Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Christ Died on Nisan 14, the Day of "Preparation"

Definitions of Evening

Because I am a Gentile raised on the concepts of a Roman day and the Gregorian calendar, I have had a difficult time understanding biblical days. Since Elohim created light out of darkness, the first (and subsequent) days last from "evening" to "morning" (Genesis 1:5ff). Yeshua would have considered a 24 hour "day" (yom in Hebrew, and hemera in Greek) to last from dusk to dusk; half of which would have been daylight (John 11:9). I thought and taught Yeshua ate Passover with his disciples and then was crucified on the afternoon of Nisan 14 on Passover day based on the following Scripture:

In the fourteenth [day] of the first month at even [is] the LORD's passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month [is] the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread. (Lev. 23:5-6)

But I was wrong. The word "is" has been inserted by the translators. The 14th is the day of preparation for Passover during which the lambs are killed. All four gospels agree that Christ was crucified on Nisan 14 the day of "preparation" (Mat. 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14, 31, 42), so that the Sanhedrin could get rid of Him before Passover.

I didn't understand the biblical words "even" and "evening" can mean a period of darkness or the hours prior to darkness (late afternoon). There is no Hebrew or Greek word which translates to "afternoon" (though natah is translated as such in Judges 19:8). So when I read the following passage, I thought the words "evening" and "night" were synonymous and described Nisan 14 as Passover followed by the first day of Unleavened Bread on the 15th; but I was wrong.

In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb . . . a lamb for an house: . . . 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 ['ereb]. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night [layil], roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. (Exodus 12:3-8)

"Evening" ['ereb] can include noon to 6pm. So the passover lambs were to be slaughtered during those hours on Nisan 14, and then roasted and eaten during the dark "night" [layil] of Nisan 15. Then it makes complete sense that Passover and the first day of Unleavened Bread both begin at dusk on Nisan 15.

Here is part of Clarke's Commentary on Exodus 12:6 . . .

"In the evening] beyn haarbayim, "between the two evenings." The Jews divided the day into morning and evening: till the sun passed the meridian all was morning or fore-noon; after that, all was afternoon or evening. Their first evening began just after twelve o'clock, and continued till sunset; their second evening began at sunset and continued till night; i.e., during the whole time of twilight; between twelve o'clock, therefore, and the termination of twilight, the passover was to be offered." {I will call the first evening "even" and the second evening "evening".}

Clarke's "second evening" was subdivided into four watches of three hours each: first watch 6-9pm (Lam. 2:19), second watch 9pm-midnight (Judges 7:19), third watch (Ex. 14:24), and the fourth watch (Mat. 14:25). So we have dealt with the Hebrew terms; on to the Greek terms.

A biblical day began after sun down [helios dumi] (Mark 1:32) and proceeded to "evening" [hespera] (Acts 4:3; 28:23); roughly 6pm to midnight. Night [nux] (Mark 14:30) was the period from midnight to dawn (Acts 20:11). The "rising of the sun" [anatello to helios] can also be translated "morning" [proi] (Mark 16:1-2) or "early" [bathus orthos] (Luke 24:1). Noon is mid-morning [mesohemera] (Acts 26:13) or [mesembria] (Acts 22:6). Clarke's "first evening", or "evening" or "even" [opsios] (Mark 15:42) is roughly noon to 6pm, and includes dusk (Mat. 16:2).

Day of Preparation

Nisan 14 was the day of preparation for Passover. Passover and the first day of Unleavened Bread began after dusk on Nisan 15.

Now the feast of unleavened bread drew near, which is called the Passover. . . . Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. . . . And they went, and found as he had said to them: and they made ready the passover. [they cleaned out all leaven] And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said to them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say to you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you (Luke 22:1-20)

Jesus desired to eat the Passover with them before He suffered, but instead He would become the Passover lamb who would be sacrificed for them, and He would not get to eat the Passover with them until its ultimate fulfillment in His kingdom. The phrase "last supper" is appropriate. It was not Passover because the disciples thought Judas might be buying something for the feast when he left that night (John 13:26-30), and if it was already the high sabbath of Passover, no one would be allowed to sell him anything.

Christ, our Perfect Sacrifice for our Sins

At the Temple in Jerusalem, the priests would be sacrificing lambs all day long, from dawn to dusk; but they also would have made the daily [tamid], perfectly whole [tamiym] sacrifice of a lamb for the morning and evening sacrifices. According to ancient Jewish sources outside the Bible, the morning offering of the Tamid took place at the "third hour" (9 am), and the evening offering took place at the "ninth hour" (3 pm) [Mishnah, Tamid 3:7; Josephus, Antiquities 14.4.3; Philo, Special Laws, 1:169].
Christ was nailed to the cross at the "third hour" (Mark 15:25), and died the "ninth hour" (Mark 13:34-39). During the two daily sacrifices, the priests would also have been reciting prayers for redemption, forgiveness, coming of Messiah, and eternal life (website).

Yeshua became our Passover lamb and "daily sacrifice" (Daniel 12:11), making further animal sacrifices unnecessary to approach Elohim, so the veil separating access to His Presence in the Holy of Holies was rent as well as graves (Mat. 27:50-53) because eternal life with our LORD had been purchased at a great price.

Christ Died on a Thursday

Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17)

Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from you. But he answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (Matthew 12:38-41)

After all that about biblical days being from evening to morning, now we have a specific time-frame of three days and three nights; purposely beginning with daytime. The first chapter of Jonah does not provide a real time-frame except he slept and was awakened, and the men tried to row towards land before Jonah was tossed into the sea; but the LORD says it began during daylight. Those who ascribe to a Wednesday crucifixion for Yeshua begin with a "night" and then have him resurrect during the night of Sabbath (pre-dawn on Saturday, nullifying a First Fruits resurrection). Those who ascribe to a Friday crucifixion, can't squeeze in three days or three nights. Therefore a Thursday crucifixion works out the best, which was Nisan 14, 33 AD.

Happy Passover!

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