Jewish Feasts Commemorated in Scripture
by Wayne D. Turner
From BibleTrack
Copyright 2004-2008

Consult the note at the bottom of this table for information regarding the comparison of the Jewish calendar to the Gregorian calendar. With the notes provided below, you may approximate the times of the celebrations of the Jewish feasts described in this table. Keep in mind, the Jewish New Year was celebrated at the beginning of a new agricultural cycle. That being the case, the New Year falls on the first day of the seventh month, marked by the Feast of Trumpets.

There are three feasts specified when the Hebrews are to gather together according to Exodus 34:23 (see notes). These are the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) and the Feast of Tabernacles. Later on in Jewish history, these three Festivals were the times when Jews tried to make a pilgrimage back to Jerusalem.

Scripture Referenes
Ex. 12:1-14; Lev. 23:5; Num. 9:1-14; Num. 28:16; Deut. 16:1-7 14th day of the 1st month (Nisan) Commemorated God's deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt
Jews observe the Passover meal
Feast of Unleavened Bread Ex. 12:15-20; Ex. 13:3-10; Lev. 23:6-8; Num. 28:17-25; Deut. 16:3,4,8 15th day of the 1st month (Nisan) until 21st

Ate unleavened bread for 7 days
No work on 1st day
Marked the beginning of the barley harvest
1st of three annual trips to Jerusalem

Feast of Firstfruits Lev. 23:9-14; Num. 28:26 1st Sunday after Nisan 15th Accompanied the offering of the first harvested barley to God.
Feast of Weeks
aka Pentecost
Ex. 23:16; Ex 34:22; Lev. 23:15-21; Num. 28:26; Deut. 16:9-12 50 days after the 1st Sabbath following the Passover (always a Sunday) Marked the end of the early-summer wheat harvest. The Hebrew word for "week" is also translated "seven." Literally, Pentecost was exactly 7 weeks to the day after the Feast of Firstfruits.
2nd of three annual trips to Jerusalem
Feast of Trumpets
Lev. 23:23-25; Num. 29:1-6 1st day of the 7th month (Tishri) Special trumpet blasts
No work performed
Special offerings made
Day of Atonement
(Yom Kippur)
Lev. 16; 23:26-32; Num. 29:7-11 10th day of the 7th month (Tishri) Day of fasting
Special offerings by High Priest to atone sins of Israel for a full year
No work performed

Feast of Tabernacles
or Booths

Ex. 23:16; Ex. 34:22; Lev. 23:33-36, 39-43; Num. 29:12-38; Deut. 16:13-15 15th to 22nd day of 7th month (Tishri) Marked the beginning of a new agricultural year
Symbolized by the construction of booths decorated with greenery for the harvesters
3rd of three annual trips to Jerusalem
Feast of Dedication
(Lights or Hanukkah)
A reference to it is found in John 10:22 25th day of 9th month (Kislev) for 8 days Instituted around 164 B.C. after the death of Antiochus Epiphanes. The temple was cleansed after he had desecrated it.
It was commemorated over an 8-day period of lighting candles on an 8-candle lamp.
Feast of Purim
Esth. 9:18-32 14th & 15th days of 12th month (Adar) Commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination
The Hebrews have their own calendar which is based upon lunar cycles. That being the case, the dates in the Jewish calendar do not correspond each year to the same dates in the Gregorian calendar. However, due to the corrections of both calendars, they are realigned (within a day or so) at the end of each 19-year cycle. While the Gregorian calendar has a leap year every four years (with a few exceptions), the Hebrew calendar is more complicated than that since it is based on lunar cycles; it provides for a realignment 7 times in 19 years with the addition of a 13th month 7 times during that 19-year cycle. A lunar month is sometimes 29 days and sometimes 30 days, averaging out to approximately 29.5 days per month over the period of an entire year.

Prior to the modern system of calculating the Jewish year adopted around 359 A.D., the Jewish calendar was calculated on the fly (so to speak). On the 30th day of the month, the governing council in Jerusalem would entertain withnesses to a new moon. If such witnesses came forth, a new month was declared beginning that day. If not, a new month was not declared until the day following the 30th day. The first new moon after spring was regarded as the first month of the new year. If signs of spring seemed to be appearing later than normal, an additional month was added to compensate for the deviation from the solar year. Modern astronomy provided the ability to put an exact algorithim to the calculation of the Jewish calendar.

The date for Easter each year is based upon the lunar cycle as well. Easter today is celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon (aka Paschal Full Moon) after the spring equinox (March 21 or so). Therefore, Easter falls between March 22 and April 25 each year. The Passover is celebrated on the 14th day of the 1st month. Therefore, for rough calculation purposes, the approximate times for the Jewish festivals listed in the table above can be calculated by counting the number of months from Easter, minus a couple of weeks to back up to the appearance of the new moon that month. More specifically, back up 14 days from the Jewish celebration of the Passover to find the 1st day of the 1st month. However, when the Jewish calendar has an extra month because of leap month, Easter and Passover can be separated by several days or even weeks.