Leviticus: Study Notes On The Festivals

This list can be cross referenced with other complete or partial lists of festivals/ sacrifices: Ex 23:14-19; Ex 34:18-26; Num 28:16-29:40; Deut 16. Also see our teaching on Leviticus 11-27

 

Leviticus 23: The Festivals of Israel

Leviticus 23:5-11, , Occurs in early Spring

This was one of the three national feasts/ festivals (Passover/ Unleavened Bread, Weeks and Tabernacles)

 

Passover begins at sundown on the fourteenth day of the first month

  • 14th of Nisan (March/April)
  • First month = Abib = late March, April or early May
    • During the Babylonian exile the Jews adopted the Babylonian month names, so this later became known as the month of Nisan
    • It was the first month according to the sacred year but the seventh month according to the civil year
  • Also see Ex 12:18, 19; Num 28:16-25; Deut 16:1

Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the next day (the fifteenth day of the first month)

  • Continues for seven days (Nisan 15-21)
  • Only unleavened bread may be eaten
  • No work on the first or seventh days of the festival. A holy assembly must occur
  • “Special gifts” or “offering by fire” must be presented all seven days of the festival
  • Note: This also coincided with the beginning of the barley harvest and the festival of the First fruits (see below)`
  • Also see Ex 12:14-20; 23:15; 34:18; Deut 16:3-8

First fruits

  • When: On the day after the Sabbath (during the feast of unleavened bread)
  • Bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.
    • The priest is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on the worshipper’s behalf
    • Sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord
      • A lamb a year old without defect,
      • Together with a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil
      • And a drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine.
  • The worshipper must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain until after making this offering
  • Also see Ex 23:19; 34:26; Deut 26:2, 10

Lev. 23:15-22, Occurs in late Spring

The Feast of Weeks was later known as Pentecost or feast of the Final Harvest and today is called Shavuot/ Shabuoth

This was another of the three national feasts/ festivals

Procedure:

  • 5th of Sivan (May/June)
  • Count off seven full weeks after the Sabbath of the First Harvest
    • On the day after the seventh Sabbath, present an offering of new grain to the Lord.
    • 50 days pass between the Sabbath of the First Harvest and the day after the seventh Sabbath, hence the later name Pentecost
    • This is near the end of the wheat harvest (after the barley harvest)
  • Come to the central place of worship from wherever you live
  • The offering should consist of
    • Two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of first fruits to the Lord.
    • Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull and two rams as a burnt offering to the Lord,
      • The worshipper should present this burnt offering together with their grain offerings and drink offerings—an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.
    • Then sacrifice one male goat for a sin offering and two lambs, each a year old, for a fellowship offering.
      • The priest is to wave the two lambs before the Lord as a wave offering, together with the bread of the first fruits.
      • They are a sacred offering to the Lord for the priest.
    • On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work.

 

Lev. 23:23-25, Occurs in early autumn

Alternate name: Rosh Hashanah (“head of the year”)

Procedure

  • When: on the first day of the appointed month in early autumn,
    • 1st of Tishri (Sept/Oct)
    • They numbered their months two different ways. This is the seventh month of the sacred year (the sabbatical month) but the first month of the civil year
  • Observe a day of complete rest.
  • It will be an official day for holy assembly, a day commemorated with loud blasts of a trumpet.
  • Instead of work they are to present special gifts to the Lord.

Also see Num 29:1-6 for more details

Lev 23:26-32; Also Lev 16; Takes place in autumn 9 days after the Festival of Trumpets

Procedure

  • On the tenth day of that same autumn month as above—nine days after the Festival of Trumpets.
    • This day of rest will begin at sundown on the ninth day of the month and extend until sundown on the tenth day.”
  • Observe it as an official day for holy assembly
  • No work during that entire day
    • All who do not deny themselves that day will be cut off from God’s people.
  • Offerings of purification are made (see Lev 16)

Day of Atonement: Order of Events (Leviticus 16)

1. Warning: God is present in the cloud above the atonement cover (Lev 16:1-2)

2. Priest’s preparation (16:3-10)

  • Priest brings his own young bull for a sin offering and ram for burnt offering
  • Bathe in water and then put on the holy linen tunic, sash and turban
  • From the community, take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering
  • Take the two goats to the entrance and cast lots to determine the scapegoat.

3. Priest presents his own bull as sin offering to purify himself and his family. (16:11-14)

  • After slaughtering the bull, burn incense on coals in the Holy of Holies to create a cloud over the ark’s cover
  • Then use his finger to sprinkle the bull’s blood on the east side of the cover. Then sprinkle seven times in front of the cover.

4. Come back out and slaughter the first goat as a sin offering. (16:15-17)

  • Then go back into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle goat’s blood in the exact same way.
  • This purifies the Holy of Holies and the tabernacle
  • This also seems to purify the entire congregation (16:17)

5. Exit the tent in order to purify the altar (16:18-19)

  • Use the blood of the bull and goat
  • Put some on the horns of the altar
  • Then sprinkle blood on the altar seven times using his finger

6. Scapegoat (16:20-22)

  • Confess the sins of the people onto the scapegoat
  • A man will then drive the scapegoat out into the wilderness
  • Symbolically, this carries all the people’s sins to a desolate land

7. Cleanup (16:23-28)

  • Go back into the tent’s outer room and take off the linen garments
  • Bathe with water in a sacred place and put on his regular garments
  • Go back out to offer a burnt offering for himself and for the people (see rams mentioned above)
    • This purifies himself and the people
  • The man chosen to drive out the scapegoat must wash his clothes and bath before returning to camp.
  • The bull and goat from the sin offerings are taken outside the camp and burned completely.
    • The man who burns these must bathe and change clothes before returning to camp

8. Final instructions and recap (16:29-34)

    • Date: Tenth day of Tishri (aka Ethanaim), the seventh month
    • No one can eat or do any work that day.  It is a special Sabbath.
    • Do this every year from now on.

Lev. 23:33-43; Takes place in autumn 5 days after the Day of Atonement

Also known as  Sukkot/Sukkoth or the Feast of Tabernacles. This was another of the three national feasts

Procedure

  • Begins on the fifteenth day of Tishri—five days after the Day of Atonement, after the harvest is finished and lasts for seven days (i.e. 15-21 Tishri with a concluding sacrifice on the 22nd of Tishri)
  • The first day and the eighth day of the festival will be days of complete rest.
    • On the first day gather branches from magnificent trees—palm fronds, boughs from leafy trees, and willows that grow by the streams.
  • For seven days you must present special gifts to the Lord and all native-born Israelites must live outside in little shelters
    • This is a reminder that they lived in shelters when God brought them out of Egypt
  • These festivals must be observed in addition to the Lord’s regular Sabbath days, and the offerings are in addition to personal gifts and other offerings

Application: Remember, and appreciate the home you now have.

 

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