Biblical Archaeology Review 40:2, March/April 2014

Strata: How Many?

How many days does the observance of Passover last, according to the Books of Leviticus and Numbers?

Answer: One

This may come as a surprise to those familiar with the common weeklong Passover holiday, but Leviticus 23:5–6 and Numbers 28:16–17 clearly indicate that the Passover offering should take place on the 14th day of the first month and that the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread begins the next day, on the 15th of that month. As explained in the Encyclopaedia Judaica, “[Today’s] feast of Passover consists of two parts: the Passover ceremony and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Originally both parts existed separately; but at the beginning of the [Babylonian] Exile, they were combined.”1 At that time the two observances were joined to commemorate the Israelites’ miraculous escape from slavery in Egypt.

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