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John 2. 13; 6. 4; 11. 55, &c.—As now there is nothing in the circumstances or context of John 18. 28, to limit the meaning of the word passover in itself either to the paschal lamb or paschal meal, we certainly are not bound by any intrinsic necessity so to understand it here in the phrase “to eat the passover.” İf, on the other hand, we adopt for it in this place the wider sense of paschal festival, two modes of interpretation are admissible, either of which leaves no room for the above inference.
1. By modifying the force of the verb to eat, so as to make the phrase, “ to eat the passover,” equivalent to the more common expression, “to keep or celebrate the passover.” Precisely this form of expression occurs in the Hebrew, in 2 Chron. 30. 22; literally,
and they did eat the festival seven days ; where the English version has it “ throughout the feast seven days.” The Septuagint translates correctly according to the sense, though not according to the letter: "and they fulfilled (kept) the festival of unleavened bread seven days.
2. Or we may assign to the word passover, (paschal festival,) by metonymy, the sense of paschal sacrifices ; that is, the voluntary peace-offerings and thank-offerings made in the temple during the paschal festival,
and more especially on the fifteenth of Nisan; called, in later times, the Chagigah. See p. 146 above. Å like metonymy is found in Psa. 118. 27: “ Bind the sacrifice (festive offering, lit. festival) with cords.” See too Ex. 23. 18; Mal. 2. 3. The same metonymy is assumed by some in the passage above quoted, 2 Chron. 30. 22; which they then render thus," and they did eat the festival offerings seven days."
It is manifest, that both the above methods of interpretation are founded on fair analogies; and that either of them relieves us from the necessity of referring the phrase in question to the paschal supper, and thus removes the alleged difficulty. The chief priests and other members of the Sanhedrim, on the morning of the first day of the festival, were unwilling to defile themselves by entering beneath the roof of the Gentile procurator ; since in that way they would have been debarred from partaking of the sacrificial offer. ings and banquets, which were customary on that day in the temple and elsewhere; and in which they, from their station, were entitled and expected to participate.
This view receives some further confirmation from the circumstance, that the defilement which the Jews would thus have contracted by entering the dwelling of a heathen, could only have belonged to that class of impurities, from which a person might be cleansed the same day by ablution; the ablutions of a day, so called by the Talmudists. See Lev. 15. 5, sq.; 17. 15; 22. 6, 7; Num. 19. 7, sq. Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. on Joh. 18. 28. If now the passover in John 18. 28 was truly the mere paschal supper, and was not toʻtake place until the evening after the day of the crucifixion, then this defilement of a day could have been no bar to their partaking of it; for at evening they were, or might be, clean. Their scruple therefore, in order to be well founded, could have had reference only to the Chagigah, or paschal sacrifices offered during the same day before evening.
(C) John 19. 14," and it was the preparation of the passover, about the sixth hour.” Does this “ preparation” refer, as usual, to the Jewish sabbath, which actually occurred the next day? or does it here refer to the festival of the passover as such, and as distinct from the sabbath ? It is only on the latter supposition that the passage can be made, in any way, to conflict with the testimony of the other evangelists.
This “ preparation” is defined by Mark (15.42) to be “ the day before the sabbath,” i. e. the fore-sabbath, the day or hours immediately preceding the weekly sabbath, and devoted to preparation for that sacred day. No trace of any such observance is found in the Old Testament; though the strictness of the Mosaic law respecting the sabbath, which forbade the kindling of fire and of course the preparation of food on that day (Ex. 35. 2, 3; comp. 16. 22—27), would very naturally lead to the subsequent introduction of such a custom ; as we find it in the times of the New Testament. In the still later Hebrew of the Talmudists, it bore the specific appellation of eve, as being the eve of the sabbath; Buxtorf, Lex. coll. 1659. The Greek word“ preparation” is also every where translated by the like Syriac form for eve, in the Syriac version of the New Testament.
Primarily and strictly this “ preparation or “eve” would seem to have commenced not earlier than the ninth hour (or three o'clock P. M.) of the preceding day; as is implied perhaps in the decree of Augustus in favour of the Jews; where it is directed that they shall not be held to give pledges on the sabbath, nor during the preparation before the same, after the ninth hour. See Jos. Ant. 16. 6. 2. But in process of time, the same Hebrew word for "6
preparation,” came in popular usage to be the distinctive name for the whole day before the Jewish sabbath, i. e. for the sixth day of the
INTRODUCTORY NOTE. Friday. Buxtorf, Lex. coll. 1659. Scaliger, Emend. Temp. vi. p. 569. The same was the case in Syriac; and we know, too, that the corresponding word in Arabic for eve, was likewise an ancient name for Friday. See Golius, Arabic Lexicon, p. 1551. Freytag, iii. p. 130. It appears, then, that among the Jews, Syrians, and Arabs, the common word for eve, to which corresponded the Greek word "preparation,” meaning the preparation of the weekly sabbath, became at an early date à current appellation for the sixth day of the week. That is, Friday was known as the preparation or fore-sabbath, just as in German the usual name for Saturday is now Sonnabend, i. e.“ eve of Sunday.'
In the later Talmudists, a passover-eve is likewise spoken of, Buxtorf, Lex. coll. 1765. But what this could well have been, so long as the passover (paschal supper) continued to be regularly celebrated at Jerusalem, it is difficult to perceive. The eve' before the passover festival could have included, at most, only the evening and the few hours before sunset at the close of the fourteenth of Nisan; as in the primary usage in respect to the fore-sabbath, as we have just seen. But according to all usage of language, both in the Old and New Testament, those hours and that evening were part and parcel of the passover festival itself, and not its preparation; unless indeed the paschal meal and its accompaniments be called the preparation of the subsequent festival of seven days; which again is contrary to all usage. It would seem most probable, therefore, that this mode of expression did not arise until after the destruction of the temple and the consequent cessation of the regular and legal passover-meal, when of course the seven days of unleavened bread became the main festival.
But even admitting that a passover-eve did exist in the time of our Lord, still the expression could in no legitimate way be so far extended as to include more than a few hours before sunset. It could not have commenced apparently before the ninth hour, when they began to kill the paschal lamb; see p. 145 above. On the other hand, the Hebrew term for eve, for which the Greek “preparation” stands in the New Testament, was employed, as we have seen, as a specific name in popular usage for the whole sixth day of the week or Friday, not only by the Jews, but also by the Syrians and Arabs. Hence, when John here says, and it was the preparation of the passover, about the sixth hour, there is a twofold difficulty in referring his language to a preparation or eve of the regular passover; first, because apparently no such eve or preparation did or could well then exist; and, secondly, because, it being then the sixth hour or mid-day, the eve or time of preparation (supposing it to exist) had not yet come, and the language was therefore inapplicable. But if John be understood as speaking of the weekly preparation or fore-sabbath, which was a common name for the whole of Friday, then the mention of the sixth hour was natural and appropriate.
We come then to the conclusion, that if John, like Mark in ch. 15. 42, had here defined the phrase in question, he would probably have written on this wise : “ and it was the preparation of the passover," that is, the fore-sabbath of the passover, implying that it was the paschal Friday, the day of preparation or fore-sabbath which occurred during the paschal festival. In a similar manner Ignatius writes, “sabbath of the passover," Ep. ad Phil. c. 13; and Socrates also, “sabbath of the festival,” Hist. Ecc. V. 22. And further, in the only other two instancos where John uses the word “preparation” he applies to this very same day of our Lord's crucifixion, and in this very same sense of the weekly preparation preceding the weekly sabbath, John 19. 31, 42.
(D) John 19. 31, “ for that sabbath day was an high day." Here, as is alleged, it is the coincidence of the first festival day with the sabbath that made the latter a “high or more properly a “great” day. This would certainly be the effect of such a coincidence; but the sabbath of the passover would also be still a “great” day, even when it fell upon the second day of the festival. The last day of the festival of tabernacles is called “ that great day,” though in itself not more sacred than the first day, John 7. 37; comp. Lev. 23. 33–36. So the calling of assemblies, Isa. 1. 13, is rendered « a great day' by the Seventy, implying that in their estimation any day of solemn convocation was a great day.
The sabbath, then, upon which the sixteenth of Nisan or second day of the festival fell, might be called "great” or “high” for various reasons. First, as the sabbath of the great national festival, when all Israel was gathered before the Lord. Secondly, as the day when the first-fruits were presented with solemn rites in the temple; a ceremony paramount in its obligations even to the sabbath ; see above, p. 146. Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. in Joh. 19. 31. Reland. Antiqq. Sac. 4. 2. 4. p. 227. Thirdly, because on that day they began to reckon the fifty days until the festival of Pentecost, Lev. 23. 15, sq.
In all these circumstances there is certainly enough to warrant the epithet “great” as
applied to the sabbath on which the sixteenth of Nisan might fall, as compared with other sabbaths.—There exists, therefore, no necessity, and indeed no reason, for supposing, that John by this language meant to describe the sabbath in question as coincident with the first paschal day or fifteenth of Nisan.
The preceding four passages are those mainly urged against the consistency of John with the other evangelists. One or two other considerations are also sometimes brought forward.
(E) John 13. 27—30. Here the words, “ Buy that we have need of against the feast [festival]” having been spoken apparently near the close of the meal, imply, as some suppose, that the passover meal was yet to come. But this, again, is to mistake the festival for the paschal supper, a signification which is quite foreign to the word; see p. 148 above. The disciples thought Judas was to buy the things necessary for the
festival on the fifteenth and following days. If now our Lord's words were spoken on the evening preceding and introducing the fifteenth of Nisan, they were appropriate ; for some haste was necessary, since it was already quite late to make purchases for the next day. But if they were uttered on the evening preceding and introducing the fourteenth of Nisan, they were not thus appropriate; for then a whole day was yet to intervene before the festival. This passage therefore confirms, rather than contradicts, the testimony of the other evangelists.
(F) There remains the objection, sometimes brought forward, that a public judicial act, like that by which Jesus was condemned and executed, was unlawful upon the sabbath and on all great festival days; see Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. on Matt. 27. 1. This consideration has, at first view, some weight, and has been often and strenuously urged; yet it is counterbalanced by several circumstances which very greatly weaken its force.
The execution itself took place under Roman authority; and therefore does not here come into account. And as to the proceedings of the Sanhedrim, even admitting that the prohibitory precepts already existed, at this early time, (which is very doubtful,) yet there are in the Talmud other precepts, of equal antiquity and authority, which actually direct and regulate the meeting and action of that body on the sabbath and on festival days. Wieseler's Chron. Synopsis der Evangelien, p. 361, foll. But besides all this, the chief priests and Pharisees and scribes, who composed the Sanhedrim, are every where denounced by our Lord as hypocrites, “who say, and do not; who bind heavy burdens upon others, but themselves touch them not with one of their fingers,' Matt. 23. 1, sq. Such men, in their rage against Jesus, would hardly have been restrained even by their own precepts. They professed likewise, and perhaps some of them believed, that they were doing God service; and regarded the condemnation of Jesus as a work of religious duty, paramount to the obligations of any festival. Nor are other examples of such a procedure by any means wanting. We learn from John 10. 22, 31, that on the festival of dedication, as Jesus was teaching in the temple, "the Jews took up stones to stone him.” On the day after the crucifixion, which, as all agree, was a sabbath and a “great day,” the Sanhedrim applied to Pilate for a watch; and themselves caused the sepulchre to be sealed, and the watch to be set, Matt. 27. 62, sq. А stronger instance still is recorded in John 7. 32, 37, 44, 45; where it appears, that on the last great day of the festival of tabernacles, the Sanhedrim having sent out officers to seize Jesus, some of them would have taken him, but no man laid hands on him ;" so that the officers returned without him to the Sanhedrim, and were in consequence censured by that body. The circumstances show conclusively, that on this last great day of that festival, the Sanhedrim were in session, and waiting for Jesus to be brought before them as a prisoner. Nor was it merely a casual or packed meeting, but one regularly convened ; for Nicodemus was with them, ver. 50. And finally, according to Matt. 26. 3–5, the Sanhedrim, when afterwards consulting to take Jesus and put him to death, decided not to do it on the festival. Why? because it would be unlawful ? Not at all; but simply " lest there should be an uproar among the people.” But when, through the treachery of Judas, this danger was avoided, the occasion was too opportune not to be gladly seized upon even on a great festival day. All these considerations seem to sweep away the whole force of this objection.
Such then is a general review of the passages and arguments, on the strength of which the alleged discrepancy between John and the other evangelists in respect to this passover has usually been maintained. Nothing has here been assumed, and nothing brought forward, except as founded on just inference and safe analogy. After repeated and calm consideration, there rests upon the mind a clear conviction, that there is nothing in the
language of John, or in the attendant circumstances, which upon fair interpretation requires or permits us to believe, that the beloved disciple either intended to correct, or has in fact corrected or contradicted, the explicit and unguestionable testimony of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
For a fuller discussion of the subject, see Robinson's Greek Harmony, p. 211–224.
For a review of other proposed methods of conciliation, and for the literature of the subject, see Bibliotheca Sacra, for Aug. 1845, pp. 405–436.
$ 132. PREPARATION FOR THE PASSOVER.- Bethany. Jerusalem.
Fifth Day of the Week.
MATT. XXVI. 17-19.
LUKE XXII. 7-13. 17 NOW the first day of 12 And the first day 7 Then came the day
the feast of unleaven- of unleavened bread, of unleavened bread, ed bread the disciples when they killed the when the
passover came to Jesus, saying passover, his disciples 8 must be killed. And unto him, Where wilt said unto him, Where he sent Peter and thou that we prepare
wilt thou that we go John, saying, Go and for thee to eat the and prepare that thou
prepare us the passpassover ?
mayest eat the pass- over, that we may eat. over?
9 And they said unto
him, Where wilt thou 18
And he said, 13 And he sendeth 10 that we prepare? And Go into the city to forth two of his disci- he said unto them, Be
ples, and saith unto hold, when ye are enthem, Go ye into the tered into the city, city, and there shall there shall a man meet meet you a man bear- you, bearing a pitcher
ing a pitcher of water: of water; follow him 14 follow him. And into the house where
wheresoever he shall 11 he entereth in. And such a man, and say
go in, say ye to the ye shall say unto the unto him, The Master goodınan of the house, goodman of the house, saith, My time is at The Master saith, The Master saith unto hand; I will keep the Where is the guest- thee, Where is the passover at thy house chamber, where I shall
guestchamber, where with my disciples. eat the passover with
I shall eat the passo 15 my disciples? And he ver with my disciples?
will show you a large 12 And he shall show you upper room furnished
a large upper room
1 “ The first day of unleavened bread" is here from Josephus; who, having in one place exthe fourteenth of Nisan ; on which day, at or be- pressly fixed the commencement of the festival of fore noon, the Jews were accustomed to cease unleavened bread on the fifteenth of Nisan, Antiq. from labour and put away all leaven out of their 3. 10. 5, speaks nevertheless, in another passage, houses ; Ex. 12. 15–17. Lightfoot, Opp. I. p. of the fourteenth as the day of that festival; B. 728, sq. Hor. Heb. in Marc. 14. 12. On that day J. 5. 3. 1. Comp. Ant. 11. 4. 8.
In this way, towards sunset the paschal lamb was killed ; and further, the same historian could say, that the was eaten the same evening, after the fifteenth of festival was celebrated for eight days, Jos. Ant. Nisan had begun; at which time, strictly, the 2. 15. 1. festival of unleavened bread commenced, which On this fifth day of the week, as the circumcontinued seven days. In popular usage, how- stances show, our Lord, after sending Peter and ever, the fourteenth day, being thus a day of pre- John to the city to prepare the passover, himself paration, was spoken of as belonging to the festi- followed them thither with the other disciples, val and therefore is here called the “first ” day. probably towards evening. That such a usage was common, appears also
LUKE XXII. and prepared : there furnished: there make
make ready for us. 13 ready. And they went, 19
And the dis- 16 And his disciples went and found as he had ciples did as Jesus had forth, and came into said unto them: and appointed them; and the city, and found as they made ready the they made ready the he had said unto them: passover. passover.
and they made ready
the passover. $ 133. THE PASSOVER MEAL. CONTENTION AMONG THE TWELVE.-Jerusalem.
Evening introducing the Sixth Day of the Week.
MATT. XXVI. 20.
MARK XIV. 17.
LUKE XXII. 14-18, 24–30. 20 Now when the even? 17 And in the evening? 14 And when the hour 2
was come, he sat down he cometh with the was come, he sat down, with the twelve. twelve.
and the twelve apos15 tles with him. And
he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer : 16 for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in 17 the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, 18 Take this, and divide it among yourselves : for I say unto you, I will not
drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.—[See
§ 137.) 24 And there was also a strife 4 among them, which of them should be 25 accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles
exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them 26 are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest
among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth 27. serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? 28 is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. Ye 29 are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint 30 unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me ;that ye may
eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
§ 134. JESUS WASHES? THE FEET OF HIS DISCIPLES. -Jerusalem.
Evening introducing the Sixth Day of the Week.
JOHN XIII. 1-20. 1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was
come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved 1 The order of the transactions during the pas- 3 On the cup mentioned here, see the preceding chal supper appears to have been the following: Introductory Note, p. 147. The taking of their places at table; the conten- 4 The contention among the disciples had aption; the first cup of wine; the washing of the parently occurred quite recently, perhaps even in disciples' feet and reproof ($ 133, 134); the point- the guest-chamber while taking their places at ing out of the traitor ($ 135); the foretelling of the table. That they were prone to yield to such Peter's denial ($ 136); institution of the Lord's a spirit, is evident from the instances recorded in supper ($ 137), &c. Luke's order differs from that $ 79, and also $ 108. Our Lord on this solemn of Matthew and Mark, in placing by anticipation occasion reproves them; especially by the touchthe institution of the eucharist before the point- ing act of washing their feet; see § 134.-The ing out of the traitor, &c. He was apparently led verb was (éyéveto), Luke 22. 24, is to be taken as to this by the mention of the first cup of wine, the pluperfect; see Note on § 145. ver. 17, 18.
Afterwards he returns and narrates 5 Comp. Matt. 20. 25—28. the previous circumstances.
6 Phil. 2. 9–11. 2 About six o'clock : from three to five the pas- 7 The washing of the disciples' feet by their chal lamb was killed.
Lord and Master was an impressive lesson, that