of the nation of Israel, with YHVH Elohim, and with the Torah (The Pentateuch—Deuteronomy, p. 310, by S. R. Hirsch).
In biblical times, the Israelites would gather wherever the tabernacle had been placed. When the temple was built in Jerusalem, this city became the destination point for the Israelite pilgrims during these three biblical feasts.
For the saints who celebrate the biblical feasts now, there is no temple in Jerusalem to gather around. The saints are now the spiritual temple of the Spirit of Elohim (1 Cor 3:16). Moreover, Yeshua has promised to be in the midst of his people when they gather together (Matt 18:20). In light of these spiritual realities, YHVH’s people need to pray and seek his face to find out where he wants them to gather for his feasts, and then obey him in faith believing that he will be with them.
Why is it important to know when the biblical month and new year start? Because as more people are leaving the non-biblical traditions of man that they have been taught in their churches (including the non-biblical Christian holidays) and return to the truths of the Bible (including the biblical holidays), they need to know when to celebrate YHVH’s appointed times or feasts. This means that one needs to have a basic understanding of the biblical calendar, which is different from the world’s calendar in use today. The article below (along with other articles that I’ve written on the subject which you can find at https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/teaching.html#feast) will help to explain this.
Exodus 12:2, Month. It is the Hebrew word chodesh (Strong’s H2320/TWOT 613b) meaning “the new moon, month, monthly, the first day of the month, the lunar month.” It is found in the Tanakh (Old Testament) 276 times and is translated in the King James Version as “month” 254 times, “new moon” (20 times), and “monthly” (1 time). We see that from these definitions that the terms “month” and “new moon” are synonymous. It has been understood for millennia that ancient Israelites began their month with the new moon.
Why was it important for the Israelites to know when the new moon occurred and when the month began? The dates of the annual biblical festivals that YHVH gave to Israel and instructed them to observe were determined based on when the new moon occurred (Lev 23:5, 6, 24, 27, 34).
The next question to answer is this: when does the biblical month begin? As we noted above, for modern astronomers the term “new moon” means something different than it did to the ancients, including those who YHVH inspired to write the Bible. Ancient calendars were determined by the moon, while modern ones are not. Some biblical expositors teach that the new moon begins when the moon is in conjunction or in line with the earth and the sun and is in its dark phase. Others believe that the month begins just after the moon has moved out of its dark phase and begins to show a sliver of light, which is called the visible or crescent new moon. Who is right?
Some Bible teachers claim that there is no place in the Scriptures that specifically states that the new moon begins at the first visible sliver after being dark for several days. Therefore, they reason, it is an assumption to say that it does (even though, as we will see below, this was the understanding of the ancient Israelites), and therefore, the new moon should be determined from its conjunction with the earth and sun while it is in its dark phase. While on the surface, this may seem like a valid argument, one important verse in the Scriptures, however, and some simple logic quickly disproves this notion. It is Genesis 1:14.
And Elohim said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons [moedim/biblical festivals], and for days, and years.”
In this verse we see that the sun and the moon are “signs” for seasons, days and years. The word “sign” is the Hebrew word owt (Strong’s H226; TWOT 41a) meaning “sign, signal, mark, token, emblem, signboard, standard.” In the Tanakh, owt describes such visible (not invisible) signs as Noah’s rainbow (Gen 9:12–13, 17), Cain’s mark (Gen 4:15), circumcision (Gen 17:11), and the Sabbath (Exod 31:13, 17; Ezek 20:12). In addition, owt is used some 80 times in the Tanakh to refer to miraculous signs. These include the plagues of Egypt (Exod 7:3; Deut 4:34, etc.), the sign of the virgin birth of the Messiah (Isa 7:11, 14); YHVH miraculous signs to Gideon (Judg 6:17) and King Hezekiah (2 Kgs 20:9; Isa 38:7). In addition, Aaron’s rod that budded was a sign or token (Num 17:25). Many more examples could be given.
Exodus 9:31,The barley was in the head. Barley was cultivated as a grain crop in ancient Egypt, as well as in Israel, and grows wild like a weed throughout the region to this day. Several passages in the Scriptures witness to the fact that the barley was the indicator of which month was to be the first month of the year for the Israelites, so that they could determine when the biblical feasts were to be observed.
Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto YHVH your Elohim: for in themonth of Abib YHVH your Elohim brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. (Deut 16:1, emphasis added)
Please notice, the definite article the proceeding the phrase “month of Abib.” The state of the barley determined the name of a specific month in the spring on YHVH’s biblical calendar. Months in the biblical Hebrew calendar have always been determined by the first visible sliver of the new moon from antiquity. This specific month is to be the beginning the biblical new year (Exod 12:2). The state of the barley simply determines which month is to be the first month of the biblical year. The month of the Abib is not so much the name of a monthas it is a description of the month. Below are listed the other three places in the Scriptures where this phrase is found.
This day came you out in the month Abib. (Exod 13:4)
You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread: (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it you came out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty). (Exod 23:15)
The feast of unleavened bread shall you keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib you came out from Egypt. (Exod 34:18, emphasis added on all)
What does the word abib in the phrase “the month of the Abib (or Aviv)” mean? The Hebrew word abib is found only six times in the Bible and is transliterated into the English (in the KJV) as “abib,” meaning “in the ear,” or “green ears of grain.” TheTheological Wordbook of the Old Testament, defines the word abib or aviv as follows:
This noun refers to barley that is already ripe, but still soft, the grains of which are eaten either rubbed or roasted. The ASV and RSV agree (but see Lev 2:14). The seventh plague brought ruinous hail upon Egypt’s barley crop at least two weeks before it was fully ripened and ready for harvest (Exod 9:31). Abib was also the early name (later, Nisan) of the first month of the Jewish calendar (the month of Passover). In that month the barley came to ear, but the usual time of harvest was the second month (Iyyar). According to Lev 2:14 the grain offering was to consist of the firstfruits of abib.
So the barley being in its abib state eliminates the guesswork of determining which new moon begins the new year. The Scriptures are clear. It is the new moon that immediately follows the abib barley that determines the beginning of the year. This is important to know, since knowing the start of the new year determines the dates for the biblical moedim or appoint times—namely the biblical holidays and feasts.
After the abib barley is found and the first visible sliver of the new moon is sighted marking the first day of the first month of YHVH’s biblical calendar, 14 days later is Passover (Pesach) with the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMatzot) immediately following on the fifteenth day of the first month. Then on the day after the weekly Sabbath that occurred during the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread, a sheaf of now-ripened barley was cut and waved heavenward by the high priest to be accepted by YHVH as the first of the first fruits offering of the upcoming barley harvest. I have written extensively on this subject in another teaching article relating to the spring feast days, which can be found on our website. Suffice it to say that the barley that was lifted heavenward and waved was a prophetic picture of Yeshua the Messiah’s ascension to heaven after his resurrection where he was accepted by the Father as the perfect sin offering covering the sins of mankind. Fifty days later to the day is the Feast of Pentecost (Heb. Shavuot) picturing the ripening of the larger wheat harvest, which was a prophetic picture of all Israel and the peoples of the nations coming to faith in Yeshua from the first century until the present time. As you can see, an understanding of the abib barley is essential not only in setting the biblical calendar for the year, but for knowing when to keep the biblical feasts, and for gaining a fuller understanding of the salvific implications of the death, burial and resurrection of our Master and Savior, Yeshua the Messiah from a Hebraic perspective.
There are 49 days between First Fruits Day, which occurs during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Weeks (or Pentecost). Why does YHVH in the Torah command us to count the seven weeks or 49 days between these two events, with Pentecost occurring on the fiftieth day? The short answer is that Yeshua doesn’t want to marry a spiritual baby. For the long answer, keep reading…
From the Depths of Slavery to a Kingdom of Priests
Every detail in Scripture is for our learning and edification. All the examples of the past are for our learning upon whom the ends of the world are come (1 Cor 10:11; Rom 15:4). Everyday, YHVH is uncovering the prophetic mysteries hidden in the Scriptures that are being revealed to those who diligently seek him by diligently studying to show themselves approved as a workman rightly dividing YHVH’s Word (2 Tim 2:15).
YHVH’s command for us to count the omer as a countdown to the Feast of Weeks (Heb. Shavuot; Gr. Pentecoste, Lev 23:15–16) memorializes the Israelites’ journey from spiritual babyhood to adulthood. During this 49-day count, Israel ascended from out of the depths of slavery and suffering in Egypt, was baptized in the Red Sea, and then arrived at Mount Sinai—a place of a spiritual standing before YHVH as a kingdom of priests (Exod 19:6). It was there that YHVH gave them his instructions in righteousness—the Torah on Shavuot. This period represents Israel’s passage from slavery to freedom. They came out of slavery permeated with the leaven—the sins, values, and pagan concepts—of Egypt leaving it all behind as pictured by the Feast of Unleavened Bread. YHVH gave Israel 49 days to overcome and to get rid of the impurities of Egypt, and to become the nation of Israel—a holy priesthood and the bride of YHVH. There, at the foot of Mount Sinai, YHVH wanted them to become his ambassadors to this world of the truths of his heavenly kingdom.
The counting of the omer is the story of our lives also. It pictures our going from bondage to the world, the flesh and the devil and coming to a place of spiritual standing before YHVH, so that we can be used of him to advance his kingdom.
It’s a process ordained of YHVH and it’s his pattern that we must follow. There is no escape from this process if we are to be groomed and prepared for use in YHVH’s service.
Why Fifty Days Between the Wave Sheaf Offering and Shavuot?
Fifty is the biblical number signifying complete redemption or liberty. In ancient Israel, all debts were forgiven every seven years. This was called the seven-year cycle. Every seven years, one had to let their land rest; no Continue reading →
Chag HaMatzot or the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the second annual festival on YHVH’s biblical calendar, and occurs on the fifteenth day of the month of the Abib, which is the day immediately following Passover (or Pesach, Lev 23:5–8). Because both of these feasts (Exod 34:25; Lev 23:2, 6) occur back-to-back, the Jews often refer to Passover and Unleavened Bread simply as Passover Week or some similar term that places the main emphasis on the Passover. But it must be noted that, though related, these two festivals are separate in meaning and purpose. Passover pictures Israel coming out of Egypt. Upon separating from Egypt, YHVH (the LORD) then commanded the Israelites to put all leavened food products out of their houses and to eat unleavened bread (flat bread) for seven days, hence the origins of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Additionally, the first and seventh days of this week-long event are Sabbaths, and YHVH commanded his people to hold a set-apart convocation (or gathering) on these Sabbaths.
What, you may ask, is the purpose of putting leavening out of one’s home and eating unleavened bread products such as matzoh for one week? This seems like a curious request by YHVH of his people. Not surprisingly, the Creator of the universe has a reason for everything. The spiritual implications are enlightening and highly relevant to the disciples of Yeshua. In commanding his people to de-leaven their homes and lives, YHVH is teaching us an object lesson that applies to us as much today as to the Israelites of long ago.
Eating unleavened bread for seven days is a memorial, remembrance or reminder (Exod 13:6–9) of our coming out of our own spiritual Egypt. But how did unleavened bread enter into this picture? The Torah tells us that the Israelites left Egypt early in the morning as they were making their daily bread, and because they left in haste the bread was not able to rise (Exod 12:34). Therefore, they were forced, by circumstances, to leave their leavening — a biblical metaphor for sin — behind in Egypt. Similarly, believers in Yeshua are commanded to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1 Cor 5:6–8), which helps to remind us that we should have left our old sinful ways behind us in the spiritual Egypt of this world when we surrendered our lives to Yeshua. We are pressing onward to the Promised Land of YHVH’s eternal kingdom.
Not only did YHVH command his set-apart people to leave Egypt (a biblical metaphor for this world Continue reading →
Be blessed as you love Yeshua the Messiah by keeping his Torah commandments (John 14:14), and by doing what Paul the apostle instructed the book of Acts saints (both Jews and non-Jewish) to do in 1 Corinthians 5:6–8),
1 Corinthians 11:23, This is my body.We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Yeshua (Heb 10:10).When we eat the bread of communion, we are “eating” Yeshua who is the incarnate and Living Torah Word of Elohim (John 1:14). We are announcing that Yeshua is the spiritual bread of life from heaven that leads to eternal life (John 6:48–51), and we are announcing our desire to live by the totality of his Word (Matt 4:4).
The bread symbolizing the body of Yeshua was unleavened, which is a picture of Yeshua’s sinless life. By eating this bread, we declare our faith in his sinless life by which he was able to pay for our sins. We also declare our identification with his sinlessness as an example for us to follow.
Yeshua took the unleavened bread and broke it signifying our deliverance from our sin nature by the breaking or death of his sinless body. The unleavened bread broken during the Passover meal speaks of our deliverance from the power of sin by the death of our old man. The rite of baptism is a picture of this (Rom 6:4–13). This paves the way for us to live a sanctified (sin-free) life.
We become unleavened or sinless (known as sanctification) because Yeshua our Passover Lamb was sacrificed for us (1 Cor 5:7). Our body of sin died with Yeshua when we were baptized making us unleavened (or sanctified, Rom 6:6). Let us therefore live in accordance with the new man, or new spiritual creation we have become through Yeshua (1 Cor 5:8; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 2:20). When we eat the unleavened bread at the communion part of the Passover service, we remember that we are sanctified by grace and that the power of sin (or Torahlessness, see 1 John 3:4 cp. John 14:15) has been broken in our lives.
In the first Passover, the children of Israel were delivered from the penalty of their sins by the blood of the lamb on the door, which pointed forward prophetically to Yeshua’s sin-atoning death on the cross. But when they ate the unleavened bread, this speaks of their being delivered from their slavery to sin and oppression in Egypt. They were now to leave Egypt (a spiritual picture of the old man and life) and go toward the Promised Land (a spiritual picture of the new man) taking with them, on their knees, the dough of the unleavened bread. This points to the fact that the redeemed saints are to walk in the newness of a spiritually unleavened or sanctified life as pictured by their eating the communion bread. When we eat the bread of communion, we memorialize the events surrounding the Exodus, and recognize the present reality of freedom from sin in our own lives.
1 Corinthians 11:25, My blood.By the blood of Yeshua we are redeemed, liberated or released from the bondage of sin (Matt 26:28; Rom 3:25; Eph 1:17; Col 1:14; Heb 9:22; 1 Pet 1:18; Rev 5:9) and from sin’s death penalty claim on us (Rom 6:23; Ezek 18:4) brought on by our disobedience to YHVH’s instructions in righteousness, the Torah (which defines sin, 1 John 3:4). His blood also sanctifies (or separates, Heb 9:13–14; 13:12) us from past sin (Rom 3:25) or Continue reading →