Passover is one of seven Feasts or “appointed times” of Yahveh mandated in Leviticus 23.
Leviticus 23:4-8 (NASB)
4 'These are the appointed times of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at the times appointed for them. 5 'In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD'S Passover. 6 'Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7 'On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work. 8 'But for seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work.'"
By Hebrew reckoning:
Days begin and end as sunset, not midnight to midnight as they are reckoned in our culture.
The Seventh Day Sabbath begins at sunset on the 6th day (Friday) and ends at sunset on the 7th day (Saturday)
Months begin with the sighting of the New Moon in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem).
The year begins in the month of the Aviv. Aviv is the stage of maturity of the barley crop that will allow it to be harvested and offered up on the Feast of First Fruits about three weeks after the sighting of the 1st New Moon. The advent of the Month of the Aviv is determined by counting 12 lunar months from the 1st New Moon of the previous year. On the next New Moon, the barley is examined. If it is determined to be “aviv” the month of the Aviv and the New Year has arrived. If not a 13th month is added and the next New Moon is the beginning of the New Year. The 1st month is therefore known as the Month of the Aviv.
The day of Passover is determined by counting 14 days from the New Moon in the Month of the Aviv. The daylight hours of the 14th day of the Aviv are known as “the day of Preparation for the Passover” The Passover is eaten at twilight on the 14th day.
The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the 15th day of the Aviv. The 15th day begins at sunset on the 14th day while the Passover is being eaten. The Feast of Unleavened Bread last for 7 days. The 1st and 7th days are High Sabbaths on which no work can be done.
The word Sabbath means “to cease” and by extension “to rest”. Generally the word Sabbath refers to the seventh day or weekly Sabbath, but it can also refer to High Sabbaths like the feast of Passover / Unleavened Bread. All work must cease on a Sabbath whether it is a weekly Sabbath or a High Sabbath like Passover / Unleavened Bread.
The word Preparation Day or day of Preparation refers to the day before a Sabbath begins. Preparation Day for the weekly Sabbath technically begins at sunset on the day we know as Thursday. However, practically speaking it refers to the daylight hours of the day ending at the sunset that begins the Sabbath. Preparation day for the weekly Sabbath therefore ends with the beginning of the Sabbath at sunset on the day we know as Friday.
Preparation day for the High Sabbath of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread technically begins at sunset on the 13th day of the Aviv. However, practically speaking it refers to the daylight hours of the 14 day of the Aviv. It ends at twilight when the Passover meal is served.
In my next post we will begin to examine why the Last Supper could not have been Passover.