Does the word "until" in Exodus 12:6 mean the beginning of the 14th day of the first month? Strongs 5704. (עַד ‛ad) definition is, up to, not into. The Brown-Driver-Briggs definition seems to indicate the same.

וְהָיָ֤ה לָכֶם֙ לְמִשְׁמֶ֔רֶת עַ֣ד אַרְבָּעָ֥ה עָשָׂ֛ר י֖וֹם לַחֹ֣דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֑ה וְשָׁחֲט֣וּ אֹת֗וֹ כֹּ֛ל קְהַ֥ל עֲדַֽת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בֵּ֥ין הָעַרְבָּֽיִם׃
You shall keep watch over it until the fourteenth day of this month; and all the assembled congregation of the Israelites shall slaughter it at twilight.

  • The key thing here is that it was killed before sunset, which is when the day ends and the next one begins. If "until" didn't include the 14th, then it would be dead before the 14th begins, which means that they wouldn't have kept it until the 14th. So "until" must include the 14th, with the slaughter happening on the late afternoon of the 14th. Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 1:10

3 Answers 3


The preposition עַ֣ד

HALOT and BDB have three homonyms for this word. BDB specifically assigns it to the third homonym.

  1. Of time: a. (a) even to, until Gn 8:5 even to the 10th month, Ex 12:6 unto the 14th day, etc., v 15, 18, etc.; עד היום unto this day, Gn 19:37, 38, -- Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (1977). In Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (p. 724). Clarendon Press.

This is from a Jewish commentary. The Law of Moses is most strongly studied by Jewish scholars. At twilight (בֵּ֥ין הָעַרְבָּֽיִם) should answer your question. One would expect the watch to last until the animal is sacrificed.

  1. keep watch The animal, selected on the tenth of the month, is to be carefully protected from blemish for four days until it is slaughtered. No reason for the interval is given. It may be an act of defiance of the Egyptians—in light of 8:22—and a time of testing for Israel.

at twilight Hebrew bein ha-ʿarbayim literally means “between the two settings.” Rabbinic sources take this to mean “from noon on.”17 According to Radak, the first “setting” occurs when the sun passes its zenith just after noon and the shadows begin to lengthen, and the second “setting” is the actual sunset. Josephus testifies that the paschal lamb was slaughtered in the Temple between 3 and 5 P.M.19 -- Sarna, N. M. (1991). Exodus (p. 55). Jewish Publication Society.


The literal Hebrew, demonstrated by Young's Literal and Green's Literal, indicates that the slaughter occurred 'between the evenings' and that the charge was to keep it until the fourteenth day 'and the assembly 'have' slaughtered it'.

`And it hath become a charge to you, until the fourteenth day of this month, and the whole assembly of the company of Israel have slaughtered it between the evenings [Exodus 1:6 Young's Literal]

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 [Exodus 12:6 Green's Literal]

Therefore the charge must be kept until the fourteenth day by which time they have slaughtered it - it having been slaughtered 'between the evenings' that is to say between the evening of the thirteenth day and the evening of the fourteenth day.

The charge is until the fourteenth day.

On the evening of the fourteenth day, that is to say, as that day starts, at evening, they are to eat the flesh of the slaughtered lamb with unleavened bread.

But the unleavened bread was to be eaten on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, [Exodus 12:18 KJV]

Therefore the lamb was slaughtered between the evenings, then on the evening (that was the beginning of the fourteenth day) the lamb was eaten with the unleavened bread.

  • See Nachmanides comment on Exodus 12 (6) where the expanded commentary clearly says Now since the Passover-offering is to be eaten only on the night of the fifteenth day Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 18:59
  • What does "between the evenings" mean in English? What basis is there to think that בין הערבים could mean "between two different evenings"? It appears to indicate a particular time of day in Exodus 16:12, 29:39,41, and the verses related to the daily sacrifices in Numbers 28. How does this post answer the OP question "up to but not including" or "including"? This post seems to indicate that "keeping" includes "keeping it after slaughtering it". Is that what you intended to say? Until when was it kept? This seems to contradict Exodus 12:10. Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 22:38

To answer questions about "stop words" such as עד, it is best to look directly at examples from the primary text, and not to attempt to understand from what secondary sources such as BDB, or tertiary source have to say. There are 250+ usages of עד in the OT with the meaning of "until", "to", "up to", for conditions or ranges. So we have many examples that we can study in order to elucidate the meaning.

WRT time or conditions, עד always indicates including. Therefore, in the instance of the jubilee year, additional words are necessary to qualify עד in order to express the meaning "up to but not including".

The proximal example to Exodus 12:6 is Exodus 12:10 (NIV):

Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it.

From this example it is clear that עד is inclusive of the morning.

So, Exodus 12:6 means including the 14th day of the month of spring (Aviv) as there are no further words or verses to indicate that the guarding of the lamb was to stop at the end of the previous day, the 13th day of the month.

A futher example, in Genesis 26:33, עד means including this day (NIV):

He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.

Same for Genesis 27:45:

When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?

Same for Genesis 28:15:

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

Same for Genesis 29:8:

“We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.”

Same for Genesis 32:25:

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.

Same for Genesis 32:32:

Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

Same for Exodus 10:6:

They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians—something neither your parents nor your ancestors have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now.’” Then Moses turned and left Pharaoh.

Same for ... (about 190 more)

In the instance of the Jubilee, Leviticus 25:28 additional words are required to quality עד to mean "not including:

But if they do not acquire the means to repay, what was sold will remain in the possession of the buyer until the Year of Jubilee. It will be returned in the Jubilee, and they can then go back to their property.

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