Overview: The spring feasts

The first feasts all occur within roughly one week. Nowadays, these three feasts often only carry one name together: Pesach. However, the Tanakh (תַּנַ”ךְ‎, Old Testament) distinguishes them quite clearly.

  • Passover (פֶּסַח, Pesach), on the 14th of the month Nisan: Lev. 23:4-5; Deut. 16:1-8
  • Unleavened Bread (חג המצות, Hag haMatza), from the 15th-21st of Nisan: Lev. 23:6-9; Deut. 16:9-12
  • Firstfruits (ביכורים, Bikkurim): Lev. 23:10-14; Deut. 26:1-4

These spring feasts are preceded by two special days:

  • The first of Nisan, which marks the beginning of the year in the biblical/religious calendar (Ex. 12:1-2).
  • The 10th of Nisan, when the people would go get a Pesach lamb to keep it in their house with their family until the 14th, i.e. until they would be attached to their lamb (cf. wording in Ex. 12:3-6). The reason for this is that the people would feel like a member of their own family – their lamb – had to die in the place of their firstborn sons.

Summary: Yeshua’s death and resurrection

Is it possible that Yeshua was born on the 1st of Nisan? We do not know for sure, although he was most probably born in spring. Nevertheless, it would seem fitting: The new beginning of the year announcing the one bringing a new covenant to renew what was broken.
What we do know, however, is that Yeshua entered Jerusalem four days before Pesach, on a day Christianity calls Palm Sunday. Jerusalem, God says, is his home (e.g. Isa. 2:3). So on the 10th of Nisan, while everyone was taking their lamb to live in their homes with their children, God took his son, the lamb of God (e.g. see John the Baptist’s exclamation; John 1:29), into his city, his home: Jerusalem.
Then, Yeshua died on Pesach. While the lambs were brought to the temple for the Pesach sacrifice, Yeshua was taken to the cross. And three days later, we celebrate the first fruits (ביכורים, Bikkurim) of the New Covenant, Yeshua’s resurrection. Finally, these events occurred during the week of unleavened bread (חג המצות, Hag haMatza). As leaven or yeast symbolises sin (1 Cor. 5:6-8), this week without it is a week of purification.

Additional resources

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