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Ex 12:18 '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.

Ex 12:19 'Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses...

I have read and re-read this verse countless times, but struggle with a fundamental problem. If Unleavened Bread is to be eaten for 7-days, why does it explicitly outline a time-period greater than 7-days?

  • Day 1: 14th day of 1st month (Afternoon)
  • Day 2: 15th day of 1st month
  • Day 3: 16th day of 1st month
  • Day 4: 17th day of 1st month
  • Day 5: 18th day of 1st month
  • Day 6: 19th day of 1st month
  • Day 7: 20th day of 1st month
  • Day 8: 21st day of 1st month (Afternoon)

Another gentleman proposed the Hebrew says 'until the 21st day'. Meaning up until the 21st. Thus, the 7-day count would begin on the 14th and end on the 20th.

However, when looking at the structure of the verse, the command concerning the 14th appears to be the same Hebrew structure as the end of the verse concerning the 21st.

Is there anyone who can dissect the Hebrew to provide some illumination on this matter?

Thank you!

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  • If on the 15th, in the afternoon, one day has passed, 7 days will actually have passed at the arrival of the afternoon on the 21th day. – Constantthin Oct 29 '19 at 23:58
  • Right, but that's where I'm curious about the portion of the command that says on the 14th. – RAB Oct 30 '19 at 2:48
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The Egyptian day starts at sunrise, but the Hebrew day starts at sunset. According to the Egyptian day they should eat unleavened bread at the 14th in the evening; but according to the Hebrew day it is already the 15th. The text speaks to the ancient Hebrews which are still in transition from one method to the other. Perhaps saying that it is only 7 days is a way of teaching them that the evening of the 14th is not part of this count.

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  • Hmm. I hadn't heard of that explanation before. Thank you for the idea. – RAB Oct 30 '19 at 2:57
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Ex 12:18 '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.

Ex 12:19 'Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses..

It made sense to me when I applied dates (e.g. January 14th forward).

• Day 1: 14th day of 1st month…(January 14th)

• Day 2: 15th day of 1st month…(January 15th)

• Day 3: 16th day of 1st month…(January 16th)

• Day 4: 17th day of 1st month…(January 17th)

• Day 5: 18th day of 1st month…(January 18th)

• Day 6: 19th day of 1st month…(January 19th)

• Day 7: 20th day of 1st month…(January 20th)

“…you shall eat unleavened bread…(not “including” or “through” but)…until the 21st day of the month…”.

On the 21st day, leavened bread shall be eaten, in the evening: Young's Literal Translation: "In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, in the evening, ye do eat unleavened things until the one and twentieth day of the month, at evening;" Ex 12:18 biblehub.com/exodus/12-18.htm

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  • Ok, so I believe you're saying what I'm asking myself. The command says to eat UP TO the 21st day, but not including it. Do you know if the Hebrew bears out the idea of "until"? Or is one required to simply use human logic. – RAB Nov 7 '19 at 19:01
  • Sorry, I tried to edit the previous comment but cannot due to the 5-minute time-limit. I ask this because it says until (UP TO) the 21st at evening. Evening is in the twilight which is during the period when the sun is descending. This would either be too early on the 20th, or too late on the 21st. – RAB Nov 7 '19 at 19:44
  • Young's Literal Translation includes "until the one and twentieth day of the month, at evening;" biblehub.com/exodus/12-18.htm . I entered that in my answer. Thanks – John Martin Nov 8 '19 at 20:59
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The Hebrew day starts at sundown. So Exodus 12:18:

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.

means from the 14th in the evening [following the 14th day] until the 21st in the evening [following the 21st day]. That's a period of exactly seven Hebrew days.

The "fourteenth in the evening" is in fact the beginning of the fifteenth day of the month. So the commandment to eat unleavened bread and the prohibition against leaven actually start on the fifteenth day of the month. The 14th day itself is not included in either the positive commandment or the prohibition.

So why didn't the verse just say "from the fifteenth through the twenty-first day"? Wouldn't that have been clearer? The answer is probably that passover lamb was commanded to be slaughtered on the fourteenth in the afternoon, but only eaten that evening, on the fifteenth, together with unleavened bread. The sequence of commandments and their juxtaposition in time therefore dictates the evening-to-evening formulation.

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