When Does the Feast of Unleavened Bread Start

"...ye shall eat unleavened bread..."

“…ye shall eat unleavened bread…”

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a sojourner, or one that is born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread. (Exo 12:18-20 ASV)

There are some who believe this passage is defining the parameters of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasts 7 days, to be from the 14th day of the 1st month at even until the 21st day at even, particularly noting the start is in the evening. But if we look further back in this chapter, we’ll see what this is really talking about.

First, it is important to note what Genesis 1 tells us…

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Gen 1:3-5 ASV)

If Day and Night are separated by God/Elohim, there is no 24-hour period in Scripture called Day which includes the Night. There is simply Day, then Night, then Day, then Night, then Day, then Night, etc.

Evening is the period when it “grows dark”, leading into the Night. And Morning is the period of seeking, “the break of Day”. Keeping these definitions in mind, let us continue.

Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household: and if the household be too little for a lamb, then shall he and his neighbor next unto his house take one according to the number of the souls; according to every man’s eating ye shall make your count for the lamb.

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old: ye shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats: and ye shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at even.

And they shall take of the blood, and put it on the two side-posts and on the lintel, upon the houses wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roast with fire; its head with its legs and with the inwards thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; but that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. 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 Jehovah’s passover. (Exo 12:3-11 ASV)

Here we see a description of YHVH’s Passover. A lamb is to be taken and kept until the 14th day (light) when it is to be killed at even (the growing dark period). The flesh of the lamb is to be eaten that night (darkness) with unleavened bread. None of the flesh is to remain until the morning (period of seeking, the break of day).

From the even of the 14th day, through the night, until the morning of the next day is when we are commanded to eat the flesh of the lamb and unleavened bread. There is no mention of the Feast of Unleavened Bread at this point.

For I will go through the land of Egypt in that night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am Jehovah. 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 you, and there shall no plague be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and ye shall keep it a feast to Jehovah: throughout your generations ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. (Exo 12:12-14 ASV)

YHVH explains that during that night (darkness), the firstborn in the land of Egypt would be struck. And the blood on the houses would be a token to protect against anyone being destroyed in the night. We’re told this day (light) shall be unto you for a memorial, a feast (H2282 “chag”) to YHVH. Which day is He speaking of here? I believe He is speaking of the 14th day (light), when the lamb is killed at even (the growing dark period). Considering this…

Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord Jehovah. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my feast remain all night until the morning. (Exo 23:17-18 ASV)

Whose sacrifice is it? Whose feast is it? This is speaking of the slaughter of the Passover lamb, is it not? When is this done? On the 14th day (light) at even (the growing dark period). Exodus 34:25 confirms this.

Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning. (Exo 34:25 ASV)

Notice this is telling us that the fat and flesh of the lamb must be consumed in the night (darkness) and not remain until morning (period of seeking, the break of day). Also, it is indicating that the offering is not to be made with leavened bread.

Getting back to the passage in chapter 12…

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. And in the first day there shall be to you a holy convocation, and in the seventh day a holy convocation; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done by you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day throughout your generations by an ordinance for ever. (Exo 12:15-17 ASV)

Here the Israelites are being commanded to eat unleavened bread for seven days. On the first day they are told to put away leaven out of their houses. (Notice this is done after the Passover.) They are to have a holy convocation on the first and seventh days where no work is to be done in them. This is identified as the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Then it says in this selfsame day (light) have I brought your hosts out of the land and ye shall observe this day (light). Which day is this? I believe it to be the 15th day of that same month, the day after the Passover.

Getting back to the initial text…

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a sojourner, or one that is born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread. (Exo 12:18-20 ASV)

Notice here that this is saying the Israelites are to eat unleavened bread from the even (growing dark period) of the 14th day (light) until the even (growing dark period) of the 21st day (light). This encompasses the meal after the Passover is slaughtered and the 7 days that follow it.

Furthermore it says seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses. When were they to remove the leaven: before the Passover on the 14th day or after the Passover on the 15th day?

And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead. And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve Jehovah, as ye have said. Take both your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, to send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We are all dead men. And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they asked of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment. And Jehovah gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. And they despoiled the Egyptians. And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, besides children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victuals. (Exo 12:30-39 ASV)

When did they leave? This says here that Pharaoh rose up in the night (darkness) and he called for Moses and Aaron by night (darkness) saying for all of the Israelites to get out. Did they leave that night? Looking back in the story, what was it that Moses commanded the Israelites to do?

Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out, and take you lambs according to your families, and kill the passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side-posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For Jehovah will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side-posts, Jehovah will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. (Exo 12:21-24 ASV)

The Israelites were commanded not to leave their house until the morning (period of seeking, the break of day) after the Passover event. So it wasn’t until the morning of the 15th, the first day of the 7-day Feast of Unleavened Bread when they were commanded to put away or cease the leaven from their homes.

So what is the text really saying? That we are not to eat leavened bread from the even of the 14th day until the even of the 21st day, leaving the definitions of “Day” and “Night” from the Glossary of Terms found in Genesis 1 in tact.

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One Response to When Does the Feast of Unleavened Bread Start

  1. paul thomson says:

    great! I spotted this too – just stuck out like a sore thumb – remove the leaven ON the first day of UB – AFTER passover. It’s amazing what you start to notice when all you want is to DO exactly what it says on the tin… thanks for that! ps. – I’ve now become a bit obsessed about ‘leaven’ – seeing it everywhere – bible and world. It’s strange stuff: it’s just old flour and water from the previous year/s – My wife Fee makes it a lot – the stuff is ALIVE and she uses it, cares for it, guards it from getting contaminated and we wanted to get to grips with what it is and what Yeshua saw when He tagged it as ‘contaminated information’ or ‘dodgy teaching/praxis’ – ‘good and bad seed mix’ – anyhoo fascinating…. (;-) thanks for that

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