Leviticus Chapter 23


The feasts of the Lord, The Sabbath. (Verse 1-3.)

The Passover, The offering of first-fruits. (Verse 4-14.)

The feast of Pentecost. (Verse 15-22.)

The feast of Trumpets, The day of atonement. (Verse 23-32.)

The feast of Tabernacles. (Verse 33-44.)

This chapter speaks of the seven major feasts that God commanded the Jews to celebrate.

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.

God says “these are MY feasts” – so much for all of the other “religious feasts” of the Romans Catholics, Muslims, and Orthodox religions that are merely the inventions of men.

Exodus 12:16 is the first place we see the word convocation used by God, it simply means a sabbath of rest. One thing that sticks out about these Sabbaths of rest is that God is very serious about his people not doing any servile work on those days, period.

   The punishment for working on one of these Sabbaths is to be cut off from Israel.

   The word convocation is only used 18 times in the Old Testament and it is always with these seven feasts and the only exception is that it is also used for the regular Sabbath day as well.

   Why does God have seven feasts? First of all, notice the number, seven. Seven is the number of completeness in the Bible.

   Seven days make up one week and then it starts all over again with day one. So, God uses the feasts to teach Israel about himself and what he is going to do. The feasts are prophetic in nature.

3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.

The Sabbath day is always Saturday, it is never Sunday. The Sabbath day is always the last day of the week, Sunday is the first day of the week. Christians have confused people for so long calling Sunday the Sabbath, it is not.  To more fully understand what a Sabbath is see the study that follows this one concerning the Sabbath.

The Sabbath day pictures Israel’s Kingdom when she shall enter into her rest and the Messiah will rule and reign over all the Earth.

4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.

5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover.

the Passover feast occurred on the fourteenth day of the first month according to the Jewish calendar – it lasted only the one day and was immediately followed the next day by the seven day feast of unleavened bread. The Passover, as discussed in Exodus, was a type or figure of redemption. Just as the Jews were redeemed by the blood from Egypt, we were redeemed by the blood of Christ from sin and from this world. Jesus Christ is our “passover” according to I Cor. 5:7.

This is based on a Jewish calendar that has 360 days in a year, not 365 like we use today. Moses is not saying January the 14th is Passover because he is using a much older calendar than the one we are using today. The first month begins in the spring.

   Notice that Passover begins when the fourteenth day begins on a Jewish calendar which is at even (or evening), just like in Genesis chapter one, the evening and the morning were the first day.

   Because the day begins in the evening and no servile work could be done on that day, God allowed work to be done on the preceding day which ended just before supper time, so they could eat the meal once the Sabbath began. God thinks of everything.

Supper even today is usually an hour later on in the evening after the Sabbath because they cannot do any work leading up to Supper time because it was still the Sabbath day.

   Elaborate instructions for the Passover are found in Exodus chapter twelve for conducting the Passover according to God’s plan, all of which serve as pictures of future events in Israel’s future.

* The Passover pictures the Messiah as our Passover lamb whose blood would be shed for our sins. Jesus was crucified on the day of the preparation for the Passover at the same hour that the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover meal that evening.

1 Corinthians 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

John 19:14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! 15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. 16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. 17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: 18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.


6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.

[Exod 12:14, Matt 26:17]

7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

[1Cor 5:8]

The feast of unleavened bread lasted seven days and is a picture of the holy walk of the Christian. Leaven in the Bible is a representation of evil and was not to be used for holy purposes (Exodus. 12:15).

Here we have an interesting feast because it is spread out over seven days. Day one and day seven are Sabbaths of rest so we have a Sabbath falling on a day that is not the weekly sabbath. 

   This Feast pointed to the Messiah’s sinless life, because leaven is a picture of sin in the Bible. Jesus’ body laid in the grave during the first days of this feast and God accepted the offering of his Son’s body as the perfect sacrifice only after it had died. He was raised from the dead before his body saw corruption.

9 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:

11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.

12 And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD.

13 And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.

14 And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

the feast of firstfruits was a one day feast that took place on the “morrow after the sabbath” (vs. 16). These first three feasts mentioned in this chapter were actually all part of one eight day “festival” for lack of a better term:

The First Month of the Jewish Calendar 14th Day 15th Day 16th Day 17th Day 18th Day 19th Day 20th Day 21st Day Feast of First day The Feast Passover of of began in Unleavened Firstfruits the evening Bread <<< Feast of Unleavened Bread – Seven Days in Length >>> a sabbath a sabbath a sabbath

This feast typifies the resurrection of Christ. Jesus rose on the first day of the week, or the “morrow after the sabbath” according to Mat. 28:1 & Mark 16:1. Jesus was the first person to ever rise from the dead and permanently stay alive. Just as the firstfruit was the first part of the crop that ripened and was harvested before the general harvest, Jesus was the “firstfruits” of all who have ever died – he was the first to be resurrected. Read I Cor. 15:20-23.

Firstfruits pictures the Messiah’s resurrection as the first fruits of the righteous dead. Jesus was resurrected on this day.

1 Corinthians 15:20   But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:

16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.

17 Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD.

18 And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the LORD, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the LORD.

19 Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings.

20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.

21 And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.

22 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.

the word “Pentecost” means “fifty days”; the feast of Pentecost was to be numbered fifty days after the feast of firstfruits. In some places in scripture you will find the term “feast of weeks” (eg. Deut. 16:10) which refers to the 7 weeks of 7 days (49 days) between these two feasts. Only the first day (feast of firstfruits) and last day (feast of Pentecost) were actually celebrated in this “feast of weeks.” Two loaves of bread that did contain leaven were to be waved before the Lord on this feast typifying the events of the day of Pentecost soon after Christ’s ascension when Jew and Gentile (ie. two loaves of bread) were united into the church with the descent of the Holy Spirit who indwelt sinful (ie. the presence of leaven) man.

The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) pictured the great harvest of souls and the gift of the Holy Spirit, (see Acts 2). Pentecost is not the birthday of the Church, but rather it is the day that the Law was given at Sinai. See Exodus 19

   Notice that there are two wave loaves of fine flour baked with leaven this time and only this time. Firstfruits pictured Christ who was the firstfruits from the dead who was without sin, which leaven represents.

  So, Pentecost represents the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah who were by no means without sin and the harvest that is taken from them. 

   On Pentecost there were 3,000 Jewish souls that were saved and added to that kingdom church or Messianic Church. There wasn’t a Gentile in the bunch. (They didn’t start getting saved until after the Apostle of the Gentiles got saved in Acts 9).

   The Kingdom Church is not the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is Jews and Gentiles in one Body with Christ as its head. There were no Gentiles in that Body on the Day of Pentecost. Read the account in Acts 2 for yourself.

   Notice as you read Acts 2 that Peter mentions it as a fulfilling of something that was promised in Joel chapter 2.

   It was a partial fulfilling actually because not everything that Joel said actually came to pass on Pentecost ie., the changes in the sun and the moon that Joel mentions, which will be fulfilled in the Tribulation Period or Time of Jacob’s Trouble.

   Paul calls the dispensation of grace that was given unto him concerning the Church which is his body was a mystery kept hid in God from before the foundation of the world. If it was a mystery, then Joel could not have known anything about it.

    The Prophesied Kingdom Church of the Messiah which has 12 Apostles sitting on 12 thrones judging the 12 Tribes of Israel was not a mystery however and when the Mystery Program (the Church Age) ends at the Rapture, Israel’s Prophecy Program kicks back in and the rest of Joel’s Prophecy comes to pass.

   So, what the Feast of Pentecost pictures was partially competed after Christ’s first coming and will be completely fulfilled in the Tribulation Period just prior to his second coming to set up his Kingdom.

23 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.

25 Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

 Trumpets was the first of the fall feasts.

the feast of trumpets took place on the first day of the seventh month. This feast today is called “Rosh Hashana” by the Jews and is celebrated as the beginning of their new year (it is their secular new year day; their religious new year day occurs 14 days before Passover). This feast typifies the regathering back to Israel of those Jews scattered throughout the world. This regathering of Israel will occur at the end of the seven year tribulation period, just after Christ’s second coming. Read Matthew 24:29-31 and note how Jesus will regather Israel by using angels accompanied by trumpets. Some also believe that this feast may somehow be related to the rapture of the church seeing that the rapture is likewise accompanied by trumpets (I Cor. 15:52; I Thes. 4:16).

26 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.

29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.

30 And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.

31 Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.

“from even unto even” – this is the definition of a Jewish “day” – from evening until evening (ie. from 6:00 pm to 6:00 pm). This has been pointed out on numerous occasions previously

the day of Atonement occurs on the tenth day of the seventh month and refers to that day when ALL Israel will be saved as a nation (see Paul’s statements in Ro. 11:26). This will occur immediately after the events described in the previous paragraph. Though salvation for all mankind was made possible through the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross, Israel as a nation will not accept this until after they have endured the great tribulation and seen Christ’s second coming to them as their Messiah. This feast is today called “Yom Kippur” by the Jews.

   Many believe the Day of Atonement prophetically points to the day of the Second Coming of Jesus when He will return to earth.

   That will be the Day of Atonement for the Jewish remnant when they “look upon Him whom they have pierced,” repent of their sins, and receive Him as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 11:1-6, 25-36). 

33 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD.

[tabernacles = a small hut or tent.]

35 On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.

 Tabernacles or Booths points to the Lord’s promise that He will once again “tabernacle” with His people when He returns to reign over all the world (Micah 4:1-7).

37 These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day:

38 Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD.

39 Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath.

40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.

[Matt 21:8, John 12:13]

41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.

42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths:

43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

the feast of tabernacles was an eight day feast running from the 15th to the 22nd day of the seventh month. This feast is a figure or type of Israel’s coming 1000 year kingdom of heaven on earth with Jesus as the King. This millennium of rest will follow the seven year tribulation and conversion of the nation of Israel. See Rev. 20:3-6. – this feast was celebrated by taking boughs from the trees (vs. 40) and building small tabernacles or booths to live in during the feast. These booths were to remind the Jews of their exodus from the land of Egypt when they had to of necessity live in tents or booths (vs. 42-43).

44 And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Verse 1-3 – In this chapter we have the institution of holy times; many of which have been mentioned before. Though the yearly feasts were made more remarkable by general attendance at the sanctuary, yet these must not be observed more than the sabbath. On that day they must withdraw from all business of the world. It is a sabbath of rest, typifying spiritual rest from sin, and rest in God. God’s sabbaths are to be religiously observed in every private house, by every family apart, as well as by families together, in holy assemblies. The sabbath of the Lord in our dwellings will be their beauty, strength, and safety; it will sanctify, build up, and glorify them.

Verse 4-14 – The feast of the Passover was to continue seven days; not idle days, spent in sport, as many that are called Christians spend their holy-days. Offerings were made to the Lord at his altar; and the people were taught to employ their time in prayer, and praise, and godly meditation. The sheaf of first-fruits was typical of the Lord Jesus, who is risen from the dead as the First-fruits of them that slept. Our Lord Jesus rose from the dead on the very day that the first-fruits were offered. We are taught by this law to honour the Lord with our substance, and with the first-fruits of all our increase, Proverbs 3:9. They were not to eat of their new corn, till God’s part was offered to him out of it; and we must always begin with God: begin every day with him, begin every meal with him, begin every affair and business with him; seek first the kingdom of God.

Verse 15-22 – The feast of Weeks was held in remembrance of the giving of the law, fifty days after the departure from Egypt; and looked forward to the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, fifty days after Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us. On that day the apostles presented the first-fruits of the Christian church to God. To the institution of the feast of Pentecost, is added a repetition of that law, by which they were required to leave the gleanings of their fields. Those who are truly sensible of the mercy they received from God, will show mercy to the poor without grudging.

Verse 23-32 – the blowing of trumpets represented the preaching of the gospel, by which men are called to repent of sin, and to accept the salvation of Christ, which was signified by the day of atonement. Also it invited to rejoice in God, and become strangers and pilgrims on earth, which was denoted by the feast of Tabernacles, observed in the same month. At the beginning of the year, they were called by this sound of trumpet to shake off spiritual drowsiness, to search and try their ways, and to amend them. The day of atonement was the ninth day after this; thus they were awakened to prepare for that day, by sincere and serious repentance, that it might indeed be to them a day of atonement. The humbling of our souls for sin, and the making our peace with God, is work that requires the whole man, and the closest application of mind. On that day God spake peace to his people, and to his saints; therefore they must lay aside all their wordly business, that they might the more clearly hear that voice of joy and gladness.

Verse 33-44 – In the feast of Tabernacles there was a remembrance of their dwelling in tents, or booths, in the wilderness, as well as their fathers dwelling in tents in Canaan; to remind them of their origin and their deliverance. Christ’s tabernacling on earth in human nature, might also be prefigured. And it represents the believer’s life on earth: a stranger and pilgrim here below, his home and heart are above with his Saviour. They would the more value the comforts and conveniences of their own houses, when they had been seven days dwelling in the booths. It is good for those who have ease and plenty, sometimes to learn what it is to endure hardness. The joy of harvest ought to be improved for the furtherance of our joy in God. The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; therefore whatever we have the comfort of, he must have the glory of, especially when any mercy is perfected. God appointed these feasts, “Beside the sabbaths and your free-will offerings.” Calls to extraordinary services will not excuse from constant and stated ones.