Keeping The Feast Of Passover
Keeping the feast of Passover marks the first appointed time in the Torah observant believer's year. The Torah states very plainly in Deut. 16:1 when Passover is to be kept: "observe the month of 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". According to this passage, we must keep the feast of Passover in the month of Abib. To determine the exact date of this crucial month we must first come to an understanding what Abib is, and what is required.
The word Abib itself gives us the first clue in the time of year in which Passover was to be celebrated as stated in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament: "Abib. Barley. This noun refers to barley that is already ripe, but still soft, the grains of which are either rubbed or roasted" (Harris 3). The time of year in which Abib occurs is obviously during the time of the first of ripe barley. Barley generally ripens in early spring, but there are many factors that determine the exact day that Abib will be ripe. Two of the primary factors that affect when this first month may begin are moisture and temperature. These factors are variables over which human beings have no control. Since man cannot control the weather conditions, the start of the biblical year is not an exact science.
How was Abib counted during the time of Yeshua? To find the answer to how our mentor would have kept this crucial month, we must look into the biblical record of priestly service at the Temple. The most important item that the Temple priests needed for Passover was ripe barley for the offering of the Omer. This offering is commanded in Leviticus 23:5-10. The offering was to begin when the Israelites harvested the first produce in the land. The priest was to make this offering on the day after the Shabbat (Lev. 23:11).
This was an important issue to the Israelite during the time of the 2nd Temple. The day after the Sabbath when this first wave offering was presented began the counting of the Omer. This counting is crucial in calculating the second spring Holy Day of Shavuot (Pentecost-Lev. 23:15-16). During the 2nd Temple, the priest would have had to wait for the green barley to appear. This would enable them to make the Omer offering. This witness demonstrates Israel's dependence on the agricultural provision of HaShem.
The second witness of the way Yeshua would have observed the beginning of the biblical year comes from a historical study on Biblical chronology. The Sanhedrin closely watched the arrival of Abib. If the barley crop was not in a state ready for the wave offering the month was intercalated. This means the month of Adar II was added to the calendar, realigning the lunar year with the solar year. Unlike the present day traditional calculation for the reckoning of Adar II, the Sanhedrin reckoned it according to the signs of the seasons. This is documented in the book Handbook of Biblical Chronology where the author states: "in tractate Sanhedrin letters are quoted which were sent out by Rabbi Simeon ben Gamaliel and Rabban Gamaliel II. Simeon, son of Gamaliel I and head of the Sanhedrin in the two decades before the destruction of the Temple, wrote as follows. "We beg to inform you that the doves are still tender and the lambs are still young, and the grain has not yet ripened. I have considered the matter and thought it advisable to add thirty days to the year" (Finegan 38). From this we can see, even from the Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin, that during the time of Yeshua the presence of ripe grain was the determining factor used to calculate the first of the biblical months.
The third and final witness comes from an existing source of Judaism that traces their traditions back to Temple times. These Jews are known as Karaites, the Karaites believe that the written Torah is the only Godly authority. This allowed the Karaite community to develop a system based exclusively on the word of HaShem. The Karaites mark the month of Abib by going into the fields and hills around Jerusalem looking for ripe barley. When they find the barley, they declare the next new moon will be Abib. The following is excerpted from an email that the Karaite leaders in Israel sent to Karaites not living in Israel.
"On Sunday April 11, 1999 I (Nehemia Gordon) inspected the patch of spontaneous barley at Mount Scopus, Jerusalem mentioned in previous letters. The barley was mostly in the wax stage with some stalks in the late "Between water and wax" stage. The barley had begun to take on a yellowish color but still maintained some greenish hue. This barley is in the state of Abib and should be harvest-ready in 2-3 weeks in time for the Omer offering brought on the Sunday during Passover. Given the evidence there can be no doubt that Hag Hamatzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread) will take place in the coming lunar month. The New Moon is expected to be visible on 17 April 1999 making the 1st day of the First Month on the evening of 17 April/ day of 18 April 1999. The 15th of the month will then be the evening of May 1/ day of May 2, 1999" (Karaite).
This crucial third source indicates that there are still Jews who date the month of Abib by the state of the crops in the land. Without a doubt, as observant Messianics, we should be committed to trying to keep the feast as Yeshua would.
In summary, the fact we can only estimate, and not know exactly the day when the harvest is ready, requires us to watch and wait. This is exactly what the Lord commanded us to do (Mat 25:13i). Although we can determine the approximate time of the Lord's return, we will only know the season of the Lord's return; we are not allowed to know the exact day and hour. So, let us embark on keeping the feast as Yeshua would have done. This will require us to trust in HaShem for provision. After all, when Yeshua came the first time no person declared him until he was presented at the Temple (Ma 3:1, Lu 2:27).
Truly following Yeshua and wanting to serve HaShem we need to trust in Him to bring about the fullness of time (Ga 4:4) ...more.