The Biblical feasts of Israel, as prescribed in Leviticus 23, are:
2. Feast of Unleavened Bread
4. Feast of Weeks (Pentecost)
5. Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)
6. Day of Atonement
Extra-Biblical feasts are:
1. Dedication (Hanukah)
Of these, all males from Israel had to appear in Jerusalem for Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.
Held on the 14th day of the first month, ( Nisan 14 ), or roughly mid-April. It was a memorial of the Israelite deliverance out of Egypt. Christ, as the Passover Lamb of Israel, is thus symbolized, as it is by His shed blood that the death passes us by, and we are subsequently brought out of sin, the land of bondage. Exodus 12:8 details 3 foods that were to be eaten on Passover, these being unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and the lamb, roasted with fire.young lamb, depicting innocence. It was to be roasted with fire portraying the judgment that would befall it instead of their own firstborn. Unleavened bread was to be eaten symbolizing the purity of the sacrifice since leaven, with its souring characteristic, was often a symbol of sin (I Corinthians 5:6-8). In addition, bitter herbs were to be eaten as a reminder of the suffering of the lamb.
Feast of Unleavened Bread:
Held through the 7 days following Passover, ( Nisan 15-21 ). Many have included it with the Passover itself, but Passover was a one-night event, while the Feast of Unleavened Bread is more accurately used in regards to the 7 days following. On the first night, and again on the seventh, there was to be a time of convocation (meeting) between God and man. Unleavened bread reflected the fact that the Israelites had no time to put leaven in their bread before their hasty departure from Egypt; it was also apparently connected to the barley harvest (Leviticus 23:4-14).
Many have included Firstfruits with Pentecost, it was held on Nisan 16, the 2nd day of the feast of Unleavened Bread . It was called thus because of the divine command to bring forward the first-fruits of the harvest, Numbers 28:26. Barley, first crop to be planted, was the beginning of the harvest season for the Israelites. After meticulous cermony, it is presented to the Lord, who, in turn, accepted it as a pledge on His part for a full harvest to come. Paul makes good use of this fact by pointing out, in 1 Corinthians 15:20, "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." Thus, Paul, in connection with the Feast of Firstfruits, had in mind that, as Christ has been raised from the dead, He is become the guarantee that the rest of the crop would indeed be harvested, as, when God accepted the barley sheaf at this feast, it was a guarantee that the rest of the crop would provide a good harvest.
Also called Feast of Weeks, or Feast of Harvest, was held on the 50th day after Passover, ( Sivan 6 ), that being 50 days after barley harvest, and lasted 1 day. It honored the covenant giving at Mt.Sinai. Essentially a harvest celebration, the term weeks was used to describe the time period from the grain harvest to the barley harvest and finally to the wheat harvest. It is called the Feast of Weeks because God specifically told the sons of Jacob that they were to count seven sevens of weeks (seven complete weeks) from Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:9), and then on the "morrow" this fourth feast was to be observed (Luke 23:16). Seven sevens of weeks are forty-nine days. Add one additional day ("on the morrow"), and it brings the total number of days to fifty. This fourth feast was to occur precisely fifty days after Firstfruits (Christ's resurrection). Therefore, the feast was given the name "Pentecost" (Acts 2:1) which means "fifty." On this occasion, the children of Israel were not to simply bring the firstfruits of the wheat to the Temple (as they brought the firstfruit of the barley at the Feast of Firstfruits), but rather two loaves of bread. These two loaves were specifically commanded to be made with fine flour and baked with leaven (Leviticus 23:17), and they were to be used as a "wave offering" for the people.These two loaves, however, could not be eaten until after the ceremony was completed (Leviticus 23:14; Joshua 5:10-11) and could not be placed on the altar due to its leaven content. In addition to the wave offering, two lambs, one young bull, and two rams were to be offered as burnt offerings before the Lord (Leviticus 23:15-22; Numbers 28:26-31). The feast was concluded by the eating of communal meals to which the poor, the stranger, and the Levites were invited. The two loaves which were brought to the Temple represented both Jew and Gentile; however they became one in Christ with the advent of the Spirit's coming. There was to be leaven in those two loaves, for the Church had not yet been glorified. During this age, there is still sin within the Church. Messiah Yeshua (the head) is unleavened. On the other hand, the Church (the body) still has leaven within her. Therefore, leaven was to be included in those two loaves.
Feast of Trumpets:
Held on the first day of the 7th month, ( Tishri 1 and 2 ), which was the beginning of the civil year. The Feast of Trumpets is the first of the fall feasts. The Jewish people call this feast Rosh Hashanah, which literally means "Head of the Year," and it is observed as the start of the civil year (in contrast with the religious year which starts with Passover) on the Jewish calendar. The Feast of Trumpets is so important in Jewish thinking that it stands alongside Yom Kippur ("Day of Atonement") to comprise what Judaism calls "the high holy days" on the Jewish religious calendar. It begins the "ten days of awe" before the Day of Atonement. According to Leviticus 23:24-27, the celebration consisted of a time of rest, "an offering made by fire," and the blowing of the trumpets. The trumpet referred to here was the shofar, a ram's horn. It was distinctive from the silver trumpets blown on the other new moons. Silver trumpets were sounded at the daily burnt offering and at the beginning of each new month (Numbers 10:10), but the shofar specifically was blown on the beginning of the month Tishri. The Feast of Trumpets occurs at the new moon. Only the slightest crescent would be visible. However, clouds could obscure the moon, and witnesses were required. Watchfulness was a critical ingredient of this feast. The rabbis later added a second day to this feast to make sure they didn't miss it. This need for watchfulness and preparedness in connection with the Feast of Trumpets is echoed and reechoed throughout the New Testament in connection with the Lord's coming.
Day of Atonement:
Also called Yom Kippur, it is held on 10th day of the 7th month, ( Tishri 10 ). On this day, the High Priest would lay the sins of Israel on a scapegoat, which was then sent into the wilderness. Lev.23:26-32. Whereas the Feast of Trumpets occured on the first day of the Hebrew month, Tishri, at the new moon, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) occurred ten days later on the tenth of the month. The ten days from Trumpets to the Day of Atonement are known as "the days of awe" which include penitence, prayer, and fasting in preparation for the most solemn day of the Jewish religious calendar - the Feast of Tabernacles. The focal point of this feast involved the high priest entering the holy of holies. However, before entering, he had to first bathe his entire body, thus going way beyond the mere washing of hands and feet which were required for other occasions. This washing symbolized the high priest's desire for purification. Rather than wearing his usual robe and colorful garments (Exodus 28 and Leviticus 8), he was commanded to wear special garments of linen. The high priest sacrificed a bullock as a sin offering for himself and for his house (Leviticus 16:6). After filling his censer with live coals from the altar, he entered the holy of holies where he placed incense on the coals. Next, he took some of the blood which was taken from the slain bullock and sprinkled it on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant (Leviticus 16:13) and also on the ground in front of the mercy seat, providing atonement for the priesthood (Leviticus 16:14-15). Then he sacrificed a male goat as a sin offering for the people. Some of this blood was then also taken into the holy of holies and sprinkled there on behalf of the people (Leviticus 16:11-15). Next, the high priest took another goat (called the "scapegoat"), laid his hands on its head, confessed over it the sins of Israel, and then released it into the desert where it symbolically carried away the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:8,10). The remains of the sacrificial bullock and male goat were taken outside of the city and subsquently burned; the day finally concluded with some additional sacrifices. According to Hebrews 9-10, this ritual is a symbol of the atoning work of Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest, who did not need to make any sacrifice for Himself but rather shed His own blood for our sins. As the high priest of the Old Testament entered the holy of holies with the blood of sacrificial animals, Jesus entered heaven itself to appear on our behalf in front of the Father (Hebrews 9:11,12). Each year the high priest repeated his sin offerings for his own sin as well as for the sins of the people. This ritual was an annual reminder that perfect and permanent atonement had not yet been made; but Jesus, through His very own blood, accomplished eternal redemption for His people (Hebrews 9:12). Just as the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement was burned outside Israel's camp, Jesus suffered outside the gate of Jerusalem so that He might redeem His people from sin (Hebrews 13:11-12).
Also called the feast of Ingathering, or Boothes, it was held on the 15th day of the 7th month, (Tishri 15-22 ), 5 days after the Day of Atonement, and lasted for 8 days. It was a fall feast, corresponding with the fruit, olive, wine, and late grain harvest. It recalled the time of wandering in the wilderness, and was a time of rejoicing and thanksgiving for Israels' blessing of the land. On the first day of the feast, each participant had to collect twigs of myrtle, willow, and palm in the area of Jerusalem for construction of their booth (Nehemiah 8:13-18). These "huts" or "booths" were constructed from bulrushes as joyful reminders of the temporary housing erected by their forefathers during the Exodus wanderings (Leviticus 23:40-41; Deuteronomy 16:14). The "booth" in Scripture is a symbol of protection, preservation, and shelter from heat and storm (Psalm 27:5; 31:20; Isaiah 4:6). Besides the construction of the booths, other festivities included the ingathering of the labor of the field (Exodus 23:16), the ingathering of the threshing floor and winepress (Deuteronomy 16:13), and the ingathering of the fruit of the earth (Leviticus 23:39), Samples of the fall crop were hung in each family's booth to acknowledge God's faithfulness in providing for His people. On the eighth and final day of the feast, the high priest of Israel, in a great processional made up of priests and tens of thousands of worshipers, descended from the Temple Mount to pause briefly at the Pool of Siloam. A pitcher was filled with water, and the procession continued via a different route back to the Temple Mount. Here, in the midst of great ceremony, the high priest poured the water out of the pitcher onto the altar. Since in Israel the rains normally stop in March, there is no rain for almost seven months! If God does not provide the "early" rains in October and November, there will be no spring crop, and famine is at the doorstep. This ceremony, then, was intended to invoke God's blessing on the nation by providing life-giving water. It is in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles and this eighth day that the gospel of John records a fascinating event. John wrote: "In the last day (eighth day), that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38). The Son of God was saying in the clearest possible way that He alone was the source of life and blessing; that He could meet every need of the human heart.
Also called Hanukah, or Festival of Lights, is held on the 25 day of the 9th month, ( Chislev 25), and lasts for 8 days. In 165 B.C., Judas Maccabeus rededicated the temple in Jerusalem that had been desecrated with pagan idols by the Greek kings of Syria, 1 Macc. 4:52-59. This dedication was celebrated by lighting the lampstands in the temple, and to this day is a feast of lights, held in the same month as Christmas, and is a time of Jewish rejoicing. It is mentioned in John 10:22.
Also known as Feast of Lots, it is held on the 14th day of the 12th month, ( Adar 14), and lasts 2 days. A feast established after the exile, it commemorates the day of deliverance that God gave to the Jews in Persia under Queen Esther. The only Biblical mention of this feast is in Esther 9.
The Jewish Calendar:
Month: Corresponds to: # of days: Month of Civil Year: Month of Sacred Year:
Tishri Sept.-Oct. 30 1st 7th
Heshvan Oct.-Nov. 20 or 30 2nd 8th
Chislev Nov.-Dec. 29 or 30 3rd 9th
Tebeth Dec.-Jan 29 4th 10th
Shebat Jan.-Feb. 30 5th 11th
Adar Feb.-Mar. 29 or 30 6th 12th
Nisan Mar.-Apr. 30 7th 1st
Iyar Apr.-May 29 8th 2nd
Sivan May-June 30 9th 3rd
Tammuz June-July 29 10th 4th
Ab July-Aug. 30 11th 5th
Elul Aug.-Sept. 29 12th 6th
Note: The Hebrew year, shorter than ours at 354 days, added an extra month called Veadar, 7 times every 19 years, or about every 3 years. It was added between Adar and Nisan. The month Veadar is 29 days long.