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Passover--How Do We Determine When It Is Celebrated?

This is the first of series of articles covering what Passover (Pesach) is all about. Pesach is celebrated in the first month of the Biblical year, however there always seems to be confusion as to what is the correct way to calculate the first month. Very seldom (if at all) is it that everyone who keeps Pesach does so on the same day. Did you ever wonder why? 

Let's open the bible first and begin our journey of discovery of the elements which determine the correct way (according to the scriptures) to calculate when Passover is.

Let's start with what the Bible says about it:

Lev 23:5  In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S Passover.

Lev 23:6  And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. 

Exo 12:18  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.

(Also read: Numbers 28:16)

As we can see Pesach and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag Matzaw) are connected as one Festival. It tells us in scripture that it is "in the fourteenth day of the first month." The question is how do we determine the first month according to the bible?


First let's look up the Hebrew word used in the bible for month (Khodesh-Strong's concordance H2320) 




From H2318; the new moon; by implication a month: - month (-ly), new moon.

The months in the Bible were determined by the moon. The new moon started a new month. Since the Hebrew calendar varies from 12 to 13 months in a year how do we determine which is the first month?

Let's look in the Bible again at the following scriptures for some more insight:

Exo 13:3  And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten. 

Exo 13:4  This day came ye out in the month Abib. 

Exo 23:15  Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:) 

Deut. 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.

From the scriptures above we see the month of Abib is mentioned as the time to keep Passover. The word Abib is a Hebrew word meaning:

1) fresh, young barley ears, barley

2) month of ear-forming, of greening of crop, of growing green Abib, month of exodus and passover (March or April)

(Definition taken from Brown Driver-Briggs Hebrew Dictionary)

From an unused root (meaning to be tender); green, that is a young ear of grain; hence the name of the month Abib or Nisan: - Abib, ear, green ears of corn.

(Definition taken from Strong's Concordance)

According to the Hebrew definition in order to determine the correct month of the year for Passover we must look at the ripeness of the barley. Abib is the first stage of grain ripening when it's ears are well formed but still green. At that point it will be ready for harvest in two to three weeks and can be brought in as a wave offering--which was the requirement on a specific day during the seven day Festival.

Lev 23:10  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest unto the priest: 

Lev 23:11  And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 

The Hebrew Calendar varies from 12 to 13 months in a year. In order to determine which month is the first month of the year the barley must be checked for abib at the end of the 12th month. If it is determined to be abib that means the next new moon will be the first month of the year. If it is not abib then the first month starts the following new moon--meaning there are 13 months in that year. Let's recap:

1. Passover is the first month of the year

2. Each month starts with a new moon

3.The first month is the new moon after the sighting of abib (fresh young barley ears)

4. Abib barley ripens within two to three weeks which is in time for the wave sheaf offering (first fruits)

More to come in the Series:

"What is Passover All About?"  

Contributing Author: Ahveekhy Ben BinahYah

Passover to Home Page

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Other Recommended Links

Blood Covenant 1

Blood Covenant 2

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