Is the Passover a Late Biblical Invention?

No Biblical festival has quite the cultural legacy and rich complexity of Passover. It is a holiday of interest to Jews and Christians and through the Exodus story and the narrative of the Passion of Jesus, Passover has a cultural influence beyond the borders of these two great faiths.

As Passover draws near, it will be a frequent subject on Messianic Jewish Musings. I have a modest but always growing library of books on Passover. I hope, in a decade or two, to be an expert on the subject.

This year I am reading a great new resource for lovers of Passover and its history, My People

This entry was posted in Bible, Holidays, Judaism, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism, Passover, Torah. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Is the Passover a Late Biblical Invention?

  1. rabbiadam says:

    This is fascinating. The modern celebration of an eight-day festival as “Passover” is clearly not what Scripture intended, but rather Passover being one day and Unleavened Bread for seven… but of course, it also seems today to totally ignore the Day of First Firsts, which from a plain reading of the Leviticus passage takes place on the Sunday (Yom Rishon) following Passover. I’ve suspected this all came about to obscure the intrinsic connection of Passover & First Fruits to the crucifixion and resurrection.

  2. mchuey says:

    I am glad to see that someone other than myself is willing to engage with JEDP Biblical scholarship, even though I don’t know a single Messianic (including myself) who believes it.

    During the festival times (most especially around Passover) this can be a major point of contention, because Leviticus 23 gives one set of instructions, and other instructions appear elsewhere in the Pentateuch. What Leviticus 23 says about counting the omer (sheva shabbatot), for example, “differs” from what Deuteronomy 16 says (sheva shavuot & the gathering at the appointed place). Either one set of instruction is from P, and the other is from D–or they are both Mosaic and they have to be synthesized together (in addition to other theological factors to be considered).

    I’m glad we just don’t rely on Leviticus 23 alone to tell us how to observe the appinted times.


  3. rabbiadam says:

    I hope this doesn’t sound too stupid, but what is JEDP?

  4. mchuey says:

    The JEDP documentary hypothesis has existed for around two centuries. It is a mainstay in the critical tradition of Biblical Studies. It advocates that the Torah or Pentateuch is not a document of Mosaic origin, but rather was a compilation of disparate sources composed after the Babylonian exile.

    The Jewish Study Bible was composed with commentary from the critical tradition, and is often the first exposure Messianics I know have of it.


  5. Adam:

    You said, “The modern celebration of an eight-day festival as

  6. rabbiadam says:

    I don’t see this text as being ambiguous. The Passover is a one-day event, the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb. Then there is a separate seven-day festival call the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

    As for the decision to keep Yom Tovs for two days outside of Israel, I would consider that a violation of the commandment not to add to the Torah. It’s real specific how long the festival is.

  7. Adam:

    I have to push back at you for being so quick to call rabbinic tradition (in this case a second day of Yom Tov for Passover) adding to the Torah. Consider the bankruptcy of that statement. Torah is incomplete and does not fill in the details. It says to sanctify the Sabbath but doesn’t say how. It is not adding to the Torah to apply it to real life situations.

    The reason for the second day of Yom Tovs concerns uncertainty about the correct timing of the Yom Tovs outside of Israel. It was enacted long ago when signal fires had been used but suddenly were not able to be used anymore. By mandating two days the rabbis were certain that the diaspora communities would celebrate the right day.

    The real concern should not be adding to the Torah, but a refusal on the part of Orthodoxy to change with the times. We now have no uncertainty about calendar issues and the two-day Yom Tov is a relic of a bygone era and Torah should not be fossilized. Thus, a substantial part of the Jewish community does not feel a need to keep the antiquated second day.

    Adam, as long as you decide that you know better than the tradition how to keep Torah, you are living in the days of the Judges, each man doing what seems right in his own eyes.


  8. rabbiadam says:

    Derek, you have a total misunderstanding of my point here. We are actually in agreement about tradition in general, just not on this one point in specific. I’ve addressed this as a response to your later post about the general issue, but let me address this in specific here.

    Scripture is very clear that some traditions are fine and good, and others are not. Yeshua’s discussion on the proper usage of Torah in Mark 7 is a prime example. The debate is over the proper role of tradition. Yeshua is particularly clear about two points: 1) You cannot teach the traditions of man as co-equal to the commandments of God — which would include not making commandments that are counter to the literal words of Torah — and 2) traditions cannot be used in counter to the SPIRIT of either a specific Torah command or the Torah in general. Quoting:

    Mark 7:6-13
    And He said to them,

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