Why Did Jesus Eat the Passover Before All Israel Ate?

Discussion in 'The Gospels & Acts' started by N. Eshelman, Apr 2, 2010.

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  1. N. Eshelman

    N. Eshelman Puritan Board Senior

    It appears from the Gospels that Jesus and the Disciples ate the Passover meal the day before Israel ate the Meal?

    Does anyone know why this was the case? (I know... SOMEBODY knows... but does anyone here have any good suggestions?)
  2. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Junior

    Exactly how did you come to this conclusion? The refusal to enter Pilate's house was not related to the seder meal if that is your problem.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2010
  3. JWJ

    JWJ Puritan Board Freshman

    Your question is one that has perplexed many including myself. Yes, there is no denying that the gospels depict two consecutive Passovers. Those who claim that Jesus and his disciples did not observe the Passover in the Last Supper not only deny Scripture but implicitly make Jesus a law breaker.

    The answer to your question is found in understanding the importance of the Hebrew calendar for the festivals (i.e., Passover) and the authority of the Sanhedrin. I will not labor the details of this lunisolar calendar with its 19 years cycles and intercalary months so to keep Passover always in the spring (you can do the research yourself). What is important to the question at hand are the following points:

    1. The two most important months were the 1st (Nissan) and the 7th (Tishri). Nissan marked the new ecclesiastical year for Israel and contained the Passover / Unleavened Bread Festival (14th / 15th). Tishri marked the new civil year which contained Rosh Hashanah or feast of Trumpets (observed on the 1st), Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement (observed on the 10th) and Feast of Booths / Tabernacles (observed for 8 days beginning on the 15th).

    2. During the time of Christ the Hebrew calendar was determined by both calculations and observations of a new crescent by at least two eyewitnesses (marking the beginning of the month). The testimony of at least two witnesses always took priority over calculations. After the witnesses were cross-examined by the court and found sound, the court would send out messengers and light fires on mountaintops to inform the people that a new month began.

    3. The Sanhedrin’s authority included postponing the beginning of Nissan (adding an extra month, Adar II) and thus postponing Passover if the barley was not yet ripe, the winter rains had not stopped (causing impassible roads / bridges thus inhibiting all to come to Jerusalem to keep the Passover), inadequate lambs available, or any other reason that would make it difficult to keep the Passover.

    4. Sometimes the testimony of the witnesses was uncertain. If the calculations and observation were close but not off by more than one day, the court would be on the safe side and declare two consecutive new moons and thus a second day for celebrating the festivals (i.e., Passover / Trumpets).

    5. Sometimes, due to bad weather, the messengers and signals would not reach all the Jewish people, especially outside of Jerusalem. Thus the Sanhedrin, to avoid confusion and uncertainty, would institute a second day for celebrating the festivals (i.e., Passover / Trumpets).

    In the year of our Lord’s crucifixion, we see God’s wise providential hand working. More than likely one of these two above scenarios took place causing the Sanhedrin to declare two consecutive Passovers (at the very least we can be sure that for some reason the Sanhedrin did declare two Passovers). Hence Christ and the disciples could keep the Passover, instituting Lord’s Supper and yet the very next day become the sacrificed Passover lamb.
  4. chbrooking

    chbrooking Puritan Board Junior

    Eoghan, how are you understanding John 18.28?
  5. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Besides Jim's great post above, I would mention that there has also been proposed (I do not know the evidence) that there were competing calendars, and disparity between the day the Judeans and Galileeans observed.

    Further, one could take "twilight" of 14th of the First month in two different contexts, depending on when a "day" began. Since Jewish days in Jesus' day were calculated from sundown (twilight), one could conceivably have two periods of twilight, relative to a single 24hr period (beginning and end).

    Still further, the logistics of a larger and larger population of Passover observers (and a diminution of the number of available priests to slay the lambs) could easily have led those who conducted the service to spread the feast over the allowable interval as far as possible.

    All these factors, or a combination of them could easily account for Jesus and his disciples keeping the feast on Thurs night, and the day following, seeing others among the populace preparing, etc.

    Finally, there is a question of whether "day of Preparation" (Jn.19:31) means "preparation for Passover" or "preparation for Sabbath" (also common use of the term).
  6. Matthew1034

    Matthew1034 Puritan Board Freshman

    I believe this is the most reasonable solution. Thousands of Jews coming from dozens of foreign locations with dozens of hundreds of sacrifices to be offered: I remember reading that the Passover encompassed a week because of this, but I don't remember the source. Excellent job, brothers, in what's already been explained.
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