The Jewish Seder is not really the Passover

Table Prepared for Jewish Seder (datafox)


After sunset on April 8th in 2020 is the 15th of Nisan. Many Jews will claim to celebrate the Passover then, but Passover was actually the night before (see Passover on the 14th or 15th?).

The Bible says Passover is on the 14th:

5 On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD (Leviticus 23:5-6, NKJV throughout, unless indicated).

16 ‘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; unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days. (Numbers 28:16-17)

Here is proof from the Jewish Encyclopedia that the Jews should realize that Passover is on the 14th:

Lev. xxiii., however, seems to distinguish between Passover, which is set for the fourteenth day of the month, and … (the Festival of Unleavened Bread; ἑορτή τῶν ἀζύμων, Luke xxii. 1; Josephus, “B. J.” ii. 1, § 3), appointed for the fifteenth day. Passover. (Passover. Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906)

Here are three other explanations as to why there has been confusion among the Jews:

Two Passovers

The gospels appear to say that the Messiah ate a Passover meal with the twelve on the evening beginning Nisan 14, and John appears to say Jews were having their Passover meal one day later. There are different theories to explain this.

1. The Sadducees and Pharisees disagreed on the day of Passover. The Sadducees (more conservative group) believed the Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread were separate feast days. They held Passover on the fourteenth as God decreed in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Those of the majority opinion, including the Pharisees, held Passover on the fifteenth. Jesus may have been following both dates by having Passover with the disciples on the fourteenth and becoming the Passover lamb on the fifteenth.

2. Thousands of people would come to Jerusalem to have their lambs ritually slain in the Temple. If they only had one day in which to prepare for the Passover, it would have been extremely difficult to have slaughtered all the lambs brought in to be sacrificed. Therefore, they worked on two different time scales. The northern part of the country went with the old way of dating (starting from morning and going to the following morning). The southern part of the country followed the official dating method (from evening to evening). Thus, there were two times when lambs were being killed in the Temple for sacrifice (Sampson R & Pierce L. A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays. Heart of Wisdom Publishing June 2001, p. 112)

Thus this shows, for whatever reason, the Jews got a little bit confused. With some keeping the correct date–the same date that Jesus kept (and He would have known which date was biblically correct).

Notice one explanation as to why the Jews got confused:

Why Nisan 15?

You would think that the Jews need to learn to read their own Scriptures, for they seem to be illiterate in regard to the Passover. God tells us, in the clearest of language, that the Passover is to be held on the evening of Nisan 14. Nowhere in the Bible does it state otherwise. But they keep Nisan 15. Where did such a practice come from?

The answer to this is found in the history of the Jews in the third century before Christ.

From 301 B.C. to 198 B.C., the Palestinian Jews came under the control of Egyptians. These Gentiles imposed their philosophies and religious beliefs upon the Jews in profusion.

Dr. Lanterbach, one of Judaism’s greatest historians, admits that this period was one of religious anarchy among the Jews of Palestine (Rabbinic Essays, p. 200). They accepted, on a very large scale, many outright Egyptian customs. For example, Herodotus who visited Egypt in the fifth century before Christ, reported that the Egyptians would only drink out of pots and pans which had been scoured every day. They would religiously bathe themselves twice each day-they shunned all foreigners, especially Greeks, and would destroy any vessel or utensil which had been touched by a Greek. Such silly laws were inaugurated by the thousands by the Egyptians, said Herodotus (Book 11, pp. 37-41).

Prior to the Egyptian domination of Palestine, the Jews possessed none of these absurd customs, but after that period of religious anarchy, the Jews began practicing, with utmost vigor, those same EGYPTIAN laws. See Matthew 15:2 and Mark 7:3-8. There can be no question of this.

But what about the Passover? It can be shown that prior to this Egyptian domination, the Jews always kept the Passover on Nisan 14. Notice especially Ezra 6:19-22. Here it shows Nisan 14 as Passover and Nisan 15 as the first day of Unleavened Bread (which it is), not as the Passover day. But, after the Egyptian period, the Jews began to ob- serve Nisan 15 for Passover.


Corruption From Egypt!

The answer again is found in Egyptian customs. The Egyptian day customarily commenced with sunrise (Wilkinson, Vol. 11, p. 368). God’s day, however, begins at sunset (Lev. 23:32). This is where the trouble lay with the Passover reckoning after this period of Egyptian influence on the Jews. While the Egyptians allowed the Jews to retain their ancient calendar, there was a change made in the beginning of the day-it became common to begin the day at sunrise. This custom was adopted, and persisted among the Jews even down to New Testament times (see The Jewish Qziarterly Review, April, 1946). …

With the 14th of Nisan supposedly beginning at sunrise, that puts what God calls the evening of Nisan 15 as still being on Nisan 14. This is where the problem arises. Even later on, when the Jews finally got back to an evening-to-evening reckoning for the day, they refused to abandon what had become the traditional way of observing Passover. The principle, “What was good for my fathers, is good enough for me,” was too strong for the Jews to leave it. So, today, they are still one day out of phase with God (Martin E. The Jews DON’T Observe Passover. Good News magazine. April 1963, pp. 11-12)

Notice another reason given as to why the Jewish date is different (Pesahim means Passover) is that one Rabbi said/hinted that the Jews made various changes to distinguish their Passover from what the faithful Christians were doing:

This new emphasis on the ten plagues was made in order to nullify the blood idea that was taken over by the Christian Church that claimed that the Paschal lamb was the crucified Jesus whose blood was to bring redemption…Pesahim according to our new interpretation (Wolf G. Lexical and Historical Contributions on the Biblical and Rabbinic Passover. George Wolf, 1991, pp. 16, 74)

In a short work on the Passover, Rabbi George Wolf examines some of the changes that he considers the early Rabbis introduced to the Passover in response to the observance by the early church. Scholars have long studied the New Testament without a serious consideration of other literature that impinges on its understanding. Fortunately that has begun to change in the last half century.

The action of Jesus Christ with his disciples the night of his betrayal has most often been seen as a point of disjuncture with the established practices of Judaism of that day. This reaches its apex with the apostle Paul who speaks of the “Lord’s Supper,” which most exegetes wish to see as the proto-eucharist and the start of a Christian festival cycle independent of the Jewish Holy Days.

Wolf, like some Jewish scholars sees it differently. He sees both Jesus and Paul keeping the Passover in such a manner that it prompted the Rabbis of the second and third centuries to bring changes to the Jewish practice to distance the Jews from the emerging church…

Paul’s references to Jesus Christ as “our Passover” (1 Corinthians 5:7) and the cup of blessing representing the blood of the covenant (1 Corinthians 10:16, 11:25) are instructive to Wolf in his considerations (Nathan P. Passover Considerations Rabbinic changes to the Passover to distance it from the early Church. April 9, 2008.

So while I knew that the Catholics wanted to distance themselves from practices that they considered to be Jewish, it seems that perhaps part of the reason that the Jews may have stopped observing Passover on the 14th was to distance themselves from the faithful Christians, who were in Jerusalem until about 135 A.D. (and who came back later).

Now the following is what the Jews tell themselves:

Second Days of Festivals.

The second-day holy day, although a rabbinical institution established because of the uncertainty of the calendar, was still regarded by the Rabbis as of equal sanctity with the first day… (Holy Days. Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906. viewed 09/04/14 )

Question:…Why in Israel do families celebrate one Passover Seder and in North America Jews celebrate two seders?

Answer:…In ancient times, the beginning of a new lunar month had to be determined by direct observation of the new moon. Among Jews, the only observation that was “official” was the one certified by the authorities in Jerusalem. This was necessary to make sure that all Jews observed the same calendar dates.

However, many Jewish communities, including the large Jewish community in Babylon, could not reliably get word from Jerusalem about the day of the new moon before the holiday began on the fifteenth day of the month. For this reason, Jewish communities outside the land of Israel adopted the practice of observing an extra day of the pilgrimage holidays (Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot and Sh’mini Atzeret), just in case they had gotten the date of the new moon wrong.

This practice for Jews outside the land of Israel continued even after mathematical models made it possible to calculate the date of the new moon. (Rabbi Jeffrey W. Goldwasser. Why do Jews in America have two Passover Seders? viewed 04/06/09).

But the above makes little modern sense, as apparently, for over two thousand years the Jews have used a Holy Day calendar that includes postponements. With a calculated calendar, two days really were not needed. It seems logical to believe that the practice of a 15th Passover really began because the Passover night was always followed by the The Night to Be Observed, and that this reason has been forgotten by most Jews. How the 15th in Numbers 33 fits in is explained in the article The Night to Be Observed, which is the night that the children of Israel left Rameses (Exodus 12:34-39) which was probably a 7-10 hour walk from where many of them had lived.

Perhaps I should also mention that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who also observe Passover on the 15th (though they seem to think it is the 14th), may do so because they do not observe the other Holy Days.

When does the Panarion of Epiphanius actually state that the Passover was kept? Well on the 14th:

The Quartodecimans contentiously keep Passover on the one day, once per year…They keep the Passover on whichever day the fourteenth of the month falls…Christ had to be slain on the fourteenth of the month in accordance with the law (Epiphanius. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80), De Fide). Section IV, Verses 1,3;1,6;2,6. Translated by Frank Williams. EJ Brill, New York, 1994, pp. 23-25).

It is of interest to note that Epiphanius recognized that Jesus HAD to be slain on the 14th of the month. It is sad that Epiphanius and others did not believe they needed to observe it when and how Jesus taught. The term “Quartadecima” means fourteenth, not fifteenth, which would be Quintadecima (check an online translator). The Greco-Romans often speak of the Quartodeciman controversy, not a Quintadeciman one.

Irrespective of Jewish confusion or anti-COG views, true Christians have always kept Passover on the 14th. Notice something in the late 2nd century from Polycrates of Ephesus:

We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead ? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘ We ought to obey God rather than man’…I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XXIV, Verses 2-7 . Translated by A. Cushman McGiffert. Publishing, Stilwell (KS), 2005, p. 114).

Nisan 15, however, is a biblical celebration and it does resemble the Jewish celebration in that the emphasis is on a meal and the departure from Egypt (representing the sinning world for Christians).

Anyway, notice what the Bible calls this celebration:

42 It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations (Exodus 12:42, KJV).

And it is a time to reflect on Christ’s Passover sacrifice and that Christians are to come out of the world and not be part of it. (The Night to Be Observed begins after sunset on April 8, 2020.)

This year we have an animated video that some may wish to watch the evening of the 15th:

What is it? When is it? The KJV refers to it as “THE NIGHT TO BE MUCH OBSERVED.” This scripture-packed animation includes background and specific information related to the children of Israel. It also gives some of the Old and New Testament prophetic ramifications of this event. How the NTBO is typically observed is also covered. The animation also includes a chart of scriptures and biblical dates to determine when that NTBO actually is. Furthermore, the animation provides information from the “Jewish Encyclopedia” which, through scripture, shows that many Jews have confused Passover with the “night to be observed.” This is a great animation to give background on the NTBO and is also appropriate to be watched on the NTBO.

Here is a link: Night to Be Observed,  which begins after sunset on April 8, 2020.

The next morning continues the official first day of unleavened bread, and is observed by faithful Christians as it has been for centuries (Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?).

Some items of related interest may include:

The Night to Be Observed What is the night to be much observed? When is it? Why do Jews keep Passover twice and emphasize the wrong date? A related animation is available and is titled: Night to Be Observed.
Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread How should Christians keep Passover, especially if they are by themselves. Why does the Church of God not require lambs for Passover? How does one keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? For a step-by-step video for Christians to keep it, check out a CCOG Passover Service. Here is a link to a related article in the Spanish language: Guardando la Pascua y los Días de los Panes sin Levadura.
Examine Yourself before Passover This article goes into some of why real Christians are to do this. Two related sermons are Really examine yourself before Passover and Passover Examination.
Preparing for Passover The Apostle Paul taught that Christians should examine themselves prior to taking Passover. This YouTube video sermon gives suggestions on how to prepare.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins? There is also a detailed YouTube video available titled History of the Christian Passover.
The Passover Plot What was the first Passover plot? Which plots have Islam and the Greco-Roman faiths perpetuated about Passover? A sermon video of related interest is The Passover Plots, Including Easter.
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well. Here is a related sermon, also titled Melito’s Homily on the Passover.
TPM: Passover on the 14th or 15th? While the real COG observes Passover on the 14th, some observe it on the 15th. Why is the 14th correct? A related sermon is titled Is Passover on the 14th or 15th for Christians?
Unleavened Bread recipes A Serbian COG member, now CCOG elder, sent these recipes for those who would like more ways to prepare unleavened bread. Here is a link to recipes in Spanish: Recetas de Recuerdo.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? What is leaven? This article supplies some biblical answers. Here are two YouTube videos intended to be viewed for the first day of unleavened bread:Leaven and Sin and Christians and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
The The Seventh Day of Unleavened Bread What happened? Does this day have any type of fulfillment in the Book of Revelation? A related sermon video is also available: 7th Day of Unleavened Bread: Prophecy and Lessons.
Early Christianity and the Eucharist? What does ‘eucharist’ mean? Did early Christians tie it in with Passover? Should it be a rounded host? Here is a link to a related sermon: Eucharist, Passover, and Easter.
EXODUS When was the Exodus? Did it Happen? Some deny the biblical account of the Exodus. Was Ramses II the pharaoh then? When did the Exodus occur? Is there proof outside of the Bible that there was an Exodus? Here is a related article in the Spanish language: ¿Cuándo fue el Éxodo? ¿Ocurrió realmente? Also: Reasons, Proofs, and Ramifications of the Ten Plagues of Exodus What do you know about these plagues? What happened to the ‘gods of Egypt’? Is there any confirmation outside the Bible? Might something worse be coming? A related two-part sermon is available: Egypt and the Plagues (Part 1) and Exodus Plagues and Prophecy (Part 2). Also: Exodus and the Days of Unleavened Bread This article discusses parts of the Book of Exodus with some connections to the Days of Unleavened Bread. A related sermons are available Exodus 1-4: Jewish Myths or Lessons for Christians Today? and Unleavened Bread: Lessons in Exodus. Another sermon is Exodus, Judgments, and Jesus. Also Exodus 4:24, Why would God have sought to kill Moses? What did Moses do wrong? Do you have a similar problem?
How to Keep God’s Festivals Many have heard of God’s Holy Days and wonder how they are kept in the 21st century. This is an overview article. A related sermon is also available titled: How to Keep God’s Feasts.
Christians and the Days of Unleavened Bread What does the Bible teach about the Days of Unleavened Bread? Did the apostles such as John, Paul, and Philip keep it? What is leaven? Does history show that true Christians kept the Days of Unleavened Bread? Who condemned these days? Should you live like the Pharisees that relied more on tradition or the teachings of the Bible? This YouTube was intended to be viewed on the first day of unleavened bread.
Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread How should Christians keep Passover, especially if they are by themselves. Why does the Church of God not require lambs for Passover? How does one keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?
What Happened in the ‘Crucifixion Week’? How long are three days and three nights? Was Palm Sunday on a Saturday? Did Jesus die on “Good Friday”? Was the resurrection on Sunday? Do you really know? Who determined the date of Easter? (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Murió Jesús un día miércoles o un viernes?) A sermon of related interest is titled What did and did not happen in the ‘Crucifixion week’?
Michael’s Feasts and Fasts Quiz 15 questions, amusing wrong answer screens.
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. A related sermon is Which Spring Days should Christians observe?
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur 🙂 In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.
Living as a Christian: How and Why? In what ways do Christians live differently than others. What about praying, fasting, tithing, holy days, and the world? There are also two YouTube video related to this: Living as a Christian: How and Why? and Living as a Christian: Pure Milk of the Word.
Living as a Christian: Strong Meat Can you handle solid spiritual food? A related sermon is available: Strong Meat: James 1-2 and Strong Meat: James 3-5.
Christians: Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God, Biblical instructions on living as a Christian This is a scripture-filled booklet for those wishing to live as a real Christian. A related sermon is also available: Christians are Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God.

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