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THE MESSENGER—PART 4: The Mystery Of The Seven Feasts

As the year 2025 quickly approaches, the mysterious connection between the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and The Messenger will rapidly unfold with astonishing importance. It is therefore germane for readers to understand how Jesus fulfilled the Spring Feasts at His first advent in order to comprehend the pattern for His return and the connection with the Fall Feasts of 2025, followed 3.5 years later and the arrival of the asteroid Apophis.

The first three of the seven major feasts—Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits—occur in spring. In regard to the question, “How did Jesus fulfil these feasts?” they relate to His First Coming, the work He did on the cross.

Passover

Scripture References

  • Commanded to do in: Leviticus 23:4–5 and Exodus 12:1–4; 13:8
  • Talked about in the Old Testament: Numbers 9; 28:16–25; 2 Chronicles 35:1–19; Ezra 6:19; Ezekiel 45:21
  • Talked about in the New Testament: Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 6:4; 11; 13; 19; 1 Corinthians 5:7

Observance Date

Passover begins on 14 Nisan on the Hebrew calendar, which occurs sometime during March or April on our calendar (we use the Gregorian calendar today).

The Hebrews began and ended their day with different timing than we do, as 6 o’clock in the evening, around sundown, is considered the start of a new day. This concept of daytime was wrapped around the phases of the moon and light, and is so alien to us now that it’s hard to wrap our brains around, but this is why Nisan days cannot be solidly linked to specific dates in March or April. (This is true for the next feast dates as well.)

The lamb of the tenth-plague narrative was slaughtered and the blood was sprinkled around the door at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on 14 Nisan. The subsequent feast then took place only three hours later, at 6 o’clock in the evening, which, to the Hebrew calendar, was precisely at the beginning of a new day, 15 Nisan. (However, see the explanation later under “Astoundingly Prophetic Links” for why there appears to be another dating/timing system in place for at least some of the Jews at the time of Christ.)

Practice

Passover commemorates the Jews’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt. The Passover meal, called the Seder (pronounced “say-der”; Hebrew for “order”), is consumed by families or communities, involving the gathering of multiple generations.

The Haggadah, an ancient writing that acts as a kind of script read intermittently during the entire feast, is a collection of readings composed by writers of the Mishnah and Talmud before the fifth century, though there are modern translations that include contemporary (and sometimes quite progressive) circumstances. The Haggadah includes the whole narrative from the Exodus story, and parents or mentors often stop in the middle of a reading to expound upon the ritual to their children and youth, so the feast can sometimes be lengthy. Family members take turns with the reading, and often they speak with flare and emphasis to dramatize and “act out” the event.

Jewish oral laws (the Halakhah) orders that the language spoken during the Haggadah be one that those present can understand, but a more traditional Passover meal will involve certain family members (usually the head of the household) reciting portions of it in the original Hebrew or Aramaic, in addition to the language of their nearby peers.

The food items served are specific and symbolic to the unfolding story. The lamb, which has to be flawless and without blemish, according to Exodus 12:5, is chosen on the tenth of the month and is closely observed for four days before the ritual killing for Seder. During this time, the animal is loved and treated like a member of the family—being hugged, petted on, and adored, etc. For many families, especially for the children, this makes the killing of the lamb harder, yet this difficulty is intended. It is only by learning to care about the lamb and seeing its precious innocence that its sacrifice to cover sin can be felt with the corresponding guilt over the fact that it had to die for us in the first place. (That prophetic element would certainly come into play on a deeper level on the day of Jesus’ sacrifice.) In the Exodus narrative, it was the blood of the first sacrificial lamb that was spread on the doorpost.

Greatly Misunderstood Origins and Meanings

Passover, the Hebrew Pesach (pronounced “pay-sahk”)—as a feast—was named after the evening when the homes of the Israelites were spared from the fate of the tenth plague of Egypt, which involved the angel of death taking the lives of the first-born males in any home that wasn’t covered with the blood of a perfect lamb.

Even this early on in our reflection, most readers are probably wondering why we haven’t already said that Passover is named for the night that the angel of death “passed over [or around]” the homes with the doorposts that were sprinkled in blood. This is by far the most popularly referenced explanation for the name of the feast. But the word pesach existed prior to both the feast and the tenth plague, and going farther back in history unveils a layer to the subject of the Passover that many Christians today have never heard of. A deep dig into the etymological roots of the word in ancient Hebrew blatantly exposes that the angel-passed-over definition is not only incorrect, but that the true meaning is far more significant!

Etymological Origins of Pesach and Sap

The term “folk etymology” (sometimes “pseudo etymology”) refers to when an errant word origin is assigned to a word, and most times this is because it phonetically (though coincidentally) sounds like what it’s describing. For centuries and beyond, the “angel passed over” definition of what was originally a Hebrew word of much greater antiquity has been widely accepted because the phrase “pass over” literally describes a person or thing skipping or avoiding something along the path to a destination (like the angel of death would have done with the marked Israelite houses).

To clarify, there was quite a bit of a mess in the meaning of the word “wormwood” in The Wormwood Prophecy released earlier this year due to folk etymology, and part of that discussion helps us here:

In the case of “worm-wood,” many have assumed, understandably, that this is a compound description of the woody texture of the [Artemisia] plant family’s outer skin, and the herb’s historical connection to being used as a remedy for intestinal worms. Although this makes perfect sense, as far back as we can trace it, our English “wormwood” actually stems from the German wermōd, meaning vermouth (an herb-infused wine).

Just prior to this statement in that book, it was also illustrated that “‘licorice’ (a variant of the French word for ‘sweet root’) was respelled ‘liquorice’ in Britain and Ireland because of the mistaken assumption that the ‘licor’ sound at the front had something to do with making ‘liquor’ from the root.” Ironically, because some alcohols are made from the licorice root, the “sounds like it” false explanation behind the origin of the word having anything to do with alcohol is still popularly accepted and reported as truth from many sources. Nevertheless, it is pure coincidence that the sound for “sweet root” in French sounded to the British like a reference to alcohol, despite the fact that, by quirky happenstance, distilleries make hard liquor from it.

And let’s don’t even get started on the whole “o-bel-isk” breakdown that was tackled in Unearthing the Lost World of the Cloudeaters. The way we arrive at “obelisk,” meaning literally “the shaft of Baal,” and the role that plays in association with the Washington Monument is too long a story to get into here, and we don’t need any distractions from the Passover trail we’re on. It should only be reiterated that people, during the earliest formations of languages, assigned sounds to what they saw in their own place, time, religion, culture, and political climate. It’s only after those sounds have been picked up by other languages and assumptions have been made that we lose the history behind those sounds’ names, and therefore their story.

This is why etymology is so important, because many times we can’t see the full picture without going back to the beginning, and that has never been truer than with the naming of the Passover! Missing the deeper meaning of pesach is like trying to appreciate a blurry-mouthed Mona Lisa, or like turning to Psalm 23:4 and reading, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of marginal discomfort.” There’s just a glaring missing element to a thing that was designed to pack a serious punch.

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So the idea that the compound “pass-over” describes the act of the angel of death passing over (or around) the houses marked with blood on the doorpost and suggests that the feast of the same name commemorates that event is poetic for sure, but much of that ultimately is folk etymology. It works by coincidence. (Actually, it might not be coincidence. It could be that God, in His infinite, transcendent design, planned it all along to denote both its true, original meaning as well as describe what occurred that night in Egypt. It wouldn’t be surprising if He so thoughtfully maneuvered how those terms would trickle down through history.)

But hold on. Doesn’t Exodus 12:13 specifically say “I [God] will pass over you”?

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Well, yes, in English that’s what it says. In Hebrew, it simply says ra’ah dam pesach negeph, which translates in its most basic form to “see blood pesach plague,” or, “when I see the blood, I [God] will pesach you [from or during] the plague.” So first, we must understand what pesach means before we can know what He is doing to us or for us in this moment.

What many don’t know today is that the threshold of one’s home served as the altar in many ancient religions in the days before worship structures were available, so it was there, on these doorway altars, where sacrifices were often carried out. The ritual, called a “threshold covenant,” marked a family’s doorway for a dual purpose. First, the practice served as the residents’ invitation for God or the gods to enter the dwelling and live with them there. In fact, mankind’s earliest civilizations—including those of the Sumerians and Assyrians—involved elaborate entryway and archway ceremonies that sought to attain “good omens” through important imitative magic. Colossal stone creatures stood guard at the gates and palace entries to keep undesirable forces from coming through the portals while these same sentinels were often accompanied by carved winged spirits holding magic devices and/or other enchanted statuettes concealed beneath the thresholds. Second, the “threshold covenant” provided a way for a deity to stand guard and protect those inside. An animal—such as a lamb, goat, dove, pigeon, ox, or calf—would be slain and the blood spilt right there over the threshold of the home as an offering to the deity. As such, it would be necessary to jump, step, or leap over the blood and into the home, because walking on the sacred, covenantal sacrifice blood showed disrespect and dissolved the covenant made with that deity.

Let’s spend a minute looking at another element of support for this thread. Remember the “basin” (sometimes alternatively “bason” in the KJV) mentioned in Exodus 12:21–22, into which the Israelites were instructed to dip their hyssop branches for spreading blood over the doorpost (lintel)? As it turns out, the Hebrew word translated as “basin” here is sap, and although it can describe a bowl-like object, that’s not what it’s talking about in this instance, according to some scholars who have studied the earliest etymological origins. The translators of the KJV were likely to assume, especially if they were unfamiliar with the threshold covenant ritual of the East, that God and Moses intended the Israelites to kill a lamb and catch the blood in a bowl, then spread it upon the doorposts. Because of the Hebrew word’s association with various precious-metal carrying vessels elsewhere in the Old Testament (for example, in 1 Kings 7:50 and 2 Kings 12:13), this assumption is not outrageous.

However, before younger books like the Kings, the Hebrew sap in Judges (c.f. 19:27) directly translates to “threshold.” Since Exodus is one of the oldest books written, the “threshold” translation of sap would be more accurate (and would certainly fit the description of the threshold covenants of the East, which we will visit at greater depth in a moment). From The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, we read that the noun “sap…belong[s] to the architectural vocabulary of ancient Israel and denote[s] an essential component of an entrance, whether gate or doorway. In the Hebrew Bible, that component is always the threshold, with the one exception of Ezek[iel] 40:6–7, where a gate chamber may be indicated.”[i] So, rather than collecting blood in a bowl and spreading it with a branch, what is most likely being talked about in Exodus 12:21–22 is the animal being slain right on the doorstep and the blood flowing freely about the walkway. From there, the Israelite would dip the hyssop branch in the spilled blood and spread it up and over the two side posts and lintel.

Certainly, over time, sap came to mean “basin” or “bowl” in the context of the Passover, and that has been the assumed interpretation since, which is why Jews for thousands of years have been collecting the blood in the bowl. However, remember that thirty-nine years passed between the first and second Paschal offering. Many folks miss that detail. The first lamb was, as we’re about to show in more detail, sacrificed directly on the threshold of Hebrew houses. According to Logos Bible Software’s biblical timelines, as well as Tyndale’s masterful Complete Book of When & Where in the Bible and Throughout History, this was in the year 1446 BC.[ii] The next forty years were spent in the wilderness with manna. Then, according to the same sources, the Jews celebrated their first Passover in Canaan in 1405 BC (cf. Joshua 5:10–12).[iii] By then, the Jews had the Shema Yisrael (“Hear, O Israel”) prayer straight from the Mosaic Law, as documented in Deuteronomy (6:4–9; 11:13–21), which reminded the Jews that: 1) God is One, and 2) He will not tolerate idolatry. Twice in this prayer—once at the beginning and again at the end—God instructs the Jews to write these important reminders “upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates [6:9].… And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates [11:20].” (A quick aside for those who are curious: This string of passages also commands that His words be kept like a binding upon the hand and a frontlet [ornamental jewelry that hangs on the forehead] between the eyes, which is where the Jewish “phylactery” or “tefillin” comes from, which are those long black straps of leather with a tiny box on the hand or forehead that Jewish adult males wear during prayer times. The little boxes contain the Shema Yisrael.)

Thus, the covenant between God and the Israelites no longer needed to involve the blood of the lamb on the threshold for two reasons: 1) The threshold covenant was already established, God was already within their homes to protect them, and there would be no more angel of death; 2) The markings upon the door would now be permanent, year-round reminders of the covenant through the prayer of Shema Yisrael. The threshold covenant was rendered obsolete when two generations of Israelites later resumed the Passover. Now, with a different kind of altar and a different mark on the doorpost, sap would evolve from defining “where the lamb was slaughtered” to describing “an instrument used in the slaughtering.” It’s just our own etymological theory for how “threshold” became “basin,” but it all fits (including the location of both the threshold and the bowl being under the lamb’s neck), and we authors find it more probable in the natural evolution of a word than to assume that any ancient people groups would coincidentally make these otherwise completely unrelated words homonymous.

NEXT UP: BACK TO PESACH

 

[i] Meyers, C., in D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary: Vol. 6 (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1992), 544.

[ii] Rusten, Sharon, with E. Michael, The Complete Book of When & Where in the Bible and Throughout History (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2005), 8; “Timeline” tool, found by searching “Passover,” Logos Bible Software, accessed from personal commercial database on April 10, 2020.

[iii] Ibid.

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