By Richard Anderson

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The timing of Passover observance has been an issue of contention within the sacred name assemblies. Though all view the fourteenth day of Abib as being Passover, the point of quandary stems around defining the Hebrew phrase ben ha-'arebaim, Strong's #996 and #6153. In this treatise a close examination of this phrase will be made as an endeavor to clarify its meaning and better understand the instruction: "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is YAHWEH'S Passover."

Considering first the Hebrew phrase ben ha-'arebaim, translated as TWILIGHT or literally as BETWEEN THE EVENINGS; this phrase occurs a total of eleven times in the Hebrew text. Five of the eleven are related to Passover (Exodus 12:6; Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:5, 11), four to the evening sacrifice (Exodus 29:39, 41; Numbers 28:4, 8), one to the gathering of quail in the wilderness (Exodus 16:12), and one to the lighting of the tabernacle lamps (Exodus 30:8).

Now, let the sons of Israel observe the Passover at its appointed time. On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall observe it at its appointed time; you shall observe it according to all its statutes and according to all its ordinances. (Numbers 9:2-3)

Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. (Exodus 12:5-6)

With the instruction to keep the lamb until the fourteenth day, the question is asked, How could the lamb be kept until the fourteenth day and eaten at twilight (between the evenings) if twilight preceded the day? Josephus says in the Wars of the Jews, book 6, chapter 9, section 3: (422) And that this city could contain so many people in it is manifest by that number of them taken under Cestius, who being desirous of informing Nero of the power of the city, who otherwise was disposed to contemn that nation, entreated the high priests, if the thing were possible, to take the number of their whole multitude. (423) So these high priests, upon the coming of their feast which is called the Passover, when they slay their sacrifices, from the ninth hour till eleventh, but so that a company not less than ten belong to every sacrifice (for it is not lawful for them to feast singly by themselves), and many of us are twenty in a company, (424) found the number of sacrifices was two hundred and fifty-six thousand five hundred: (425) which, upon the allowance of no more than ten that feast together, amounts to two million seven hundred thousand and two hundred persons that were pure and holy.

Though the inquiry was made during Nero's reign (54-68 CE), we are given a glimpse as to the number of sacrifices made during Passover. This would account for YAHshua's observance of Passover at an earlier time, for to sacrifice so many lambs would require more time than the two hours mentioned above, i.e. the ninth till the eleventh hour (3:00-5:00 pm). It should be noted that it was during this time that the high priests made their sacrifice as seen in John 18:28 which reads, "Then they led YAHshua from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover." Note should be made that YAHshua died at the precise time the Passover lamb was slain, at the ninth hour. This is because YAHshua was the ultimate fulfilment of the Passover lamb; it was His shed blood which atoned for the sins of mankind.

Using the LXX as a comparative text, a link between the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament, it was found that the Greek word espera #2073 was used to represent the Hebrew phrase ben ha-'arebaim six of the eleven occurrences.


*You shall keep [the lamb] until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. (Exodus 12:6)

*I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel, speak to them, saying, At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am YAHWEH your Elohim. (Exodus 16:12)

*You shall offer the one lamb in the morning and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. (Numbers 28:4)


*And they laid hands on them and put them in jail UNTIL THE NEXT DAY, for it was already evening. (Acts 4:3)

*But they urged him, Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over. So he went in to stay with them. (Luke 24:28)

*When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of YAHWEH and trying to persuade them concerning YAHshua, from both the law of Moses and from the prophets, from morning until evening. (Acts 28:33)

It should also be noted that the Greek word espera is used in the LXX an additional 134 times to represent the Hebrew word 'ereb #6153 (without the word ben #996 which translates as between), but the above comparison helps clarify the meaning of the phrase ben ha-'arebaim. In short we are being told that the evening of the day is at its conclusion rather than at its beginning, I say this because if the term twilight (between the evenings) referred to after sundown, then the people would have been groping in darkness while trying to gather quail. On the other hand, had twilight referred to the closing of the day, the hours just prior to sundown, then the people would have had no difficulty. Such an understanding coincides with Josephus' record of Passover observance.

Along this same line of reasoning let us now consider the Hebrew word 'ereb which is translated as evening. In Genesis 24:11 we read, "He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at evening time, "THE TIME WHEN WOMEN GO OUT TO DRAW WATER." This assuredly would not have been after sundown. The New Testament confirms this in saying, "When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather, for THE SKY IS RED." (Matthew 16:2). The evening hours, whether called 'ereb (evening) or ben ha-'arebaim (between the evenings) may be referred to the time prior to sunset, but not after, for the Hebrew word for night is layla #3915.

If there is among you any man who is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he must go outside the camp; he may not reenter the camp. But it shall be when evening approaches, he shall bathe himself with water, and at SUNSET he may reenter the camp. (Deuteronomy 23:10-11)

In the above verse a distinction is made between the time of evening ('ereb) and sundown cebo' ha-shemesh -- Literally translated: as the sun goes).

It is a night to be observed for YAHWEH having brought them out from the land of Egypt, this night is for YAHWEH, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations. (Exodus 12:42)

The night spoken of here is that of the fifteenth which followed Passover evening (the fourteenth), for Numbers 33:3 says, "They journeyed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the next day after Passover the sons of Israel started out boldly in the sight of all the Egyptians."

One of the requirements for keeping Passover was to keep the lamb until the fourteenth day; the lamb could not have been killed on the thirteenth, for in doing so the command would have been broken. Therefore the twilight hours of the fourteenth may only refer to the end of the fourteenth rather to its beginning.

In conclusion, it is my belief that Passover should be kept just prior to sundown on the fourteenth, as the day heads into the fifteenth. As for YAHshua eating the Passover meal at the beginning of the fourteenth, this was needful because he was the true Passover lamb; he had a preordained appointment which he could not miss at the ninth hour of the fourteenth day.

By Richard Anderson

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