Exodus 12:14 states that "this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD." Some teach that this feast day or memorial, referred to in Exodus 12:14, describes the Passover. Is this correct?


It is not.

Although the Passover is at times referred to as a feast day (compare Leviticus 23: 4-5), the Bible distinguishes between the day of Passover (on Nisan or Abib 14) and the seven Days of Unleavened Bread (on Nisan or Abib 15-21). [The first month of the year, in accordance with the Hebrew Calendar, is called Abib or Nisan. Abib, the original name, means “sprouting” or “budding.” The name Nisan was adopted following the Babylonian captivity. The first month is comparable to the Roman calendar period of March-April, and begins, in Biblical terms, with a new moon.] Exodus 12:14 refers to the first day of Unleavened Bread (compare Leviticus 23:4, 6), NOT the Passover.

We find that Christ and His disciples kept the Passover on Nisan or Abib 14. At that time, the Passover was sometimes included in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but then the entire time was counted as lasting eight days, not only seven (compare Matthew 26:17-20; Mark 14:12-18; Luke 22:1, 7-16). However, the distinction between the Passover evening and the seven Days of Unleavened Bread was still clearly understood (compare Mark 14:1). One of the reasons why the Passover was included as an “unleavened” day was that the Jews, when leaving their homes to go to Jerusalem, had to remove all leaven from their homes, before they left (compare Exodus 12:19). Still, when the New Testament speaks of the FEAST during the spring season, it refers to the first day of Unleavened Bread, not the Passover evening (compare John 13:1). During the Passover evening, Christ told His betrayer, Judas, to “do quickly” what he had planned to do (John 13:27). Judas left the house, and the disciples thought that Jesus had asked him to buy those things they needed for the FEAST (compare John 13:29) — that is, the first day of Unleavened Bread, which would start at sunset on Nisan 15 — more than 20 hours later.

With this background, let us carefully review the events at the time when the first Passover was instituted. The evidence that the Passover was and is to be kept at the BEGINNING of Nisan or Abib 14, not at the end, is overwhelming, and will not be discussed here in detail. We would just like to point out that Christ and His disciples, as we saw, kept the PASSOVER at the BEGINNING of the 14th, and they should have known when to keep it. Further, the death angel went through Egypt on the night of the 14th, not the 15th, and that event is called Passover because the death angel passed over the Israelites, when he saw the blood at the doors of their houses (Exodus 12:27). We all know that Passover [and this has to include the actual event of the death angel’s PASSING OVER the Israelites] was on the 14th — not the 15th (Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 28:16). Also, the Israelites were not to leave their houses until morning (Exodus 12:22), and still we read that they left Egypt by night (Deuteronomy 16:1). Since it could not have been the night of Nisan 14, it had to be the next night — of Nisan 15.

Turning now to Exodus 12:14, let us quote, with approval, from Mr. Armstrong’s article, “What You Should Know About the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread,” which was published in The Good News, March 1979:

“Notice the Passover is not on the 15th… And notice too, the FEAST mentioned here is not the 14th…, but the FEAST DAY is the 15th. The seven-day period begins the 15th. The 15th is the FIRST of the seven Days of Unleavened Bread. However, since leaven was put out of the houses during the 14th, it came to be called one of the Days of Unleavened Bread by New Testament times, but when this is done, EIGHT days are included as Days of Unleavened Bread. The entire eight-day period is, in New Testament usage, called by then PASSOVER. BUT, the seven-day period begins the 15th, after the 14th, or Passover, has ended.

“The 14th day is the Passover. It is the first of God’s [annual] festivals… In the 15th day is the FEAST. Let us get that distinction clearly in mind. It is the 15th that is the FEAST — the 14th is the Passover. This FEAST day begins after Passover has ended… What day is established as a MEMORIAL — not a shadow, a MEMORIAL — a FEAST — to be kept FOREVER? Notice, it is the day that is the FEAST… the 15th Abib [or Nisan], not the 14th — not the Passover. This day is the Feast day — a memorial, to be kept a Sabbath or holy convocation, FOREVER! SEVEN Days are included… Many have always believed the day here spoken of, and ordained forever, was the Passover, or 14th. But it is not — it is the 15th day… The day established as a Sabbath or holy convocation forever is the FEAST day, the selfsame day on which they went out of Egypt, and they went out on the 15th, not the 14th (Numbers 33:3). This day is a MEMORIAL, not a shadow of the cross. A memorial of deliverance from Egypt, which pictures deliverance from sin!

“To keep us constantly in the MEMORY of the great fact that, having had our sins FORGIVEN by Christ’s blood (pictured by the 14th) we are not to stop here and remain in sin, but to go out away from sin!… Now, if these texts [beginning in Exodus 12:14] apply to the 15th, not the 14th, as they assuredly do… then is the Passover established FOREVER? Indeed it is! But these texts above refer to the FEAST and not the Passover. In the paragraph beginning Exodus 12:21 the PASSOVER is again referred to, and verse 24 establishes it FOREVER.”

In addition, Exodus 13:3, 4, 6, and 9 clarifies again, that the FEAST refers to the FIRST [and the LAST] Day of Unleavened Bread, NOT the Passover. We read: “And Moses said to the people: ‘Remember THIS DAY in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place. NO LEAVENED BREAD SHALL BE EATEN. ON THIS DAY you are going out, in the month Abib… Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the SEVENTH day shall be a FEAST to the LORD [that is, another holy convocation. Both on the first and on the seventh day, there are to be holy convocations, and that is why both these days are called “FEAST” days]… It shall be a SIGN to you on your hand and as a MEMORIAL between your eyes, that the Lord’s LAW may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you OUT OF EGYPT.”

Paul reminded the Corinthians that “Christ, our PASSOVER, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). He went on to say: “Therefore let us KEEP the FEAST [of Unleavened Bread], not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (verse 8).

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