The Torah: A Chart of Israelite Annual Festivals


Festival Date Origin Rituals
Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread
Leviticus 23:4-8
14th day of the first month, Nisan (March-April) Hebrew: Pesach; commemorates the slaying of lambs or young goats whose blood was sprinkled on the doorframes of the houses of the Israelites in Egypt (Exodus 12:1-14). Lambs are sacrificed and eaten (Exodus 12:5-8; Deuteronomy 16:2).
15th-21st days of Nisan Hebrew: Chag Ha-Matsoth; observes the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. The unleavened bread reminds them of the haste with which they left (Exodus 12:39). Unleavened bread is eaten (Exodus 12:8; Deuteronomy 16:3).
Feast of Weeks (Pentecost)
Leviticus 23:15-22
50 days after cutting the wave sheaf during Unleavened Bread; in Sivan (May-June) Hebrew: Shabhu’oth; celebrates the firstfruits of Israel’s wheat and barley harvest, as well as the ripening and gathering of early figs and grapes (Exodus 23:16; 34:22). The priests offer two loaves made of new flour and make animal sacrifices (Leviticus 23:17-18; Numbers 28:26-31).
harvest
Feast of Trumpets
Leviticus 23:23-25
First day of seventh month, Tishri (Sept.-Oct.) Hebrew: Yom Teru’ah; marks the beginning of the most solemn month in the Hebrew calendar (Leviticus 23:24). It is also Israel’s civil new year, called Rosh Hashanah (meaning “head of the year”). A day of trumpeting and special sacrifices (Numbers 29:1-6).
Day of Atonement
Leviticus 23:26-32
10th of Tishri Hebrew: Yom Kippur; reminds the Israelites of their need for cleansing and forgiveness (Numbers 29:7-11). The Israelites confess their sins and ask for God’s cleansing and forgiveness (Leviticus 16:29-34; Numbers 29:7).
Festival of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day
Leviticus 23:33-43
15th-21 of Tishri Hebrew: Chag Ha-Sukkoth; recalls Israel’s nomadic life in the wilderness before entering Canaan. Also celebrates the gathering of the year’s main harvest of fruit and olives (Deuteronomy 16:13-15). The people camp out in booths (Hebrewsukkoth) and offer animal sacrifices (Leviticus 23:42; Numbers 29:12-34).
22 of Tishri Hebrew: Shemini `atsereth; encourages Israel to reflect on the meaning and significance of the annual festivals on this, the final annual Sabbath of the Hebrew festival year (Leviticus 23:36). A special  order of sacrifices as offered to God (Numbers 29:35-39).
harvest2 Illustrations: Ken Tunell

For another article about the Israelite farming seasons, click here.   Although God commanded these festivals, he did not command them for Christians today. See our study paper. Do these festivals symbolize Christian truths? See our Bible study.

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