Showing posts with label Leviticus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leviticus. Show all posts

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Adam the Priest, not the Farmer

In his masterful work, The Tabernacle Pre-Figured: Cosmic Mountain Ideology in Genesis and Exodus, L. Michael Morales examines the creation, de-creation, and exodus themes of the Bible in relation to ancient Near East literature, in order to present a compelling case for approaching the divine presence of God via a tabernacle/temple system. The codified narratives of the Torah in connection with the rest of Scripture symbolically portray a mediated return to the Garden of Eden, the original telos, or goal, of all creation. Regarding the thematic connection between Adam and the law pertaining to priesthood, Morales notes:
Within the overall context of viewing creation as a macro-temple in Genesis 1 and Eden as its holy of holies in Genesis 2-3, the priestly nature of humanity becomes apparent. That the garden narrative indeed portrays Adam as an archetypal priest ministering before YHWH is supported also by use of the verbs defining the divine intent, to "work/serve" (עבד abad) and to "protect/guard" (שׁמר samar) being used together again within the Pentateuch only to describe the duties of the Levites.1 These terms may more suitably be translated as "to worship and obey." ...Further, there is the parallel, already noted, between Adam's post-fall vestments and the investiture of the Levitical priests, both needing their nakedness covered (Gen 3.7, 21; Exod 20.26, 28.42) and utilizing the noun כתנת (tunics) and the hiphil form of the verb לבשׁ (clothe): 
Gen 3.21:  YHWH God made for Adam and for his wife tunics (כתנת) of skins and clothed them (וילבשׁם) 
Lev 8.13:  And Moses brought Aaron's sons and clothed them (וילבשׁם) with tunics (כתנת). 
Likely then, Adam was placed in the garden to fulfill his priestly office.
...There has been, in fact, a continuous tradition with respect to Adam as priest and sacrificer, from Jubilees (second century BC) to the Rabbinic period, Adam sometimes portrayed specifically as a high priest. Consistent, then, with creation's being a cosmic temple and with the garden being a holy of holies, Adam is portrayed as an archetypal priest -- not a farmer.2

1.  Numbers 3:7-8, 8:26, 18:5-6
2.  L. Michael Morales, The Tabernacle Pre-Figured: Cosmic Mountain Ideology in Genesis and Exodus [Leuven-Paris-Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2012] pp. 99-100

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Adam as the Priest-King of Eden

In The Temple and the Church's Mission: A biblical theology of the dwelling place of God, G. K. Beale describes the Garden of Eden as the place of God's presence and of God's first Priest-King, Adam. He writes:
  Israel's temple was the place where the priest experienced God's unique presence, and Eden was the place where Adam walked and talked with God. The same Hebrew verbal form (stem) mithallek used for God's 'walking back and forth' in the Garden (Gen. 3:8), also describes God's presence in the tabernacle (Lev. 26:12; Deut. 23:14 [15]; 2 Sam. 7:6-7).1  
  Genesis 2:15 says God placed Adam in the Garden 'to cultivate [i.e., work] it and to keep it'. The two Hebrew words for 'cultivate and keep' are usually translated 'serve and guard [or keep]' elsewhere in the Old Testament. It is true that the Hebrew word usually translated 'cultivate' can refer to an agricultural task when used by itself (e.g., 2:5; 3:23). When, however, these two words ...occur together in the Old Testament (within an approximately 15-word range), they refer either to Israelites 'serving' God and 'guarding [keeping]' God's word ...or to priests who 'keep' the 'service' (or 'charge') of the tabernacle (see Num. 3:7-8; 8:25-26; 18:5-6; 1 Chr. 23:32; Ezek. 44:14).2 
  The best translation of Adam's task in Genesis 2:15 is 'to cultivate (work) it and to keep it [the Garden]'. Regardless of the precise translation, however, the preceding observations suggest that the writer of Genesis 2 was portraying Adam against the later portrait of Israel's priests, and that he was the archetypal priest who served in and guarded (or 'took care of') God's first temple. While it is likely that a large part of Adam's task was to 'cultivate' and be a gardener as well as 'guarding' the garden, that all of his activities are to be understood primarily as priestly activity is suggested not only from the exclusive use of the two words in contexts of worship elsewhere but also because the garden was a sanctuary... If this is so, then the manual labour of 'gardening' itself would be priestly activity, since it would be maintaining the upkeep and order of the sanctuary. 
  After telling Adam to 'cultivate' and 'guard/keep' in Genesis 2:15, God gives him a specific 'command' in verse 16. The notion of divine 'commanding' (sara) or giving of 'commandments' (miswot) not untypically follows the word 'guard/keep' (samar) elsewhere, and in 1 kings 9:6, when both 'serving' and 'keeping' occur together, the idea of 'commandments to be kept' is in view. The 1 Kings passage is addressed to Solomon and his sons immediately after he had 'finished building the house of the Lord' (1 Kgs. 9:1): if they do 'not keep My commandments . . . and serve other gods . . . I will cut off Israel from the land . . . and the house [temple] . . . I will cast out of My sight' (1 Kgs. 9:6-7). Is this a mere coincidental connection with Genesis 2:15-16?
  Hence, it follows naturally that after God puts Adam into the Garden for 'cultivating/serving and keeping/guarding' (v. 15) that in the very next verse God would command Adam to keep a commandment: 'and the Lord God commanded the man . . .' The first 'torah' was that 'From any tree of the Garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die' (Gen. 2:16-17). Accordingly, Adam's disobedience, as Israel's, results in his being cut off from the sacred land of the Garden. This is an indication that the task of Adam in Genesis 2:15 included more than mere spadework in the dirt of a garden. It is apparent that priestly obligations in Israel's later temple included the duty of 'guarding' unclean things from entering (cf. Num. 3:6-7, 32, 38; 18:1-7), and this appears to be relevant for Adam, especially in view of the unclean creature lurking on the perimeter of the Garden and who then enters.
  ...Adam's priestly role of 'guarding' (samar) the garden sanctuary may also be reflected in the later role of Israel's priests who were called 'guards' (1 Chron. 9:23) and repeatedly were referred to as temple 'gatekeepers' (repeatedly in 1 and 2 Chronicles and Nehemiah: e.g. 1 Chron. 9:17-27) who 'kept watch [samar] at the gates' (Neh. 11:19, 'so that no one should enter who was in any way unclean' (2 Chron. 23:19). Consequently, the priestly role in both the Garden and later temple was to 'manage' it by maintaining its order and keeping out uncleanness.3 
  There may also be significance that the word used for God 'putting' Adam 'into the garden' in Genesis 2:15 is not the usual Hebrew word for 'put' (sum) but is the word typically translated as 'to rest' (nuah). ...That this verb ...was intentionally chosen is pointed to further by the observation that it is used elsewhere to refer to the installation of sacred furniture (2 Chron. 4:8) and divine images into temples (2 Kgs. 17:29; Zech. 5:5-11) and especially of God's 'resting place' (so the noun form) in his heavenly palace-temple (Ps. 132:7-8, 14; Is. 66:1). Thus, the implication may be that God places Adam into a royal temple to begin to reign as his priestly vice-regent. In fact, Adam should always best be referred to as a 'priest-king', since it is only after the 'fall' that priesthood is separated from kingship, though Israel's eschatological expectation is of a messianic priest-king (e.g., see Zech. 6:12-13).4

1. G. K. Beale, The Temple and the Church's Mission: A biblical theology of the dwelling place of God [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press; 2004], p. 66
2. Ibid., pp. 66-7
3. Ibid., pp. 68-9
4. Ibid., pp. 69-70

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cosmos, Garden, & Tabernacle: A Three Story House for Yahweh

In his book, A House For My Name: A Survey of the Old Testament, Peter Leithart discusses the connection between the Creation & Garden symbolism of Genesis 1-3 and the Tabernacle/Temple symbolism as outlined in God's Law. Dr. Leithart writes:

The Bible's story begins by telling us about the world where the story takes place. In the Bible, the world is the real world that we live in, the world that God created. But the Bible describes the world in a particular way. In some places, the Bible describes it as a house. Talking to Job from the whirlwind, Yahweh asks:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you know understanding,
Who set its measurements, since you know?
Or who stretched the line on it?
On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?  (Job 38:4-7)

Earth, and especially mountains, are set on "foundations" (Deuteronomy 32:22; 2 Samuel 22:8, 16; Psalm 104:5) just like the foundations that hold up a house. Blue sky is stretched out above like a "tent curtain" (Isaiah 40:22). Pillars support the earth (Job 9:6) and heaven (Job 26:11). When God first appears in the Bible, He is building a house. 
...It takes God six days to build His house, six days that are just like our days with the sun coming up in the morning and going down in the evening. After that, God rests on the seventh day, a day known as the Sabbath day. 
...And so, at the end of the six days of creation, God has finished a "three story" house. Above is the "tent curtain" of blue sky, then the dry land, and finally the waters "below" the earth. 
The Bible mentions this three-story house many times. In the second commandment, God forbids us to bow down to an image of anything in "heaven above, or on the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth" (Exodus 20:4). That means we must not bow down to images of anything. "Heaven, earth, and sea" means "the whole universe."1
...Once God has made His three-story house, He puts Adam and Eve in it and gives them a job to do.2 ...When Adam is first created, he is put in the garden of Eden. The Garden is one of several different areas that God makes in the world. Remember that God initially makes a "three-story" world. In Genesis 2, we learn that the middle floor, earth, is divided into three "rooms." The Garden is only one of them. Genesis 2:8 tells us that the Lord God plants a garden "toward the east, in Eden," which means that the Garden is on the east side of the land of Eden. Eden is larger than the Garden, and outside Eden there were other lands, which are named in Genesis 2:11-13. If Adam had taken time on the first day to make a map, he would have drawn a map with several areas: the Garden, the land of Eden, and the larger world. 
It is interesting to notice how these three "rooms" of earth match up with the three "stories" of the universe. To see fully how this works, another portion of the creation has to be considered, namely, the "firmament." Made on the second day of creation (Genesis 1:6), the firmament is not just the flat surface of the sky but the whole region that we call "outer space." We know this because the sun, moon, and stars are "in" the firmament (Genesis 1:14-19). It is also called "heaven" (Genesis 1:8). This means that God created a world with two "heavens": The heavens where God dwells and the visible heavens of outer space. When we add this to our picture of the three-story house, we see that the "attic" is divided into two sections.3
The house that Israel builds at Mount Sinai is a tent called the tabernacle. ...Within the tent are two rooms. The first is the Holy Place, and the second is the Most Holy Place or "Holy of Holies." The courtyard makes a third area. The tabernacle has three zones, and each of these zones is governed by a different set of rules. Any Israelite layman may enter the courtyard, but only priests may enter the Holy Place. Only the High Priest may enter the Most Holy Place, and he may do it only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:1).4

With these observations in mind, the arrangement of the tabernacle can be understood this way5

Cosmic boundaries        Earthly boundaries         Tabernacle boundaries
Highest Heaven               Garden of Eden               Most Holy Place (2nd tent, High Priest only)
Firmament "heaven"        Land of Eden                   Holy Place (1st tent, Priests only)

Land                             Land surrounding Eden      Courtyard (Covenant people)

World & Sea                  Nations across the sea       Outside the Courtyard (Gentiles)

Dr. Leithart also makes this following observation concerning the Tabernacle and the Garden of Eden:
A number of things in the tabernacle remind us of the garden of Eden. Like the Garden, it has a doorway on the east side (Genesis 3:24). The cherubim embroidered into the tabernacle curtains and built above the ark remind us of the Garden (Exodus 26:31-37). When a priest enters the Holy Place, he looks at the veil that has cherubim on it and is reminded over and over of the cherubim with the flaming sword in Genesis 3. Like the garden and land of Eden, the tabernacle is mostly off-limits. From the time of Adam to the time of Jesus, no one is allowed to go back into the Garden, past the cherubim, to enjoy God's presence. As Paul put it, the Old Covenant ministry is a ministry of death (2 Corinthians 3:7; see Hebrews 9:8-10). The tabernacle is a way of keeping the people of God at a distance.6 

1.  Peter J. Leithart, A House For My Name:  A Survey of the Old Testament [Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2000] pp. 43-45
2.  p. 50
3.  p. 51
4.  p. 82
5.  The formatting presented here is my own, and is not identical with the formatting of Leithart in his book (p. 85), but the the arrangement is similar.
6.  Ibid. p. 85.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Psalm 22: You Lay Me in the Dust of Death

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are the words of my groaning to you so far from helping me? O my God, I cry out to you by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I have no rest.  
Yet you are holy,
 you who are enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted;
 they trusted, and you rescued them. To you they cried and were delivered; 
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.  
But I am a worm and not a man,
 a reproach of men and even despised by the people. All who see me laugh me to scorn; 
they hurled insults at me. They shake their heads, saying: “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; 
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”  
But you are the one who pushed me out of the womb, making me trust even from the time I was at my mother's breasts. Upon you I was cast from the womb,
 and from my mother's belly you have been my God. Do not be far off from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.  
Many bulls encompass me; 
strong bulls of Bashan surround me. They open wide their mouths at me, 
tearing and roaring like a lion. I am poured out like water,
 and all my bones are out of joint.
 My heart has become like wax,
 melting within me; my strength is dried up like broken pottery,
 and my tongue sticks to my jaws. 
You lay me in the dust of death.  
For dogs encompass me;
 a company of evildoers encircles me; 
like a lion they have pierced my hands and feet. They count all my bones, and 
they stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them,
 and for my clothing they cast lots.   
But you, O Lord, do not be far off from me!
 O you my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword,
 my precious life from the power of the dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion, from the horns of the wild ox with which you have answered me.  
I will declare your name to my brethren. In the midst of the congregation I will praise you. You who fear Yahweh, praise him!
 All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; 
and stand in awe of him all you offspring of Israel! For he has not despised or abhorred 
the affliction of the afflicted,
 and he has not hidden his face from him,
 but has heard, when he cried to him.  
From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
 my vows I will perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
 those who seek him shall praise Yahweh,
 and may their hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to Yahweh, 
and all the families of the nations
 shall worship before you.  
For dominion belongs to Yahweh,
 and he rules over the nations. All the prosperous ones of the earth shall feast and worship, and all who go down to the dust shall bow before him, even the one whose life cannot be kept alive. Posterity shall serve him, future generations shall be told about Yahweh, and they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn that he has done it!

The opening words of Psalm 22 are probably the most familiar words of all the Psalms. After Jesus cried out from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46), one can hardly view this Psalm as though it were merely David's expression of suffering. It must, in fact, represent the suffering of some one much greater than David, some Davidic King more ultimate than himself. These opening words also set the tone for the entire Psalm. This King feels a need to exclaim the horrors of separation and alienation from God. The picture painted for us is extremely real suffering and real trust through sufferingThis King "cries out" repeatedly, day after day, night after night, but finds no rest and no peace of mind.

This King knows who he's crying out to. He knows that Yahweh dwells in the midst of His covenant people, making him accessible to all who draw near. And yet, we are left wondering why, if Yahweh is indeed enthroned on the praises of Israel (praises from those Fathers who trusted in Him, were rescued by Him, and were not put to shame because of Him), God seems to be completely absent when the King of Israel cries out to Him. What is there for him to learn through such suffering? (Heb. 5:8)

This King knows he is in a lowly position among all the creatures of the earth. Far from being perfectly spotless and blameless, he is a filthy "worm" who bears the reproach of men. The people despise him; they laugh him to scorn and hurl insults at him, mocking him during his trial of extreme suffering (Matt. 27:39-44). The message of this King is known by his mockers too. They know he trusts and delights in Yahweh. They know he believes Yahweh is his deliverer too. And so they toy with his delights; they jest about his confidence in Yahweh. In their eyes, he is not the rightful King of Israel. Their heads shake in denial (Matt. 27:39).

Yet we see that this "worm" is not ashamed of his delight in Yahweh. He knows Yahweh was with him from conception and birth. The Spirit of Yahweh was at work within him even from his first memory outside the womb, even upon his mother's breast. "From my mother's belly You have been my God," this King declares. Therefore, when real trouble is near, and no one on earth is there to help deliver him, he is not ashamed to cry out toward heaven to this God whom he has always known: "Do not be far off from me! ...There is none to help!" He knows there is no one other to help him in this time of great trouble. In fact, as we approach the center of this Psalm, we learn that this great trouble -- whatever it is -- leads to death. For all practical purposes, this King already feels dead simply because God has forsaken him; simply because he cries and cries without any rest. Later on, this King will cry out these exact same words of help again, only he will cry out to God after being laid in the "dust of death." In other words, the next time he cries out to God for this same help, we get the feeling that God has never really been far off from him. Even though the Psalm begins with the feeling of God forsaking him, we learn that God was his "help" through all of that deadly suffering. And because God was his help through suffering, he can trust that God is his help after death as well.

Towards the center of this Psalm, we find a much more vivid picture of deadly suffering; we find a picture of one who is suffering as though he were in a den of beasts, trapped and tied down with no hope of escape except through death. This King feels like he is "encompassed" by "many bulls." And not just any bulls; these are notoriously strong ones from the land of Bashan. They surround him and taunt him, leaving no way of escape. They open their mouths wide, "tearing and roaring" like ferocious lions. Now we can imagine why this King has reason to feel troubled. This King is completely debilitated within this den of beasts. He is physically and emotionally drained with his bones dislocated like a man stretched upon a rack, while his heart and its resolve melts away like wax as he drifts closer to the reality of death. His strength is brittle like dried-up pottery that crumbles to pieces. He thirsts intensely, leaving his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth (John 19:28). The only one he has to cry out to is Yahweh himself. The only one who can deliver him is  Yahweh himself. 

Yet notice carefully that this King knows who has done all of this to him. This King knows that Yahweh has done this to him. He says "You lay me in the dust of death." Part of the reason why he knows Yahweh has done this to him is because he has cried out to Yahweh repeatedly, day after day, night after night, and Yahweh has responded by placing him in a den of beasts.

Dogs also encompass this King, and behind them is a surrounding "company of evildoers" who are going to make sure there is no escape for him. Like a lion, they have pierced his hands and feet (John 20:20-28; Zech. 12:10). Not only has be been bound, but he is being viscously attacked while the company of evildoers look upon him with malicious satisfaction at his sufferings. They even divide his garments and gamble over who gets the best pieces of his clothing (John 19:23-24). While this King lays in the dust of death like dry, crumbled potsherds, his enemies haggle over the value of his bloody garments.

Yet notice how great the faith of this King is! Even though there is no doubt of real trouble and no earthly deliverance from these evil beasts, he nevertheless cries out to the God of Heaven whom he knows can deliver from the dust. He cries out: "Do not be far off from me! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!" At this point, the King cries out for Yahweh to draw near because he knows Yahweh has never been too far off from him, even after entering the dust of death. He knows who his help truly is. He knows Yahweh is present to deliver his soul from the sword of his enemies, from the beasts which surround him -- the power of dogs, the mouth of lions, and horns of oxen "with which you have answered me." Why does this King believe that Yahweh can deliver him? Because he knows that Yahweh answered him; he knows that Yahweh wasn't totally silent concerning his cries. Yahweh was the one who placed him in a position from which to deliver him. Therefore, because Yahweh placed him in the dust, this King trusts that Yahweh can deliver him from the dust. 

This King knows that Yahweh "has not despised or abhorred 
the affliction of the afflicted,
 and he has not hidden his face from him." This King knows that Yahweh
 has heard his cries all along (Heb. 5:7). Therefore he will not cease to declare the praise which is due to Yahweh. In the midst of the congregation he will talk about Yahweh to his brethren and even sing Yahweh's praise (Heb. 2:12). And those who hear the word of this King, those who share this same faith, those who likewise trust and acknowledge the sovereignty of God in all affairs of life -- even His sovereignty through suffering -- they are exhorted to give Yahweh the praise which is due to his name. "All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; and stand in awe of him all you offspring of Israel!"

Notice carefully the expression of confidence this King shares and the source of his confidence: "From You comes my praise in the great congregation." This King is sure that he will praise Yahweh publicly among his brethren because Yahweh is the source of his praise. But not only will he praise Yahweh publicly, he will also pay his vows publicly by bringing his thank-offering to Yahweh (Lev. 7:16). In the House of Yahweh his afflicted brethren "shall eat" this thank-offering meal "and be satisfied." Also, notice that this thanksgiving meal within God's house becomes an opportunity for others to "seek Him" and to learn of Yahweh's goodness. His confidence is that "All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to Yahweh, 
and all the families of the nations
 shall worship before you." Why is he confident that this will happen? Because He has known God from his mother's womb. He has known Yahweh, the covenant keeping God, from his mother's womb. He has known the God who placed him in a den to be torn apart by wild beasts while his enemies haggled over his garments. He has known the God who answered his cries by laying him in the dust of death. He also knows the God who answered his cries by drawing near to him, delivering him from death. In Deuteronomy 4:7, the people of Israel proclaim: "What great nation is there that has a god so near to it as Yahweh our God is to us?" And in this Psalm, the King knows the answer to that question. He knows there is no other god like Yahweh, which is why he has confidence that when Yahweh draws near to any nation, all the families of those nations shall worship Him. Yahweh is worthy of such worship.

Why is Yahweh worthy of such worship? Because "dominion belongs to Yahweh,
 and he rules over the nations." Because dominion belongs to Yahweh, there is hope for all future generations that are told about Yahweh and seek after Yahweh. "They shall come and proclaim" his dominion. They shall come and proclaim the gospel of "his righteousness to a people yet unborn." They shall come and proclaim the gospel of God's Kingdom on earth. Because Yahweh has laid this King in the dust of death and delivered him from it, redemption is actually accomplished. It is finished once-for-all through Yahweh's resurrection from death. And because it is finished -- redemption is accomplished -- there is prosperity, feasting, and worship for all his saints. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Thursday Night: The Night of the Lord's Supper

In his book, Christ on Earth: The Gospel Narratives as History, Dr. Jakob Van Bruggen has provided an excellent biblical and historical explanation of the night in which Jesus instituted his Supper.1 His conclusion is that on the night in which the Lord instituted his Supper, the Jews removed all leavened bread from their homes and served the first evening meal of the lamb, and that was the night of Maundy Thursday

Because the entire argument within his book is quite extensive, and the subject so controversial, I will only quote a brief portion of his thoughts, trusting that others are already aware of the alleged "chronology contradiction" or "problem" within all four gospels. Van Bruggen writes:
  After the Wednesday of the final discourses comes the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Matt. 26:17). This is when the Passover lamb is sacrificed (Mark 14:2; Luke 22:7). The days of Unleavened Bread are counted from 15 to 21 Nisan (cf. Josephus, Antiquities 3.10.5 Sec. 249), the seven days during which the Passover offerings are sacrificed in the Temple (Num. 28:16-25). Sometimes, however, 14 Nisan is also included. This is a day of preparation during which people remove all leavened bread from their homes and serve the lamb at the evening meal. In that case there are eight days of Unleavened Bread (cf. Josephus, Antiquities 2.15.1 Sec. 317). The first three evangelists (i.e. Matthew, Mark, and Luke) clearly follow the latter approach when they write about the dawn of the Thursday on which the Passover must be slaughtered (Matt. 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7). In other words, they consider this Thursday the fourteenth day of Nisan.  
  The terminology used in connection with the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread is complicated. The fourteenth day of Nisan is the day of preparation: all leavened bread is removed from the houses, the lambs are slaughtered, and during the evening the Passover meal is eaten. Because of this evening meal, 14 Nisan is sometimes called the Passover Feast (Lev. 23:5; Josephus, Jewish War 6.9.3 Sec. 423; Antiquities 2.14.6 Sec. 313). 
  The fifteenth of Nisan is the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This feast lasts seven days, during which large sacrifices are brought into the temple (Lev. 23:6; Num. 28:17-25; cfJosephus, Antiquities 3.10.5 Sec. 249; 9.13.3 Sec. 271; 11.4.8 Sec. 110). The fifteenth day of Nisan is then counted as the first day (16 Nisan is the second day, see Josephus, Antiquities 3.10.5 Sec. 250). The fifteenth of Nisan is actually the day of Israel's liberation (Josephus, Antiquities 2.15.2 Sec. 318). The Jews also refer to the feast of Unleavened Bread (15-21 Nisan) as Passover (cf. Luke 22:1; Josephus, Jewish War 2.1.3 Sec. 10; Antiquities 10.4.5 Sec. 70; 14.2.1 Sec. 21; 17.9.3 Sec. 213; 18.2.2 Sec. 29; 20.5.3 Sec. 106). 
  Because the leavened bread is removed on 14 Nisan, the day is referred to as "the Day of Unleavened Bread" (Josephus, Jewish War 5.3.1 Sec. 99). If this day (14 Nisan) is counted with the feast (15-21 Nisan), one can also speak of a "period of unleavened bread" for eight days (Josephus, Antiquities 2.15.1 Sec. 317; cf. Mark 14:12; Luke 22:1).2

1.  Jakob Van Bruggen, Christ on Earth: The Gospel Narratives as History [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books; 1998] pp. 212-219
2.  Ibid. p. 212-213.