These feasts are divided into three general timeframes. While each feast is distinct, yet, because certain ones are in such close proximity to each other, they sometimes got celebrated as a single event.
The first grouping was in the first month of the Jewish calendar. In the Bible, the months were originally just numbers, but over time, and likely due to Israel being taken captive by Assyria and Babylon, they later were given names due to the influence of these other cultures. The first month is known as Adar. It is in our March/April timeframe. These feasts, or holidays, are denoted as Passover, or Pesach, (14th day of the month), Feast of Unleavened Bread, or Matzah, (15th – 21st of the month), and First Fruit, or Bikkurim, (16th day of the month). For these holidays, all leaven (or yeast) was eliminated from each Jewish household, and only unleavened bread was eaten during these three feasts. These feasts were celebrated during the first grain harvest, which was typically barley. Unleavened bread was made as an offering to God during this feast.
The second grouping is a single feast all to itself that is celebrated 50 days after Bikkurim. It is, therefore, called Pentecost. It is also known by other names: Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot. It was celebrated in the third month, Sivan, which is our May/June timeframe. This was during the second grain harvest, which was typically wheat. Leavened bread was allowed for this holiday. Both unleavened and leavened bread was made as an offering to God during this feast.
The third grouping was three additional feasts celebrated in the Fall. Feast of Trumpets, also called Rosh Hashanah, or Teruah, is celebrated on the first day of the seventh month, Tishri, which is our September/October timeframe. Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, is celebrated on the 10th day of the month, and Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, is celebrated on the 15th – 21st days of the month.
These feasts were known as memorial feasts, meaning that they were to remind Israel of what God had done for them in their past, what he was currently doing for them in their present, and what he will do for them in their future. Therefore, these reminded them of how important God was in their lives. In addition, because it pointed to their future, they were also prophetic in nature. We will get into more of those details in the next few posts.
There is another noted Jewish holiday that is celebrated today that is not part of Leviticus. That is Hanukkah. It is celebrated in the ninth month, Kislev, starting on the 25th day and lasts for eight days. Therefore, the last two days of Hanukkah goes into the tenth month, Tevet. It is typically in December of our calendar; yet, it can start in November in some years and in some years, although infrequently, it can occur in January. The holiday comes from the time of the Maccabees (between the Old and New Testament times). While it is different from these other feasts in that it is not prophetic, it is a reminder of God’s faithfulness to his people.
We will look more closely at these feasts as we go forward because they have significant meaning to all Christians. This is a testimony to how well God knows us. He knows we need reminders to keep our minds and devotion in their proper place. Yet, would we expect anything less from our Creator who knows us so intimately?
Fall Jewish Holidays - Part 1: Rosh Hashanah
Fall Jewish Holidays - Part 2: Yom Kippur
Fall Jewish Holidays - Part 3: Sukkot