Of all the appointed times (Heb. mo’edim), Second Passover (Heb. Pesach Sheni) is by far the least known. Pesach Sheni occurs on the 14th day of the second month on the 5th day of the week — exactly one month after Passover (Heb. Pesach) on 14 Abib on the third day of the week; see the Qumran calendar from the Dead Sea Scrolls for details. When reconciled with the pagan Gregorian calendar, this day falls on the “evening” of May 3rd and the “morning” of May 4th. [Author’s Note: As I was a firstborn son on the “morning” of May 4th, this is a special honor!]
Let’s examine the origins of this mo’ed:
Numbers 9:4 So Moses told the sons of Israel to observe the Passover. 5 They observed the Passover in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, in the wilderness of Sinai; according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses, so the sons of Israel did. 6 But there were some men who were unclean because of the dead person, so that they could not observe Passover on that day; so they came before Moses and Aaron on that day. 7 Those men said to him, “Though we are unclean because of the dead person, why are we restrained from presenting the offering of the Lord at its appointed time among the sons of Israel?” 8 Moses therefore said to them, “Wait, and I will listen to what the Lord will command concerning you.”
9 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If any one of you or of your generations becomes unclean because of a dead person, or is on a distant journey, he may, however, observe the Passover to the Lord. 11 In the second month on the fourteenth day at twilight, they shall observe it; they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break a bone of it; according to all the statute of the Passover they shall observe it. 13 But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and yet neglects to observe the Passover, that person shall then be cut off from his people, for he did not present the offering of the Lord at its appointed time. That man will bear his sin. 14 If an alien sojourns among you and observes the Passover to the Lord, according to the statute of the Passover and according to its ordinance, so he shall do; you shall have one statute, both for the alien and for the native of the land.’” (NASB)
That seems pretty straight-forward. If someone were on a long journey during Passover in the first month or they were unclean because of contact with a corpse, then they could observe this appointed time in the second month. Note: Few realize that the term translated as “alien” (Heb. ger[im]) in v14 above, is referring to Gentile proselytes to Judaism.
Passover/Unleavened Bread represents one of the three pilgrimage festivals (Heb. Shalosh Regalim) requiring all Israelite males to visit the Tabernacle, in the wilderness originally, and after reaching the Promised Land, in the City of David, each year. The other two festivals are the Feast of Weeks [aka Pentecost] (Heb. Shavu’ot) and the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths (Heb. Sukkot). Let’s examine the Law (Heb. Torah) in that regard in Deuteronomy 16:1-17 concentrating on vv16-17:
Deuteronomy 16:16 “Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you. (NASB)
Contrary to modern practice, this commandment has never ceased since the time of the Exodus (Gr. exodos; Heb. yetzi’at mitzrayim) from the land of Goshen (Genesis 45:4-11 concentrating on v10) in Egypt.
Bottom line: Missing even one of the Shalosh Regalim had serious consequences for Israelite men as it has “three witnesses” in the Torah (Deuteronomy 16:1-17; Exodus 23:14-19, 34:10-26). Note: Firstborn Israelite sons were to be redeemed:
Exodus 34:19 “The first offspring from every womb belongs to Me, and all your male livestock, the first offspring from cattle and sheep. 20 You shall redeem with a lamb the first offspring from a donkey; and if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. You shall redeem all the firstborn of your sons. None shall appear before Me empty-handed.” (NASB)
How is a firstborn Israelite son redeemed? See Numbers 3:40-51 concentrating on vv46-48:
Numbers 3:46 For the ransom of the 273 of the firstborn of the sons of Israel who are in excess beyond the Levites, 47 you shall take five shekels apiece, per head; you shall take them in terms of the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), 48 and give the money, the ransom of those who are in excess among them, to Aaron and to his sons. (NASB)
This is repeated in Numbers 18:14-16. Likewise, special burnt and sin offerings were to be made when children were born (Leviticus 12 focusing on the two turtledoves or two young pigeons in v8). Note that male sons are to be circumcised on the eighth day after birth. Let’s fast forward to Christ’s circumcision:
Luke 2:21 And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called [Joshua], the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. (NASB)
Luke 2:22 And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” (NASB)
Everything Christ did — even as a newborn with Torah-observant parents — was performed in accordance with the Law:
Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (NASB)
Author’s Note: What I teach is foreign to many Christians, but we must remember that Yehoshu’a hailed from the tribe of Judah (Hebrews 7:14). For those who want to understand my motivation and desire to teach, re-read Matthew 5:19b in bold above. I will be the first to admit that I have problems keeping the Law, but I am also a Gentile who is under Grace; therefore, I am to abstain from four things determined at the First Council of Jerusalem by Christ’s step-brother Ya’acov [=Jacob; mistakenly called James] (Acts 15:1-29 concentrating on vv19-20 and 28-29).
So, why was there not a “second chance” for Shavu’ot or Sukkot? Because Pesach Sheni represented foreshadowing of things to come during Christ’s crucifixion! Recall that Christ is the paschal Lamb of God (John 1:35-36; Revelation 5:6, 6:9, 7:17, 14:10, 15:3, 19:9, 21:23, 22:1, 22:3) who was crucified on Passover (14 Abib), aka Preparation Day, in 36 CE. For more on the “seven Spirits of God” referenced in Revelation 5:6, see here.
Let’s review Christ’s death and burial in Matthew 27:33-61, Mark 15:22-47, Luke 23:33-56, and John 19:16-42 before the first day of Unleavened Bread (15 Abib), which is an annual or high Sabbath. The care of the corpse is best described in John 19:31-42 concentrating on vv38-42:
John 19:38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. 39 Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. (NASB)
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were unclean with certainty as Joseph took possession Christ’s corpse with Pilate’s permission, and Nicodemus anointed His corpse with myrrh and aloes. It is highly likely that His mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph (wife of Clopas?), the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John), and Salome were rendered unclean as well. Although Second Passover is explicitly applicable to the two men, women also partake of the Passover; therefore, it would be applicable to all.
One parting thought… Most Biblical scholars and theologians teach that Christ’s ministry lasted 3-1/2 years as three Passovers are mentioned in the Book of John. Since most of these “scholars” believe they are of “New Testament-only churches,” they dismiss Torah. Again, what did Christ say in Matthew 5:17-19? Is He a liar? Absolutely not. What they miss is that one of those Passovers is the Second Passover; therefore, His ministry lasted a little over 1-1/2 years. That fact will be discussed in detail on the day leading up to the Feast of New Wine on July 22nd.
In addition, Jewish storytelling is typically NOT in chronological order. The storyteller gives a piece here and there — much like a patchwork quilt — having all the pieces being interwoven at the end to complete the story. This is witnessed throughout the OT and is certainly the case with the Book of John. Only the Book of Luke — and by extension Acts — is explicitly written in chronological order based on eyewitness accounts (Luke 1:1-4 concentrating on vv2-3).
Be sure to read the companion articles in the Mo’edim and Agricultural Feasts series:
- HaDerech: It’s About Time
- Mo’ed: Shabbat (Weekly Sabbath)
- Mo’ed: Pesach (Passover) – The Paschal Lamb of God
- Mo’ed: Chag HaMatzot (Unleavened Bread) – 15-21 Abib
- Mo’ed and Agricultural Feast: Bikkurim (Early Firstfuits) – Barley – 26 Abib
- Mo’ed and Agricultural Feast: Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) – Wheat on June 3rd
- Agricultural Feast: Chag Tirosh (New Wine) on July 22nd
- Agricultural Feast: Chag Yitzhar (New Oil) on September 10th
- Other Feast: Korban Etzim (Wood Offering) on September 17th
- Mo’ed: Zichron Teruah (Memoral of Blasting) on September 20th
- Mo’ed: Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) on September 29th
- Mo’ed: Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles/Booths) on October 4th
Shema Yisrael! (Hear, Israel!)
Copyright (C) 1995-2018, L. Alan Schuetz. All rights reserved.