Passover On The 14th or 15th? (IIh)

This is a continuing Critique of Fred Coulter’s The Christian Passover. The main issue is whether the Passover is on the early or late fourteenth of Nisan.

Image result for moses picsDraft IIh

Chapters 14 – 15

Ezra was a righteous scribe. He was also a righteous high priest. His priestly lineage could be traced all the way back to Aaron, the first high priest established under Moses (Ezra 7:1-5). Ezra returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile and faithfully reintroduced the Torah to all those who followed him (Ezra 7–10 and Nehemiah 8). For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. He was so righteous that he was regarded as the second Moses in the Voice Translation of Ezra 7:10 He was a second Moses, and tenaciously studied, practiced, and taught the Eternal’s law to Israel.

With the above in mind, we’ll continue with our critique:

Although Deuteronomy 16 contains instructions for the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the two other holy days seasons, the fact that the word “Passover” appears in Verse 1 has caused great confusion in the minds of many Bible students and scholars. They are not aware that these verses were edited by Ezra long after the book of Deuteronomy was originally written, and that in Ezra’s time the entire eight-day observance of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread was called “Passover.” When we understand that the term “Passover” was used for the Feast of Unleavened bread, the seeming discrepancy between Deuteronomy 16 and other Scriptural passages is eliminated.

When we place all the jigsaw pieces together and they fix nicely, there isn’t any confusion. If the puzzle doesn’t fit, our understanding is obviously wrong, and so there is confusion.

The books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers were mainly the words of God to His subjects—to Adam, to Abraham, to Jacob, to Moses—but in the book of Deuteronomy it was Moses speaking to the Israelites. Deuteronomy 1:1 says “These are the words which Moses spoke unto all Israel on this side of the Jordan in the wilderness . . . 3 And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spoke unto the children of Israel according unto all that the Lord had given him in commandment unto them.”

Image result for moses picsSo when Moses spoke, he spoke “according unto all that the Lord had given him.” He uses terms that were slightly different from what God spoke as expressed in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. In Deuteronomy Moses couldn’t be just repeating the same line, word for word, that God used. Moses would sometimes clarify seemingly confusing issues, or to elucidate complex subjects as the wordings in Deuteronomy 16 show.

If Moses had any doubt, he had full access to God at the Holy of Holies at the Sanctuary to ask and seek clarification. One example is found in Numbers 9 when some Israelites had came in contact with the dead, and thought they couldn’t keep the Passover. Moses said to them, “Stand still, and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you” (verse 8). Moses had never being denied access to God to seek clarification on any issue or for any reason.

The book of Deuteronomy is composed entirely of the words of Moses, spoken from his heart to his people Israel. And since Moses was a righteous man, he spoke in a language that we can understand, yet it’s the Word of God. Years later Ezra used the same methodology for those who returned from the Exile and who had lost the Hebrew language, and who knew only the Aramaic language, and this same process gave birth to the Targum, another source of the Scriptures that we should refer from time to time.

Nehemiah 8:8 So they read in the book, in the law of God, distinctly, and gave the sense and caused them to understand the reading.

Nehemiah 8:8 implied not only the reading of the Law, but also made interpretation of its Hebraic meaning—its translation and interpretation—were simplifies from Hebrew to Aramaic, so that the common people in the streets could understand, and this practice was broadened and spread to all the synagogues in Judea. Before long the Targum was written in the Aramaic, and today, translated—including some explanations—in the English language.

Let’s have another look at the original Passover, during the 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).
7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses wherein they shall eat it.
8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roasted with fire; and with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it (The Targum identified this night as the fifteenth of Nisan).
9 Eat not of it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted with fire — his head with his legs and with the viscera thereof.
10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning, and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.
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 (h6453).
12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.
Image result for old passover pics13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over (h6452) you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you when I smite the land of Egypt.
14 “‘And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
15 Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread. Even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses; for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
16 And in the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation to you. No manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done by you.
17 And ye shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.
18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening (erev), ye shall eat unleavened bread until the one and twentieth day of the month at evening (erev).
19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses; for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger or born in the land.
20 Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.’”

Note in verse 8 that the Targum identified that night as “the night of the fifteenth.” Along with the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint, the Targum is also an important source of our Bible and ignoring it could only led to our own inadequacy and paucity.

It was Ezra whose work gave rise to the Targum, translating the Hebrew Text to Aramaic so that the rank and file could understand. He was a priest and “a scribe skilled in the law.” Ezra 7:10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. The Voice translated this same verse as “He (Ezra) was a second Moses, and tenaciously studied, practiced, and taught the Eternal’s law to Israel.”

See the source imageLet’s have another look; let’s accept that the Pharisees sat on Moses’ seat as Christ said, instead of stigmatizing them:

Verse 6 says to keep the Passover, where the lamb was sacrificed at even—”after noon and until nightfall.” From verse 7 to 11, it is describing the night as the Passover, ending by saying “it is the Lord’S Passover.” So the Passover stretched into the Days of Unleavened Bread. Eating of unleavened bread also starts from the fourteenth of Nisan, at even (erev).

Further, commenting on the beginning verse 8, “And they shall eat the flesh in that night,” the Targum translates this as the night of the fifteenth (of Nisan).

That same night was what the Lord (not the Death Angel) would do, to “execute judgment.” That night, when the Lord execute His judgment, was meant to be a memorial, and it was “a feast to the Lord.” The Targum says further, “And it was in the dividing of the night of the fifteenth, that the Word of the Lord slew all the firstborn in the land of Mizraim (Egypt), from the firstborn son of Pharoh, who would have sat upon the throne of his kingdom, unto the firstborn sons of the kings who were captives in the dungeon as hostages under Pharoh’s hand.”

The subject was still the Passover—about how Passover was to be kept. What happened on the Passover night. And how we should be keeping Passover by having seven days of eating unleavened bread—observed Passover by eating unleavened bread for seven days. And this amalgamation is confirmed in the Mishnah.

What is the difference between the pesah [which was offered] in Egypt and the pesah of [subsequent] generations?The pesah in Egypt was taken on the tenth [of Nisan], And it required sprinkling with a bunch of hyssop on the lintel and on the two door-posts, And it was eaten in haste on one night, whereas the pesah of [subsequent] generations is kept the whole seven [days]. (Mishnah Pesachim 9)

Only by verse 17 was phrase “the Feast of Unleavened Bread” appears. And how should we keep it? The answer is found in verse 18, we are to keep it by eating unleavened bread from the fourteenth, at even. So the Days of Unleavened Bread starts a few hours before the fifteenth, it overlaps with Passover which is to start the fourteenth, at even. The Scriptures were a bit vague on casual reading, but on closer scrutiny, it is extremely clear. The two feasts are a composite, and this Exodus 12 account shows that the original distinction between the two feasts were well interweaved right from the start. Moses knew he would not be crossing the Jordan with the Israelites. So, he took the opportunity to point the Israelites toward the LORD and impress on this new generation the importance of heeding His Commandments. For God it is His glory to conceal a mystery, sometimes to hide a truth and to hook out those having a contemptuous attitude. And Moses warned those found to be guilty of persisting with this contemptuous spirit, a serious charge, would be put to death:

Deuteronomy 16:18 “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment.

Deuteronomy 17:11 According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. 12 And the man who will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest who standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die.

See the source imageMoses knew he would die soon and his understanding had been conveyed to judges, Levites and priests where the true interpretation of the law were taught. So in the book of Deuteronomy Moses spoke and explained unto all Israel “according unto all that the Lord had given him” as to how to keep them, the blessing they would have if they obey, or cursing if they disobey, in a language they could understand. Men may have good intentions, but may do things seen as presumptuously? What is presumptuous or presumptuously?

Synonyms: arrogant, bumptious, cavalier, chesty, haughty, high-and-mighty, high-handed, high-hat, huffish, huffy, imperious, important, lofty, lordly, masterful, overweening, peremptory, pompous, presuming, pretentious, self-asserting, self-assertive, sniffy, supercilious, superior, uppish, uppity

And those judgement has the force of law, and the Force of God. In Deuteronomy 19:17 Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges. When we stand before a judge, we stand before God. “Then his master shall bring him unto the judges [H430 elohim]” (Exodus 21:6). In the Septuagint, it is translated as the judgment-seat of God.

On another note, the word “pesach” has a few timeframes. Just like the word “yowm” could be a 24-hour day or a 12-hour day, both concepts are contained within such a verse like Genesis 1:5. But pesach could be any one of four timeframes:

(a) An approximately 6-hour period—”after noon and until nightfall” erev or ben ha arbayim, when the lamb was killed.
(b) A one day concept, as in Numbers 28:16 “‘And on the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of the Lord.
(c) A seven-day festival as in Exodus 12:4-15, Deuteronomy 16:1-8, and as in Ezekiel 45:21 where it is explicitly described, “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.
(d) An 8-day period when the 7-days Days of Unleavened Bread is added to the 14th day Passover. The whole period is also known as the Passover. Another reason is given below: Back when the months of the Jewish calendar were determined by observations of the new moon, eyewitnesses would bring their testimony to the rabbinical court in Jerusalem, and the court would sanctify the new month based on this testimony. But faraway communities such as Babylonia couldn’t get the message in time, and didn’t know when the new month had begun, though they could narrow the possibilities to two days. So to play it safe, they observed another day, so Pesach became an eight-day festival.

Deuteronomy 16 clarifies some earlier Scriptures as to how to keep the Passover:

(i) Passover was to be offered in the place which the Lord shall choose, not within any of their gates (Deuteronomy 16:2,5). It was no longer in their houses as was during the Exodus, hence a “domestic passover” for later observances is a misplacement.
(ii) For purposes of the timing of the sacrificing of pesach, the time is erev (Deuteronomy 16:6), the same time as ben ha arbayim (Exodus 12:6). Thus erev, for this purpose, is also “after noon and until nightfall” (Exodus 12:6).
(iii) Erev (Deuteronomy 16:6) is being defined as “at the going down of the sun.” It’s the first moment when the sun starts to go down when it passes its zenith. It is also the same time to start eating unleavened bread (Exodus 12:18). So eating of unleavened bread started earlier than eating of the pesach by some 6 or more hours.
(iv) God specifies that three times a year all males should appear before Him in the place which He shall choose, which were later identified by God to be in Jerusalem (II Chronicles 6:6): in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and in the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:16). It clarifies Exodus 23:14,17; 34:23.
We should study the Scriptures in great details and scrutinised what it actually says. Sometimes, it’s pretty different from what we thought it says. Start eating unleavened bread from the fourteenth onward, at even, erev, don’t wait until the fifteenth. And just as a reminder of what Fred Coulter wrote, back to Chapter One: “False doctrines and misinterpretations are continually being spread because ministers and teachers use the Word of God deceitfully. How diabolical it is to take the Word of God, which is the truth, and misapply it to create a lie!”

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While Ezra was responsible for centralizing the Passover, it is important to remember that his action was intended to protect the true worship of God. He was not acting in opposition to God’s ordinances and therefore was NOT ACTING AGAINST THE AUTHORITY OF GOD.

Why such doublespeak above? If centralizing the Passover in Jerusalem is not against God, then it is for God. Plain and simple. Why so much grumbling? Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Lord and to teach in Israel His laws, statutes and judgments. He was so highly regarded that he was appraised as the second Moses.

To this day, the members of this Samaritan religion keep their Passover at the beginning of the 14th, in the same manner as their ancestors. The fact that this Jewish/Samaritan sect has always observed a domestic Passover indicates that the temple sacrifice of the Passover lambs was not the practice in Jerusalem when their religion was founded. The following description of their Passover confirms that it has not changed from the original domestic observance:

No, they don’t. Even Samaritans kept their passover outdoors at Mount Gerizim, under the light of the full moon, near today’s city of Nablus in the West Bank, and this mountain isn’t at their homes, so it isn’t a “domestic” passover. Yes, they kept it at the beginning of the fourteenth in the same manner as the Church of God communities today.

“They, therefore, observe Pesach exactly as it was observed two or three thousand years ago [emphasis added]….Modern historical research has proved that the Samaritans are not descendants of the heathen colonists settled in the northern kingdom by the conquerors of Samaria, as was once assumed….Actually the Samaritans of today are a small and poor remnant of an old and great Jewish sect….The only religious books that they possess, however, are the Pentateuch and Joshua….these two hundred [remnant] Samaritans observe Pesach to this day on Mount Gerizim, in a manner that other Jews ceased practising thousands of years ago. The custom of offering sacrifices has died out with the Samaritans, except on the fourteenth day of Nisan, when they offer the ceremonial Pesach sacrifice” (Schluss, The Jewish Festivals, pp. 60-61).

The background of the Samaritans is recorded in II Kings 17:20 And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hands of despoilers until He had cast them out of His sight. 21 For He rent Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. And Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin. 22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them, 23 until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. 24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they possessed Samaria and dwelt in the cities thereof.

Samaritans occupied the country formerly belonging to the tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh and the other Lost Tribes where most of today’s Church of God communities comes from. The capital of the country was Samaria, formerly a large and splendid city. When the ten tribes were carried away into captivity to Assyria, the king of Assyria sent people from Cutha, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim to inhabit Samaria (II Kings 17:24). So for simplicity sake, Jews assert that the Samaritans are “Cutheans.”

In order to preserve the true worship of God, it was essential to differentiate the Scriptures of the Jerusalem Jews from the Scriptures of the Jewish/Samaritan religion. The first step was to set the Scriptures in order and canonize each book as the authentic Word of God. When this work was completed, accurate copies of the entire text had to be made and distributed to Jewish synagogues throughout the empire. Once canonized, the Word of God could be preserved for all time.

As part of the canonization of the Scriptures, Ezra also edited the books which became the Old Testament. This editing included the substitution of current terminology for ancient names that were no longer in use.

See the source imageEzra edited Deuteronomy 16 from the then old Samaritan version, so Fred Coulter alleged, as the Samaritan version must be the authentic version. Quoting his own work, “The Original Bible Restored,” he says, “Although a few alterations were made in the text of the Old Testament after its canonization, there is no question that Ezra was the one who compiled the books, edited them and canonized them.” But of course, he was mainly referring to the vandalisation of Deuteronomy 16 (mainly verses 1-8).

“Whatever I command you, observe to do it. Thou shalt not add thereto nor diminish from it (Deuteronomy 12:32). Vandalising the Bible is a serious charge, risking eternal life (Revelation 22:18-19).

Fred Coulter’s charge isn’t alone. He has a few colleagues who share his view.

From Frank W. Nelte, referring to Deuteronomy 16:1, 2, 4, 5, 6

These verses give the impression that the Passover is being spoken about. But the word “Passover” was deviously inserted into these verses by some dishonest scribe. The motivation for these devious changes was to justify the Jewish custom of referring to the Seven Days of Unleavened Bread as “Passover”.

The evidence for the fraudulent changes in this section of Scripture is not found in preserved manuscripts but in the pages of the Bible itself. We are dealing with a passage that is absolutely vital to upholding a Jewish belief, which belief is clearly unbiblical according to all the other Scriptures in the entire Old Testament. And these fraudulent changes have been accepted in every preserved manuscript, because they endorse a specific Jewish custom.

In addition, there is also a mistranslation in verse 6.
The only evidence for these alterations consists of exposing incompatible, contradictory and illogical statements in the changed text, when compared to other biblical passages. The person who altered this text overlooked some things which expose his fraudulent tampering.

Here are the changes that were made:
In these verses some scribe REMOVED the expression “the Feast of Unleavened Bread” from verse 1, and then REPLACED IT with the word “Passover”. In addition, this scribe also simply INSERTED the word “Passover” into the text of verses 2, 5 and 6.

From John W. Ritenbaugh:

In the context of Deuteronomy 16, the word “Passover” is beginning to look clearly out of place. As we continue to look further, we are going to see that verses 1-8 have nothing to do at all with instructions for the Passover lamb, but rather for Unleavened Bread, and specifically the Night To Be Much Observed, which is of course the first night after the Passover, not the same night as the Passover.

How did the name “Passover” get in there? God certainly did not inspire it to be in there. It had to have been edited into Deuteronomy 16 at a much later time (when the entire eight days of the spring festival were commonly called Passover) than from when it was originally written. You will see this very clearly in the New Testament that the entire spring feast was commonly called Passover by the Jews. Somebody, in copying, must have deliberately removed the name “Unleavened Bread” and placed the name “Passover” into Deuteronomy 16 in order to give support to a 15th Passover—to a Temple-centered 15th Passover (Passover transcript, Part 9).

“Who would have the authority to make such a change from Unleavened Bread to Passover in Deuteronomy 16? The finger of history points to someone during or after the time of Ezra. Ezra came along in the period roughly between 530 BC and about 515 BC. When Ezra came on the scene, the Jews, who had just come out of captivity, were again starting down the same path that originally took them into captivity” (Passover transcript, Part 10).

Tampering and vandalising God’s Word are serious charges, whose penalty is death (Revelation 22:18-19). Zechariah 11:8 is one of the most intriguing verse in the Scriptures. It says, “Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul loathed them and their soul also abhorred me.” Who are these three shepherds? Could they be Fred Coulter, Frank Nelte and John Ritenbaugh?

My nerves stand on end when I think about this. I hope it isn’t, of course.

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~ by Joel Huan on August 10, 2019.

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