Leviticus 23 Commentary

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Chart from recommended resource Jensen's Survey of the OT - used by permission
Another Overview Chart of Leviticus - Charles Swindoll
A third Overview Chart of Leviticus

Adapted and modified from C. Swindoll
Leviticus 1-17 Leviticus 18-27
The Way to God
The Walk with God
The Approach: Offerings Practical Guidelines
The Representative: Priest Chronological Observances
The Laws: Cleansing
Physically & Spiritually
Severe Consequences
Verbal promises
Ritual for Worship
Worshipping a Holy God
Practical for Walking
Living a Holy Life
Location: Mt Sinai for one full year
Theme: How sinful humanity can approach and worship a holy God
Key Verses: Lev 17:11, 19:2, 20:7-8
Christ in Leviticus: In every sacrifice, every ritual, every feast
Time: about 1446BC

Key words:

Holy - 90x/76v (with forms of the root for holy 152x) more than in any OT book (Lev 2:3, 10; 5:15f; 6:16f, 25-27, 29f; 7:1, 6; 8:9; 10:3, 10, 12f, 17; 11:44-45; 14:13; 16:2-4, 16f, 20, 23f, 27, 32f; 19:2, 8, 24; 20:3, 7, 26; 21:6-8, 22; 22:2-4, 6f, 10, 14-16, 32; 23:2-4, 7f, 20f, 24, 27, 35-37; 24:9; 25:12; 27:9f, 14, 21, 23, 28, 30, 32f);

Atonement - 51x/45v - (Lev 1:4; 4:20, 26, 31, 35; 5:6, 10, 13, 16, 18; 6:7, 30; 7:7; 8:15, 34; 9:7; 10:17; 12:7f; 14:18-21, 29, 31, 53; 15:15, 30; 16:6, 10f, 16-18, 24, 27, 30, 32-34; 17:11; 19:22; 23:27f; 25:9)

Offering - 326x/199v (Lev 1:2-4, 6, 9f, 13f, 17; 2:1-16; 3:1-3, 5-9, 11f, 14, 16; 4:3, 7f, 10, 14, 18, 20f, 23-26, 28-35; 5:6-8, 15f, 18f; 6:5f, 9f, 12, 14f, 17f, 20f, 23, 25, 30; 7:1f, 5, 7-11, 13-16, 18, 20f, 25, 29f, 32-35, 37f; 8:2, 14, 18, 21, 27-29, 31; 9:2-4, 7f, 10, 12-18, 21f, 24; 10:12-17, 19; 12:6, 8; 14:10, 12-14, 17, 19-22, 24f, 28, 31; 15:15, 30; 16:3, 5f, 9, 11, 15, 24f, 27; 17:4f, 8; 19:5, 21f, 24; 21:6, 21; 22:12, 18, 21-23, 25, 27; 23:8, 12-14, 25, 27, 36-38; 24:7, 9; 27:9, 11)

Tent of meeting - 43x/41v (Lev 1:1, 3, 5; 3:2, 8, 13; 4:4f, 7, 14, 16, 18; 6:16, 26, 30; 8:3f, 31, 33, 35; 9:5, 23; 10:7, 9; 12:6; 14:11, 23; 15:14, 29; 16:7, 16f, 20, 23, 33; 17:4ff, 9; 19:21; 24:3)

Law - 16x/16v; (Lev 6:9, 14, 25; 7:1, 7, 11, 37; 11:46; 12:7; 13:59; 14:2, 32, 54, 57; 15:32)

Sacrifice - 41x/34v; (Lev 3:1, 3, 6, 9; 4:10, 26, 31, 35; 7:11-13, 15-18, 20f, 29, 32, 34, 37; 9:4, 18; 10:14; 17:5, 7f; 19:5; 22:21, 24, 27, 29; 23:19, 37)

Anoint - 17x/15v; (Lev 4:3, 5, 16; 6:20, 22; 7:36; 8:2, 10-12, 30; 10:7; 16:32; 21:10, 12)

Sin - 111x/90v (Lev 4:2f, 8, 14, 20-29, 32-35; 5:1, 5-13, 15-18; 6:2-4, 17, 25f, 30; 7:7, 37f; 8:2, 14; 9:2f, 7f, 10, 15, 22; 10:16-19; 12:6, 8; 14:13, 19, 22, 31; 15:15, 30; 16:3, 5f, 9, 11, 15f, 21, 25, 27, 30, 34; 19:17, 22; 20:20; 21:21; 22:9; 23:19; 24:15; 25:1, 27; 26:18, 21, 24, 28, 46; 27:34)

Iniquity - 10x/8v (Lev 7:18; 16:21f; 19:8; 26:39-41, 43)

Death - 17/16v (Lev 16:1; 19:20; 20:2, 4, 9-11, 15f, 27; 24:16f, 21; 27:29)

Die - 15x/15v (Lev 7:24; 8:35; 10:2, 6f, 9; 11:39; 15:31; 16:1f, 13; 17:15; 20:20; 22:8f)

Blood - 86x/65v (Lev 1:5, 11, 15; 3:2, 8, 13, 17; 4:5-7, 16-18, 25, 30, 34; 5:9; 6:27, 30; 7:2, 14, 26f, 33; 8:15, 19, 23f, 30; 9:9, 12, 18; 10:18; 12:4f, 7; 14:6, 14, 17, 25, 28, 51f; 15:19, 25; 16:14f, 18f, 27; 17:4, 6, 10-12; 18:6, 12f, 17; 19:26; 20:18f; 25:49)

Sabbath - 13x/10v (Lev 16:31; 23:3, 11, 15f, 32; 24:8; 25:2, 4, 6)

The LORD spoke to Moses - 28x/28v - (Lev 4:1; 5:14; 6:1, 8, 19, 24; 7:22, 28; 8:1; 12:1; 13:1; 14:1; 16:1; 17:1; 18:1; 19:1; 20:1; 21:16; 22:1, 17, 26; 23:9, 23, 26, 33; 24:1, 13; 27:1)

Jubilee - 20x/18v (Lev 25:10-13, 15, 28, 30f, 33, 40, 50, 52, 54; 27:17-18, 21, 23-24)

Consecrate - 24x/23v - (Lev 6:18, 27; 7:35; 8:10-12, 15, 30; 11:44; 12:4; 16:19; 20:7; 21:8, 10; 25:10; 27:14-19, 22, 2)

Covenant - 10x/8v (Lev 2:13; 24:8; 26:9, 15, 25, 42, 44f)

Fat - 52x/33v (Lev 3:3f, 9f, 14-17; 4:8f, 19, 26, 31, 35; 6:12; 7:3f, 23-25, 30f, 33; 8:16, 25f; 9:10, 19f, 24; 10:15; 16:25; 17:6)

Leviticus 23:1 The LORD spoke again to Moses, saying

Leviticus 23 begins with instruction on the appointed times (Lev 23:2) and closes in a similar fashion (Lev 23:44).

This introductory "formula" is found some 30 times in the book of Leviticus.

Lev 4:1; 5:14; 6:1, 8, 19, 24; 7:22, 28; 8:1; 11:1, 12:1; 13:1; 14:1; 16:1; 17:1; 18:1; 19:1; 20:1; 21:16; 22:1, 17, 26; 23:1, 23:9, 23, 26, 33; 24:1, 13; 27:1

Key Words in this chapter - Leviticus 23

Appointed times - Lev 23:2, Lev 23:4, 23:37, 44

Holy convocations - 11x in 11v - Lev 23:2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 21, 24, 27, 35, 36, 37 (Note: This phrase occurs six times in Nu 28-29, twice in Ex. 12:16, and nowhere else)

Work - 11x/10v - Lev 23:3, 7, 8, 21, 25, 28, 30, 31, 35, 36

Laborious - 6x/6v - Lev 23:7, 8, 21, 25, 35, 36

Rest - 4x/4v - Lev 23:3, Lev 24:24, Lev 23:32, Lev 23:39

Perpetual statute - 4x/4v - Lev 23:14, 21, 31, 41 - This phrase only occurs 15x/15v in the Bible. The other 11 uses of perpetual statue - Ex 27:21, Ex 29:9, Ex 30:21, Lev 3:17, Lev 10:9, Lev 24:3, Nu 10:8, Nu 15:15, Nu 18:23, Nu 19:10, Nu 19:21

Dwelling places - Lev 23:14, 17, 21, 31 - This phrase signifies the feasts are to take place in the homes and not just in the sanctuary.

Leviticus 23:2 "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'The LORD'S appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations--My appointed times are these:

  • Lev 23:4,37 Ex 23:14-17 Isa 1:13,14 33:20 La 1:4 Ho 2:11 Na 1:15 John 5:1 Col 2:16-17
  • proclaim: Ex 32:5 Nu 10:2,3,10 2Ki 10:20 2Chr 30:5 Ps 81:3 Joe 1:14 2:15 Jonah 3:5-9
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

KJV - Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts (moed) of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts (moed).


The LORD's appointed times - Don't miss this point - these festival times were God's idea, God's agenda, His "appointment calendar" so to speak. He is explicitly describing how He is to be worshiped in these festivals, all of which were practical in nature, in that they brought the Israelites together for rest, worship, praise, and thanksgiving; and prophetic in nature, in that they were a "shadow" (Col 2:17) of God's divine plan of redemption.

Matthew Henry makes the point that the appointed times or feasts were…

1. Many and returned frequently, which was intended to preserve in them a deep sense of God and religion, and to prevent their inclining to the superstitions of the heathen. God kept them fully employed in his service, that they might not have time to hearken to the temptations of the idolatrous neighborhood they lived in.

2. They were most of them times of joy and rejoicing. The weekly sabbath is so, and all their yearly solemnities, except the day of atonement.

Seven days were days of strict rest and holy convocations; the first day and the seventh of the feast of unleavened bread, the day of Pentecost, the day of the feast of trumpets, the first day and the eighth of the feast of tabernacles, and the day of atonement: here were six for holy joy and one only for holy mourning.

The KJV has "the feasts" and is probably more accurate translation than NAS as the Lxx has heorte which means feast, festival, holy day (Jn 5:1; Acts18:21; Col 2:16) The

Appointed times (04150) (moed from the verb ya'ad meaning to appoint or fix) can refer to either a time or place of meeting (eg, in "tent of meeting" the word for "meeting" in Lev 1:1 is moed). Appointed sign, appointed time, appointed season, place of assembly, set feast. An appointed meeting time in general (Gen. 18:14; Ex. 13:10). Moed often designates a determined time or place without any regard for the purpose. Since the Jewish festivals occurred at regular intervals, this word becomes closely identified with them. Thus moed is a common term for the worshiping assembly of God's people. A specific appointed time, usually for a sacred feast or festival (Hos. 9:5; 12:9).

Moed as in the present context is used of those places where God’s people were to focus on God and their relationship with Him, which would include: the tent of meeting (Ex. 33:7); the Temple (Lam. 2:6); the synagogues (Ps. 74:8).

Note how the NAS translates moed as referring to time or place - appointed(3), appointed feast(3), appointed feasts(11), appointed festival(2), appointed meeting place(1), appointed place(1), appointed sign(1), appointed time(21), appointed times(8), appointment(1), assembly(2), definite time(1), feasts(2), festal assemblies(1), fixed festivals(3), meeting(147), meeting place(1), meeting places(1), season(4), seasons(3), set time(1), time(3), times(1), times appointed(1).

Moed - 213x in NAS - Note that most of the uses of Moed (about 137 verses) are in the phrase "tent of meeting" ('ohel moed = the tented part of the tabernacle which God had appointed as the place to meet His people) -

Ge 1:14; 17:21; 18:14; 21:2; Ex 9:5; 13:10; 23:15; 27:21; 28:43; 29:4, 10f, 30, 32, 42, 44; 30:16, 18, 20, 26, 36; 31:7; 33:7; 34:18; 35:21; 38:8, 30; 39:32, 40; 40:2, 6f, 12, 22, 24, 26, 29f, 32, 34f; Lev 1:1, 3, 5; 3:2, 8, 13; 4:4f, 7, 14, 16, 18; 6:16, 26, 30; 8:3f, 31, 33, 35; 9:5, 23; 10:7, 9; 12:6; 14:11, 23; 15:14, 29; 16:7, 16f, 20, 23, 33; 17:4ff, 9; 19:21; 23:2, 4, 37, 44; 24:3; Num 1:1; 2:2, 17; 3:7f, 25, 38; 4:3f, 15, 23, 25, 28, 30f, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 47; 6:10, 13, 18; 7:5, 89; 8:9, 15, 19, 22, 24, 26; 9:2f, 7, 13; 10:3, 10; 11:16; 12:4; 14:10; 15:3; 16:2, 18f, 42f, 50; 17:4; 18:4, 6, 21ff, 31; 19:4; 20:6; 25:6; 27:2; 28:2; 29:39; 31:54; Deut 16:6; 31:10, 14; Josh 8:14; 18:1; 19:51; Jdg 20:38; 1 Sam 2:22; 9:24; 13:8, 11; 20:35; 2 Sam 20:5; 24:15; 1Kgs 8:4; 2Kgs 4:16f; 1Chr 6:32; 9:21; 23:31f; 2Chr 1:3, 6, 13; 2:4; 5:5; 8:13; 30:22; 31:3; Ezra 3:5; Neh 10:33; Job 30:23; Ps 74:4, 8; 75:2; 102:13; 104:19; Isa 1:14; 14:13; 33:20; Jer 8:7; 46:17; Lam 1:4, 15; 2:6f, 22; Ezek 36:38; 44:24; 45:17; 46:9, 11; Dan 8:19; 11:27, 29, 35; 12:7; Hos 2:9, 11; 9:5; 12:9; Hab 2:3; Zeph 3:18; Zech 8:19

Vine on moed (מוֹעֵד) - “appointed place of meeting; meeting.” Moed keeps its basic meaning of “appointed,” but varies as to what is agreed upon or appointed according to the context: the time, the place, or the meeting itself. The usage of the verb in Amos 3:3 is illuminating: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Whether they have agreed on a time or a place of meeting, or on the meeting itself, is ambiguous.

The meaning of moed is fixed within the context of Israel’s religion. First, the festivals came to be known as the “appointed times” or the set feasts. These festivals were clearly prescribed in the Pentateuch. The word refers to any “festival” or “pilgrimage festival,” such as Passover (Lev. 23:15ff.), the feast of first fruits (Lev. 23:15ff.), the feast of tabernacles (Lev. 23:33ff.), or the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:27). God condemned the people for observing the moed ritualistically: (read Isa. 1:14-note). The word moed also signifies a “fixed place.” This usage is not frequent: (see Isa. 14:13, Job 30:23).

In both meanings of moed—“fixed time” and “fixed place”—a common denominator is the “meeting” of two or more parties at a certain place and time—hence the usage of moed as “meeting.” However, in view of the similarity in meaning between “appointed place” or “appointed time” and “meeting,” translators have a real difficulty in giving a proper translation in each context. For instance, “He hath called an assembly [moed] against me” (Lam. 1:15) could be read: “He has called an appointed time against me” (nasb) or “He summoned an army against me” (niv).

The phrase, “tabernacle of the congregation,” is a translation of the Hebrew ohel moed (“tent of meeting”). The phrase occurs 139 times. It signifies that the Lord has an “appointed place” by which His presence is represented and through which Israel was assured that their God was with them. The fact that the tent was called the “tent of meeting” signifies that Israel’s God was among His people and that He was to be approached at a certain time and place that were “fixed” (yaad) in the Pentateuch. In the kjv, this phrase is translated as “tabernacle of the congregation” (Ex 28:43) because translators realized that the noun edah (“congregation”) is derived from the same root as moed The translators of the Septuagint had a similar difficulty. They noticed the relation of moed to the root ud (“to testify”) and translated the phrase ohel hamoed as “tabernacle of the testimony.” This phrase was picked up by the New Testament in Rev. 15:5. Of the three meanings, the appointed “time” is most basic. The phrase “tent of meeting” lays stress on the “place of meeting.” The “meeting” itself is generally associated with “time” or “place.” The Septuagint has the following translations of moed: kairos (time), heorte (“feast; festival”). The English translators give these senses: “congregation” (kjv, rsv, nasb, niv); “appointed time” (nasb); “appointed feast” (rsv, nasb); “set time” (rsv, nasb, niv). (Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words)

Convocation (04744)(miqra' from the verb qara' meaning to call out loudly, to summon to a specific task) is a call, a summons, an assembly of persons "convoked" (called together), a collected body of people called together for a "religious" purpose, such as a public worship service. In Neh 8:8 miqra' refers to a public reading from the Scripture. In Nu 10:2 miqra' referred to the action of publicly calling with the goal being to bring the community together. Here the Sabbath is referred to as a "convocation."

Miqra' - 22x in NAS - Ex 12:16; Lev 23:2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 21, 24, 27, 35, 36, 37; Nu 10:2; 28:18, 25, 26; 29:1, 7, 12; Neh 8:8; Isa 1:13; 4:5.

NAS renders miqra' - assemblies(2), assembly(2), convocation(14), convocations(3), reading(1), summoning(1).

These holy convocations degenerated over time into unholy convocations that were even detestable to Jehovah…

Isaiah 1:13 Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination (toebah-word study) to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies-- I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.

There were 3 feasts that were mandatory…

Ex 23:14 “Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. 15 “You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; (Luke writes "Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching." Lk 22:1) for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. 16 “Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest (Pentecost) of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field. 17 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD.

Freeman - It is curious to notice how, at a time considerably later than the origin of these public festivals, the exact day of their occurrence was made known. In these days of almanacs and of exact astronomical calculations, we can hardly appreciate the difficulties they encountered in finding the right time. The first appearance of the new moon was the starting-point. To ascertain this the Sanhedrin took the deposition of two impartial witnesses as to the time they had seen it. They next spread the intelligence through the country by means of beacons. A person with a bundle of brushwood or straw went, to the top of Mount Olivet, where he kindled his torch and waved it back and forth till he was answered by fires of a similar nature from the surrounding hills. From these, in like manner, the intelligence was spread to others until the whole land was notified. After a time the Samaritans imitated the signs, thus making great confusion. This made it necessary to send messengers all over the country. These, however, did not go abroad at every new moon, but only seven times during the year. In this way the time for these three great feasts Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles as well as for other important occasions, was published to the people. See citation from Maimonides in BROWN S Antiquities of the Jews, vol. i, p. 424. These three festivals were preceded by a season of preparation, called peres, which lasted fifteen days. During this time each person was expected to meditate on the solemnity of the feast, and to undergo whatever legal purifications might be necessary. This is referred to in John 11:55 ( Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover, to purify themselves.). Roads, bridges, streets, and public water-tanks were repaired for the convenience of travelers. All the males of Israel were expected to attend, excepting the aged, the infirm, and infants who could not walk alone. They were commanded to bring offerings with them. (Manners and Customs 1875)

In ancient Israel there were seven religious festivals especially ordained by God (cf. Ex. 23:14-19): (1) the Passover (v. 5), (2) the Feast of Unleavened Bread (vv. 6-8), (3) the Feast of Firstfruits (vv. 9-14), (4) the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost, vv. 15-22), (5) the Feast of Trumpets (vv. 23-25), (6) the Day of Atonement (vv. 26-32), and (7) the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths or Ingathering, vv. 33-43).

Israel was unique in that her holy celebrations were divinely established by God Himself. They were practical in nature, in that they brought the Israelites together for rest, worship, praise, and thanksgiving; and prophetic in nature, in that they were a "shadow" (Col. 2:17) of God's divine plan of redemption. See chart, "The Feasts of the Lord," Ex. 23:14.


Scofield - The feasts of the LORD. These were seven great religious festivals which were to be observed by Israel every year. The first three verses of this chapter do not relate to the feasts, but separate the Sabbath from the feasts. Israel's religious calendar began in Nisan (in the spring); their civil year, in Tishri (in the autumn). The seven festivals of the Hebrews were included within the first seven months of the religious calendar: the first three feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits) took place in the first month, Nisan; the last three (Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles), in the seventh month, Tishri. Between the first and last three was the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) which followed fifty days after the offering of the firstfruits.

Leviticus 23:3 'For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings.

  • Lev 19:3 Ex 16:23,29  Ex 20:8-11 Ex 23:12 Ex 31:15 Ex 34:21 Ex 35:2,3 Dt 5:13 Isa 56:2,6 58:13 Lk 13:14 23:56 Ac 15:21 Rev 1:10
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Related Resources:

See commentary on Exodus for related discussions of the Sabbath ("+" sign is link to commentary):

  • Ex 16:23,29+  Ex 20:8-11+ Ex 23:12+ Ex 31:15+ Ex 34:21+ Ex 35:2,3+

Before all the annual feasts are described, God first reminds the people of the weekly Sabbath festival. One man who dishonored the Sabbath by working was punished with death…

Nu 15:32 Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day (~ "work") 33 And those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation; 34 and they put him in custody because it had not been declared what should be done to him. 35 Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” 36 So all the congregation brought him outside the camp, and stoned him to death with stones, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Henry Morris - The weekly day of rest, commemorating God's completed work of creation (Exodus 20:8-11), was even more sacred than the seven annual feasts. No "servile" work could be done in the latter (Leviticus 23:8,21,25,35,36), but no work at all could be performed on the sabbath. Also, no work could be performed on the great day of atonement (Leviticus 23:28). (Leviticus - Defender's Study Bible - type "Lev 23", etc in "all these words")

Shortly after deliverance of Israel from Egypt, but before the formal giving of the Law at Mt Sinai, God instructed the people regarding the Sabbath principle. In the following passages we see that a central tenet was "Trust in the Lord to provide when He says He will provide." Notice how quickly they disobeyed (reflecting their lack of faith or trust).

Ex 16:22 Now it came about on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 then he said to them, "This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning." 24 So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul, nor was there any worm in it. 25 And Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. 26 "Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none." 27 And it came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 Then the LORD said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions? 29 "See, the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day." 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

Sabbath (07676)(sabbat) comes from the verb shabath (07673) meaning to desist (from exertion), cease (see this use of the verb in Ge 8:22, Jer 31:36), rest (first used of God resting in Creation - Ge 2:2-3), repose, cease from labor. So here the noun form sabbat means intermission, the Sabbath (day), the day of rest, the holy seventh day; a week, the sacred 7th year, a sabbatical year.

It was not until the giving of the Law at Mt Sinai that the keeping of the Sabbath became a part of the law and a sign of God's covenant relationship with His people (Ex 20:8-11 Ex 31:12-17).

Sabbath = A covenant sign indicative of Jehovah's authority. When Israel kept the Sabbath, they showed the pagan nations (the Gentiles had no Sabbath statute - see Ps 147:19-20) that they were a distinctive people and were subject to their God. Keeping Sabbath was in a sense a way of demonstrating Israel's trust in God, trusting that He would honor their labors with fruit. We may plant the seeds and water them, but it is God who gives the increase (1Co 3:6).

Shabbat - 88x in NAS - Ex 16:23, 25f, 29; 20:8, 10f; 31:13ff; 35:2f; Lev 16:31; 19:3, 30; 23:3, 11, 15f, 32, 38; 24:8; 25:2, 4, 6, 8; 26:2, 34f, 43; Num 15:32; 28:9f; Dt 5:12, 14f; 2Kgs 4:23; 11:5, 7, 9; 16:18; 1Chr 9:32; 23:31; 2Chr 2:4; 8:13; 23:4, 8; 31:3; 36:21; Neh 9:14; 10:31, 33; 13:15ff, 21f; Isa 1:13; 56:2, 4, 6; 58:13; 66:23; Jer 17:21f, 24, 27; Lam 2:6; Ezek 20:12f, 16, 20f, 24; 22:8, 26; 23:38; 44:24; 45:17; 46:1, 3f, 12; Hos 2:11; Amos 8:5. Translated in NAS: every sabbath(2), sabbath(73), sabbaths(32).

Sabbath = rest for man: Ex 31:15 ‘For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the LORD; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death.

Comment: On the Sabbath Israel was commanded to imitate the Creator, Who Himself rested from His work of creation on the seventh day (Ge 2:1-3; Ex 20:11),

Wiersbe: Based on Genesis 2:1–3, the weekly Sabbath reminded the Jews that Jehovah God was the Creator and they were but stewards of His generous gifts… Although believers today aren’t commanded to “remember the Sabbath Day” (Ro 14:1-12-note; Col 2:16-17-note), the principle of resting one day in seven is a good one. (Ed: Are you resting in Jesus beloved? cp Mt 11:28-30-note).

Sabbath = rest for animals: Ex 23:12 “Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor in order that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves.

Vine: The “sabbath” was the covenant sign of God’s lordship over the creation. By observing the “sabbath,” Israel confessed that they were God’s redeemed people, subject to His lordship to obey the whole of His law. They were His stewards to show mercy with kindness and liberality to all (Ex. 23:12; Lev. 25). By “resting,” man witnessed his trust in God to give fruit to his labor; he entered into God’s “rest.” Thus “rest” and the “sabbath” were eschatological in perspective, looking to the accomplishment of God’s ultimate purpose through the redemption of His people, to whom the “sabbath” was a covenant sign. The prophets rebuked Israel for their neglect of the sabbath (Isa. 1:13; Jer. 17:21-27; Ezek. 20:12-24; Amos 8:5). They also proclaimed “sabbath” observance as a blessing in the messianic age and a sign of its fullness (Isa. 56:2-4; 58:13; 66:23; Ezek. 44:24; 45:17; 46:1, 3-4, 12). The length of the Babylonian Captivity was determined by the extent of Israel’s abuse of the sabbatical year (2Chr 36:21; cf. Lev. 26:34- 35).

Sabbath = rest for the land: Lev 25:4 but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.

Comment: This demonstrates God's concern for His creation! Sabbatical Year was the year when land not tilled (Lev 25:4ff.). In a very real sense the land of Palestine needed a rest from the sin of the sons of Israel. The length of the Babylonian captivity was determined by the extent of Israel's abuse of the Sabbatical year (2Chr 36:21 [cf. Lev 26:33, 34, 35]). After they had learned their lesson of 70 years of exile, God allowed them to return to the land of Israel.

Wiersbe: Other peoples might work on the seventh day and treat it like any other day, but the Israelites rested on the seventh day and thereby gave witness that they belonged to the Lord (Neh. 13:15–22; Isa. 58:13–14).

Sabbath = A Sign: Ex 31:17 “It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”

Wenham makes an interesting comment regarding the recurrence of the idea of "seven"…

Keil points out that the sabbatical principle informs all the Pentateuchal laws about the festivals. There are seven festivals in the year: Passover, unleavened bread, weeks, solemn rest day, day of atonement, booths, day after booths. During these festivals there were seven days of rest, first and seventh unleavened bread, weeks, solemn rest day, day of atonement, first of booths, first day after booths. The majority of these festivals occur in the seventh month of the year. Every seventh year is a sabbatical year (Ex. 21:2ff.; Lev. 25:2ff.; Deut. 15:1ff.). After forty-nine (7 × 7) years there was a super-sabbatical year, the year of jubilee (Lev. 25:8ff.). Through this elaborate system off casts and sabbatical years the importance of the Sabbath was underlined. Through sheer familiarity the weekly Sabbath could come to be taken for granted. But these festivals and sabbatical years constituted major interruptions to daily living and introduced an element of variety into the rhythm of life. In this way they constantly reminded the Israelite what God had done for him, and that in observing the Sabbath he was imitating his Creator, who rested on the seventh day. (NICOT)

Victor Hamilton explains the theological significance of sabbat

In the first place Ex 20:8ff. connects observance of the Sabbath with the fact that God himself rested on the seventh day after six days of work (Gen 2:2–3). Everything God made, as recorded in Genesis, he called good. Only the Sabbath, however, he sanctified, indicating perhaps that the climax of creation was not the creation of man, as is often stated, but the day of rest, the seventh day. The Sabbath is thus an invitation to rejoice in God’s creation, and recognize God’s sovereignty over our time.

Secondly, we observe in Dt 5:15 that a different reason is given for observing the Sabbath. “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Yahweh your God brought you out with a mighty hand. …; therefore, Yahweh your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” Exodus then connects the Sabbath with creation described in Genesis and Deuteronomy connects the Sabbath with deliverance from Egypt described in Exodus. Thus every Sabbath, Israel is to remember that God is an emancipator, a liberator. The early Christians were on target, it seems, when they connected the day of rest with the remembrance of Christ’s resurrection. He is the one who gives freedom. Actually there is no real conflict between Deuteronomy and Exodus at this point. Whereas Deuteronomy has in view the people of the Covenant, the Exodus verses place the emphasis on the God of the covenant (AI, p. 481).

Thirdly, the Sabbath is a social or humanitarian ordinance which affords dependent laborers a day of rest: Ex 20:10, Deut 5:14–15 and Ex 23:12, “That your ox and your ass may have rest, and the son of your bondmaid, and the alien may be refreshed.” Here then this commandment takes a step in the direction of making all men equal before God. As the Sabbath recalls the liberation from Egypt so it in turn must become an agent of freedom by setting the dependents in society free. Is it possible to connect this with the fact that in 1Co 16:2 it is recorded that on the first day of the week there is a collection of money for the poor in Jerusalem?

Fourthly, the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant and in this way the Sabbath reaches into the future. The Sabbath now joins the signs of the rainbow and circumcision. The pertinent texts are Ex 31:13, 17 and Ezek 20:12, 20. This accounts for the reason that the penalty for profaning the Sabbath is death (Ex 31:14; Nu 15:32–36; Jer 17:19–27). As long as Israel observes the Sabbath she affirms her loyalty to Yahweh and guarantees his saving presence. For the Christian believer these promises are fulfilled in a person, Christ. Through him we enter into God’s own rest (Heb 4:1–11). (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament- R Laird Harris, Gleason L Archer Jr., Bruce K. Waltke).

Bruce Scott…

In Jewish tradition, the Sabbath is believed to be a gift from God’s treasury. Exalted and elevated, it is the day held to be the foundation and epitome of Jewish faith. It is revered and almost worshiped. The Sabbath is so important that it is looked on as being the primary instrument by which the Jewish people have been sustained and preserved throughout the ages. As one Jewish thinker said, “More than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews.”… The purpose of the Sabbath was threefold.

First, the Sabbath was to be a day of rest and refreshment for the Israelites, their servants, their livestock, and any visitors staying with them (Dt. 5:13–14). For six days they were to labor, but on the seventh day they were to have a complete rest or cessation from work. In so doing, observant Jews identified with their God, who also worked for six days and rested on the seventh.

Second, the Sabbath was to be a sign between the Lord and Israel (Ex. 31:13). Similar to the sign of circumcision, the Sabbath was to be kept throughout their generations as a sign of the covenant between God and Israel. The penalty for not keeping the Sabbath was the same as that for failure to practice circumcision. Non-observers were cut off from the covenant people. God gave the sign of the Sabbath so that Israel would know that He, the Lord, sanctified them.

Third, the Sabbath was to be a day of remembering their physical redemption (Dt. 5:15). The people of Israel were not to forget that they had been slaves in Egypt and that God had delivered them with great power and might. Resting on the seventh day therefore involved more than just physical refreshment. God did not rest on the seventh day because He was fatigued. Rather, the idea of resting spoke more of cessation. The Israelites were to cease whatever work they were engaged in during the week. They were to detach themselves from the material, temporal, and mundane and focus on the spiritual, eternal, and heavenly facets of life. They were to refresh the inner man as well as the outer. They were to reflect on their relationship with God, putting aside their own desires and putting God’s desires first (Isa. 58:13–14). By keeping the Sabbath in this way, the Israelites marked out a distinction or division between themselves and the godless world system around them. This is what God intended for Israel when He instituted the Sabbath.

Rabbinical Judaism, however, has added more to the meaning and purpose of the Sabbath. It teaches that the seventh day of rest was not a result of God’s ceasing from His work of creation. Rather, God’s work was actually finished with the creation of the Sabbath on the seventh day. Jewish tradition also teaches that the Sabbath is equal in itself to all the other commandments found in the Bible. Therefore, keeping the Sabbath is like keeping all of the biblical commands at the same time. Furthermore, whenever observant Jews keep the Sabbath, they believe they are endowed with an additional soul for the duration of the day of rest. At the conclusion of the Sabbath, that extra soul leaves. This additional soul is given so that they may experience and enjoy the spiritual delights of the Sabbath in all of their fullness. (The Feasts of Israel- Seasons of the Messiah by Bruce Scott)

Question.org has a discussion addressing the question "Does obeying the Law bring salvation" - It is difficult for a person who hasn’t been reared in legalism to understand Paul’s meaning when he speaks of the law “arousing sinful passions” and causing sin to “spring to life” (Romans 7:5-9). However, when someone has no other basis for forgiveness than keeping the law, they begin to view the law itself as the source of salvation. This, in turn, introduces such an emphasis on rules that rebellion is the natural result. A Jewish survivor of German concentration camps, Israel Shahak, described the extent to which Orthodox Judaism strives to avoid violations of the law: “The following example illustrates even better the level of absurdity reached by this system. One of the prototypes of work forbidden on the Sabbath is harvesting. This is stretched, by analogy, to a ban on breaking a branch off a tree. Hence, riding a horse (or any other animal) is forbidden, as a hedge against the temptation to break a branch off a tree for flogging the beast. It is useless to argue that you have a ready-made whip, or that you intend to ride where there are no trees. What is forbidden remains forbidden for ever. It can, however, be stretched and made stricter: in modern times, riding a bicycle on the Sabbath has been forbidden, because it is analogous to riding a horse.” (See continuation of Shahak's comments below) Dependency upon the law for righteousness and security before God results in rules so complicated and impossible to fulfill that they make life impossible. This results not only in hostility towards the law, but a desire to find ways to circumvent it.2 Fully aware of the law’s function and effect, Paul realized it was not the law, but faith that brings salvation. (Romans 4:9-16). But what is the basis of this saving faith? Assurance of salvation can’t be based on the law, as the law only magnifies consciousness of sin. Any attempt to achieve assurance on the basis of the law will produce greater guilt. (This is why children of legalistic Christians, Muslims, or Jews often become self-righteous bigots who project their own sinfulness on everyone else or rebels who reject all morality and tradition.) Faith in the law as a means of forgiveness for sin leads only to a cycle of desperate legalism leading either to self-righteous arrogance or despairing rebellion. The Jewish Bible offers a basis for faith outside of the law. It points to a Messiah who will bear the sins of His people (Genesis 22:1-8; Exodus 12:3-7; Psalm 22; Isaiah 53:1-12). The church was founded on the confidence that Jesus was the Lamb of God ( John 1:29 ) 3, bearer of a gospel that offers forgiveness of sin (John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 15:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; 1 John 2:2; Revelation 5:12). Unlike faith in the Law alone, faith in Jesus as the Messiah confirms the authority of the Law while offering deliverance from its condemnation, offering both Jews and Gentiles forgiveness and peace with God.

Shahak continues: “My final example illustrates how the same methods are used also in purely theoretical cases, having no conceivable application in reality. During the existence of the Temple, the High Priest was only allowed to marry a virgin. Although during virtually the whole of the Talmudic period there was no longer a Temple or a High Priest, the Talmud devotes one of its more involved (and bizarre) discussions to the precise definition of the term ‘virgin’ fit to marry a High Priest. What about a woman whose hymen had been broken by accident? Does it make any difference whether the accident occurred before or after the age of three? By the impact of metal or of wood? Was she climbing a tree? And if so, was she climbing up or down? Did it happen naturally or unnaturally? All this and much else besides is discussed in lengthy detail. And every scholar in classical Judaism had to master hundreds of such problems. Great scholars were measured by their ability to develop these problems still further, for as shown by the examples there is always scope for further developmentif only in one directionand such development did actually continue after the final redaction of the Talmud.” (Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion (pp. 40-41)) Israel Shahak offers examples of the kinds of subterfuges that orthodox Jews have used to “keep the law” in a way that allowed them a degree of normalcy in daily life: “Milking on the Sabbath. This has been forbidden in post-talmudic times, through the process of increasing religious severity mentioned above. The ban could easily be kept in the diaspora, since Jews who had cows of their own were usually rich enough to have non-Jewish servants, who could be ordered (using one of the subterfuges described below) to do the milking. The early Jewish colonists in Palestine employed Arabs for this and other purposes, but with the forcible imposition of the Zionist policy of exclusive Jewish labour there was need for a dispensation. (This was particularly important before the introduction of mechanised milking in the late 1950s.) Here too there was a difference between Zionist and non-Zionist rabbis. According to the former, the forbidden milking becomes permitted provided the milk is not white but dyed blue. This blue Saturday milk is then used exclusively for making cheese, and the dye is washed off into the whey. Non-Zionist rabbis have devised a much subtler scheme (which I personally witnessed operating in a religious kibbutz in 1952). They discovered an old provision which allows the udders of a cow to be emptied on the Sabbath, purely for relieving the suffering caused to the animal by bloated udders, and on the strict condition that the milk runs to waste on the ground. Now, this is what is actually done: on Saturday morning, a pious kibbutznik goes to the cowshed and places pails under the cows. (There is no ban on such work in the whole of the talmudic literature.) He then goes to the synagogue to pray. Then comes his colleague, whose ‘honest intention’ is to relieve the animals’ pain and let their milk run to the floor. But if, by chance, a pail happens to be standing there, is he under any obligation to remove it? Of course not. He simply ‘ignores’ the pails, fulfills his mission of mercy and goes to the synagogue. Finally a third pious colleague goes into the cowshed and discovers, to his great surprise, the pails full of milk. So he puts them in cold storage and follows his comrades to the synagogue. Now all is well, and there is no need to waste money on blue dye. “Similar dispensations were issued by zionist rabbis in respect of the ban (based on Leviticus 19:19) against sowing two different species of crop in the same field. Modern agronomy has however shown that in some cases (especially in growing fodder) mixed sowing is the most profitable. The rabbis invented a dispensation according to which one man sows the field lengthwise with one kind of seed, and later that day his comrade, who ‘does not know’ about the former, sows another kind of seed crosswise. However, this method was felt to be too wasteful of labour, and a better one was devised: one man makes a heap of one kind of seed in a public place and carefully covers it with a sack or piece of board. The second kind of seed is then put on top of the cover. Later, another man comes and exclaims, in front of witnesses, ‘I need this sack (or board)’ and removes it, so that the seeds mix ‘naturally.’ Finally, a third man comes along and is told, ‘Take this and sow the field,’ which he proceeds to do.” (Can Assurance of Salvation Be Found in Obeying the Old Testament Law- - Questions.org)

Leviticus 23:4 'These are the appointed times of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at the times appointed for them.


KJV - These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.

Appointed times of the LORD - "Here again the feasts are called the feasts of the Lord, because he appointed them. Jeroboam's feast, which he devised of his own heart (1Ki 12:33), was an affront to God, and a reproach upon the people."

Kevin Williams comments that…

These appointed times of the Lord are important for many reasons. To begin with, they are part of a national system of “time-outs.” Together, they provide weekly, monthly, and yearly occasions to rest from the routines and common work of daily life. The Provider of Israel designed these “time-outs” and appointed times for rest, reflection, and worship. They are sacred convocations that call the people of God together not only in the grandeur and majesty of the temple, but also in the quiet shelter and simplicity of every home of the land. Together, these appointed times form a system of remembrance. The appointed times of the Lord give every household, whether rich occasions are used to retell stories of Jewish life and origins, these holidays provide a panorama of history that has strong implications for all the families of the earth. Seen individually and together, these feasts paint a compelling picture of the past, present, and future work of a Messiah Who is the source of life and hope and peace for all the nations of the world. (The Holidays of God - Radio Bible Class)

The Spring Feasts consisted of…

1) Passover (Pesach) (See Study of NT word for Passover (3957pascha)

2) Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMatzot)

3) Firstfruits (HaBikkurim)

4) Pentecost (Shavuot)

The Fall Feasts consisted of…

5) Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)

6) Atonement (Yom Kippur)

7) Tabernacles (Sukkot)

These seven (the number of "completion") annual holidays are honored by Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed Jewish communities the world over.  The second group of Fall Feasts are separated from the Spring Feasts by a four-month period. The first four feasts foreshadow truths concerning this present Gospel age. The last three foreshadow blessings in store for Israel. The first four are historic; the last three, prophetic.

See also Discovery House Booklets

Henry Morris describes the prophetic significance of the feasts…

Many commentators, ancient and modern, have noted that these seven annual "feasts [or religious festivals] of Jehovah" not only had spiritual value to the Israelites who observed them, but also gave prophetic witness to God's great redemptive work.

(1) Feast of the Passover (Leviticus 23:5) testifies of the shedding of the blood of the Lamb of God. "Christ our Passover… sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7).

(2) Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6-8) speaks of the Lord's supper which would be instituted by Him on the night of the Passover and would serve to remind His followers to walk in communion with Him. "Therefore let us keep the feast,… with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:8).

(3) Feast of Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:9-14) foreshadows the coming resurrection and restoration. "Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming" (1 Corinthians 15:23).

(4) Feast of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-22) was fulfilled in the descent of the Holy Spirit on the first body of Christian believers after Christ's ascension, testifying to the world "that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).

(5) Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:23-25) is separated by a long period of time from the first four festivals and promises that someday "the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven… with the trump of God," when "the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible" (1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:52).

(6) Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32) testifies of the certain judgments to come--on Israel, on the nations, on believers and on the lost--when complete separation between unforgiven sinners and perfected saints will be established forever (note the two goats in Leviticus 16, the chapter giving the details of this observance).

(7) Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-43) speaks of the coming eternal rest in the Holy City when "the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people" (Revelation 21:3). (Defender's Study Bible Note on Leviticus 23:4)

Another resource - The links to the Jewish holidays below add some not in the classic "7" and are very interesting as they emphasize the Jewish perspective more than other resources. Each of the holidays below include Scripture, modern Jewish practices and Messianic implications. 




Purim March 3 March 21
Pesach (Passover) March 31 April 20
Unleavened Bread  April 1-7   April 21-27
First Fruits April 7 April 21
Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) April 12 May 2
Yom Ha-Atzma’ut (Independence Day) April 19 May 9
Yom Yerushalim (Jerusalem Day) May 13 June 2
Shavuot (Weeks) May 20-21 June 9-10
Tisha B’Av July 22 August 11
Rosh HaShanah (Feast of Trumpets) Sept 10-11 Sept 21-22
Yom Kipper (Day of Atonement) Sept 19 Sept 30
Sukkot (Tabernacles) Sept 24-30 October 5-11
Simchat Torah October 2 October 13
Hanukkah (Feast of Dedication) Dec 3-10 Dec 13-20



1st Month = Nisan
Festival of Passover

3rd Month = Sivan
Feast of Pentecost


7th Month = Tishri
Festival of Booths



First Fruits
Reshit Katzir)

Feast of Weeks
Festival of the Harvest of the First Fruits


Feast of Trumpets

Day of

Feast of Booths

Lamb's blood on Door
Ex 12:6-7

Purging Leaven (Sin)

Wave Offering (Promise of Harvest to come)
(Usually Barley)

Wave Offering of two loaves of leavened bread (promise of harvest to come)

Trumpet Blown - A Holy Convocation

Atonement shall be made to cleanse you
Lev 16:30

Celebrates harvest, memorial of God's care in wilderness

1st Month, 14th Day
Lev 23:5

1st Month, 15th Day
Lev 23:6-8
(1st & 8th are Sabbath)

Day after Sabbath
Lev 23:9-14

50 Days after first fruits
Lev 23:14-21

7th Month, 1st Day
Lev 23:23-25
(A Sabbath)

7th Month, 10th Day
Lev 23:26-32
(A Sabbath)

7th Mo, 15th Day
7 Days;
Convocation on 8th Day Lev 23:33-44
(1st & 8th are Sabbath)

Christ our Passover has been sacrificed

Clean out the old leaven… just as you are in fact unleavened

Christ has been raised… the first fruits

Promise of the Spirit, Mystery of Church - Jews and Gentiles in one body

Regathering of Israel before final day of atonement
Jeremiah 32:37-41+

Israel repents and looks to Christ in one day
Zech 3:9-10 
Zech 12:10+
Zech 13:1+ 
Zech 14:9+

All families come to Jerusalem for Feast of Booths
Zech 14:16-19+

1 Cor 5:7

1 Cor 5:7-8

1 Cor 15:20-23

Acts 2:1-4, 5-47+
1 Cor 12:13
Eph 2:11-12


Ezekiel 36:24+

Ezekiel 36:25-27
Heb 9-10
Ro 11:25-29

Ezekiel 36:28+

Source: Believer's Study Bible

Leviticus 23:5 'In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD'S Passover.

  • Ex 12:2-14,18 Ex 13:3-10 Ex 23:15 Nu 9:2-7 Nu 28:16 Dt 16:1-8 Jos 5:10 2Chr 35:18,19 Mt 26:17 Mk 14:12 Lk 22:7 1Co 5:7,8
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Leviticus 23:5ff

See related commentary in Exodus (indicated by the "+") Ex 12:2-14,18+ Ex 13:3-10+ Ex 23:15+

When and why is Passover celebrated? The 14th of Nisan (meaning uncertain but some mentioned include "their flight," "month of flowers" Assyrian - nisannu = "beginning"). Nisan is the first month of the sacred year and seventh of the civil year, answering nearly to our March-April. It was originally called Abib (sprouting or budding), but began to be called Nisan after the Babylonian captivity. Passover is a God's appointed celebration so that His people would remember how He delivered their ancestors from the idols and slave-yards of Egypt. Today on the 14th of Nisan, observant Jewish fathers tell their children how the God of their fathers delivered their ancestors from economic bondage and spiritual darkness. Before the beginning of the 10th plague, Moses instructed every Israelite home to sacrifice a blemish free lamb, collect its blood (Life is in the blood) and with a hyssop brush paint the lamb’s blood on the lintel and door posts of their houses (Ex 12:22). Only where there was blood on the doorway did the death angel “pass over” and spare the life of the firstborn in that home (Ex 12:23). At a Passover Seder, which later became known by His followers as “the table of Communion,” Jesus held up the elements of wine and matzah and applied them to Himself. During the meal He broke unleavened bread with His disciples, and then held that broken matzah in His hands, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Lk. 22:19). Then after the meal He held up a cup of wine and with the same force of personal application to Himself, said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Lk 22:20). The Passover celebration served to anticipated Messiah’s ultimate deliverance of an body of people willing to trust in His sacrificial death for their redemption.

Related Resource:

What is the prophetic significance of the Passover? One element of mystery is found in a Passover tradition involving the “afikomen.” On every Passover table there is a cloth bag called a “matzah tosh.” The bag is either square or round and lies flat on the table. Within the matzah tosh are three pieces of matzah bread, each separated in its own pocket. In this way they are hidden from view, but the celebrants know they are there. During the Seder, the middle matzah is removed from its place, broken in half, and one portion is wrapped in a linen cloth. This wrapped piece of matzah is called the “afikomen.” Afikomen is not a Hebrew word, but a Greek word that means “the coming one.” The afikomen is removed from the table and hidden. Later in the meal, it becomes a children’s game to search for the hidden afikomen. The child who finds it brings it back to the table where “Papa” must ransom it back. Once it is paid for, the afikomen is unwrapped and shared by all as the last food eaten so its flavor will stay on the tongue and its memory stay in the mind the rest of the evening. The rabbis cannot agree on the significance of this unusual observance, or its origins. Some believe the three pieces of matzah in the matzah tosh represent three crowns of learning. Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus have seen in the afikomen a striking picture of the trinity (tri-unity), so that in the three folds of the matzah tosh there is a picture of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The middle matzah represented by the Son is broken, wrapped in linen, hidden, and ransomed (the price paid), and then brought back for the family to accept and enjoy seems too deliberate to easily dismiss. While the symbolism of this ritual remains a mystery to those who have not accepted the Messiah, through messianic eyes the meaning seems clear and powerful. When Jesus said of the unleavened bread, “Take, eat; this is My body,” He was not instituting an empty ritual. He was identifying Himself personally with both the matzah and the Passover lamb, bringing to mind the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 53:4-7) Today when Christians share in the bread of Communion, they are carrying out the fulfilled picture of the Passover.

Another important element in a traditional Jewish Passover observance is wine. During a typical Passover Seder, four cups are shared, each with its own significant picture in the ritual. The first cup is called the “cup of sanctification,” which sets the feast apart from any commonplace meal. The second cup is the “cup of plagues,” remembering the calamities visited upon the Egyptians. The third cup is called the “cup of redemption,” recognizing and memorializing the Hebrews’ release from captivity. The fourth cup is called the “cup of praise,” during which the family recites Psalms 113–118, traditionally considered the praise Psalms. The third cup, the “cup of redemption,” the “Kiddush cup,” in the modern Seder comes after the eating of the afikomen. Because of the ritualistic order of the meal and the rich significance of this observance, some Christian theologians believe that this is the cup Jesus lifted, blessed, and declared, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

Passover (06453)(pesach/pesah) is a masculine noun thought by some writers (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon) to have its origin from pacach/pasah which apparently means to pass over; to spare (Ex 12:13, 23, 27 - "Jehovah will pass" = pasah). Pesach/pesah virtually always refers to the Passover, either the feast or the Passover animal. Note that the Passover is combined with the Feast of Unleavened Bread by Luke who writes "the Feast of Unleavened Bread…is called the Passover, was approaching." (Lk 22:1+) Rooker adds that "These two ceremonies were apparently combined at the beginning, for the Passover lamb was to be eaten with unleavened bread (Ex 12:8)." (New American Commentary).

Related Resources:

Van Gemeren rightly states that "The etymology of the root פֶּסַח (pesah) is much disputed, and some very tenuous links have been established with the Akk. pašāu, to appease, and the Arab. fasaa, be/become wide (New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis 3:642).

Rooker - The verbal root of the noun translated “Passover” occurs only four times in the Old Testament (Ex 12:13, 23, 27; Isa 31:5). The root has been variously explained: “to have compassion,” “to protect,” “to skip over.” In Isa 31:5 the verb is parallel to the verb “to rescue,” which would harmonize well with the first or second options and would indicate that what was critical during the tenth plague was not the death angel’s “passing over” Israelites’ homes as much as the fact that God was displaying his compassion in protecting his people. (New American Commentary).

Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament gives the basic meaning of pesach/pesah as "a sparing, immunity from penalty and calamity, hence—(1) a sacrifice offered on account of the sparing of the people, the paschal lamb, of which it is said, Ex. 12:27 (“this is a sacrifice of sparing [prop. of passing over] unto Jehovah, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians,”).

Swanson has this analysis of this Hebrew word pesach/pesah

1. Passover sacrifice, i.e., the ceremonial offering of small mammals (sheep or goats) one year old, of very high quality (Ex 12:21+);

2. Passover Feast, i.e., a festival celebrating deliverance from Egypt (Ex 34:25);

3. Passover meal, i.e., a meal eaten as a part of the festival of Passover, eaten as a remembrance of hasty deliverance (Ex 12:11) (Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew Old Testament)

Pesach - 46v in the NAS -Ex 12:11, 21, 27, 43, 48; 34:25 - commentary; Lev 23:5; Num 9:2, 4ff, 10, 12ff; 28:16; 33:3; Deut 16:1f, 5f; Josh 5:10f; 2 Kgs 23:21, 22, 23; 2 Chr 30:1f, 5, 15, 17f; 35:1, 6ff, 11, 13, 16ff; Ezra 6:19f; Ezek 45:21

Passover (Ex 12:1-14; Lev 23:5; Nu 9:1-14; 28:16; Dt 16:1-7) On the 14th day of the 1st month (Nisan), this festival commemorated God’s deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt. Passover speaks of the substitutionary death of the Lamb of God. Christ died on the day of Passover.

Paul gives the clear prophetic fulfillment of the OT shadow (Col 2:16-17, Heb 10:1) in a strong command to the church at Corinth…

Clean out (aorist imperative = command - Do this now! Don't delay!) the old leaven (Remember the context is sin in the church in the form of incest! Read 1Cor 5:1-6), that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1Cor 5-8)

Criswell: As the firstborn of the Israelites were saved from the stroke of the angel of death at the first Passover by the blood of a lamb (cf. Ex 12:21-23), so salvation is now offered through the blood of Christ, Who died at Passover as the Passover Lamb (cf. 1Pe 1:18, 19).

Wiersbe - The innocent lamb died for the firstborn; because the blood of the lamb was applied to the door by faith, the firstborn sons were safe. This was “the Lord’s Passover” and the only means of deliverance that He provided that awesome night when the death angel visited Egypt. To reject the blood of the lamb was to accept judgment and death. The lamb typified Jesus Christ, who shed His blood on the cross for a world of lost sinners (John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:19–20). “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7). Since the Passover lamb had to be perfect, it was chosen on the tenth day of the month and watched carefully until it was slain on the fourteenth day of the month. Jesus Christ “knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21), “did no sin” (1 Peter 2:22), and “in Him is no sin” (1 John 3:5). (Be Holy)

Freeman - The first of the three great feasts, is usually called the Passover, in commemoration of the passing over of the houses of the Israelites by the destroying angel, at the time when the first-born of the Egyptians were slain. The ancient Jewish canons distinguish between what they term - the Egyptian Passover and the Permanent Passover; the former signifying the feast in its original form, and the latter representing it as modified in the subsequent years of the history of the people. The essential parts of the feast, were however, the same. It took place during the month Abib, or, as it was subsequently called, Nisan, corresponding very nearly with April of our calendar. See note on Dt 16:1. (NOTE: Abib means a green ear. This denotes the condition of the barley in Palestine and Egypt during this month. It was the first month of the Jewish ecclesiastical year, and was in later times called Nisan. See Neh.2:1; Esther 3:7. It corresponded nearly to our month of April.) While it lasted great care was taken to abstain from leaven. A he-lamb or kid of the first year was selected by the head of the family and was slain, its blood being sprinkled originally on the door-posts, and subsequently on the bottom of the altar. The animal was then roasted whole with fire, and eaten with unleavened bread and a salad of bitter herbs. It could not be boiled, nor must a bone of it be broken. When they first ate it in Egypt the Israelites had their loins girt and their shoes on, all ready for a journey, and they partook of it standing, as if in haste to be away. In after years this position was changed to sitting or reclining. Not fewer than ten, nor more than twenty, persons were admitted to one of these feasts. Stanley (in his History of the Jewish Church, vol. i, p. 559, Am. ed.) gives a deeply interesting account, from his personal observation, of the modern observance of the Passover by the Samaritan*--. For the mode of observing the Passover in our Lord s time, see notes on Mt 26:19-20. It. is supposed by some writers that, aside from the general design of the Passover, as already stated, there was in some of its ceremonies an intentional Divine rebuke of the idolatry of heathen nations, and especially of that of the Egyptians. One of their deities was represented by a human body with a ram s head. To have a lamb slain, and its blood sprinkled on the door posts, was an act of contempt against this deity. Some heathen people ate raw flesh in connection with their festivities. The Passover lamb was to be cooked. This cooking was by roasting, for the Egyptians and Syrians some times boiled the flesh of their sacrificial victims in water, and sometimes in milk. It was to be roasted with h re, for the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and ancient Persians are said to have roasted their sacrifices in the sun. It was to be roasted whole, even to the intestines, for the heathen were in the habit of looking into these for omens, and sometimes even ate them raw. (Manners and Customs 1875)

R A Torrey summarizes the Feast of the Passover…

  • Ordained by God Exodus 12:1,2
  • Commenced the fourteenth of the first month at even Ex 12:2,6,18 ; Lev 23:5 ; Numbers 9:3
  • Lasted seven days Exodus 12:15 ; Leviticus 23:6


  • Passover Numbers 9:5 ; John 2:23
  • Jew's Passover John 2:13 ; 11:55
  • Lord's Passover Exodus 12:11,27
  • Feast of unleavened bread Mark 14:1 ; Luke 22:1
  • Days of unleavened bread Acts 12:3 ; 20:6
  • All males to appear at Exodus 23:17 ; Deuteronomy 16:16
  • Paschal lamb eaten first day of Exodus 12:6,8
  • Unleavened bread eaten at Exodus 12:15 ; Deuteronomy 16:3


  • Not to be in their houses during Exodus 12:19
  • Not to be in any of their quarters Exodus 13:7 ; Deuteronomy 16:4
  • Nothing with, to be eaten Exodus 12:20
  • Punishment for eating Exodus 12:15,19
  • First and last days of, holy convocations Exodus 12:16 ; Numbers 28:18,25
  • Sacrifices during Leviticus 23:8 ; Numbers 28:19-24
  • The first sheaf of barley harvest offered the day after the Sabbath in Leviticus 23:10-14


  • Passing over the first-born Exodus 12:12,13
  • Deliverance of Israel from bondage of Egypt Exodus 12:17,42 ; 13:9 ; Deut 16:3
  • To be perpetually observed during the Mosaic age Exodus 12:14 ; 13:10
  • Children to be taught the nature and design of Exodus 12:26,27 ; 13:8
  • Purification necessary to the due observance of 2 Chronicles 30:15-19 ; John 11:55
  • Might be kept in 2nd month by those unclean At appointed time Nu 9:6-11 ; 2Chr 30:2,3,15
  • No uncircumcised person to keep Exodus 12:43,45
  • Strangers and servants when circumcised might keep Exodus 12:44,48
  • Neglect of, punished with death Numbers 9:13
  • Improper keeping of, punished 2 Chronicles 30:18,20


  • On leaving Egypt Exodus 12:28,50
  • In the wilderness of Sinai Numbers 9:3-5
  • On entering the land of promise Joshua 5:10,11
  • In Hezekiah's reign 2 Chronicles 30:1
  • In Josiah's reign 2 Kings 23:22,23 ; 2 Chronicles 35:1,18
  • After the captivity Ezra 6:19,20
  • Before the death of Christ Luke 22:15
  • Moses kept through faith Hebrews 11:28
  • Christ always observed Matthew 26:17-20 ; Luke 22:15 ; John 2:13,23
  • The people of Jerusalem lent their rooms to strangers for Luke 22:11,12
  • The Lord's Supper instituted at Matthew 26:26-28
  • Custom of releasing a prisoner at Matthew 27:15 ; Luke 23:16,17
  • The Sabbath in, a high day John 19:31
  • The day before the Sabbath in, called the preparation John 19:14,31
  • Illustrative of redemption through Christ 1 Corinthians 5:7,8

Leviticus 23:6 'Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.

  • See "+" for comments - Ex 12:15,16+ Ex 13:6,7+ Ex 34:18+ Nu 28:17,18 Dt 16:8 Acts 12:3,4
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

(Chag HaMatzot)
Leviticus 23:6-8

Then - time phrase marks sequence, in this case the day after the Passover. Passover occurred on a Friday, Feast of Unleavened Bread on Saturday and Feast of First Fruits (our "Easter") on Sunday. As noted earlier, the term Passover is used interchangeably with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. However, technically, the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on Nisan 15, one day after the Passover celebration. “They departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the Passover the children of Israel went out with boldness in the sight of all the Egyptians.” (Nu 33:3) As they left Egypt, the Jews took their bread in mixing bowls, without allowing time for leaven (yeast) to form or bread to rise. When the order came to leave, they left with flat bread and all! This act of leaving Egypt with unleavened bread has led to one of the most colorful traditions of the Passover season. In anticipation of the days of unleavened bread, Jewish mothers do their “spring cleaning.” With great care they sweep and search and scrub their homes to remove every bit of leaven. Floors are swept, pots are boiled, cupboards are emptied—all in an effort to remove any trace of leaven. Then just before Passover, bonfires are lit in empty lots and fields all over Israel to destroy any of the bread and crumbs that have been found (compare Paul's charge in 1Cor 5:7-8). In Paul’s eyes, and in the understanding of other rabbis, leaven is an illustration of sin. The Feast of Unleavened Bread therefore speaks of the need for God’s people to live new lives marked by a break from the bondage experienced in the kingdom of sin and darkness. keep in mind, however, is the messianic significance Jesus claimed for the matzah of Passover. When He broke the unleavened bread of the Seder and said, “This is My body which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me,” He was saying that the matzah of the Passover had a meaning that is realized fully in Him. Some who believe in Jesus see a mysterious and ironic picture of Him that has unintentionally shown up in the way unleavened bread is made. By rabbinic decree, matzah must be striped, pierced, and burned in such a way as to appear bruised! (Read Isaiah 53:5, Zech 12:10) As someone has well said "These so called co-incidences are really "God-incidences!"

Feast of Unleavened Bread (Ex 12:15-20; 13:3-10; Lev 23:6-8; Nu 28:17-25; Dt 16:3, 4, 8) This feast is seven days long, beginning on the fifteenth of Nisan and continuing through the twenty-first. It marked the beginning of the barley harvest and immediately followed Passover and lasted until the 21st day of the month. Unleavened Bread speaks of the holy walk of the believer (1Cor 5:6-8).

Rooker - The unleavened bread reminded the Israelites of the haste in which they left the land of Egypt. They were forced to begin their journey before the dough could rise. During this seven-day period only bread without yeast could be eaten. (The New American Commentary page 285)

K. Arthur - When you think of leaven, you think of sin and how a little leaven leavens the whole lump. There is no leaven put in the dough to make it rise because God wanted to show us to a picture. The blood of Jesus was shed for us and that blood, and when we apply it in faith to the door of our hearts then we are no longer slaves to sin for the Son has set us free. Therefore I no longer have to practice sin. I can keep the feast of unleavened bread. (Leviticus Lectures)

Feast (02282)(chaq/chag/hag/haq) means festival and usually refers to the various feasts on the Jewish calendar. “Holiday,” i.e. a day or season of religious joy. The term moed “appointed time,” is also used for “feast,” but is a broader term including Sabbaths, new moons, etc. "The use of this noun is limited mainly to the three pilgrim-feasts. Four times it is used for each of the three in a single context (Ex 23:15–16; 34:18–22; Deut 16:16; 2Chr 8:13). Otherwise the noun applies most often (twenty times) to the Feast of Booths (Ingathering), secondly (eleven times) to the Feast of Unleavened Bread (or Passover) and once to the Feast of Weeks (Deut 16:10)." (TWOT)

Septuagint (Lxx) translates chaq with the Greek word heorte = "a day or series of days marked by a periodic celebration or observance, festival, celebration."

Vine - This word refers especially to a “feast observed by a pilgrimage.” That is its meaning in its first biblical occurrence, as Moses declared to Pharaoh (Ex 10:9). Haq/chaq usually represents Israel’s three annual “pilgrimage feasts,” which were celebrated with processions and dances. These special feasts are distinguished from the sacred seasons (“festal assemblies”—Ezek 45:17), the new moon festivals, and the Sabbaths (Hos 2:11). (In a unique use of haq/chaq) Aaron proclaimed a “feast to the Lord” at the foot of Mt. Sinai. This “feast” involved no pilgrimage but was celebrated with burnt offerings, communal meals, singing, and dancing. The whole matter was displeasing to God (Ex 32:5-7).

Chaq - 55v in NAS -

Ex 10:9; 12:14; 13:6; 23:15f, 18; 32:5; 34:18, 22, 25; Lev 23:6, 34, 39, 41; Num 28:17; 29:12; Deut 16:10, 13f, 16; 31:10; Jdg 21:19; 1Kgs 8:2, 65; 12:32f; 2Chr 5:3; 7:8f; 8:13; 30:13, 21; 35:17; Ezra 3:4; 6:22; Neh 8:14, 18; Ps 81:3; 118:27; Isa 29:1; 30:29; Ezek 45:17, 21, 23, 25; 46:11; Hos 2:11; 9:5; Amos 5:21; 8:10; Nah 1:15; Zech 14:16, 18f; Mal 2:3

Chaq is translated in NAS as - feast(52), feasts(5), festival(1), festival sacrifice(1), festivals(3).

Unleavened bread is eaten for seven days (Lev. 23:6; Nu 28:17). While the Passover is a separate festival, observed on the fourteenth of Nisan, the meal was eaten after sundown on the fifteenth of Nisan. The term "Passover," is applied to the entire eight days (cf. Lk 22:1, Lev. 23:6; Nu 28:17). As noted above Luke 22:1 associates Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover.

Wenham - The first and the last days of this feast were, like the first and last days of the main autumn festival, the feast of booths, rest days when “no heavy work” could be done (Lev 23:7, 8, 35, 36). (NICOT)

Leviticus 23:7 'On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work.

Holy convocation - Set aside this day.

Laborious work - see note Lev 23:8

Ryrie - laborious work. Defined in a later period as building, weaving, reaping, threshing, grinding, and so on.

Leviticus 23:8 'But for seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work.'"

Laborious work - It is not clearly stipulated as to what is "laborious." Some think it alludes to Ex 20:9, which would be fairly restrictive.

Seventh day is a holy convocation - The opening and closing days of this feast are like the first and seventh days of the Feast of Tabernacles in the Autumn. Ordinary labor like farming or trading stopped and a holy convention was held.

Wiersbe has this practical application regarding the Feast of Unleavened Bread

For seven days following Passover, the Jews ate only unleavened bread with their meals, and they carefully cleansed all the yeast out of their homes (Ex 12:15–20). In many places in Scripture, leaven depicts sin. Thus the putting away of leaven illustrates the cleansing of one’s life after he or she has been saved through faith in the blood (2Cor. 6:14–7:1). We must get rid of the “old life” leaven (1 Cor. 5:7). Those things belong to our unconverted days and have no place in our new Christian walk (1Pe 4:1–5). We must also put away “the leaven of malice and wickedness” (1 Cor. 5:8; Eph. 4:31–32), the leaven of hypocrisy (Luke 12:1), and the leaven of false doctrine (Gal. 5:7–9). The “leaven of Herod” (Mark 8:15) represents the attitude of pride and worldliness that was evident in that evil king’s life. And the “leaven … of the Sadducees” was unbelief (Matt. 16:6). The people weren’t saved from death and bondage by getting rid of leaven but by applying the blood of the lamb by faith. People today think they’ll be saved because they reform or get rid of a bad habit, but good as doing these things are, they can never do what only the blood of Christ can do. Salvation is through the blood of Christ alone, the sinless Lamb of God, but “let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:19, NKJV). The Christian life is not a famine or a funeral; it’s a feast. “Therefore let us keep the feast … with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:8). Sin can be secretly introduced into our lives and quietly grow so that it pollutes the inner person. One “toxic” Christian in a church body can defile the whole body if given enough time. One false doctrine, if allowed to grow, will destroy an entire ministry. (Be Holy)

Leviticus 23:9 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

This divine "formula" is found some 30 times in the book of Leviticus.

Lev 4:1; 5:14; 6:1, 8, 19, 24; 7:22, 28; 8:1; 11:1, 12:1; 13:1; 14:1; 16:1; 17:1; 18:1; 19:1; 20:1; 21:16; 22:1, 17, 26; 23:1, 23:9, 23, 26, 33; 24:1, 13; 27:1

Leviticus 23:10 "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.

  • When: Lev 14:34
  • shall: Lev 2:12-16 Ex 22:29 23:16,19 34:22,26 Nu 15:2,18-21 28:26 Dt 16:9 Jos 3:15
  • Pr 3:9,10 Eze 44:30 Ro 11:16 1Co 15:20-23 Jas 1:18 Rev 14:4
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Leviticus 23:10-14

Feast of Firstfruits (Lev 23:9-14; Nu 28:26) marked the beginning of the barley harvest, immediately followed Passover and lasted until the 21st day of the month. First Fruits symbolized the consecration of the entire harvest to God and was an earnest, or pledge (guarantee) of the full harvest yet to be gathered.

Sheaf - The grain is not stated but this would be at the time of the barley harvest (which preceded the wheat harvest), so it is most likely a sheaf of barley.

Firstfruits speaks of Christ’s resurrection as the First fruits of the resurrection of all believers (1 Cor 15:20-23). Christ rose on the day of the First fruits which we commonly call Easter. I usually encounter a confused response when I greet a fellow believer with the words "Blessed Feast of Firstfruits" instead of "Happy Easter!" Sadly very few Christians know that Easter Sunday is really the Feast of First fruits. But now you have no excuse because you have just been edified. 

"Firstfruits" in the NT also refers to the earliest converts as the firstfruits of the Spirit (Ro 8:23+); to the Jews as precursors of the Christian church (Ro 11:16+); to individual believers (Ro 16:5+); to Christ as the firstfruits of resurrection (1Cor 15:20); to believers born again by the Word of God (Jas 1:18+); and to the group that had been redeemed as firstfruits (Rev 14:4+).

The Feast of First fruits occurred on our Sunday, the “day after the Sabbath” (Lev 23:11), the first day of the week, even as Christ was raised on the first day of the week. Like the Feast of First fruits, the resurrection of Christ anticipates the harvest (of more "fruit) which is to follow, the resurrection of the saints, each in his own order (1 Cor 15:23). When the priest on the day of Christ’s resurrection waved the sheaf of first fruits in the Temple, it was before a torn veil and was a mere shadow, (OT types and shadows and Messianic prophecies) for when the substance (Christ) comes the shadow passes away (Col 2:16-17+). Joseph of Arimathea’s empty tomb (Lk 24:1-3+) proclaimed that the great First fruit sheaf (Christ) had been "reaped and waved" in the heavenly Temple. In summary, the Feast of First fruits has been fulfilled in Christ.

Josephus says that the sheaf was of barley and that until this ceremony had been performed, no harvest work was to be done (Ant. 3.10.5).

First-fruits (07225)(reshith) - see word study

Ryrie - First Fruits symbolized the consecration of the entire harvest to God and was an earnest, or pledge, of the full harvest yet to be gathered. See notes on 1Cor 15:20; Jas 1:18; Rev. 14:4, as well as other NT uses in Ro 8:23; Ro 11:16; 1Cor. 16:15.

Scofield - The Feast of Firstfruits, Lev 23:10-14 is typical of resurrection first, of Christ, then of those who are His at His coming (1Cor 15:23; 1Th 4:13-18).

Related Resource:

Leviticus 23:11 'He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.

The feast of first fruits celebrated for Israel the new harvest in the land and their deliverance from Egypt. This foreshadows the resurrection of Christ: (1Cor 15:20, 23). The feast occurred on the “day after the Sabbath” (Lev 23:11), the first day of the week, even as Christ was raised on the first day of the week. Like the feast of first fruits, the resurrection of Christ anticipates the harvest which is to follow, the resurrection of the saints. When the priest on the day of Christ’s resurrection waved the sheaf of first fruits in the Temple, it was before a torn veil and was but an antiquated form, for the substance had come and the shadow had passed away. Joseph’s empty tomb proclaimed that the great first fruit sheaf had been reaped and waved in the heavenly Temple. This feast of first fruits has been completely fulfilled in Christ. The first sheaf at the Passover was presented by the congregation before the commencement of the grain harvest (Lev 23:10–11). Josephus says that the sheaf was of barley and that until this ceremony had been performed, no harvest work was to be done (Ant. 3.10.5).

The feast of the wave loaves (Lev 23:15), coming exactly 50 days after the feast of first fruits, without question foreshadowed the day of Pentecost at which time the two loaves, typical of Gentiles and Israel, are united into one body, the church (Ep 2:14). It does not have special Christological significance, however, except as a result of the work of Christ.

On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it - The Passover on which Jesus was crucified was on a Friday so Saturday would have been the Sabbath and the day after the Sabbath would have been our Sunday. So the priest waved the sheaf (of barley) before Jehovah on the day that Yeshua was raised from the dead as the "First fruits of those who are asleep (= dead, sleep used only of death of believers)" (1 Cor 15:20). 

Additional NoteFirst Fruits -

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf (Heb = omer) of the first fruits (Heb = reshith) of your harvest to the priest. 11 ‘He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for (PURPOSE) you to be accepted; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it (USUALLY BARLEY - THE FIRST TO RIPEN). 12 ‘Now on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb one year old without defect for a burnt offering ('olah) to the LORD. 13 ‘Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the LORD for a soothing aroma, with its drink offering, a fourth of a hin of wine. 14 (ONLY AFTER THE WAVE OFFERING ‘Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.  (Lev 23:9-14)

The day following the first day of Unleavened Bread is called Reshit Katzir "the beginning of the harvest" or Yom HaBikkurim, "the Day of Firstfruits." In ancient times, on this day a sheaf (omer) of barley (the first grain crop to ripen) was waved before the Lord in a prescribed ceremony to mark the start of the counting of the omer, which initiated the 49 day countdown to the jubilee harvest festival of Shavuot.

At this appointed time Israel was to acknowledge in their hearts and confess before witnesses that the fruits of their labor were a grace-gift from the Almighty, Who is the source of all material and spiritual wealth, and that they no longer lived as slaves in bondage but as free citizens in God’s kingdom. First fruits was also a type or shadow of the Messiah, and was fulfilled with the resurrection of Jesus. Paul writes "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep....But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,Testament refers to the resurrected Jesus as the firstfruits of those who will be resurrected (1 Cor. 15:20,23).  In Paul's teaching  we see the resurrection of Jesus is linked to the historic Feast of Firstfruits. The Gospels tell us that “After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb” (Mt. 28:1).Keep in mind that according to Leviticus 23:11, the Feast of Firstfruits was to be observed on the first day after the Sabbath of Passover. Firsthand reports about the resurrection tell us that Jesus rose from the grave on Sunday, the first day of the week after the seventh-day Sabbath. Jesus rose from the dead not on just any day. The reality as it played out was not coincidentally on the first day of the week; rather the Messiah rose according to God’s intentional design in order to fulfill the holy Torah. He rose on HaBikkurim—the Feast of Firstfruits. His resurrection was a promise of the life and everlasting freedom that would come to all who believed in Him. Of the Feast of Firstfruits Alfred Edersheim says, “Each family, and every individual separately acknowledged, by the yearly presentation of the firstfruits, a living relationship between them and God, in virtue of which they gratefully received at His hands all they had or enjoyed, and solemnly dedicated both it and themselves to the Lord.” How much more, then, is this true for those who confess Jesus as Messiah! Those who believe in Jesus can gratefully see Him as the resurrected Firstfruit of the eternal harvest that God has promised to those who trust Him, and rest assured that because He rose from the dead, they too will one day rise from the dead as a firstfruits offering to Jehovah. Now if that doesn't make you shout "Hallelujah! Thank You Jesus!" nothing will!

Leviticus 23:12 'Now on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb one year old without defect for a burnt offering to the LORD.


Now on the day when you wave the sheaf - The first grain to ripen was barley, so this sheaf was of stalks of barley waved north, south, east, then west symbolizing that is was dedicated to the Lord. 

You shall offer a male lamb one year old without defect for a burnt offering to the LORD - Clearly this is a foreshadowing of the perfect, blemish-free Male, Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God Who alone is able to take away the sins of the world (Jn 1:29). See these parallel passages

Hebrews 10:10-12+ By this will we have been sanctified (perfect tense = once for all time. Postionally "perfect" in Christ FOREVER!) through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,

1 Peter 1:18-19+ knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

Related Resources:

Leviticus 23:13 'Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the LORD for a soothing aroma, with its drink offering, a fourth of a hin of wine.

  • grain: Lev  14:10 Nu 15:3-12
  • drink: Ex 29:40,41+ Ex 30:9+ Nu 28:10 Joel 1:9,13 2:14
  • fourth: Ex 30:24 Eze 4:11 45:24 46:14
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

The Grain Offering was described in Leviticus 2:14-16-note

Also if you bring a grain offering of early ripened things to the LORD, you shall bring fresh heads of grain roasted in the fire, grits of new growth, for the grain offering of your early ripened things. 15‘You shall then put oil on it and lay incense on it; it is a grain offering. 16‘And the priest shall offer up in smoke its memorial portion, part of its grits and its oil with all its incense as an offering by fire to the LORD. 

Gotquestions"What is a grain offering?"

Answer: A grain offering is a type of sacrifice described in the Old Testament (Leviticus 2) that the Israelites offered to God. A grain offering would have most likely been one of wheat or barley, depending on what was available. While other sacrifices had very specific instructions from God as to how they were to be offered, the rules governing grain offerings had some flexibility.

A grain offering could be given to God either uncooked or cooked in an oven or pan (Leviticus 2:1; 4—5). The requirements for the grain offering were that it had to be finely ground and have oil and salt in it (Leviticus 2:1, 4, 13). It could not have any yeast (also called leaven) or honey in it (Leviticus 2:11). When a person brought a grain offering to the priests, a small portion of it was offered to God, with some frankincense, on the altar. The rest of the grain offering went to the priests (Leviticus 2:10). No specific amount of grain was required for an offering; people were free to give what they had.

The grain offering is described as “a most holy part of the food offerings presented to the Lord” (Leviticus 2:10b). Grain offerings would often be presented after a burnt offering, which was an animal sacrifice God required for the atonement of sin. Blood had to be shed for the remission of sins to take place, so a grain offering would not serve the same purpose as a burnt offering. Instead, the purpose of a grain offering was to worship God and acknowledge His provision. The burnt offering, which had strict regulations and could have nothing added to it, aptly represents the fact that we take no part in our atonement for sin. The grain offering, however, could be somewhat “personalized” in its presentation. It was to be given out of a person’s free will, just as our worship is our free will offering to God today.

It’s interesting to note that during the Israelites’ forty years of wilderness wandering grain would have been quite scarce. This made grain offerings more costly and precious for the people to offer to God. Giving a grain offering in those circumstances represented the Israelites’ complete dependence on God to provide for their needs each day. Jesus fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17), and we no longer have to do sacrifices as they did in the Old Testament. But, if the grain offering is similar to our offering of worship, it’s interesting to consider: how much does our worship today cost us?

Leviticus 23:14 'Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.

  • eat: Lev 19:23-25 25:2,3 Ge 4:4,5 Jos 5:11,12
  • it shall be: Lev 3:17 10:11 Dt 16:12 Ne 9:14 Ps 19:8
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Offering (07133)(qorban/korban from qarab signifies coming into near, intimate proximity of another [in Leviticus into intimate proximity with Jehovah!] - Does this root verb not help us discern the picture of "offering?") is a masculine noun which means that which is brought near (the altar), thus referring to an offering. Thus quoban/korban was a general term used for all Israelite sacrifices, offerings, or oblations. It is used in a variety of offerings in Leviticus.

Related Resources:

Leviticus 23:15 'You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths.


Feast of Weeks (Ex 23:16; 34:22; Lev 23:15-21; Nu 28:26-31; Dt 16:9-12) took place 50 days after the barley harvest, and involved new grain offerings to the Lord. Pentecost speaks of the descent of the Holy Spirit after Christ’s ascension and signals the bringing together of Jews and Gentiles into one new body the Church.

Pentecost is also called the feast of weeks (Ex. 34:22; Deut. 16:10,16; 2Chr 8:13), the feast of harvest (Ex. 23:16), and the day of firstfruits (Nu 28:26; cp Ex. 23:16; 34:22; Lev. 23:17)

Freeman - The Feast of Harvest is sometime called the Feast of Weeks, because of the seven weeks; by which its time was determined. Dt 16:9, 10. It is also called the Day of First-fruits, (Nu 28:26) because on that day the first loaves made from the wheat harvest were offered to the Lord. Its later name was Pentecost, because it occurred fifty days after Passover. These fifty days begin with the offering of the first sheaf of the barley harvest during Passover week, (Lev. 23:10,) and ended with the Feast of Harvest. This feast took place after the corn harvest, and before the vintage. Its design was primarily to give an expression of gratitude to God for the harvest which had been gathered; but the Jews assert, that in addition to this, it was intended to celebrate the giving of the law on Sinai, which took place fifty days after the Passover. Maimonides says that the reason why the feast occupied but one day was because that was all the time occupied .m giving the law. On this day the people rented from all labor. Two loaves, made of the new wheat, were offered before the Lord. These were leavened, in distinction to the Passover bread, which was unleavened. Lev. 23:17. The Jews say that this was because the Passover was a memorial of the haste in which they departed from Egypt, when they had not time to get their bread leavened ; while the Feast of Harvest was a token of thankfulness to God for their ordinary food. In addition to this offering of the loaves, every per son was required to bring in a basket a portion of the first-fruits of the earth, and offer it unto the Lord. Dt. 26:1-10. At the same time there was a burnt offering of seven young lambs, one young bullock, and two rams. A kid was given as a sin-offering, and two young lambs for a peace offering. Lev. 23:18. 19. (Manners and Customs 1875)

Related Resource

Leviticus 23:16 'You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD.

This shadow is fulfilled in Acts 2:1-4-note. 

"And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. 

Fifty days - The Lord "came down" at Sinai on the 50th day after the first Passover (Ex 12:6; 19:1,11), just as the Holy Spirit came down fifty days after Christ's crucifixion (Acts 1:3,4; 2:1-4)

Guzik comments that "Jewish tradition also taught that Pentecost marked the day when the Law was given to Israel. The Jews sometimes called Pentecost shimchath torah, or “Joy of the Law.” On the Old Testament Day of Pentecost Israel received the Law; on the New Testament Day of Pentecost the Church received the Spirit of Grace in fullness."  (Acts 2 Commentary)

Scofield - The Feast of Weeks, a harvest feast known as Pentecost, Lev 23:15 - 22. The antitype is the descent of the Holy Spirit to form the Church. For this reason yeast is present, because there is evil in the Church (Mt 13:33; Acts 5:1-10; 15:1). Observe, it is now loaves; not a sheaf of separate growths loosely bound together, but a real union of particles making one homogeneous body. The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost united the separate disciples into one organism (1Cor 10:16-17; 12:12-13,20). Pentecost took place fifty days after the offering of the firstfruits, coming at about the beginning of summer.

Leviticus 23:17 'You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the LORD.

  • two wave: Nu 28:26)
  • leaven: Lev 7:13 Mt 13:33
  • firstfruits: Lev 23:10 Ex 22:29 23:16,19 34:22,26 Nu 15:17,19-21 Dt 26:1,2 Pr 3:9,10 Ro 8:23 1Co 15:20 Jas 1:18 Rev 14:4
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Scofield - The wave loaves were offered fifty days after the wave sheaf. This is precisely the period between the resurrection of Christ and the formation of the Church at Pentecost by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4; 1Cor 12:12-13). See Church (Mat 16:18; Heb 12:23, note). With the wave sheaf no yeast was offered, for there was no evil in Christ; but the wave loaves, typifying the Church, are "baked with yeast," for in the Church there is still evil.

First-fruits (01061)(bikkurim from bakar = to bear new fruit, to constitute as first-born) means the first-fruits of the crop. This Hebrew word occurs only in the masculine plural (cf "-im" ending) and refers especially to the first products of grain and fruit, (bread, Ex 23:16; grapes, Nu 13:20; figs, Nah 3:12), a portion of which were to be given to the Lord as a thank offering and for the support of the priesthood (cf Lev 2:14; Nu 18:12-13). The first use in Exodus refers to the "Feast of the Harvest of the first-fruits."

The Septuagint (Lxx) translates bikkurim in most of the OT uses with the noun protogenema which means means first-fruits.

Bikkurim is translated in NAS as early ripened things(2), first fruits(12), first ripe(1), first ripe fruits(1), ripe fruit(1).

Bikkurim - 15v - Ex 23:16, 19; 34:22, 26; Lev 2:14; 23:17, 20; Nu 13:20; 18:13; 28:26; 2Kgs 4:42; Neh 10:35; 13:31; Ezek 44:30; Nah 3:12

Leviticus 23:18 'Along with the bread you shall present seven one year old male lambs without defect, and a bull of the herd and two rams; they are to be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.

  • lambs: Lev 23:12,13 Nu 28:27-31 Mal 1:13,14
  • their: Nu 15:4-12
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Seven one year old male lambs without defect - Just think of how costly this would have been in an agrarian society that depended heavily on the animals that were raised. One wonders if the "seven" might not have some symbolism (completeness), but we have to be very careful when invoking "numerology," unless the context or cross references give us clear guidance in interpretation, lest our interpretation become too "fanciful."

Leviticus 23:19 'You shall also offer one male goat for a sin offering and two male lambs one year old for a sacrifice of peace offerings.

  • one male goat: Lev 4:23-28 16:15 Nu 15:24 28:30 Ro 8:3 2Co 5:21
  • lambs: Lev 3:1-17 Lev 7:11-18
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Leviticus 23:20 'The priest shall then wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering with two lambs before the LORD; they are to be holy to the Lord for the priest.

  • wave them: Lev 23:17 7:29,30 Ex 29:24 Lk 2:14 Eph 2:14
  • holy to: Lev 7:31-34 Lev 8:29 10:14,15 Nu 18:8-12 Dt 18:4 1Co 9:11
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Leviticus 23:21 'On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.

  • proclamation: Lev 23:2,4 Ex 12:16 Dt 16:11 Isa 11:10
  • statute: Lev 23:14 Ge 17:7 Ex 12:17 Nu 18:23
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Leviticus 23:22 'When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God.'

  • Lev 19:9,10 Dt 16:11-14 Dt 24:19-21 Ru 2:3-7,15,16-23 Job 31:16-21 Ps 41:1-3 Ps 112:9 Pr 11:24,25 Isa 58:7,8,10 Lk 11:41 2Co 9:5-12
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

A wonderful example of Old Testament "Social Security!"


Leviticus 23:23 Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

Leviticus 23:24 "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.

  • Seventh: Nu 10:10 Nu 29:1-6 1Chr 15:28 2Chr 5:13 Ezra 3:6 Ps 81:1-4 Ps 98:6 Isa 27:13 1Co 15:52 1Th 4:16
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


HCSB - "Tell the Israelites: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you are to have a day of complete rest, commemoration and jubilation-- a sacred assembly.

NET "Tell the Israelites, 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you must have a complete rest, a memorial announced by loud horn blasts, a holy assembly.

NJB 'Speak to the Israelites and say: "The first day of the seventh month will be a day of rest for you, of remembrance and acclamation, a sacred assembly.

Young's Literal 'Speak unto the sons of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first of the month, ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of shouting, a holy convocation;

In the seventh month on the first of the month - First of Tishri. The seventh month marked the end of Israel's agricultural year and beginning of a new one (for it was the time they had "gathered in the crops of the land" - Lev 23:39). It was a time when physical work was considerably lessened, so that it provided a good time for some "work" on their spirituality! Have you set aside some times to "cease striving" and to focus on God through His Word? And the 3 Fall festivals were in some ways also more solemn than the feasts in the Spring. In fact in modern Judaism, the time of the 3 Fall feasts is known as "High Holidays" or "High Holy Days" or more properly as "Days of Awe" (Yamin Noraim)

Mitch Glaser - The restrictions were not as stringent as those on the weekly Sabbath or the Day of Atonement, but regular duties and everyday jobs could not be carried out. The preoccupations of daily life receded into the background as all thoughts turned to the days ahead, to the coming Day of Atonement.

Rest (07677)(shabbathon from shabath = to cease, desist, rest) most often meant a time to rest, a special holiday, a day of rest, a Sabbath feast. Every used of shabbathon is translated in the Septuagint (Lxx) with the noun anapausis, which means a ceasing from activity (an interruption) or a resting from labor or carrying burdens (used by Jesus in Mt 11:29).

Shabbathon - 10v - translated in NAS as complete rest(4), rest(4), sabbath observance(1), sabbatical(1), solemn rest(1).

Exodus 16:23 then he said to them, "This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance (Shabbathon), a holy sabbath (shabbath) to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning."

Exodus 31:15 'For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath (shabbath) of complete rest, holy to the LORD; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death.

Exodus 35:2 "For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a sabbath (shabbath) of complete rest to the LORD; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.

Leviticus 16:31 "It is to be a sabbath (shabbath) of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute.

Leviticus 23:3 'For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath (shabbath) of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath (shabbath) to the LORD in all your dwellings.

24 "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.

32 "It is to be a sabbath (shabbath) of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath (shabbath)."

39 'On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day.

Leviticus 25:4 but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath (shabbath) rest, a sabbath (shabbath) to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.

5 'Your harvest's after growth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year.

Reminder (memorial) (02146)(zikkaron from zakar = to remember) means a memorial, a remembrance (with an implication of honor, worship, and celebration), a record, a reminder. That by which the memory of a person or thing is preserved. Something that keeps remembrance vivid. A memorial is a monument, statue, holiday, or ritual that serves as a remembrance or reminder of a person or an event. The Feast of the Passover was a memorial of God’s sparing the firstborn of the Israelites in Egypt and of Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage (Ex. 12:14). Twelve stones served to remind Israel of God's bringing them into the Promised Land (Josh 4:7, cp Josh 4:9) The two engraved stones upon the shoulder pieces of the high priest’s ephod were stones of memorial (Ex. 28:12 cp names engraved upon the jewels of breastplate Ex 28:29). In Numbers 5:15, the sacrifice in the case of jealousy was called a memorial because it brought iniquity to remembrance! Zikkaron also referred to a record as a memorial or thing to be remembered (Ex. 17:14; Mal. 3:16).

Another Hebrew word for Memorial (0234) = azkarah

Septuagint (Lxx) translates azkarah with the noun mnemosunon - a memorial (that by which the memory of any person or thing is preserved) and so a remembrance. It also speaks of something that is done that causes someone not to be forgotten (I wonder how often in the day I "forget" God?) (Mt 26:13) Mnemosunon is also used of prayers recorded or kept in mind by God. “Your (Peter, context - Acts 10:1-3) prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God" (Acts 10.4) Vine adds that mnemosunon "denotes "a memorial," that which keeps alive the memory of someone or something (from mnemon, "mindful"), Matthew 26:13; Mark 14:9; Acts 10:4. (Memorial - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words)

Note that in many of the uses, this reminder does not refer simply to a recollection of something, but to a recollection or recall which affects one's present feelings, thoughts and actions! As an aside how often do you (I) pause to "count" (recollect) our blessings (those things in our life where we experienced the Lord's hand in a powerful way, be it a deliverance from danger or distress or a sense of His comforting presence and power? O dear God, help our short memories of Your abundant lovingkindnesses, goodness and graces in and through Christ. Amen

Memorial - That which preserves the memory of something; any thing that serves to keep in memory. A monument is a memorial of a deceased person, or of an event. The Lord’s supper is a memorial of the death and sufferings of Christ. Any note or hint to assist the memory. (Webster-1828) Manser adds that a memorial is "An object, institution or custom established or founded as a reminder of an important person or event held to be worth remembering in the life of the community." (Dictionary of Bible Themes)

Zikkaron - 22v - translated in NAS - memorable sayings(1), memorial(12), records(1), remembrance(4), reminder(5), sign(1).

Exodus 12:14 'Now this day (Passover) will be a memorial (Lxx = mnemosunon = a memorial, of what is done that causes someone to not be forgotten) to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.

Exodus 13:9 "And it (observance of the feast of unleavened bread - it was not actual hand or forehead reminders -- although such was the case in De 6:8, 11:18) shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder (Lxx = mnemosunon = a memorial, of what is done that causes someone to not be forgotten) on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt.

Exodus 17:14 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this in a book as a memorial (Lxx = mnemosunon = a memorial, of what is done that causes someone to not be forgotten) and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven."

Exodus 28:12 "You shall put the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of memorial for the sons of Israel, and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders for a memorial (Lxx = mnemosunon = a memorial, of what is done that causes someone to not be forgotten).

29 "Aaron shall carry the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment over his heart when he enters the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually.

Exodus 30:16 "You shall take the atonement money from the sons of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial (Lxx = mnemosunon = a memorial, of what is done that causes someone to not be forgotten) for the sons of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement for yourselves."

Exodus 39:7 And he placed them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as memorial stones for the sons of Israel, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Leviticus 23:24 "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder (Lxx = mnemosunon = a memorial, of what is done that causes someone to not be forgotten) by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.

Numbers 5:15 the man shall then bring his wife to the priest, and shall bring as an offering for her one-tenth of an ephah of barley meal; he shall not pour oil on it nor put frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of memorial (zikkaron), a reminder (zakar) of iniquity.

18 'The priest shall then have the woman stand before the LORD and let the hair of the woman's head go loose, and place the grain offering of memorial in her hands, which is the grain offering of jealousy, and in the hand of the priest is to be the water of bitterness that brings a curse.

Numbers 10:10 "Also in the day of your gladness and in your appointed feasts, and on the first days of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be as a reminder of you before your God. I am the LORD your God."

Numbers 16:40 as a reminder (Lxx = mnemosunon = a memorial, of what is done that causes someone to not be forgotten) to the sons of Israel that no layman who is not of the descendants of Aaron should come near to burn incense before the LORD; so that he will not become like Korah and his company-- just as the LORD had spoken to him through Moses.

Numbers 31:54 So Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold from the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it to the tent of meeting as a memorial (Lxx = mnemosunon = a memorial, of what is done that causes someone to not be forgotten) for the sons of Israel before the LORD.

Joshua 4:7 then you shall say to them, 'Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.' So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever."

Nehemiah 2:20 So I answered them and said to them, "The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right or memorial (Lxx = mnemosunon = a memorial, of what is done that causes someone to not be forgotten) in Jerusalem."

Esther 6:1 During that night the king could not sleep so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king.

Job 13:12 "Your memorable sayings are proverbs of ashes, Your defenses are defenses of clay.

Ecclesiastes 1:11 There is no remembrance (Lxx = mneme = memory, recollection) of earlier things (context of Eccl 1:3-11 focuses on human achievement = earlier things); And also of the later things which will occur, There will be for them no remembrance Among those who will come later still.

Ecclesiastes 2:16 For there is no lasting remembrance (Lxx = mneme = memory, recollection) of the wise man as with the fool, inasmuch as in the coming days all will be forgotten. And how the wise man and the fool alike die!

Comment: This raw truth should make us all the more diligent to redeem the time and store up for ourselves treasures in heaven rather than treasures on earth, for the world is passing away and even its lusts (strong desires).

Isaiah 57:8 "Behind the door and the doorpost You have set up your sign (Lxx = mnemosunon = a memorial, of what is done that causes someone to not be forgotten); Indeed, far removed from Me, you have uncovered yourself, And have gone up and made your bed wide. And you have made an agreement for yourself with them, You have loved their bed, You have looked on their manhood.

Zechariah 6:14 "Now the crown will become a reminder in the temple of the LORD to Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen the son of Zephaniah.

Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance (Lxx = mnemosunon = a memorial, of what is done that causes someone to not be forgotten) was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name.

Blowing [of trumpets] (see word study on "blowing" below) - NET Note - Although the term for "horn" does not occur here, allowing for the possibility that vocal "shouts" of acclamation are envisioned… the "blast" of the shofar (a trumpet made from a ram's "horn") is most likely what is intended. On this occasion, the loud blasts on the horn announced the coming of the new year on the first day of the seventh month.

Holy convocation - Not just any assembly but a holy (qodesh; Lxx - hagios) assembly, one set apart from what is profane and common.

Convocation (04744)(miqra') is an assembly of persons. Convocation is from Latin com = together and vocare = to call.

This instruction in Lev 23:24 is amplified in the book of Numbers…

Now in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall also have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. It will be to you a day for blowing trumpets (Heb = = blowing, no definite word for "trumpets" in Hebrew. Lxx has "hemera onmasia" = "a day of shouting"). 2 ‘And you shall offer a burnt offering as a soothing aroma to the LORD: one bull, one ram, [and] seven male lambs one year old without defect; 3 also their grain offering, fine flour mixed with oil, three-tenths [of an] [ephah] for the bull, two-tenths for the ram, 4 and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs. 5 ‘And [offer] one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you, 6 besides the burnt offering of the new moon, and its grain offering, and the continual burnt offering and its grain offering, and their libations, according to their ordinance, for a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the LORD. (Nu 29:1-6)

“Also in the day of your gladness and in your appointed feasts, and on the first [days] of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be as a reminder of you before your God. I am the LORD your God.” (Nu 10:10)

Comment: Note that the beginning of every month was signaled by the blowing of a trumpet. And why? The text says so that they might be remembered before God!

Dennis Cole explains the phrase "as a reminder of you before your God": Whole burnt offerings for consecrative atonement and peace offerings for community celebration were accompanied by the long blast of the silver trumpets during the pilgrimage festivals of Passover, Pentecost (Shavuoth), and tabernacles (Booths), and during the monthly New Moon rites. In the context of battle, the trumpets served as a prayer by which the covenant relationship between God and Israel was invoked, and thus they reminded soldiers that God remembers and delivers his people. (The battle context is echoed in the war of Abijah vs. Jeroboam I [2Chr 13:12–18]. Victory came as they relied on the Lord for the victory rather than on their military prowess.) The covenant themes of remembrance, deliverance, and blessing provide continuity with other portions of the Pentateuch. These themes appear from Noah (Gen 8:1; 9:1–17), to Abraham (Ge 19:29), to Rachel (Ge 30:22), to the Israelites in Egypt (Ex 2:24), and even into the realm of exile (Lev 26:40–45). The connection between festival rejoicing and battling against one’s enemies echoes the words of the covenant reiteration in Ex 34:22–24. The concluding phrase of the Sinai cycles, “I am Yahweh your God,” sets forth in profoundly plain terms the sovereignty of God over the nation. As Harrison notes, “He is the supreme Lord and ruler of His people Israel. The nation is the visible expression of His existence, personality, and saving power. Without Him they are meaningless, but they have been chosen specifically out of His abundant love to be a witness to the surrounding nations because of their constitution as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exod 19:6).” (New American Commentary - Numbers)

Josephus describes the trumpets that Moses instructed Israel to blow…

He (Moses) also invented a kind of trumpet, making it of silver, and it is as follows: it had a length a little short of a cubit; it is a narrow tube, a little thicker than a flute, and having a width sufficient for the mouthpiece for the reception of breath, terminating in a bell very similarly to trumpets. It is called asosra in the tongue of the Hebrews. (Flavius Josephus: Translation and Commentary, Volume 3: Judean Antiquities Books 1-4)

A reminder by blowing of trumpets (Literally = "a memorial of shouting") - As noted "of trumpets" is added by the translators. However, the Septuagint (Lxx) translates the Hebrew text with the noun salpigx which is the Greek word for a trumpet. This same Greek word is first used Exodus 19, the blowing of this trumpet being associated with "thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain (Mt Sinai) and a very loud trumpet sound." (Ex 19:16, cp Ex 19:19, 20:18) The Hebrew word for "trumpet" in Ex 19:16 is shophar (07782). Therefore it would be reasonable to translate Lev 23:34 by adding the phrase "of trumpets" which is most likely an allusion to the blowing of the shophar . There is however one caveat -- There is another word translated "trumpet" = hasosra [026809 - click for all uses] and it is also translated in the Lxx with salpigx. However, this Hebrew word is not used in Exodus or Leviticus so it is probably not the trumpet intended in Lev 23:24. The only use of the Hebrew word for shophar in Leviticus is found in Leviticus 25:9 in a reference to the Day of Atonement in the context of the Year of Jubilee.

You shall then (Don't miss this "expression of time" - Always ask "When is then?" Answer - Read Lev 25:8) sound a ram’s horn (shophar; Lxx = salpigx = Greek for trumpet) abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land.

Blowing (0929)(teruah from rua = to shout, raise a sound, cry out) refers to a shout or blast denoting war, alarm or joy.

William White - There are four distinct senses in which (teruah) is used. It is used for "signal" (Lev 25:9), the "sound of the trumpet" for the blowing of the shofar on the day of atonement. It is used for "alarm" as in case of attack (Joshua 6:5; Jeremiah 4:19). In addition, it is used for the trumpet in the tumult of the battle, (Amos 2:2). Lastly, the noun is used for the exultation of praise to God, (Psalm 150:3). (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)

Baker on teruah - A feminine noun indicating a shout of joy; a shout of alarm, a battle cry. It refers to a loud, sharp shout or cry in general, but it often indicates a shout of joy or victory (1 Sam. 4:5, 6); a great shout anticipating a coming event (Josh. 6:5, 20). It can refer to the noise or signal put out by an instrument (Lev. 23:24; 25:9). Amos used the word to refer to war cries (Amos 1:14; 2:2; cf. Job 39:25; Zeph. 1:16). The Lord puts shouts of joy into His people (Job 8:21; 33:26). (The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament)

Teruah - 32v translated in NAS as - alarm(5), battle cry(2), blowing(1), blowing trumpets(1), joy(1), joyful sound(1), resounding(1), shout(10), shout of alarm(1), shout of joy(1), shouted(1), shouting(4), shouts of joy(1), signal(1), trumpet blast(1), war cries(2), war cry(1).

Leviticus 23:24 "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.

Numbers 10:5 "But when you blow (Lxx = salpizo = blow a trumpet) an alarm, the camps that are pitched on the east side shall set out. 6 "When you blow an alarm the second time, the camps that are pitched on the south side shall set out; an alarm is to be blown for them to set out.

Numbers 23:21 "He has not observed misfortune in Jacob; Nor has He seen trouble in Israel; The LORD his God is with him, And the shout of a king is among them.

Numbers 29:1 'Now in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall also have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. It will be to you a day for blowing trumpets.

Numbers 31:6 Moses sent them, a thousand from each tribe, to the war, and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war with them, and the holy vessels and the trumpets for the alarm (Lxx = onmasia = signal, shouting) in his hand.

Joshua 6:5 "It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout (Lxx = anakrazo = cry out, Mk 1:23, Lk 23:18); and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead."

Joshua 6:20 So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout (Lxx = alalage = loud noise or sound) and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city.

1 Samuel 4:5 As the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout (Lxx = phone = sound), so that the earth resounded. 6 When the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, "What does the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?" Then they understood that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp.

2 Samuel 6:15 So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouting and the sound of the trumpet.

1 Chronicles 15:28 Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting (Lxx = krauge = several voices speaking loudly, shouting), and with sound of the horn, with trumpets, with loud-sounding cymbals, with harps and lyres.

2 Chronicles 13:12 "Now behold, God is with us at our head and His priests with the signal (Lxx = onmasia = signal, shouting) trumpets to sound the alarm against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD God of your fathers, for you will not succeed."

2 Chronicles 15:14 Moreover, they made an oath to the LORD with a loud voice, with shouting (Lxx = phone = sound), with trumpets and with horns.

Ezra 3:11 They sang, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, saying, "For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever." And all the people shouted with a great shout (Lxx = phone = sound) when they praised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 12 Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy,13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.

Job 8:21 "He will yet fill your mouth with laughter And your lips with shouting.

Job 33:26 Then he will pray to God, and He will accept him, That he may see His face with joy, And He may restore His righteousness to man.

Job 39:25 "As often as the trumpet sounds he says, 'Aha!' And he scents the battle from afar, And the thunder of the captains and the war cry.

Psalm 27:6 And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy (Lxx = alalagmos =shouting); I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.

Psalm 33:3 Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy (Lxx = alalagmos =shouting).

Psalm 47:5 God has ascended with a shout (Lxx = alalagmos =shouting), The LORD, with the sound of a trumpet.

Psalm 89:15 How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound (Lxx = alalagmos =shouting)! O LORD, they walk in the light of Your countenance.

Psalm 150:5 Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding (Lxx = alalagmos = shouting) cymbals.

Jeremiah 4:19 My soul, my soul! I am in anguish! Oh, my heart! My heart is pounding in me; I cannot be silent, Because you have heard, O my soul, The sound of the trumpet, The alarm (Lxx = krauge = several voices speaking loudly) of war.

Jeremiah 20:16 But let that man be like the cities Which the LORD overthrew without relenting, And let him hear an outcry in the morning And a shout of alarm (Lxx = alalagmos =shouting) at noon;

Jeremiah 49:2 "Therefore behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "That I will cause a trumpet blast (Lxx = akoutizo = cause to hear) of war to be heard Against Rabbah of the sons of Ammon; And it will become a desolate heap, And her towns will be set on fire. Then Israel will take possession of his possessors," Says the LORD.

Ezekiel 21:22 "Into his right hand came the divination, 'Jerusalem,' to set battering rams, to open the mouth for slaughter, to lift up the voice with a battle cry, to set battering rams against the gates, to cast up ramps, to build a siege wall.

Amos 1:14 "So I will kindle a fire on the wall of Rabbah And it will consume her citadels Amid war cries (Lxx = krauge = several voices speaking loudly) on the day of battle, And a storm on the day of tempest.

Amos 2:2 "So I will send fire upon Moab And it will consume the citadels of Kerioth; And Moab will die amid tumult, With war cries (Lxx = krauge = several voices speaking loudly) and the sound of a trumpet.

Zephaniah 1:16 A day of trumpet and battle cry (Lxx = krauge = several voices speaking loudly) Against the fortified cities And the high corner towers.

Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah = "Head of the Year") (Lev 23:23-25; Nu 29:1-6) - Note that neither the name "Feast of Trumpets" nor "Rosh Hashanah" are found in Scripture, in contrast to other fall feasts such as "Day of Atonement" and "Feast of Tabernacles. The name originates from the instruction "a reminder by blowing" with the word "trumpets" (or shofar) being implied (as explained above).

Mitch Glaser, a Jewish believer, and president of Chosen People Ministry, explains that "When the Month of Tishri arrives, the feast of Rosh Hashanah begins the sober countdown to Yom Kippur known as the Ten Days of Awe. During these days, the Jewish people are commanded by the rabbis to begin the process of repentance: “The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel: Remake yourselves by repentance during the ten days between New Year’s Day and the Day of Atonement, and on the Day of Atonement I will hold you guiltless, regarding you as a newly made creature” (Pesikta Rabbati 40:5)… The Ten Days of Repentance conclude on the tenth of Tishri (Yom Kippur). A moving confession of sins (the Viddui) is recited ten times on the Day of Atonement to coincide with the tradition that the Temple high priest pronounced the name of God ten times when he invoked divine pardon (Yoma 39b). Yom Kippur also recalls the Ten Commandments, which, according to Jewish tradition, are personified and serve as advocates before the supreme judge on behalf of the children of Israel. Judaism teaches that on the first day of Tishri, the New Year, a heavenly judgment takes place; the sentence for the coming year hangs in the balance during the next ten days and is finally sealed on the Day of Atonement. During these ten days, the religious often fast in contrition until noon, except on the Sabbath and on the eve of Yom Kippur, days on which fasting is prohibited. (The Fall Feasts Of Israel- Mitch Glaser, Zhava Glaser)

The first day of the 7th month (Tishri) marked the Feast of Trumpets, which included a Sabbath rest, the blowing of trumpets, and a holy convocation. As as aside the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles speak of events associated with the Second Coming of Christ. This may be why these three Fall feasts are separated by a long interval from the four Spring feasts.

by Tracey R Rich


Judaism 101 says "Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year." Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. This name is somewhat deceptive, because there is little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, and the American midnight drinking bash and daytime football game. There is, however, one important similarity between the Jewish New Year and the American one: Many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, making "resolutions." Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year. More on this concept at Days of Awe (see below)…

Another popular practice of the holiday (Rosh Hashanah) is Tashlikh ("casting off"). We walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty our pockets into the river, symbolically casting off our sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off. This practice is not discussed in the Bible, but is a long-standing custom. Tashlikh is normally observed on the afternoon of the first day, before afternoon services. When the first day occurs on Shabbat, many synagogues observe Tashlikh on Sunday afternoon, to avoid carrying (the bread) on Shabbat." (Judaism 101- Rosh Hashanah)

Walter Kaiser comments on the "Casting Off" of sins described above - "The last three verses of this book (Micah 7:18-20) are linked with the book of Jonah for the afternoon reading in the synagogue on Yom Kipper, the “Day of Atonement.” Once every year, on Ros Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the orthodox Jew goes to a stream or river and symbolically empties his sins from his pockets into the water as he recites Micah 7:18–20 (Micah 7:18-20 Commentary). This is the Tashlich service, named after the word “You will cast.” (shalak) It symbolizes the fact that God can and will take our sins, wash them down the streams of running water and bury them deep in the depths of the ocean. God not only forgives our sins, He also forgets them. If some object that God cannot forget our sins if He is omniscient, let it be remembered that what He does when He forgets our sins is remember them against us no more!)


Days of Awe = The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are commonly known as the Days of Awe [Yamim Noraim] or the Days of Repentance. This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur. One of the ongoing themes of the Days of Awe is the concept that G-d has "books" that he writes our names in, writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter G-d's decree. The actions that change the decree are "teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah," repentance, prayer, good deeds (usually, charity). These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur. This concept of writing in books is the source of the common greeting during this time is "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year." Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible. (Judaism 101- Days of Awe)


Another custom observed during this time is kapparot. This is rarely practiced today, and is observed in its true form only by Chasidic and occasionally Orthodox Jews. Basically, you purchase a live fowl, and on the morning before Yom Kippur you wave it over your head reciting a prayer asking that the fowl be considered atonement for sins. The fowl is then slaughtered and given to the poor (or its value is given). Some Jews today simply use a bag of money instead of a fowl. Most Reform and Conservative Jews have never even heard of this practice. (Judaism 101- Days of Awe)

M R De Haan comments related to "Kapparot" - What is the future hope of those who rejecting Jesus as Messiah—still have no temple, no priest, and no Yom Kippur sacrifice to assure them of God’s mercy and forgiveness? Can they find assurance in their repentance, prayer, and good deeds, hoping that God will forgive? Moses said: "The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul." (Lev. 17:11). After the temple was destroyed in AD 70, the rabbis from the known world gathered for a council—the Yavneh Council. Their purpose was to decide the future of Jewish worship without priesthood or sacrifices. The religious customs established at Yavneh are the basis of modern rabbinic Judaism and have remained relatively unchanged over nearly 2,000 years. Rabbi Yochanan Ben-Zakkai, the most influential member of the council and still a widely studied commentator, appears to have exhibited little confidence in the new synagogue system’s ability to save his soul from judgment. On his deathbed, the rabbi is quoted as saying, “Now I am being led before the supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, who lives and endures for ever and ever. If He is angry with me, He is angry forever. If He imprisons me, He imprisons me forever. If He puts me to death, He puts me to death forever. I cannot persuade Him with words or bribe Him with money. Moreover, there are two ways ahead of me: one leads to Paradise and the other to Hell, and I do not know which one will take me. How can I do anything but weep?” (B’rakhot 28b Talmud). Yet, in fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, there is evidence declaring that God has not left us without hope or atonement. He has not left us devoid of hope, without sacrifice, or without a way of apprehending His mercy. In the pictures of the Akeida, and in the pictures of the sin offering of Yom Kippur, we can see the character and foreshadowing of God’s Messiah, our assurance of salvation. These pictures are not just remarkable parallels or coincidences. They are God’s revelation to Israel—and to all nations. (For the complete discussion see booklet - The Holidays Of God- The Spring Feasts)

Mitch Glaser comments on the Kapparot - Another custom that was practiced by the masses but has largely become a thing of the past (except among orthodox communities) is the ritual of kapparot. In remembrance of the ancient Temple sacrifice, a pious Jew would take a white fowl (a rooster for males and a hen for females) and wave it over his head three times, while reciting the following formula: “This is a substitute for me; this is in exchange for me; this is my atonement. This cock (or hen) shall be consigned to death, while I shall have a long and pleasant life and peace.” The bird was then slaughtered and given to the poor or eaten for the evening meal and its value contributed to the less fortunate. Some religious modern-day Jews, while not actually performing this ritual, nevertheless participate in a less bloody form: a handkerchief with money tied in it is swung around the head three times while a similar phrase is recited. The ceremony of kapparot is a substitutionary sacrifice. That is precisely the reason learned rabbis have opposed it through the ages. Faced with the immense popularity of the tradition, yet knowing that the Bible forbade sacrifice outside of the Temple, the rabbis attempted to limit and control the similarities between the kapparot ceremony and the Temple sacrifices. Nevertheless, in the minds of many pious Jews, the kapparot filled the vacuum left by the destruction of the Temple. It points to the continuing role of substitutionary atonement in Judaism. (Ed comment: And this of course points to the Messiah, God in the flesh, the perfect Passover Lamb [1Cor 5:7, 1Pe 1:18-19], the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world [Jn 1:29], and although He "knew no sin," He was made to be "sin on our behalf" [Our Substitute = He died in our place in time that we would not have to die in eternity], "that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." [2Cor 5:21]) (The Fall Feasts Of Israel- Mitch Glaser, Zhava Glaser)

Leviticus 23:25 'You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD.'"

Leviticus 23:26 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

Leviticus 23:27 "On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD.

  • tenth: Lev 16:29,30 Lev 25:9 Nu 29:7-11
  • humble: Lev 16:31 Nu 29:7 Ezr 8:21 Ps 35:13 Isa 58:5 Da 10:2,3 Zec 12:10 Acts 2:37,38 2Co 7:10,11 Jas 4:9
  • offering: Lev 16:11,15,24
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

"Yom ha-Kippurim"
Day of Atonement

Freeman - This shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. The Great Day of Atonement took place on the tenth day of the seventh month, Tisri, corresponding to our October. It was a day of great solemnity, especially designated and kept as a fast day, (see Lev 23:27; Nu 29:7 ; comp. Ps. 35:13 Isa. 58:5,) and in later times was known by the name of The Fast. Acts 27:9. On this day the high priest, clad in plain white linen garments, brought for himself a young bullock for a sin-offering and a ram for a burnt-offering; and for the people two young goats for a sin-offering, and a ram for a burnt-offering. The two goats were brought before the door of the Tabernacle, and by the casting of lots one was designated for sacrifice and the other for a scape-goat. The high priest then slaughtered the bullock and made a sin-offering for himself and family. He next entered the Most Holy Place for the first time, bearing a censer with burning coals, with which he filled the place with incense. Taking the blood of the slain bullock, he entered the Most Holy Place the second time, and there sprinkled the blood before the mercy-seat. He next killed the goat which was for the people s sin-offering, and, entering the Most Holy Place the third time, sprinkled its blood as he had sprinkled that of the bullock. Some of the blood of the two animals was then put on the horns of the altar of incense, and sprinkled on the altar itself. After this the high priest, putting his hands on the head of the scape-goat, confessed the sins of the people, and then sent him off into the wilderness. He then washed himself, and changed his garments, arraying himself in the beautiful robes of his high office, and offered the two rams as burnt-offerings for himself and for the people. Lev 16. (Manners and Customs 1875)

The "futility" of the Day of Atonement - Ever since the destruction of the Jewish Temple by the Romans in AD70, their required sacrifices have been arbitrarily eliminated, so that the observance of this day can have no "atoning" value for them in reality (See Hosea 3:4).

Following is adapted from M R De Haan II - The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts’” (Lev. 23:1-2). With these words, the Lord of Israel established an annual cycle of holidays that are still observed in Jewish communities all over the world. Whether these communities are Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform; whether they are Russian, Yemenite, or American, these feasts form a common thread in global Jewish culture. In the Hebrew language, the word for “My feasts,” pronounced mo-a-deem, literally means “appointed times” or “appointed feasts.” In Jewish culture these “appointed times of the Lord” are important for many reasons. These events, as listed in Leviticus 23, are part of a national system of “time-outs.” Together they provide weekly, monthly, and yearly rests from the common routines of daily life. They also provide a preplanned schedule for reflection and worship. These “holidays of God” are sacred convocations that summoned a nation not only to the grandeur and majesty of the temple, but also to quiet and simple worship in the home. Together these “appointed times of the Lord” give every home, whether rich or poor, an occasion to remember the holiness, power, and longsuffering love of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It’s important for us to understand, however, that this cycle of holidays is not just about Jewish culture. Even though they are linked to the harvest cycle of the land of Israel, and even though the festival calendar is used to retell stories of Jewish life and origins, these holidays provide a panorama of history that has strong implications for all of the families of the earth. Seen individually and together, these feasts paint a compelling picture of the past, present, and future work of a Messiah who is the source of life, hope, and peace for all the nations of the world.

As in the Spring Feasts, many Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus share the conviction that the first phase of Messiah’s deliverance has been recorded on the center page of human history. According to a group of Jewish eyewitnesses, the plan of God was revealed during the holy days of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost. With a sudden turn of events, the first four feasts of Israel took on the personality of a miracle worker who bore the marks of God’s Messiah. On Passover, Jesus became the sacrificial Lamb whose blood marked all who believe in Him for deliverance. During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, He died to take away our sin and to give us, in the place of our own efforts,the “bread” (life-sustaining provision) of His eternal presence. On the Feast of Firstfruits, He arose from the dead to show that it was by God’s power that He carried out our rescue. Then 50 days later on the Feast of Pentecost (also known as the Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot), Jesus sent His Spirit to show His presence with all who are willing to stake their lives on Him.

Yom Kippur (literally "day of covering”) falls on the tenth day of the month of Tishri and brings to a close the period of repentance begun on Rosh Hashanah. On this national Day of Atonement, the high priest of the temple used compelling and colorful ritual to show God’s willingness to forgive the sins of the previous year. Seven days before Yom Kippur, every effort was taken to ensure that the high priest was kept in a state of ritual purity. On this day of days, he would undergo five immersions and have an entourage of about 500 Levites with him everywhere he went, to help guard him from anything that might render him “unclean.” On every other day of the year, the high priest dressed in his formal uniform, which included the golden crown, colorful robes, a breastplate, and jewels inscribed with the names of the tribes of Israel. On the Day of Atonement, however, he set aside his normal splendor and wore only a white linen robe, which was symbolic of purity. Because the Day of Atonement was a day of sacrifice, the high priest’s white linen robe was soon spattered with blood. To atone for his own sins, he sacrificed a bull before the Lord. Then to atone for the sins of the nation, the high priest took two kid goats and cast lots to determine their fate. Depending on how the lots fell, one of the goats was sacrificed as a sin offering for the nation. When this sacrificial goat was appointed, the high priest pronounced, “For Jehovah,” and the throngs of worshipers would fall on their faces and call out, “Blessed be the Name; the glory of His kingdom is forever and ever.” Then the goat was slain. The other goat, known as the Azazel, or scapegoat, became a second picture of national atonement. First the high priest symbolically placed the sins of the nation on the head of the live goat. He did this by laying both of his hands on the goat’s head while confessing the sins of the people. Then, with the sins of the people on the head of the goat, the high priest sent the Azazel off into the wilderness. It was a dramatic picture of God’s willingness to separate His people from their sins. In the second temple period (515 BC to AD 70), the scapegoat was led to a cliff and forced over the brink to make sure it didn’t return. Then, only on this one day of the year, the high priest risked his life to carry the blood of the sacrificed animal into the Most Holy Place of the Lord’s house of worship. Going behind the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, the high priest entered the presence of God to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the golden Mercy Seat that covered the Ark of the Covenant. If any aspect of the ritual was not fulfilled according to God’s instructions (Lev. 16), the high priest could be struck dead. Only when the high priest came out alive did the nation rejoice that for one more year God had accepted the sacrifice for their sins. An additional fact about the scapegoat is worth noting. In the second temple period, the Talmud records that the Levites tied a scarlet thread of wool around a horn of the Azazel. After the goat was driven off a cliff, witnesses were sent to examine the thread. For centuries, this thread is reported to have miraculously turned white, indicating that God had accepted their sacrifice and forgiven the nation of Israel. It was believed that this was in fulfillment of Isaiah 1:18, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” The Jewish Talmud records, however, that 40 years before the destruction of the second temple, the thread ceased to turn white. Is it a mere coincidence that at the same time as the death and resurrection of Jesus, around AD 30, the rabbis themselves took note of the fact that the Most High began rejecting the Azazel sacrifice?

YOM KIPPUR: LOOKING BACK - Many believers of both Jewish and Gentile origin see in the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement a foreshadowing of a Messiah who would come to make atonement for our sins. Many believe that Isaiah 53 speaks of this suffering Savior when it says, “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand” (Isa 53:10). The message seems to be that our Messiah is pictured as both the sin offering and the Azazel, carrying our sins off into the wilderness of Gehenna (hell) so that our scarlet sins could be white as snow, and so that our sins could be wiped away before the Judge of all the earth. That God would accept a messianic sacrifice for sin is still a difficult concept for Jewish people to believe. Yet the concept of such a sacrifice is rooted in the Jewish theology of rabbinic commentaries. The following quote comes from The Stone Edition: The Chumash, “Why is the death of the righteous mentioned in conjunction with the chapter of the Yom Kippur service? Because just as Yom Kippur brings atonement, so the death of the righteous brings atonement.”

YOM KIPPUR: LOOKING WITHIN - What can Yom Kippur mean for us today? For those who see that the sacrifice for our sins has been made by God’s Messiah once and for all, the truth of Yom Kippur has great meaning. We don’t look back fearfully at the comment of the Talmud that the scarlet thread no longer turned white as proof of God’s forgiveness. Instead, we can reflect back on an empty tomb and on the compelling testimonies of the appearances of the One whose bodily resurrection proved that the price for our sins has been paid in full and that we have been accepted by God. Now we can confess, “Yes, I have gossiped. Yes, I have had lust in my heart. Yes, I have been angry with my brother. Yes, I have been arrogant. Yes, I withheld love from God and sinned against Him in countless ways. Yes, I have withheld love from my neighbors, and sinned against God by not giving others the consideration I want for myself. Yes, I have sinned, but by the blood of His own Messiah, the Father has paid the penalty.” As we have trusted Him, so He has forgiven us. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a day to be mindful of our sin and the offering that was made on our behalf. It is a day to be mindful—and grateful—for the grace afforded through the perfect, everlasting sacrifice, Messiah Jesus.

YOM KIPPUR: LOOKING AHEAD The Day of Atonement also points us to the future. On the heels of a last-days call to repentance there will be a day of final reckoning for all who have not repented of their sins. According to Hebrew prophets, in the last days there will be a great and awesome Day of the Lord that will reveal the judgment that awaits those who have not taken advantage of the atonement of God. Here we can let the Scriptures speak for themselves. The Lord gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it? … The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord (Joel 2:11,31). “Behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” says the Lord of hosts, “that will leave them neither root nor branch” (Mal. 4:1). No one can afford to be “uncovered” or “unatoned for” on the final Yom Kippur. That day will be inexpressibly hopeless for all those who have spent the days of their lives resisting the evidence and claims of God’s Messiah! It will be the kind of regret anticipated by the prophet Zechariah when he wrote: I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. And the land shall mourn, every family by itself (Zech. 12:10-14). (For the complete discussion see booklet - The Holidays Of God- The Spring Feasts)

Atonement (03725)(kippur/kippurim) is a masculine plural noun which refers to an act of reconciliation and is used to describe the Day of Atonement. Swanson adds that kippurim refers to "an act. of ceremonially accounting for wrong done in a covenantal relationship, which causes forgiveness, pardon, and right relationship, which may have a possible implication of appeasement or anger (Ex 29:36; 30:10, 16; Nu 5:8; 29:11)" and then adds that "the plural (kippurim) is a marker of a superlative."

Baker - Kippurim is used five times to indicate the act or process of reconciliation: a young bull was sacrificed each day for seven days during the ordination ceremony of Aaron and his sons to make atonement (Ex. 29:36). Once a year, the blood of a sin offering was used to make atonement on the horns of the altar of incense located in front of the Holy of Holies (Ex. 30:10). Ransom money of a half-shekel was used to effect atonement or reconciliation for male Israelites who were at least twenty years old (Ex. 30:16). The money was then used to service the Tent of Meeting. When a person had wronged the Lord or another person, a ram was presented to the priest, along with proper restitution (Num. 5:8); a sin offering for atonement was presented yearly on the Day of Atonement (Num. 29:11). Three times the noun is used to indicate the Day of Atonement itself (Lev. 23:27, 28; 25:9).

Gilbrant - This noun is derived from the verb kāphar, "to make atonement." It is also attested in Middle Hebrew and Jewish Aramaic. The noun is used to denote both the sin offering and the Day of Atonement. The relationship of the sin offering and the Day of Atonement is clear. The purpose of cleansing the Temple of the accumulated sin of the priests is much the same process as an offering for cleansing a person guilty of sin. The noun is used in the context of sin offerings in three occurrences (Ex. 29:36; Nu 5:8; 29:11). It is used to denote the money collected in the course of taking the census, a fee paid as ransom if the individual was not ritually pure. The purpose of the census was usually military, and one needed to be in a state of ritual purity to engage in military endeavor, for Yahweh was in the camp, fighting for the Israelites, and one could not threaten to contaminate His presence without suffering death. The noun is used to refer to the Day of Atonement in four occurrences. The purification of lamps on this day is mentioned (Ex 30:10). On this day, the people were not to work, but to afflict themselves and make burnt offerings to Yahweh (Lev. 23:27-28). The day, the tenth day of the seventh month, was announced by a trumpet blast (Lev. 25:9). The purpose of the rituals which filled this day was to purify the Temple. (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)

Related Resources:

Kippur - 8v - atonement

Exodus 29:36 "Each day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement (kippur), and you shall purify the altar when you make atonement (kaphar) for it, and you shall anoint it to consecrate it.

Exodus 30:10 (Day of Atonement) "Aaron shall make atonement (kaphar) on its horns once a year (Lev 16:18); he shall make atonement (kaphar) on it with the blood of the sin offering of atonement once a year throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD."

Exodus 30:16 "You shall take the atonement money from the sons of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the sons of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement (kiphar) for yourselves."

Leviticus 23:27 (Day of Atonement) "On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement (yôm hakkippùrîm); it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD. 28 "You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, (kippur) to make atonement (kaphar) on your behalf before the LORD your God.

Leviticus 25:9 (Day of Atonement) 'You shall then sound a ram's horn (Heb = shophar) abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement (kippur) you shall sound a horn all through your land.

Comment: This marks the beginning of the Year of Jubilee, which is the year of liberty that occurs after 49 years ("seven Sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years" Lev 25:8).

Numbers 5:8 'But if the man has no relative to whom restitution may be made for the wrong, the restitution which is made for the wrong must go to the LORD for the priest, besides the ram of atonement (kippur), by which atonement (kaphar) is made for him.

Numbers 29:11 one male goat for a sin offering, besides the sin offering of atonement (kippur) and the continual burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offerings.

Leviticus 23:28 "You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the LORD your God.

  • Lev 16:34 Isa 53:10 Da 9:24 Zec 3:9 Ro 5:10,11 Heb 9:12,26 Heb 10:10,14 1Jn 2:2 1Jn 4:10 1Jn 5:6
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

This passage describes the Day of Atonement which is described in detail in Leviticus 16 (see commentary). Here in Leviticus 23, the stress is upon sorrow and repentance of Israel.

Make atonement (03722)(kapar) means to make atonement, to make reconciliation (to reconcile), to purge, to make propitiation (to propitiate), to pacify, to cancel.

There are two main ideas regarding the meaning of kapar - (1) Kapar means to cover over sin (2) A number of resources however favor the idea that kapar means to wipe away. These ideas are discussed more below.

Richards notes that "It is often said that the idea expressed (in kapar) is one found in a possibly related Arabic root that means “to cover or conceal.” Atonement would then denote a covering that conceals a person’s sin and makes it possible for him to approach God. Although this relationship is possible, the language link is not at all certain. What is certain is the role that atonement played in the religion of Israel—a role given to atonement by God to carry a vital message about our faith."

As might be surmised the verb kapar is found most often in the Pentateuch, especially in Leviticus. In Leviticus, kapar is especially prominent in Leviticus 16, occurring 16 times in the great chapter that describes the annual Day of Atonement.

Vine writes that "Most uses of kapar involve the theological meaning of “covering over,” often with the blood of a sacrifice, in order to atone for some sin. It is not clear whether this means that the “covering over” hides the sin from God’s sight or implies that the sin is wiped away in this process."

Mounce writes that while kapar can mean "to cover, to ransom, or to wipe clean/purge, it is the last one that seems most appropriate in the OT."

(1) When kāpar is used in verses not connected with Israel’s sacrificial system, it has the nuance of wiping something clean or appeasing someone. Jacob attempts to appease Esau’s anger (i.e., to wipe the anger off his face) by the enormous gift he has sent on ahead of his actual encounter with him (Gen 32:20). Similarly, a wise man knows how to wipe away a king’s wrath (Pr 16:14).

(2) In Israel’s religious ceremonies other than the Day of Atonement, kāpar usually refers to God’s wiping away our sins through various sacrifices (cf. Lev 1:4; 4:20, 26, 31). Note especially the parallel lines of Jer 18:23: “Do not forgive their crimes or blot out their sins from your sight.” To forgive sins is to blot them out and wipe them clean. As Ps 65:3 attests, when we come to God overwhelmed by our sins, God wipes them clean (KJV, “will purge them away”; NIV “forgave”; cf. Ps 78:38 where "forgave" = kapar).

(3) As described in Lev 16 (kāpar occurs 16x), the Day of Atonement was a day of purging sins from the holy sanctuary. All throughout the year, the priest sprinkled the blood of sacrificial animals in front of the curtain of the sanctuary (e.g., Lev 4:6) and thus symbolically transferred the sins of God’s people into his Holy Place. By the end of the year, that place was, as it were, filled up with all their sins. Something had to be done in order to “clean house”; this was the purpose of the Day of Atonement. Note how in the final stage of this ceremony, the sins of God’s people were placed on the head of the live goat, who then carried them far away into the desert, never to be seen again. There was now “room” for another year’s worth of sin in the Most Holy Place. Jesus, of course, has by his sacrifice taken away our sins once for all (Heb 9–10). See NIDOTTE, 2:699–702. (Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words)

The NET Bible Note (these are usually very good, even if a bit technical) states that the primary sense of the kapar is "to wipe [something off (or on)]" (see esp. the goal of the sin offering, Lev 4, "to purge" the tabernacle from impurities), but in some cases it refers metaphorically to "wiping away" anything that might stand in the way of good relations by bringing a gift (see, e.g., Ge 32:20, "to appease; to pacify" as an illustration of this). The translation "make atonement" has been retained in Leviticus 1:4 because, ultimately, the goal of either purging or appeasing was to maintain a proper relationship between the LORD (Who dwelt in the tabernacle) and Israelites in whose midst the tabernacle was pitched.

Swanson defines kapar -

(1) (piel) make atonement, make amends, pardon, release, appease, forgive, i.e., remove the guilt from a wrongdoing for any length of time (Ex 29:36); (nitpael) atoned for (Dt 21:8); (pual) be atoned for (Ex 29:33; Nu 35:33; Pr 16:6; Isa 6:7; 22:14; 27:9); (hitp) allow for atonement (1Sa 3:14);

(2) (piel) ransom, i.e., pay an amount of money as a gift, with a quid pro quo of so being allowed to keep one’s freedom (Isa 47:11)

(3) (pual) be annulled, i.e., have a relationship or agreement broken (Isa 28:18); 4. LN 57.178–57.185 (piel)

(4) pacify, give a gift, formally, cover the face, i.e., give a gift of tribute which will establish some level of relationship, possibly implying reconciliation (Ge 32:20) (Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew)

Stephen Renn explains that "kapar refers to the process by which the barrier between Yahweh and his people may be removed, or appeasing God’s wrath. For his wrath is the inevitable divine response to the violation of his law. This “appeasement” is synonymous with the concept of “propitiation.” Divine wrath is set aside, however, only if the sacrifice of atonement is offered with a true sprit of repentance and sorrow for sin. Kapar means “to make atonement,” and is almost exclusively confined to the context of worship — where reconciliation with Yahweh is sought through sacrificial offering. Kapar refers to sacrifices for the sins of the priests (Lev 1:4); the Levites (Nu 8:12); the entire Israelite community or nation (Lev 4:20; 10:17; Nu 8:19; 16:47; 1Chr 6:49; 2Ch. 29:24; Neh. 10:33); and the high priest (Lev. 9:7; 16:6ff.). The latter passage is especially significant in that it involves the crucial atoning sacrifices for the ritual leader of the nation as he prepares to offer the sacrifice for the Israelite people on the Day of Atonement. (Expository Dictionary)

The Septuagint - Lxx translates every use of kapar in Leviticus with the verb exilaskomai which means to propitiate, to make atonement, to appease. Thayer says that exilaskomai is used "When one endeavors to attain the goodwill of another, the word can be rendered," meaning to appease. We find such a sense in Ge 32:20 where Jacob seeks to appease his brother Esau (whom he had cheated out of the blessing of the first-born).

On the other hand, the Septuagint - Lxx translates every use of kapar in Exodus with the verb hagiazo which means to sanctify, set apart, make holy.

Here are the cognate (related) words:

ATONEMENT — the act by which God restores a relationship of harmony and unity between Himself and human beings. The word can be broken into three parts that express this great truth in simple but profound terms: “at-one-ment.” Through God’s atoning grace and forgiveness, we are reinstated to a relationship of at-one-ment with God, in spite of our sin… Although Old Testament believers were truly forgiven and received genuine atonement through animal sacrifice, the New Testament clearly states that during the Old Testament period God’s justice was not served: “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Heb. 10:4). Atonement was possible “because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed” (Rom. 3:25). However, God’s justice was served in the death of Jesus Christ as a substitute: “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12). “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant” (Heb. 9:15).(Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary)

ATONEMENT. The word ‘atonement’ is one of the few theological terms which derive basically from Anglo-Saxon. It means ‘a making at one’, and points to a process of bringing those who are estranged into a unity… Its use in theology is to denote the work of Christ in dealing with the problem posed by the sin of man, and in bringing sinners into right relation with God. (New Bible dictionary)

ATONEMENT - The English word atonement is derived from the two words “at onement” and denotes a state of togetherness and agreement between two people. Atonement presupposes two parties that are estranged, with the act of atonement being the reconciliation of them into a state of harmony. The theological meaning is the reconciliation between God and his fallen creation, especially between God and sinful human beings. Atonement is thus a solution to the main problem of the human race-its estrangement from God stemming from the fall of Adam and Eve. (Dictionary of biblical imagery)

ATONEMENT - The root meaning in English, “reparation,” leads to the secondary meaning of reconciliation, or “at-one-ment,” the bringing together into harmony of those who have been separated, enemies. (New International Bible Dictionary)

ATONEMENT In Christian thought, the act by which God and man are brought together in personal relationship. The term is derived from Anglo-Saxon words meaning “making at one,” hence “at-one-ment.” It presupposes a separation or alienation that needs to be overcome if human beings are to know God and have fellowship with him. As a term expressing relationship, atonement is tied closely to such terms as reconciliation and forgiveness. (Tyndale Bible dictionary)

ATONEMENT - Primarily in the Old Testament, atonement refers to the process God established whereby humans could make an offering to God to restore fellowship with God. Such offerings, including both live and dead animals, incense, and money, were required to remove the bad effects of human sin. (Atonement - Holman Bible Dictionary)

English word - Appease = To make quiet; to calm; to reduce to a state of peace; to still; to pacify; as, to appease the tumult of the ocean, or of the passions; to appease hunger or thirst. [This word is of a general application to every thing in a disturbed, ruffled or agitated state.] (Webster - 1828)

English word - Propitiate = To conciliate; to appease one offended and render him favorable; to make propitious. PROPITIATION, 1. The act of appeasing wrath and conciliating the favor of an offended person; the act of making propitious. 2. In theology, the atonement or atoning sacrifice offered to God to assuage his wrath and render him propitious to sinners. (Webster - 1828)

English word - Atonement = Agreement; concord; reconciliation, after enmity or controversy. Expiation; satisfaction or reparation made by giving an equivalent for an injury, or by doing or suffering that which is received in satisfaction for an offense or injury; with for. In theology, the expiation of sin made by the obedience and personal sufferings of Christ. (Webster - 1828)

English word - Expiation - The act of atoning for a crime; the act of making satisfaction for an offense, by which the guilt is done away, and the obligation of the offended person to punish the crime is canceled; atonement; satisfaction. Among pagans and Jews, expiation was made chiefly by sacrifices, or washings and purification. Among Christians, expiation for the sins of men is usually considered as made only by the obedience and sufferings of Christ. 2. The means by which atonement for crimes is made; atonement; as sacrifices and purification among heathens, and the obedience and death of Christ among Christians. 3. Among ancient heathens, an act by which the threats of prodigies were averted. (Webster - 1828)

John Walvoord in a discussion of atonement writes that "Etymologically the English verb “to atone” and the noun “atonement” signify the process and/or result of two estranged persons becoming “at one,” that is, in agreement or reconciled. Biblically the word is used mainly in the OT to describe the result of various Levitical animal sacrifices. “To atone” is a translation of the Hebrew word kápar, “to cover,” and signifies God's temporary dealing with the sins of His people Israel corporately or individually. The sacrifices Israel offered anticipated God's final and permanent dealing with human sin in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross."

Resources on Atonement/Day of Atonement:

Baker writes that "At its most basic level, kapar conveys the notion of covering but not in the sense of merely concealing. Rather, it suggests the imposing of something to change its appearance or nature. It is therefore employed to signify the cancellation or “writing over” of a contract (Isa 28:18); the appeasing of anger (Ge 32:20[21]; Pr. 16:14); and the overlaying of wood with pitch so as to make it waterproof (Ge 6:14) The word also communicates God’s covering of sin. (Ed: See R Laird Harris' comments below on the concept of "covering"). Persons made reconciliation with God for their sins by imposing something that would appease the offended party (in this case the Lord) and cover the sinners with righteousness (Ex. 32:30; Ezek. 45:17; cf. Da 9:24). In the Old Testament, the blood of sacrifices was most notably imposed (Ex. 30:10). By this imposition, sin was purged (Ps. 79:9; Isa. 6:7) and forgiven (Ps 78:38). The offenses were removed, leaving the sinners clothed in righteousness (cf. Zech. 3:3, 4). Of course, the imposition of the blood of bulls and of goats could never fully cover our sin (see Heb 10:4-note), but with the coming of Christ and the imposition of His shed blood, a perfect atonement was made (Ro 5:9–11-note).

Kapar is translated - appease(1), appease*(1), atone(3), atoned(2), atonement is made(1), atonement shall be made(1), atonement was made(1), atoning(1), canceled(1), expiation can be made(1), forgave(1), forgive(4), forgiven(5), made atonement(3), make atonement(71), makes atonement(2), making atonement(1), pardon(1).

Kapar - 94v -

Ge 6:14 Ge 32:20; Exodus 29:33, 36,37; Ex 30:10, 15, 16; 32:30; Leviticus 1:4; 4:20, 26, 31, 35; 5:6, 10, 13, 16, 18; 6:7, 30; 7:7; 8:15, 34; 9:7; 10:17; 12:7, 8; Leviticus 14:18-21, 29, 31, 53; 15:15, 30; Leviticus 16:6, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 20, 24, 27, 30, 32, 33,34; 17:11; 19:22; 23:28; Nu 5:8; 6:11; 8:12, 19, 21; 15:25, 28; 16:46f; 25:13; 28:22, 30; 29:5; 31:50; 35:33; Deut 21:8; 32:43; 1Sa 3:14; 2Sa 21:3; 1Chr 6:49; 2Chr 29:24; 30:18; Neh 10:33; Ps 65:3; 78:38; 79:9; Pr 16:6, 14; Isa 6:7; 22:14; 27:9; 28:18; 47:11; Jer 18:23; Ezek 16:63; 43:20, 26; 45:15, 17, 20; Da 9:24

Gen 6:14 "Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover (kapar) it inside and out with pitch (koper)."

The NAS Concordance does not list Ge 6:14 for the classic sense of to atone or make atonement and distinguishes the use of kapar there as a different word than the other 93 uses in the OT. The following note by Harris attempts to explain the logic, but I must confess (not being a Hebrew scholar) that is a difficult, somewhat technical point.

R Laird Harris (TWOT) feels that the Hebrew verb kapar used here in Ge 6:14 while having the same spelling as the uses of kapar in the following passages, is a separate and distinct Hebrew word with a different derivation. Harris explains that "This denominative verb (kapar) is used only in Ge 6:14 in the waterproofing of the ark. The cognate word is used in the Babylonian flood story."

Harris goes on distinguish between kapar as used in Ge 6:14 and kapar as used in the 93 other OT verses beginning in Ge 32:30 below explaining that kapar (as used in Ge 32:20, Lev 1:4, etc, etc - see all uses below) "should probably be distinguished from kapar “to smear with pitch" (the sense of the word in Ge 6:14)." Harris goes on to explain that "There is an equivalent Arabic root meaning “cover,” or “conceal.” On the strength of this connection it has been supposed that the Hebrew word means “to cover over sin” and thus pacify the deity, making an atonement (so Brown-Driver-Briggs' A Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Old Testament). It has been suggested that the OT ritual symbolized a covering over of sin until it was dealt with in fact by the atonement of Christ. There is, however, very little evidence for this view. The connection of the Arabic word is weak and the Hebrew root is not used to mean “cover.” The Hebrew verb is never used in the simple or Qal stem, but only in the derived intensive stems. These intensive stems often indicate not emphasis, but merely that the verb is derived from a noun whose meaning is more basic to the root idea." Okay, I realize this is very technical (at least it is to me). So what is the point? The point is that the classic understanding of kapar in the many Leviticus uses may not mean "cover over sin" so that God cannot see it (so to speak).

Harris then adds that kōper which is translated pitch is "noun, from which the above verb (koper - to waterproof) was doubtless derived. Pitch, bitumen, asphalt was used in early antiquity as an adhesive to hold inlays into statues. It was a logical material for caulking the ark as specified both in the Bible and the Babylonian flood story."

NET Bible Note - The Hebrew term kapar, "to cover, to smear" [= to caulk] appears here in the Qal stem with its primary, non-metaphorical meaning. The Piel form of kapar is kipper, which has the metaphorical meaning "to atone, to expiate, to pacify," is used in Levitical texts. Some authorities (Ed: I think they are alluding to R Laird Harris) regard the form in Ge 6:14 as a homonym (each of two words having the same spelling but different meanings and different origins) of the much more common Levitical term.

The Greek translation (Septuagint - Lxx) of Genesis 6:14 would tend to support the premise of Harris that Kapar in this passage might not have the meaning of "to cover" because the corresponding Greek verb is asphaltoo which means to smear with pitch or cover with tar and is used only here in Scripture. The Hebrew noun koper translated pitch in Ge 6:14 is translated in the Septuagint - Lxx with the Greek noun asphaltos which means asphalt, bitumen, tar, a kind of petroleum. This Greek word is used in Ge 11:3 and Ge 14:10 in both passages translating chemar, the Hebrew word for tar, asphalt, bitumen.

Gen 32:20 and you shall say, ‘Behold, your servant Jacob also is behind us.’” For he said, “I will appease (Lxx = exilaskomai) him with the present that goes before me. Then afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.”

Ex 29:33 “Thus they shall eat those things by which atonement was made (Lxx = hagiazo = sanctified, set apart, make holy - translated = "by which they have been set apart by") at their ordination [and] consecration; but a layman shall not eat [them,] because they are holy.

Ex 29:36 “And each day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement (kippur), and you shall purify the altar when you make atonement (kapar; Lxx = hagiazo translated "when you perform consecration for it" [for the altar]) for it; and you shall anoint it to consecrate it.

Ex 29:37 “For seven days you shall make atonement (Lxx = hagiazo) for the altar and consecrate it; then the altar shall be most holy, [and] whatever touches the altar shall be holy.

Ex 30:10 “And Aaron shall make atonement (Lxx = verb exilaskomai = propitiate, make atonement) on its horns once a year; he shall make atonement on it with the blood of the sin offering of atonement (kippur) once a year throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD.”

Ex 30:15 “The rich shall not pay more, and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to the LORD to make atonement (Lxx = verb exilaskomai = propitiate, make atonement) for yourselves.

Ex 30:16 “And you shall take the atonement money (kippur) from the sons of Israel, and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the sons of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement (Lxx = verb exilaskomai = propitiate, make atonement) for yourselves.”

Ex 32:30 And it came about on the next day that Moses said to the people, “You yourselves have committed a great sin; and now I am going up to the LORD, perhaps I can make atonement (Lxx = verb exilaskomai = propitiate, make atonement) for your sin.”

Lev 1:4 ‘And he shall lay (resting or support oneself on the animal = worshiper identifies with the animal as his substitute) his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement (Lxx = verb exilaskomai = propitiate, make atonement) on his behalf.

Lev 4:20 ‘He shall also do with the bull just as he did with the bull of the sin offering; thus he shall do with it. So the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven.

Lev 4:26 ‘And all its fat he shall offer up in smoke on the altar as [in the case of] the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him in regard to his sin, and he shall be forgiven.

Lev 4:31 ‘Then he shall remove all its fat, just as the fat was removed from the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall offer it up in smoke on the altar for a soothing aroma to the LORD. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven.

Lev 4:35 ‘Then he shall remove all its fat, just as the fat of the lamb is removed from the sacrifice of the peace offerings, and the priest shall offer them up in smoke on the altar, on the offerings by fire to the LORD. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him in regard to his sin which he has committed, and he shall be forgiven.

Lev 5:6 ‘He shall also bring his guilt offering to the LORD for his sin which he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin.

Lev 5:10 ‘The second he shall then prepare as a burnt offering according to the ordinance. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him.

Lev 5:13 ‘So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin which he has committed from one of these, and it shall be forgiven him; then [the rest] shall become the priest’s, like the grain offering.’”

Lev 5:16 “And he shall make restitution for that which he has sinned against the holy thing, and shall add to it a fifth part of it, and give it to the priest. The priest shall then make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and it shall be forgiven him.

Lev 5:18 “He is then to bring to the priest a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his error in which he sinned unintentionally and did not know [it], and it shall be forgiven him.

Lev 6:7 and the priest shall make atonement (Lxx = exilaskomai) for him before the LORD; and he shall be forgiven for any one of the things which he may have done to incur guilt.”

Lev 6:30 ‘But no sin offering of which any of the blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement (Lxx = exilaskomai) in the holy place shall be eaten; it shall be burned with fire.

Lev 7:7 ‘The guilt offering is like the sin offering, there is one law for them; the priest who makes atonement with it shall have it.

Lev 8:15 Next Moses slaughtered [it] and took the blood and with his finger put [some of it] around on the horns of the altar, and purified the altar. Then he poured out [the rest of] the blood at the base of the altar and consecrated it, to make atonement for it.

Lev 8:34 “The LORD has commanded to do as has been done this day, to make atonement on your behalf.

Lev 9:7 Moses then said to Aaron, “Come near to the altar and offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, that you may make atonement for yourself and for the people; then make the offering for the people, that you may make atonement for them, just as the LORD has commanded.”

Lev 10:17 “Why did you not eat the sin offering at the holy place? For it is most holy, and He gave it to you to bear away the guilt of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD.

Lev 12:7 ‘Then he shall offer it before the LORD and make atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears [a child, whether] a male or a female.

Lev 12:8 ‘But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.’”

Lev 14:18 while the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s palm, he shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf before the LORD.

Lev 14:19 “The priest shall next offer the sin offering and make atonement for the one to be cleansed from his uncleanness. Then afterward, he shall slaughter the burnt offering.

Lev 14:20 “And the priest shall offer up the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean.

Lev 14:21 “But if he is poor, and his means are insufficient, then he is to take one male lamb for a guilt offering as a wave offering to make atonement for him, and one-tenth [of an] [ephah] of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and a log of oil,

Lev 14:29 “Moreover, the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s palm he shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed, to make atonement on his behalf before the LORD.

Lev 14:31 “[He shall offer] what he can afford, the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, together with the grain offering. So the priest shall make atonement before the LORD on behalf of the one to be cleansed.

Lev 14:53 “However, he shall let the live bird go free outside the city into the open field. So he shall make atonement for the house, and it shall be clean.”

Lev 15:15 and the priest shall offer them, one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf before the LORD because of his discharge.

Lev 15:30 ‘And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. So the priest shall make atonement on her behalf before the LORD because of her impure discharge.’

Leviticus 16:6 "Then Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household.

10 "But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat.

11 "Then Aaron shall offer the bull of the sin offering which is for himself and make atonement for himself and for his household, and he shall slaughter the bull of the sin offering which is for himself.

16 "He shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities.

17 "When he goes in to make atonement in the holy place, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel.

18 "Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the blood of the goat and put it on the horns of the altar on all sides.

20 "When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat.

24 "He shall bathe his body with water in a holy place and put on his clothes, and come forth and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people.

27 "But the bull of the sin offering and the goat of the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall be taken outside the camp, and they shall burn their hides, their flesh, and their refuse in the fire.

30 for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD.

32 "So the priest who is anointed and ordained to serve as priest in his father's place shall make atonement: he shall thus put on the linen garments, the holy garments,

33 and make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar. He shall also make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly.

34 "Now you shall have this as a permanent statute, to make atonement for the sons of Israel for all their sins once every year." And just as the LORD had commanded Moses, so he did.

Leviticus 17:11 'For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.'

Leviticus 19:22 'The priest shall also make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the LORD for his sin which he has committed, and the sin which he has committed will be forgiven him.

Leviticus 23:28 "You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the LORD your God.

Numbers 5:8 'But if the man has no relative to whom restitution may be made for the wrong, the restitution which is made for the wrong must go to the LORD for the priest, besides the ram of atonement, by which atonement is made for him.

Numbers 6:11 'The priest shall offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, and make atonement for him concerning his sin because of the dead person. And that same day he shall consecrate his head,

Numbers 8:12 "Now the Levites shall lay their hands on the heads of the bulls; then offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering to the LORD, to make atonement for the Levites.

19 "I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the sons of Israel, to perform the service of the sons of Israel at the tent of meeting and to make atonement on behalf of the sons of Israel, so that there will be no plague among the sons of Israel by their coming near to the sanctuary."

21 The Levites, too, purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes; and Aaron presented them as a wave offering before the LORD. Aaron also made atonement for them to cleanse them.

Numbers 15:25 'Then the priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and they will be forgiven; for it was an error, and they have brought their offering, an offering by fire to the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD, for their error.

28 'The priest shall make atonement before the LORD for the person who goes astray when he sins unintentionally, making atonement for him that he may be forgiven.

Numbers 16:46 Moses said to Aaron, "Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense on it; then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the LORD, the plague has begun!"

47 Then Aaron took it as Moses had spoken, and ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put on the incense and made atonement for the people.

Numbers 25:13 and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel.'"

Numbers 28:22 and one male goat for a sin offering to make atonement for you.

30 also one male goat to make atonement for you.

Numbers 29:5 'Offer one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you,

Numbers 31:50 "So we have brought as an offering to the LORD what each man found, articles of gold, armlets and bracelets, signet rings, earrings and necklaces, to make atonement for ourselves before the LORD."

Numbers 35:33 'So you shall not pollute the land in which you are; for blood pollutes the land and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it.

Deuteronomy 21:8 'Forgive Your people Israel whom You have redeemed, O LORD, and do not place the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of Your people Israel.' And the bloodguiltiness shall be forgiven them.

Deuteronomy 32:43 "Rejoice, O nations, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And will render vengeance on His adversaries, And will atone for His land and His people."

1 Samuel 3:14 "Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever."

2 Samuel 21:3 Thus David said to the Gibeonites, "What should I do for you? And how can I make atonement that you may bless the inheritance of the LORD?"

1 Chronicles 6:49 But Aaron and his sons offered on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense, for all the work of the most holy place, and to make atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded.

2 Chronicles 29:24 The priests slaughtered them and purged the altar with their blood to atone for all Israel, for the king ordered the burnt offering and the sin offering for all Israel.

2 Chronicles 30:18 For a multitude of the people, even many from Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than prescribed. For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, "May the good LORD pardon

Nehemiah 10:33 for the showbread, for the continual grain offering, for the continual burnt offering, the sabbaths, the new moon, for the appointed times, for the holy things and for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God.

Psalm 65:3 Iniquities prevail against me; As for our transgressions, You forgive (Lxx = hilaskomai = to be merciful, make reconciliation for, be propitious, be favorably inclined, to forgive) them.

Psalm 78:38 But He, being compassionate, forgave (Lxx = hilaskomai = to be merciful, make reconciliation for, be propitious, be favorably inclined, to forgive) their iniquity and did not destroy them; And often He restrained His anger And did not arouse all His wrath.

Psalm 79:9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; And deliver us and forgive (Lxx = hilaskomai = to be merciful, make reconciliation for, be propitious, be favorably inclined, to forgive) our sins for Your name's sake.

Proverbs 16:6 By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.

14 The fury of a king is like messengers of death, But a wise man will appease it.

Isaiah 6:7 He touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven (Lxx = perikatharizo = to clean or purge away entirely; used to translate "circumcise" in Dt 30:6 a prophecy of the end-times when a believing remnant of the nation will be saved - Ro 11:25-27)."

Isaiah 22:14 But the LORD of hosts revealed Himself to me, "Surely this iniquity shall not be forgiven (Lxx = aphiemi) you Until you die," says the Lord GOD of hosts.

Isaiah 27:9 Therefore through this Jacob's iniquity will be forgiven (Lxx = aphaireo); And this will be the full price of the pardoning of his sin: When he makes all the altar stones like pulverized chalk stones; When Asherim and incense altars will not stand.

Isaiah 28:18 "Your covenant with death will be canceled (Lxx = aphaireo), And your pact with Sheol will not stand; When the overwhelming scourge passes through, Then you become its trampling place.

Isaiah 47:11 "But evil will come on you Which you will not know how to charm away; And disaster will fall on you For which you cannot atone (Lxx = katharos= not be free from); And destruction about which you do not know Will come on you suddenly.

Jeremiah 18:23 Yet You, O LORD, know All their deadly designs against me; Do not forgive (Lxx = athooo - [do not] hold guiltless, let go unpunished) their iniquity Or blot (Hebrew = machah = to wipe, wipe out; Lxx = exaleipho as in Acts 3:19) out their sin from Your sight. But may they be overthrown before You; Deal with them in the time of Your anger!

Ezekiel 16:63 so that you may remember and be ashamed and never open your mouth anymore because of your humiliation, when I have forgiven (Lxx = exilaskomai = propitiate) you for all that you have done," the Lord GOD declares.

Ezekiel 43:20 'You shall take some of its blood and put it on its four horns and on the four corners of the ledge and on the border round about; thus you shall cleanse it and make atonement (Lxx = exilaskomai = propitiate) for it.

26 'For seven days they shall make atonement (Lxx = exilaskomai = propitiate) for the altar and purify it; so shall they consecrate it.

Ezekiel 45:15 and one sheep from each flock of two hundred from the watering places of Israel-- for a grain offering, for a burnt offering and for peace offerings, to make atonement (Lxx = exilaskomai = propitiate) for them," declares the Lord GOD.

17 "It shall be the prince's part to provide the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the drink offerings, at the feasts, on the new moons and on the sabbaths, at all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel; he shall provide the sin offering, the grain offering, the burnt offering and the peace offerings, to make atonement (Lxx = exilaskomai = propitiate) for the house of Israel."

20 "Thus you shall do on the seventh day of the month for everyone who goes astray or is naive; so you shall make atonement (Lxx = exilaskomai = propitiate) for the house.

Daniel 9:24-commentary "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement (Lxx = exilaskomai = propitiate) for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.

Andrew Trotter (Atonement - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology) -

That the Bible's central message is atonement, that is, that God has provided a way for humankind to come back into harmonious relation with him, is everywhere apparent in Scripture. From the first stories in Genesis to the last visions of Revelation, God seeks to reconcile his people to himself. Atonement, however, cannot be usefully discussed in this way, and translators have settled on it, and its cognate expressions, as a translation for a relatively circumscribed number of nouns and verbs in the Bible.

The Old Testament - In the Old Testament atonement, and related phrases, such as sacrifice of atonement, most often translates the Hebrew piel verb kipur [ כִּפֻּרִים ] and two related nouns, one, kippurim, found always in the plural and signifying the noun equivalent of kipur [ כִּפֻּרִים ], and the other, kapporeth [ כַּפֹּרֶת ], meaning the so-called mercy-seat or the place where the sacrifice of atonement happens. These occur with meanings related to atonement around 140 times, almost always in the context of the cults, as a sacrifice for sins and to provide reconciliation to God.

The breadth of the use of the concept in the Old Testament is striking. Atonement is provided for inanimate objects such as a mildewing house, the altar in the temple, the sanctuary (i.e., the Holy of Holies within the Tent of Meeting), the holy place, and the tent of meeting/temple itself. In one place atonement is also provided for an animal, the scapegoat used in the atonement rituals found in Leviticus 16 . Sacrifice accomplishes atonement "for sins" in many places, though these passages always mean atonement for people "because of" their sins rather than atonement "on behalf of" sins, as if sins were being personified and therefore in need of redemption. Of course, the majority of all the references are to atonement on behalf of people, either individually or as members of the community of Israel.

Atonement for inanimate objects is found twelve places in the Old Testament: Exodus 29:36-37; 30:10; Leviticus 8:15; 14:53; 16:10,16 , 18,20; Ezekiel 43:20,26; 45:20 . Eleven of these passages refer to cleansing either the tent/temple, one of its rooms, or the altar inside it. The lone exception refers to the cleansing of a contaminated house. In one of the stranger passages of the Law, God instructs Moses and Aaron about the purification rites they are to apply to a house that has "a spreading mildew" and declares that, if a house responds to the treatment, then it can be declared clean (Leviticus 14:33-53 ). The priest cleanses the house by sacrificing a bird, and dipping cedar wood, hyssop, scarlet yarn, and a live bird in the blood of the dead bird, then sprinkling the blood on the house seven times. He then is to release the live bird into the open fields outside the town. "In this way he will make atonement for the house, and it will be clean" (Leviticus 14:53 ).

The entire passage significantly echoes the preceding passage in which a human being undergoes the same investigations and purifications for infectious skin diseases, and it anticipates the important regulations of Leviticus 16 concerning the Day of Atonement, the most important sacrifice of all, when sacrifice is made for the cleansing of the sins of all the people. The point is apparently that the surface of the skin can demonstrate a deeper sickness underneath as can the surface of a house; both need to be cleansed of that deeper sickness as does the human heart of its sin.

Far more important are the references to the atonement of the Tent of Meeting, the temple, the holy place, the sanctuary, and the altar. These take place in the contexts of the ordination of priests (Exodus 29:35-37; Leviticus 8:15 ), God's instructions for the building of the eschatological temple in the later chapters of Ezekiel (Ezek 43:20,26; 45:20), and the Day of Atonement itself (Leviticus 16:16,18,20 ). The need for cleansing the buildings, the altar and the sanctuaries is due to the fact that these are the meeting places of the divine Holy One with his people. The holiness and purity of God are so emphasized that not only does He and the one who approaches Him have to be pure, but even the means of their communication and relationship must be covered by the blood of an atoning sacrifice because of its contamination by sin.

It is perhaps important that this cleansing of inanimate objects, with the lone exception of the house (which seems to serve as an analog to human cleansing), is limited to the house of God and its parts. There is no sense that the world is God's place of meeting and in need of a cleansing sacrifice of atonement, but rather that the special cultic and covenantal relationship that God has with his people is what is in need of purification. This is not to deny that the world has been infected by sin, just that the particular relationship of redemption that God has with his covenant people is not extended to the whole world, but simply to the people of Israel, and even that is vicarious, that is, through the priests and their cultic duties.

Primary among the objects of atonement in the Old Testament are the people of God, but the means of atonement can vary. Goats, sheep, and birds are listed among the acceptable animals to be sacrificed, but there were also grain, oil, and drink offerings. Ransom money can provide atonement for the lives of the people; God commands at least one census to be made of the people at which each participant pays the same amount to buy his life and the lives of his family from God, who promises no plague will harm them when they do pay (Exodus 30:11-16 ). Significantly, the money is to be used to support the services of the Tent of Meeting, hence tying it to the sacrifice of blood for atonement, if only in a tangential way. The other non-animal sacrifices are often equally tied to atonement by blood.

Certainly the most frequently mentioned means of atonement in the Old Testament were the blood sacrifices, dominating the use of the term by constant reference in the books of Leviticus and Numbers. Atonement needed to be made for everything from heinous crimes like idolatry (Numbers 16:47 ) to mistakes of intent, when the only sin was ignorance or error, not willful disobedience (Numbers 15:22-29 ).

Perhaps the heart of the Old Testament teaching on atonement is found in Leviticus 16 , where the regulations for the Day of Atonement occur. Five characteristics relating to the ritual of the Day of Atonement are worthy of note because they are generally true of atonement as it is found throughout Scripture:

(1) the sovereignty of God in atonement;

(2) the purpose and result of making atonement;

(3) the two goats emphasize two different things, and the burning another, about the removal of sin;

(4) that Aaron had to make special sacrifice for himself;

(5) the comprehensive quality of the act.

Atonement is clearly the action of God and not of man throughout the Bible, but especially in Leviticus 16 . Aaron's two sons, Nadab and Abihu, had been recently put to death by the Lord for disobeying his command by offering "unauthorized fire" before the Lord (Leviticus 10:1-3). Here God gives Aaron precise instructions concerning how he wants the sacrifices to be made, down to the clothes Aaron is to wear, the bathing rituals in which he is to engage, and the types of sacrificial animals he is to bring. His sovereignty is further emphasized by the fact that the lot is used to choose which goat will be sacrificed and which goat will serve as the scapegoat.

The purpose for the ritual is made very clear in several places. It is to cleanse you "from all your sins" (Leviticus 16:30). Other passages make it clear that such cleansing results in saving the life of the participant (cf., e.g., Leviticus 17:11). The restoring of pure relationship is an important result, too, since the atonement is for all "uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been" (Leviticus 16:16). Thus Israel is reunited in purity to its God by the atoning sacrifice for sins.

The symbolic import of the sacrifices is so detailed that three different actions were necessary to display everything that God apparently intended us to understand about the way he was to deal with sin. The sacrificial death of the first goat showed clearly that the offense of sin requires the punishment of death (Ezekiel 18:4). The sending of the second goat into the wilderness with the sins laid on the top of its head emphasizes that sin will be removed from the person and the community "as far as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12). The burning of the sacrifice so that it is consumed shows the power of God over sin, completely destroying it so that it can bother the supplicant no more.

Particularly important for the full biblical picture of atonement as it is found in Christ is the sacrifice Aaron makes for himself and his family (Leviticus 16:11-14). Everyone, even the high priest, is guilty and needs atonement that can only be provided by God himself. The author of Hebrews emphasizes this point to make clear his doctrine of the purity of Christ as both the true and perfect sacrifice and the true and perfect priest who performs the ritual of atonement (8:3-6; 9:6-15). The Old Testament sacrifices are shown to be but shadows of the real sacrifice of Christ on the cross by the fact of Aaron's sinfulness; an imperfect high priest cannot offer a true sacrifice, just as the blood of bulls and goats could never truly pay for the offense of human sin or substitute for the shedding of human blood.

Lastly, atonement covers all the sins—intentional, unintentional, heinous, trivial of those for whom it is intended. No one was to enter the Tent of Meeting until the ritual was over because what was taking place there was for the whole of the community of Israel (Leviticus 16:17), presumably because any interference with the sovereign action of God's cleansing might bring an impurity into the equation that would nullify the purificatory act. The comprehensive nature of the sacrifice of atonement prefigures the comprehensiveness of the shedding of Christ's blood on the cross, but it limits its effects in the same way the Old Testament limits the effects of its sacrifice on the day of atonement to the people whom God has elected to call his own and them alone. (Atonement - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology) -

Mercy Seat (3727) (kapporet) always refers to the golden cover of the sacred chest in the Holy of holies. Recall that it was here (above the mercy seat) that God had promised to meet with men (Nu 7:89). The word is derived from the root "to atone."

The Greek equivalent in the Lxx is usually hilasterion, "place or object of propitiation," a word which is applied to Christ in Romans 3:25. The translation "mercy seat" does not sufficiently express the fact that the lid of the ark was the place where the blood was sprinkled on the day of atonement. "Place of atonement" would perhaps be more expressive.

Kapporet - 22v - Always translated "Mercy Seat" in the NAS - Ex 25:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22; 26:34; 30:6; 31:7; 35:12; 37:6, 7, 8, 9; 39:35; 40:20; Lev 16:2, 13, 14, 15; Nu 7:89; 1Chr 28:11

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words on hilasterion = "the lid or cover of the ark of the covenant," signifies the Propitiatory, so called on account of the expiation made once a year on the great Day of Atonement, Hebrews 9:5 . For the formation see Exodus 25:17-21 . The Heb. word is kapporet, "the cover," a meaning connected with the covering or removal of sin (Psalm 32:1 ) by means of expiatory sacrifice. This mercy seat, together with the ark, is spoken of as the footstool of God, 1 Chronicles 28:2; cp. Psalm 99:5; 132:7 . The Lord promised to be present upon it and to commune with Moses "from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim," Exodus 25:22 (see CHERUBIM). In the Sept. the word epithema, which itself means "a cover," is added to hilasterion; epithema was simply a translation of kapporet; accordingly, hilasterion, not having this meaning, and being essentially connected with propitiation, was added. Eventually hilasterion stood for both. In 1 Chronicles 28:11 the Holy of Holies is called "the House of the Kapporet" (see RV , marg.). Through His voluntary expiatory sacrifice in the shedding of His blood, under Divine judgment upon sin, and through His resurrection, Christ has become the Mercy Seat for His people. See Romans 3:25 , and see PROPITIATION , B, No. 1. (Mercy Seat - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words)

Ransom (03724)(koper) is a masculine noun which refers to the ransom payment, but in several OT contexts assumes the sense of a bribe. A ransom is the price required to redeem a person. See all uses below for discussion of the meaning of ransom or bribe in each passage.

Ransom (English word) - 1. The money or price paid for the redemption of a prisoner or slave, or for goods captured by an enemy; that which procures the release of a prisoner or captive, or of captured property, and restores the one to liberty and the other to the original owner. 2. Release from captivity, bondage or the possession of an enemy. They were unable to procure the ransom of the prisoners. 3. In law, a sum paid for the pardon of some; great offense and the discharge of the offender; or a fine paid in lieu of corporal punishment. 4. In Scripture, the price paid for a forfeited life, or for delivery or release from capital punishment. 5. The price paid for procuring the pardon of sins and the redemption of the sinner from punishment. The Son of man came—to give His life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45. (Webster-1828)

Bribe (English word) - 1. A price, reward, gift or favor bestowed or promised with a view to pervert the judgment, or corrupt the conduct of a judge, witness or other person. A bribe is a consideration given or promised to a person, to induce him to decide a cause, give testimony, or perform some act contrary to what he knows to be truth, justice or rectitude. It is not used in a good sense, unless in familiar language. 2. That which seduces. (Webster-1828)

Note that some concordances (NAS) do not include the use of koper in Ge 6:14 as they interpret it as a different word than in the remaining uses. The KJV concordance does include it in the list of verses with koper.

The Lxx translates koper with the Greek noun lutron/lytron which refers to the ransom price or the payment which is necessary to free a slave from bondage (or a prisoner from captivity) giving them liberty.

Koper - translated in NAS - bribe(1), bribes(1), ransom(11).

Koper - 17v (KJV) - Ge 6:14; Ex 21:30; 30:12; Num 35:31-32; 1Sam 6:18; 12:3; Job 33:24; 36:18; Ps 49:7; Pr 6:35; 13:8; 21:18; Song 1:14; 4:13; Isa 43:3; Amos 5:12

Ge 6:14 “Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch (Heb - koper; Lxx - asphaltos = asphalt, tar).

Ex 21:30 (Context - Ex 21:28-29) “If a ransom is demanded of him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is demanded of him.

NET Note - The family of the victim would set the amount for the ransom of the man guilty of criminal neglect. This practice was common in the ancient world, rare in Israel. If the family allowed the substitute price, then the man would be able to redeem his life.

Ex 30:12 (Context - Ex 30:11-16) “When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them.

NET Note - The “ransom” is כֹּפֶר (kofer), a word related to words translated “atone” and “atonement.” Here the noun refers to what is paid for the life. The idea is that of delivering or redeeming by a substitute – here the substitute is the money. If they paid the amount, their lives would be safe (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:473).

Comment: Note that in this context the ransom is for each of the sons of Israel over 20 years of age, so that no plague might come on them (Ex 30:12) that the ransom is half a shekel, a contribution to the LORD (Ex 30:13-14), to make atonement (Ex 30:16 - verb kapar) with the "atonement money." (Ex 30:16 - noun - kippur/kippurim).

Num 35:31 ‘Moreover, you shall not take ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death. 32 ‘And you shall not take ransom for him who has fled to his city of refuge, that he may return to live in the land before the death of the priest.

Eugene Merrill - The reason for such strict measures was the fact that bloodshed in murder pollutes the land and the only “cleansing” agent was the blood of the murderer himself (Gen. 4:10; 9:6). It was not fitting that Israel and the LORD, who lived in Israel’s midst, should occupy a polluted land. So blood vengeance was not an option but a theological necessity. (The Bible Knowledge)

Job 33:24 Then let him be gracious to him, and say, ‘Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom’;

Roy Zuck - The angel’s interceding work (in contrast with angelic “messengers of death,” Job 33:22) was based on his providing a ransom for the sick person. The “ransom,” while not specified, means something that can be regarded as a consideration or reason for the sufferer to be relieved from his illness. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Job 36:18 “[Beware] lest wrath entice you to scoffing; And do not let the greatness of the ransom turn you aside.

Roy Zuck - Bribe may be rendered “ransom or recompense,” as in 33:24. Perhaps it means here “the large price Job is paying by his suffering.”) As many people have learned, money and accomplishments cannot buy a person out of distress. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)

The angel’s interceding work (in contrast with angelic “messengers of death,” Job 33:22) was based on his providing a ransom for the sick person. The “ransom,” while not specified, means something that can be regarded as a consideration or reason for the sufferer to be relieved from his illness.

Ps 49:7 No man can by any means redeem [his] brother, Or give to God a ransom for him–

Comment: Every rich person in the world needs to emblazon this proverb on their heart (while they still have time - 2Cor 6:2). If you are in Christ, you are immeasurably rich forever!!!

Pr 6:35 He (See context = Pr 6:32-34) will not accept any ransom, Nor will he be content though you give many gifts.

Comment: The idea here is that he will refuse a bribe, no matter how great! Why? Presumably because it was money paid to cover up a crime or as we might say today it was "hush money!" (See comment on Amos 5:12)

NET Note: The word rendered “compensation” is כֹּפֶר (cofer); it is essentially a ransom price, a sum to be paid to deliver another from debt, bondage, or crime. The husband cannot accept payment as a ransom for a life, since what has happened cannot be undone so easily.

As the word “ransom” (כֹּפֶר, cofer) indicates, the rich are susceptible to kidnapping and robbery. But the poor man pays no attention to blackmail – he does not have money to buy off oppressors. So the rich person is exposed to legal attacks and threats of physical violence and must use his wealth as ransom.

Buzzell - Bribery is frequently condemned in Proverbs (6:35; 15:27; 17:8), in the Law (Ex. 23:8; Deut. 16:19; 27:25), and elsewhere (e.g., Job 36:18; Ps. 15:5; Ecc. 7:7; Isa. 33:15). (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Pr 13:8 The ransom of a man’s life is his riches, But the poor hears no rebuke.

NET Note: As the word “ransom” (כֹּפֶר, cofer) indicates, the rich are susceptible to kidnapping and robbery. But the poor man pays no attention to blackmail – he does not have money to buy off oppressors. So the rich person is exposed to legal attacks and threats of physical violence and must use his wealth as ransom.

Pr 21:18 The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, And the treacherous is in the place of the upright.

NET Note: The Hebrew word translated “ransom” (כֹּפֶר, kofer) normally refers to the price paid to free a prisoner. R. N. Whybray (Proverbs [CBC], 121) gives options for the meaning of the verse: (1) If it means that the wicked obtain good things that should go to the righteous, it is then a despairing plea for justice (which would be unusual in the book of Proverbs); but if (2) it is taken to mean that the wicked suffers the evil he has prepared for the righteous, then it harmonizes with Proverbs elsewhere (e.g., 11:8). The ideal this proverb presents – and the future reality – is that in calamity the righteous escape and the wicked suffer in their place (e.g., Haman in the book of Esther).

Buzzell - This verse does not mean that the wicked redeem the righteous. Instead it may mean that the wicked who have caused the righteous to suffer will themselves suffer and will thereby “set free” (become a ransom for) the righteous, for the godly will no longer suffer at the hands of the wicked. (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Song 1:14 “My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms In the vineyards of Engedi.”

Song 4:13 “Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates With choice fruits, henna with nard plants,

Isa 43:3 “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place.

John Martin - As a ransom or reward for releasing the Jewish captives, Persia was enabled by God to conquer Egypt … Cush (modern-day southern Egypt, all of Sudan, and northern Ethiopia), and Seba, possibly the same as Sheba in southern Arabia (cf. 60:6; Job 6:19; 1 Kings 10:1–13) where the Sabeans lived (cf. Job 1:15; Isa. 45:14; Ezek. 23:42; Joel 3:8). (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Amos 5:12 For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great, [You] who distress the righteous [and] accept bribes, And turn aside the poor in the gate.

NIDOTTE - Bribery always results in someone’s losing the meaning of life or life itself. Wolff comments, “Bribery leads to declaring the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent” (248). This explains why Amos charges the Israelite aristocracy with the sins of greed and injustice, “For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. You oppress the righteous and take bribes (כֹּפֶר) and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts” (Amos 5:12; see also 1 Sam 12:3)."

Leviticus 23:29 "If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people.

  • will: Lev 23:27,32 Isa 22:12 Jer 31:9 Eze 7:16
  • he shall be: Ge 17:14
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

How important is humility to God? That's a rhetorical question of course. Cut off from his people is at least ex-communication (but look at the punishment in the next passage - the implication is that the person in verse 30 has refused to humble himself and obey God's clear instruction!) It is an inviolable principle that pride obstructs the flow of grace, while humility opens the floodgates! Grace always flows in a "downward direction." James says God "arrays Himself against" (like ancient armies did in battle!) the pride person! (James 4:6-note)

Leviticus 23:30 "As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.

  • Lev 20:3,5,6 Ge 17:14 Jer 15:7 Ezek 14:9 Zep 2:5 1Co 3:17
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Holiness is separation from the profane, and it is not a partial separation, not a partial obedience (which is really "disobedience" with a shell of complicity)!. God is serious about it and is not here accepting 90% acquiescence! Do we in 21st century America (and specifically the evangelical church) really understand God's desire for His people to be holy as He is holy.

Leviticus 23:31 "You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 

Leviticus 23:32 "It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath."

  • sabbath Lev 16:31 Mt 11:28-30 Heb 4:3,11
  • humble: Lev 23:27 Ps 35:13 Ps 51:17 Ps 69:10,11 Ps 126:5,6 Isa 57:15,18,19 58:3-7 Isa 61:3 Mt 5:4 1Co 11:31
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Sabbath means intermission or rest so one might paraphrase it as "It is to be a rest of complete rest"!

Humble your souls - This is not to be an external ornament one puts on for show. God is looking at our hearts, not what we wear. He is interested in the internal, not the external. It's easy for us to "do" something to appease (that we think will appease) God, but God is primarily interested for us to "be" someone! Being should always proceed doing. In this context, being calls for humility and doing is keeping sabbath.

Leviticus 23:33 Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying

Leviticus 23:34 "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the LORD.

  • fifteenth: Ex 23:16 34:22 Nu 29:12 Dt 16:13-15 Ezr 3:4 Ne 8:14 Zec 14:16-19 John 1:14 7:2 Heb 11:9,13
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


See Jesus' great invitation to all who are thirsty to come and drink, this invitation given at the end of the feast of Booths - John 7-37-39 Commentary (See Excursus on the feast)

Bramer on Booths (hassukot)—This specific feast is referred to in Leviticus only here. In the rest of the Pentateuch it is mentioned by name only in Deut 16:13, 16; 31:10. Its four other mentions in the OT occur in 2 Chr 8:13; Ezra 3:4, and Zech 14:16, 18. Zechariah describes this feast as being the required one for non-covenant nations to participate in during the coming Kingdom Age (Ed: Aka the "Millennium") to show their acknowledgment of the true God and the nation He delivered from Egypt. In the NT this feast is referred to only in John 7:2. It is also described, though not designated by the phrase gib' at yamim, in Ex 23:16b; Ex 34:22b (both times called the "Feast of Ingathering"); Nu 29:12-34. The function of this feast may be related in part to the fall ingathering of fruit as the references in Exodus seem to indicate. However, the other biblical passages seem merely to relate it to living in temporary shelters as the Israelites did during their wilderness wanderings. These tabernacles or booths were made of boughs and would remind God's people of all that He did in giving them both a permanent place to live and a land that produced bountifully. [sukka] (Bible Knowledge Key Word Study)

Scofield: The Feast of Tabernacles, or Ingathering, Lev 23:34-44, is, like the Lord's Supper for the Church, both memorial and prophetic - memorial as to redemption out of Egypt (v. 43); prophetic as to the kingdom-rest of Israel after her regathering and restoration, when the feast again becomes memorial, not for Israel alone, but also for all nations (Ezra 3:4; Zech 14:16-21; cp. Rev 21:3). This festival, its name derived from the fact that during its observance the Israelites dwelt in booths or tabernacles (Lev 23:42-43), began on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, Tishri, and lasted for one week.

Leviticus 23:35 'On the first day is a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work of any kind.

Leviticus 23:36 'For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation and present an offering by fire to the LORD; it is an assembly. You shall do no laborious work.

  • Seven: Nu 29:12-38
  • eighth: 2Chr 7:8-11 Ne 8:18 John 7:37
  • assembly: Heb. day of restraint, Dt 16:8 Joel 1:14 Joel 2:15
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

See related discussion of this feast in John 7 where Jesus stood up on the last day and cried out asking if any was thirsty? See John 7-37-39 Commentary (See Excursus on the feast)

Leviticus 23:37 'These are the appointed times of the LORD which you shall proclaim as holy convocations, to present offerings by fire to the LORD--burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each day's matter on its own day--

Leviticus 23:38 besides those of the Sabbaths of the LORD, and besides your gifts and besides all your votive and freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD.

  • Sabbaths: Lev 23:3 Lev 19:3 Ge 2:2,3 Ex 20:8-11
  • besides: Nu 29:39 Dt 12:6 1Chr 29:3-8 2Chr 35:7,8 Ezra 2:68,69
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Leviticus 23:39 'On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day.

  • when: Lev 23:34 Ex 23:16 Dt 16:13
  • on the first: Lev 23:24,36
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Freeman - The Feast of Ingathering, more generally known as the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths), (Lev. 23:34,) was instituted to remind the people that their fathers dwelt in tents in the wilderness, (Lev. xxiii, 43 ;) and also to be an annual thanksgiving after all the products of the earth corn, fruit, wine, and oil were gathered for the year. Lev. 23:39. It was held in the seventh month, Tizri, or Ethanim, corresponding to our October, and lasted for eight days; during which time the people dwelt in booths made of the branches of palm, willow, and other trees. Lev. 23:39-43. On each day there were offered in sacrifice two rams, fourteen lambs, and a kid for a burnt-offering. During the continuance of the feast seventy bullocks were offered, thirteen on the first day, twelve on the second, eleven on the third, and so on, the number being diminished by one on each day until the seventh day. when only seven were offered. The eighth day was a day of peculiar solemnity, and had for its special offerings a bullock, a ram, and seven lambs for a burnt-offering, and a goat for a sin-offering. Nu 29:12-38. On the Sabbatical year, the Feast of Tabernacles was still further celebrated by a public reading of the law. Dt. 31:10-13. Whether this was intended to include the whole law, or only certain portions, and if so, what portions, is matter of dispute. Other ceremonies than these, originally instituted, were afterward added. See John 7:37. These festivals at the gathering of harvests were not peculiar to the He brews, but were in use among many Gentile nations. "The ancient sacrifices, assemblies, and conventions for sacrifices, were made at the gathering in of the fruits and productions of the earth, as the season of greatest lei sure and rest." ARISTOTLE, cited by MAIMONIDES, Reasons, etc., p. 257. (Manners and Customs 1875)

 Leviticus 23:40 'Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.

  • foliage: Ne 8:15 Mt 21:8
  • palm trees: Ps 92:12 John 12:13 Rev 7:9
  • rejoice: Dt 16:14,15 Isa 35:10 66:10 John 16:22 Ro 5:11 Php 3:3 4:4 1Pe 1:8
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Deuteronomy 16:10“Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as the LORD your God blesses you; 11 and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name. 12 “You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes. 

Disciple's Study Bible - The Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles or Ingathering) was a time of high rejoicing. The expression "before the LORD'' is a reminder that we live in full knowledge of God's watchful eye. See Ge 19:27. Prayer expresses our joy and celebration in God's presence.

rejoice before the LORD Lev. 23:40; Deut. 12:12; Deut. 12:18; Deut. 16:11; Deut. 27:7

Rejoice Before The Lord! 

The common tradition in Christian worship is to worship God in a somber, solemn manner.  Praise is solemn (“Do you not understand the Lord is to be feared?”).  Prayer is solemn (“To approach God with quietness is to show God dignity!”) Communion is solemn (“Do you not realize this is about death—not victory!”)  Preachers who make people laugh do not take God’s word seriously!  From Christian worship one might get the impression that God always has been offended by any worship approach that was less than solemn. 

 In Deuteronomy 16:9-12 Moses wrote worship instructions for the Feast of Weeks.  It was to be celebrated seven weeks from the beginning of harvest.  It was to be an occasion when they gave God freewill offerings of their harvest.  It was one of the three assemblies of the year in which all the men of Israel were to gather in one place and worship God as a nation (Deuteronomy 16:16). 

 Hopefully everyone (including males, females, and servants) could gather on this occasion.  It was to be a happy occasion when everyone rejoiced before the Lord.  They were to rejoice for two reasons:  (1) God blessed them in harvest!  (2) God delivered them from slavery!

 Why do we assume that any tribute to God must be a solemn occasion?  From the origins of worship in Israel, God was not offended by the joy of His people.  Instead, He was honored that His people found reason for joy in Him.  God’s blessings call for celebration!  Celebration calls for expressions of joy!  Only the person who credits himself or herself for God’s blessings finds no reason to rejoice before the Lord.

 After the first baptisms into Christ, Jewish Christians were together daily expressing gladness and sincerity (or simplicity) of heart.  To suggest that people who knew for generations how to “rejoice before the Lord,” who expressed gladness daily were solemn in all worship gatherings is quite a stretch!  If ever there was a generation who had reason to rejoice before the Lord, they were it!  They knew forgiveness as it had never been known before!  They existed in the assurance of resurrection!  That is the knowledge of joy!

 The hope of the gospel (good news) is NOT found in this statement: “Are you miserable as a sinner?  Come to Christ and we will show how to live a life of greater misery!”  Instead, it IS found in this understanding:  “In Christ, your sin is a solved problem and your forgiveness is continuing (1 John 1:5-10)!  In Christ, Your resurrection is certain!  Rejoice in the Lord!  Be happy, and express your joy to God!

 Are you in Christ?   Do you find joy in that?  Is it a joy the opposition of ungodliness cannot destroy?  Have you expressed your happiness to God?

 If you are a Christian, let your joy be evident—even to God! (Snippets from David)

Lehman Strauss - A Time to Rejoice
This final feast was further a time of rejoicing before the Lord. "Ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days" (Leviticus 23:40). Don't miss the orderly progression here: first the Day of Atonement, then the Feast of Tabernacles. On the Day of Atonement, they expressed affliction of soul (23:27, 29, 32), a deep sorrow over their sins. Until their sins had been cleansed and forgiven, they could not rejoice. Sin always prevents joy; joy always follows cleansing and forgiveness. When David sinned, he lost his joy. Hear him as he pleads with God: "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation" (Psalm 51:12). He did not lose his salvation, but he did lose his joy. When we walk in unbroken fellowship with our Lord and keep our confessions up to date, the heart remains joyful. The Feast of Tabernacles was the most joyous of the annual Jewish feasts. Notice God's words to His people in the following passage:

"Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates. Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice" (Deuteronomy 16:13-15).

It was the Lord's intention that this final feast be a time of great rejoicing. "Thou shalt rejoice... thou shalt surely rejoice."

How can we account for the extraordinary joy which accompanied the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles? What precipitated the joyful attitude of the Israelites when the toil and trials of this life were forgotten and their thoughts went back to the past? The answer to these questions is not far removed from us. By a careful review of the first four feasts, in their application to all believers in Christ, a joyous spirit should fill our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 5:16+ Rejoice always (Leviticus 23:40 you shall rejoice before the LORD your God)

This is a command to make this our lifestyle, our daily practice. Are you rejoicing as your read this note? What would happen if we began our day rejoicing in the Lord and to the Lord and  again I will say, rejoice! (Php 4:4-note)? The other question of course is how is this even possible? Beloved, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE! At least not in dependence upon our own human strength, our rotten, fallen flesh. The last thing the fallen flesh will impel us to do is to rejoice -- To criticize? Yes. To complain? Yes. To withhold forgiveness? Yes. To hold a grudge? Yes. But to rejoice? No! But what is IM-possible is HIM-possible. The Holy One in us is continually energizing us, giving us the desire and the power to rejoice always (see Php 2:13NLT-note). Will you surrender your will this morning to the sweet will of the Spirit of Jesus in you? He, and He Alone, can enable supernatural rejoicing from a heart filled with/controlled by Him (note), by His Spirit. Believe it beloved. If necessary...Confess. Repent. Forget what lies behind. Walk forth rejoicing, because no matter the circumstances today, our tomorrow is as bright and certain and joy filled as the Scars on the eternal inscribed on the hands of our Redeemer Jesus Christ (cf Rev 5:6+; Rev 5:12+, Isa 49:16+). 

S Aldridge - There were three great festivals for the Israelites, the dates for which were plainly marked, and at which times it behooved the males of the nation as far as possible to be present at the sanctuary. It is the last of these we are about to consider. The regulations for its observance were enunciated in fullest detail. Were not the people thus reminded that they assisted in the celebration of the ceremonies of a royal court? The Christian Church has its festivals, prominent among which are its gatherings on the Lord's day, and the observance of the Lord's Supper. Much of what can be said with reference to the Israelitish feasts is applicable also to the latter. 

I. THIS WAS THE MOST JOYOUS OF THE FESTIVALS. "Ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God." 

1. See God's delight in the happiness of his people. He loves to witness their rejoicing. Religion was never intended to be synonymous with gloom or moroseness. 

2. This was the crowning festival of the year, and therefore ought to be its climax of joy. For the child of God better days are ever in store; he need never pine for the past to return; each festival shall surpass the preceding. Jesus keeps the best wine till the last; not so with the world's pleasures. 

3. It took place five days after the solemn Day of Atonement, when the national sin was purged, and Israel's communion with its God re-established. To empress sin and obtain pardon is the fitting preparation for gladness of heart. No man who has not experienced the feeling of relief from the burden of guilt and the emotion caused by restoration to his heavenly Father's favour, knows the meaning of real joy. Compared with this the delights of sense and. intellect are flavourless. 

4. Joy reaches its highest expression in the presence of God. "Rejoice before the Lord," even the holy righteous God who searches the heart and tries the reins. We may without pride know that we have done what was right, and that the Being of beings approves our conduct and graces the festival with the light of his countenance. There is none of the secret misgiving that attends sinful banquets, where the laugh is hollow and the gaiety forced, from a conviction that conscience is being silenced and moral law violated. Cf. the rejoicing of the people, and the terror of Adonijah and his guests (1 Kings 1:40, 49). David danced for glee before the Lord when the sacred ark was brought into the city of David. "Rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for thy king cometh unto thee." We would fain have the children glad when it is said, "Let us go unto the house of the Lord." 


1. Another name for it was the Feast of Ingathering. All the produce of the ground had been garnered, the Lord had blessed them in all their increase - corn, oil, and wine; daily food and luxuries abounded; the booths were constructed of fruit trees and leafy palms. God's bounteous bestowment was acknowledged. Spiritual and temporal mercies had enriched the people and evoked manifestations of thanksgiving. So visibly dependent is man upon God for the germinating and maturing of the grain and fruit, that a harvest thanksgiving seems peculiarly appropriate, and again at the storing of the harvest, when the work for the year is practically ended, a festival is of evident fitness. The compassions of the Lord, "new every morning," furnish ample matter for devout meditation and praise. 

2. This feature of the festival was a reason why all should share in it, not only the wealthy, high-born Israelites, but the strangers, the fatherless, the widow, and the poor (Deuteronomy 16:14). God allows his sun to shine and rain to descend upon all, and he expects those who receive his lavish gifts to invite others to participate in the enjoyment thereof. Anticipating our Lord's directions to summon to a feast the poor and maimed and blind, the Israelites were accustomed to "send portions to them for whom nothing is prepared." Selfish exclusion was thus prevented, and universal rejoicing made possible. 

3. An offering to God from each was essential. "They shall not appear before the Lord empty; every man shall give as he is able" (Deuteronomy 16:17). Speech and sentiment without deeds are rightly deemed insincere. It is true of all converts from heathendom that when they give of their substance to God we may infer that they have first given him their hearts. The priests and Levites were in part supported by these national free-will presentations. If we esteem the Master, we shall treat his servants well for his sake. 

III. THIS WAS A COMMEMORATION OF FORMER BLESSINGS. During seven days the Israelites dwelt in booths made of green boughs to remind them of the days when they sojourned in the wilderness (verse 43). 

1. Previous experience may well be remembered. If it pass into oblivion, its lessons have not been graven on the mind, and our state has not proved the discipline it was designed to be. Stand, O believer, upon the mount of present station, and survey the path with all its windings by which you have ascended to this lofty summit. Much a review will be profitable in the extreme, it will produce deepened humility and thankfulness. Keil says, "the recollection of privation and want can never be an occasion of joy." Surely he forgets the Latin Nine, "haec olim meminisse juvabit." Contrast ever heightens joy, a danger successfully surmounted is one of the most pleasing of memories. 

2. The exhibition of God's protecting grace and love demands particular recollection. Not the might and resources of the Israelites, but the watchful, provident care of Jehovah, had led them safely through the desert. He had been to them "a booth for a shadow in the daytime from the beat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain" (Isaiah 4:6). The honour of God was concerned in having a permanent; memorial of Israel's stay in the wilderness, and this institution was adapted to preserve the continued confidence of the people in him and consequent freedom from boastful self-assertion. In many ways, "the joy of the Lord is our strength." 

3. The deliverances wrought for our forefathers in olden days should excite gratitude to God in our breasts. Can we recall unmoved the triumphs of the early Christians, or the heroism which God's Spirit enabled martyred Protestants to evince? The wonders of our age become the heirlooms of the ages that follow. 

CONCLUSION. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ commemorated in the Lord's Supper was the Passover of the Church; the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost marked the era of the Church's Feast of Weeks; the Feast of Tabernacles yet waits its due counterpart, when the elect shall be gathered into the kingdom from every land, to celebrate the cessation of earthly toil, to exult in the complete removal of sinful stain, and to enter upon the undimmed, undying gladness of the eternal sabbath. Not one of God's people shall be missing through illness or distance of abode, and a retrospect of the pilgrimage of earth shall enhance the bliss of heaven. - S.R.A. 

Sidlow Baxter - There can be no rejoicing in the curse of the Law; but we may well rejoice at the altar which sets us free from the curse. That altar speaks of Calvary. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" (Gal 3:13). As the Law testified to sin, so the sacrifices on that Mount Ebal altar testified to grace - to the provision of mercy, which lay within the Covenant, for the covering of guilt. Without this provision of grace Israel's position under the Law would obviously have been a mockery. When Israel later fouled the Covenant, she not only disobeyed the writing on Ebal's memorial pillars, she forsook the Lord's altar also, and offered to strange gods. Moreover, the approach to the Lord's own altar was often insincere or unintelligent, as the Lord Himself testifies against Israel through His prophets. Yet that altar spoke with comforting eloquence of grace to cover man's failure, if only faith and sincerity came thither. The peace-offerings and burnt-offerings speak of peace made for us with God, through Christ, and of God's perfect delight in the sacrifice of His Son, whereby we become fully accepted with Him. Oh, well may we "rejoice before the Lord our God" at that altar! The old dispensation pronounces curse, yet is made to point to the new dispensation in Christ, which administers blessing. Under the old-curse. Under the new-blessing. Thank God, the old has given place to the new! (Explore the Book)

Free from the Law, oh, happy condition!
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission!
Cursed by the Law, and bruised by the Fall,
Grace hath redeemed us, once for all!

Leviticus 23:41 'You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month.

Perpetual statute - Exod. 27:21; Exod. 29:9; Exod. 30:21; Lev. 3:17; Lev. 10:9; Lev. 23:14; Lev. 23:21; Lev. 23:31; Lev. 23:41; Lev. 24:3; Num. 10:8; Num. 15:15; Num. 18:23; Num. 19:10; Num. 19:21

Leviticus 23:42 'You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths,

  • Ge 33:17 Nu 24:2,5 Ne 8:14-17 Jer 35:10 2Co 5:1 Heb 11:13-16
  • Leviticus 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Nehemiah 8:14-17 They found written in the law how the LORD had commanded through Moses that the sons of Israel should live in booths during the feast of the seventh month. 15So they proclaimed and circulated a proclamation in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the hills, and bring olive branches and wild olive branches, myrtle branches, palm branches and branches of other leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.” 16So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. 17The entire assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in them. The sons of Israel had indeed not done so from the days of Joshua the son of Nun to that day. And there was great rejoicing.

Leviticus 23:43 so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.'"

Deuteronomy 31:10-13  Then Moses commanded them, saying, “At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, 11when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. 12“Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. 13“Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”

Leviticus 23:44 So Moses declared to the sons of Israel the appointed times of the LORD.

Appointed times - Lev. 23:2; Lev. 23:4; Lev. 23:37; Lev. 23:44; Num. 15:3; Num. 29:39; Ezr. 10:14; Neh. 10:33; Neh. 13:31; Est. 9:31; Acts 17:26