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What the Bible says about Ben Ha Arbayim
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 15:1-6

Following the "bread and wine" incident of Genesis 14:18, Abraham asks for clarification of his status with God, because earlier, in Genesis 12, God had implied that Abraham's family would be great. After Abraham asks for clarification, God give the promise using an illustration involving stars. In order for Abraham to see stars, this event had to take place at night.

Notice Exodus 12:5-6:

Your [Passover] lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year; you shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

This is one of those places where the word "evening" is from the term in Hebrew ben ha arbayim. In modern English it means "twilight" or "dusk." The meaning of this word describes the time that the sun has gone down, but light continues to remain for a period of time. At this time of the year, the light would have lingered very close to about 45 minutes. After that, it would be dark.

Abraham is brought bread and wine by Melchizedek. The next thing we see in Genesis 15 is the mention of "stars"; it is dark. The Passover takes place in that period of dim light before it becomes dark. That is the time that we, in our observance, normally take Passover, just as the sun goes down. That is where the opening of Genesis 15 is time-wise. By the time you see stars, it is dark. We are beginning to see that time is moving in this episode.

When ben ha arbayim takes place, the Abib 13 has ended and Abib 14, Passover day, begins. This is undoubtedly when Melchizedek brought forth the bread and wine. Then came Abraham's vision, when it was dark and the stars were out. It is clearly into Abib 14, because it is dark.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wavesheaf and the Selfsame Day

Genesis 15:4-5

Twilight is clearly past and now—with stars visible—it must be the dark part of Nisan 14. Both John 13:30 and I Corinthians 11:23 confirm the same general time in the events of Christ's final Passover. The daylight portion of the 14th is approaching.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Countdown to Pentecost 2001

Genesis 15:7-17

Sunset is the beginning of Nisan 14, and chronologically we are moving into the daylight portion of that day—Passover day. As daylight hits, Abraham asks God for evidence that He will follow through. Abraham receives the command to prepare a sacrifice and a prophecy regarding his family. Verse 12 shows the preparation of the sacrifice was during the daylight part of Nisan 14, because when we get to verse 12, the sacrifice has been prepared, and the sun was going down. That brings us up to the end of the 14th.

Many have wondered why Christ was sacrificed during the daylight portion of Nisan 14 in the afternoon rather than at the beginning, and seemingly more in alignment with Passover. Was not the Passover lamb slain at the beginning of Nisan 14, after ben ha arbayim began? Yes, it was. So people think because Christ was sacrificed sometime during the afternoon of the 14th that there is something wrong. The answer as to why He was sacrificed during the afternoon rather than at the beginning of the 14th appears here in Genesis 15: Even as the covenant of promise with Abraham was ratified by the sacrifice Abraham makes here, Christ's sacrifice provides the ratification of the New Covenant. Christ's sacrifice, by God's decree, had to align with the ratification of the covenant of promise with Abraham, not the Passover. The time of the crucifixion aligns exactly with Genesis 15.

Verse 12 specifically states "when the sun was going down." Therefore, this sacrifice in Genesis 15, like Christ's sacrifice, took place in the late afternoon. What happened at Christ's crucifixion? A great darkness occurred. In Genesis 15, a great darkness occurred to Abraham. In addition to that, a great horror fell upon him. Now what does that picture? There are two possibilities.

  1. Abraham was made by God to experience a very small taste of the horror that Christ had to face in His crucifixion and burial. God almost scared him to death by putting the fear in him.
  2. It could also be a precursor of the darkness and the earthquake that took place at Christ's crucifixion.

I prefer the first one, that Abraham, as the father of the faithful and the first covenantal ancestor of Jesus Christ, had to experience a bit of what God's Son in the flesh would have to go through 1,700 years later.

Something else appears here that is not so readily apparent at Christ's crucifixion: Abraham had to beat off vultures. When the fowls came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. Vile birds are the Bible's symbol of demons. This gives the impression that, as Jesus was hanging on the cross, a great spiritual battle occurred during which the demons were taunting and persecuting Christ to induce Him to give up. Some of the psalms speak about everybody gawking at Him and taunting Him. It was not only human beings. We can understand it was demons as well, who were doing everything to break His courage and to break His spirit.

It says very clearly that God forsook Jesus. "Why have you forsaken me?" Christ asks, because now He was on His own completely and totally for the first time in His life. God made Abraham go through a little bit of that great horror and darkness. Maybe part of the horror that Abraham had to experience was the fear, perhaps, of being buried alive. We can speculate on such things, but it is included so that we will understand what Abraham went through and how it parallels what Christ endured—even to the exact days and times of the days as the events progressed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wavesheaf and the Selfsame Day

Genesis 15:17-21

For the events of Genesis 15:17-21, the sun has gone down, and it is dark. In the crucifixion sequence, by dark the Son was in His grave. This is now the 15th of Nisan, the day that became the first day of Unleavened Bread, the part known as the Night To Be Much Observed, "the selfsame day" of Exodus 12:41. Numbers 33:3 confirms Israel left Egypt on the 15th of Nisan, but Exodus 12:42 specifically states Israel began its departure at night, and God names that night the "Night To Be Much Observed." Its significance is that, because the firstborn of the Egyptians have been slain, the descendents of Abraham are released from their bondage and free to leave Egypt. The firstborn of Egypt thus become a type of the True Firstborn, Jesus Christ, the sacrifice for our sins that enslave us to spiritual Egypt.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Countdown to Pentecost 2001

Genesis 15:17

Now it was dark. In the antitype, the Firstborn, Christ, is in His grave. Therefore, time-wise we are now into Abib 15. We have come all the way from ben ha arbayim, at the beginning of Abib 14, and the events progressing one after the other through Genesis 15. At verse 17, Abib 15—the First Day of Unleavened Bread—begins.

What occurs in Genesis 15:17 is the actual beginning of the Night To Be Much Observed. Exodus 12:41-42 merely records a fulfillment of this first Night To Be Much Observed. Genesis 15:17 is the point from which the 430 years began, and they ended in Exodus 12:41—down to the very day. It was the beginning of Abib 15.

This is a night of great significance in the salvation story of God's people. Because the firstborn of the Egyptians had been slaughtered, and the descendants of Abraham had been released from their slavery to leave Egypt, the firstborn of Egypt thus become types of the Firstborn, Jesus Christ—the Sacrifice for our sins that enslave us to spiritual Egypt.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wavesheaf and the Selfsame Day

Exodus 12:5-6

This is one of those places where the word "evening" is from the Hebrew term ben ha arbayim. In modern English, it means "twilight" or "dusk." This word describes the time when the sun has gone down, but light continues to linger for a time, and at this time of the year, light would have remained in the sky for probably close to about 45 minutes. Following that, it would be dark.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wavesheaf and the Selfsame Day


 




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