“On the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of matzah; for seven days you are to eat matzah. On the first day you are to have a holy convocation; don’t do any kind of ordinary work. Bring an offering made by fire to Adonai for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work.”-Leviticus 23:6-8
Starting on the 1st day of MATZA (Feast of Unleavened Bread) and continuing for 7 days, a Hebrew is forbidden from eating anything that has leaven in it.
Actually, the restriction against leaven goes much further than that.
Anything that has leaven in it cannot even be inside one’s house!
Now although the Scripture says 7 days, the truth is a Hebrew was forbidden from eating leaven for EIGHT days because leaven is also forbidden on Passover (the day right before the Feast of MATZA).
So we have an 8-day prohibition on anything with leavening in it.
And again, let me make it clear that Passover was NOT originally a pilgrimage feast.
This might come as a surprise to you because when you read the New Testament, there are many scenes of people bringing their Passover lambs to the temple to be slaughtered.
Here’s the thing.
While the first Passover was to be observed within the residence of each family, once the Law was established to celebrate it as an annual observance, the conditions changed and the eating of the passover lamb was to take place at the centralized sanctuary (the temple).
Although Passover was not originally a pilgrimage feast, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which follows immediately after passover, was.
Remember Passover was on NISSAN 14 and the Feast of MATZAH was on NISSAN 15, the day after.
Notice also that the final 7th day of the Feast of Matza was also declared to be A Sabbath or a “holy convocation“.
This was the same situation as the 1st day of the Feast of Matza.
One was to cease from one’s regular work but not necessarily all work.
Just to make sure there’s no confusion, although this particular Sabbath occurred on the 7th and final day of Matza, it didn’t necessarily fall on the 7th day of the week.
Actually, due to order of the feast days and the way days are counted, every 5 out of 7 years, the Feast of Unleavened Bread wound up have a whopping total of FOUR SABBATHS!
Here’s how that worked:
The first day of the feast, sometimes called Preparation Day, was a Sabbath.
There was another Sabbath for Firstfruits which we’ll be studying soon.
Then, sometime during the next several days the normal weekly 7th day sabbath would arrive.
Finally, we have the last day of the Feast of Matza, which as I just mentioned was another Sabbath.
So there you have it!
A total of four Sabbaths!
Of course, on other years, one of the festival sabbaths WOULD fall on the 7th day weekly Sabbath.
In that case, there were only three Sabbaths.
For those who really want to get into the details concerning every aspect of Passover and MATZA, I recommend checking out what Oral Tradition has to say on the matter, specifically the Tractate Pesahim in the MISHNAH.
I’m not going to be going over it here, or we’ll be in Leviticus chapter 23 forever.