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From these things it follows, that if Jesus celebrated the passover on the national day, he must have been apprehended, tried and crucified with the thieves on the first day of unleavened bread, which the law appointed to be observed as strictly as the seventhday sabbath. But the improbability of such a supposition is great, because it implies that the whole nation, as a nation, was guilty of a gross profanation of one of their highest and holiest sabbaths, a thing not to be believed ; especially when it is remembered, that at this time the Jews were remarkable for their superstitious observance of the sabbaths, as is evident from many passages in the gospels. Besides, in the bistory itself of our Lord's trial and crucifixion, there are circumstances mentioned which shew in the clearest manner. how scrupulous the nation was in the observation of their feasts, convocations, and sabbaths. For instance, they would not suffer the bodies to hang on the cross, during the sabbath, John xix. 31.
2. No fewer than three of the evangelists have expressly affirmed or plainly insinuated, that Jesus was crucified not on the day following the paschal solemnity, which was a holy convo. cation, but on the preparation to that holy convocation, and before the Jews had eaten the passover. So that having himself observed this solemnity previously to his sufferings, he must have done it at least one whole day before the nation.---Matt. xxvii. 62, « Now the next day that followed the day of the preparation, (τη δε επαύριον, ήτις εσι μετα την παρασκευης), the chief priests and the Pharisees came together to Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiyer, &c." This plainly implies that Jesus was crucified not on the holy convocation, bụt on the day preparatory thereto. The reason is, the priests came to Pilate on the morrow after the preparation, that is, in the beginning of the holy convocation, or first day of unleavened bread, which according to the Jewish form was at sun-setting, immedietely after Jesus was buried. He was crucified therefore on the preparation. And though the placing of the watch at the sepulchre, might be reckoned by the Jews a violation of the holy convocation, yet, as it was done by the Romans, the people could not hinder it. The priests indeed solicited this measure, contrary to the superstitious spirit which reigned in those times. But it was the transaction of a few, a transaction managed in private, and a transaction to which they were prompted by their enmity to Jesus, which for a time, it seems, got the better of their scruples, if they had any; and therefore no objection can be raised from this circumstance, against our Lord's being crucified on the preparation of the passover.Luke also insinuates, that Jesus was crucified on the preparation; for he tells us, chap. xxiii. 56. that when the women had viewed our Lord's sepulchre, and how his body was laid, “they returned and rested according to the commandment.” It seems the sabbath 2
began about the time they were at the sepulchre. Wherefore, the preceding day on which Jesus was crucified was not the sabbath, but the preparation to the sabbath, that is to say, it was the holy convocation.—John's testimony is still more express. For he affirms in so many words, that Jesus was crucified on the preparation to an high sabbath, xix. 31. “ The Jews, therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath, (for that sabbath was an high day, μεγαλη ημερα το σαββατε,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” It is nothing to the purpose to reply, that in this instance, the day after the passover on which Jesus was crucified, though it was an holy convocation, might be the preparation to the ordinary seventh-day sabbath immediately following it. For though it should be granted, that the seventh-day sabbath happened on this occasion to follow the holy convocation, first day of unleavened bread, it never could render the first day of unleavened bread no convocation or sabbath; ncither could that holy convocation, with any propriety, be called the preparation to the ordinary seventh-day sabbath, which was a day much inferior to it in solemnity. But without insisting on this, John himself has put the matter out of doubt ; for he tells us expressly, that the day on which Jesus was crucified, was not the preparation of the ordinary seventh-day sabbath in the passover week, but the preparation of the passover itself; that is, the preparation of the first day of unleavened bread, which began with eating the paschal supper, and was a sabbath of much greater note, and observed with much greater solemnity than the ordinary sabbaths. Chap. xix. 14. “ Ănd it was the preparation of the passover, and the sixth hour, and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King.” Accordingly, the sabbath which followed this preparation is in the passage already cited called an high sabbath, piyadan svipu t8 ox oxts, the very phrase which the LXX. use in translating what in the Hebrew is termed, a holy convocation, Isa. i. 13.
The testimony of three of the evangelists being thus express, we must believe that Jesus was crucified not on the day of unleavened bread, the 15th of the month, which was an high sabbath, but on the 14th, the day preparatory to that sabbath. If so, he did not eat the passover on the national day, which was the 15th day, but at the beginning of the 14th, the day on which he was crucified.
3. The day after Jesus kept the passover, he was carried before the governor. But on supposition that he observed the national day, the Jews must at that time have eaten it likewise. Yet the contrary is certain. For John tells us, that the chief priests and elders, when they brought Jesus to Pilate, would not go into the palace, fearing they might touch such things in the VOL. I.
house of a heathen, as would defile them, and make them unfit for eating the paschal supper. John xviii. 28. “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgement,” (agastagios, the prætorium or governor's palace), “ and it was early, and they themselves went not into the judgment-hall, lest they should be defiled,” but that they miglit eat the passover. In common language, indeed, and in a certain construction, the passover may signify the whole days of the feast; and examples may be produced from the Old Testament to prove this. But there can be no instance, wherein the phrase of eating the passover in the singular number, is applied to any thing but the paschal supper. Deut. xvi. 2. the passage commonly cited as an example, does not prove it. For in the original it runs thus : “ Thou shalt sacrifice the passover to the Lord thy God, sheep and cattle." The copulative particle and is wanting here, and must be supplied. For the meaning is, “ Thou shalt sacrifice the passover to the Lord thy God, and thou shalt sacrifice likewise sheep and cattle.” Accordingly, the Targum expresses it thus : “ You shall sacrifice the passover to the Lord your God between the evenings, and sheep and oxen on the morrow.” Farther, this sense of the passage is confirmed by the subsequent context, especially the 5th, 6th, and 7th verses, which speak of the passover properly so called, and by consequence fix the meaning of the word in the second verse. Seeing therefore the expression of eating the passover always signifies the eating of the paschal supper, it is certain from the testimony of John, that when our Lord was crucified, the Jews had not celebrated the passover. And this being admitted, it follows, that in his solemnization of the passover he did not observe the national day.
4. From the message which Jesus sent to the master of the house where he proposed to keep the passover, it may be presumed that he did not observe the national day. Matt. xxvi. 18. “ And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The master says, My time is at hand, I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.” For whatever sense we put upon the words my time is at hand, it is undeniable that they contain a reason for our Lord's keeping the passover then. But the reader must see, that to make apology, or give reasons for eating the passover at the ordinary time was needless. It is therefore far more natural and pertinent to interpret the words thus : My time of eating the passover, in contradistinction to the time observed by the nation, is at hand; for which reason, I send this message to acquaint you, that I will keep it at your house with my disciples.
II. But the patrons of the commonly received opinion support their cause by the following passages. Matt. xxvi. 17. “ Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee the passover?”–Mark xiv. 12. “ Arld the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, the disciples say unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare, that thou mayest eat the passover?”—Luke xxii. 7. “ 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.” Here, say they, we have three of the evangelists jointly testifying, that in celebrating the last passover, Jesus did not anticipate the day, but kept the solemnity as usual along with the nation.
But to this argument, the defenders of the anticipation give various answers.
1. Gerhard, in the 166th chapter of his supplement to Chemnitius' Harmony, affirms, that the Jews in latter times carefully avoided the celebration of two sabbaths in succession, for a reason mentioned in the Talmudical books, viz. that in those warm climates, dead bodies and boiled herbs could not be kept without spoiling. Non facimus duo continua sabbata, propter olera et propter mortuos."
As a farther proof of the Jews practice in this matter, Gerhard cites the Sedar Olam, from which he has translated as follows : « Rabbi Eliezer, qui reliquis omnibus major erat, ordinavit diem Sortium non observari secundo, quarto, septimo hebdomadis die ; neque pascha secundo, quarto, sexto," &c. i.e. “ Rabbi Eliezer, who was greater than all the other men of the great synagogue, ordered that the feast of Purim should not be kept on the second, fourth, and seventh days of the week, nor the passover on the second, fourth, and sixth days,” &c. According to this precept of the elders, as often as two sabbaths happened to follow one another, they omitted the first, performing all the services proper to it on the second, along with the services proper to the second. But this practice, though enjoined by the elders, was directly contrary to the institutions of the law. For which reason, Gerhard thinks our Lord never complied with it, but always observed the festivals on the precise day fixed for them by the divine appointment. And as the 15th day of Nisan, on which the passion passover ought to have been celebrated, happened upon a Friday, he supposes that the Jews, to avoid two sabbaths in succession, delayed it till Saturday, the 16th of the month, notwithstanding they had taken up the lamb on the 10th, as the law prescribed. The disciples well knew that their Master never had complied with this innovation ; for they spake about the preparation of the passover at the time fixed by the law. So that it is the true legal time, not the time observed by the nation, which the evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke speak of, when they tell us, that on the first day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed, the disciples came,” &c. And by thus marking the true legal time, they intended to make their readers sensible, that while the nation, fol
lowing the tradition of the elders, made void the commandment of God in the matter of the passover, Jesus paid the strictest regard to the law, observing this festival precisely at the time appointed. This supposition entirely removes the seeming contradiction in the accounts which Matthew, Mark and Luke have given of the last passover, compared with the history of it in the gospel of John, where a variety of circumstances occur, leading us to conclude that Jesus celebrated the last passover in his ministry, not on the national day, but one whole day before it.
2. The difficulty under consideration may likewise be removed thus. According to the law of the passover, the lamb was to be killed the 14th day at even. This day Matthew, Mark, and Luke call the first day of unleavened bread,” particularly Mark, who, that no doubt might remain concerning his meaning, characterizes it thus: “ The first day of unleavened bread, when they kill the passover." Yet it is certain, from various passages of the law, that, properly speaking, not the 14th, but the 15th day of the month, was the first day of unleavened bread. It seems the evangelists used the popular style, in wbich the 14th day of the month was called the first day of unleavened bread, because they purged their houses that day from leaven, and made the other preparations necessary to their eating unleavened bread during the seven days of the feast. Nor are the evangelists singular in this way of speaking. Josephus uses the same phraseology, Bell. ii. 5. where he tells us, that the feast of unleavened bread lasted eight days, though in another passage, expressing himself more accurately, he says it lasted only seven days, Bell. iii. 16.-Having thus settled what the evangelists mean by τη πρωτη των αζυμων, , “the first day of unleavened bread," let us next enquire whether the phrase may, according to the analogy of language, be understood in an indefinite sense. Those who are acquainted with the Greek, know that there is here an ellipsis of the governing preposition. We may therefore supply the one which best suits the passage. Let the preposition supplied be aeos, and the difficulty vanishes; for neos on a WTA TWY Lvxan properly signifies, “about the first day of unleavened bread.” Or if no other preposition but sy is admitted here, it may as naturally signify righ in point of time as it certainly does in point of place. John xix. 41. xv totW, “ nigh to the . place where he was crucified, there was a garden.” According to this sense of the preposition, the passage in Mark will run thus : « Now about the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, the disciples say unto him,” &c. Nay, the common interpretation of the passage may itself be accommodated to the scheme of the anticipation. For, as the fourteenth day began according to the Jewish form at sun-setting, if the disciples at sunsetting spake to Jesus concerning the preparation of the passover, they spake of it the first day of unleavened bread, when the pas