We are currently studying the 2nd Passover that Israel observed in its history as a nation.
The first passover took place in Egypt and this second passover is now taking place in the wilderness.
The biggest difference between this Passover and the first is that Israel now has a formal Torah, an official priesthood and a Tabernacle.
For this second Passover, the Passover Lamb would be taken to the Tabernacle and the Levitical Priests would officiate over its slaughter.
A part of the lamb was to be offered on the Bronze Altar of burnt offering to God and then afterwards some of the blood was to be taken back home and and dabbed on the entranceway of their homes.
In our studies on Leviticus we learned that Passover was to begin on the 14th evening of Nisan.
This ruling is repeated here in Numbers Chapter 9.
“On the fourteenth day of this month, at dusk, you are to observe it — at its designated time. You are to observe it according to all its regulations and rules.”-Numbers 9:3
An interesting Hebrew expression appears here.
We’re told the sacrifice of the Lamb at the Tabernacle should be done at BEIN HA’ARBAYIM.
Literally, this translates into “between the two evenings“.
However, that phrasing is still lacking specifics in terms of the actual timing.
We have to go to the oral law for more detail.
According to the ancient sages, the timing was sometime after sunset until complete darkness.
Eventually this was interpreted to mean from around 3pm to the point of total darkness.
Keep in mind that a Hebrew day starts and finishes in the evening.
The day was considered over when the last sun rays disappeared over the horizon.
Another way to tell if the day had ended was to look up at the sky.
When exactly three stars appeared that signified that the current day had ended.
There is another practical reason why the slaughtering of the lambs commenced at 3pm.
It would obviously have been impossible for the Priests to oversee the slaughtering of thousands of lambs within the few minutes from the sun setting to complete darkness.
Finally, there is another interesting point I want you to notice here.
In Numbers 9, you’ll notice there is zero mention of the Feast of Unleavened Bread here.
We’re only told of Passover.
This is interesting because the Feast of Unleavened Bread or MATZAH begins right after Passover on the 15th of Nisan.
Recall that Passover is a ONE DAY festival which begins on Nisan 14.
And the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a 7-day festival starting on Nisan 15 and lasting for seven days.
We can know with certainty that Israel did not depart from Sinai into the Wilderness until the evening of Nisan 20 because there is no way they would have packed up and left in the middle of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The only reason I’m pointing this out is because the fact that the Feast of MATZAH is not mentioned here shows just how intimately connected these two feasts became with each other.
Even today it is normal to refer to both Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread as just “Passover” or “PESACH“.
And there are some groups that will refer to both of these feasts as “MATZAH“.
A good majority of Jews today consider Passover to simple be the first day of Matzah, but according to the exact commands of Torah, that is NOT correct.
Finally, understand there was a very important reason why Passover had to be observed BEFORE Israel packed up and left Sinai.
The reason is because it involved the sacrifice of an animal at the Tabernacle beginning at Mount Sinai.
However, since the Feast of MATZAH did not involve any sacrifices, it could be observed anywhere and in fact ritual purity wasn’t even required to observe MATZAH.
There were only two requirements: To clean out one’s living quarters of all leaven and every day over the 7-day period eat MATZAH.