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Luke 22:7 (KJV) shows that passover was a single day:

Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.

While Numbers lists the passover as a weeklong event:

Numbers 28:16-17 (KJV)

16 And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover of the LORD. 17 And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten

What is the reason for this difference? Was the passover celebration shortened over time or is it in fact a week long? If so what was the reason for the change or discrepancy?

Finally, on what day of passover was the lamb to be slaughtered (first, last or some other day?)

  • 5
    Collen, Instead of posting numerous questions with the title "How can we reconcile X and Y" Summarize you actual question or problem. This will help with two things: First your questions are often closed because we aren't quite sure how or why you see a conflict. A better title will force you to focus your question and help us to better understand what you are asking. Second, and more importantly, this question had the potential to be lost. I went back to edit the title and couldn't find it. By providing a better title, it makes the content more searchable and this will get you more UVs. – James Shewey Jun 16 '17 at 18:52
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The Israelites were commanded to kill the Passover lamb and eat unleavened bread at twilight on the fourteenth:

1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. [...] 6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. [...] 8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. [...] 11 And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. [...] 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.’”
-Exodus 12:1-3, 6, 8, 11, 18 (NKJV)

Since unleavened bread was also eaten on the fourteenth, it is not unusual to find the fourteenth being referred to as the “the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed.”

The Passover itself was a singular event that occurred right before the Feast of Unleavened Bread:

5 On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.
-Leviticus 23:5-6 (NKJV)


but at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight, at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt.
-Deuteronomy 16:6 (NKJV)

  • Twilight on the fourteenth marked the the Passover. The lamb was killed in the evening at the going down of the sun, and unleavened bread was also eaten during this time.
  • The fifteenth arrived after the sun had fully gone down, which began the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

These two events are intertwined and there is such a short time between them that it is not uncommon to say something such as “then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover was to be killed,” especially since unleavened bread was eaten at the same time as the Passover lamb.

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There has been a transition over the centuries about Passover. Originally in Egypt and centuries thereafter, at sunset between the evenings of the 13th and 14th, they slew the lamb. Sunset marks the change of day. They slew it as the sun dipped into the horizon on the 14th. They applied the blood on the 14th. They ate it that night of the 14th. The death angel came through this night of the 14th. If any lamb was left till morning, they were to burn it on the 14th. They left Egypt by night of the 15th (Deut. 16:1; IOW, this too makes clear that the Passover was slain and eaten on the 14th; they can't eat and leave on the 15th at night, yet burn leftover lamb by the morning of the 14th per the command).

Num. 28:16-25 is a reiteration of Ex. 12:6-20. The 14th is Passover. The 15th to 21st is Feast of Unleavened Bread.

As mentioned, centuries later the two observances became conflated because there are too many people for too few priests (2 Chrn. 35:14). This framework was picked up and "codified" in the very influential Book of Jubilees written circa 200 BCE and was observed by nearly all in Christ's time. They went from slay in the evening and eat on the 14th at night to slay on the afternoon of the 14th and eat on the 15th at night.

That latter framework is what you read as it is translated in Luke 22:7 (slay in the end of the 14th as part of the unleavened bread feast combined). There is, however, another way to understand the translations that harmonizes the gospel accounts in keeping with how Christ and the disciples observed the Passover some 2,000 years ago. They slew and ate on the 14th.

Believe that addresses all of your questions.

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The Passover is the 14th day of the month:

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the LORD’S Passover. (Leviticus 23:5) [ESV throughout]

and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. (Exodus 12:6)
This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. (Exodus 12:14)

Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are separate events:

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the LORD’S Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. But you shall present a food offering to the LORD or seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.”
(Leviticus 23:5-8)

Numbers describes the additional offerings which are to be made during the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread:

“On the fourteenth day of the first month is the LORD's Passover, and on the fifteenth day of this month is a feast. Seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten. (Numbers 28:16-17)

The two periods are distinct: Passover as a 1-day event on the 14th day of the month and the 7-days of unleavened bread follow. Nili S. Fox notes:

The holy day on which the Passover sacrifice ("pesah") is offered is distinct from the seven-day Festival of Unleavened Bread ("matzot"); in other words, we have a festival complex of an evening festival (Pesah) followed immediately by a seven-day Matzot festival. 1

While the two are separate, it was and still is the custom to refer to “Passover” as the period of time including both, as Luke states:

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. (Luke 22:1)

This custom is rooted in how the command to observe the Passover and Unleavened Bread is stated in Deuteronomy. Bernard M. Levenson explains:

The blend of Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread is the most remarkable section of this calendar. Passover was originally a separate observance, celebrated within the family or clan. Since it did not require a sacrifice at the sanctuary, it was not included among the three pilgrimage festivals…But Deuteronomy’s restriction of sacrifice to the single sanctuary prohibited Passover from being observed locally (v.5) and required that the observance be redirected to the central sanctuary (vv.2,6-7)…The new observance then merges with the Festival of Unleavened Bread… 2

Deuteronomy lacks any mention of the day of the month the Passover is to be sacrificed:

“Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover to the LORD your God, for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night. And you shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the LORD your God, from the flock or the herd, at the place that the LORD will choose, to make his name dwell there. You shall eat no leavened bread with it. Seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction—for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste—that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt. No leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the flesh that you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain all night until morning. You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, but at the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the Passover sacrifice, in the evening at sunset, at the time you came out of Egypt. And you shall cook it and eat it at the place that the LORD your God will choose. And in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents. For six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD your God. You shall do no work on it. (Deuteronomy 16:1-8)

The requirement to offer the sacrifice at the sanctuary does not interfere with the requirement to keep the feast. The Passover is observed today despite the lack of either the sanctuary or the Temple. The Passover sacrifice is not made; yet the remembrance meal is still observed.

Passover is a single day on the 14th and the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a seven day period from the 15th to the 21st. There were additional requirements regarding unleavened bread and leaven covering the combined 8-day period:

In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened... (Exodus 12:18-19)

Unleavened bread was also to be eaten on the 14th of the month, the day of the Passover. Leaven was to be removed from the house and not to be eaten in any food. Thus the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a 7-day period of eating unleavened bread, avoiding all foods with leaven, and keeping the house free from leaven.

The presence of leaven during the 7-days was unlawful and required the house to be clean beforehand. The current tradition is called Bedikat Chametz which is the search for leaven performed on the Passover eve (the 13th). The Babylonian Talmud states the leaven should be removed at night on the 14th (night is the beginning of the day). [Babylonian Talmud 17a] Removing leaven was a requirement to prepare for the Passover period.

Luke identifies the “day” (singular) of unleaveneds (plural):

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread (ἡμέρα τῶν ἀζύμων - literally "day of unleaveneds"), on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. (22:7)

Day is singular and does not mean the “Days” of Unleavened Bread. This singular day of unleavened bread would be the 14th of month, the day on which the house is to be free of leaven, unleavened bread is to be eaten, and the Passover is sacrificed.

Luke 22:1 and 22:7 can be combined to show the New Testament terminology and compared to the Old Testament calendar: enter image description here Based on the Gospel narratives, Jesus and His disciples ate the Last Supper at night, on the beginning of the 14th day (the memorial day). After eating He was arrested, tried, and crucified during the daylight and died on the 14th, the Old Testament day of the LORD’s Passover.

Addendum

There is extra-Biblical evidence to support the crucifixion taking place on the eve of the Passover:

33...On the eve of the Passover Yeshu 34 was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, 'He is going forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed Israel to apostacy. Any one who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.' But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover! [Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 43a]


Note:
1. Nili S. Fox, The Jewish Study Bible. Jewish Publication Society, 2004, p. 341
2. Bernard M. Levenson, The Jewish Study Bible. Jewish Publication Society, 2004, p. 401

  • The main thing keeping me from removing my downvote is the part where you say that based on the gospel narratives Jesus died on the 14th. Luke 22:7-13 has Jesus telling Peter & John where to prepare to eat the Passover, & Luke 22:15 has Jesus saying to the disciples that He has been desiring to eat this Passover with them. Similar events are described in Matt 26:17-19 and Mark 14:12-16. An argument for the 14th could be made from John's gospel, but not from the synoptic gospels (though perhaps this subject would be better addressed in another question). – Bʀɪᴀɴ Jun 21 '17 at 3:38
  • Did you read the passages I referenced? Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12, & Luke 22:7 all say it was the day of unleavened bread. Matthew & Mark both say that evening came after the disciples went into the city & found the man & prepared the room (Matthew 26:18-20; Mark 14:13-17). This means it was daylight while they were preparing. That, combined with the fact they were preparing to eat the Passover, with Jesus specifically saying "I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer..." (Luke 22:15), means that Jesus dying on the 14th cannot be defended from the synoptic gospels. – Bʀɪᴀɴ Jun 21 '17 at 23:40
  • What was unclear from my previous comments? – Bʀɪᴀɴ Jun 22 '17 at 2:35
  • If the Passover lamb is killed on the evening of 14th, and Jesus told His disciples he has desired to eat this Passover with them before He suffers, then that only leaves the 15th for His death. I'm not sure how me saying "Jesus did not die on the 14th" could be taken any other way. If you can show otherwise then I will admit I was wrong, but this answer doesn't do that. – Bʀɪᴀɴ Jun 22 '17 at 2:55
  • Link to chat where this is discussed further. – Bʀɪᴀɴ Jun 25 '17 at 23:24
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What is meant by “Passover” (in the Bible)?

A number of people are confused by the use of the word 'Passover'. The question is often asked, “When is Passover?” And often it is answered with a simple date. However, the biblical use of the word suggests a more complex meaning, and a single date is therefore an inadequate answer. Understanding the proper use of this word is essential in the study to know whether Jesus ate the Passover on the night before he was killed.

In the early verses of Exodus 12, God introduces the Passover. I have reproduced the King James text here, but I've added back the noun for all the pronouns used, to help indicate what God is telling us throughout this passage.

The Passover as the Lamb

Exodus 12:3-11
¶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 [the lamb] 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 [the lamb] out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6 And ye shall keep it [the lamb] up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it [the lamb] in the evening [between the two evenings]. 7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it [the blood of the lamb] on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it [the lamb]. 8 And they shall eat the flesh [of the lamb] in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it [the lamb]. 9 Eat not of it [the lamb] raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his [the lamb's] head with his [the lamb's] legs, and with the purtenance thereof. 10 And ye shall let nothing of it [the lamb] remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it [the lamb] until the morning ye shall burn with fire. 11 ¶And thus shall ye eat it [the lamb]; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it [the lamb] in haste: it [the lamb] is the Lord's passover.

As we can see, the last line clearly defines what the Passover is—“it [the lamb] is the Lord's passover.” That definition is reinforced later in the chapter:

Exodus 12:21 – ¶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.

The lamb, selected and sacrificed at the specified time, is the Passover.

The Passover as a Period of Time (“Between the Evenings”)

However, this definition does not hold in all uses of the word. The following verses seem to include the rites of the Passover meal and the sacrifice, but is still emphasizing the lamb which is sacrificed.

Exodus 12:26-27 – And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? 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.

But yet again, when God specifies the Passover to the priesthood, he says:

Leviticus 23:5 – In the first month, on the fourteenth of the month, between the evenings is the Passover to Jehovah.

Here, it is the specific time period that is referred to as the Passover.

The Passover as a Seven Day Feast

And it seems that the Feast of Unleavened Bread is also referred to as “The Passover”:

Exodus 34:25 – Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.

Ezekiel 45:21 – In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.

Luke verifies this, when he states:

Luke 22:1 – Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.

Many Bible scholars claim that this identity between the Passover (proper) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread came about over the years. Thus the several references in the New Testament:

Matthew 26:2 – Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

Mark 14:1 – After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.

Luke 2:41 – Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.

John 6:4 – And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.

John 13:1 – Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

However, let's read Exodus 12 a little more carefully.

Exodus 12:14 – This day shall be to you for a memorial, …

God seems to start out talking about the Passover as a day, but then switches to the seven day feast:

14 – … and you shall keep it a feast to Yahweh: throughout your generations you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever.

15 – “‘Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; even the first day you shall put away yeast out of your houses, for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.

16 – In the first day there shall be to you a holy convocation, and in the seventh day a holy convocation; no kind of work shall be done in them, except that which every man must eat, that only may be done by you.

17 – You shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; …

And then switches back to talking about the day:

… for in this same day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations by an ordinance forever.

Then back to the feast again:

18 – In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty first day of the month at evening.

19 – There shall be no yeast found in your houses for seven days, for whoever eats that which is leavened, that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a foreigner, or one who is born in the land.

20 – You shall eat nothing leavened. In all your habitations you shall eat unleavened bread.’”

So, where do the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Passover first get intertwined and identified together? It is from God's own words! God himself shows that the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are intimately connected.

Contrary to scholarly opinion (which is primarily based upon an ungodly and faulty premise of higher biblical criticism), the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were not two separate feasts (the merging of two cultural celebrations). Unfortunately, some have been led astray by this faulty premise, and thus read Leviticus 23:5-6 as if the 14th day is the Passover “feast” and the 15th day begins a separate feast. The Word of God simply does not support that interpretation. Rather, Leviticus 23:6 should be read as the festival portion of the Passover, the beginning of the Feast of the Passover.

Thus, and once again, “the Passover” refers to a period of time, but one more extended than the few hours during which the lamb is to be sacrificed, as first suggested.

The Passover as a Complete Package

Numbers 9:3 (LITV) – In the fourteenth day of this month, between the evenings, you shall prepare it according to all its statutes, and according to all its ordinances.

Thus, when God says, “keep it in its appointed season—according to all its statutes, and according to all its ordinances” (Numbers 9:3), included in those ordinances is: the selection on the 10 th day, the sacrifice on the 14th day, the meal on the night of the 15th, and the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread with its Sabbaths (High Days) from the 15th to the 21st inclusive. That is why we see in II Chronicles 30:13 the Feast was kept in the second month along with the Passover on the 14th day.

II Chronicles 30:13 (LITV) – And many people gathered to Jerusalem, to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very great multitude.

It should be noted that the fourteenth day (as a whole) is never referred to as “the Passover”. However, in the New Testament, the Apostle John explicitly refers to the 14th day as “the Preparation of the Passover” (John 19:14). The other evangelists simply abbreviate it to “the Preparation [Day]” (Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54).

The word 'passover' has several meanings in the Bible. We see that it initially meant the selected, unblemished lamb that was to be sacrificed at the appointed time. Its meaning also has the extended meaning of the time period in which the lamb is to be sacrificed ('between the evenings', which is between the ninth hour and sunset on the fourteenth day of the first month). It also referred to the entire Feast of Unleavened Bread. The specific meaning is usually evident from the context.

Most of the time the context is clear enough that we can determine which meaning is intended. However, there are some crucial places where it is still rather vague. Such as, what exactly did Jesus mean when he told Peter and John to “Go and prepare us the passover” (Luke 22:8)? Was he referring to preparing the lamb? Or the meal? Or the Feast of Unleavened Bread? Or something else?

What is the Meaning of Mark 14:12 & Luke 22:7-8?

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 22:7-8 – Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.

What are Mark and Luke referring to here?

“the first day of unleavened bread”, “the day of unleavened bread” –
Strictly speaking, the first day of unleavened bread (Mark 14:12) would be Nisan/Abib 15 (Leviticus 23:6). By extension, some have considered the day on which the Passover lamb is killed (the 14th day) to be the first day, and was also included as a day of unleavened bread (even though there was no requirement for the bread eaten on the 14th to be unleavened, only from the 15th through the 21st). But depending upon the meaning of Matthew 26:20, this day could either still be the 13th or the beginning of the 14th. But there is no way it could be the 15th.

However, claiming this time to be on the 14th also doesn't work, as it leads to a number of conflicts with other Gospel record evidence (examples: they could not be preparing the Passover at the same time that they were to eat it, nor could it be eaten beyond morning).

The Law is clear about when the Passover lamb was to be killed:

Exodus 12:6 (LITV) – And it shall be for you to keep until the fourteenth day of this month. And all the assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it between the evenings.

Leviticus 23:5 (LITV) – in the first month, on the fourteenth of the month, between the evenings, is the passover to Jehovah;

Numbers 9:3 (LITV) – Also the sons of Israel shall prepare the Passover in its appointed season. In the fourteenth day of this month, between the evenings, you shall prepare it according to all its statutes, and according to all its ordinances. And Moses spoke to the sons of Israel to prepare the Passover. And they prepared the Passover in the first month on the fourteenth day of the month, between the evenings, in the wilderness of Sinai, according to all that Jehovah had commanded Moses, so the sons of Israel did.

“when they killed the passover”, “when the passover must be killed” –
Some have interpreted this to indicate that the Passover lambs were being killed at that very moment by others. However, as per above, it was not yet time to kill the Passover.

Kenneth S. Wuest, in his “The Gospels: An Expanded Translation”, has: “at which time it was the custom to kill the passover” (Mark XIV, 12-15, p. 156). Introducing the notion of 'custom' helps clarify the meaning. It was not referring to actions that were taking place at that moment, but to the continuing custom (annual event) of killing the Passover at its appointed time. Though the time for killing the Passover had not yet arrived, it was imminent and it was time to make other preparations (such as, ready the room). Also:

Luke 22:7 (The Peschito Syriac New Testament by J.W. Etheridge) – And the day of unleavened bread came, on which it was the custom to slay the petscha.

The Passover was to be killed at its customary time—on the 14th day, between the evenings (between the ninth hour and sunset)—which would not arrive until Jesus was dying on the cross.

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