Passover, Last Supper, and the Calendar, Pt. 3

This is the third part of a series on the timing of the Last Supper and the crucifixion in relation to Passover. You need to scroll down and read Part 1&2 to follow the discussion.

This time I promised to make it clear what the Passover sacrifice was that the priests feared they would miss if they were defiled in Pilate’s hall.

The verse under consideration is: John 18:28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.

Remember there are several views about how to reconcile John’s account with the synoptics:

1. They cannot be reconciled as they are contradictory. John has Yeshua being crucified on the day the lambs are slaughtered (Nisan 14) and the synoptics have him being slaughtered on Nisan 15.

2. There were two or more calendars and Yeshua’s Passover is a day earlier than the Passover of the priests.

3. Yeshua and his disciples had their Last Supper the night before Passover and it was not a Passover meal.

4. Yeshua had his Passover a night early since he was about to die.

5. Or . . . (forgive my arrogance) . . . the correct view! See below.

What is this Passover the priests fear they will not be able to eat if they get defiled by something in Pilate’s hall? According to views 1-4, it is the Passover slaughter for the Seder meal on Nisan 14. They will be in a state of ritual impurity and unable to eat the sacred Passover lamb at the Seder.

This is a possibility, and that cannot be denied. Numbers 9:6 gives an example of the correct Torah procedure if you find yourself in a state of ritual impurity on Passover. You cannot eat it but must take Passover a month later.

Yet, this is not the only possibility or even the most likely possibility for what the priests mean. There is also the matter of the Khagigah sacrifice for Passover.

You won’t find the word khagigah in the Bible. It is the name of the egg on the Seder plate at Passover. It is a rabbinic word from the Hebrew word for any festival, khag. It means the festival sacrifice. It refers to the special sacrifices offered at the festivals above the regular daily sacrifices.

There is a khagigah for Passover and it is offered on Nisan 15, at the same time Yeshua was crucified! We read about the Passover khagigah in Leviticus 23:8 and in Numbers 28:18-22 On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. 19 ‘You shall present an offering by fire, a burnt offering to the LORD: two bulls and one ram and seven male lambs one year old, having them without defect. 20 ‘For their grain offering, you shall offer fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for a bull and two-tenths for the ram. 21 ‘A tenth of an ephah you shall offer for each of the seven lambs; 22 and one male goat for a sin offering to make atonement for you. It is an offering of two bulls, one ram, seven lambs, and a male goat for a sin offering, plus the grain offering that accompanies them.

When Caiphas and Annas the high priests said they would not enter Pilate’s hall lest they be defiled and not be able to eat the Passover, this is the Passover they meant. This is a far more likely reference since the High Priest was the one who offered the Khagigah personally and not another priest. This was the special duty that Caiphas and Annas had for the Passover. The lambs slaughtered on Nisan 14 were the work of all the priests. The Khagigah was the particular work of the High Priest.

Later today, in Part 4: Was the Khagigah also called “the Passover”? Was Nisan 15 also called “the day of preparation for the Passover”? How does this coincide with the crucifixion?

Coming in future installments: Was Yeshua crucified on Friday or an earlier day? Was he raised on the third day or after three days and nights or both?


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, Messianic Jewish, Passover, Theology, Yeshua. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Passover, Last Supper, and the Calendar, Pt. 3

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