And as they were eating
The paschal lamb, and just concluding the whole solemnity, which was done by eating some of the
``last of all he (that kept the passover) eats of the flesh of the passover, though it be but the quantity of an olive, and he does not taste anything after it; and at the same time he eats the quantity of an olive of unleavened bread, and does not taste anything after it; so that his meal endeth, and the savour of the flesh of the passover, or of the unleavened bread, is in his mouth; for the eating of them is the precept.''So that the paschal supper was now concluded, when Christ entered upon the institution of his own supper:
Jesus took bread;
which lay by him, either on the table, or in a dish. Though this supper is distinct from the "passover", and different from any ordinary meal, yet there are allusions to both in it, and to the customs of the Jews used in either; as in this first circumstance, of "taking" the bread: for he that asked a blessing upon bread, used to take it into his hands; and it is a rule F12, that
``a man does not bless, (wdyb Mxlh owptyv de) , "until he takes the bread into his hand", that all may see that he blesses over it.''Thus Christ took the bread and held it up, that his disciples might observe it:
and blessed [it];
or asked a blessing over it, and upon it, or rather blessed and gave thanks to his Father or it, and for what was signified by it; and prayed that his disciples, whilst eating it, might be led to him, the bread of life, and feed upon him in a spiritual sense; whose body was going to be broken for them, as the bread was to be, in order to obtain eternal redemption for them: so it was common with the Jews, to ask a blessing on their bread: the form in which they did it was this F13:
``Blessed art thou, O Lord, our God, the king of the world, that produceth bread out of the earth.''What form our Lord used, is not certain; no doubt it was one of his composing, and every way suitable to the design of this ordinance. It was customary also when there were many at table, that lay down there, however, as Christ and his disciples now did, for one to ask a blessing for them all; for so runs the rule F14,
``if they sit to eat, everyone blesses for himself, but if they lie along, (Mlkl Krbm dxa) , "one blesses for them all".''Moreover, they always blessed, before they brake:
``Says Rabba F15, he blesses, and after that he breaks:''this rule Christ likewise carefully observes, for it follows,
and brake it.
The rules concerning breaking of bread, are these F16;
``The master of the house recites and finishes the blessing, and after that he breaks:--no man that breaks, is allowed to break, till they have brought the salt, and what is to be eaten with the bread, before everyone--and he does not break neither a small piece, lest he should seem to be sparing; nor a large piece, bigger than an egg, lest he should be thought to be famished;--and on the sabbath day he breaks a large piece, and he does not break, but in the place where it is well baked: it is a principal command to break a whole loaf.''Christ broke the bread, as the symbol of his body, which was to be broken by blows, and scourges, thorns, nails, and spear, and to be separated from his soul, and die as a sacrifice for the sins of his people: and having so done, he
gave it to the disciples;
which being a distinct act from breaking the bread, shows that the latter does not design the distribution of the bread, but an act preceding it, and a very significant one: and which ought not to be laid aside: according to the Jewish F17 usages,
``He that broke the bread, put a piece before everyone, and the other takes it in his hand; and he that breaks, does not give it into the hand of the eater, unless he is a mourner; and he that breaks, stretches out his hand first and eats, and they that sit, or lie at the table, are not allowed to taste, until he that blesses, has tasted; and he that breaks, is not allowed to taste, until the Amen is finished out of the mouth of the majority of those that sit at table.''And said, take, eat, this is my body;
``(ayned amxl ah) , this is "the bread of affliction", which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt.''Not that they thought that was the selfsame bread, but that it resembled it, and was a representation of the affliction and distress their fathers were in at that time: to which some think our Lord here alludes: though rather, the reference is to the passover lamb, which is frequently, in Jewish writings, called "the body" of the lamb: thus mention being made of the bringing of the herbs, the unleavened bread, and the sauce "Charoseth", with other things to the master of the house, it is added F19:
``and in the sanctuary (whilst that stood) they bring unto him, (xop lv wpwg) , "the body of the lamb".''Again, elsewhere F20 it is said,
``they bring a table furnished, and on it the bitter herbs and other greens, and the unleavened bread, and the sauce, (xoph vbk lv wpwgw) "and the body of the paschal lamb".''And a little further F21,
``he recites the blessing, blessed art thou O Lord for the eating of the passover, and he eats, (xop lv wpwgm) , "of the body of the passover".''And now it is, as if Christ had said, you have had "the body" of the lamb set before you, and have eaten of it, in commemoration of the deliverance out of Egypt, and as a type of me the true passover, quickly to be sacrificed; and this rite of eating the body of the paschal lamb is now to cease; and I do here by this bread, in an emblematical way, set before you "my body", which is to be given to obtain spiritual deliverance, and eternal redemption for you; in remembrance of which, you, and all my followers in successive generations, are to take and eat of it, till I come. The words, "take, eat", show that Christ did not put the bread into the mouths of the disciples, but they took it in their hands, and ate it; expressive of taking and receiving Christ by the hand of faith, and feeding on him in a spiritual manner.
F11 Maimon. Hilch. Charnetz Umetzah, c. 8. sect. 9. Vid. Bartenora in Misn. Pesach. c. 10. sect. 8.
F12 Levush hattecheleth Num. 167. sect. 3. & Shlchan Aruch in Buxtorf. Exercit. de Coena Dominic. Thes. 45.
F13 Haggadah Shel. Pesach. fol. 249. 2. Ed. Basil. Misn. Beracot, c. 6. sect. 1.
F14 Ib. sect. 6. T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 42. 2. & 43. 1.
F15 T. Bab. Berncot, fol. 39. 2.
F16 Maimon. Hilch. Beracot, c. 7. sect. 2, 3, 4. T. Bab. Berncot, fol. 47. 1.
F17 Ib. sect. 5.
F18 Haggadah Shel Pesach, p. 4. Ed. Rittangel. fol. 242. 2. Ed. Basil.
F19 Misn. Pesach, c. 10. sect 3.
F20 Maimon. Chametz Umetzah, c. 8. sect. 1.
F21 Ib. sect. 7.