Finding the Exodus

Promised Land Passover Sabbath Triangulation

The first Sabbath in the Promised Land can be calculated by finding the first Passover in the Promised Land. Joshua informs us that the first Passover Sabbath happened on the 14th day of the first month, being 14 Nisan, after 40 years in the wilderness. Then on the following morning, Israel ate the new grain. The fact that the new grain was eaten indicates that the Omer Offering occurred after the Passover and Sabbath:

  • Joshua 5:10-11 ­– “And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal; and they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. And they did eat of the produce of the land on the morrow after the Passover, unleavened cakes, and parched grain in the selfsame day.”

To determine if the Passover was on a Sabbath, one needs to look at the Omer Offering rules:

  • Leviticus 23:10-11 – “When ye are come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring the sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before Jehovah, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.”

The Pharisees believed that the Sabbath in verse 11 automatically applied to the first day of unleavened bread when the Omer Offering occurs. The Pharisees held that the Passover was considered a Sabbath and highlighted by Hebrew Strong word 7677 and so claim the Omer Offering can be made the day immediately after Passover.

The Sadducees held that the Sabbath marks the day before the Omer Offering. They maintain, the Omer Offering can only be given on the morrow after the seventh day of the week.

What is certain is the word Sabbath used in Leviticus and Joshua is the word Sabbath (Strong’s number 7676).[1] It is used only for the seventh day of the week. The word Sabbath is often interpreted as rest. Strong’s word 7677[2] is used to describe a high holy day but is different from that of a Sabbath. The word Sabbath (7677) does not appear in the Joshua or Leviticus account regarding the Omer Offering. Instead, only the Sabbath (7676) or the seventh day is used. In the Leviticus and Joshua account, the Omer Offering must occur on the day after the Sabbath (7676), which is Sunday morning.

The most conservative read of Joshua 5:11 is that the Sabbath (7676) is a Friday night through Saturday.

Edersheim states:

  • For, the Sadducees, when in office, always conformed to the prevailing Pharisaic practices. Thus the Sadducees would have interpreted Lev. xxiii. 11, 15, 16, as meaning that the wave-sheaf (or, rather, the Omer) was to be offered on ‘the morrow after the weekly Sabbath’ – that is, on the Sunday in Easter week.[3]

The Sadducees that held the strictest read of the Mosaic Law are described by James Hastings, D.D., in his Dictionary of the Bible:

  • SADDUCEES—Probably the name ‘Sadducee’ is derived from the name Zadok, a notable priest in the time of David and Solomon (2 S 8:17, 15:24, 1 K 1:34). His descendants long played the leading part among the priests, so that Ezekiel regarded them as the only legitimate priests (Ezk 40:46, 43:19, 44:15 48:11).[4]

Hastings also covers the fact that the Sadducees were in charge of everything in Jerusalem, including the high priesthood, which would include temple activities:

  • In our Lord’s time many of the poor priests were Pharisees. But the higher priestly families and the priests as a body were Sadducees. With them were joined the majority of the aristocratic lay families of Judea and Jerusalem. This fact gives us the key to their career. It is wrapped up in the history of the high priesthood. For two centuries after the exile the high priesthood earned the right to the leadership of the Jewish nation.[5]

It would make sense that the high priest’s sect during the first Temple period would become the high priest during the second Temple period. Likewise, it would make sense that the priests, the Sadducees that took over the high priest activities for the second Temple period, would follow in the beliefs and traditions of those in the first Temple period. Nevertheless, even if this is not the case, the Sadducees were the prominent religious leaders during the entire second Temple timeframe.

Throughout the entire time that the Sadducees lead in Jerusalem, they were known for taking a conservative view and only followed the first five books of the Old Testament, the books that Moses wrote. All sacrifices and offerings would have taken place under the supervision of a high priest who was of the Sadducees.

Offerings and sacrifices would have been done according to the Mosaic Law and carried out to the Sadducees’ specifications. The Sadducees’ interpretation would be meaningful, seeing that they controlled all Temple sacrifices during the second and most likely first temple timeframes. The Sadducees would have only offered the Wave Offering of the Omer Offering on the first day after the Sabbath and after the Passover. This would have been the only acceptable option during the time of Jesus. Therefore, one can conclude that it was probably the acceptable way of doing things long before Jesus’ time as they were descendants of Zadok the high priest.

Suppose the Sadducees had it right in the most conservative read of Moses’ books. In that case, one is looking for a Sabbath Passover with the Omer Offering on Sunday morning, the day after the Sabbath and after the first Passover in the Promised Land.

The Omer Offering on Sunday morning, 15 Nisan, would also allow for the events leading up to this. Joshua 3:1-5:11 records the crossing of the Jordan River and the events associated with it. In the account of the crossing of the Jordan, a complex chain of events is recorded.

The order of events would be as follows:

  • On Thursday, 5 Nisan, Israel camped at the Jordan for three days (Joshua 3:1-2). This would mean Israel arrived at the Jordan one day before the Sabbath.
  • On Monday, 9 Nisan, Israel was informed they would be crossing the Jordan the next day (Joshua 3:5).
  • On Tuesday, 10 Nisan, Israel crossed the Jordan (Joshua 4:19), and the males of Israel were circumcised (Joshua 5:2-8).
  • After three days of healing and before twilight on the Sabbath, Saturday, 14 Nisan, the Passover Lamb was sacrificed and the Passover was eaten on Saturday night.
  • The uneaten part of the lamb was burned on the morning of Sunday, 15 Nisan.
  • On the same Sunday morning, the Omer Offering was made.

The placement of the Omer Offering on Sunday morning would allow for the chain of events. The odds of lining up to any year is 1 out of 7. That is, for every seven years, one year would line up with this account.

[1] James Strong, Dictionaries of the Hebrew and Greek Words (New York: Eaton & Mains, 1890), p. 114.

[2] Ibid, p. 114.

[3] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Vol. I (New York: E. R. Herrick, 1920), p. 320.

[4] James Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1909), p. 818.

[5] Ibid, p. 818.

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