Old Testament: Observances
The purpose of this page is to briefly identify and explain the significance of the religious practices mentioned in the Old Testament. This page should remain short enough to read in about thirty minutes.
- 1 Six group fasts and feasts
- 2 Individual fasts and feasts
- 3 Other Celebrations
- 4 Sacrifices
- 5 Offerings
- 6 Resources
- 7 Notes
Six group fasts and feasts
In the Bible Dictionary read Calendar, Fasts and Feasts.
There are 3 main feasts in the Law that all males in Israel were to attend at the central location identified by the Lord (first Shiloh?, then Jerusalem). And there is the fast on the day of atonement. The other major festivals were added later.
Passover, Shavuot & Sukkoth Exo 23:14-19; Exo 34:18-26; Deut 16:1-17 Deliverance from Egypt, Revelation of Torah at Sinai, Guidance through the wilderness Offerings on these occasions as thanks for God’s help on those occasions
Passover, or Feast of Unleavened Bread
- Instituted: Ex 12:6
- Date: Month 1 (Nisan), Day 14, which is March-April
- Description: Exo 12:27; 13:15; 23:14-17; Num 9:10; 28:16-25; Lev 23:10-14
- Observed: Exo 12; Num 9; Josh 5; 2 Chron 30
Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks
- Instituted: Lev 23:16; Deut 16:10
- Date: 50 days after Passover's ceremony of the barley sheaf
- Description: Exo 23:16; Lev 23:16, 21; Deut 16:10
- Observed: There is no record in the Old Testament of observing the Feast of Pentecost.
Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur
- Instituted: Lev 23:27
- Date: Month 7 (Tishri), Day 10, which is September-October
- Description: This is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. This is not a feast, but a fast. (Lev 16; 23:26-32). This is the only fast in the Law, other fasts were added later during the Babylonian Exile. Zech 7:3-5; 8:19;
- Observed: There are numerous accounts of the Passover being observed in Old testament times, including: ____.
Feast of Tabernacles, or Feast of Ingathering, or simply the Feast
- Instituted: Lev 23:24
- Date: Month 7 (Tishri), Days 15-21, which is September-October
- Description: This is the greatest and most joyful of the feasts (Exo 23:16; Lev 23:34, 43). Probably neglected from Joshua to Nehemiah.
- Observed: 1 Kings 8:2 / 2 Chron 5:3; 7:8; Neh 8:14-17
Feast of Dedication, or Feast of Lights
- Instituted: added in the days of the Maccabees after the close of the Old Testament (1 Macc 4:59).
- Date: Month 9 (Chislev), Day 25, which is November-December
Feast of Purim
- Instituted: Esther 9:17-18, 20-32
- Date: Month 12 (Adar), Days 14-15, which is February-March
- Observed: This feast was added near the close of the Old Testament, and there is no record in the Old Testament apart from Esther of its observance.
Individual fasts and feasts
Num 10:10; Lev 23:24-25; 1 Sam 20:5-6, 29; 2 Kings 4:23
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