The Appointed Festivals
1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.
3 There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord.
The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread
4 These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: 5 The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. 6 On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. 7 On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. 8 For seven days present a food offering to the Lord. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.
Offering the Firstfruits
9 The Lord said to Moses, 10 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. 11 He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. 12 On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord a lamb a year old without defect, 13 together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil—a food offering presented to the Lord, a pleasing aroma—and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine. 14 You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
The Festival of Weeks
15 From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. 16 Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. 17 From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord. 18 Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to the Lord, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings—a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 19 Then sacrifice one male goat for a sin offering and two lambs, each a year old, for a fellowship offering. 20 The priest is to wave the two lambs before the Lord as a wave offering, together with the bread of the firstfruits. They are a sacred offering to the Lord for the priest. 21 On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
22 When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.
The Festival of Trumpets
23 The Lord said to Moses, 24 Say to the Israelites: On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. 25 Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the Lord.
The Day of Atonement
26 The Lord said to Moses, 27 The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present a food offering to the Lord. 28 Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God. 29 Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people. 30 I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day. 31 You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. 32 It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.
The Festival of Tabernacles
33 The Lord said to Moses, 34 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. 35 The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. 36 For seven days present food offerings to the Lord, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the Lord. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work.
37 These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing food offerings to the Lord—the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. 38 These offerings are in addition to those for the Lord’s Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the Lord.
39 So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest. 40 On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters 43 so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
44 So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed festivals of the Lord.
A Brief Summary of the Set Festivals called Moedim or God Appointed Times!
The Lunar Cycle - To understand the set festivals we should understand the role played by the moon and it's monthly cycle. Each Jewish month begins with a new moon without fail. In Judaism identifying the new moon each month is very important so that no set festival is missed. Rosh Chodesh or New Moon starts with a moon that is sickle shaped with the left portion not visible from earth and the left portion incrementally fills out and reaches full shape always in the middle of the month or the 15th of each month. The moon is always largest and fully formed at the middle of each Jewish month then slowly incrementally each day returns to a sickle shape again by the 30th of the month as the opposite right side portion of the moon becomes invisible from earth. For example Passover is always celebrated on the 15th of Nissan thus you can always expect to see a full moon on each Passover. Another example of a full moon as it pertains to set Jewish festivals is Purim which always occurs on the 14th of Adar when the moon is full. Sukkot always falls on the 15th of the Jewish month Tishrie and we can consistently expect a full moon then as well. When the moon is closest to the earth the full moon will seem very large known as a 'super moon.'
Pesach or Passover celebrated in the 1st Jewish month of Nissan or Aviv on 15th Nissan is embodied with spiritual values that energize our covenant with God and brings specific blessings from the positional realm to the experiential realm. All of the set festivals have unique blessings available to us and that are built into each festival. When we celebrate each festival prayerfully and partner with what God intends for the festival we release the specific spiritual value for each festival.
Thus Pesach which literally means 'to skip over' or to pass over has embodied in this eight-day festival supernatural deliverance by an awesome, impressive God, a sacrificial lamb and a life free from pride and free from being puffed up signified by the unleavened bread, and finally first fruits or Bikkurim the barley harvest followed by the wheat harvest was the literal first fruit signifying Jesus Christ as the first fruit risen from the dead. In this application we can receive literal deliverances, literal removal of hard to overcome compulsive habits and begin living a life that matches those who are the first fruits delivered from sin. Pesach is an awesome time and we will discuss in more detail.
The next yearly feast which occurs 50 days after Pesach is Shavuot or Pentecost celebrated in the month of Sivan on the 6th or 7th Sivan. Pentecost is a Greek word from the Septuagint version of the Bible that means "count fifty." It is on the second day of the eight-day celebration of Pesach when the Heave Offering is waived that the fifty- day count begins and ends on the fiftieth day marking the beginning of Pentecost or Shavuot. This festival is also known as the Feast of Weeks because we count 7 weeks from Passover plus one day to get to this festival. On day 33 of this fifty-day period as each day is verbally counted meticulously as a mitzvah, the solemness of the counting is suspended for 24-hours on Lag B' Omer, meaning the 33rd day of counting the omer whereby haircuts, weddings and celebration begins as Shavuot approaches. The counting of the omer or the counting of the 50 days between Passover and Pentacost originated as the ancient Hebrews prepared themselves to recieve the law from Mount Sinai via Moses. Lag means 33 because the letter lamed numerically equals 30 and the letter gimel numerically equals 3.
Shavuot or Pentecost was and is a set yearly celebration and was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit was outpoured in Jerusalem upon those who waited in the upper room.
Prior to this manifested promise recorded by Joel 2, each year Shavuot was celebrated to commemorate the first tablets of the Law and 10 Commandments given to Moses or Moshe Rabienu on Mount Sinai. According to the Midrash or Rabbinical commentaries on the Torah, the second tablets of the law were given during Yom Kippur because the first set of tablets were broken.
Jesus referenced Shavuot clearly when He instructed the disciples not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait until they receive power from God. Jesus was saying to the disciples, I died to fulfill Pesach or Passover, now wait 50 days as you normally do for Shavuot and celebrate Shavuot in Jerusalem because this Shavuot or Pentecost will be the fulfillment of all previous Shavuot celebrations.
Thus today we still celebrate Shavuot but from the vantage point of fulfillment whereby we celebrate the infilling of the Holy Spirit coupled with the Mighty God who gave Moses the Law at Mount Sinai. Embedded in Shavuot is the fullness of God as recorded in Ephesians 1:23 "the fullness of him that filleth all in all."
The next set festival is Rosh Hashanah in the 7th Jewish month of Tishrei celebrated the 1st of Tishrie which is also known as Yom Teruah the Day of Trumpets or the day of blowing. This festival is also known as the Feast of Trumpets. The application today is waiting on the "final blast of Messiah" called Tekia Gedolah when He comes in the rapture. This Feast will be fulfilled at the rapture of the Church. For centuries Jews and Christians alike have celebrated this feast to prepare, make ourselves ready even practice and understand what the final blast will be. At Rosh Hashanah the year advances to the next year. Rosh Ha Shanah is referred to as Yom Ha Zikkaron the Day of Rememberance or the Day the Essence remembering the day man was created in God's image and likeness which is God's essence. Rosh HaShanah is the aniversary celebration of creation, the day God created of Adam and Eve.
Tashlich is a ceremony performed on Rosh Hashanah which is 'to cast our sins into the sea,' repentance. The window for Tashlich extends through the last day of Sukkot. The concept for Tashlich originates from Micah 7:19. Participants meet by a moving body of water to cast crumbs of various flour products into the water that symbolize various types of sins.
God will take us back in love;
God will cover up our iniquities,
You [God] will hurl all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.
Also in the month of Tishrei there are "Ten days of Awe" that begin on Rosh Hashanah and end on Yom Kippur which are the Holiest Days in Judaism. These ten days are spent in introspection, repentance, prayer and charity. In Hebrew we would say Teshuva, Tefillah and Tdzedaka, repentance, prayer and kindness. This is a period to get right with God, take stock of our past and pray for our future.
Yom Kippur, translated the 'day of covering' commonly known as the Day of Attonement celebrated the 10th of Tishrie is the holiest day of Judaism also occurs in the month of Tishrei and all focus is on teshuva-teffilah-tzedakah which means respectively repentance, prayer and charity before Neila the closing of the gates. A 25 hour fast is mandatory for this festival beginning 25 hours before Neila when the festival ends at sunset with the final shofar blast. Over 100 shofar blasts are executed each day during this 10-day period using the 4-types of blasts known as follows:
1. Tekia - one long blast
2. Shevarim - 3 short blasts
3. Teruah - 9 staccato blasts - a wakeup call
4. Tekia Gedola - the final blasts until out of breath - this is the trump of God referred to by the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and the 'last trump' of 1 Corinthians 15:52.
On Yom Kippur the second set of tablets with the 10 - commandments were given after the first set of tablets were destroyed by Moses originally given during Shavuot. God met with Moses again privately during Yom Kippur on Sanai to issue new tablets and to forgive the sins of the Hebrews. Subsequent to Mount Sinai Aaron would meet privately in the Holy of Holies where the Ark Aron Kodesh resided containing the new tablets to receive forgiveness for the sins of the people. In addition to the 10 - commandments Judaism also has the 7 - Noahide Laws discussed in previous chapter entitled 'Israel Geo-Political' and 613 mitzvot.
The tallith underscores the 613 commandments that are a part of the Orthodox Jewish belief system. The Mishnaic version of the word tzitzit has an additional Hebrew letter 'yode' which gives the word a numeric value of 600 then adds the five knots and eight strings which brings the total to 613. However the Torah version of the word tzitzit omits the extra Hebrew letter 'yode' and has a word value of only 590 plus the five knots and eight strings equaling 603. The Hebrew word tzitzit without the extra letter 'yode' appears only once in the Torah and Jewish sages reconcile the difference and agree there are 613 mitzvots or commandments.
Only once a year did the Kohen HaGadol or The High Priest enter the Tabernacle and after completing the temple rituals he emerged from the Holy of Holies to bless the people by pronouncing the holiest name in Judaism the personal name of God Himself pronounced yode-hay-vav-hay reading from right to left, transliterated JeHoVaH. And in that moment by means of declaring that name all the people in the temple were cleansed of their misdeeds. The Tabernacle which was a mobile tent and subsequently future Jewish temples were considered the 'foot stool' of God Himself. The Kotel or 'wailing wall' in Old City Jerusalem is the holiest place of prayer for Judaism because the wailing wall survived the destruction of the last Jewish Temple in 70 A.D. and is still considered the foot stool of God on earth.
The people would flock to Jerusalem in order to hear that name said once a year. Outside of Yom Kippur God's personal name was never used to prevent any human weakness of taking the Lord's name in vane even unintentionally. During Yom Kippur the High Priest visited the Holy of Holies or Kodesh HaKodeshim, in the Holiest site which was the temple in Jerusalem, in the Holiest City Jerusalem and recite the Holiest name yode hay vav hay.
Today, the ritual of the ancient High Priest is rehearsed yearly on Yom Kippur in the Jewish Avodah and Musaf Services in synagogues across the globe. After the destruction of the second Jewish Temple in 70 A.D. the emphasis of animal sacrifice administered by the Kohen Gadol or High Priest to include the 'azazel ' or scapegoat switched to an emphasis of tefillah - prayer and liturgy administered by a Rabbi who by definition is a teacher focused institution within Judaism, a teacher of Torah. There is more information regarding Jewish Festivals in my signature book, 'The Many Faces of Judaism.' Also noteworthy, there is a similarity within Christianity whereby the Apostle Paul a former Rabbi used the same concept pointing out the mystery and efficacy of using the name of God.
Acts 4:12 NIV " Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved."
Philippians 2:10 Aramaic Bible in Plain English " That in The Name of Yeshua, every knee shall bow, which is in Heaven and in The Earth and which is under The Earth, "
The 7th month of Tishrei also has another set festival called Sukkot also known as the Feast of Tabernacles celebrated the 15th of Tishrie. Sukkot which is plural for booths or Succah which means booth or tent commemorates the primitive tents Israel lived in during their forty year journey in the wilderness. Sukkot is a distinct transition of mood from a very solemn Yom Kippur to an exceedingly joyous mood, so joyous the term Z'man Simchateinu, the Season of our Rejoicing is used. Sukkot is one of the three moedim or set festivals Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot, mandatory for men to observe. An important mitzvah during Sukkot is to assemble four species known as arba minim associated with agriculture which comprise the 'lulav.' The four species are the etrog or citron which is a citrus fruit similar to a lemon held in the left hand and bound together one palm branch, two willow branches, three myrtle brances, these six referred to as lulav held in the right hand against the citron and shaken before the Lord. The lulav and citron are shaken east-forward, south-right, west-back, north-left, up and down. These directions acknowledge that God is everywhere. To celebrate Sukkot at minimum we spend time under a Succah by visiting a Succah, bringing an offering and shaking a lulav.
Sukkot will be fulfilled in the Millennium reign of Christ as we dwell with Him. The last day of this 7- Day festival is known as Hoshanah Rabbah the final day when the fate of the new year is decided if not decided at Neila on Yom Kippur. The eighth day after Sukkot is Shemini Atzeret an extended day of Sukkot celebration and the 9th day is Simchat Torah or rejoicing in the law when the Torah reading cycle is started again for the new year. A note about the 7th month of Tishrie and the set festivals therein. To remember the dates of the 3 main festivals celebrated during the month of Tishrie remember the following number pattern 1-10-15. Every year on the 1st of Tishrie we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, on the 10th of Tishrie we celebrate Yom Kippur and on the 15th of Tishrie we celebrate Sukkot, this never changes.
There is the festival of Chanukah celebrated 8 days on the 25th Kislev to 3 Tevet which means "to dedicate" in the month of Kislev which celebrates the miracle of the oil that did not run out for eight days and also the rededication, cleansing and recapturing of the Jewish Temple. Today this eight-day festival is a time of cleansing but also a time of miracles.
In 168 BCE in the city of Modiin equidistant between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv the Jewish temple was seized by Antiochus IV a successor of Alexander the Great. The Jewish Temple was desecrated and many Jews were ordered to bow to Greek gods and to eat pork.The rebellion against Antiochus began when a Jewish Priest, Mattathias in 167 BCE refused to eat pork and to bow to the Greek gods. Mattathias had five sons who became the Maccabee family, Maccabee means “the hammer.” Thus his son Judah who assumed leadership after his death was called Judah the hammer or Judah Maccabee because of his great fighting ability.
Antiochus IV defiled the Jewish temple and forbade the practice of Judaism. When Judah the Maccabee recaptured the temple using guerilla warfare he and his small army purged the temple, literally cleaned it and began repair of all the broken items. The menorah or candle stand was used again but there was only enough consecrated olive oil for only one day but when the oil was lit it burned for 8 days until more oil was consecrated to be used.
As a result an eight branch Chanukkiah not the 6 stem menorah is used for Hanukkah with a ninth holder in the center section to store the “shamash” the helper candle used to light one candle each night. On the first night two candles are lit, then one candle each night for eight nights until the entire menorah is fully lit.
In the final month or twelfth month of Adar on the 14th Adar we celebrate the festival of Purim which means "lots" where Esther was used to prevent catastrophe and misfortune in the lives of the Jews and also Hayman who set a gallow for Mordecai was hanged on his own gallows. Purim is a time to enforce all spiritual laws against the enemy of our soul knowing that Christ spoiled all principalities and powers and made an open show of them.
It is a time of intense spiritual warfare enforced against the devil to stop his illegal efforts against a Child of God. Purim is a time to enforce the word and anointing of God against the devil to see satan's yokes destroyed and burdens removed by the miracle working power of Christ. Purim is a time of the mysteries of Christ.
Note on the eve of Purim 13th Adar we celebrate Ta'anit esther or the fast of esther and we celebrate shushan Purim the day after Purim 15th Adar because the inhabitants of Shushan faught longer and rested 15th Adar. Further note that 7 times in a 19 year period there is a leap year whereby the month of Adar is repeated yielding Adar 1 and Adar 2, a 13 month cycle. The official Purim festival is celebrated in Adar 2.
Today Israel only goes to war as a last resort when backed against the wall and when their survival depends on it. Judaism is a peaceful belief system and only believes in 'just wars.' War is conflicting to Judaism because Judaism strives for 'Shalom' peace within the nation as well as with its neighbors and this has been the nature of Judaism since the time of the Patriarch Abraham, through King David and today.
Judaism closely believes in and closely embraces the concept of 'Tikkun' which literally translates to 'repair.' Israel strives to engage in tikkun olam which is repairing the world and as you see war is not a part of this commitment to repair a broken world. Israel would rather repair the world than break it by war. Israel also is commited to repairing ones self individually or tikkun atzmi, repairing their broken communities such as the poor Charedim or tikkun Kehila, repairing the Jewish people as a group or tikkun Am and repairing Israel as a Jewish State or tikkum medinat. For Israel it is difficult to go to war but to protect Judaism and their beliefs and values they have no choice.
In my book THE MANY FACES OF JUDAISM there is more detail about the Jewish festivals and a strong foundation regarding the sects of Judaism and information that will bring each reader to an above average understanding of Judaism. Remember the following are the sects within Judaism:
1. Orthodox Judaism
2. Conservative or Masorti Judaism
3. Reform Judaism
4. Reconstructionist Judaism
5. Messianic Judaism
6. Humanistic Judaism
Many will ask "what about Hasidic Jews, Ashkenasic Jews, Sephardic Jews or Haredi, are these not sects also?" The answer is no. The sects listed above are the official sects of Judaism. Caution, if speaking with an Orthodox Jew you will see quickly that the Orthodox sect believes there is only one sect in Judaism not six and they are the original sect and all the others are invalid.
Ashkenasic and Sephardic are definitions that identify Geographical Regions.
Sephardic Jews derived from the Hebrew word "Sepharad," which refers to Spain are the Jews of Spain, Portugal, North Africa and the Middle East and their descendants. Ashkenazic Jews are of central or eastern European descent. >80% of Jews today are Ashkenazim; they prefer Palestinian rather than Babylonian Jewish traditions, some still use Yiddish.
Hasidic or known as Chasidut in Israel means 'loving-kindness' from the Hebrew word 'Chesed' is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality, piety and Jewish mysticism. Haredi or Charedi, plural Charedim is also another stream of Orthodox Judaism not a sect characterized by a sharp rejection of modern secular culture. These are the strictest and most zealous stream within the Orthodox sect also known as ultra-Orthodox. Caution, Charedim do not like being called ultra Orthodox so use the term Charedim.
For more detailed information see the following books and publications:
THE MANY FACES OF JUDAISM - Paper Back and EBook