From Bethany He sends Peter and John into the Matt. xxvi. 1Y-19.
city to prepare the Passover. He describes a man Mark xiv. 12-16.
whom they should meet, and who should show them Luke xxii. V-13. a room furnished, where they should make ready for
the supper. He remains at Bethany till toward even- Matt. xxvi. 20.
ing, when He enters the city, and goes to the room Mark xiv. IV.
where the supper was to be eaten. Luke xxii. 14.
At this feast the Jews divided themselves into companies, or households, of not less than ten nor more than twenty persons ; and these together consumed the paschal lamb.2 One of the number, acting as the representative of all, presented the lamb in the court of the temple, and aided the Levites in its sacrifice.
3 Exod. xii. 3, 4; Josephus, War, 6. 9. 3,
The victim was then carried away by the offerer to the house where it was to be eaten, and there wholly consumed. On this occasion Peter and John acted as the representatives of the Lord and of His apostles at the temple, and provided the bread, wine, bitter herbs, and all that was necessary for the proper celebration of the feast. It appears that, up to this time, the disciples did not know where the Lord would eat the Passover, and, as the hour drew nigh, inquired of Him, (Matt, xxvi. 17.) According to Mark and Luke, the two apostles were to go to the city, and a man should meet them bearing a pitcher of water, whom they should follow into whatsoever house he entered. There they should find a guest-chamber, furnished and prepared, which the master of the house should place at their disposal. Matthew says nothing of their meeting the man with the pitcher, but makes the two to have gone directly to the house./ Meyer supposes that Matthew follows the early tradition, which represents the master of the house as a disciple of Jesus, who had, earlier in the week, arranged with Him for the use of the guestchamber ; and that Mark and Luke follow a later tradition, which represents the Lord as ignorant of the man, but giving directions to the two through prophetic foresight. There is no need of thus supposing two traditions. Matthew passes over in silence the incident of the man with the pitcher, upon what grounds we cannot state, (Alford supposes, perhaps from ignorance ;) but this silence isv no way inconsistent with the statements of the other Evangelists. From Mark and Luke it is apparent that no agreement had been made by the Lord for the room; else He would not have given such directions to the two apostles, but have sent them directly to the house.1
i Alford, Alexander.
Whether the master of the house were an entire stranger to Jesus, or a concealed disciple, like Joseph or Nicodemus, or an open follower, is not certain.1 The Lord's message to him, " My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at thy house, with my disciples," seems, however, to presuppose some previous acquaintance ; as also the phrase, " the Master saith." This, however, is not necessary, if, as said by Alexander, " the whole proceeding be regarded as extraordinary, and the result secured by a special superhuman influence."
It is at this point that we meet the difficult questions connected with the last Passover. For the sake of brevity and clearness, we shall pursue the following order in our inquiries: I. State the real or supposed discrepancies between the statements of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, on the one hand, and of John on the other. II. Give an outline of the various attempts to harmonize them. III. State the results.
I. We consider the real or supposed discrepancies between the Synoptists and John. The day on which the Lord sent Peter and John to prepare the Passover was, according to Matthew, (xxvi. 17,) "the first day of the feast of unleavened bread." Mark and Luke use similar language. From these statements, it appears that Jesus partook of the paschal supper at the same time with the Jews in general, and at the time appointed in the law, which was upon the evening following the 14th Nisan. Upon the next day, Friday, the 15th, He was crucified.
If we now turn to John, we find that he speaks as if the paschal supper was legally upon the .evening of Friday; and that, consequently, the Lord, who ate it upon the evening of Thursday, ate it before the time. Referring (xviii. 28) to the unwillingness of the Jews to enter the judgment hall on the day of the crucifixion, he says: " They themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover."
1 See Bynaeus, i. 480, who gives an account of early opinions. From this it follows that, if the Passover was yet to be eaten, and upon the day of His crucifixion, the supper eaten by Jesus and His disciples the evening previous, was not the legal paschal supper. Friday, as the day when the lamb was slain, was the 14th Nisan, and Thursday was the 13th. So, also, John (xix. 14) calls the day on which He was crucified, not the Passover itself, but " the preparation of the Passover," from which it follows that the Passover was yet to come.
1 See Bynaeus, i. 480, who gives an account of early opinions.
From this it follows that, if the Passover was yet to be eaten, and upon the day of His crucifixion, the supper eaten by Jesus and His disciples the evening previous, was not the legal paschal supper. Friday, as the day when the lamb was slain, was the 14th Nisan, and Thursday was the 13th. So, also, John (xix. 14) calls the day on which He was crucified, not the Passover itself, but " the preparation of the Passover," from which it follows that the Passover was yet to come.
1 See Bynaeus, i. 480, who gives an account of early opinions.
It is admitted on all sides, upon grounds to be hereafter stated, that Jesus died on Friday, in the afternoon.1 The eating of the supper, on the evening previous, was, therefore, on Thursday evening; His resurrection was on the Sunday following. The point in question is respecting the day of the month: Was Friday the 14th or 15th Nisan? It is said that John asserts the former, the Synoptists the latter. We give the discrepancy in tabular form :
St. John. Synoptists.
Supper eaten, evening of Thursday, Evening of Thursday, 14th
13th Nisan. Nisan.
Jesus crucified, Friday, 14th Nisan. Friday, 15th Nisan.
Was in the grave, Saturday, 15th Nisan. Saturday, 16th "
Resurrection, Sunday, 16th Nisan. Sunday, 17th "
This difference as to the time of the paschal supper eaten by the Lord, was early noted by Christian writers.2 Modern criticism has brought it very prominently forward, and attached to it great importance, and it demands, therefore, our careful attention.
II. The attempts to harmonize the Synoptists and John.
1st. That the Jews kept the Passover on two distinct days, both of which were legal.
i See, however, Westcott, 320. a Wichelhaus, 187.
It is said by some that there were two ways of determining the first day of the month, and consequently the day of the feast, by astronomical calculation and by ocular observation; and thus the paschal lamb might be slain on the 14th Nisan of real, or the 14th of apparent time. One of these modes was followed by the Sadducees, and the other by the Pharisees, and thus the discrepancy between the Synoptists and John is explained. Jesus, with the Sadducees, kept the true day; the Pharisees and most of the Jews the apparent day. If, however, such a difference in the mode of computation did actually exist between the Rabbinites and Karaites after the destruction of Jerusalem, there is no proof that it did before.1 The only way of determining the beginning of the month practised by the Jews before the capture of the city by Titus, A. D. 70, was the appearance of the new moon. Thus there could not have been, during the Lord's ministry, two legal days for the observance of the Passover; and the supposition that He, with one part of the Jews, rightly observed Thursday,' as astronomically correct, and that another part rightly observed Friday, as determined by the appearance of the new moon, is without any foundation.
A modification of this view has lately been presented by Serno.2 He supposes, that, as the moon in some sections of the country might be seen at its first appearance, and in others be hidden by the clouds, and thus a difference in computation arise, the first day of the feast was doubled, and the paschal supper was lawfully eaten on either. But of this there is no proof. When the authorities at Jerusalem had determined the first of the month, all succeeding days were reckoned from it; and if a Jew from any distant part of the land had mistaken the day of the month through ignorance of the appearing of the moon, he must make the feast days to conform to those fixed upon by the Sanhedrim, Even if the latter had erred, their decision was final. There is not the least evidence that the Passover could be, or ever was, observed upon two successive days.
i Winer, ii. 150; Paulus, iii. 486. * Berlin, 1859.
It has been said by Cudworth,1 that, the Jews having erred in the day, placing it too late, the Lord corrected the error, and directed the supper to be prepared at the legal time, on Thursday evening. He, also, affirms that it was "a custom among the Jews, in such doubtful cases as these, which oftentimes fell out, to permit the feasts to be solemnized, or passovers killed, on two several days together." He quotes Scaliger to the same effect. But all this is without any historic basis. The language of Mark, (xiv. 12,) "And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover," &c., plainly implies that He ate the paschal supper on the same day as the Jews in general.2
It has been said, also, that, according to the law, the Passover should be killed on the evening following the 13th, or at the beginning of the 14th Nisan. Jesus, in common with a few of the Jews, kept the law; but most of them killed it on the afternoon, or at the close of the 14th, twenty-four hours later than the legal time. This rests upon an untenable construction of the law.
We find, then, no good grounds for believing that the Jews recognized two distinct days as equally legal for the paschal solemnities; or that, through error of computation, they observed the wrong day, and the Lord the right one.
2d. That the Lord kept the Passover on Thursday, at the appointed time, but that the Jews purposely delayed it. The ground of this delay is found in the fact, that when the 15th Nisan, the first day of the feast, and so a sabbath,
* True Notion of the Lord's Supper, ii. 528. 3 Wichelhaus, 205.
(Lev. xxiii. 7, 8,) fell upon Friday, and thus two sabbaths, the feast sabbath and week Sabbath, would immediately follow each other, the Jews united them in one, and the sacrifice of the paschal lamb on the 14th was postponed to the 15th. Thus the Lord, according to the law, ate the paschal supper on Thursday evening, but the Jews on Friday evening.1 But this explanation has no sufficient basis, as there is no room for doubt that such changes of the feasts, and the rule forbidding that the Passover should fall on Friday, were posterior to the destruction of Jerusalem, probably about 400 A. D.'
Another ground of delay was given early by Eusebius and others, that the Jews were so busy with their accusations against Christ, that they postponed the feast till His trial and crucifixion should be over. This is so intrinsically improbable that it now finds no defenders. A modification of this is still supported by some : that those most active against Him, and who are specially alluded to (John xviii. 28) as not willing to enter the judgment hall, did delay their paschal supper on this account.3 This view will be hereafter noticed.
We do not thus, find any proof that the Jews delayed the Passover after the legal time.
3d. That the Lord anticipated the day and ate, not the true paschal supper, but one of a sacramental character, and corresponding to it. That He anticipated the day, was very early affirmed by some of the fathers, supposing, that as the true Paschal Lamb, the Antitype, He must have suffered at the hour when the typical lamb was slain, and so upon the 14th ISTisan. The supper He observed must, therefore, have been on the evening following, the 13th. This point had in the first days of the church a special importance, because of the controversy with some of the Christian Jews in regard to the binding force of the Mosaic laws. It was asserted by them, that as Jesus kept the legal Passover, the paschal sacrifice and supper, these were still binding, and to be kept in the Church. In reply, it was asserted by many of the Christians that He did not eat the paschal supper, but, as the true Paschal Lamb, was slain at the hour appointed for the sacrifice of the Passover. In the Greek Church this became by degrees the ruling opinion, and is generally defended by her writers.1 In the Latin Church, on the other hand, it was generally denied; but in neither is it made an article of faith. The question as to the use of leavened or unleavened bread in the Eucharist, may have had some influence upon the matter; the Greeks, using the former, were led to say that the Lord used it at the institution of the rite, and that, therefore, it was not the true paschal supper, at which only unleavened bread was used. The Latins, using unleavened bread, maintained that the Eucharist was instituted at the true paschal supper.
1 So Calvin, on Matt. xxvi. 17, who remarks that the Jews affirm that this was done by them after their return from Babylon, and by God's express direction.
2 Wichelhans, 203; Paulus, iii. 487, note; Cudworth, ii. 524. 8 Fairbairn, Her. Mam., 382.
This view, that the Lord anticipated the paschal supper, has, besides its antiquity, much in its favor, and is now supported by many.2 But the objections against it are very strong. First, the language of the Synoptists leaves little room to question that the Lord kept the Passover at the same time with the Jews in general. "Thefirst day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover;" " the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed." Second. It is difficult to believe that the Lord, who said that He came not to destroy, but to fulfil the law, should have set it aside. If He observed the Passover at all, He would observe it at the legal time.
i Wichelhaus, 190.
a So Krafft, 129 ; Greswell, iii. 133 ; Ellicott, 322; J.Miiller, in Herzog's Real. Encyc, i. 22; Clinton, ii. 240; The author of " The Messiah."
In this, most Protestant writers agree with the Latins.1 Third. Such a sacrifice would not have been permitted by the priests. They would not have aided in the sacrifice of the lamb upon a day which they did not recognize as the legal one. To avoid this difficulty, Greswell quotes Philo, (iii. 146,) to show that each man was then his own priest, and could slay the lamb, if he pleased, in his own dwelling. But the Weight of authority is against him. The lamb must be slain in the temple, and the blood be sprinkled on the altar.
By some, however, it is said that the supper of Thursday evening was not the true paschal supper, but such an one as the Jews, who could not be present at the feast, observed at their own homes, when all the forms of the Passover were kept, except the eating of the lamb.8 But such a supper could only be eaten out of Jerusalem, and upon the legal day, not in the city, and upon the day previous. Nor is there any evidence that this Memorial Passover was ever observed till after the destruction of Jerusalem, when it became impossible that the lamb could be slain in the temple, and the supper was necessarily limited to unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
We do not then find sufficient grounds to believe that the Lord anticipated the Passover.
Some peculiar solutions, that have found no general reception, need only be mentioned. Such is that of Eauch,3 that the paschal lamb was legally slain, not on the 14th, but on the 15th Nisan. And of Schneckenburger,* that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, and was four days in the grave.
If none of these solutions satisfies us, we are compelled either to admit that the statements of the Synoptists are irreconcilable with those of John, or to deny, what we have hitherto assumed, that a discrepancy really exists.
i Wichelhaus, 202. 2 So Grotius on Matt. xxvi. 11.
3 Bib. Kepertoiy, Jan., 1834 4 Wieseler, 338.
Let us therefore examine the point as to the existence of any discrepancy between the Synoptists and John. And before considering the statements of the several Evangelists, it will be well to keep before us the origin and design of the Passover, and the peculiarities of its observance.
1st. Its origin and design. It was instituted in commemoration of the deliverance of the Jews in Egypt from the destroying angel, when all the first-born of the Egyptians were slain, (Exod. xii. 14, &c.) This remarkable deliverance was ever afterward to be commemorated by a feast. This was introduced by the paschal supper. The people being divided into households or families, of not less than ten or more than twenty, a lamb was slain for each family, and eaten immediately after with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Now followed a feast of seven days' continuance, during which only unleavened bread was eaten. There is no reason for attributing to this feast any earlier origin than the historical deliverance it commemorated.1
2d. The manner of its celebration. The lamb or goat was to be selected on the 10th Nisan, a male without blemish. On the 14th, "between the evenings," it must be slain, (Exod. xii. 6 ; Lev. xxiii. 5 ; Num. ix. 3.) The expression " between the evenings," was generally understood by the Jews of the period from the decline of the sun to its setting, or from 3 to 6 P. M. This was, without doubt, the ruling mode of computation.2 The Karaites and Samaritans, however, referred it to the period between sundown and dark, or from 6 to V p. M.3 Wieseler refers it to a period a little before and ajittle after the going down of the sun, say from 5 to 7 P. M., citing Deut. xvi. 6 in proof.
Ewald makes it to include three hours before and three hours after the sun set.
1 See Bahr, Sjmbolik, ii. 640; Evvald, Alterthurmer, 391.
2 Josephus, War, 6. 9. 3; Antiq., 14. 4. 3. a Winer, ii. 198.
The paschal lamb was originally slain by the head of each family, (Exod. xii. 6 ;) but this seems later to have been done by the Levites, and always in the court of the temple where stood the brazen altar, (Ezra vi. 20; Deut. xvi. 2-6.) After the sacrifice came the supper. This was upon the evening following the 14th IsTisan, or, as the Jews began the day at sundown, upon the beginning of the 15th. The lamb was to be wholly consumed before morning, either by eating or by fire.
Besides the paschal lamb, other offerings were made, which were eaten at the paschal supper and upon the following day. These are mentioned (Deut. xvi. 2) "as the Passover of the flock and herd," and embraced the sacrifices of sheep or bullocks voluntarily added, and called by the Jews, chagigah, or feast-offering. Concerning these, Maimonides (quoted by Ainsworth in loco) says : " When they offer the Passover in the first month, they offer it with peace-offerings on the 14th day, of the flock and of the herd, and this is called the chagigah, or feast offering, of the 14th day. And of this it is said, (Deut. xvi. 2,) that thou shalt sacrifice the Passover to the Lord thy God of the flock and the herd."
To understand the relation of the chagigah to the Passover in general, we must remember that this feast was the commemoration of a great national deliverance, and, as such, to be kept with thanksgiving and joy. The paschal supper, strictly speaking, seems to have had much less of the joyous element in it than the rest of the feast. As said by Lightfoot, " the eating of the lamb was the very least part of the joy ; a thing rubbing up the remembrance of affliction, rather than denoting gladness and making merry." The lamb, which constituted the chief part of the supper, reminded them of that fearful night when all first-born of Egypt died; the bitter herbs with which it was eaten, reminded them of the bitterness of their Egyptian bondage ; and all the attendant circumstances would tend to beget seriousness and reflection. The festival character of the season appeared much more plainly upon the succeeding day, when the peace offerings voluntarily presented to God in token of thankfulness, were eaten, (Exod. xxiii. 15.) That these peace offerings were sometimes offered on the 14th Nisan, and eaten at the paschal supper, appears from Maimonides; but, according to Lightfoot, (on John xviii. 28,) only when the lamb was not sufficient for the company. The usual time for the chagigab was on the 15th, and with these offerings the rejoicing was more directly connected.
We thus see that no sharp line of distinction can be taken between the paschal supper and the feast of unleavened bread. The former served as the introduction to the latter, but had peculiar to itself the eating of the lamb and of the bitter herbs. Still it was but the beginning of the feast, for none but unleavened bread was used during its continuance, (Exod. xii. 18.)
The ceremonies of the second day of the feast, the 16th Nisan, were peculiar, and important to be noted. Upon this day the first fruits of the barley harvest were brought to the9 temple, and waved by a priest before the Lord, to consecrate the harvest; and not till this was done might any one begin his reaping, (Lev. xxiii. 10-12.)1
The removal of the leaven from their houses, the preparations for the paschal supper, and the sacrifice of the lamb, taking place on the 14th Nisan, this day was popularly called the first day of the feast, thus extending it to eight days.2 The Evangelists follow this popular usage, (Matt. xxvi. 17 \ Mark xiv. 12; Luke xxii. 7.)
* Josephus, Antiq., 3. 10. 5. As to the connection of this rite with the Passover, see Winer, ii. 201; Bahr, ii. 638. 2 Josephus, Antiq., 2.15.1.
Upon each of the seven days of the feast was offered a sacrifice for the whole people, (Num. xxviii. 19-24.) The first and last days of the feast, or the 15th and 21st, were holy days, or sabbaths, (Lev. xxiii. 7, 8.) But these feast sabbaths do not seem ever to have been regarded as equal in sacredness to the week Sabbaths. And it is important that the distinction between them should be clearly seen, as it has an important bearing upon several points to be hereafter discussed.
Besides the weekly Sabbath, there were seven days of the year that had a sabbatical character: the first and seventh of the feast of unleavened bread; the day of Pentecost ; the first and the tenth of the seventh month ; and the first and eighth of the feast of Tabernacles. Of these, one, the tenth of the seventh month, the day ot atonement, was put on the same footing as the weekly Sabbath in respect to labor. No work at all could be done upon it; but on the other six feast sabbaths they could do no servile work, (Lev. xxiii. 3-39.) These were called by the Talmudists " good days." It is not wholly clear what kind of work was not servile, but the preparation of food was expressly permitted, (Exod. xii. 16.) Maimonides (quoted by Ainsworth) says: " All work needful about meat is lawful, as killing of beasts, and baking of bread, and kneading of dough, and the like. But such work as may be done in the evening of a feast day they do not on a feast day, as they may not reap, nor thrash, nor winnow, nor grind the corn, or the like. Bathing and anointing are contained under the general head of meat and drink, and may be done on the feast day." The penalty for doing servile work on these days was, according to Maimonides, to be beaten; but the penalty for working on the Sabbath was death, (Num. xv. 32-35.)
To these feast sabbaths we find few allusions in Jewish history. They are not mentioned at all in the Gospels. All the violations of the Sabbath with which the Lord was charged were those of the weekly Sabbath. Nor is there any distinct allusion to them in the Old Testament, or in Josephus. Before the weekly Sabbath was a time of preparation, because no labor of any kind could then be done, but it is not probable that there was such a period of preparation before the feast sabbaths, as then all labor but servile labor was permitted. This point, however, will be hereafter more particularly examined.
A special mark of distinction was shown to the weekly Sabbath in the doubling the usual offerings, (Num. xxviii. 9,) and the renewal of the show bread, (Lev. xxiv. 8.)
Thus we find in the paschal festival three distinct solemnities : 1st. The killing of the paschal lamb on the afternoon of the 14th Nisan, and the eating of it the evening following. 2d. The feast of unleavened bread, beginning with the paschal supper, and continuing to the close of the 21st day of Nisan. 3d. The offering of the first fruits of the barley harvest on the 16th Nisan, or second day of the feast. To the latter no distinct allusion is made by the Evangelists.
With these preliminary observations upon the origin and observance of the Passover, we pass to the consideration of the terms applied to it, first in the Old Testament and then in the New. The Hebrew pesach, or Aramaic pascah, refers primarily to the paschal lamb. " Draw out and take you a lamb, and kill the Passover," (Exod. xii. 21.) To kill the Passover, and to eat the Passover, is to kill and e*at the paschal lamb, (see Exod. xii. 11; Num. ix. 2-6; 2 Chron. xxx. 15.) But, as has been said, often with the flesh of the lamb the flesh of other sacrifices offered as peace offerings was eaten; and hence, naturally, the term was made to embrace these also; and then the whole seven days of the feast. "Thou shalt sacrifice the Passover to the
Lord thy God of the flock and the herd; thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith," (Deut. xvi. 2, 3.) That the Passover is here used as a general term, embracing the sacrifices of both flock and herd, is generally admitted.1 " They did eat the feast seven days offering peace offerings," (2 Chron. xxx. 22.) In the days of Josiah he and his princes gave small cattle and oxen for passovers—pesachim, (2 Chron. xxx v. 7-9; see also xxx. 17, where the same word seems to be limited to paschal lambs.) Thus made to include all the special sacrifies of the feast, it became a designation of the feast in general. " To keep the Passover," was to observe all the solemnities of the feast without distinction of specific acts, unless through the force of the context the meaning must be limited to the paschal supper. It is thus used Deut. xvi. 1; 2 Kings xxiii. 21; 2 Chron. xxx. 1 ; 2 Chron. xxxv. 1; Ezek. xlv. 21.
From this examination of the terms in the Old Testament, we find that there is no exact discrimination in their use. Sometimes the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread are expressly distinguished, and the former limited to the paschal supper, (Lev. xxiii. 5, 6; ]STum. xxviii. 16, 17.) At other times they are used interchangeably. The precise meaning in each case must be determined by the connection in which it stands.
We proceed to consider the usage of these terms in the New Testament. And first their usage by the Synoptists. Here also the term Passover, To rrao-x^ is used in its narrowest sense, of the paschal lamb. Thus in Mark xiv. 12, " when they killed the Passover;" in Luke xxii. 7, " when the Passover must be killed."
1 So Bleek, Beitrage, 111. See other constructions in Cudworth, ii. 522.
It is used in the large sense, including both the sacrifice of the lamb and the supper, Matt. xxvi. 17; Mark xiv. 14; Luke xxii. 11. It is used as a designation of the feast in its whole extent, Matt. xxvi. 2; Luke xxii. 1. (See also Mark xiv. 1.) That the phrase, "feast of unleavened bread," To. a£v/xa, embraced the paschal supper, appears from Matt. xxvi. 17; Mark xiv. 12; Luke xxii. 7.
Turning from the Synoptists to John, it is at once apparent that he generally uses the term Passover, To wao-xa, in its largest sense, as embracing the whole feast. So ii. 13 and 23 ; vi. 4; xi. 55 ; xii. 1; xiii. 1. So in the references to it as the feast, eoprr], iv. 45; xi. 5G\ xii. 12 and 20; xiii. 29. In xviii. 28 and 39, and in xix. 14, its meaning is in dispute.
We are now prepared to enter upon a more particular examination of the statements of the Evangelists; and first, those of the Synoptists. Their language is very express : " Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread —T7f- 3e Trpoirrj Tow a^v/xwv—the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover?" (Matt. xxvi. 17.) " And the first day of unleavened bread—Kat 777 717)0)177 rjfxepa T(dv a£uju,a>v—when they killed the Passover, His disciples said unto Him," &c, (Mark xiv. 12.) "Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed,"—rj Tyftcpa Twv afu/Awi/, (Luke xxii. 7.) That this was the 14th Msan seems beyond reasonable doubt, for on the afternoon of this day the paschal lamb was slain, and all preparations made for the feast that began at evening with the paschal supper. As has been already remarked, this was not, strictly speaking, the first day of the feast, for this began with the 15th, but was, in popular language, so called; and the' circumstance that the lamb was yet to be slain, sufficiently determines what day was meant. (Compare Exod. xii. 18.)
The attempts so to interpret these statements as to make them refer to a supper on the 13th Nisan, are very forced and unsatisfactory. Krafft (129) bases his interpretation upon the Jewish mode of beginning the day at sunset. The 13th Nisan was from the eve of Wednesday to the eve of Thursday; the 14 th, from the eve of Thursday to the eve of Friday. The Synoptists thus count the 14th, beginning at sunset of Thursday, as the first of the feast. Upon Thursday, the 13th, the Lord gave directions that the Passover should be prepared, and the lamb was killed the same afternoon, and eaten during the evening following, or at the beginning of the 14th. Greswell (iii. 1.71) presents the same view: " From sunset on Thursday to sunset on Friday was considered, and might be called, the first day of unleavened bread. We have but to suppose that the disciples came with their inquiry at sunset on Thursday, and were sent at that time accordingly, and the assertion would be strictly correct."1 The great, and as it seems, insuperable objection to this, is, that the Lord must then have killed and eaten the Passover twenty-four hours earlier than the Jews in general. Krafft (130) admits this of most of the. Jews, but supposes, from the language of the Synoptists, and from the multitude of sacrifices to be offered, that some of them must have eaten the supper on the 13th, at the same time with the Lord. But there is no proof that it was ever eaten by any portion of the people, except on the evening following the 14th. The arguments that the Lord did so, drawn from the language of the Synoptists, are by no means conclusive. From the message sent by him to the master of the house, (Matt. xxvi. 18,) "My time is at hand, I will keep the Passover at thy house," it has been inferred, that " the Passover about to be celebrated was something out of course," or before the usual period.8 But this is not a necessary inference. " My time is not c the time of the feast,' but my time, i. e. for suffering." * This interpretation is much the most obvious and natural.
* See also Journal Sac. Lit., Oct. 1861. 9 Greswell, iii. 144. 3 Alford in loco. Some, as Ellieott, have inferred from His words at the beginning of the supper, (Luke xxii. 15,) " With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer," that He designs to designate the Passover as a peculiar one. But its peculiarity did not necessarily consist in its being celebrated earlier than was usual, but in the fact that it was the last.
* See also Journal Sac. Lit., Oct. 1861. 9 Greswell, iii. 144.
3 Alford in loco.
Some, as Ellieott, have inferred from His words at the beginning of the supper, (Luke xxii. 15,) " With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer," that He designs to designate the Passover as a peculiar one. But its peculiarity did not necessarily consist in its being celebrated earlier than was usual, but in the fact that it was the last.
None of the advocates of this view meet in any satisfactory way the statement of Luke, " Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed;" and of Mark, " And the first day of unleavened bread when they killed the Passover, His disciples said," &e. We cannot, without doing great violence to this language, make it refer to the 13th of Nisan, since neither according to the law nor to usage, was the paschal lamb slain on that day. And the difficulty is increased since, according to the law, (Deut. xvi. 5, 6,) the lamb could not be sacrificed anywhere else than in the temple.1 It is incredible that the priests would have permitted the time to have been anticipated by a day in this single instance. The supposition of Ellicott,* that the time specified for killing the lamb, viz., " between the evenings," may be understood to mean between the eves of Nisan 14th and Nisan 15th, is wholly without proof.8 The whole tenor of the synoptical narratives makes irresistibly upon us the impression, that the disciples prepared, and the Lord ate, the Passover, at the same time when it was prepared and eaten by the people at large. The truth is well expressed by Robinson : * " Their language is full, explicit, and decisive, to the effect that our Lord's last meal with His disciples was the regular and ordinary paschal supper of the Jews, introducing the festival of unleavened bread on the evening after the 14th day of Nisan."
1 See Ainsworth in loco; Friedlieb, Arch. 47. 2 322, note 3.
3 See Godwyn, Moses and Aaron, 108; De Wette, Archaologie, 224; Ewald Alterthurmer, 397. * Har., 214.
Taking, then, as established, that the Synoptists make the supper eaten by the Lord to have been the true paschal supper, let us consider in detail the statements of John that bear upon the point. The first of these we find in xiii. 1: " Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come," &o. The chronological value of this passage depends upon the relation in which the clause, "before the feast of the Passover," stands to the supper subsequently mentioned, at which the Lord washed the feet of the disciples. But before we can examine this point, we must consider the opinion of those who make this a supper previous to the paschal supper, and one not mentioned at all by the Synoptists.
The chief arguments urged by those who would make the supper of John distinct from the paschal supper of the Synoptists, are, 1st, that it is not described by him as a paschal meal; 2d, that it is said to have been u before the feast of the Passover; " 3d, that the interpretation of the Lord's words to Judas, (v. 29,) by the disciples, shows that the Passover was still future; 4th, that the language of Jesus at this supper, (xiv. 31,) "Arise, let us go hence," refers to His departure to Jerusalem to keep the feast upon the following day; 5th, that the act of washing the feet was incongruous with the paschal supper; 6th, that the statement, (John xiii. 27,) that Satan, after the sop, entered into Judas, is identical with Luke's statement, (xxii. 3,) and must therefore have been previous to the paschal supper.1 But those, who, upon the above grounds, deny the supper of John to be the paschal meal, are by no means agreed when it took place. Some put it upon Wednesday evening.2 Lightfoot puts it on Tuesday evening, identifying it with that supper at Bethany when the Lord was anointed, (Matt. xxvi. 6,) which he distinguishes from that in John xii. 2.
1 See Bengel in loco; Krafft, 125; Jarvis, 442; Wichelhaus, 154.
2 So Bengel, Krafft, Wichelhaus. See Bynaeus, De Morte Jesu Christi, i. 386, for an elaborate defence of this view.
Upon the other hand, it is said that this supper was the paschal supper, and so to be identified with that of the Synoptists, upon the following grounds : 1st. Through the designation of Judas by the Lord as he that should betray Him. (Compare John xiii. 21-30 with Matt. xxvi. 21-25, Mark xiv. 18-21, Luke xxii. 21-23.) 2d. Through the prophecy that Peter should thrice deny Him, and of the crowing of the cock. (Compare John xiii. 38 with Matt. xxvi. 34, Luke xxii. 34.) 3d. Through the connection between the Lord's words recorded in John, chaps, xiv. xv. xvi., showing that- they were all spoken at once. 4th. Through the statement, (Luke xxii. 24,) that at the paschal supper there was a strife among them, who should be accounted greatest, and which serves to explain His conduct in washing His disciples' feet. (Compare John xiii. 13-17).
Upon these grounds most of the modern commentators have arrayed themselves in favor of the identification of this supper in John with the supper of the Synoptists.1 A careful examination of the arguments justifies this conclusion. That the supper is not expressly named as the paschal supper, does not show that it was a common meal. Rather it is supposed to be something well known and familiar to the reader; the supper by way of eminence.
Returning now to the interpretation of John xiii. 1-4, we ask to what does the introductory chronological notice, "before the feast of the Passover," refer? Our answer must depend upon the relation in which v. 1 stands to the verses following. That it forms a sentence complete in itself, and grammatically independent upon what follows, is generally admitted.3 If so, the words, " before the feast of
1 Tholuck, Greswell, Alford, Meyer, Teschendorf, Robinson, Friedlieb, and others.
2 Meyer, Lange, Robinson, Alford, Tischendorf.
If so, the words, " before the feast of the Passover," would seem to qualify either the participle ctSws, or ayainqoras. If the former, the meaning would be, that Jesus, knowing "before the. feast that His hour was come, and, having loved His own, continued to love them to the end; and at the feast, i. e. the paschal supper now present, gives them a new proof of His love. This interpretation is in perfect harmony with the whole narrative. Before Jesus left Galilee, He announced His departure as at hand, (Matt. xvii. 22,) and again after He left Ephraim, (xx. 17.) Two days before the feast, He repeated that at the Passover He should be betrayed, (Matt. xxvi. 2.) And now the feast had come, and with it " His hour." He, knowing all this, gives at this introductory supper of the feast, a new and last proof of the love with which He had loved them. With the full knowledge that the hour of His arrest and death had come, and that He no more should thus meet His disciples, He shows them, in the most expressive way, how great and unchangeable His affection for them. In this way the abrupt and incidental mention of the supper (v. 2) is readily explained; and that it was the paschal supper follows from the whole connection of the thought.
The meaning is thus given by Norton in his translation: " But Jesus, before the feast of the Passover, knew that the hour had come for Him to pass from the world to the Father ; and having loved His own who were to remain in this world, He loved them to the last."1
If we connect the clause, " before the feast of the Passover," with aya-rrrjcras, the meaning is, Jesus, having loved His own down to this time, or to the Passover which was now come, and knowing that the hour of His death was at hand, continues to love them, even to the end; and now gives a fresh proof of it at the paschal supper. Here, as before, it is implied that this supper, at the beginning of the feast, was the last opportunity He should have of manifesting His love.
1 See also Luthardt, ii. 274.
In this construction the antithesis between "before the feast" and "to the end," is most clearly brought out. The love which He had felt to His own before the feast, continued firm to the end, and was shown in the act of washing the disciples' feet.1 Still, the former explanation is to be preferred.
This clause is, however, said by many to qualify the whole narrative, and not to belong to eiSws or aya-Trrjo-as; thus making the supper, and all that then took place, to have been before the Passover.9 It is said that it could not have been the paschal supper on the evening following the 14th Nisan, but a supper probably on the previous evening, or that following the 13th.3 But of this, Norton (note in loco) justly says: " It is a very forced interpretation to regard the words ' before the feast of the Passover,' as intended to fix the date of what follows. Supposing the night to which the succeeding narrative relates not to be the night of the Passover, St. John has in the second verse abruptly introduced the mention of a supper in a manner in which it cannot readily be believed that any writer would." From the preposition "before," 7rpo, we conclude, then, that nothing definite in regard to the time of the supper can be determined. Supposing all between v. 1 and v. 4 to be stricken out, and the statement to read, " Now before the feast of the Passover, &c, He risethfrom supper and laid aside his garments," it would still remain probable that the paschal supper was meant. The presumption is very strong, that this meal, thus incidentally
mentioned, must have been that so prominently and inseparably associated with the feast.
1 See Wieseler, 379 ; Tholuck in loco; Robinson, Har. 217.
2 Meyer and Alford.
3 That the form of expression, "Before the feast of the Passover," denotes the day before the Passover, pridie Paschatis, is affirmed by Bynaeus; who, however, does not make this the Paschal supper. See Wieseler, 379, who denies that the expression can be thus understood.
An additional proof that this was not the paschal supper is found by manyl in the fact mentioned, (John xiii. 29,) that none of the disciples knew what the Lord had said to Judas at the table, but some of them supposed He had told him to buy what was necessary for the feast, or to give something to the poor. It is said, if the disciples were now eating the feast, no one could have thought that Judas went out for this purpose. Besides, the day following the paschal supper, or 15th Nisan, was a feast sabbath, when nothing could be bought; nor could any purchases be made upon that evening, as all shopkeepers would be engaged keeping the feast; nor could gifts then be given to the poor. Thence it follows that this supper was previous to the beginning of the feast. But this inference is not well grounded. The feast continued seven days, and embraced various sacrifices and offerings other than the paschal lamb. It is not at all improbable that a master of a family, speaking at this first meal, should thus refer to the provision to be made for the farther keeping of the feast. Judas, as the treasurer of the body of apostles, was in this case the person to make such provision. And the fact, that he went out immediately after the Lord had spoken to him, would naturally suggest to others that something necessary to the feast was to be at once procured. The statement that nothing could be purchased upon a feast sabbath, is by no means certain. It appears rather, that the purchase and preparation of food were allowable on all feast days, though not on the fast of the Atonement.2 That Judas should go out, as some supposed, to give something to the poor, indicates a special urgency, which may be best explained as referring to some gifts to be sacrificially used on the morrow, and therefore to be made at once.
1 Meyer, Bleek, Alford.
2 Tholuck in loco; Wieseler, 344 and 366; Luthardt, ii. 286.
A careful examination of this passage seems rather to prove that this was the paschal supper, than to disprove it. The disciples heard the Lord say to Judas, "That thou doest do quickly." He immediately arises and goes out, and u it was night." Supposing this to have been a supper on the night of the 13th Nisan, and a full day before the paschal supper, would they connect his departure with any preparations for the feast ? The next day would give him abundant time to buy all that was necessary. Why hasten out at that hour of the night ? So also he had then ample time to give to the poor. But if we suppose that this was the paschal supper, and that the next day, the 15th, was the first day of the feast, we can readily explain their conjectures as to the cause of Judas' sudden departure. What he was to do must be done at once.
The next passage in John, and that most relied on to prove that the Lord could not have eaten the paschal supper, is found xviii. 2$ : "Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment; and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover." This, it is said, plainly proves that the Jews had not yet eaten the Passover; and that the supper which Jesus had eaten*' on the previous evening, could not have been the paschal supper, as the Synoptists state.1
Two solutions of this difficulty are given: First, that those who would not go into the judgment hall, were those Scribes and Pharisees who had been engaged during the night, while the other Jews were keeping the feast, in directing the proceedings against Jesus, and thus had had no time to partake of the paschal supper. Second, that John uses the expression, " eat the Passover," in its larger meaning, not referring to the paschal lamb, but to the offerings eaten on the second day of the feast.
1 Meyer, Bleek, Alford.
The former of these solutions has never found many defenders, though not in itself impossible. So great was the hate against Jesus, and so little scrupulous His enemies, that we cannot doubt, that to compass His death, they would have postponed for a time the paschal supper, or even have neglected it altogether There are, however, other obvious difficulties, which this explanation does not fully meet.
We must then consider the second of these solutions. It is admitted, that as the Synoptists use the phrase " to eat the Passover," tjxxyav To 7raax^ it always means to eat the paschal supper, (Matt. xxvi. IV; Mark xiv. 12 and 14; Luke xxii. 11 and 15.) If John uses it in the same sense, then the paschal supper was eaten by the Jews on the day when Jesus was crucified, and He must have anticipated it. But the usage of the Synoptists does not decide the usage of John. We must determine its meaning from the way in which he uses the phrase elsewhere, and from the general character of his writings. It has already been shown, that out of the nine times in which he uses the word irao-ya^ Passover, in six it is applied to the feast generally, and not to the paschal supper only. The meaning in the other three passages is in dispute. Only in the passage before us does the« phrase " eat the Passover " occur. The simple point is, does John here use it in its wider or narrower meaning?
Some considerations, drawn from the character of John's Gospel, as influenced by the period of time at which he wrote, may serve to show how this marked distinction in the use of terms between him and the Synoptists, is to be explained. John wrote toward the close of the century,1 and after the destruction of Jerusalem. To him the Jews were no more the holy people of God.
» Meyer, about 80 A. D.
Rejecting Jesus,and afterwards His apostles, they had themselves been rejected. Everywhere he speaks of them distinctly as " The Jews," formerly the Church of God, but now cut off, and standing in a hostile attitude to Christ, and to that new, universal Church, composed both of Jews and Gentiles, of which He was the Head.1 Jewish institutions had, in his eyes, been emptied of their significance and value, since Christ, in whom all the law was fulfilled, had come. Hence he speaks of them commonly as the institutions of a people between whom and himself was a broad line of distinction. Their purification is spoken of as that "of the Jews;" the Passover as " a feast of the Jews;" Nicodemus, as " a ruler of the Jews." The Synoptists, on the other hand, writing before the total rejection of Judaism, and whilst it still stood side by side with Christianity as of divine authority and sanctity, show, by their mode of allusion, that no such line of distinction then existed. To them, the Jewrs are not as aliens, but still the chosen people of God.
Placing ourselves in the position of John, we shall readily understand why he speaks in such general and indefinite terms of Jewish rites, as of things now superseded. Since Jesus, the true Paschal Lamb, had been slain,- the true paschal supper was kept only in the Christian church. To Christians he could say, with Paul, (1 Cor. v. 7, 8,) " Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us; therefore, let us keep the feast," &c. The Jews, in their Passover, had only the shell or shadow; the Church had the kernel or substance. Hence, it is not to be expected that he would refer to any rites of the Jews at this feast with the care that marks the Synoptists. He does not distinguish, as do they, its several component parts, but speaks of it only in general terms, as one of the Jewish feasts.
1 See Meyer on John i. 19 j Bleek, 247".
There is not, in the many times in which he mentions the Passover, any clear proof that he means to distinguish the paschal supper from the solemnities of the following days. Why, then, in the passage before us, are we forced to believe that the Passover which the Jews were to eat on the day of the crucifixion was the paschal supper, and that only ? Why may he not mean the subsequent sacrifices ? Standing, as he does, to the Jews, in a position so unlike that of the Synoptists, it seems most arbitrary to assert that he must use language with precisely the same strictness ; and that " to eat the Passover " must mean to eat the paschal lamb.
As has been said, upon the first day of the feast, or the the 15th, thank offerings of the flock and herd were slain and eaten. There is certainly no intrinsic reason why John may not have meant these. At the time of Hezekiah, (2 Chron. xxx. 22,) "they did eat the feast seven days, offering peace offerings." But it is said in reply,1 that if the phrase "to eat the Passover" may be used of the other offerings, inclusive of the paschal lamb, it cannot be exclusive of it. But this is by no means obvious. Passover, with John, is a term denoting the whole festival; and why, if the paschal supper was past, might he not employ it to designate the remaining feasts ? To affirm that he could not is mere affirmation. Korton,2 referring to the oft-repeated remark that the term Passover is never used " absolutely " to denote the thank offerings considered apart from the paschal supper, observes: "This remark nasbeen repeatedly praised for its acuteness by Kuinoel and Strauss. But, in fact, it only implies a forgetfulness of a very common metonymy, by which the name of a whole is given to a part. If, when the paschal festival were half over, it had been said that certain Jews desired to avoid pollution, that they might keep the Passover, every one perceives that the expression would be unobjectionable, though no one would think of applying the name Passover c absolutely' to the last three or four days of the festival."
1 Meyer and others, after Mosheim. a Notes 2, 466
The exact nature of the defilement to which the Jews would be exposed by entering the judgment hall does not appear. (See Acts x. 28.) In the law, defilements are mentioned which were only for a day, and which could be cleansed by ablution, (Lev. xv. 5-11, and xxii. 5-7.) It is supposed by some that contact with the heathen was of this class, and that, therefore, if the day of the crucifixion had been the 14th Nisan, the Jews could still have cleansed themselves by evening, and been ready to eat the paschal supper. If, however, it was the 15th, during which day the thank offerings were sacrificed and eaten, they could not have partaken of them. Hence it is inferred that the thank offerings, rather than the paschal supper, were meant, and that this day was the 15th rather than the 14th.1 Much stress, however, in the present state of our knowledge of Jewish customs, cannot be laid upon this argument.2
This passage, then, affords no data for the final determination of the question as to the time of the paschal supper. If any think that John could not have used the phrase " to eat the Passover " in any other sense than the Synoptists used it, such must admit a chronological difference between him and them which we find no satisfactory way to reconcile. But if, on the other hand, we find it not only possible, but also probable, that he should thus speak of the festival apart from the supper, the suj>posed difference disappears.
The next important passage we find xix. 14: " And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour; and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King."
i So Bjnaeus, iii. 13. a See Friedlieb, Arch. 102; Bleek, 113.
A different punctuation of this passage has been proposed, making it to read thus: " And it was the preparation. The hour of the Passover was about the sixth." 1 Though some plausible reasons may be given for this change, yet it involves considerable difficulties. We shall follow the generally received punctuation.
Oar first inquiry relates to the meaning of the term "preparation," Trapao-Ktvr). It occurs in the Gospel five times besides the text: Matt, xxvii. 62, Mark xv. 42, Luke xxiii. 54, John xix. 31, John xix. 42. In all these cases there is no doubt as to its meaning. It was, as Mark explains it, " the day before the Sabbath;" or the day in which preparation was made for the Sabbath. Such preparation, though not expressly commanded in the law, was yet made necessary by the strictness of the commands respecting the Sabbath, which forbade all labor, even to prepare food, on that day. (Compare Exod. xvi. 5.) Hence it became the habit of the Jews to observe Friday afternoon, from three o'clock, as a time of getting ready for the Sabbath, which began at sunset.2 As they came more and more under bondage to that legal spirit which so characterized the Pharisees, and the rigor of the original Sabbath laws was augmented by burdensome additions, of which many examples are to be found in the Evangelists and in Josephus, this period of preparation became more and more important. Thus, by degrees, Friday, or the irpocrafifiaTov, became known as the 7rapaa-K€VY], or preparation ; as Saturday, the day of rest, was known as the Sabbath, all other days being distinguished only as the first, second, third, &c. As the preparation was made in the afternoon of Friday, or during that part of it which was known as " the evening," this term was generally applied to it in Hebrew and Chaldee, as by the Germans the day before the Sabbath is called Sonnabend, or Sun-evening.
* So Hofmann, followed by Liechtenstein, 359. 2 Josephus, Antiq., 16. 6. 2.
Thus the sixth day of the week received its current name from its peculiar relations to the Sabbath ; and irapadKevq became equivalent to Friday, and is uniformly so rendered in the Syriac.1
From this origin of the term, and from the fact that it was generally used to designate the sixth day of the week, and that it is so used both by the Synoptists and by John, we are disposed to infer, that in the passage before us, it means the preparation day before the Sabbath, or Friday. But it is said, on the other hand, that this is here inadmissible, because it is not simply said, " it was the preparation," but it was " the preparation of the Passover." It must, therefore, denote a day of preparation, not for the Sabbath, but for the feast; and this day must have been the 14th Nisan, as the first clay of the feast was the 15th.2 This of course implies, that there was a preparation day for the feasts as well as for the Sabbath. And this first demands our attention.
It is admitted by all that the proofs of such a preparation day are very indistinct. To meet the difficulty, that there is no mention in Jewish writings of such a preparation day in connection with any of the feasts, some would confine it to those feast days that had a sabbatical character, in this case, the first and seventh.3 As such, preparation was to be made for them as for the weekly Sabbath. But the main reason that made a time of preparation necessary for the weekly Sabbath, was, that on that day no food could be prepared, whereas it could be upon a feast sabbath. Nor anywhere in Jewish history does the latter appear as equal to the former in sanctity and dignity. All labor but servile labor was then lawful. There seems, then, no gooc^ reason why every feast sabbath should have had its day of preparation; nor is there any proof of the fact.
1 Michaelis, 44. s So Meyer, Alford, Winer, Bleek.
3 Bleek, Beitrage, 120.
If there was, on the afternoon of the 14th Nisan, a period thus set apart and designated as "the Passover eve," Robinson1 maintains that the expression did not " arise until after the destruction of the temple, and the consequent cessation of the regular and legal Passover meal, when of course the seven days of unleavened bread became the main festival." To such a Passover eve the expression in the text, " preparation of the Passover," could not apply.
Thus we reach the result, that the term " preparation," 7rapa(TK€vrj, is never applied, so far as we know, to any day preceding a feast, but is applied by the Evangelists, by Josephus, and by the Rabbis, to the day before the Sabbath. Recurring weekly, this would readily become the current designation of the sixth day, and equivalent to its proper name, or to our Friday.
But we have still to meet the grammatical difficulty. It is insisted that the nature of this preparation is expressly defined by the addition " of the Passover," and cannot therefore refer to the weekly Sabbath. But if 7rapaorKevrj is used as equivalent to Friday, it would simply mean, this was the Friday of the Passover, or the preparation day for that Sabbath that occurred during the paschal week. It is thus translated by Campbell: " Now it was the preparation of the paschal Sabbath;" by Norton: "The preparation day of the paschal week." The latter observes, " that the 14th of ISTisan, whenever it began and ended, was the day of the Passover; that it was ordained to be so in the Old Testament; that it is so designated by Josephus; that there is no question that it was universally recognized as such; that it was consequently so recognized by John; and that therefore it is utterly incredible that he should, in this solitary instance, have gone out of his way to call the 14th of Nisan, the proper day for the Passover, by the name of the ' preparation for the Passover,' even if any ground can be imagined for giving it that name."
i Har. 220.
There is much force in these observations. The law (Exod. xii. 18) says, " In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at the evening, ye shall eat unleavened bread," <fcc. If then the 14th was universally regarded as the Passover, (see Matt. xxvi. 17; Mark xiv. 12,) how could John speak of it as the day of preparation for the Passover ? This expression would lead us rather to look upon it as the 13th, which only could be properly called the day before the Passover.1
Some light may be gained by asking what was the object of the Evangelist in mentioning, that it was "the preparation of the Passover " when Jesus was brought before Pilate. Was it chronological simply ? This is possible; but he seems to have had a higher purpose. It was the time when the Jews should have been engaged in making themselves ready for the holiest services of God, in His temple ; but their preparation consisted in putting His Son to the shameful death of the cross. The incongruity of their labors with the character of the day, is thus brought into the clearest contrast.2
The phrase, " preparation of the Passover," as used by John, does not then, we conclude, compel us to regard the day of the crucifixion as the day before the Passover.
Still another passage is found, (John xix. 31:) "The Jews, therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day, /xcyaA??,) be sought Pilate," <fcc.
1 Wieseler; 335, note 3; contra, Bleek, 122.
2 An attempt has been made to show (Journal Sac. Lit., July, 1850) that Trapacrnevrj means properly " preparation time," and comprises the interval between mid-day or the sixth hour, and sunset or the twelfth. Translated according to this view, the passage before us would read: " For about the sixth hour, the preparation time on Passover day commenced." This makes it necessary to read capa €KT7j with the iota subscript. This is hardly satisfactory.
The ground upon which this Sabbath is designated as a high day, is supposed by many1 to be, that the first day of the feast, or 15th Nisan, which was a feast sabbath, (Exod. xii. 16,) fell upon the weekly Sabbath, and thus it was a double Sabbath, and " an high day." This, in itself considered, would be a sufficient and satisfactory explanation. But no weight can be attached to it, as showing that this was actually the case. If the weekly Sabbath fell upon the 16th Nisan, or the second day of the feast, a day distinguished from the other days as the time for the waving of the sheaf of first fruits, it would, with equal propriety, be called a high day.9 " It was an high day, first, because it was the Sabbath; second, it was the day when all the people presented themselves in the temple; third, it was the day when the sheaf of first fruits was offered."8 There are no data for a positive decision of the question; and whether the weekly Sabbath fell on the 15th or 16th ISTisan, it might in either case be called an high, or great day. In point of fact, this question is always decided according as the day of the crucifixion, for other reasons, is placed upon the 14th or 15th ISTisan. Cudworth's assertion, that " great day," in the Greek of the Hellenists, is used for the first or the last day of every feast, in which there was a holy convocation to the Lord, is not sustained by the passage to which he refers, (Isa. i. 13.) Every weekly Sabbath, as well as every feast sabbath, there was a holy convocation, (Lev. xxiii. 3.)
Having now examined all the disputed passages in John usually cited to show that he puts the crucifixion upon the 14th Nisan, let us notice some of the objections made to the 15th. 1st. The improbability of such a trial and execution upon a feast sabbath.
1 Meyer, Alford, Bleek. 3 So Wieseler, Kobinson, Lichtenstein.
3 Lightfoot in loco.
J Ebrard, Bleek.
« See Winer, ii. 537; also John vii. 32; Acts xii. 3.
» See the citations in Lightfoot, and in Tholuck in loco*
It seems, also, to have been the custom of Pilate and of other governors, who always went up to Jerusalem at the feasts, then to try and punish criminals; and thus it was that the two malefactors were crucified at the same time with Jesus. The crucifixion itself was performed, not by the Jews, but by Pilate and his soldiers. The following observations of Tholuck seem well founded : " We consider it, therefore, as certain, that judicial proceedings were also held on the feast days, perhaps under certain legal provisos, and that this very period, when large assemblages of the people came together, was, for the reason mentioned Deut. xvii. 13, selected for the execution of notorious criminals."
But if we admit that, as a rule, the Jews did not arrest, and try, and execute, criminals during the feasts, still the case of Jesus may have been an exception. How great was the hate of the Pharisees and chief priests and elders to Him, we have already had abundant opportunities to observe. They stuck at nothing, if they could but accomplish His death. Here, if ever, the end would in their eyes have justified the means; and when the long-desired opportunity of getting their dreaded enemy into their power came, they were not likely to be prevented from using it by any conscientious scruples respecting the sanctity of the day. That even the sanctity of the weekly Sabbath was no barrier against popular passion, appears from Luke iv. 16-30, where the inhabitants of Nazareth attempted to put Jesus to death on that day. So also the Jews at Jerusalem, at the feast of Dedication, attempted, first to stone Him, and afterward to arrest Him, (John x. 22-39.) Upon the last day of the feast of Tabernacles, " the great day of the feast," the Sanhedrim was in session, and officers were engaged in the attempt to take Him, (John vii. 3752.) Upon the weekly Sabbath the chief priests and Phar20
isees did not hesitate to go to Pilate to take measures for sealing the sepulchre, (Matt, xxvii. 62-66.)
2d. It is said, that no one after the paschal supper could leave the city till the next morning, and that therefore Jesus, upon this evening, could not have gone to the garden of Gethsemane. (See Exod. xii. 22.) It seems evident, however, that this direction was not designed to be permanently observed, any more than the command (v. 11) to eat it standing, with loins girded, shoes on the feet, and staff in the hand. We know, in point of fact, that the Jews in the Lord's time did not observe these and other directions, regarding them as peculiar to its first institution.
3d. It is said, that the preparation of spices and ointments for the Lord's embalming, upon the afternoon of the day of the crucifixion, (Luke xxiii. 56 ; John xix, 38-40,) implies that it was not a feast sabbath. Here, also, all. depends upon the strictness with which the Jews observed the feast sabbaths. As we have seen, Maimonides mentions bathing and anointing, as things that might be done on the feast days ; and, in the very nature of the case, every thing necessary to prepare the dead for burial would then be permitted. That purchases could be made even on the Sabbath, is shown by Tholuck, (on John xiii. 1,) if the price was not agreed upon, and no money paid. But with whatsoever strictness the feast sabbath was usually observed, we cannot question that both Joseph and Nicodemus would have regarded themselves as fully warranted to perform, during its hours, the last offices of love to one who had taught them in express words, and shown by His example, that He was Lord of the Sabbath.
That Luke (xxiii. 54) should designate the day following the crucifixion as a Sabbath, " And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on," has been explained as showing that the day of the crucifixion could not
have been a feast sabbath.1 But it proves only that the Evangelists, in conformity with Jewish opinion, regarded the weekly Sabbath as more sacred than the feast sabbath.
4th. It is said that the account given of Simon of Cyrene, (Mark xv. 21 ; Luke xxiii. 26,) who, coming out of the country at the time Jesus was on His way to the place of crucifixion, was compelled to bear His cross, is additional evidence that this was not a feast sabbath, he having probably been at work. But if this were so, wre have still to inquire respecting the nature of the work. Lightfoot supposes him to have come from the field, bearing wood, which was lawful on a feast day. But it is not said that he had been out in the fields at work, nor that he had travelled any distance ; and to come from the country into the city upon a feast sabbath was no violation of any law. For aught that we know, he w7as a resident of Jerusalem, who was casually without the wall, and was entering the gate when he met Jesus; or he may have been a pilgrim, who had come up to the feast.
5th. It is said that the Synoptists, in their mention of the day of crucifixion, give no hint that it had a sabbatical character. It is true that they do not do this in express terms, but they plainly imply it. According to them, the Lord ate the Passover at the legal time, on the 14th Nisan; the day therefore of His death was the 15th, or the first feast sabbath. That they designate it as the preparation day, without making prominent its sabbatical character, simply shows what great importance they attached to the fact that the Lord died and was buried before the weekly Sabbath began. This was of far more moment to them, as illustrating the relation of the Jewish Sabbath to the Christian, than to make prominent the sabbath character of the first day of the feast.
We thus reach the result that there is no real discrepancy between the Synoptists and John. The Lord ate the true paschal supper at the appointed time—the time when it was eaten by the Jews in general, on the evening following the 14th Nisan.1 So Meyer.