Published by Church of God, International 
February 26. 1992


by Ronald L. Dart

The Old Testament Passover

  When exactly was the Old Testament Passover? It may seem a trivial question, but there is a difference of opinion on the subject, and it can become important when we consider the implications for the New Testament Passover.
  The question focuses on a simple conflict. In the Gospel accounts, Matthew, Mark and Luke all say that Jesus observed the Passover on the night before he suffered (See Luke 22), while John says just as plainly that the day of the crucifixion was the "preparation of the Passover" (John 19:14), and that the Jews had not yet eaten the Passover the next morning (John 19:28).
  Scholars have debated this apparent conflict from time immemorial, arriving at a variety of conclusions. One school of thought concludes that the Jews had somehow erred in the years before this time and had begun observing the Passover a day late—on the 15th. The original Passover, according to this view, was killed at sundown beginning the 14th. The death angel passed through Egypt that night, Israel spoiled the Egyptians through the day of the 14th, and actually started out of Egypt after sundown that night—the 15th.
  The origins of this doctrine in the WCG antedate my involvement, but I am reasonably sure that this was HWA's attempt to resolve the seeming conflict in the Gospel accounts. I don't believe that it arose solely from an examination of the Old Testament records. Many of us encountered this problem going through college. We immediately saw the conflict between HWA's explanation and the record in the Torah. We knuckled under in time, but we never really examined whether there might be a better way to reconcile the Gospel accounts (church government played a role in this).
  I started my current study on this from a strictly Old Testament point of view. If I did not have the Gospel accounts, I wondered, what would I conclude about the time of Passover observance in the Old Testament.
  I started my study in the most natural place to start—Exodus 12 and the first observance of the Passover. There is one important distinction to be noted before starting. The Passover of law—the statutory Passover, if you will—was somewhat different from the first Passover. In later years, the priesthood made some accommodations from the original. There was a time when sacrifices could be done anywhere by individual family members. In later years, this was forbidden. By the time of the kings of Israel, the Passover lamb could only be killed at the temple. On this first Passover, the lambs were killed at each home. After this first Passover, it was no longer necessary to eat the lamb in haste, with loins girded, etc. That was a physical necessity of the first Passover, not a symbolic necessity of the statutory Passover.
  Having acknowledged this, I went to Exodus 12 and read the entire chapter carefully. The first item of special note was verse six:

And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole
                assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

  Evening, according to the Bible, is sunset.

But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there
                thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the
                season that thou camest forth out of Egypt (Deuteronomy 16:6).

  HWA said that the lamb was killed at sunset as the 14th began, and that Israel ate it that night (verse 8). The death angel, according to this theory, passed over the Israelite homes at midnight on the 14th. The Israelites then spoiled the Egyptians on the day of the 14th and left the night of the fifteenth. (A great deal of weight is placed on the command that they were not to go out of their houses until the morning, coupled with the fact that they went out of Egypt "by night.")
The difficulty arises because there are two sunsets associated with each day, one at the beginning and one at the end. If the Passover was sacrificed at sunset, which sunset was it? And which day was it in? It most assuredly had to be "in" the fourteenth when the Passover was killed. It might conceivably have been killed just after sundown beginning the day, or just before sunset, ending it.

In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover (Leviticus 23:5).

And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover of the LORD (Numbers 28:16).

  Whatever else we may conclude, the Passover lamb was plainly killed between the sunset ending the thirteenth, and the sunset ending the fourteenth. Then, they were to eat the lamb in the evening that followed. Nothing was to be left over until the morning. In the one scenario, the lamb was eaten between sunset and morning on the fourteenth. In the other, it was done on the fifteenth.

And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with
                bitter herbs they shall eat it... And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and
                that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire (Exodus 12:8-10).

  The next item in the instructions is of special interest:

And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff
in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD'S passover (Exodus 12:11).

  This is not a part of the instructions for the statutory Passover to be observed through their generations. It was an instruction for the original Passover only. There is only one way to understand this verse. They were expected to leave home without going to bed. They would leave shortly after eating the meal, because it was to be eaten in haste. Therefore, their departure took place in the morning immediately following the evening when the Passover lamb was killed. That departure may even have been in the dark hours after midnight—well before dawn. It is either the morning of the 14th, or the morning of the 15th.
  Having given instructions about eating the lamb in haste, God explains that the death angel would pass through Egypt on that night, smiting the firstborn of man and beast. The blood they struck on the lentil and doorposts of their houses would be a token of identity. "When I see the blood," God said, "I will pass over you" (Exodus 12:13). Hence the name "Passover."
  The next verse speaks of "this day," and the only antecedent possible is the day on which the passover was eaten and the death angel passed over. "This day" is then said to be a feast and a
memorial. It is a seven day festival, not an eight day festival. It is called the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the first and seventh day were to be holy days (verses 15-17). "This day," i.e. the day of the eating of the Passover lamb, etc., is correlate with the first day of Unleavened Bread and the day God brought them out of Egypt.
  Verse 18 adds quite a bit to the picture:

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat
unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.
and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel;

  There are only two ways to take this. Since there are only seven days of Unleavened Bread, then the festival includes one of two possible sets of dates (depending upon what is meant by "at even"). Either the festival is from the 14th through the 20th or from the 15th through the 21st, depending on whether we start at the beginning or ending of the 14th. (There have been those who argued that the first day of Unleavened Bread and the annual holy day are on the 14th.)
  It is also logical to assume from the expression here, "the fourteenth day of the month at even," that the beginning of the Days of Unleavened Bread corresponds roughly with the time of the Passover sacrifice which was also on "the fourteenth day of the month at even." To get away from this obvious correlation would take more intellectual gymnastics than most of us are prepared to do. More important, there is nothing in the texts so far to require it.
  The children of Israel did what they were told, and at midnight the death angel passed through the land. What follows took place shortly after midnight, either on the 14th or the 15th:

And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians;
and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was
not one dead. And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up,
and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel;
and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said. (Exodus 12:30-31).

  Just how fast did all this happen?

And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them
out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. And the people
took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound
up in their clothes upon their shoulders (Exodus 12:33,34).

  All this seems to have happened before daylight on the morning after the Passover was eaten. The following verses speak of the Israelites "spoiling" the Egyptians (verses 35, 36). Exodus 3:22 and Exodus 11:2 suggest that this had already been done, but it could also fit right here in the account. The Israelites did not have to go anywhere to spoil the Egyptians. The Egyptians came to them to thrust them out. When the Israelites asked for gold and jewelry, the Egyptians were glad to give it to them to get them out. This is entirely consistant with the near panic of the Egyptians ("we be all dead men!"), and their urgency to be rid of these people. "Give them anything they want, just get rid of them." All this is totally inconsistent with a theory that Israel tarried all day the next day and then left at night.

And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt,
for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry,
neither had they prepared for themselves any victual (verse 39).

  This is why the Israelites were to eat the Passover fully dressed and ready for travel. They weren't even given the option of sleeping for a few hours, much less waiting until the next night to leave. Note that they were "thrust out of Egypt" that night, even though they were not truly out of Egypt for several days. In the language of Exodus, they were out of Egypt when Pharaoh told them to get out,
  The following verses summarize the importance of this event:

And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day
it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt It is a night
to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this
is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their
generations (verses 41, 42)

  The "night of the Lord" is the night of the death angel, and the night when the Israelites were "thrust out of Egypt." The suggestion that it was the following night is completely inconsistent with verses 11, 31, 33, 34, and 39.
  Exodus 12 is a description of the events of one important night in the history of Israel. It is a night that began with the sacrifice of the Passover lamb at sunset, the eating of that lamb in that night, the passing over of the death angel at midnight, and the thrusting of the Israelites out of their homes and "out of Egypt." No wonder it was a night to be much observed.
  According to the record of Exodus 12, the "night to be much observed" is the night of the Passover. It is the night when they were "thrust out." But was this night the 14th or the 15th?

In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover.
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 (Leviticus 23:5, 6).

  The feast of unleavened bread was previously described in Exodus 12:8 this way:

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat
unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.

  Now we have an answer to our earlier question about this passage. The first day of Unleavened Bread is the 15th, not the 14th. The 14th day of the month "at even" marked the beginning of the 15th. Thus the Days of Unleavened Bread are from the 15th through the 21st. The instructions for the Day of Atonement follow a similar pattern. The Day of Atonement was on the 10th, but it is said to have begun on the ninth day of the month "at even" (Leviticus 23:27, 32).
  Thus follows the conclusion that the Passover lamb, also killed on the 14th day of the first month at even, was killed at the end of the 14th.
  The record in Numbers is not at variance.

And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first
                month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high
                hand in the sight of all the Egyptians (Numbers 33:3).

  This is a similar usage to that found in Genesis 19:33, 34:

And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in,
and lay with her father, and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when
she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto
the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink
wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.

  In normal usage, the events of the morning following a night's activities are said to be "on the morrow."
  The record of Deuteronomy is next:

Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the LORD thy God:
for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.
Thou shalt
therefore sacrifice the passover unto the LORD thy God, of the flock
and the herd, in the place which the LORD shall choose to place his name there.....
And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days;
neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even,
remain all night until the morning.... But at the place which the LORD thy God shall
choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the
going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt (Deuteronomy 16:1-6).

  There are a few important clues here. First, we have already discussed the thrusting of the Israelites out of Egypt "by night." The night of the death angel is the night of the Exodus. Notice the word "therefore" in verse 2. The sacrifice of the Passover is causally related to the night of the Exodus. More important is verse 4 where they were told what to do with the flesh that they sacrificed "the first day at even." In this context, the only way "the first day" can be understood is as the first day of Unleavened Bread. The sacrifice takes place at the beginning of the Days of Unleavened Bread, not a day earlier.
  Also important is verse six. The commandment is to sacrifice the Passover at sunset "at the season that you came out of Egypt." The word for season here means "appointed time" and is so translated in Exodus 23:15:

Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: thou shall eat
unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time
appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt.

  This leaves Deuteronomy 16:6 saying that we are to sacrifice the Passover at sunset, at the appointed time of the Exodus. That appointed time was the night of the 15th.
  If I were sitting on a jury to decide this, and all I had was the Old Testament record, I would have to decide that:

  1. The Passover lamb was killed late on the 14th, just before the sunset beginning the 15th. Later records suggest that "in the evening" came to be interpreted as the time of the evening sacrifice—about three in the afternoon.

  2. The Passover was eaten after sunset—actually on the 15th.

  3. The death angel passed over at midnight on the 15th.

  4. The time after midnight could be considered morning, because Pharaoh summoned Moses while it was still dark and Moses apparently went. (It is possible, however, that Pharaoh sent messengers to Moses, and that Moses never actually saw Pharaoh—see Exodus 10:28,29.)

  5. The urgency of the Egyptians to get rid of the Israelites precluded any possibility of the Israelites going to bed (or waiting until the next night) and is compatible with the commandment to eat the Passover fully dressed, with shoes on and staff in hand.

  6. Israel was "thrust out of Egypt" before dawn on the 15th.

  7. Israel either had already spoiled the Egyptians, or it was done as they were being urgently evicted. There is no room here for a 12 to 16 hour delay to leave the following night. Nor is there any reason for it.

  Having so concluded, then there is reason to take another look at the Gospel accounts to see if there is a way to understand them without a convoluted explanation of the Old Testament records.

The New Testament Passover
  For generations a favorite question of commentators has been whether Jesus really observed the Passover, as the Synoptic Gospels state, or whether John was right in placing the Jewish Passover after the crucifixion. We have long believed, for varying reasons, that Jesus kept the Passover 24 hours before the Jews. The question is of some relevance because of continuing arguments from some quarters that we should be observing the Passover on the 15th "according to the law."
  Last year, I studied the question again from the point of view of a member of a jury who has gone over the statements of the witnesses (the four Gospel accounts), reviewed the testimony of the experts (scholars), and considered the arguments of the lawyers (commentators and scholars). Some of what follows was published in a Ministerial Bulletin at that time.
  I believe that while certainty in these areas may be denied us due to the passage of time and the lack of access to the witnesses for cross examination, there is sufficient testimony to establish the important aspects beyond a reasonable doubt.
  As a responsible member of the jury, I find that Jesus was crucified on the morning of the 14th of Nisan and died at about the time that Passover lambs were being killed in the temple. I find no indication of fraud, prevarication, or dissembling among the witnesses, although I see some evidence of ax-grinding in the expert testimony. Nor is there any indication of important lapses of memory. Rather there are different perspectives presented, and some indication that one witness may have seen meaning and sensed problems not addressed by the others. Consider the differences in the accounts. While John recounts the supper on the night before the crucifixion, he does not call it the Passover. In fact, he seems at pains to say that it was before the Passover (John 13:1, 2). To be sure, the expert witnesses had arguments against this, but I don't believe they would convince a jury. (Scholars have the luxury of finding endless explanations for difficulties without ever coming to a verdict. A lawyer in court doesn't have that option. His case is going to be given to a jury for a verdict.)
  John also calls the day of the crucifixion "the preparation of the Passover" (John 19:14) and makes note that the Jews did not want to be defiled lest they be unable to eat the Passover (John 18:28). The expression "eat the Passover" is similar to that used by Jesus in Luke 22, and there is no more reason to explain away the one than the other.
  In summing up, the lawyer might put it to the jury this way: "You have heard John testify that the supper was before the Passover, that the day of the crucifixion was the preparation for the Passover, and that the Jews had not yet eaten the Passover."
  Then, I think he would put Mark and Matthew on the stand. Mark's testimony reads this way: "After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. But they said, Not on the feast day lest there be an uproar of the people" (Mark 14:1, 2; see also Matthew 26:5). This, taken as a plain statement of intent, bears much weight. It does not depend on analysis or knowledge of customs. They intended to do murder, and they ruled out the 15th of
Nisan. They wanted him dead before the feast, not on the feast. This does not prove that they were successful, but it does show intent.
  In view of other testimony, it seems inconceivable that any executions would have taken place on the annual holy day. The concern that the bodies not remain on the stake on the Sabbath was just as valid for the feast day if not more so. The rush to get the bodies buried before the Sabbath only makes sense if the day of burial were not a Sabbath (or a feast day—a juror is allowed to take common sense into consideration).
  A crucifixion on the 15th raises another problem. Since they were hurrying to get Jesus buried before sunset, then the crucifixion would have been on Friday. Apart from the "three days and three nights" difficulty, there are calendar considerations. The rules of the Hebrew calendar, as we know them, never allow the 15th to fall on a Friday. There is no way of proving that these rules were in effect during the ministry of Christ, but the concept behind them was just as valid then as now—perhaps more so. It was seen as undesirable to have a feast day as the preparation day for the weekly Sabbath.
  With all the testimony in hand, the simplest conclusion is that Jesus and the Pharisees both observed the Passover, but a day apart. The best case calls for a scenario that reconciles the testimony of all witnesses rather than having to decide which witness is mistaken.
  The expert witnesses have offered several explanations to account for this possibility, and I suppose I could take my pick of them. It has been suggested that the term "Passover" is of broad meaning, being applied to a day (the 14th), a lamb, a meal, a season, a seven day festival, and to the feast day (the 15th). It is not unreasonable to suppose that a mere variant in usage accounts for the difficulty. Some even suggest that more than one meal was loosely called "eating the Passover." There seems to be little doubt that the term "Passover" could have been applied to a pre-Passover meal. It might compare to a family today eating their "Christmas dinner" a day early because it was the only day they could all be present. The meal Jesus and the disciples ate would then be a "nominal" Passover.
  Yet another theory advanced is that this Passover is simply an exception. This might accord with Jesus' statement: "With desire have I desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." The word for desire here signifies an intense, heartfelt desire. It is, in fact, usually translated "lust" in the NT. Not only is it a strong word, it is doubled: "With great longing have I longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." The last phrase, "before I suffer," can be taken to suggest that this Passover was an exception. He would not be able to take the statutory Passover with them, because he would be in the grave at the appointed time.
  But expert witnesses and legal arguments have failed to establish whether this Passover was merely a nominal Passover, or an exceptional Passover observed early. In either case, if would not have been Jesus' intent to change the law relative to the statutory Passover. Those who have argued that the church should observe the Passover on the 15th are correct this far. There is no change in the law, and the 15th is still a "night to be much observed."
  What, then, of the "Lord's Supper," the memorial of the Lord's death instituted at Jesus' last supper? Should it be observed on the 15th with the Passover? I think not, for these reasons:

  1. The Lord's Supper was not a part of the statutory Passover—the Passover of the law. It was instituted as a new thing on the night of the 14th, and there is no compelling reason that it should be moved.

  2. There has been an assumption that Jesus changed the symbols of the Passover—i.e., from a lamb to bread and wine. It seems, however, that they ate a "Passover" and that He then established something entirely new. It is important to know that the bread and wine of the "Lord's Supper" do not in any way represent the Passover meal. They represent the death of "The Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world." In the process of eating them, we show forth the Lord's death (I Corinthians 11:26). His death took place on the 14th at the time of the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. Therefore, it is not necessarily an error to refer to the symbols of Christ's shed blood and broken body as "the Passover," but it may be confusing, because the Passover is the following night.

  3. Paul, in correcting the Corinthian observance of this reminded them, "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread" (I Corinthians 11:23). Paul's testimony includes not only the manner of the supper, but the time. The time was the night before the statutory Passover.

  4. Paul also separates the memorial from any meal in telling them to eat supper at home and come together for the memorial. In this sense, the ''Lord's Supper" is not supper at all.

  5. Finally, the memorial is not a substitute for the Passover meal, but a memorial of Christ's death: "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come" (I Corinthians 11:26).

  As a member of the jury, I find that Jesus did not observe the statutory Passover the night before His crucifixion. He may have observed a nominal or an exceptional Passover. He established a new ceremony, not as a substitute for the Passover meal, but rather as a symbol of His own death. Years later, in speaking of this new ceremony, Paul makes no mention of the Passover, insists that the ceremony be separated from any meal, and includes the time of the service as a part of what Jesus revealed to him. It was in "the night in which he was betrayed." Jesus was then killed on the afternoon of the 14th, near the time when the statutory lamb was killed."

The Passover For Today
  For a long time, we observed the Passover on the 14th and the "Night To Be Much Observed" on the 15th. Some have tried to move the memorial to the 15th while others have wanted to get rid of the "NTBMO" because it was the Passover, and we observe that on the 14th.
  We are doing the right thing, but our nomenclature has some people confused, and has left the membership vulnerable to would-be teachers. What we are observing on the night of the
14th is not the Old Testament Passover supper. It is the memorial of Christ's death as our Passover lamb. What we are observing on the night of the 15th is not a festival called the "Night To Be Much Observed." It is the Feast of the Passover.
  Oddly, no name is ever given to the memorial of Christ's death. The "Lord's Supper" has been used for generations, but it is based solely on I Corinthians 11, and the usage there is tenuous. What exactly is this ceremony?

It is the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ (I Corinthians 10:16, 17).

It is the memorial of Christ's death (I Corinthians 11:26).

  It may not be wrong to call it the "Lord's Supper," or even "The Passover," but it is not the Feast of the Passover, or even a substitute for it. It should be observed at the time it was instituted. There is no justification for moving it to the 15th in an attempt to "obey the law."
  On the other hand, it would be a mistake to ignore the commanded festivities on the Passover night. It has every bit as much meaning for Christians as for Jews. We should observe the memorial of Christ's death, or the Lord's Supper, on the night of the 14th. Then, the following night, we should observe the Feast of the Passover. It should be for all of us a "night to be much observed," but that is not it's name. It is the Passover.

How To Do It
  We do not, nor can we, observe the statutory Passover of the Old Testament. There is no temple and no sacrificial lamb. Under no circumstances should we be out killing a lamb before sunset—Christ is our Passover, and we must never allow any confusion on the point. But God told Moses that this was a "night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out of Egypt," Paul told the Corinthians, " 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: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (I Corinthians 5:7, 8).
  There is no way that we should allow this night to pass without special observance. It should be more than just another pot luck or just another dinner out at a restaurant. The Feast of the Passover should involve a major effort to get together with brethren and/or family. On this night, of all nights, no one should be left alone when it is in our power to do otherwise.
  We should pull out all the stops in food preparation, decoration, and festive activities. Since it is a "night to be much observed," it wouldn't be wrong to stay up late—even until midnight (we could then read the passage about the death angel). It is not merely a night to eat and drink—it is a night to remember. It is the things that we remember that make this night different from other nights. (If we are going to make it a late night, then we should have the "holy convocation" the next afternoon, and no potluck the next day.)
  Among the things that we should remember is that the Feast of the Passover is a celebration of freedom. The Israelites were not the only people ever to suffer from the hateful bondage imposed by their fellow man. But even that bondage was mild compared to that suffered by
those who are today in bondage to sin. They may be nominally free, but the horrible results of sin take away their freedom every day that they live.
  Since the original Passover was a family occasion, what if we involved children in the program for the evening? What if we had them memorize (or read) questions to be asked on cue. Then, someone could read from an appropriate passage. Here is a sample of what might be done:

Child #1: Why is this night different from other nights? Reader #1: Exodus 12:1-8
Child #2: Why do we eat bitter herbs with this meal? Reader #2: Exodus 1:8-14
Child #3: How were the Israelites to eat the Passover? Reader #3: Exodus 12:11-17
Child #4: Why were they to eat so fast? Reader #4: Exodus 12:21-42
Child #5: But we were never in slavery, were we? Reader #5: Romans 6:12-23
Child #6: Why don't we kill a lamb like the Israelites did? Reader #6:1 Corinthians 5:7-8
Child #7: Did Jesus preach about freedom'? Reader #7: Luke 4:16-21
Child #8: Are there many people who are slaves? Reader #8: Romans 8:14-23
Child #9: How can people become free? Reader #9: John 8:25-36

  This could be done at any time during the evening, and could even be spread out through the evening. Some of it could be done during the meal, between songs, after the meal—anytime. I would use the Living Bible or RSV. The King James Bible isn't the easiest to read aloud and be understood.
  It is not my intent here to lay out a new law of festival observance, but to suggest ways in which we can worship God on His festivals and derive greater meaning from them. Please don't feel bound by these ideas, and please don't judge others who do it differently.