You are probably wondering why I’d concern myself with writing about the day of the Exodus, especially when Numbers 33:3-8 spells it out so precisely:
And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians. Numbers 33:3-8
Truthfully, I like to explore these subjects simply because I enjoy trying to figure out the details of Biblical history, but in this case there is a lot more to the subject which intrigues me.
First of all, I wondered if it was possible to ascertain not the day of the month of the Exodus but the day of week. I realize this is a theoretical exercise because YHWH didn’t give Moses instructions for 6 days of labor and a day of rest until after the Exodus. In fact it was not until the middle of the 2nd month, in the Land of Sin, that YHWH instructed Israel on the Sabbath cycle.
That being said I still wondered if we could not count the cycles retrospectively and still arrive a reasonable conclusion regarding the day of week upon which Israel left Egypt. After all, I figure that even though YHWH did not instruct Israel regarding the Sabbath cycle until after the Exodus, He did in fact set the example for 6 days of labor and one day of rest all the way back in Genesis. To my way of looking at it, if he had set this pattern up in the very beginning it was not beyond His abilities to later synchronize and continue that pattern at the Exodus.
The second reason this subject interests me is that the New Testament describes Yeshua’s (Jesus’) death and resurrection as a “shadow” picture of the Exodus events. John the Baptist testified that Yeshua was:
“The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”.
The apostle Paul when describing Yeshua’s sacrificial atonement on our behalf stated: “
“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” Heb. 9:28-10:1
So if Yeshua’s death and resurrection is a “shadow” picture of the Exodus events, surely understanding the precise chronology of the Exodus might provide valuable context to the New Testament events. With these interests in mind the following is what I believe is a reasonable outline of events based upon the Biblical record.
- Israel was commanded to kill the “Passover” lamb on the 14th day at “even”. My article Even to Even explains that when the “even” of a day is mentioned it designates the end of that day and the beginning of the next. For example when Lev. 23 mentioned the “ninth day at even” it was specifically designating the start of the 10th day. In like manner the Exodus events show that the 14th day at “even” was in fact the start of the 15th day. I’ve included the passage from Exodus 12 at the end of this article.
- Israel was to eat the lamb in readiness to depart Egypt:
And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is YHWH’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night. Exo.12:11
- The Angel of Death passed over the land of Egypt that night. (the 15th)
“And it came to pass, that at midnight YHWH smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt,…” Exo. 12:29
- The following morning all Israel departed Egypt. This was the 1st day of the feast of Unleavened Bread.
And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to YHWH…. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; ….And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; …And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Exo. 12
In summary, the above chronology clearly shows that Israel killed their Passover lambs on the 14th day at “even” just before sundown which began the 15th. The night beginning the 15th of Nisan they ate the Passover, leaving nothing of it until the morning, as they were commanded. When the morning of the 15th came, Israel, fully dressed, shod, and with much treasure from their Egyptian neighbors, departed Rameses.
And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the 15 day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians. Numbers 33:3-8
* * *
Having established a reasonable chronology of the Exodus it is necessary to turn to Exodus 16 in order to establish a basis for the weekly Sabbath cycle.
And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. Exodus 16:1
After arriving in the land of Sin, one month after the Exodus, Israel was now fully aware of the reality of their new life. The certainty of servitude had been replaced with the uncertainty of a life which required faith.
And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: 3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of YHWH in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. Exodus 16:2-3
So YHWH sent them the “bread from heaven”. But the gift came with conditions. They were only allowed to gather the “manna” for 6 days. On the seventh day they were required to rest:
22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread….. And he said unto them, This is that which YHWH hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto YHWH: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning…. And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto YHWH: to day ye shall not find it in the field. 26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. Exodus 16:22-26
So the people rested on the seventh day. Exo.16:30
In summary, Israel came into the land of Sin on the 15th day of the 2nd month. The following morning YHWH gave them “manna”. For 6 days they gathered this bread of heaven and rested on the 7th day. So the 16th day of the 2nd month was the 1st day of the week.
Now turning back to the Exodus chronology we can count these days of the weeks backwards to the 1st month. By this reckoning the Passover lambs were killed just before sundown on the 5th day of the week (14th Nisan). A few hours later on the 15th of Nisan, the Feast of Unleavened Bread began with the Passover supper, thus beginning the 6th day of the week.
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