And the servants and officers stood there
In a certain part of the hall, the middle of it; the Vulgate Latin reads, "by the coals": it follows,
who had made a fire of coals, for it was cold;
though it was the passover, and harvest near. Dr. Lightfoot has observed from our countryman Biddulph, who was at Jerusalem at this time of the year, that though in the daytime it was as hot as with us at Midsummer, yet such very great dews fell as made it very cold, especially in the night; and from one of the Jewish canons F13, that the year was not intercalated, (which when done was chiefly on account of the passover,) neither for snow nor frost; which, as he justly remarks, supposes there might be frost and snow at the time of the passover. The same is observed in the Talmud F14, where the gloss upon it is,
``that they might not desist, on that account, from coming to the passover.''The sense is, that whereas sometimes snow fell about the time of the passover; which might be thought to be an hinderance to some from coming to it; this never was a reason that came into consideration with the sanhedrim, or prevailed upon them to intercalate a month, that so the passover might not fall at a time of year when there was usually snow. The passover was always in the spring of the year, when nights are commonly cold, as they are generally observed to be at the vernal equinox: this night might be remarkably cold; which seems to be suggested by the Persic version, which reads, "for it was cold that night"; and the Ethiopic version, "for the cold of that night was great"; and adds what is neither in the text, nor true, "for the country was cold". The Arabic version, as it should seem, very wrongly renders it, "for it was winter"; since the passover was never kept in the winter season, but always in the spring, in the month Nisan: the winter season, with the Jews, were half the month of Chisleu, all Tebeth, and half Shebet F15; though this is to be observed in favour of that version, that the Jews distinguish their winter into two parts; the one they call (Prwx) , which, as the gloss says, is the strength of winter, the coldest part of it, and which lasts the time before mentioned; and the other they call (rwq) , which is the end of winter, and when the cold is not so strong; and half Nisan is taken into this; for they say that half Shebat, all Adar, and half Nisan, are reckoned to this part of winter: so that, according to this account, the fourteenth of Nisan, which was the day on which the passover was killed; or at least the fifteenth, which was now begun, was the last day of winter, and so just secures the credit of the above version.
And they warmed themselves, and Peter stood with them, and
he was cold both inwardly and outwardly; and being so, he gets into bad company; and it may be with a view that he might not be suspected, but be taken for one of their own sort, as one who had the same ill opinion of Jesus they had; and by the light of the fire he is again discovered and challenged, which makes way for a second denial.
F13 Maimon. Hilch. Kiddush Chodesh, c. 4. sect. 6.
F14 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 11. 1.
F15 T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 106. 2.