This is part 4 in a series of posts explaining the timing of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion in relation to the calendar.
Last time I explained about the khagigah, the festival sacrifice for Passover which happens on the first day of Passover, the day after the lambs are slaughtered for the Passover Seder. Today I promised to show you that the khagigah is also called “the Passover.” I also promised to show you that “the day of preparation for the Passover” could refer to Nisan 15 and the khagigah, and not merely to Nisan 14 and the slaughtering of the lambs.
All of this is to show that John and the synoptic gospels are in perfect agreement. The Last Supper was a Passover Seder. There were not two calendars and Yeshua was not having his Passover on the wrong night.
I am using references from Alfed Edersheim’s book, The Temple, and specifically an appendix which is titled, “Did the Lord Institute His Supper on the Paschal Night?” Edersheim was a Jewish talmudic scholar who came to faith in Yeshua. Unfortunately, he became anti-Jewish in some ways, adopting the stance of the church at that time, that Judaism was a dead religion of works. Nonetheless, his writings are a source of useful information, especially about the Mishnah and Talmud.
Edersheim observes that the entire week of Passover, including the Feast of Unleavened Bread, was called Passover. He cites the following scripture:
Deuteronomy 16:2-3 You shall sacrifice the Passover to the LORD your God from the flock and the herd, in the place where the LORD chooses to establish His name. You shall not eat leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat with it unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), so that you may remember all the days of your life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt.
How does this verse establish that the Passover refers to the whole seven days? It does so in two ways:
1. It says that for seven days you will eat unleavened bread with the Passover. This cannot mean only the lamb offered on Nisan 14, since that lamb can only be eaten the first night (Exod. 12:8-10). Thus, Deuteronomy 16 is referring to all the offerings of the week of Passover.
2. It speaks of an offering from the flock and the herd. What can the reference to the herd mean? Has anyone heard of a Passover Sirloin? The reference is to the other offerings of the Passover, the Khagigah, which includes bulls.
Add to this 2 Chronicles 37-7-9, where Josiah and his officials contribute lambs and BULLS for the Passover sacrifice.
Finally, add Ezekiel 45:21, where Passover is called a “feast of seven days.”
This means that the references in John 18 to the priests wanting to remain clean for the Passover sacrifices were not about the Nisan 14 lambs slaughtered for the Seder, but about other offerings from the Torah and temple tradition offered during the seven days of the Feast of Passover. This means John is not in contradiction with the synoptic gospels.
But what about John comparing Yeshua’s body directly to the Passover lamb in saying that not a bone of his body was broken (Jn 19:36)? The comparison still holds. Even though Yeshua was crucified on Nisan 15, the day after the Passover lambs, he still was crucified during Passover and the Passover lamb is a fitting picture of what he did for us.
So, with all this in mind, here is the schedule for the Passover and Crucifixion:
Nisan 14 morning — Yeshua sends disciples to prepare for the Passover (Matt 26:17).
Nisan 14 afternoon — The Passover lambs are slaughtered
That same evening, it becomes Nisan 15 at sundown.
Nisan 15 just after sundown — The Passover Seder, which is what the Last Supper was.
Nisan 15 night — Yeshua prays in Gethsemane, Yeshua arrested and tried.
Nisan 15 noon — Yeshua is crucified on this first day of Passover, which is a Sabbath, but he must be buried before the onset of the weekly Sabbath.
Coming next: Was he crucified on Friday or earlier? What about the three days and three nights?