An Analysis of the Logical Errors Committed
by John Ritenbaugh in the Article
Countdown to Pentecost 2001
By © Carl D. Franklin - January 30, 2001
Part I Section I John Commits the Fallacy of Argumentum Ad Verecundiam
The fallacy of argumentum ad verecundiam is committed when an argument uses the statements of a highly respected individual to secure acceptance of a conclusion. In this case the respected individual is Dr. Charles V. Dorothy. In the first section of John’s paper, he casts doubt on a Nisan 15 wave sheaf by grossly misrepresenting Dr. Dorothy’s statements. John has created a psychological impression and packaged this impression as evidence. Notice:
“In 2001, Passover once again falls upon a weekly Sabbath. This is of special interest because it presents us with the infrequent situation of the Days of Unleavened Bread beginning on a Sunday and ending on the weekly Sabbath. Although this may occur twice within three or four years, its normal average throughout history is about once every nine to ten years. For a twenty-year period that ended in 1974, it occurred only in 1974 itself. Within the church of God, there are differences of belief about whether it should begin counting to Pentecost from within or without the Days of Unleavened Bread when this situation arises.
“When this occurred in 1994, we sought the counsel of anyone within the church who felt moved to contribute suggestions. We received many sincere and helpful papers, whose authors diligently researched the matter to confirm it to themselves then shared what they had learned for all to benefit. We feel moved, however, to reopen the subject because more information has come to light in the intervening years. We think this new material clarifies and strengthens our position, confirming that God led us to make the correct decision.
“When the Sunday or Monday observance of Pentecost became an issue in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) in 1973-74, a committee was formed to research into all aspects of the issue. When the ministry received the committee’s conclusions, the Sunday-or-Monday issue was firmly resolved, and we wholeheartedly agree with the Sunday conclusion.
“However, the particular issue this article addresses was left unresolved in the study material given to the ministry. The introductory letter to the Pentecost Study Material authored by Charles V. Dorothy is dated April 22, 1974, and the ministry did not receive this material until after this date. At that time, Pentecost 1974 was scheduled for June 3.
“The following quote is from the Pentecost Study Material, p. 74, under the heading, “Another Critical Problem.”
“ ‘The chief problem which the Worldwide Church of God faces this year at Pentecost has nothing to do with the above [the Sunday-Monday issue]. This separate problem involves whether we count Pentecost for 1974 from within or without the Days of Unleavened Bread. The last time we faced this particular calendar configuration was 1954 when our knowledge of the calendar was not so complete as it is now.
“ ‘This year (as again in 1977 and 1981) the Passover falls on the weekly Sabbath. The next day, the first annual Holy Day, is Sunday and would normally be used to count “away from.” But we have thought it best to wait till the following Saturday (which is the final High Sabbath as well), so that the next day, Sunday, could be a work day, and thus start the work of harvesting. Depending on which Sunday we count from this year, Pentecost VARIES BY A WHOLE WEEK.
“ ‘Some brethren are concerned over this alleged “arbitrary” decision, especially since Joshua 5:10-11 seems to show the Israelites counted that Pentecost from Sunday, the High Day within Unleavened Bread. More study is needed and more is being done. [Emphasis theirs.]
“However, this suggestion was ignored, and a decision was made to count to Pentecost from within the Days of Unleavened Bread. A letter dated March 30, 1974, under the signature of Garner Ted Armstrong, informed the ministry that the date of Pentecost was being changed to May 26. A curious fact arises when one compares the dates on the two letters: Garner Ted Armstrong’s letter clearly shows that a decision had been made when to count Pentecost in these odd years before Charles Dorothy’s letter—stating that more study needed to be made—was sent out!
“Another quote from the Pentecost Study Material, p. 52, helps to show how critical this issue is, since it also touches on our observance of Pentecost in 2005 and 2008:
“ ‘Here, then, is the crucial question: how should we count the days to Pentecost? From the Sunday during the days of Unleavened Bread? Or, should Pentecost be counted from the Sunday immediately following the weekly sabbath which must occur during the Days of Unleavened Bread? In other words, is it imperative that the weekly “SABBATH” fall during the days of Unleavened Bread? Or, is it essential that the SUNDAY following that particular weekly “sabbath” must fall within Unleavened Bread?
“ ‘These are more crucial questions than might appear at first; for in those years where the last day of Unleavened Bread also happens to fall on a weekly sabbath (producing a “double Sabbath”), the offering of the wave sheaf is made to fall after, outside the days of Unleavened Bread. This is, indeed, what is happening this year. [Emphasis theirs.]’ ”
“The WCG’s decision sometime prior to March 30, 1974, was made on the basis of symbolism and a misunderstanding of Joshua 5:10-12. This article will show that the doctrinal committee overlooked a great deal in the Scriptures relating to Joshua 5:10-12 especially. This overlooked material renders Joshua 5:10-12 unusable as evidence for counting from within the Days of Unleavened Bread when Passover falls on a weekly Sabbath.”
In committing the fallacy of argumentum ad verecundiam, John has completely misrepresented the statements made by Dr. Charles V. Dorothy concerning the issue of whether the wave sheaf should fall within or without the Days of Unleavened Bread. A careful reading of the paragraphs cited from his study paper will show that Dr. Dorothy is questioning the earlier decision of the church to count from the final High Sabbath in order to have the wave sheaf fall on a workday. It is this “arbitrary” decision that was causing concern among some of the brethren because the account in Joshua 5:10-11 “seems to show the Israelites counted that Pentecost from … the High Day within Unleavened Bread.” The apparent discrepancy between the Scriptural account and the church’s practice of counting from the last High Day had led to Dr. Dorothy’s question: “how should we count the days to Pentecost?” The second citation from the study paper clearly shows that Dr. Dorothy is questioning the church’s longstanding practice of placing the wave sheaf “outside the days of Unleavened Bread” (see p. 4).
John points out that Dr. Dorothy urged further study of the wave sheaf issue. But John overlooks the fact that Dr. Dorothy also stated that further study was already in progress. If this additional study had led to conclusions which supported the church’s practice of counting from the last High Sabbath, this practice would have continued. The fact that the church altered its former practice shows that the weight of evidence contradicts a count from the last High Sabbath.Section II Why Count? John Commits the Fallacy of Petitio Principii
The fallacy of petitio principii occurs when the premise of an argument, whether stated or implied, presumes the very conclusion that is to be proved. Notice the implication that is embedded in the following explanation of the count to Pentecost:
“Using common logic, we can tell that God could easily have given a set calendar date for Pentecost, just as He did for all the other festivals. He could have instructed us to keep it on Sivan 6, but He does not. Therefore, the Pharisees, modern-day Jews and even some who call themselves Christians are wrong to keep it on Sivan 6 year after year unless God’s method of counting happens to end then.
“He instructs us to count, but any count that begins on a fixed date will end on a fixed date. It is apparent that this is something He does not want because He does not give us a fixed date. No valid reason for counting exists except the one given in the Bible. Setting Pentecost by beginning the count on a fixed date—and thus ending on a fixed date—makes void God’s instructions for counting. We count because God commands us to count!
“This makes determining the starting date for the count crucial. Leviticus 23:11 and 15 both tell us to begin counting “the day after the Sabbath.” If this were a holy day Sabbath, it would be telling us to count from the day after a fixed date, on either Nisan 16 or 22. This means that Pentecost would fall on either Sivan 6 or 12. Why does God not simply set one of those dates in the first place?
“The weekly Sabbath falls on different calendar dates and therefore so does the day after the weekly Sabbath. Understand why this is so: According to the Hebrew calendar rules, Passover, Nisan 14, can fall on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or weekly Sabbath. Thus, the first day of Unleavened Bread can fall on either a Tuesday, Thursday, weekly Sabbath or Sunday. The last day of Unleavened Bread, just like the Passover, can fall on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or weekly Sabbath.
“If the Passover, Nisan 14, falls on a Monday, the date of the weekly Sabbath will be the 19th, and wavesheaf Sunday will be the 20th. If it falls on a Wednesday, the weekly Sabbath date will be on the 17th, and wavesheaf Sunday will be the 18th. If it falls on Friday, the weekly Sabbath date will be the 15th and also the first day of Unleavened Bread, and wavesheaf Sunday will be the 16th. If it falls on the weekly Sabbath, the next Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread will be the 21st (see charts).
“We can see that the date of the day after the weekly Sabbath that falls during the Days of Unleavened Bread will also move about because of the weekly Sabbath’s relationship to the day on which Passover falls. This ensures that Pentecost will be on one of four dates in Sivan, and forces us to count every year (unless we just look at a correctly prepared chart).”
John correctly interprets the command to count to Pentecost as evidence that the wave sheaf, which begins the count, is not a fixed date. He is correct in concluding that the date of the wave sheaf is determined by the weekly Sabbath, which may fall on different calendar dates. However, his explanation concerning the weekly Sabbaths that fall during the Days of Unleavened Bread is misleading because he implies that the wave sheaf occurs after the last day of Unleavened Bread (the 21st) when that day falls on the weekly Sabbath. His argument presumes that the wave sheaf must follow the weekly Sabbath that falls within the Days of Unleavened Bread, which is the very point he is attempting to prove. Thus he commits the fallacy of petitio principii.Section III Weekly or Holy Day Sabbath? John Commits the Fallacy of Irrelevant Conclusion
The fallacy of irrelevant conclusion is committed when the facts that are presented do not support the conclusion. Because the commands for counting to Pentecost are given in conjunction with the commands for the Days of Unleavened Bread, John concludes that the wave sheaf, which begins the count, must follow the weekly Sabbath that falls within the Days of Unleavened Bread:
“This begins to illustrate why the Sabbath mentioned in Leviticus 23:11, 15 must be a weekly Sabbath as the Sadducees of the first century and Herbert W. Armstrong practiced, not the first day of Unleavened Bread as the Pharisees believed, nor the last day of Unleavened Bread as the Essenes and Falashas (Ethiopian Jews) kept…).
“The question, then, is which Sabbath do we need to isolate to arrive at the correct date for Pentecost? The Sabbath we choose to begin the count is significant, or else we could arbitrarily decide to count from any Sabbath. Confusion would be the result. Even though the Old Testament instruction seems ambiguous on this point, it is reasonable to conclude that, since the counting instructions given in Leviticus 23:11, 15 and Deuteronomy 16:9 are given in relation to the Days of Unleavened Bread, the Sabbaths of Unleavened Bread are significant. Because Unleavened Bread is seven days long, one and only one weekly Sabbath, with its varying date, will always fall within it. If we were to deny this link between Unleavened Bread and when the count to Pentecost begins, God’s counting instructions become unusable.”
John begins his argument by stating two fundamental facts: 1) the Sabbath in the counting instructions is a weekly Sabbath, and 2) this weekly Sabbath is significant to a correct count. He proceeds to reason that because the counting instructions in Leviticus 23:11, 15 and Deuteronomy 16:9 are found with commands for the Days of Unleavened Bread, the weekly Sabbath that falls within the Days of Unleavened Bread is significant. He concludes that this must be the Sabbath that is designated by the Scriptural instructions to count. In doing so, he rejects any other method of counting as unworkable.
An examination of the instructions in Leviticus 23:11, 15 and Deuteronomy 16:9 does not support John’s conclusion. The instructions in Deuteronomy 16:9 simply command that seven weeks be counted. The instructions in Leviticus 23:11, 15 specify that the count must begin “from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering,” which is not the Sabbath but “the morrow after the Sabbath.” Since the Scriptural instructions concern the count to Pentecost, and the Sabbath is not included in the count, there is no basis for claiming that the Sabbath takes precedence over the Wave Sheaf Day. The fact that the Wave Sheaf Day begins the count shows that it is of primary significance in the count to Pentecost. John errs because he views the weekly Sabbath as the beginning of the count, rather than the wave sheaf, as evidenced by his own words (see paragraph 2 in the citation on page 8). It is misleading to focus on the significance of the Sabbath and overlook the greater significance of the Wave Sheaf Day. There is no Scriptural basis for John’s conclusion that it is more important for the weekly Sabbath to fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread than for the Wave Sheaf Day.John Commits the Fallacy of Non Sequitur
The fallacy of non sequitur, literally meaning “it does not follow,” is committed when the conclusion of the argument is wholly unrelated to the evidence given in the premise. The following paragraph contains this fallacy:
“Although the wavesheaf is normally offered during the Days of Unleavened Bread, the connecting link between the wavesheaf and Unleavened Bread is the Sabbath. The Sabbath day is the sign between God and His people (Exodus 31:12-17), not just in identifying who they are, but in this case, it also serves as the focal point in counting to Pentecost. Because we must first identify the Sabbath to begin the count, it is the Sabbath that must fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread, not necessarily wavesheaf Sunday. In the odd years when Passover falls on a weekly Sabbath, the only Sabbath day within Unleavened Bread is the holy day at its end. Nevertheless, this Sabbath, a double Sabbath, is of greater importance for beginning the count, not the wavesheaf offered the next day.”
It is true that we must identify the Sabbath before we can begin the count. But it does not follow that the Sabbath must fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread. John’s conclusion is completely unfounded because he is reasoning in reverse. He fails to consider that it is impossible to identify the Sabbath without knowing in advance whether or not that Sabbath must fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread. Since the commands in Leviticus 23:11, 15 do not specify that the Sabbath that precedes the wave sheaf must fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread, there is no basis for viewing this interpretation as the standard for identifying the Sabbath. We must identify the correct Sabbath by searching the Scriptures to determine how God’s command was fulfilled by the children of Israel, to whom it was delivered.John Commits the Fallacy of Irrelevant Conclusion
The fallacy of irrelevant conclusion occurs when a writer draws a conclusion that is not supported by the facts he presents. While the information that follows is instructive, it does not support John’s conclusion concerning which weekly Sabbath we are to count from. Notice:
“Another reason that we should count from the weekly Sabbath is the appearance of the definite Hebrew article ha that normally precedes “Sabbath.” In the entire Old Testament, this designation, hashabbath, is almost unanimously reserved for the weekly Sabbath (about 95% of the time). In Leviticus 23, a form of “Sabbath” appears in Hebrew twelve times and “Sabbaths” twice. The article ha appears before “Sabbath” three times, and each time it refers to the weekly Sabbath. Two of these occurrences concern the Sabbath in question (verses 11, 15). Once it appears before “Sabbaths” (verse 15), also referring to weekly Sabbaths.
“It is not surprising to find no reference to Jesus or the early church involved in the wavesheaf ritual…). However, they were very much aware of it, and it clearly shows in the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. In almost all translations, John 20:1 is rendered, “On the first day of the week. . . .” In Greek, this phrase is te mia ton sabbaton. Sabbaton can be used in a singular or plural sense to designate “Sabbath” or “Sabbaths” or “week” or “weeks.”
“Notice what Bullinger in the Companion Bible says about this Greek phrase:
“ ‘The first day of the week = ‘On the first (day) of the Sabbaths” (pl.). Gk—Te mia ton sabbaton. The word “day” is rightly supplied, as mia is feminine, and so must agree with a feminine noun understood, while sabbaton is neuter. Luke 24:1 has the same. Matthew reads, ‘towards dawn on the first (day) of the Sabbaths,’ and Mark (16:2), ‘very early on the first (day) of the Sabbaths.’ ”
“Our understanding of the importance of the wavesheaf in relation to both Christ’s acceptance and the counting of Pentecost should lead us to see that the gospel writers were clearly establishing the exact day of Christ’s acceptance: the first day for counting to Pentecost. John 20:16-19 absolutely proves from the Bible which Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread God intends us to use to determine wavesheaf Sunday. These verses show that Jesus ascended to the Father to be accepted on the day following the weekly Sabbath. Taken together, these factors point conclusively to the wavesheaf day as being on a Sunday, the day following the weekly Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread.”
John is correct in stating that the Hebrew text of the Old Testament and the Greek text of the New Testament both support a wave sheaf following the weekly Sabbath. But John’s statements concerning the Hebrew hashabbath and the Greek sabbaton have no bearing on which weekly Sabbath should determine the wave sheaf. The use of these terms in Scripture neither proves nor disproves his claim that this weekly Sabbath must fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread. Nor does John 20:16-19 prove which Sabbath determines the wave sheaf. It is true that the Sabbath preceding the wave sheaf fell within the Days of Unleavened Bread in the year of Christ’s crucifixion, but it should be noted that the wave sheaf also fell within the Days of Unleavened Bread that year. However, it is not possible for both the wave sheaf and the weekly Sabbath that precedes it to fall within Unleavened Bread in every year. When the Passover falls on a weekly Sabbath, a decision must be made as to whether the Sabbath preceding the wave sheaf or the wave sheaf itself should fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread. John 20:16-19 cannot be used to decide this question because the Passover did not fall on a weekly Sabbath in the year of the crucifixion.Section IV Symbolic Relationships John Commits the Fallacy of Irrelevant Conclusion
The fallacy of irrelevant conclusion occurs when a writer draws a conclusion that is not supported by the facts he presents. Notice John’s faulty conclusion concerning the symbolism of the wave sheaf:
“Symbolism is an effective teaching tool, and the Bible uses it extensively. It can be used to hide clear understanding for a time, or clarify it when the time comes, according to the Creator’s purpose. Taken by itself, the symbolism within the wavesheaf offering is clear. But its relationship to other instruction [sic] is not always understood.
“To which festival is the symbolism of the wavesheaf offering most closely related, Passover, Unleavened Bread or Pentecost? On the calendar it is most closely associated with Unleavened Bread because it is observed either within it or adjacent to it. Because each in its place plays a part in His purpose, all of God’s festivals and rituals have a relationship with each other. Some festivals and rituals, though, have a closer relationship with some than they do with others. For instance, the Lamb slain on Nisan 14 has a direct and powerful relationship to Passover—in fact, Passover revolves around it. Its relationship with the other festivals, however, seen in the focus of their teaching, begins to become more distant, though still essential.
“Thus it is with the wavesheaf offering. Although it is observed in or near the Days of Unleavened Bread, its purpose and symbolism are directly tied to Pentecost fifty days away. Symbolically, it has a much less direct relationship to Unleavened Bread than to Pentecost.
“Passover and Unleavened Bread, though next to one another on the calendar, do not teach us the same things. The same is true of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. Proximity on the calendar does not indicate the closeness of the symbolic relationship.
“Passover pictures Christ crucified for the forgiveness of our sins, as well as the means and cost of redemption from Satan, sin and this world. Unleavened Bread depicts our liberation and what God does to make it possible. It also shows our continuing responsibility to keep ourselves free by striving not to sin and overcoming by the power of God. The symbolism and instruction of these two are clearly related but much different.
“The wavesheaf offering pictures the firstfruit of the first harvest of the year offered before God for His acceptance. Spiritually, it pictures Christ—the firstfruit of God’s first spiritual harvest of souls—ascending after His resurrection to be accepted before God as the offering for our forgiveness and as our High Priest, enabling Him to administer the Holy Spirit and mediate for us before God.
“Pentecost depicts the giving of God’s Spirit to impregnate us as His children, thus putting us into the church, giving us power to overcome sin, and enabling us to be resurrected (born again) as firstfruits into the Kingdom of God as part of the same spiritual harvest that began with Christ. Both the wavesheaf and Pentecost depict a harvest. One event begins it, and the other ends it. The wavesheaf begins the count, and Pentecost ends it. If Christ had not been resurrected (harvested), or His sacrifice accepted, there would have been no Holy Spirit sent to mankind, no church and no reason for Pentecost to be observed by Christians because there would be no harvest.
“Conclusion? The wavesheaf offering has a direct connection to Pentecost and nearly a direct one to Passover, but only an indirect one to Unleavened Bread. The harvest symbolism and the fact that wavesheaf offering day begins the count that ends at Pentecost nearly detach the wavesheaf from Unleavened Bread but firmly attach it to Pentecost. In other words, it is in reality a Pentecost ritual, not an Unleavened Bread ritual. What symbolic reason is there in this to conclude that the wavesheaf must always be offered during the Days of Unleavened Bread?”
John is correct when he states that “the Lamb slain on Nisan 14 has a direct and powerful relationship to Passover.” Likewise, the meaning of the wave sheaf is inseparably linked to Passover, as it was necessary for the crucifixion of Christ to take place before He could ascend to the Father and be accepted as our Wave Sheaf. John acknowledges that the wave sheaf “…pictures Christ—the firstfruit of God’s first spiritual harvest of souls—ascending after His resurrection to be accepted before God as the offering for our forgiveness and as our High Priest….” But John totally ignores the fact that Christ’s ascension occurred during the Days of Unleavened Bread. By placing the wave sheaf outside the Days of Unleavened Bread, he severs the direct link between Christ’s sacrifice on the Passover day and His ascension as our Wave Sheaf during the Days of Unleavened Bread. The Wave Sheaf Day and its meaning cannot be detached from the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. The New Testament fulfillment of the wave sheaf by Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Gospel accounts, does not support John’s conclusion that there is no direct link between the Wave Sheaf Day and the Days of Unleavened Bread.Section V Passover, a Day of Unleavened Bread? John Commits the Fallacy of Petitio Principii
The fallacy of petitio principii is committed when the premise of an argument, whether stated or implied, presumes the very conclusion that one is attempting to prove. This flaw in logic is commonly known as “circular reasoning.” John’s premise is that the weekly Sabbath from which the wave sheaf is counted must fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread. He presumes this to be a command of Scripture and maintains that this “rule” prohibits the wave sheaf from following the Passover when it falls on the weekly Sabbath. Notice:
“In 2001, with Passover falling on the weekly Sabbath, the holy days of Unleavened Bread are the next day, Sunday, and the following weekly Sabbath. As we have seen, this raises the question of which Sabbath begins the count. Is it legitimate to consider Passover, Nisan 14, a weekly Sabbath, as the day preceding wavesheaf Sunday?
“This entails considering Passover as a day of Unleavened Bread, as well as the priests making the wavesheaf offering on a holy day, the first day of Unleavened Bread. If we do this, the command to offer the wavesheaf on the day after the weekly Sabbath that falls within the Days of Unleavened Bread is broken. The alternative is to wait until the following Sunday, the day after the weekly Sabbath that is definitely within the Days of Unleavened Bread (also the last day of Unleavened Bread). We must ascertain if Passover can legitimately be considered one of the days of Unleavened Bread or within them. If it can, this makes a difference of one full week as to when Pentecost is observed.
“ ‘To do so, however, confuses the teaching about the two. God made it very clear in Leviticus 23:5-6 that Passover is the 14th, and Unleavened Bread begins on the 15th. Though related, they are two distinct and separate festivals:
“ ‘On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight [ben ha’arbayim, “between the two evenings”] is the LORD’S Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.’ ”
“On the 14th the firstborn were killed, on the 15th Israel left Egypt (Numbers 33:3). They are two distinct and separate—though related—operations. In Exodus 12:15, 19 God says that the Days of Unleavened Bread are seven days long, not eight as they would be if we add Passover.
“Some have been caused to stumble at Exodus 12:18-19 because, without a bit of research, it only seems to say that Passover is a day of Unleavened Bread:
“ ‘In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening [ba’ereb, “even,” “evening,” “twilight,” “dusk” at the end of the day, not the beginning], you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses. . . .’ ”
“To confirm that ba’ereb occurs at the end of the day, notice Leviticus 23:32 where it is used in relation to Atonement.
“If Exodus 12:18-19 is saying one should begin eating only unleavened bread at the beginning of the 14th and cease eating it at the beginning of the 21st, then Passover becomes the first day of Unleavened Bread, a holy day, and Nisan 20 becomes the last day of Unleavened Bread! Although unleavened bread is required for the Passover meal—no sacrifice at any time was ever to contain leaven (Exodus 23:18)—the Bible never refers to the whole day as unleavened.
“Hidden in the Greek of Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:1, 12 and Luke 22:7 is a reference to Passover as “the first of the unleaveneds.” A comparison with the Old Testament, however, discloses this to be only the popular usage of some during New Testament times. In the Old Testament, something akin to this is found in Deuteronomy 16, where a festival is called “Passover,” while the context clearly describes the first day of Unleavened Bread. People popularly used Passover and Unleavened Bread interchangeably, and the Bible notes this practice, though “Passover” was the term generally used for the whole period.
“Doing things like this is not uncommon. Today, we commonly refer to the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day as either the “Feast” or “Tabernacles,” even though we clearly understand that the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day are separate festivals. So it was with Passover in the time of Christ and the apostles. Neither our use of “Tabernacles” nor the Jews use of “Passover” alters the authority of the Scriptures.
“Passover and Unleavened Bread are separate festivals, each with a different focus related to the other. To blend them to the point of making them one festival stretches the Scriptures and introduces confusion into the instruction. The Pharisees did this and proved that the mixture produces weakness, not strength. Thus Passover, even when it occurs on a weekly Sabbath, is never part of the Days of Unleavened Bread and cannot be used for determining wavesheaf day.
“We must conclude, then, that, if we do not accept the fact that the Sabbath mentioned in Leviticus 23:11, 15 is the weekly Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread, we are left without any real defining point from which to begin the count. Only these two verses in the Old Testament show when to wave the sheaf. Why not any other Sabbath, either holy day or weekly? John 20:1, 17 absolutely confirm that Jesus was “waved” on the Sunday following the weekly Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread. When Passover falls on the weekly Sabbath, the only Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread is also the last day of Unleavened Bread. When Passover falls on the weekly Sabbath, should we throw out the rule used to calculate Pentecost for all other years? Pentecost is always calculated from the weekly Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread. Nowhere does God say to alter that rule during a year like this one.”
John’s interpretation of Leviticus 23:11 and 15 as a command to offer the wave sheaf on the day after the weekly Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread is so firmly fixed in his mind that he can see no other possible answer to the question of when to begin the count. Because he has presumed that his interpretation of God’s command is correct, he presents this interpretation as a fact of Scripture, failing to see that his premise and his conclusion are one and the same. His reasoning is circular, beginning and arriving at the same point, without any valid evidence to support his position.
Section VI WCG’s Symbolism Argument
John Commits the Fallacy of Petitio Principii
The fallacy of petitio principii is committed when the premise of an argument, whether stated or implied, presumes the very conclusion that one is attempting to prove. John’s premise is that the weekly Sabbath from which the wave sheaf is counted must fall within the days of Unleavened Bread. Based on this unproven premise, John concludes that the wave sheaf cannot follow a weekly Sabbath that does not fall within the days of Unleavened Bread. He then introduces two other points to support his premise. Notice:
“In their limited written material on the matter, the WCG contends that having the wavesheaf offering following the Days of Unleavened Bread destroys the chronological sequence of death, acceptance and putting sin completely out of one’s life. But consider this: In every case, Unleavened Bread (putting sin out) begins before the wavesheaf (acceptance) occurs. Is not their sequence already broken even in a normal year? Must one not repent of sin before God accepts him?
“When Passover falls on a weekly Sabbath, and if the wavesheaf occurs the next day, it:
(1) follows a Sabbath not within the Days of Unleavened Bread;
(2) causes the wavesheaf to be performed on an annual Sabbath, a rest day; and
(3) presents us with the peculiar symbolic picture of Christ being resurrected immediately after He is symbolically put in the grave.”
John offers no evidence that the wave sheaf must follow a weekly Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread, yet he concludes that it is a violation of Scripture if the weekly Sabbath does not. This “problem” is a result of John’s faulty interpretation of Leviticus 23:11, 15.
John offers no evidence that the wave sheaf cannot occur on a High Sabbath yet concludes that it is a violation of Scripture if it does. This “problem” is based on the premise that the wave sheaf was never offered on a High Sabbath because it would violate the command to rest. John offers no Scriptural evidence to support this premise. In fact, offering the wave sheaf involved much less work than sacrificing bullocks and other animals, which were offered on every High Sabbath.
John offers no evidence that the symbolism of the wave sheaf is contradicted when the wave sheaf day immediately follows the Passover, yet he concludes that the symbolism is violated. John ignores the fact that God’s command allows a variable number of days between the Passover and the wave sheaf. By linking the wave sheaf to the weekly Sabbath, God established a definite sequence in the two events without setting a fixed number of days. If it were a violation of symbolism to allow less than three days between the Passover and the wave sheaf, it would also be a violation to allow more than three days. The Scriptures do not support John’s claim.John Commits the Fallacy of Relevance
The fallacy of relevance occurs when the point that is presented has no logical relevance to the conclusion. Since God’s command makes it impossible to have a set number of days between Passover and the wave sheaf day, the timing of three days in the year of Christ’s crucifixion cannot be used as a standard for observing the wave sheaf. Whether the wave sheaf day immediately follows the Passover day or falls 72 hours after Passover, as in the year of Christ’s death, is irrelevant to the question of whether or not the weekly Sabbath from which we count to Pentecost must fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread.
John demonstrates the fallacy of relevance in the following argument. In the process, he mistakenly places the resurrection of Christ on the weekly Sabbath “near sunset,” although it took place at the exact time of sunset, when the Sabbath ended and the first day of the week began. His next statement is nonsensical. The symbolism of the Passover is the same each year regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. If the symbolism depended on exact timing, God would not have linked the wave sheaf to the weekly Sabbath, and the Passover to a set day of the month, which allows a variable number of days between the two events.
“Scripture shows He was put into the grave on Passover near sunset and rose 72 hours later on a Sabbath near sunset. When Passover is on a weekly Sabbath, can the same calendar day represent the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Christ? Does this not destroy the sign Jesus gave as evidence of His messiahship, being three days and three nights in the grave? Only when Passover falls on Wednesday can the symbolism work precisely as it did when Christ died. Whenever Passover falls on a Monday, Friday or weekly Sabbath, the exact symbolism cannot be maintained. The WCG’s symbolism argument becomes more smoke and mirrors than fact. Where is the scriptural authority for its use?
“Can the following Sunday, Nisan 22, be wavesheaf Sunday? Yes, just as much as when Passover falls on a Monday or Friday. If Passover had been on the weekly Sabbath, Jesus would have been in the grave three days and three nights and then resurrected. Though the wait would have been longer following His resurrection, He would have been fully ready to ascend to the Father and be accepted on wavesheaf Sunday, Nisan 22.
“A calendar for 1994, published by the Messianic Jews (Lederer Messianic Publications, 6204 Park Heights, Baltimore, MD 21215), lists two days for the wavesheaf offering, March 28 (Nisan 16) for the Pharisaic tradition and April 3 (Nisan 22) for the Sadducean tradition. These modern Jews clearly recognize that the Sadducees understood that wavesheaf day could fall after the Days of Unleavened Bread.
There are a number of flaws in John’s reasoning. He argues that a wave sheaf immediately following Passover destroys the sign of Jesus’ messiahship because it does not allow three days and three nights between the two events. He presumes that the symbolic meaning of the Passover and the wave sheaf requires at least 72 hours to pass between their observance. He fails to consider thatGod’s command in Leviticus 23 does not always allow three full days between the two events. When Passover falls on a Friday, only 24 hours pass between the Passover day and the Wave Sheaf Day. The symbolism of the Passover and the wave sheaf is maintained by the sequential order of the events, despite the variation in timing.
If the symbolism depended on exact timing, God would have specified that the Passover must always fall on a Wednesday in order that the wave sheaf might always be observed exactly three days afterward. Since God chose not to establish a set length of time between the two events, it is irrelevant to argue that three days and three nights must elapse between them. The sign of Christ’s messiahship cannot be made a requirement for determining the wave sheaf because, as John acknowledges, the exact timing is possible only when the Passover falls on a Wednesday.John Commits the Fallacy of Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam
The fallacy of argumentum ad ignorantiam uses one of two forms of denial: 1) to argue that something is so because it has not been demonstrated that it is not so; 2) to argue that something is not so because it has not been demonstrated that it is so. John utilizes the second form of denial in his effort to demonstrate that the wave sheaf cannot fall on the First High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread. Notice:
“Does waving the sheaf on a holy day present any problems? Yes, indeed! First, the Bible says to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. Can it legitimately be waved on a Sabbath, a holy day, a day of rest? Is it not bending the Scripture to count any Sabbath as a workday? The Jews traditionally held wavesheaf day to be a workday. Though they did it on different days, the Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes and Falashas all waved the sheaf on a normal workday. No record has ever been found of any of them offering the wavesheaf on a holy day Sabbath. Apparently, this is not because of the work involved in making the offering, but because once the offering was made, the people were free to begin the harvest in earnest. History shows the people usually began working around noon on wavesheaf day because the offering was normally scheduled to be made by a priest between 9:00 a.m. and noon.
“In “What You Need to Know About the New Testament Pentecost” in the June 1974 Good News magazine, Garner Ted Armstrong and Raymond McNair write:
“ ‘During that time of the early New Testament Church, the Sadducees and the priests took the weekly Sabbath of the Passover season as the benchmark from which to reckon the fifty days to Pentecost. It was not until a very few years before the fall of Jerusalem that the Pharisees finally got control of the Temple and changed over to reckoning Pentecost from the morrow after the first annual Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
“ ‘. . . We are commanded to begin counting the “seven weeks” or “seven sabbaths” from (figuring inclusively), or beginning with, the wave-sheaf Sunday which must always fall during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
“ ‘. . . The Sadducees and most Christian scholars throughout history have concluded, erroneously, that the wave-sheaf Sunday could sometimes fall outside the Days of Unleavened Bread. But this is incorrect. (p. 5. Emphasis theirs.’ ”
“Where is their authority for saying that God commands us always to begin the count to Pentecost from the Sunday that falls within the Days of Unleavened Bread? No such statement appears in the entirety of the Bible, and not a single religious body, using the Bible and drawing upon their own language and history, followed that method in counting to Pentecost. Notice also that their last paragraph directly contradicts the first. How can a day be a benchmark if it is moveable? How can a rule be considered firm if what is always to be done can be changed?”
John’s argument that the wave sheaf must fall on a workday is based solely on Jewish tradition. He offers no Scriptural evidence to support this view. He goes on to challenge those who maintain that the wave sheaf must fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread, claiming that they are practicing what is not found in Scripture. He ignores the fact that there is “no such statement in the entirety of the Bible” to support his own claim that the weekly Sabbath preceding the wave sheaf must fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread. Since the command in Leviticus 23 does not clearly state whether the wave sheaf or the weekly Sabbath must fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread, we must look elsewhere in Scripture to find the answer. To look to Jewish tradition as our authority for observing the wave sheaf would be as great an error as relying on the tradition of the 15th Passover.
John’s question at the end of the above citation is based on the assumption that the weekly Sabbath preceding the wave sheaf must always fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread. Since no such command is stated in Scripture, no rule is broken when the weekly Sabbath that precedes the wave sheaf does not fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread.
John Commits the Fallacy of Division
The fallacy of division is committed when the property of the whole is transferred to part of that whole. Because the wave sheaf day begins the seven-week count to Pentecost, which represents the harvesting of the saints, John reasons that the wave sheaf day also represents harvesting. Based on this assumption, John asserts that the wave sheaf day requires labor and therefore cannot fall on a Sabbath:
“We must also consider that the wavesheaf symbolizes the beginning of the harvest. A harvest entails work, labor. The priestly labor of making the offering is not of concern here (Jesus declares them blameless for this), but the work of all (farmers, reapers, etc.) involved to produce a harvest is.
“Apply this spiritually. The wavesheaf symbolizes the beginning, the firstfruit, of God’s spiritual harvest of souls that will culminate in the resurrection of the church. If a holy day is the initial day of that work of salvation, then rest equals work. Do the Sabbath and other holy times have no meaning with respect to the Millennium, a time of rest from the trials, privations and difficulties that men have experienced throughout history? Certainly, they do. Sabbath “work” (symbolically, harvesting), in this case, is not consistent with God’s commands or the meaning of “rest.” Since the wavesheaf symbolizes the resurrected Christ accepted to begin His work, if it is offered on a Sabbath, does this not symbolically turn a day of rest into a day of work? Does not this confuse the symbolism? A harvest equates to work, and a Sabbath equates to rest. The two ideas exclude each other. The wavesheaf should not be offered on any day but a common workday.”
John argues that the wave sheaf symbolizes the beginning of the harvest, which entails labor, and therefore should be offered on a common workday—never on a Sabbath, which symbolizes rest from labor. He totally overlooks the fact that Pentecost, which symbolizes the end of the harvest, is always observed on a Sabbath. The same holds true for the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, and for the Last Great Day, which picture the final harvest. God Himself ordained that these days, which symbolically represent the harvest, be observed as High Sabbaths each year. Thus there is no basis for the claim that the Wave Sheaf Day cannot fall on the first High Sabbath of the Days of Unleavened Bread.
John implies that for Christ to begin His work as our High Priest and Mediator on a Sabbath would violate the Fourth Commandment. He ignores the fact that Jesus carries out His work of redemption and salvation on every day of the week in the year, including both weekly Sabbaths and annual Sabbaths, as He did during His ministry on earth. To view His work on the Sabbath as a violation of the Fourth Commandment is not Scriptural but Pharisaical (John 5:16-17).
John acknowledges that the work required for the offering of the wave sheaf, like the work required for other offerings, cannot be construed as a violation of the Sabbath. The priests were not only permitted but specifically commanded by God to offer sacrifices on every weekly Sabbath and on every annual Sabbath. But John asserts that the harvesting that is associated with the wave sheaf violates the Sabbath.
The Scriptural instructions for offering the wave sheaf do not support this reasoning. The command for offering the wave sheaf did not require that entire fields be harvested, but only that a single sheaf be cut. This was part of the ceremony for the offering and cannot be construed as violating the Sabbath. The completion of the wave sheaf offering, of course, allowed the people to gather grain from the fields to eat. Was this an act of labor that could not be done on the Sabbath? What do the Scriptures teach?
In the Gospel of Matthew, we find the direct teaching of Jesus Christ concerning this question. When His disciples were condemned by the Pharisees for gathering grain to eat on the Sabbath, Jesus made it very clear that this act was not a violation of the Fourth Commandment (Matt. 12:1-8). His teaching amplifies the law of the Old Covenant which permitted the gathering of sufficient grain to satisfy one’s hunger, and shows that this law applies to Sabbath days also (Deut. 23:25).
John Commits the Fallacy of Petitio Principii
The fallacy of petitio principii is committed when the premise of an argument, whether stated or implied, presumes the very conclusion that one is attempting to prove. This flaw in logic is commonly known as “circular reasoning.” Because John presumes that “the rule for counting to Pentecost” requires the weekly Sabbath that precedes the wave sheaf to fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread, he concludes that it is the wave sheaf that must fall outside the Days of Unleavened Bread in some years. Notice:
“Does having the wavesheaf after the Days of Unleavened Bread leave Christ symbolically hanging on the stake or buried during the entire period (Days of Unleavened Bread) that represents His work as High Priest, cleansing us of sin and delivering us from its power?
“The prophecy of Daniel 9:26-27 says the Messiah is cut off “in the middle of the week.” Its fulfillment is a sign of the Messiah. This means He had to be crucified in a year in which Passover fell on a Wednesday, making it impossible for Him to be killed in a year in which Passover fell on a Monday, Friday or weekly Sabbath. Thus, one crucifixion could not cover every possible day on which a Passover could fall. God opted for one that would cover the highest number of scenarios; that is, eight of nine years the wavesheaf will fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread. By itself, however, this is no reason to change the rule for counting to Pentecost in the odd year. Nothing in the Scriptures or history supports it. Changing the instruction established in Leviticus 23:11, 15 and confirmed by John 20:1, 17 introduces confusion.
“The Scriptures also demand He lay in the grave three days and three nights to fulfill the wavesheaf by being the authentic Messiah (Matthew 12:38-40). In a year like this, following the WCG’s reasoning, He is symbolically crucified on the Passover (a weekly Sabbath), buried near sunset, immediately raised the same day and accepted the next morning, having spent—at most—only a few minutes in the grave. It virtually denies the necessity of Christ having to be in the tomb three days and three nights to fulfill the sign.”
The scenario that John presents allows the wave sheaf to fall outside the Days of Unleavened Bread in one out of nine years. His conclusion is based solely on the unproven premise that the wave sheaf must always follow the weekly Sabbath that falls within the Days of Unleavened Bread. He refers to this interpretation of Leviticus 23:11 as an established rule, rather than as an opinion that must be proved. He is committing the fallacy of petitio principii because his premise and conclusion are one and the same.
A second error in logic—the fallacy of relevance—is embedded in John’s reasoning. John argues that the sign of Christ’s messiahship requires three full days to elapse between the Passover and the wave sheaf. He overlooks the fact that when the Passover falls on a Friday, the wave sheaf falls on the second day of Unleavened Bread, which allows only one day between the Passover and the wave sheaf. God set the timing of the Passover and the wave sheaf long before the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, knowing in advance that His commands would not allow a precise parallel with Christ’s fulfillment of these events, except in those years when the Passover falls on a Wednesday. Since God’s command for the Passover causes it to fall on other days in the week, it is evident that God did not aim for an exact parallel. God is a God of perfection—not a God of averages or near misses. If He had intended to make the sign of Christ’s messiahship a requirement for observing the wave sheaf, He would have commanded that the wave sheaf be offered exactly three days after the Passover in every year. The fact that God did not ordain a specific time between the two events makes John’s point concerning the sign of Christ’s messiahship irrelevant to the determination of the wave sheaf.
John Commits the Fallacy of Relevance
The fallacy of relevance occurs when the point that is presented has no logical relevance to the conclusion. After pointing out the flaws in using symbolism to determine whether the wave sheaf should be observed on Nisan 15 or on Nisan 22, John appeals to the symbolic meaning of holy days to support his conclusion that the wave sheaf cannot fall on Nisan 15, the first High Sabbath of the Days of Unleavened Bread:
“The symbolism involved in the WCG’s decision brings out another problem in logic. The 1974 Pentecost Study Material, pp. 56-58, leads one to believe that the fulfillment of God’s plan must occur in a specific order: 1) Christ’s Passover sacrifice; 2) the Father’s acceptance of His sacrifice; and 3) the Christian’s ridding his life completely of sin following his acceptance of the sacrifice. They argue that a Nisan 22 wavesheaf Sunday wrongly pictures the believer putting out sin before the Father accepts the sacrifice of Christ. However, does not the eating of unleavened bread—signifying the believer putting sin out of his life—begin when Nisan 15 begins? Does not Nisan 15 begin at sunset? When wavesheaf Sunday falls on the first day of Unleavened Bread, Nisan 15 begins an entire half-day before the wavesheaf is offered! The symbolism in this illustrates that a Christian’s ridding his life of sin begins before acceptance by the Father!
“Another difficulty that enters the mix is that, symbolically, God does not give the Holy Spirit until Pentecost, long after the Christian begins putting sin out of his life—yet it is a Christian’s receipt of God’s Spirit that enables him to get rid of sin!
“Consider that Passover more frequently falls on Monday, Wednesday or Friday. When it falls on Monday, Tuesday is the first day of Unleavened Bread, and the following Monday is the last day of Unleavened Bread. In such a year, five full days elapse before the wavesheaf is cut. What is the difference whether the wavesheaf offering must wait one, three, five or seven full days during Unleavened Bread? What law is broken? Each of these four ways depicts Christ spending time in the grave, symbolically illustrating that He was truly dead and buried and fulfilled the sign of His messiahship.
“The WCG’s sequence blurs this teaching severely, besides arbitrarily altering the rule established in Leviticus 23:11, 15. In addition, it puts wavesheaf day on a holy day, a rest day, whose teaching and symbolism is entirely different. All the variables produced from the four different days Passover can fall on shows that God does not demand the symbolism to apply in any strict chronological order. Instead, the symbolism overlaps; its order is general rather than specific. It has no bearing on whether we can use symbolism to override a law.”
John contradicts his previous argument that a minimum of three days must pass between Passover and the wave sheaf, and now acknowledges that there is no such rule in Scripture. However, he again presents his interpretation of God’s command in Leviticus 23 as an established rule and asserts that a wave sheaf on Nisan 15 is “arbitrarily altering the rule.” He relies on the symbolism of the holy day to support his conclusion that observing the wave sheaf on a holy day contradicts God’s command to rest.
The Scriptural commands for the observance of the Wave Sheaf Day do not support this view. The commands in Leviticus 23:12-13 for the Wave Sheaf Day required only one sacrificial lamb, a meal offering and a drink offering, in addition to the wave sheaf. On the other hand, the commands for the Day of Pentecost in Verses 16-21 required seven lambs, one bullock and two rams, as well as meal and drink offerings, in addition to two wave loaves. The offerings that were required for the Day of Pentecost far exceed the offerings that were required for the Wave Sheaf Day. Since the Day of Pentecost was ordained by God to be observed as a holy day and annual Sabbath, there is no basis for claiming that the observance of the Wave Sheaf Day conflicts with the observance of a holy day. The account of Israel’s first Passover in the Promised Land, as recorded in Joshua 5:10-11, indicates that God’s commands for the wave sheaf offering were initially fulfilled on Nisan 15, the first High Sabbath of the Days of Unleavened Bread.Part II Section VIII Joshua 5 John Commits the Fallacy of Irrelevant Conclusion
The fallacy of irrelevant conclusion is committed when a writer draws a conclusion that is not supported by the points that are presented. In the following paragraphs, John offers a number of arguments to support his conclusion that the events recorded in Joshua 5:10-12 did not include the observance of the Passover:
“In the 1974 Pentecost Study Material given to the ministry, the doctrinal committee bases much of its teaching for keeping the wavesheaf offering within the Days of Unleavened Bread on Joshua 5:10-12. These verses also appear in the June 1974 Good News article as authority always to count from the Sunday within the Days of Unleavened Bread. This decision runs contrary to what Herbert W. Armstrong determined before 1974 when the Passover fell on a weekly Sabbath. The study material, however, inclines the reader to understand that the author(s) believed the church should not change from what Herbert Armstrong had previously decided.
“The committee evidently decided to change primarily from a consideration of symbolism and Joshua 5:10-12. It concludes: “Putting these points all together, it appears that the wave sheaf must always have been offered during the days of Unleavened Bread—and not after that period” [p. 58, emphasis theirs]. If this is so, where is any record—let alone a biblical record—of anyone doing this?
“However, WCG never considered a great deal of information that impacts upon a true understanding of Joshua 5:10-12. The result is an error-filled interpretation.
“ ‘ “So the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight [ba’ereb] on the plains of Jericho. And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day. Now the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.” (Joshua 5:10-12).
“From these verses, the Pentecost Study Material concludes:
“ ‘Since the children of Israel did eat of the produce (grain) of the land on the day after the Passover (the 15th of Nisan), and since they could not have eaten of the grain until after they had offered up the omer—they must have, therefore, offered the wave sheaf on the morning of the 15th which would have been on a Sunday.
“ ‘This, in turn, would mean that the Passover day (the 14th of Nisan) was a weekly sabbath; and this would show that in those years when the last day of Unleavened Bread coincided with the weekly sabbath, God directed the priests to count Pentecost from the Sunday following the weekly sabbath which immediately preceded the days of Unleavened Bread. Thereby the wave sheaf would always fall within the days of Unleavened Bread.’ ”
“To begin with, the WCG’s paper virtually ignores the circumcision mentioned in verses 2-8. These circumcisions took place sometime shortly after entering the land on Nisan 10. If the men were circumcised on the 11th (which seems likely because Joshua would want to obey God’s command as quickly as possible), it sets up an interesting scenario in relation to Passover.
“The logistics of this undertaking demand serious consideration. It was a massive operation (no pun intended)! ‘[A]ll the people who were born in the wilderness’ needed circumcision (verse 5). How many may this have included? It may have been over million males (Numbers 26:51 records over 600,000 males 20 years and older, not including Levites and minors)! How long did these circumcisions take? Allowing one minute per circumcision performed by one person, if they were done one after another, it would take around 1,800 24-hour workdays! This major undertaking was not finished in just a few minutes or even a few hours.
“The circumcisions were undoubtedly not done like this. It is far more likely that multiple circumcisions were done simultaneously. Who performed the circumcisions? Those who were under 20 when Israel left Egypt and had been circumcised? How many of them still lived? No one knows. The priests? How many priests were there? Remember, many priests also had to undergo circumcision themselves. Did the men circumcise each other? Would a circumcised man be in any condition to circumcise another man?
“Numbers 26:62 tells us 23,000 Levite males over one month old crossed the Jordan into the land. If each one performed a circumcision every ten minutes, it would have taken two 24-hour days to circumcise over a million males. Consider just a few of the difficulties even to accomplish this: Did they continue the operations through the night hours by the flickering flames of roaring fires? They did not have portable generators and flood lights to aid them. Consider also that most of the nation was unskilled at circumcision; most Israelites had no prior experience with it since no one had been circumcised in the wilderness.
“The priests, probably circumcised last, would have been the ones most incapacitated when Passover arrived. When Simeon and Levi attacked Shechem on the third day after the men were circumcised (Genesis 34:25), they knew the men would be sore (KJV, ka’ab, ‘grief’ or ‘pain’) and unable to fight effectively. They were so incapacitated, they were unable to mount a defense for their very lives!
“Consider this in light of the scenario in Joshua 5. Even if the circumcisions were complete in one day, the 11th, the third day, apparently the most painful day of recuperation, would have been Passover day. This raises the question as to whether the men could have slain the Passover lamb, let alone harvest a portion of a crop! When we asked a modern medical doctor how long an adult would take to recuperate from a circumcision, he answered, ‘Ten days.’ Adam Clarke, from his nineteenth-century perspective, says, ‘Three weeks’! Joshua 5:8 says, ‘They [the circumcised men] stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed’! Though not conclusive, these factors suggest the possibility that Joshua 5:10-12 record an instance of Israel keeping the second Passover.
“A chapter like Leviticus 15, covering bodily discharges, strongly indicates these men—including the priests—would have not been ceremonially clean to take Passover, if it occurred on the 14th of the first month. In II Chronicles 30, the story of Hezekiah’s restoration of Temple worship under trying circumstances, Israel keeps both Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread in the second month. The text clearly says that many people were not properly clean for taking Passover (verses 3, 17-18). In this highly unusual situation—in which the people could not have taken Passover until the following year unless God intervened—Hezekiah asks God to provide atonement (verses 19-20), and He does. John 11:55 provides additional evidence that ceremonial purity prior to Passover was necessary.”
John’s argument that the circumcision of the men prevented the observance of the Passover in the first month is based on modern statistics, which do not apply to the men of Israel in Joshua’s day. John forgets that God had blessed the children of Israel—both men and women—with strength and vitality that surpassed other people of their day (Ex. 1:7-9, 19-20). When we consider that even these people were more vigorous than modern men, it is evident that modern standards are not a reliable basis for estimating the time required for the men of ancient Israel to recover from circumcision.
John is contradicting a plain fact of Scripture when he argues that Israel was not able to keep the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month because the men had not recovered from circumcision. The book of Joshua records that Israel observed the Passover at the time commanded by God. The circumcision of the men was completed on the tenth day of the month (Josh. 4:19); 5:2, 9), and they were whole in time to observe the Passover on the fourteenth day (Josh. 5:8, 10). There is no question “as to whether the men could have slain the Passover lamb” on that day. Scripture states it as fact. Nor is there any question as to Israel’s being “ceremonially clean to take Passover.” The men had been circumcised and they were too sore to have intercourse with their wives during the three days before Passover. To assert that Israel did not keep the Passover is a blatant rejection of the Scriptural record.
Section IX Was Passover Even Kept?
John Commits the Fallacy of Irrelevant Conclusion
The fallacy of irrelevant conclusion is committed when a writer draws a conclusion that is not supported by the points that are presented. After previously suggesting that the Passover observance in Joshua 5:10 may have been kept on the fourteenth day of the second month, John now asserts that it was not the Passover at all, but the first High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread:
“The WCG and many of its offshoots say Joshua 5:10-12 can only mean that the eating of unleavened cakes and parched corn, “on the morrow after the Passover” (they assume this to be Nisan 15), could occur only if this day were wavesheaf Sunday. Thus, they assume that what is called Passover was Nisan 14 and that it occurred on a weekly Sabbath in the year that the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River.
“Consider what is implied in the vast number of people involved in Israel’s crossing into the land and the WCG’s conclusion that Joshua 5:10-12 reveals a Sabbath Passover. The eating of unleavened cakes and parched corn on the morrow after the Passover means that on the first day of Unleavened Bread, a Sabbath—just after perhaps a million males had been circumcised—they worked to reap, thresh and winnow the grain; ground it into flour; kneaded the dough; and baked it into loaves for two to three million people! It would also have been necessary for them to have gathered wood for their fires and tote a great deal of water to make bread. Did Joshua and Israel’s leadership grossly overlook the strict Sabbath work laws enforced in the wilderness?
“But let us discern what Joshua 5:10-12 really records. First, notice Exodus 12:18: “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening [ba’ereb] you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the months at evening [ba’ereb].” Leviticus 23:32 also uses ba’ereb in relation to when the Day of Atonement is to be observed, and confirms that ba’ereb refers to the end of a day. Now compare this with Joshua 5:10: Israel “kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight [ba’ereb].” This describes a festival kept at the end of Nisan 14. This is not the Passover we know from Exodus 12 but the feast held on the first day of Unleavened Bread, what we call the Night to Be Much Observed. They were keeping the holy day Sabbath!
“What has happened is that “Passover”—the general term Jews commonly used for both Passover and Unleavened Bread—was written instead of the more specific Feast of Unleavened Bread. This has occurred elsewhere in both the Old (Ezekiel 45:21) and New Testaments (Luke 22:1). We must determine from the context what specific festival the writer meant.
“We can also see this clearly in Deuteronomy 16. Verse 1 contains the term, “Passover.” However, within the verse is a clue that something is amiss, as it mentions God bringing Israel out of Egypt by night. Israel did not leave Egypt on Passover but on the first day of Unleavened Bread (see Exodus 12:42; Numbers 33:3). Verse 2 speaks of sacrificing the Passover “from the flock and the herd” and “in the place where the LORD chooses to put His name.” Comparing this to Exodus 12:5 reveals that true Passover sacrifices came only from flocks of sheep or goats, not from herds of cattle. Also, verses 7 and 13 specify that the Passover was to be sacrificed and eaten at home, not where God had placed His name, referring to the Tabernacle or Temple.
“Deuteronomy 16:3 again refers to leaving Egypt in haste and eating unleavened bread seven days. Verse 4 also mentions seven days, implying Unleavened Bread, not Passover. In addition, the term “first day” refers to the first day of Unleavened Bread. In verse 5 God specifically commands them not to sacrifice the Passover within their gates, directly contradicting Exodus 12 but perfectly agreeing with Deuteronomy 12:13-14 and His instructions for regular and holy day sacrifices “in the land.”
“The word “roast” (Strong’s #1310) in Deuteronomy 16:7 is incorrectly translated; it should be rendered “boil” or “seethe.” The Hebrew word for “roast” (Strong’s #6748) appears in the Exodus 12:8-9 Passover lamb instructions, where God specifically prohibits boiling the Passover lamb. However, it was proper to boil a sacrifice for the first day of Unleavened Bread. Finally, Deuteronomy 16:8 tells them to eat Unleavened Bread six (more) days, clearly indicating that the real subject of these verses is the first day of Unleavened Bread, not Passover.
“This should warn us to be careful when we come across the word ‘Passover’ in our study. We need to look beyond the word to other details in the context to understand whether it truly means Passover or Unleavened Bread. Joshua 5:10-12 contains not one solid piece of information to show that they even kept Passover those first few days in the land. What the Bible records Israel keeping in Joshua 5:10-12 is the first day of Unleavened Bread, referred to by the common misnomer, ‘Passover.’ ”
John states that it is an assumption to view the Passover of Joshua 5 as a Nisan 14 observance. He maintains that this observance did not take place on the fourteenth but at the beginning of the fifteenth, and that it was not the Passover ceremony but the opening celebration of the Days of Unleavened Bread. He refers to Leviticus 23:32 to support his interpretation of “on the fourteenth day of the month at even [ba ereb]” as the end of the fourteenth. John argues that the Hebrew ba ereb refers to the end of a day, overlooking the fact that this Hebrew term, meaning “sunset,” is also used to refer to the beginning of a day. Whether it refers to the beginning or the end of a day must be determined by the context.
In asserting that “on the fourteenth day of the month at even” in Joshua 5:10 refers to the end of the fourteenth, John ignores the fact that this wording is also used in Numbers 9:5 to describe the observance of the Passover at the beginning of the fourteenth. There is no question that the Passover in Numbers 9:5 was kept at the beginning of the fourteenth day of the first month, according to all the ordinances that God had commanded (Num. 9:2-3). Every verse in Numbers 9 concerns the observance of the Passover ceremony, and no mention is made of the observance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the fifteenth. Since the same wording that is found in Numbers 9:5 is used in Joshua 5:10, there is no justification for the interpretation of this Passover as the celebration of the Feast on the following night.
John commits a further error in logic when he argues that Joshua 5:10 is not describing a fourteenth Passover but an observance on the night of the fifteenth. After his earlier argument that Israel could not keep the Passover because the men were not able to slay the lambs, John asserts that only one night later the men were able to sacrifice not only lambs but bullocks and oxen, all of which were offered on the night of the fifteenth. Furthermore, the Passover lambs were slain by the heads of the households, and no man was required to slay more than one lamb. But the peace offerings for the night of the fifteenth were slain by the priests, who each were required to slay many lambs, as well as many oxen and bullocks. It is illogical to claim that each head of a household could not slay one lamb on the fourteenth, but on the following night each priest was able to slay dozens of lambs and oxen and bullocks, especially after John’s previous statement that the priests were probably the last men to be circumcised.
John commits a third error in logic by claiming that the account in Joshua 5 relates only to the Days of Unleavened Bread and does not include the Passover. There is no support for this claim anywhere in the Old Testament. Every other account in the Old Testament clearly shows that the Days of Unleavened Bread were never observed without first observing the Passover. Whether these observances were held in the first month or in the second month, the Passover was always kept before celebrating the night of the fifteenth.
The account in Joshua 5:10-12 clearly records the observance of the Passover when Israel first entered the land. The very reason for circumcising the men was to prepare them for the Passover. As the first Passover in Egypt initiated the fulfillment of God’s promise to lead Israel to the Promised Land, so the first Passover in Canaan initiated the fulfillment of His promise to give them the land for an inheritance. The following verses in Joshua 5 show that the conquest of the land began immediately afterward, commencing with the siege of Jericho.Section X Did Israel Offer the Wave Sheaf?
John Commits the Fallacy of Irrelevant Conclusion
The fallacy of irrelevant conclusion is committed when a writer draws a conclusion that is not supported by the points that are presented. In the following paragraphs, John draws a number of conclusions that are completely unfounded:
“Armed with this information, we may know the dates on which these events occurred, but they in no way reveal on which days of the week they fell. Assuming these events occurred in the month of Nisan, Joshua 5:10 tells us that the Israelites rested and kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread as the 15th of Nisan began. They continued on the 16th (called “the morrow” or “day after the Passover”), by preparing and eating unleavened cakes and parched corn. They used the old corn confiscated from the storage places of the Canaanites on the east side of Jordan or perhaps gathered a sufficient amount from the people of the land on the west side who fled as the Israelites flooded in.
“The Israelites rested on the holy day and ate manna that day (remember double portions of manna fell on preparation days, which the 14th was). On Nisan 16, the second day of Unleavened Bread—called “the day after the Passover” (Joshua 5:11)—manna again fell. This they ate, and they also prepared “old corn” into unleavened cakes and parched corn. The 17th, the third day of Unleavened Bread, the manna stopped and they began eating only the fruit of the land. All the labor involved in preparing the “old corn” for consumption was entirely lawful to do from the second day on. Moreover, as we shall see, it was perfectly lawful for them to harvest and eat a Canaanite crop without having a wavesheaf offering.
“The “old corn,” as translated in the KJV, is ‘abuwr (Strong’s #5669), meaning “passed, i.e. kept over; used only of stored grain: old corn.” This word is specifically used; it appears only here in the Scriptures. It describes what has been carried over from the previous year’s harvest or carried over from the east side of the Jordan (see Joshua 1:11). Either way, this “old corn” is not necessarily newly harvested grain. Modern translations change this word to “produce.” While this is not technically wrong, since even “old corn” is produce, the translators do us no favor because “produce” hides chronological and labor nuances that help clarify the events as they happened.
“Leviticus 23:10 contains some pertinent information: “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.” Many in the church of God believe the Israelites fulfilled this command in that first week after they crossed the Jordan. But did they? Notice also Exodus 23:15-16:
“ ‘You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field. . . .’ ”
“ ‘None shall appear before Me empty’ indicates offerings, which would include the offerings for Unleavened Bread, the wavesheaf and Pentecost. In Leviticus 23:10 and Exodus 23:15-16, notice how clear the instructions are regarding the requirements for these offerings: “bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest” “which you have sown.”
“As recorded in Joshua 5, the Israelites could not meet these qualifications when they came into the land. They may have been able to reap a harvest, but they certainly could not have reaped what they had sown. They probably reaped what the Canaanites had sown. However, if they had offered what the Canaanites had sown, they would have been guilty of essentially the same offense that resulted in Nadab and Abihu’s execution by lightning bolts in Leviticus 10! Would Joshua do such a thing?
“Leviticus 22:2, 24-25 adds an important detail:
“ ‘Speak to Aaron and his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they do not profane My holy name in those things which they sanctify to Me; I am the LORD. . . . You shall not offer to the LORD what is bruised or crushed, or torn or cut; nor shall you make any offering of them in your land. Nor from a foreigner’s hand shall you offer any of these as the bread of your God, because their corruption is in them, and defects are in them. They shall not be accepted on your behalf.’ ”
“This is very clear, but Leviticus 18:24-30 is even more pointed: God considers even the land to be defiled!
“When Israel came into the land on the tenth day of the first month, regulations that had not been in effect in the wilderness became the law of the land. Notice Deuteronomy 12:10-11, 13-14:
“ ‘But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and when He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety, then there will be the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the LORD. . . . Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see; but in the place which the LORD chooses, in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.’ ”
“Numbers 33:50-54 along with Deuteronomy 3:18-20 and 26:1-3 reveal that God required the Israelites to accomplish certain steps before they were free to make offerings such as the wavesheaf. Once the land was secure and the people had rest, then and only then could they do all that the Lord commanded. God imposed limits on where they could bring their offerings. The Israelites had to wait, not only until the land was secure, but also until God declared where He wanted the Tabernacle and the brazen altar erected.”
“In addition, notice Leviticus 23:11-13:
“ ‘He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the LORD. Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-forth of a hin.’ ”
“God commands the wavesheaf offering to be accompanied by an animal sacrifice and a meal offering. Immediately after Israel crossed over the Jordan, there was no altar, no Tabernacle, and no produce from the Israelites’ sowing and reaping. All of these elements were necessary once Israel was in the land. We must conclude, therefore, that no wavesheaf offering was made in Joshua 5. Joshua could meet none of its requirements!
“Joshua 18:1 records the erection of the Tabernacle and altar. This is considerably later than Joshua 5. How much time had passed between them? Joshua 14:6-7, 10 state that Caleb was the first to receive his inheritance in the land, when he was 85. At age 40, he spied out the land, about two years after Israel left Egypt. He was thus 78 years old when the events of Joshua 5 occurred 38 years later. Therefore, about seven years elapsed between Joshua 5 and Joshua 14—and Israel still could not meet the requirements to offer a wavesheaf offering.
“Finally, in Joshua 21:43-45:
“ ‘So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.’ ”
“Only at this point could Israel make offerings as God commanded.
“Conclusion: Joshua 5 cannot be used to establish a first day of Unleavened Bread waving of the sheaf. First, the wavesheaf is not even mentioned. Second, the produce they ate were provisions carried over, not a harvest of their own cultivation. Third, they could in no way meet the requirements to make an offering God could accept, thus they made none. Joshua 5 contains no authority to support a first day of Unleavened Bread wavesheaf day when Passover falls on a weekly Sabbath.”
Based on his misinterpretation of the Passover observance in Joshua 5:10, John places this event on Nisan 15 and the “morrow after the Passover” on Nisan 16. He then asserts that eating the “old corn of the land” does not refer to grain from the fields but was either the previous year’s harvest or had been carried into the land. He offers Strong’s definition of the Hebrew word translated “old corn” in Joshua 5:11 to support his arguments.
John fails to consider that Israel could not have obtained grain from the storehouses of the land because the people had not yet entered any of the cities. The storehouses were always built within the walled cities where the grain could be protected. Thus it is not possible that the grain eaten by the Israelites was taken from the previous harvest. The translation “old corn” in Joshua 5:11 is misleading. The New Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance tells us that the Hebrew word in this verse is pronounced gavoor (Wigram, p. 895). This word is defined by Brown, Driver and Briggs as “produce, yield” (Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, p. 721). Gesenius gives a more precise definition by translating it “produce, or offering” (Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon of the Old Testament, p. 600).
There is no evidence in the Hebrew text to support the claim that the grain eaten by Israel was not gathered from the fields. Furthermore, the Hebrew text makes it clear that the grain was not carried into the land but was gathered from the land itself. The Hebrew word gavoor in Joshua 5:11 is used in construct with “the land” (Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament, p. 929). This structure of the text shows that the grain eaten by Israel was “owned” or “possessed” by the land. It could not have been grown outside the land and carried in.
John argues that Israel did not have to offer the wave sheaf before eating the grain of the land because they had not sown it. He confuses God’s command for the wave sheaf in Leviticus 23:10, which refers only to the reaping of the grain, with the command in Exodus 23:15-16, which specifically refers to the “feast of harvest,” now known as the Feast of Pentecost. The phrase “which you have sown” in Exodus 23:16 was not a requirement for offering the wave sheaf. The only requirements were 1) entering the land, and 2) reaping the harvest.
The commands in Exodus 23:15-16 do not apply to entering the land but to the observance of the three festival seasons after Israel had conquered the land and had been given rest. The phrase “none shall appear before Me empty” in Verse 15 refers to assembling before God at the place He would choose (Deut. 12:10-11). John overlooks this fact when he applies Deuteronomy 12:10-11 to the entering of the land and the offering of the wave sheaf.
It is misleading to argue that the events in Joshua 5:10-11 did not include the wave sheaf when Leviticus 23:10 clearly commands that the wave sheaf be offered upon entering the land. It was to be offered from the harvest of the land, which was there when Israel arrived. Israel did not sow this harvest. God gave the land and all its bounty to Israel (Deut. 6:10-12).
John attempts to show that God’s prohibition in Leviticus 22:2, 24-25 against defective offerings would prevent offering the wave sheaf from grain that had been sown by the Canaanites. He asserts that the harvest of the land was defiled, and refers to Leviticus 18:24-30 to show that the land itself was defiled.
An examination of the commands against defective offerings does not support John’s conclusions. The context of the commands in Leviticus 22:2, 24-25 shows that these commands specifically refer to animal sacrifices “of the beefs, of the sheep, or of the goats” (v. 19). The animals that were offered to God were required to be without blemish or defect (vs. 21-23). The chapter makes no reference to offerings of grain and therefore cannot be used to support John’s argument that the grain of the land was defiled. Neither does Leviticus 18:24-30 support John’s claim that the grain grown by the Canaanites was defiled. If the defilement of the land applied to the harvest that was grown on it, then the defilement of the land would also apply to the herds and flocks that were raised on the land. However, the records that we find in the book of Joshua show otherwise. When the people of Israel conquered the city of Ai, they were commanded by God not to destroy the cattle but to take them into possession (Josh. 8:2). Joshua records that the people fulfilled this command of God (v. 27). If the cattle of the Canaanites had been defiled, God would have commanded the Israelites to destroy them to prevent mixing and interbreeding with their own herds and flocks, from which sacrificial animals would be selected as offerings to God. The fact that the cattle of the Canaanites were preserved by Israel and allowed to interbreed with their own animals shows that the defilement of the land did not extend to that which was raised on it.
John has grossly misrepresented the statements in Leviticus 18:24-30 concerning the defilement of the land. These words were written before Israel had entered the land, and were a warning to the people not to defile themselves with the abominations of the heathen whose land they would inherit (vs. 26-27, 29-30). The commands in these verses do not relate to the possessions of the Canaanites, whether grain or livestock, but to their abominable customs (vs. 24-25).
When we examine John’s references to Numbers 33:50-54 and Deuteronomy 3:18-20 and 26:1-3, we find that these passages do not relate to Israel’s entering the land but to the end of the conquest. Numbers 33:50-54 records God’s commands for dividing the land among the tribes of Israel. Deuteronomy 3:18-20 was a command to the tribes that had inherited land on the east side of the Jordan River to assist the other tribes until all had received an inheritance in the land. Deuteronomy 26:1-3 concerns an offering that was to be made after the land had been taken into possession. Since this offering was to be brought in a basket and was to include “the first of all the fruit of the earth,” this command does not pertain to the wave sheaf.
John commits his most glaring error in logic when he asserts that the wave sheaf could not have been offered when Israel entered the land because the altar and the tabernacle had not been set up. John presents this argument despite his previous assertion that Israel observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread upon entering the land, and despite his emphasis upon the fact that this observance required peace offerings to God from the herd and the flock (see pages 38-40). Since the blood of the peace offerings had to be sprinkled on the altar (Lev. 3:1-2), it is evident that the tabernacle was set up in the plains of Jericho soon after Israel had crossed the Jordan. The account in Joshua 18:1 does not record the first time the tabernacle was set up in the land but the fulfillment of God’s words in Deuteronomy 12:10-12 after the conquest of the land. Verse 10 of Deuteronomy 12 shows that this command did not apply to entering the land but to the time of “rest from all your enemies.” When the land had been subdued before Israel, God chose a permanent place for the tabernacle, which had until that time been moved from place to place as they journeyed. All the heads of households in Israel were commanded to assemble at the place chosen by God to offer sacrifices to Him three times in the year (Deut. 12:10-12, 16:16).
The observance of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread in Joshua 5 demonstrates that the tabernacle was set up from the time that Israel entered the land. Although John mistakenly interprets the Passover in Joshua 5:10 as the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, it is evident that Israel did observe the seven-day feast after keeping the Passover on Nisan 14. Joshua 5:11 records that the people ate “unleavened cakes” on the day after the Passover. The observance of this feast required sacrifices to be offered to God on each of the seven days (Lev. 23:6-8). Since these offerings had to be burnt on the altar, it is evident that the tabernacle had been set up and that the priests were prepared to carry out their customary duties, in fulfillment of God’s commands.
A careful examination of the Scriptural references that John uses has demonstrated that there is no basis for his claim that the children of Israel did not offer the wave sheaf when they entered the Promised Land. The account in Joshua 5:10-11 records their observance of the Passover on Nisan 14 and their observance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread on Nisan 15. Because the unleavened bread they ate was baked with grain from the harvest of the land, it is evident that they had offered the wave sheaf on the morning of Nisan 15. For further verification of this fact, see Understanding God’s Command for the Wave Sheafby Dwight Blevins.
Previous analysis renders any comment on John’s summary material completely unnecessary.Section XI Wave Sheaf Summary
“The following points summarize the reasons for our conclusion on when the count should begin:
“1. The Bible states a definite rule regarding when to wave the sheaf. Leviticus 23:11, 15 plainly declares that the count begins on the day after the Sabbath.
“2. This Sabbath must be a weekly Sabbath, as established by its movable date, from which counting to Pentecost is required. Additionally, but less importantly, the definite article appearing before “Sabbath” suggests a weekly Sabbath. John 20:1, 17 shows conclusively that Christ was “waved” before the Father on a Sunday following a weekly Sabbath. The contexts of Leviticus 23:11, 15; Deuteronomy 16:8-9; John 20:17 and biblical history corroborate that this Sabbath will always be within the Days of Unleavened Bread. Without this Sabbath link, the beginning of the count to Pentecost loses its anchor point.
“3. The Bible nowhere says that wavesheaf day must be within the Days of Unleavened Bread. To force it within them in a year in which Passover falls on a weekly Sabbath, one must needlessly alter the instruction of Leviticus 23:11, 15. Doing this forces one to begin counting toward Pentecost from a morrow after a Sabbath not within the Days of Unleavened Bread.
“4.Although Leviticus 23:11, 15 puts some emphasis on “the day after,” we cannot locate that day unless we first locate the Sabbath in question. Every historical record of those using these verses to count to Pentecost—except for the WCG after 1974—has acknowledged wavesheaf day as a workday. To place wavesheaf day on a holy day Sabbath following a weekly Sabbath Passover just to keep it within the Days of Unleavened Bread violates the record of history. In addition, Leviticus 23:10, 14 suggests that as soon as the wavesheaf offering was made, the Israelites were free to harvest, thresh, grind and bake bread made of the grain of that harvest the same day. Therefore, wavesheaf day must be a workday, not a holy day Sabbath.
“5. Only symbolism ties the wavesheaf to Passover and Unleavened Bread. Its harvest symbolism ties wavesheaf day directly to Pentecost, but less directly to Passover and far less directly to Unleavened Bread (which does not depict a harvest at all). We believe that the command to count from the morrow after the weekly Sabbath should take precedence over symbolism. Otherwise, why have a rule? Symbolism is an instructive teaching device, but it is essentially analogous—and analogies ultimately prove nothing. Attempting to coordinate the symbolism of the wavesheaf with all three festivals in an orderly chronological sequence, considering the four days when Passover can fall, produces highly inconsistent results and is practically useless. In no case should symbolism override a law in determining when to keep the feasts in their appointed times (see Deuteronomy 17:8-13, particularly verse 11).
“6. The Bible and the record of history show no disagreement between Jesus and the early church with the Sadducees who controlled the Temple and thus religious life during the time of Christ and the early church. Historical records show the Sadducees observed it as we advocate in this article. In addition, even modern calendars occasionally acknowledge that some Jews today still count to Pentecost as did the Sadducees of old.
“7. Joshua 5, far from confirming a wavesheaf within the Days of Unleavened Bread, actually does not support it at all. In fact, there is no evidence that the Israelites even kept the Passover that year. Scriptures in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua show that meeting commanded requirements for a lawful offering was impossible at the time of Joshua 5. Israel could not meet those requirements until at least seven years later. Joshua 5 gives absolutely no authority to establish a Sunday, first day of Unleavened Bread wavesheaf day to begin the count to Pentecost.
In summary, we feel we should faithfully follow the command recorded in Leviticus 23:11, 15 and used by Herbert Armstrong before 1974—whether the wavesheaf day falls within or without the Days of Unleavened Bread—because insufficient scriptural evidence exists to justify an exception. The cumulative evidence of the Bible and history substantiates that the weekly Sabbath falling within the Days of Unleavened Bread is of greater importance than the wavesheaf offering occasionally occurring outside them.”