True News 4 U — Passover 2020 — Part 7
Israel’s First Passover—Part One
In this study, we will be looking at the first four of eight elements of the Passover that was observed by the Israelites while they were in Egypt.
Now that we understand the Scriptural meaning of ben ha arbayim, we are ready to study the observance of the Passover by the children of Israel in Egypt. Exodus Chapter 12 gives us a detailed account of Israel’s first Passover, complete with YHWH’s step-by-step instructions through Moses. The Scriptural record lays bare for us the true chronology of the Passover day, and the beginning of the Exodus on the following day, the fifteenth day of the first Hebrew month of Aviv (March/April).
The Scriptural account of the Passover and the Exodus has been so mistranslated, misinterpreted and it has and still is being mistaught. The true teachings of YHWH’s Word are difficult at times for many readers of the Bible and Bible students who want to understand as much as possible when it comes to Passover. In order to eliminate the confusion that has arisen over the chronology of the Passover, we will take time to study each Vital Element in the Passover observance and we will try to thoroughly examine all factors of the Passover as they are recorded in the Scriptures. As we proceed, we will let the Word of Almighty YHWH guide us in and through His Absolute Truths concerning Passover. We will study and analyze the Elements of the Passover day one by one, sorting through the true facts of what Scripture teaches us compared to the false claims of men. As we will see, Truth agrees with Scripture. Error does not agree with Scripture.
In order for us to understand how the commands of YHWH were fulfilled by the children of Israel on the Passover day, we will thoroughly examine the following Elements:
Element #1: When were the Passover lambs killed?
Element #2: Where were the lambs killed?
Element #3: Where were the children of Israel located during the entire Passover?
Element #4: How long did it take to kill, roast and eat the lambs, and to burn the bones and remains?
Element #5: When did the children of Israel leave their houses?
Element #6: What does “night” (Hebrew lailah) mean? What does “morning” (Hebrew boqer) mean?
Element #7: When did the children of Israel spoil the Egyptians?
Element #8: When and where did the Exodus begin?
The Elements listed above have been and continue to be disputed and debated in the continuing controversy over a 14th or 15th Passover observance. It is important that we come to a correct understanding of each element of the Passover as it is commanded by YHWH and observed by the children of Israel. The records that YHWH has preserved for us in Exodus Chapter 12 will lead us to a true understanding of these Elements. As we study each Passover Element, we will apply what we have already learned and let the Scriptures interpret the Scriptures. We do not want to "read into Scriptures" something that is not there. This is known as isogesis. Isogesis is really nothing more than introducing one's own presuppositions, agendas, or biases into the meaning a verse instead of taking out of the verse what the language and writer are actually saying. In so doing, we will come to a better and more correct understanding of YHWH’s commands for the Passover, and we will learn how and when these commands were carried out by the children of Israel.
Element #1: When were the Lambs Killed?
When did the children of Israel kill the Passover lambs—was at the beginning of the 14th day, or at the end of the 14th day? This question is at the heart and core of the 14th/15th Passover debate that still rages on to this very day. Before we answer this question, we need to take a look at YHWH’s instructions in Exodus Chapter 12 concerning the time of the year for observing the Passover:
“1 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 ‘This month shall be to you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year to you’ ”
This month was named Abib, and it means “green ears,” referring to the spring barley harvest. Later in time, this month was called Nisan.
Next, YHWH gave His instructions for selecting and killing the Passover lambs:
“3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them each man a lamb for a father’s house, a lamb for a house. 4 And if the household is too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take according to the number of the souls, each one, according to the eating of his mouth, you shall count concerning the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish [without defect—a type of Messiah as our Passover Lamb (John 1:29, 1 Corinthians 5:7)], a male of the first year. You shall take it from the sheep or from the goats”
(Exodus 12:3-5, comment added)
Next, YHWH gave us His Instructions as to when to kill the Passover lambs. Please note what YHWH commanded:
“And you shall keep it [the lamb] up until [Hebrew ad,] the beginning of the fourteenth day of the same month. And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it between the two evenings [Hebrew ben ha arbayim]”
(Exodus 12:6, comments and emphasis added)
Let’s see what Fox’s translation of verse 6 noted above says:
“It [the Passover lamb] shall be for you in safekeeping, until [Hebrew ad] the fourteenth day after this New-Moon, and they are to slay it—the entire assembly of the community of Israel—between the setting-times [Hebrew ben ha arbayim]”
(Exodus 12:6, The Schocken Bible, comments and emphasis added)
They were to keep the Passover lambs “unto” or “until” the 14th day of the first Hebrew month of Aviv (March/April). The words “unto” and “until” are translated from the Hebrew preposition ad. Ad is used to express “...the limit of time itself” (Gesenius’ Hebrew Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament). This Hebrew preposition limits the time for slaying the lambs to a specific point, and it does not allow movement through and beyond that point. The use of the preposition ad in YHWH’s command makes it very clear that the lambs were to be kept only to the point in time at which the 14th began—not beyond that point.
The commanded time for killing the lambs is “at dusk” or “between the setting-times,” as it is correctly translated from the Hebrew phrase ben ha arbayim. Ben ha arbayim has already been presented in Part 6 in this series of our study on Passover. Ben ha arbayim is the time period that begins when the sun has set. Ben ha arbayim in Exodus 12:6 is the time between sunset and dark at the BEGINNING of the 14th day.
According to Scripture, keeping the lambs “until the fourteenth” means keeping them through the thirteenth day of the month until “even,” or sunset, which ends the thirteenth and begins the fourteenth. Killing the lambs “between the two evenings,” or ben ha arbayim, means killing the lambs IMMEDIATELY AFTER the thirteenth day of the Hebrew month of Aviv has ended at sunset. That is the true meaning of YHWH’s command for the slaying of the Passover lambs, as interpreted by the Scriptures.
The killing of the Passover lambs took place AT THE BEGINNING of the 14th day. As the 13th day of the month drew to a close, all the children of Israel assembled their families and gathered around the lambs, watching the sun set and waiting for the sun to disappear below the horizon. The instant it dropped below the horizon, ending the 13th and beginning ben ha arbayim of the 14th, all the children of Israel killed their Passover lambs at precisely the same time!
As YHWH had commanded,
“And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it BETWEEN THE TWO EVENINGS [Hebrew ben ha arbayim]”
(Exodus 12:6, comment and emphasis added)
The Answer for Element #1:
The Passover lambs were killed at the beginning of the 14th day of the first Hebrew month of Aviv (March/April), immediately after sunset of the 13th.
Element #2: Where were the Lambs Killed?
YHWH’s commands for Passover teaches us that the children of Israel were assembled by households at their individual dwellings when the lambs were slain. We see this in Exodus 12:4,
“And if the household is too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take ...one...”
Fox’s translation confirms to us the location of the children of Israel at the time for the killing of the Passover lambs:
“Now if there be too few in the house for a lamb, he is to take (it), he and his neighbor who is near his house...”
(Exodus 12:4, The Schocken Bible)
After slaying the lambs, the children of Israel splashed some of the blood on the door frames of their houses, as YHWH had commanded:
“And they shall take of the blood and strike it on the two side posts and upon the upper door post of the houses in which they shall eat it”
The above verse clearly shows us that the Passover lambs were slain at each house of the Israelites and that the Passover lamb was also eaten at those houses as well. The Schocken Bible confirms that the lambs were eaten in individual houses:
“They are to take some of the blood and put it onto the two posts and onto the lintel, onto the houses in which they eat it”
So, we know from the above Scriptures that the Passover lambs where killed at the homes of the Israelites and that they ate the Passover lamb in their separate homes. We need to keep in mind that there was no Tabernacle and no Temple at this time. The children of Israel did not assemble at a central location to keep the Passover. They assembled by families in their own houses, or in a neighbor’s house. That is where the children of Israel were assembled when they killed and ate the Passover lambs.
The Answer for Element #2:
The Passover lambs were killed at the houses of the children of Israel.
Element #3: Where were the Children of Israel During the Entire Passover Observance?
In Exodus 12:21-28, we find Moses communicating YHWH’s commands for the Passover to the elders of Israel, who in turn gave YHWH’s instructions to the children of Israel. This procedure was necessary because the children of Israel were dwelling throughout the land of Goshen, which was located in the northeastern section of the Nile Delta:
“21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, ‘Draw out and take a lamb for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. 22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the bowl, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood in the bowl. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning [sunrise]’ ”
(Exodus 12:21-22, comment and emphasis added)
The Hebrew word that is translated “morning” in the Jewish Publication Society of America version is boqer. Fox’s translation shows the precise meaning of this Hebrew word:
“Now you—you are not to go out, any man from the entrance to his house, UNTIL DAYBREAK [Hebrew boqer]”
(Exodus 12:22, The Schocken Bible, comment and emphasis added)
God clearly commanded the children of Israel NOT to leave their houses until daybreak, or sunrise. During the entire Passover night, they were to remain under the protection of the blood of the lambs, which they had put on the door frames of their houses:
“23 For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians. And when He sees the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will PASS OVER the door, and will not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. 24 And you shall observe this thing as a law to you and to your children forever”
(Exodus 12:23-24, emphasis added)
These words which YHWH spoke to Moses established the Passover for a lasting ordinance for the children of Israel. It was to be observed by their descendants throughout all generations as a memorial of YHWH’s “passing over” their houses and sparing their firstborn in Egypt. We learned earlier that this is how the observance of Passover derived its name. Just as YHWH had said, He PASSED OVER them:
“25 ‘And it shall be when you have come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as He has promised that you shall keep this service. 26 And it will be, when your children shall say to you, “What does this service mean to you?” 27 Then you shall say, “It is the sacrifice of the LORD’S Passover, Who PASSED OVER the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our houses.” ’ And the people bowed their heads and worshiped [showing reverence for the commandments of the Lord, which they had received from the elders]. “28 And the children of Israel went away and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron; SO DID THEY”
(Exodus 12:25-28, comment and emphasis added)
In verse 28 above, we clearly see that the children of Israel obeyed all the commands and instructions that YHWH had delivered to them through Moses. This point must be emphasized because some claim that the children of Israel did not observe the Passover according to the instructions that are recorded in these Scriptures. When we read Exodus 12:28, it clearly shows us that such claims are absolutely false.
The account that we read in Exodus Chapter 12 states that Moses gave YHWH’s instructions to the elders, who in turn gave those same instructions to the children of Israel, who obediently carried them out. Since these instructions were received at the beginning of the first month (Aviv-March/April), the children of Israel had several days of advance notice before the selection of the lambs on the tenth day of the month. When the time came to observe the Passover, the children of Israel knew exactly what to do, and they did all that YHWH had commanded.
After selecting the lambs on the 10th day, they kept the lambs until the end of the 13th day. When the sun began to set, they were assembled with their families at their houses throughout the land of Goshen. As soon as the sun had set, beginning on the start of the 14th day, all the households killed their Passover lambs simultaneously. After killing the lambs “between the two evenings,” or ben ha arbayim, they took some of the blood and put it on the door frames of the houses. Then they prepared and ate the Passover meal.
The account in Exodus Chapter 12 makes it crystal clear that the children of Israel were in their houses when they ate the Passover. The verses that we have already looked at use the word “houses” four times (verses 7, 23, and twice in verse 27) and the word “house” once (verse 22). A complete analysis of Exodus Chapter 12 reveals that the Hebrew word bayith, meaning “house” or “houses,” has been used a total of sixteen times—one time to denote a household, one time in reference to the houses of the Egyptians, one time in reference to a dungeon (“house of the pit”), and 13 times in reference to the houses of the children of Israel. There is no question that the children of Israel were in their houses when they observed the Passover.
In spite of the overwhelming Scriptural evidence that they were in their houses at the time of the Passover, some believe that the children of Israel left their houses in the land of Goshen before the Passover. One of the major arguments for a 15th Passover is based on the premise that the children of Israel left their homes and assembled in tents at Rameses before keeping the Passover. This view of the Passover originated in Judaism. According to this traditional belief, the children of Israel left Egypt shortly after midnight on the night of the 15th, after eating the Passover earlier that same night. This interpretation of Exodus Chapter 12 squeezes the events of two separate days into a single day. Although this traditional belief conflicts with the Scriptural account of the Passover and the Exodus, it has gained many supporters over the years.
The Jewish historian Josephus was a staunch supporter of the traditional belief in a Passover at Rameses. This was the Pharisaical view, and Josephus was a Pharisee. As a loyal Pharisee, he made widely known and held to all the Pharisaical teachings and practices. That was the very reason for his writings, as he states in the preface of his works. His histories were designed to defend those Jews of his day (1st Century C.E.) who had adopted the beliefs and practices of Pharisaic Judaism. One of the most venerated practices of the Pharisaic Jews was the observance of a 15th Passover.
While Josephus’ works are excellent sources of historical information, we should always be mindful and aware that Josephus’ writings are NOT Scripture! Josephus was a historical revisionist, portraying only the Pharisaic version of history. He presents the facts from this biased point of view; he does not present all the facts of history. He wholly ignores, as if they had never occurred, the life and ministry of Yeshua the Messiah; the trial, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Yeshua/Jesus; the impact of the apostles and the growth of the Christian Church. He never once mentions the Christian prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. He never once writes about the apostle Paul. Because his approach is so flagrantly biased, we must examine his statements very carefully. We can learn from Josephus’s writings. We just have to be aware that he is writing from a Pharisaic point of view.
We will take a look at Josephus’ narration of the Passover in Egypt, which is contrary to how it is written in the Scriptures. Josephus indicates that the children of Israel left their houses prior to the Passover:
“Accordingly, he [Moses] having got the Hebrews ready for their departure, and having sorted the people into tribes, he kept them together in one place; but when the fourteenth day was come, and all were ready to depart, they offered the sacrifice, and purified their houses with the blood, using bunches of hyssop for that purpose; and when they had supped, they burnt the remainder of the flesh, as just ready to depart”
(Antiquities of the Jews, Book. II, Chapter XIV, Section 6)
When we analyze Josephus’ narration, we find that his statements are contradictory when compared to what is written in the Scriptures. He tells us that the children of Israel left their houses and gathered at one place before keeping the Passover. At the same time, he states that they purified their houses when they kept the Passover. He does not explain HOW it was possible to purify their houses after they had left their houses. Do we see a problem here?
If the children of Israel had gathered at one place before the Passover, as Josephus pictures, they would not have been in their houses but would have been camping in tents. And if they were in tents, how could they purify their houses with the blood of the lambs? Did they run back to their houses with bowls of blood and sprinkle the blood on the two side-posts and lintel, and then frantically return to their tents in Rameses? This flawed scenario shows us that Josephus’ account does not line up with what is written in the Scriptures.
When we compare Josephus’ account with the commands in Exodus Chapter 12, we find even more contradictions. If the children of Israel had gathered at one place before the Passover, they would have left their houses before eating the Passover. And if they had left their houses before eating the Passover, then they would have been violating YHWH’s express command that they are to eat the Passover in their houses and remain in their houses until morning.
“7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.”
(Exodus 12:7, 22, emphasis added)
Consider the consequences that would have befallen the children of Israel if they had been in tents at Rameses before YHWH came to kill the firstborn at midnight. If the blood was on their houses and all the firstborn were in tents in Rameses, how could the blood protect them? Following this mistaken reasoning to its ultimate end, if the children of Israel were gathered at Rameses when they kept the Passover, their firstborn were not under the protection of the blood, and therefore their firstborn would have died in the plague. Hence, there was no real Passover, since YHWH did not pass over them and spare the firstborn of Israel.
It is foolishness to accept a traditional belief which directly conflicts with the Written Truth of YHWH’s Word, and to use such interpretations of Scripture which promotes mans false ideas. Is it any wonder that YHWH says that He entraps the intelligent in the foolishness of their own human wisdom.
Their human intellect has led some scholars to completely ignore the major contradictions between the traditional teachings of a 15th Passover and the events that are recorded in Exodus Chapter 12. These scholars claim that a Passover at Rameses on the night of the 15th is supported by the Scriptural account. They state, “If this were all the information we had, we would conclude that Israel left Egypt on the same night as the Passover. Despite the logistics of getting such a huge group underway this could have been done since they were already prepared and already knew when the death angel would pass about midnight. They would have been already on the move long before sunup. (The implication is that they were all gathered into the city of Rameses and kept the Passover together there, since they began their journey from there.)” (Robert L. Kuhn and Lester L. Grabbe, The Passover in the Bible and the Church Today, p. 8.)
Doctrine as critical as the observance of the Passover should not be based on an implication that is only perceived in the mind of a scholar. Such conclusions have no valid Scriptural basis, but are merely the result of faulty human reasoning or careless assumptions. True doctrine must be based on Scriptural facts, and not on hypothetical conclusions put forth by scholars who are seeking to justify a 15th Passover.
By rightly dividing the Absolute Written Word of Almighty YHWH led by His Set-Apart (Holy/Dedicated) Spirit, we can expose the false doctrines that are being taught and understand His Truths from His Written Word. When men try to impose their own beliefs on us, we can have confidence in YHWH’s Written Word, knowing that the Scriptures will expose such attempts and guide us into His entire Truths.
The Scriptural account does not show the children of Israel gathering at Rameses before the Passover. According to Scripture, the children of Israel kept the Passover at their own houses or at a neighbor’s house next to theirs. They did not leave their customary dwelling places until the morning after the Passover. The assertion that the Passover was kept at Rameses does not fit the record of events we read in Exodus Chapter 12. This flawed belief, which was adopted from Judaic tradition, directly conflicts with the clear statements we read in the Scriptures. We must remember that Truth always agrees with Scripture, and error never agrees with Scripture.
The children of Israel kept the Passover in their houses, just as the Bible records for us, Josephus and modern scholars notwithstanding! The inspired record in Exodus Chapter 12 makes it crystal clear that the children of Israel were not dwelling in tents at Rameses when they kept the Passover. The Hebrew word bayith, which is translated “house” or “houses” in Exodus Chapter 12, does not refer to a tent or a temporary dwelling. Bayith, which means “a dwelling, an abode, a house,” is used a total of sixteen times in Exodus Chapter 12. The Hebrew word ohel, which refers to “a movable, portable tent or dwelling,” is not found even once in Exodus Chapter 12. The only word for a tent or temporary dwelling that is used in Exodus Chapter 12 is the Hebrew word soo-kaw, which is used in Verse 37 in reference to the place of booths, called “Succoth,” where the children of Israel camped for the first time after beginning the Exodus (Wigram Englishman’s Hebrew-Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament). That is the only time that a Hebrew word for a tent or temporary dwelling is used in Exodus Chapter 12, and it was AFTER the Passover.
In Exodus 12:30, we find the word bayith used in reference to the Egyptians’ houses:
“...There was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house [Hebrew bayith] where there was not one dead.”
(Exodus 12:30, comment and emphasis added)
It would be reading into the text to claim that the Egyptians were living in tents, wouldn’t it? Since the same Hebrew word is used in reference to the houses of the children of Israel, we can conclude that both the children of Israel and the Egyptians were in their respective houses on the night of the Passover.
The Scriptural record shows us that after the children of Israel left Egypt, they did live in tents in the wilderness. In Exodus 16:16, the people were commanded to,
“...take it [the manna], every man for them that are in his tent [Hebrew ohel].”
(Exodus 16:16, comments and emphasis added)
If the children of Israel had been dwelling in tents at Rameses during the Passover, we would find the Hebrew word ohel used in Exodus Chapter 12, just as it is used in Exodus 16:16 in reference to portable tents. But, we find only the Hebrew word bayith is used in Exodus Chapter 12. This should leave no doubt whatsoever that the children of Israel kept the Passover in their own houses.
The Bible shows that the houses of the children of Israel were located in that part of Egypt which was called the land of Goshen. The children of Israel had come into Egypt when Israel’s favorite son Joseph was ruler of Egypt under Pharaoh. At that time, Pharaoh gave the land of Goshen to Israel and his sons and their families:
“5 And Pharaoh spoke to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6 The land of Egypt is before you. Make your father and brothers to live in the best of the land; in the land of Goshen let them live’ ”
Goshen is where the children of Israel lived for over two hundred years until the Exodus. The land of Goshen comprised an area of approximately 300 square miles, an estimated 20 miles by 15 miles in length and width. The city of Rameses was located in the lower center of the land of Goshen. It was the treasure city of Egypt. It was built by the slave labor of the children of Israel (Atlas of the Bible Lands, C. S. Hammond, 1969). The villages of the children of Israel were generally grouped in clusters so that pasture land could be used for grazing the animals.
In the account of the plagues that YHWH brought upon Egypt before the Exodus, we find many references to the houses of the Egyptians, but there is no mention of the houses of the children of Israel until the plague of flies. At this critical point, YHWH gave His special protection to the children of Israel:
“20 And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh. Lo, he comes forth to the water. And say to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Let My people go, so that they may serve Me. 21 ...behold, I will send swarms of flies on you, and on your servants, and on your people, and into your house. And the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they are.
“22 And in that day I will cut off the land of Goshen, in which My people live, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, so that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. 23 And I will put a dividing line between My people and your people...’ ”
(Exodus 8:20-23, emphasis added)
The Lord continued His protection of the children of Israel and their cattle in the plague of the grievous murrain:
“And the LORD shall separate between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. And there shall nothing die of all that belongs to the children of Israel”
The land of Goshen was afterwards protected from the plague of hail:
“Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail”
(Exodus 9:26, emphasis added)
As we can see from the above Scriptures, they show us that the children of Israel were dwelling in their houses in the land of Goshen and not in tents in the city of Rameses during the plagues that YHWH sent upon Egypt. These plagues occurred during the weeks and days that led up to Passover. The Scriptural account stands that the children of Israel DID NOT MOVE to Rameses or any other place prior to Passover!
As bad as all these plagues were, we can see YHWH’s hand of protection that He did for the Israelites. We see this in the following verse,
“Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail.”
(Exodus 9:26, emphasis added)
In describing the next plague, the plague of locusts, YHWH warned Pharaoh,
“4 ...Behold, tomorrow I will bring the locusts into your country. 5 And they shall cover the face of the ground so that one cannot be able to see the earth. And they shall eat the rest of that which has escaped, which remains to you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which grows for you out of the field. 6 And they shall fill your houses, and the houses of all your servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians, which neither your fathers, nor your fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day they were upon the earth until this day”
(Exodus 10:4-6, emphasis added)
This plague was so devastating that
“...there did not remain any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt.”
During the plague of darkness, just before the final plague of the death of the Egyptian firstborn, we find the children of Israel still dwelling in their houses:
“21 And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward the heavens, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, so that one may even feel the darkness.’ 22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven. And there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 23 They did not see one another, nor did any rise from his place...but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings [Hebrew moshab, dwelling places, not tents].”
(Exodus 10:21-23, comment and emphasis added)
The Scriptures clearly show that the children of Israel remained in their houses during the entire time leading up to Passover and the final plague upon the firstborn of Egypt. There is NO INDICATION—NOT EVEN A HINT—of a mass movement to Rameses during any of the plagues that preceded the Passover. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE ANYWHERE IN THE SCRIPTURAL ACCOUNT OF SUCH AN ASSEMBLING PRIOR TO THE PASSOVER. In fact, the commands that YHWH gave to the children of Israel ABSOLUTELY PROHIBITED them from gathering until the morning AFTER they ate the Passover.
These two key verses must be kept in mind:
“...And none of you shall go out of the door of his house UNTIL SUNRISE....And the children of Israel went away and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron; so they did”
(Exodus 12:22, 28, emphasis added)
The Schocken Bible expresses the directness of the command even more unequivocally and it pinpoints the exact time that the Israelites were permitted to leave their houses:
“...Now you—you are NOT to go out, any man from the entrance to his house, UNTIL DAYBREAK”
(Exodus 12:22, The Schocken Bible, emphasis added)
When we consider the magnitude of the plagues that YHWH sent upon Egypt, and the impact that this awesome display of power had on the people, then we will begin to grasp the deep reverence that moved the children of Israel to obediently follow YHWH’s instructions in every detail:
“27 ...And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.... 28 And the children of Israel went away and did as the LORD had commanded...”
The children of Israel understood that if they did not obey all of YHWH's instructions that they would not remain under His protection! They were witnessing the complete destruction of the most powerful nation on earth at that time, which had long held them in slavery; and they were witnessing their deliverance by the Might One/God of their fathers, Who was releasing them from their slavery, and bringing them out of Egypt forever, and on top of that, bestowing on them an abundance of riches from the vast wealth of Egypt.
In a few short weeks, Egypt was reduced from the dominant world power that they were to the least among the nations. So devastating was the destruction wrought by YHWH that Egypt did not recover for nearly four hundred years!
The death of the firstborn was the final straw that broke the Egyptians back and Pharaoh before the Exodus of the children of Israel. When YHWH sent this final plague, He was executing His judgment against the demonic/satanic worship of the Egyptians. YHWH killed all the firstborn of Egypt as He passed through the land at midnight on the 14th day of the first Hebrew month of Aviv (March/April), which was Passover day. During that entire night, the children of Israel remained in their houses under the protection of the blood of the Passover lambs on their doorpost and lintels.
The Answer for Element #3:
The children of Israel were in their houses in the land of Goshen during the entire Passover night.
Element #4: How Long Did it Take to Kill, Roast and Eat the Lambs, and to Burn the Bones and Remains?
We learned earlier that the Passover commands given to us in Exodus Chapter 12 where the lambs were to be slain at ben ha arbayim— “between the two evenings,” or “between the setting-times.” Using the Scriptural definition of ben ha arbayim that is revealed in Exodus Chapter 16, we know that the Passover lambs were slain at the beginning of the 14th day of the first Hebrew month of Aviv (March/April), immediately after sunset of the 13th day.
Let’s take a quick review of YHWH’s commands in Exodus Chapter 12:
“6 ...And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it BETWEEN THE TWO EVENINGS [Hebrew ben ha arbayim]. 7 And they shall take of the blood and strike it on the two side posts and upon the upper door posts of the houses in which they shall eat it. 8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night [Hebrew lailah], roasted with fire, and unleavened bread. They shall eat it with bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat of it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted with fire; its head with its legs, and with its inwards parts [the edible internal organs]. 10 And you shall not let any of it remain until the morning [Hebrew boqer]. And that which remains of it until the morning [Hebrew boqer] you shall burn with fire”
(Exodus 12:6-10, comments and emphasis added)
The Schocken Bible states these commands even more clearly:
“6 ...And they are to slay it—the entire assembly of the community of Israel— between the setting-times [Hebrew ben ha arbayim]. 7 They are to take some of the blood and put it onto the two posts and onto the lintel, onto the houses in which they eat it. 8 They are to eat the flesh on that night [Hebrew lailah], roasted in fire, and matzot [unleavened bread], with bitter-herbs they are to eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw, or boiled, boiled in water, but rather roasted in fire, its head along with its legs, along with its innards. 10 You are not to leave any of it until morning [Hebrew boqer]; what is left of it until morning [Hebrew boqer], with fire you are to burn”
(Exodus 12:6-10, The Schocken Bible, comments and emphasis added)
Most people, including myself, do not think about just how long it takes to prepare a Passover lamb. First, the lamb needs to be killed, skinned, and gutted. This lamb or kid must be less than a year old. This is important to keep in mind so that later we will have a better understanding of the events that took place during the Passover in Egypt. The following information has been provided by Carl Franklin, who has had considerable experience in raising kid goats for slaughter. The estimation of the time required for killing the animals, roasting the flesh, and burning the remains is based on the actual performance of these tasks. This estimation has been confirmed by Gordon G. Emerson, who has raised sheep for meat for more than thirty years.
Since the lambs or kids selected for the Passover were to be less than a year old, most were from that year’s lambing, which would have taken place about two or three months before the Passover. The average lamb or kid of this age would weigh about 20 to 30 pounds after removing the skin and guts. (There would naturally be some variation in the size of the lambs, some being a little larger and some a little smaller.) To kill and bleed the animals would require about 10-15 minutes. Immediately after killing the lambs, some of the blood had to be caught in a basin and then be splashed on the two side-posts and lintel.
To skin and gut the lambs would require an additional 10-15 minutes. The guts and skins had to be put into containers to be burned with the fat and bones and any other remains from the meal. The internal edible parts—the heart, liver, and kidneys—were then placed in the chest cavity of the animal, and the entire animal was put on a roasting skewer (a long pole of some kind). Remember, YHWH had instructed the Israelites not to break a single bone of the lamb. It was to be roasted whole with its head and legs still attached. The final preparation for roasting would require 10-15 minutes, making a total of 30-45 minutes from the time that the animal was slain.
The lamb was then roasted with bitter herbs. It was not placed in a kettle of water or roasted in a pan where the juices might boil some of the meat, because YHWH had forbidden any boiling of the lamb. The fire had to be kindled well in advance in order to be hot enough to roast the lamb, and additional wood had to be added periodically to keep the fire burning sufficiently during the time needed to roast the meat. Moreover, sufficient wood had to be stockpiled to burn the entire remains of skin, intestines, fat and bones when the meal was completed.
To roast a whole lamb or kid weighing 20-30 pounds until the meat was thoroughly done would take approximately 4-5 hours. The total time needed to have the meal ready is estimated to be from 4 and 1/2 hours at the earliest, to 5 and 3/4 hours at the latest, which includes 30-45 minutes to prepare the lamb and 4-5 hours to roast it.
Since the Passover was observed in the spring of the year, when the length of days and nights is almost equal, it is probable that sunset, or ba erev, occurred at about 6 PM. That is when ben ha arbayim of the 14th day would have begun. Thus, if the time for killing the lambs was approximately 6 PM, then the lambs were ready to be eaten just before midnight. Midnight is the very time that YHWH passed through the land of Egypt, killing the firstborn in every house that had no blood on its lintel and sideposts. No wonder YHWH said that the people would eat the Passover meal “in trepidation,” as Everett Fox correctly translates Exodus 12:11.
As translated in the KJV and the Jewish Publication Society of America versions, this verse states that they were to eat the Passover meal “in haste,” which gives the impression that they would leave immediately after they had finished eating. This obviously cannot be the meaning of YHWH’s words, since it would contradict His command we see in Exodus 12:22 to remain in their houses until morning, or daybreak. A careful examination of Exodus 12:11 will establish its true meaning. Here is the verse as it appears in the Jewish Publication Society of America:
“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 [Hebrew b’ ghihpha-zohn]—it is the LORD’s passover.”
(Exodus 12:11, comment added)
The words “in haste” are translated from the Hebrew preposition b and the Hebrew noun ghihphazohn. This Hebrew noun may be used to express either “trepidation” or “hurried flight” (Brown, Driver, Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament). Obviously, the children of Israel did not eat the Passover meal “in hurried flight”—they were not fleeing as they were eating. The Scriptures clearly state that they ate the entire meal in their houses. They did, however, eat the Passover meal “in trepidation.”
As used in Exodus 12:11, the Hebrew word ghihphazohn does not refer to “hurried flight”—neither during the Passover nor afterward. The Scriptures record that when the children of Israel left Egypt, they did not flee in alarm but went out “with a high hand” (Numbers 33:3). Clearly, ghihphazohn is not used to express the physical act of hasty flight. Rather, it is expressing a mental state of dread and alarm. They were to eat the meal in fear and trepidation because of the awesome power that YHWH would manifest in killing the firstborn of Egypt.
Fox’s translation conveys the true meaning of Exodus 12:11:
“And thus you are to eat it: your hips girded, your sandals on your feet, your sticks in your hand; YOU ARE TO EAT IT IN TREPIDATION [Hebrew b’ghihphazohn]—IT IS A PASSOVER-MEAL TO YHWH.”
(Exodus 12:11, The Schocken Bible, comment and emphasis added)
We find a similar translation in the Faithful Version:
“And this is the way you shall eat it: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in trepidation. It is the LORD’S Passover”
After finishing the meal, the children of Israel did not leave their houses, as some claim. Instead, they gathered the bones and other remains of the Passover lambs and burned them. The instructions for burning the remains of the lambs are somewhat awkward in the English translation:
“And you shall not let any of it remain until the morning. And that which remains of it until the morning you shall burn with fire”
Everything that was left over from the Passover meal, plus the skin, guts, and anything else that was left over from the lamb was to be completely burned by morning. To completely burn the skin, intestines, fat and bones would take 2-3 hours, since bones in particular burn very slowly. Larger bones, such as the skull and the joints of the legs, require the full length of time and a very hot fire to burn them completely. Remember, the entire remains of the Passover lambs were to be burned to ashes before the children of Israel left their houses.
To fulfill all the requirements for the Passover exactly as YHWH had commanded would have taken the children of Israel from 6 PM until approximately 2-3 AM, as we reckon time. In Biblical usage, 2-3 AM is still night. Since sunrise was at approximately 6 AM, the first light of dawn would have been about an hour earlier, or 5 AM by our reckoning.
When we understand YHWH’s commands for the Passover, and the length of time that was required to fulfill them, we can see that it was not possible for the Passover and the Exodus to take place in the same night.
The following summary of YHWH’s commands in Exodus Chapter 12 shows that the Passover itself required a whole night:
“And they shall eat the flesh in that night” (verse 8), which was the night of the fourteenth. Anything which remained was to be burned by morning (verse 10). They were to be fully ready to leave (verse 11). The killing of the firstborn of Egypt and the passing over of the houses of the children of Israel took place about midnight that same night (verses 12-13, 29). And no Israelite could leave his house until the morning, or daybreak, as Fox correctly translates this command (verse 22).
(Exodus 12:8, 10-13, 22 and 29)
The Answer for Element # 4: To kill, roast and eat the lambs, and to burn the bones and remains, took from approximately 6 PM on the night of the fourteenth until 2-3 hours before sunrise, a total of 8-10 hours.
This concludes our study of the first four elements of the Passover, as it is recorded in Exodus Chapter 12. We will be covering the last four Elements of Passover in Part 8.