Passover On The 14th or 15th? (IIf)

Image result for rabbi study picsThis is a Critique of Fred Coulter’s The Christian Passover. The main issue is whether the Passover is on the early or late fourteenth of Nisan. Quoted are his work, from an internet online version, which I presume, is his latest. Most of his quotes are in block form and indented so as to differentiate his from my comments. The Scriptures must, foremost, be our primary focus and guide.

Draft IIf

Chapters 10 – 11

The chapter started with the issue of how to interprete the time for slaying the lambs—Hebrew ben ha arbayim, “between the two evenings.”

There is no question that the Passover commands in Exodus 12 have been misinterpreted and given different meanings than the true scriptural meaning of God’s ordinances and statutes delivered to Moses. False interpretations of key Hebrew terms that are used in the Scriptural commands have caused great confusion as to which day God designated for the Passover observance, the 14th or the 15th.

This is a very true, even an understatement. If ba·erev is followed by ben ha arbayim then two lambs would be needed, one at ba·erev to fulfil Deuteronomy 16:6 and another at ben ha arbayim to fulfil Exodus 12:6. It is not just “great confusion,” it is magic—the type of Magic that Simon Magus had mastered that mesmerised many of his followers.

And then the issue is whether the Passover ordinances were seven or eight days, and whether the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were originally observed as two separate and distinct feasts. Fred Coulter wrote:

Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread Originally Were Two Separate Feasts—Not One Combined Feast.

The commands of God in Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23 make it undeniably clear that the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were to be observed as two separate feasts, one following the other.

And there are many modern authorities to support him:

The Jewish Encyclopedia states, “Comparison of the successive strata of the Pentateuchal laws bearing on the festival makes it plain that the institution, as developed, is really of composite character. TWO FESTIVALS ORIGINALLY DISTINCT HAVE BECOME MERGED…” (Vol. IX, “Passover,” emphasis added).

The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: “the feast contains two originally separate components.”(Vol. III, s. v. “Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread.”

The Encyclopedia Judaica: “The Feast of Passover consists of two parts: The Passover ceremony and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Originally both parts existed separately, but at the beginning of the Exile [in Babylon 603-585 BC] they were combined.

These are statements by mainly Protestants with a Jewish background but strong critics against the Rabbinic Orthodoxy, that their predecessors had somehow amalgamated the Passover with the Days of Unleavened Bread and call that the Passover or the Jewish Passover. Being dissatisfied with the strict Orthodoxy, they left their original faith and craved an alternate explanation rather than remained with a “static religion.” The Jewish Encyclopedia stated the idea that the two festivals were distinct from the beginning: “The Samaritans consider the Feast of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread as two distinct festivals.”

“You shall know them by their fruits,” Matthew 7:16. The originator of these feasts as distinct originated from the Samaritans, and had penetrated the Sadducees, who died out during the AD 70 inferno, but resurfaced in the tenth century with the Karaites, modern experts quoted above who were mainly Protestants from a Jewish background, and during the last century and today, the CoG Communities. “You shall know them by their fruits.”


See the source imageThe Jewish Encyclopedia — Its managing editor was Isidore Singer (1859–1939) and the editorial board was chaired by Isaac Funk and Frank Vizetelly. Singer was born Austria and studied at the University of Vienna and the Humboldt University of Berlin, receiving his PhD in 1884. One who held “extremely liberal views” and one who had described the Sabbath as “heavy burdens,” Singer moved to New York in 1895 where he started work which resulted in the Jewish Encyclopedia.

The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible — Its chief editor was Katharine Sakenfeld (b 1940). She is Professor of Old Testament Literature and Exegesis Emerita at Princeton Theological Seminary, having previously been William Albright Eisenberger Professor of Old Testament Literature and Exegesis. Sakenfeld studied at the University of Rhode Island and Harvard Divinity School before obtaining her PhD at Harvard University. She was ordained as a Presbyterian teaching elder in 1970, and has served as the moderator of the Presbytery of New Brunswick in the PCUSA.

The Encyclopedia Judaica — Its first chief editor was Cecil Roth (1899–1970). He was educated at Merton College, Oxford (PhD, 1924) and later returned to Oxford as Reader in Post-Biblical Jewish Studies from 1939 to 1964. Thereafter he was visiting professor at Bar-Ilan University, Israel (1964–1965), and at the City University of New York (1966–1969).

Anti-Jewish sentiments and rhetoric have contributed significantly to the development of antisemitism in Germany, and in the 1930s and 1940s provided an “ideal underpinning” for the Nazis’ attacks on Jews. In Martin Luther’s work, “The Jews & Their Lies,” he advocates (1) the burning of Jewish synagogues; (2) that their houses also be razed and destroyed; (3) that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings be destroyed; (4) that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb . . .

Jews have persistently been painted in a negative light, always been stigmatized upon, both spoken and in writing: antisemitism had been around since the ancient time of old, resurfaces time and time again in various forms . . . and today very prominent among the CoG Communities.

No, no, no, it wasn’t the Jews who amalgamated the Passover with the Days of Unleavened Bread. It was Moses who did that. For in Deuteronomy 1:1 These are the words which Moses spoke unto all Israel . . .

And jumping to:

Deuteronomy 16:1 “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.
2 Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the Passover unto the Lord thy God, “of the flock” (of sheep and goats) “and the herd” (bulls or bullocks), in the place which the Lord shall choose to place His name there.

The Passover and the days of unleavened bread are well interlaced during the Exodus that it is a composite festival. This is what Moses explained to the children of Israelites in more details.

In Exodus 12:5, it says, “You may take it either from the sheep or from the goats” but in Deuteronomy 16:2 above it includes from “the herd,” which is from cattles or oxens. To include cattles or oxens can only mean to include the Festival of the Days of Unleavened Bread where among other animals, two young bulls were sacrificed. Therefore the idea that the Passover was restricted solely to the fourteenth day is unattainable.

Also the composite festival was hinted at earlier in Numbers 28:16 “‘And on the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of the Lord. 17 And on the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten. 18 On the first day shall be a holy convocation. Ye shall do no manner of servile work therein, 19 but ye shall offer a sacrifice made by fire for a burnt offering unto the Lord: two young bulls, and one ram, and seven lambs of the first year. They shall be unto you without blemish.
The verses above should be read to describe the seven-day feast of the Passover, including eating of unleavened bread. Also, below it continues to describe how eating unleavened bread is part of observing the Passover:

Deuteronomy 16:3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it. Seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste, that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.
4 And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy borders seven days, neither shall there anything of the flesh, which thou sacrificed the first day at evening, remain all night until the morning.
5 Thou mayest not sacrifice the Passover within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee;

This is a departure from the original Passover in Egypt where they were to stay in their houses. In fact the command is exactly the opposite! That they should “not sacrifice the Passover within any of they gate.”

Deuteronomy 16:6 but at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place His name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the Passover at evening (erev), at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.

This evening (erev), is the same time where they kill the daily sacrifice. Exodus 29:38 Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. 39 The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even (erev). It is also the time when they were to start eating unleavened bread Exodus 12:18.

This amalgamation was reaffirmed in Ezekiel 45:21 where it describes the Passover as a seven-day festival! “‘In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days. Unleavened bread shall be eaten.

Septuagint: And in the first [month], on the fourteenth [day] of the month, ye shall have the feast of the passover; seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread.

And again in Luke 2:41 Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the Feast. 43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and His mother knew not of it.

Deuteronomy 16:7 And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, and thou shalt turn in the morning and go unto thy tents.
8 Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord thy God. Thou shalt do no work therein.

So the amalgamation of the Passover with the Days of Unleavened Bread started way back to Moses, and this interlacing characteristic was reaffirmed by Ezekiel, a prophet sent to the northern stiffnecked Israelites; the Jews, also stiffnecked, knew this all along.

“Erev” is the evening time, at around 3 PM, where the Jews killed the evening lamb since the time of Moses. If Moses had any doubt about its timing, he had full access to ask God who speaks to him from between the cherubim!

No, it was Moses who intertwined the Passover with the Days of Unleavened Bread! For it is said that the glory of God is to conceal a thing, (Proverbs 25:2), and Moses was revealing its composite character when he described the law in his own words in the Book of Deuteronomy. “These are the words which Moses spoke unto all Israel on this side of the Jordan in the wilderness,” Deuteronomy 1:1.

Image result for passover exodus

To make this clear enough: the Passover amalgamation occurred much earlier, right at Exodus 12, the original Passover in Egypt: Moses only made it clearer in the Book of Deuteronomy.

The first time “Passover” was mentioned is in Exodus 12:11, not at verse 6, even though verse six was describing the process of the Passover, the killing of the lamb. Verse 11 described the same continuing process of the Passover; i.e. the process of Passover runs into the Days of Unleavened Bread! The two feasts overlap right at the beginning.
Exodus 12:6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month, and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening . . .
11 And thus shall ye eat it: with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste; it is the Lord’S Passover.

The Targum translates and explains the eating of the Passover from the Hebrew in Exodus 12 into the vernacular, in a very simple language, and is extremely clear: “And you shall eat the flesh on that night, the fifteenth of Nisan . . .”

And here is a description of the CoG Communities: It says in Revelation 3:13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches!’ 14 “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write . . .15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of My mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, “I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing,” and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable, and poor and blind and naked . . . “

And Fred Coulter quoted another:

In his book The Jewish Festivals—From Their Beginnings to Our Own Day, Hayyim Schauss explains the changes in the observance of the Passover that were instituted at the time of Josiah’s reform: “It was in this way that Pesach [Passover] and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were joined, and the two distinct spring festivals became one historical holiday.

No, Fred is now getting desperate: Schauss didn’t say the amalgamation of Passover with Days of Unleavened Bread took place during Josiah’s time. Fred’s quote gave a wrong impression that the changes started only at Josiah’s initiative “at the time of Josiah’s reform.” Schauss says the reform took place after the Exodus but he issued a caveat, “We cannot be certain how long a time passed before the Jews accepted these reforms in practice and eased to offer the Pesach sacrifice in their own homes. Nor can we be certain how long it took for Pesach and the Feast of Unleavened Bread to become as one festival” (pg 46).

And just in case we didn’t dive deeper for more details: “The Jewish Festivals” is written by Hayyim Schauss, most probably a Conservative Jew, part of the Reform Movement where modern Jews found “the old ceremonies lack meaning,” and new interpretations are needed to be relevant to our modern era. Hence the terms that Schauss changed in his book are not surprising: annual solemn convocations or “holy days” as were perceived in Biblical times become a vacation or “holidays” in a character change. The most solemn Passover and Unleavened Bread festival became “the greatest Jewish national holidays.” In modernity, Jesus and His disciples must be seen as taking their annual vacation in Jerusalem. This is a character change. This is real heresy! Second, the book is published by Schocken Books, same publisher Everett Fox and the Schocken Bible that Fred Coulter quotes for his authority throughout. So the saying goes, foxes and wolves, wolves and foxes of the same colours.

To be sure, where the two feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread were intertwined, they were intertwined right in the original Exodus:

Exodus 12:6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month, and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening (ben ha arbayim). This ben ha arbayim is the time to start the Passover.

In Deuteronomy 16:6 ba·erev is also the time to start the Passover

The above time is also the time to start eating unleavened bread: Exodus 12:18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening (ba-erev), ye shall eat unleavened bread until the one and twentieth day of the month at evening (ba-erev).

Compare this to Leviticus 23:5 On the fourteenth day of the first month at evening (ben ha arbayim) is the Lord’S Passover.

In Leviticus 23:5 and Exodus 12:6 where the same expression ben ha arbayim is used it is when the Passover was killed on the fourteenth. In Deuteronomy 16:6 ba·erev is to commence the Passover; and in Exodus 12:18 ba·erev is also to commence eating unleavened bread. Passover and Unleavened Bread have already taken a composite character and well entwined right at the beginning, at the time of the original Exodus. This is plainly what the Scriptures say. “Ephraim [as head of the Northern Ten Tribes] compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit” (Hosea 11:12). Only the stiff-necked couldn’t see this. Plain and simple. Simple and plain.


While reiterating the story of Israel in Chapter 11 of his book from the time of Joshua, the judges and then Samuel, King David and Solomon, and so on, Fred Coulter seems to avoid one critical sin of King Jeroboam. Jeroboam not only moved the Feast of Tabernacles to the eight month, he also set up Bethel and Dan as houses of worship.

See the source image“Then the king [Jeroboam, now king of the northern ten tribes of Israel] took counsel, and made two calves of gold and said to them, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ And he set the one in Bethel, and he put the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one, even to Dan. And he made houses of worship on the high places [pagan temples to Baal], and made priests of the lowest of the people, who were not the sons of Levi. And Jeroboam ordered a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like the feast that is in Judah. And he offered upon the altar. So he did in Bethel [meaning “house of God”], sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.

“And he offered unto the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in the month which he had devised out of his own heart. And he ordained a feast for the children of Israel. And he offered upon the altar and burned incense” (I Kings 12:28-33).

But why didn’t Fred Coulter bold the emphasis of Jerusalem as God’s designated holy place to keep the Feast? Or has he deemed it wasn’t a sin? That Jeroboam’s sin were only moving the Feast from the seventh to the eight month and worshipping the two golden calves?

Notice he also didn’t bold the other cities—Bethel and Dan—neither cities authorised by God as a place of worship. This run parallel with his thought that the Israelites were wrong to keep the Passover in Jerusalem, that they should keep a “domestic” Passover—for it is too hard to keep the Feast in Jerusalem!

Later the Samaritans came along and said Mount Gerizim is the holy place to worship. But the truth is that Jerusalem is a very important city to God, one close to His heart:

And many nations shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob. And He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.” For the law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Micah 4:2

“Thus saith the Lord: ‘I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain.’ Zechariah 8:3

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God, and I will write upon him My new name. Revelation 3:12

And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2


In a previous post, we went through Conservative Judaism, a spinoff of Reform Judaism. Here, we’ll dive deeper into how the Movement started.

The origins of Reform Judaism lay in 19th-century Germany, where its early principles were formulated by Rabbi Abraham Geiger (1810-1874) and his associates (Samuel Holdheim, Israel Jacobson and Leopold Zunz). Since the 1970s, the Movement adopted a policy of inclusiveness and acceptance, inviting as many as possible to partake in its communities, rather than “strict theoretical clarity.”

Image result for Rabbi Abraham GeigerThe Movement is in “a process of constant evolution” and it “rejects any fixed, permanent set of beliefs, laws or practices.” They stated that the old mechanisms of religious interpretation were obsolete. Geiger sought a more coherent ideological framework to justify innovations in the liturgy and religious practice. While Reform Judaism initially developed as lay Jews simply lost interest in the strict observances required of Orthodoxy, with many seeking shorter services, more frequent sermons, and organ music, modeled after Protestant churches. In Germany, one characteristic of their progressive revelation was the institution of a “Second Sabbath” on Sunday, modeled on the Second Passover, as most people desecrated the day of rest. “If you cannot keep the Sabbath on its appointed time, you keep it on the next available day,” and so the Sabbath was shifted from Saturday to Sunday. “God would accept it,” they encouraged each other.

Discrimination and persecution against Jews in Germany were rampant for the next hundred years. Work were hard to come by and such new interpretation made sense in a community struggling to survive. America was opening up to immigrants and in a new Land of the Free, the five-day workweek soon made the Sunday Sabbath redundant. But nevertheless, the Movement had already has its momentum and today the Reform Movement’s largest center is in North America.

Reform Judaism encourage adherents to seek their own means of engaging a new Judaism, enhancing “individualism.” Tolerance for LGBT and ordination of LGBT rabbis were also pioneered by the Movement. It started slowly then gathered speed. Intercourse between consenting adults was declared as legitimate by the Central Conference of American Rabbis in 1977, and openly gay clergy were admitted by the end of the 1980s. Same-sex marriage were sanctioned by the end of the following decade. In 2015 the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) adopted a Resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People, urging clergy and synagogue attendants to actively promote tolerance and inclusion of such individuals.

Today, Reform Judaism has two main objectives:

(1) Reform Jews are committed to the absolute equality of women in all areas of Jewish life. “We were the first movement to ordain women rabbis, invest women cantors, and elect women presidents of our synagogues,” they claim.

(2) Reform Jews are also committed to the full participation of gays and lesbians in synagogue life as well as society at large.

As of 2013, the Pew Research Center survey calculated Reform Judaism represented about 35% of all 5.3 million Jews in the US, making it the single most numerous Jewish religious group in the country. Based on these, the URJ claims to represent 2.2 million people. It has 846 congregations in the US and 27 in Canada, the vast majority of the 1,170 affiliated with the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) that are not Reconstructionist. Its rabbinical arm is the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), with some 2,300 rabbis as members, mainly trained in Hebrew Union College. As of 2015, the URJ was led by President Rabbi Richard Jacobs, and the CCAR headed by Rabbi Denise Eger.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), founded in 1889 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, is the principal organization of Reform rabbis in the United States and Canada. Today, the CCAR is the largest and oldest rabbinical organization in the world. Its current president, and its first openly gay president, is Rabbi Denise Eger.

Denise Eger became the first openly gay president in 2015. The Reform Movement acknowledged that Jews and their rabbis “have long been part of the struggle for gay rights, and that includes advocacy for marriage equality.”

Rabbi Denise Eger was also the founding President of the Lesbian, Gay, & Bisexual Interfaith Clergy Association. In the summer of 2010 she was named one of the fifty most influential women rabbis.

Other Reform rabbis have other objectives in the Land of the Free. In 1888, the Jewish Publication Society (JPS), originally known as the Jewish Publication Society of America (JPSA), was founded by reform Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf among others in Philadelphia. It claimed to be the oldest nonprofit, nondenominational publisher of Jewish works in English. As the years rolled on, JPS became well known for its English translation of the Hebrew Bible, the JPS Tanakh. As JPS moved into the 20th, its popularity grew rapidly. After years of meetings, deliberations and revisions, the entire translation of the Bible was finally completed in 1917.

In 1985, the newly translated three parts of the Bible (the Torah, Prophets, and Writings) were compiled into what is now known as the JPS Tanakh (or NJPS, New JPS translation, to distinguish it from the OJPS, or Old JPS translation of 1917). Hence the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) is credited as both Publisher of the TANAKH 1917 and 1985 editions.

The JPS followed a central tenet, to adopt “a policy of inclusiveness and acceptance, inviting as many as possible to partake in its communities, rather than strict theoretical clarity.” It is strongly identified with progressive political and social agendas, mainly under the traditional Jewish rubric Tikkun Olam, or “Repairing of the World”. In their endeavour to avoid the “bondage of Judaism,” a new policy of inclusiveness and acceptance was established. And a new Tikkun Olam became a central motto of Reform Judaism—to “express wholeheartedly the idea of universal equality, freedom, and peace for all,” and to “forge a common bond in true harmony to banish all hatred and bigotry.”

The results:

Exodus 12:6 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year; ye shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats; 6 and ye shall keep it unto the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at dusk.

The 1988 edition (hard copy) says “at twilight,” published by the New JPS Translation. And as a result it has overwhelming influence in every major English translation:

NKJV: 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. The NAS, NIV, NKJV and NRSV all render this as “twilight”. “The Message Bible”, produced by Eugene Peterson in 2002, and CJB by David Stern, translate this as “dusk” like the JPS. *

Besides Fred Coulter there are others yielding great influence among the CoG Communities:

After discussing the meaning of Exodus 12:6, Frank W. Nelte of South Africa, an ex-WCG minister, states: “The JPS translation of “between the two evenings” is AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT that dusk is bounded by “the two evening.” Frank emphasized further, “Now “dusk” is NEVER before sunset. Dusk is ALWAYS AFTER SUNSET!”

And John W. Ritenbaugh wrote: “Ba erev means sunset. It is very specific. It includes no time before sunset. It is a period that begins whenever the edge of the sun hits the edge of the horizon. If you stood and watched how long ba erev takes, it takes about three to five minutes of time. It is very specific” (Passover, Part 3).

As of this writing, a new “gender-sensitive version of the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) translation” is on promotion in their endeavour to adapt to the needs of the day. It’s a “largely gender-neutral God language” and a completely fresh translation of the Torah. This new translation will prove exceedingly useful not only for clergy and synagogue professionals, but also for anyone interested in Biblical learning, so they claimed.

The next challenge for Fred R. Coulter, Frank W. Nelte and John W. Ritenbaugh is to continue cutting off from the “bondage of Judaism” to attain their next level of spirituality.


~ by Joel Huan on August 8, 2019.

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