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Leviticus 23 – Jewish Holidays

Leviticus 23 overviewed seven of Israel’s major holy days and holidays: 1) Sabbath; 2) Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (viewed as one holiday); 3) Feast of Firstfruits; 4) Feast of Weeks; 5) Trumpets; 6) Day of Atonement; 7) Feast of Booths.

You may wonder: What about Hanukkah?  What about Purim?

These are two other Jewish holidays, but they both came after Moses gave Israel the Law in Leviticus.  Purim was established in the book of Esther (after the return from exile) and Hanukkah was established in the intertestamental period.

One potentially confusing element of Lev 23 is that the days and months of the Jewish calendar are different from the days and months of our calendar.  The Israelites used a lunar calendar, based on the cycle of the moon.  Their months also started and ended at a different time than ours.  This creates some difficulty when we read about “the first day of the seventh month” (Lev 23:24).  This is not July 1st!

Here’s a handy chart that demonstrates when each of these holidays are celebrated (the strange names – Abib/Sivan/Tishri – refer to the names for the Jewish months).

HolidayBiblical Month/DayAmerican Month/Day
SabbathWeekly – SaturdayWeekly – Saturday
Passover1st Month (Abib)/14th DayMarch/April
Unleavened Bread1st Month (Abib)/15th-21st DayMarch/April
FirstfruitsDay after 1st Sabbath of HarvestMarch/April
Weeks50 Days after the Firstfruits (Sivan)May/June
Trumpets7th Month/1st Day (Tishri)September/October
Day of Atonement7th Month/10th Day (Tishri)September/October
Tabernacles7th Month/15th-22nd Day (Tishri)September/October

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