Today we begin Exodus Chapter 12.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James version, click here.
“YHVH spoke to Moshe and Aharon in the land of Egypt; he said, “You are to begin your calendar with this month; it will be the first month of the year for you.”-Exodus 12:1-2
We have now arrived at what is arguably one of the most important chapters in all the Book of Exodus.
The focus now shifts from Pharaoh and Egypt to the Israelites and the commandments given to them.
It is here in Exodus Chapter 12 that the festival or feast of Passover is established.
In Hebrew, the word for Passover is PESACH.
The details of this festival are rich and full of spiritual meaning that prophetically point to the Messiah.
We’re going to take our good ‘ole sweet time here.
Stick with me and you’ll learn all you need to know about this momentous event the Jewish people have been faithfully observing for thousands of years.
It is also high time the Christians adopted this festival as well, because if there is any event that so precisely points to the Savior, it has got to be Passover.
First, “Passover” is a spring festival.
Passover in 2016 will take place from April 22-30 and in 2017 it will be from April 10-18.
It only shifts slightly from year to year.
Note the instruction “You are to begin your calendar with this month; it will be the first month of the year for you“.
“This month” is referring to the month of AVIV in Hebrew.
The basic meaning of the word AVIV is the stage in the growth of grain when the seeds have reached full size and are filling with starch, but have not dried yet.
During the plague of hail, the barley was said to be AVIV while the flax was GIV’OL (in the pod or budded).
By the way, the city name TEL AVIV literally means “spring mound“.
Later when the Jews took over the Babylonian calendar, AVIV was renamed to NISAN.
The exile to Babylon took place about 800 years after the Exodus.
During this time, all twelve months of the year were changed from Hebrew to Babylonian names.
Although some conservative Jews choose to cling to the ancient original Hebrew names, nowadays it is more common to use the Babylonian names.
Just know that both AVIV and NISAN refer to the same month.
God is saying that AVIV or NISAN is to be “the FIRST month of the year for you“.
One major point of confusion is God clearly tells Israel in Exodus 12:2 that this Passover month, NISAN, is to be the first month of the year.
In other words, it is to be equivalent to our January.
However, ROSH HASHANAH, the Jewish New Year as we know it today does not occur on the 1st day of NISAN.
It actually occurs several months after passover in the fall month of TISHRI.
For example, in 2016, ROSH HASHANAH will be on October 2nd.
So what the heck is going on here?
Do we now have two New Year’s?
In short, yes.
Think of it like this.
The yearly cycle most of us are familiar with begins on January 1st and ends on December 31st.
However, a business for instance may use a different yearly cycle for financial reporting purposes.
We call this a FISCAL YEAR.
In the same way, Israel also used different calendar cycles for different purposes.
-The cycle to count the years of reigns of kings and queens starts from the month of NISAN (as mentioned here in verse 2).
-The cycle to count the tithing of animals starts from the month of ELUL (August).
-The cycle to determine which fruits from the tree harvest can be eaten and tithed starts from the month of SHEVAT (February).
–And as just mentioned, the cycle to determine when a new year begins starts from TISHRI (September or October). This is ROSH HASHANAH.
In a nutshell, NISAN is considered to be the first month of the Jewish religious calendar and TISHRI is the month by which Jews advance the number of years by one.
The difference is because Israel used a lunar calendar as opposed to our modern solar calendar year.
Don’t worry about understanding all of the technicalities at this point in time.
Just realize that the Biblical calendar is totally different from our modern 365-day-a-year solar calendar.
You have to apply the Jewish calendar system to understand when a given festival was held or when a certain king reigned etcetera.