As so often happens, I have been provided with a springboard for my planned posts on the Atonement by another blogger, and in this case, another blogger’s combox. So, with a wink and a nod to TF and his interlocutor, John, I shall begin.
Exodus 12 in almost any English translation, particularly at verse 6, is somewhat misleading because of a peculiar Hebrew idiomatic expression. Almost all of the translations of that verse say that the sacrifice is to be made “in the twilight,” or “in the evening.” This makes TF’s response to John concerning the timing of the sacrifice understandable. If, however, one has some familiarity with biblical Hebrew and/or access to good Catholic commentaries, such as the so-called ”Haydock Bible,” one realizes that the Hebrew phrase in question is literally “between the evenings,” or “between the suns.” Hebrews then, as has been mentioned, reckoned time and the division of the day differently: the day started after sundown, and continued overnight, through dawn, through noontime, and into the twilight until the sundown of what we would call the next day. However, they had a concept which referred to the time from mid-afternoon (around 3:00 p.m.) until twilight. This period (of what was the end of their day) is called “between the two suns,” or “between the two evenings.” Here’s a link to the Westminster Leningrad Codex/KJV Hebrew-English Interlinear text.
Thus, when the Lord commanded the Hebrews to sacrifice their lamb or kid “between the two evenings,” they were sacrificing it in the latter part of one day, then waiting until the next day to partake of the roasted meat, the “sacrifice of the feast.” The “metonymy” which TF wishes to invoke seems more than a little too convenient. The evidence of the text is that the participation of the Hebrews in the eating of the lamb is a participation in the sacrificial killing which took place the previous day. The sacrificial character of the feast is simply not in question.
The Hebrews were led out of Egypt and through the desert (instead of being led through the Philistine territory, where battle might have severely tempted the Israelites to return to Egypt; great is the God Who does not test us beyond what we are able to bear with His saving help!) and were provided quail in the evening and manna in the morning. They were to gather enough for the day, and anything else was caused to moulder and rendered useless. Except on the day prior to the Sabbath. Then the people were provided enough for two days’ worth so that they might be able to keep the Sabbath holy and rest in the provision of the Lord. It is in this context that the Passover sacrifice is presented, and not just once. Sometimes it takes more than one time to learn a lesson. I will continue this in the next installment, God willing.