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Harmonization of the Passion Week Gospel Accounts

The following analysis presents a chronology that harmonizes the gospel accounts during Passion Week (the week Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem through to the Last Supper and His trial, crucifixion, death and resurrection) and in so doing demonstrates:

This harmonization and reconciliation with calendar computations of Jesus Christ's crucifixion and death is only possible in A.D. 30, which year reconciles with Tiberius' 18th year, fulfills the "cutting off" of Messiah in Daniel 9:26, and ends Jesus' 3 and 1/2 year ministry which began with His baptism in A.D. 26 fulfilling Daniel's prophecy of 69 Weeks.

The background, chronology and refutations are organized into the following sections:

Jewish day and timekeeping.
Jewish Calendar and Feasts.
Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Chronology and timeline of Passion Week harmonized for A.D. 30 or Hebrew year 3790 A.M.
Key Passion Week date criteria.
"the third day"
Two Sabbaths?
Two Passovers?

Jewish day and timekeeping.

The Jews reckoned their 24-hour day as beginning at evening and ending the following evening when the next day was reckoned to begin. This reckoning has its roots in the creation account of Genesis 1 wherein evening precedes morning in the description of every day: "And there was evening and there was morning, one day", ... a second day, ... a third day", etc.

Exodus 12:6 instructs that the Passover lamb be killed "בין הערבים" transliterated right-to-left as "arbayim [evenings] hā‛ [the] bêyn [between]", wherein "arbayim" is the plural (or dual) of 'ereb' which can mean "evening, dusk, or night". The phrase is often translated as "between the two evenings", "between the evenings", "in the evening", "at twilight", or "at dusk". The specific time of day to which "bên hā‛arbayim" refers is somewhat ambiguous but is generally accepted as around sunset into darkness:

In the evening - beyn haarbayim, “between the two evenings.” The Jews divided the day into morning and evening: till the sun passed the meridian all was morning or fore-noon; after that, all was afternoon or evening. Their first evening began just after twelve o’clock, and continued till sunset; their second evening began at sunset and continued till night, i.e., during the whole time of twilight; between twelve o’clock, therefore, and the termination of twilight, the passover was to be offered.
“The day among the Jews had twelve hours, Joh_11:9. Their first hour was about six o’clock in the morning with us. Their sixth hour was our noon. Their ninth hour answered to our three o’clock in the afternoon. By this we may understand that the time in which Christ was crucified began at the third hour, that is, at nine o’clock in the morning, the ordinary time for the daily morning sacrifice, and ended at the ninth hour, that is, three o’clock in the afternoon, the time of the evening sacrifice, Mar_15:25, Mar_15:33, Mar_15:34, Mar_15:37. Wherefore their ninth hour was their hour of prayer, when they used to go into the temple at the daily evening sacrifice, Act_3:1; and this was the ordinary time for the passover. It is worthy of remark that God sets no particular hour for the killing of the passover: any time between the two evenings, i.e., between twelve o’clock in the day and the termination of twilight, was lawful. The daily sacrifice (see Exo_29:38, Exo_29:39) was killed at half past the eighth hour, that is, half an hour Before three in the afternoon; and it was offered up at half past the ninth hour, that is, half an hour After three. In the evening of the passover it was killed at half past the seventh hour, and offered at half past the eighth, that is, half an hour Before three: and if the evening of the passover fell on the evening of the Sabbath, it was killed at half past the Sixth hour, and offered at half past the Seventh, that is, half an hour Before two in the afternoon. The reason of this was, they were first obliged to kill the daily sacrifice, and then to kill and roast the paschal lamb, and also to rest the evening before the passover. Agreeably to this Maimonides says ‘the killing of the passover is after mid-day, and if they kill it before it is not lawful; and they do not kill it till after the daily evening sacrifice, and burning of incense: and after they have trimmed the lamps they begin to kill the paschal lambs until the end of the day.’ By this time of the day God foreshowed the sufferings of Christ in the evening of times or in the last days, Heb_1:2; 1Pe_1:19, 1Pe_1:20 : and about the same time of the day, when the paschal lamb ordinarily died, He died also, viz., at the ninth hour; Mat_27:46-50.” See Ainsworth.

Adam Clarke, Exodus 12, verse 6,
Commentary on the Bible (1831)

Keil & Delitzsch suggest “between the two evenings” would be from 6 o'clock to 7:20:

... was to slay it at the same time, viz., “between the two evenings” (Num_9:3, Num_9:5, Num_9:11), or “in the evening at sunset” (Deu_16:6). Different opinions have prevailed among the Jews from a very early date as to the precise time intended. Aben Ezra agrees with the Caraites and Samaritans in taking the first evening to be the time when the sun sinks below the horizon, and the second the time of total darkness; in which case, “between the two evenings” would be from 6 o'clock to 7:20. Kimchi and Rashi, on the other hand, regard the moment of sunset as the boundary between the two evenings, and Hitzig has lately adopted their opinion. According to the rabbinical idea, the time when the sun began to descend, viz., from 3 to 5 o'clock, was the first evening, and sunset the second; so that “between the two evenings” was from 3 to 6 o'clock. Modern expositors have very properly decided in favour of the view held by Aben Ezra and the custom adopted by the Caraites and Samaritans, from which the explanation given by Kimchi and Rashi does not materially differ.

Karl Fredreich Keil, Franz Delitzsch, Exodus 12, verse 6,
Commentary on the Old Testament (1866, 1887)

Mat 27:45, Mar 15:33, and Luk 23:44 record a darkness from the 6th to 9th hours, afterwhich Jesus "breathed his last", and Joh 19:31 records that the Jews asked for Jesus' body to be removed from the cross while it was still preparation day and before the high Sabbath began. Organizing these meanings of the different periods of the Hebrew day, and comparing them to Jesus' day of crucifixion, shows:

 
a single day of the week 
 
2nd evening
morning
1st evening
Jesus was =>
arrested & tried
scourged
crucified
entombed
Temple=>
morning
daily
sacrifice
 
evening
daily
sacrifice
Sacred 1st hr 3rd hr 6th hr 9th hr 1st hr 3rd hr 6th hr 9th hr
Civil 6 PM 9 PM 12 MN 3 AM 6 AM 9 AM 12 M 3 PM

AM - Latin ante meridiem, meaning literally "before midday", i.e. morning or before noon
M   - Latin meridies, meaning literally "midday", i.e. noon
PM - Latin post meridiem, meaning literally "after midday", i.e. afternoon or evening
MN - Latin media nox, meaning literally "midnight"

Jewish Calendar and Feasts

The Hebrew sacred calendar (running Nisan through Adar) has the following months and feasts:

Jewish Month Length (days) Jewish Feast Gregorian Month
  1 Nisan or Abib
  (1st month of sacred calendar)
30 Passover preparation (10th-14th), Passover & seder (14th evening into 15th)
Feast of Unleavened Bread (15th-21st)
wave the sheaf of first fruits (16th)
 
March-April
  2 Iyar 29 33rd Day of Omer(18th)
 
April-May
  3 Sivan 30 Weeks or Shavuoth, Pentecost
(Priests/Sadducean/Samaritan date varies - 50 days from wavesheaf Sunday, but always on Sunday;
 Pharisaic/Hillel-II date fixed on 6th - 50 days from Unleavened Bread sabbath, but weekday varies)
May-June
  4 Tammuz 29   June-July
  5 Av 30 Ninth of Av July-August
  6 Elul 29   August-September
  7 Tishri
  (1st month of civil calendar)
30 Trumpets or Rosh HaShanah (head of the year) (1st of Tishri if not postponed)
Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur (10th)
Tabernacles or Succoth (15th-22nd)
September-October
  8 Heshvan 29
30 (complete year)
  October-November
  9 Kislev 30
29 (deficient year)
Chanukah (15th), for 8 days November-December
10 Tevet 29   December-January
11 Shevat 30 T’u B’Shvat (15th) January-February
12 Adar 29
30 (embolismic year)
Purim (14th, and moved to Adar II in embolismic years)
February-March
13 weAdar or Adar II **
    (intercalary month added in
    year: 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17 and 19)
29 (embolismic year) Purim (14th, in an embolismic year) **

** In an embolismic year, a second Adar month ("Adar II" or "weAdar") is added with a length of 29 days, the length of regular Adar is increased 1-day to 30, and the celebration of Purim is moved to Adar II. See Hebrew Intercalary Year Types for an explanation of complete, deficient, and embolismic years.

Regardless of the type of year, the period from Nisan 1 to Tishri 1 is always the same 177 days which is 25 full weeks plus 2 days (177 = 25 x 7 + 2). This implies the period from Nisan 15 (Unleavened Bread 1st day or "Passover sabaath") to Tishri 1 is also always the same 163 days (163 = 177 - 14) or 23 full weeks plus 2 days. This fixed period covering the sacred festivals (Nisan 1 to Tishri 22) has important implications for 'counting the Omer' from Unleavened Bread 2nd day to the Feast of Weeks (see Two Sabbaths?).

The Pharisees had accused Jesus Christ of being a Samaritan (Joh 8:48) because He denied their teachings and traditions. This denial included the Pharisaic traditions of when Holy Days were determined. Jesus kept the Temple festivals which were based on the Sadducean and Samaritan system determined by the new moon (molod or conjunction), which was the original Temple system. The Pharisees (and their Holy Day determinations) were suppressed during the Temple period by Herod and earlier by Hyrcanus during the time of the Maccabees except for nine years under Alexandra when the Pharisees had influence. So, the Sadducees and their system (same as the Samaritan's) essentially had continual control of the Temple until its seizure in the final period and destruction in A.D. 70.

Feast of Weeks (or Pentecost) had been kept on a Sunday during the Temple period by both the Temple priesthood and the Samaritans. F.F. Bruce notes:

In general, the Jewish calendar in NT times (at least before ad 70) followed the Sadducean reckoning, since it was by that reckoning that the Temple services were regulated. Thus the day of Pentecost was reckoned as the fiftieth day after the presentation of the first harvested sheaf of barley, i.e. the fiftieth day (inclusive) from the first Sunday after Passover (cf. Lv. 23:15f.); hence it always fell on a Sunday, as it does in the Christian calendar. The Pharisaic reckoning, which became standard after ad 70, interpreted ‘sabbath’ in Lv. 23:15 as the festival day of Unleavened Bread and not the weekly sabbath; in that case Pentecost always fell on the same day of the month [Sivan 6] (an important consideration for those in whose eyes it marked the anniversary of the law-giving) but not on the same day of the week. [p. 225]

F.F. Bruce, "Calendar"
The Illustrated Bible Dictionary Vol. 1, ed. Douglas, Hillyer, InterVarsity Press (1980)

Under the rules of the Rabbinic Calculated Calendar (also known as the Hillel II Calendar, see History and Rules of the Jewish Calendar), Passover regulates all the other festival times. Passover night, Nisan 15, begins at twilight at the end of the 14th day of the first month (Leviticus 23:5) extending into the "Passover Sabbath" (actually the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a high sabbath) and always occurs with a full moon rising in the east on the 15th day after the new moon. It cannot occur before the vernal equinox and can only fall on a Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday, demonstrated as follows:

Because the sacred calendar is fixed from Nisan to Tishri, Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is always 23 full weeks and 2 days after Nisan 15 (Unleavened Bread 1st day beginning with Passover night), and therefore Nisan 15 is always 2 weekdays before the weekday for Tishri 1, i.e.;

since Tishri 1 never falls on Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday;
then Nisan 15 never falls on Wednesday-2 (i.e. Monday), Friday-2 (i.e. Wednesday), or Sunday-2 (i.e. Friday);
since Nisan 15 never falls on Monday, Wednesday or Friday;
thus Nisan 15 can only fall on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday;

Here is a table confirming the weekday occurrences (using the Fourmilab calendar converter) for Nisan 15th A.M. 3782-3800 (a complete 19-year cycle) to Gregorian:

 A.M.
 seq
 Day
 Gregorian
 type
 3782  1  Sun  Apr 3, 22 A.D.  CC
 3783  2  Thu  Mar 23, 23 A.D.  CR
 3784  3  Thu  Apr 11, 24 A.D.  EC
 3785  4  Tue  Apr 1, 25 A.D.  CC
 3786  5  Sat  Mar 21, 26 A.D.  CR
 3787  6  Thu  Apr 8, 27 A.D.  ED
 3788  7  Tue  Mar 28, 28 A.D.  CC
 3789  8  Sun  Apr 15, 29 A.D.  ED
 3790  9  Thu  Apr 4, 30 A.D.  CR
 3791  10  Tue  Mar 25, 31 A.D.  CC
 3792  11  Tue  Apr 13, 32 A.D.  EC
 3793  12  Sat  Apr 2, 33 A.D.  CR
 3794  13  Tue  Mar 21, 34 A.D.  CD
 3795  14  Tue  Apr 10, 35 A.D.  EC
 3796  15  Sat  Mar 29, 36 A.D.  CR
 3797  16  Thu  Mar 19, 37 A.D.  CC
 3798  17  Tue  Apr 6, 38 A.D.  ED
 3799  18  Sat  Mar 26, 39 A.D.  CR
 3800  19  Sat  Apr 14, 40 A.D.  EC

Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread

Details of the two adjacent feasts:
 

Event
Nisan
Ref
Select Paschal lamb 10th Ex 12:3
Paschal Lamb kept until 14th 11th Ex 12:6
Paschal Lamb kept until 14th 12th Ex 12:6
Paschal Lamb kept until 14th 13th Ex 12:6

Passover Preparation - kill Paschal lamb
Evening, strike lambs blood on door posts
Roast & eat lamb w/unleavened bread, bitter herbs

14th - "twilight"
"between the evenings"
Passover night
Ex 12:6-14, Lev 23:3-5; Num 28:16
Feast of Unleavened Bread (1 of 7 days) 15th - Sabbath
& Holy Convocation
Ex 12:15-20, Lev 23:6-8, Lev 23:11,15
Num 28:17-18, Deu 16:1-8
Feast of Unleavened Bread (2 of 7 days)
wave sheaf of first fruits
16th Ex 12:15-20, Lev 23:6,8
Lev 23:15

Feast of Unleavened Bread (3 of 7 days)

17th Ex 12:15-20, Lev 23:6,8
Feast of Unleavened Bread (4 of 7 days) 18th Ex 12:15-20, Lev 23:6,8
Feast of Unleavened Bread (5 of 7 days) 19th Ex 12:15-20, Lev 23:6,8
Feast of Unleavened Bread (6 of 7 days) 20th Ex 12:15-20, Lev 23:6,8
Feast of Unleavened Bread (7 of 7 days) 21st - Holy Convocation Ex 12:15-20, Lev 23:6,8, Num 28:25
Feast of Unleavened Bread (8th day in Diaspora) 22nd  

Incorrectly, Passover (Lev 23:5) has generally become conflated with the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev 23:6-15) perhaps due in part to misinterpreting Ezekiel:

Eze 45:21 "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.

Eze 45:21, New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

In absence of scripture to the contrary, Ezekiel's terse language might be misconstrued as redefining the seven-day feast of Unleavened Bread to "Passover", but scripture in fact contradicts such a misinterpretation:

Lev 23:5-8 'In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD'S Passover. 6 'Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7 'On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work. 8 'But for seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work.'

Lev 23:5-8, ibid

[note: the distinction between Passover being the twilight of Nisan 14th and then Nisan 15th begins the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days, could not be clearer.]

Ezr 6:19-22 The exiles observed the Passover on the fourteenth of the first month. 20 For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were pure. Then they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the exiles, both for their brothers the priests and for themselves. 21 The sons of Israel who returned from exile and all those who had separated themselves from the impurity of the nations of the land to join them, to seek the LORD God of Israel, ate the Passover. 22 And they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy...

Ezr 6:19-22, ibid

Both in the Levitical law and as practiced by the exiles, Passover, the night of Nisan 14th preceeded but did not redefine the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread. Consequently, a scripturally consistent interpretation of Eze 45:21 is 'Passover is Nisan 14th, [then] seven days of Unleavened Bread'.

Further, the strict definition of Passover, according to Holy Scripture (Old Testament), is not an entire day and is not a "holy assembly" or a Sabbath.

Passover is preceded by four days of preparation and then comes the Passover evening and its accompanying meal (Jewish Seder) and subsequent night. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread commemorate the Israelites' release from slavery in Egypt. As recorded in Exodus 12:6-18, earlier in the day before Passover evening, the Paschal Lamb (unblemished, 1 yr old male) was selected and killed at "twilight" (or between the two evenings - sometime between 3pm - 6pm), the blood spread on the lintel & doorposts, and then the seder (meal) was eaten with "loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste", i.e. they were to be ready to leave in haste. At midnight (Ex 12:29) the LORD's destroyer "passed over" the homes of Israelites marked with the blood of the Paschal Lamb. As recorded in Exodus 12:30-39, that night Pharaoh (whose own 1st born was killed that same night) released the Israelites. As instructed by the LORD, the Israelites (already dressed for travel) took their unleavened dough, possessions and plunder from the Egyptians and left.

Exo 12:2-8 "This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. (3) "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, 'On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers' households, a lamb for each household. (4) 'Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. (5) 'Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. (6) 'You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. (7) 'Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. (8) 'They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

Exo 12:2-8, ibid

The point being, Passover night and the 1st day of the 7-day Feast of Unleavened Bread overlap slightly but are otherwise consecutive:

So, Passover is often incorrectly called Passover Sabbath and often incorrectly said to be on Nisan 15th. However more accurately, according to OT scripture (Ex 12:6-8, Lev 23:3-5; Num 28:16):

Though commonly used, it is not accurate to say "Passover Sabbath" nor to say it is celebrated on Nisan 15th, nor to say Passover is Nisan 15th-22nd. Passover is only the evening of Nisan 14th extending into the night of Nisan 15th. Further, the 7-day Feast of Unleavened Bread is from Nisan 15th-21st of which the 1st and 7th days are also Holy Convocations or Assemblies and days on which no laborius work is to be done, and most importantly Unleavened Bread 1st Day is also a sabbath.

Thus Passover night (evening 6 PM-12 midnight) can begin on civil Monday evening (which begins Tuesday by Jewish reckoning), civil Wednesday evening (which begins Thursday by Jewish reckoning), civil Friday evening (which begins Saturday by Jewish reckoning) or civil Saturday evening (which begins Sunday by Jewish reckoning).

Note very carefully: This distinction between civil days and Jewish days is critical to avoid confusion, and also because the Fourmilab Calendar Converter calculates on a midnight-to-midnight definition of a "day", whereas the biblical accounts must reconcile with a Jewish or Essene reckoning of days of the week (defined as 6pm-to-6pm) as well as dates.

Note in the table below, the civil day of the week "Wednesday" spans the evening of Nisan 14th into the night of Nisan 15th, and Passover night begins after Jewish Wednesday (Nisan 14th) ends, though seemingly still "Wednesday" by civil reckoning.

Conceptually, "beyn haarbayim" ("between the evening's") is a vague range of hours between 3 PM and 9 PM which span the '1st evening' (what non-Jews actually term "afternoon") of the previous Jewish day, overlapping sunset, and blending into the '2nd evening' of the next Jewish day, but "beyn haarbayim" is not a specific, precise time of day:

Alignment of Passover with Feast of Unleavened Bread 1st day 
... Nisan 14th 
Nisan 15th
 Nisan 16th ...
Wednesday (civil)
Thursday (civil)
1st evening
2nd evening
morning
1st evening
2nd evening
 6th hr  9th hr  1st hr  3rd hr  6th hr  9th hr  1st hr  3rd hr  6th hr  9th hr  1st hr  3rd hr
 12 AM  3 PM  6 PM  9 PM  12 MN  3 AM  6 AM  9 AM  12 M  3 PM  6 PM  9 PM
 Passover prep.  Passover night              
 
 1st day Feast of Unleavened Bread - Sabbath & Holy Convocation 
 2nd day Unleavened
=> 
beyn haarbayim
 <= "between the evening's" (Ex 12:6)

AM - Latin ante meridiem, meaning literally "before midday", i.e. morning or before noon
M   - Latin meridies, meaning literally "midday", i.e. noon
PM - Latin post meridiem, meaning literally "after midday", i.e. afternoon or evening
MN - Latin media nox, meaning literally "midnight"

Specifically then in A.D. 30 (Jewish year 3790 A.M.):

Chronology and timeline of Passion Week harmonized for A.D. 30 or Hebrew year 3790 A.M.

The next table shows a consistent day-by-day timeline which harmonizes the gospel accounts of Passion Week and reconciles them with the calendar for A.D. 30 or Jewish year 3790 A.M. (Anno Mundi). Note that the columns "Gregorian" and "Weekday" are what western society would normally use for dates and day of the week, while the two columns in between, "Nisan" and "Hour", portray how Jewish calendar and time keeping shifts their date & day 'earlier' by 6 hours relative to Gregorian and other non-Jewish calendrics.

Note that key anchor dates and passages are highlighted in:
    

Event
Gregorian
Nisan
Hour
Weekday
Matt
Mark
Luke
John
New Moon of Nisan March 21 1st day Thursday        
  March 22 2nd day Friday        
  March 23 3rd
weekly Sabbath
day Saturday        
  March 24 4th day Sunday        
  March 25 5th day Monday        
  March 26 6th day Tuesday        
  March 27 7th day Wednesday        
Jesus prophecys pending death (enroute to Jerusalem) March 28 8th day Thursday 20:18-28 10:32-45 18:31-33  
  9th evening        
  March 29 night Friday        
Jesus in Jericho, leaves Jericho for Jerusalem morning 20:-29 10:46 19:1-5 11:55
Jesus arrives Bethany 6 days before Passover [of the Jews]
at the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary who anoints His feet
day       12:1-8
  10th
weekly Sabbath
evening        
  March 30 night Saturday        
  morning        
Jesus rides colt into Jersualem (Palm "Sunday") Passover Lamb selected and presented to people (Ex 12:3) day 21:1-9 11:1-10 19:28-44 12:12-16
Jesus enters Jerusalem, looks around Temple, already late so leaves for Bethany   11:11    
  11th evening        
  March 31 night Sunday        
Jesus curses fig tree going from Bethany to Jerusalem morning 21:18-19* 11:12-14    
Jesus casts out money changers day 21:12-13 11:15-18 19:45-46  
Jesus returns to Bethany and spends the night there 12th evening 21:17 11:19    
  April 1 night Monday        
pass yesterdays withered fig tree enroute to Jerusalem again morning 21:18-19* 11:20-21    
Jesus authority questioned in Temple day 21:23-46 11:27-33 20:1-2  
Jesus teaches parables & Olivett discourse, render unto Ceasar day 23-25 12-13 20:21-25, 21  
Jesus in Bethany at Simon the leper's; woman anoints His head
After 2 days is "Passover [of the Jews]"
chief priests plotting to kill Jesus
13th evening 26:1-7 14:1-3 22:1-2  
Judas & priests plot for 30 pieces of silver April 2 night Tuesday 26:14-16 14:10,11 22:3-6  
  morning        
Upper room arranged for Lord's supper [Essene Passover] day 26:17-19** 14:12-16** 22:7-13** 13:1a
Lord's supper & Judas betrayal [Essene Passover] 14th
Preparation Day
evening 26:20-29 14:17-25 22:14-22 13:2-17:26
Jesus prays & arrested in Gethsemane April 3 night Wednesday 26:30-56 14:26-49 22:39-53 18:1-12
Pharisee's interrogate Jesus all night 26:57-68 14:53-65 22:54-65 18:13-24
Rooster crows dawn 26:74 14:72 22:60 18:27
Jesus before Sanhedrin     22:66-71  
Pilate interrogates Jesus morning 27:1-2 15:1-5 23:1-3 18:28-38
Jesus taken to Herod, back to Pilate     23:8-12  
Pilate has Jesus scourged, frees Barabbas, orders Jesus crucifixion morning, 6th hr 27:11-26 15:6-15 23:18-25 19:10-16
Passover Preparation - Jesus crucified, darkness 6th-9th hour
(Ex 12:6, 'between evening', Lev 23:4-5)
14th
crucifixion
death ~ 9th hr
& entombed
9AM -3PM
3rd - 9th hr
27:45 15:33 23:44-45  

Jesus taken down from cross and entombed,
women returned [home] and prepared spices

3-9 PM 27:57-61 15:42-47 23:50-56a 19:31-42
"Passover of the Jews" night per Hillel II rules
(Pharisee's avoid crucifixion on this day)
15th
Passover


Unleavened Bread sabbath
Holy Convocation
& high day
evening 1       19:31b
  April 4 night 1 Thursday
(1st day)
       
Unleavened Bread (1st) sabbath & high day
day after preparation, Pharisees get Pilate to post guard at the tomb
morning 1 27:62-66      
day 1     23:56b 19:31a
  16th evening 2        
  April 5 night 2 Friday
(2nd day)
       
Unleavened Bread (2nd) & wave sheaf of first fruits
sabbath over, women bought more spices
morning 2        
day 2   16:1    
  17th
weekly Sabbath
evening 3        
  April 6 night 3 Saturday
(3rd day)
       
Unleavened Bread (3rd)
weekly Sabbath, rest from all work
morning 3        
day 3        
Jesus resurrected "on the third day" sometime during the evening and before night 18th evening        
after weekly Sabbath, early dawn first day of the week, women bring more spices, but find stone rolled away and tomb empty April 7 night into dawn Sunday 28:1-2 16:2-4 24:1-2 20:1
Unleavened Bread (4th)
Jesus appears on Emmaus road, "third day since these things"
morning   16:12 24:21***  
day
  19th evening        
Unleavened Bread (5th) April 8   Monday        
Unleavened Bread (6th) April 9 20th   Tuesday        
Unleavened Bread (7th) no laborious work April 10 21st
Holy Convocation
  Wednesday        
  April 11 22nd   Thursday        

* Upon Jesus arrival in Bethany, there were daily trips into Jersalem and to the Temple. As Mark's account (Mark 11:1-21) demonstrates, on the first two days (Saturday & Sunday in the table above) the fig tree is passed and cursed on Sunday morning (the 2nd trip in), Jesus casts the money changers out of the Temple that same day, and on the following morning (Monday, returning again to the Temple on the 3rd trip in) the now withered fig tree is passed again and commented upon.

However, Matthew's account is quite condensed with Matt 21:17-19 providing the only date delineation during what Mark describes as transpiring over three separate days. Were it not for the miraculous cursing and withering of the fig tree, Matthew might not have even recorded this delineation between days. Matthew seemingly describes Jesus casting out the money changers on the first day whereas Mark describes it on the 2nd day. Matthew seemingly describes the fig tree as "immediately withered" upon being cursed whereas Mark's account describes the disciples noticing the now withered (past tense) fig tree one day after being cursed on the morning of the 3rd trip in to Jerusalem.

Likely, Matthew having already described Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, omits from his narrative a change of day and goes on to describe casting out the money changers and then describes the withering of the fig tree (but not on two separate mornings as did Mark) by again condensing the narrative down to a "cursing" and the consequential "withered" result of the following (actually 3rd) morning.

** Matthew, Mark and Luke refer to the Passover lamb being sacrificed on the 1st day of Unleavened Bread. This is correct. Killing of the paschal lamb, was beyn haarbayim or "between the evening's" which was "between" the afternoon of Nisan 14th (preparation day) and the evening of Nisan 15th, the 1st day of Unleavened Bread. By Essene calendrics Nisan 14th and 15th fell one day earlier than by Jewish calendrics, and consequently the Essenes observed both Passover and commensurately the Feast of Unleavened Bread one day earlier than did the Jews. This one-day difference happened only in A.D. 30 whereas in other years the difference was several days. Consequently, only in A.D. 30, that same evening by Essene calendrics began Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but the Jews would observe "Passover of the Jews" (as noted by John in 2:13 and 11:55) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread one day later at which Jesus Himself would be the Paschal Lamb.

*** The crucifixion, like the killing of the paschal lamb, was beyn haarbayim or "between the evening's" and consequently by Jewish time of day reckoning, the crucifixion was between the '1st evening' of Nisan 14th (Passover preparation) and the '2nd evening' of Nisan 15th (Passover and the 1st day of Unleavened Bread). Assuming "these things" meant the crucifixion and deeming that it fell on the '1st evening' of Nisan 14th, then Sunday being the "third day since these things" would seem to imply the crucifixion was on Thursday (rather than Wednesday as the chronology above demonstrates). However, by granting that the men on the Emmaus road (Luk 24:21) used a strictly Jewish reckoning of days (evening to evening, not midnight to midnight) and also had Passover in view and deemed "these things" instead to have been on the '2nd evening' of Nisan 15th, then Nisan 18th is the "third day since [Nisan 15th] these things".

Jesus was crucified on Wednesday:

Key Passion Week date criteria:

Jewish Passover preparation, Nisan 14th fell on Wednesday in both A.D. 30 and A.D. 27, but only in A.D. 30 did the Essene Passover (which Jesus observed in the upper room with His disciples) precede the Jewish Passover by 1 day (see Essene Passover Dates), as required to harmonize all four gospel accounts. In all other years the Essene Passover fell in a different week or fell after the Jewish Passover, preventing harmonization of the gospel accounts of Passion Week.

A.D. 30 is the only year in which Jesus could both observe Passover (as an Essene) in the upper room and then Himself be the sacrificial Passover Lamb of God the following day on Jewish Passover.

Consolidated reconciliation with astronomical and historical records:

  1. Harmonization of the gospel accounts of Passion Week is only possible in A.D. 30.
  2. Eusebius recorded that in Tiberius' 18th year Jesus Christ came into His Passion (see Jesus Historicity - Eusebius), and Tiberius 18th year is shown to reconcile with A.D. 30 (see Years of Tiberius - 18th) consistent with Luke's account of Jesus baptism approximately 3.5 years earlier, at about age 30, in Tiberius' 15th year (see Years of Tiberius - 15th)

No other year satisfies all the criteria to harmonize the gospel Passion Week accounts and the 18th year of Tiberius as reported by Eusebius, and hence A.D. 30 stands alone as the only "fit" for the year of crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.

"the third day"

It is important to reconcile a seeming inconsistency in use of the term "third day". Jesus said He would be raised up "on the third day" (which the chronology above demonstrates as Nisan 18th, Saturday evening). Yet, the two men on the Emmaus road said "it was the third day since these things", which the chronology above and explanation for Luk 24:21 together demonstrate was on Sunday. How can "the third day" be both Saturday and Sunday?

Firstly, "third day" is a relative concept, it means "third" from some reference point, and "day" can be either Jewish or civil. Did Jesus and the men on the Emmaus road have the exact same reference point in mind? No. Jesus referred to being "raised up on the third day" while the men on the Emmaus road referred to "the third day since these things": "raised up on" does not have the same reference point as "since these things". Below, the distinctions are further elaborated.

Secondly, it must be recognized that Jesus said He would be "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Mat 12:40) as well as that He would be "raised up on the third day" (Mat 16:21, 17:23, 20:19, 27:64; Luk 9:22, 18:33, 24:7, 24:46; also Act 10:40 and 1Co 15:4). If three days and nights is strictly defined as 3 24-hour days exactly and not one second longer or shorter, then Jesus Himself will have raised an inconsistency of definition or reckoning since He wasn't both "in the heart of the earth" and "raised up" simultaneously. Presumably, being "raised up" followed having been "in the earth", even if only a moment later, and that moment of resurrection need not deduct any appreciable time from having been "in the earth", certainly not enough time to invalidate Jesus' reckoning in units of "days" (whether the interval meant is 24-hours or just daytime). The resurrection is by definition a miraculous, supernatural event and there is no basis to assume it was not a quick or even instantaneous event. Whether Jesus was "raised up" in the final instant, final second, final minute or even final hour of day 3, Nisan 17th, Saturday, or subsequently thereafter during Saturday evening, Nisan 18th, He was regardless "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" and raised "on the third day" (Saturday) by civil reckoning relative to His crucifixion on Wednesday.

Also consider that when the women got to the empty tomb, with the stone already rolled away on Sunday at early dawn (Mat 28:2 and Luk 24:2), there is no requirement for Jesus to have been raised just prior to their arrival, i.e. the women arrived several hours after the tomb was emptied earlier by the resurrection. Assuming the resurrection was contemporaneous with the angel rolling away the stone, only the Roman guard know when that happened but they didn't have watches and they aren't talking. Colloquially, it is said on "resurrection Sunday" that Jesus is risen, as the women found out (belatedly, at dawn), but that does not mean Sunday is the day on which resurrection precisely occurs.

Lastly, the two men on the Emmaus road said "it was the third day since these things" (Luk 24:21), but as explained above, they had a different reference point than had Jesus. While Jesus referred to the 3rd day on which he would be "raised up" (and could have meant either the last moments of Nisan 17th or the first moments of Nisan 18th, either of which fell on Saturday), the men on the Emmaus road referred to the "third day since these things" (and seemingly meant since the '2nd evening of Nisan 15th').

"On" does not mean "since", "on the third day" need not equal "the third day since", and accordingly "on the third [civil] day" relative to the day of Jesus' crucifixion does not equal "the third [Jewish] day since" the '2nd evening of Nisan 15th'.

There is no discrepancy between these two closely related but slightly different references.

Two Sabbaths?

The criticism arises that there is no need to harmonize or account for two sabbaths during Passion Week, that the first day of the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (the day following Passover) is not a sabbath, and that the only sabbath referenced is the weekly sabbath (Saturday). This criticism is essential to "Friday crucifixion" chronologies of Passion Week as they can not possibly account for two sabbaths between crucifixion on Friday and resurrection on Sunday.

However, it will be proven below that Unleavened Bread 1st day:

There actually are two sabbaths in every Passover week, and there were two sabbaths in the Passion Week of Jesus Christ, both of which were observed and for which both must be accounted, and such accounting consequently eliminates all "Friday crucifixion" chronologies of Passion Week.

Here is a tabular overview of the Old Testament verses that declare the characteristics of the ancient Hebrew feasts and the weekly sabbath. The characteristics are: the two words specifically and explicitly denoting a sabbath, whether the feast was also a Holy Convocation (or Holy Assembly), whether all work was proscribed or all laborious work was proscribed (e.g. fire building and personal cooking were allowed), and whether it was a perpetual statute. Note that Unleavened Bread day 1 was denoted twice as a sabbath, thrice as a holy convocation, thrice as a rest from laborious work, and a perpetual statute.

Feast day
shabbâth
(H7676)
shabbâthôn
(H7677)
Holy
Convocation
no work
at all
no laborious
work
perpetual
statute
Weekly sabbath Exo 16:23
Exo 20:10
Exo 31:15
Deu 5:14
Exo 16:23

Exo 31:15
 
Lev 23:3
 
Exo 16:22, 29
Exo 31:15;
Exo 35:2, 3
 
Exo 16:22, 29
 
 
 

Exo 20:8
Exo 31:16
 
Passover     Lev 23:4      
Unleavened Bread day 1 Lev 23:11*
Lev 23:15
  Exo 12:16
Lev 23:4, 7
Num 28:18
  Exo 12:16
Lev 23:7
Num 28:18
Exo 13:10
 
 
Unleavened Bread day 2
wave sheaf of first fruits
   
Lev 23:4
    Exo 13:10
Lev 23:14
Unleavened Bread day 7     Exo 12:16
Lev 23:4, 7
Num 28:25
Deu 16:8



Deu 16:8**
Exo 12:16
Lev 23:7
Num 28:25
 
Exo 13:10
 
 
 
Feast of Weeks     Lev 23:21
Num 28:26
  Lev 23:21
Num 28:26
Lev 23:21
 
Trumpets   Lev 23:24
 
Lev 23:4, 24
Num 29:1
  Lev 23:25
Num 29:1
 
Day of Atonement Lev 16:31
Lev 23:32
 
Lev 16:31
Lev 23:32
 

Lev 23:4, 27
Num 29:7
Lev 16:29
Lev 23:31
Num 29:7
  Lev 23:31
Tabernacles day 1   Lev 23:39
 
Lev 23:4, 35
Num 29:12
   
Num 29:12
Lev 23:41
 
Tabernacles day 8   Lev 23:39
 
 
Num 29:35
   
Num 29:35
Lev 23:41
 

  * in the major translations and manuscripts, except for the Septuagint
** literally "do no work", rather than no laborious work, but without the penalty of death

It is argued by proponents of a "Friday crucifixion" that in Leviticus 23 verses 11 & 15, "after the sabbath" refers not to Unleavened Bread day 1 (in context) but to the next weekly sabbath. The entire tenability of the "Friday Crucifixion" pivots on this criticism. But which weekly sabbath? Consider that because Unleavened Bread continues for seven days and always starts on Nisan 15th and not on any particular weekday, a weekly sabbath will fall both during Unleavened Bread and another weekly sabbath will fall after Unleavened Bread.

So, which weekly sabbath is meant? Scripture does not say "next sabbath" or "following sabbath" or "whatever sabbath". Rather scripture says "the sabbath" denoting a particular sabbath and (as demonstrated below) Leviticus 23, Deuteronomy 16:9-10 and Joshua 5:10-11 make clear the particular sabbath is Unleavened Bread 1st day, and the Talmud further records the unvarying "appointed" date of Sivan 6th for the Feast of Weeks when Counting the Omer (fifty days) from the day after that particular sabbath.

Scripture distinguishes between "waving the sheaf of first fruits" (Lev 23:10-11) and the Feast of Weeks which has several names:

Note carefully that the "Day of First Fruits" (Feast of Weeks) is not "waving the sheaf of first fruits" (2nd day of Unleavened Bread). They are different days separated by the fifty-day 'Count of the Omer'. Counting the Omer commenced with "waving the sheaf of first fruits" on Unleavened Bread 2nd day (Nisan 16th) which was the the day after the sabbath (Lev 23:11,15) of Unleavened Bread 1st day (Nisan 15th), and that count ended fifty days later marking the Feast of Weeks or Day of First Fruits (usually Sivan 6th).

Following now are two proofs that Unleavened Bread day 1 is that same sabbath referenced in Lev 23:11,15 after which the 'sheaf of first fruits' was waved and begins the fifty-day count to the Feast of Weeks.

  1. Unleavened Bread day 1 is the sabbath preceding the 'sheaf of first fruits wave offering', as commanded in Deuteronomy and observed by Josuha:
  2. Here is the Levitical declaration of the seven days of Unleavened Bread, beginning Nisan 15, the day after Passover. Note that day 1 is a holy convocation and a rest from laborious work (v7), and that after the sabbath is the 'waving the sheaf of first fruits' (v10 & 11):

    (NASB) Lev 23:6-15 'Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7 'On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work. 8 'But for seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work.'" 9 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 'He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the dayH4283 afterH4283 the sabbathH7676 the priest shall wave it 12 'Now on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb one year old without defect for a burnt offering to the LORD. 13 'Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the LORD for a soothing aroma, with its drink offering, a fourth of a hin of wine. 14 'Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 15 'You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbathH7676, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths.

    Lev 23:6-15, New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

    (KJV) Lev 23:11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrowH4480 H4283 after the sabbathH7676 the priest shall wave it.

    King James Version (1769)

    The Septuagint text clearly states that the 'sheaf of first fruits is waved' after the first day (the day after the sabbath):

    (Brenton) Lev 23:11 and he shall lift up the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you. On the morrow of the first day the priest shall lift it up.

    Charles Lee Brenton, Lev 23:11,
    The English Translation of the Septuagint (1851)

    (Septuagint) Lev 23:11 και2532[CONJ] ανοισει 399[V-FAI-3S] το 3588[T-ASN] δραγμα [N-ASN] εναντι 1725[PREP] κυριου 2962[N-GSM] δεκτον 1184[A-ASN] υμιν 4771[P-DP] τη 3588[T-DSF] [morrow]επαυριον 1887[ADV] [the]της 3588[T-GSF] [first]πρωτης 4413[A-GSFS] [offer up]ανοισει 399[V-FAI-3S] [himself]αυτο 846[D-ASN] ο 3588[T-NSM] [priest]ιερευς 2409[N-NSM]

    The Septuagint states "morrow of the first day" in which the word "first" has precise and obvious meaning relative to first day of a several-day feast (which is the actual context), but "first" has imprecise or nonsensical meaning relative to some weekly sabbath. To which weekly sabbath would "first" refer? The first sabbath during Unleavened Bread? Or the first sabbath after Unleavened Bread? Or the first sabbath of the month? Or year? If "first" refers not to a sabbath but to the first day of the week, Sunday, then it too can fall both during and after Unleavened Bread. To which weekly Sunday would "first" refer?

    Apparently, Joshua knew "after the first day" meant after the first day of Unleavened Bread (or Passover as he referred to all seven days), and he told us:

    (NASB) Jos 5:10-11 While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. 11 On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.

    Jos 5:10-11, New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

    The ceremonial eating of produce of the land, On the day after the Passover (Jos 5:11) as commanded to offer first fruits on the day after the sabbath (Lev 23:11) equates Unleavened Bread day 1 to a sabbath. Keil & Delitzsch make the point below that "Passover" in Jos 5:11 alludes not to the specific night of Nisan 14th into the 15th (the Levitical definition of Passover) but to the broader misnomer that the 7-days of Unleavened Bread came to be known as Passover. Joshua 5:11 specifically equates that 'sabbath the day before' with Unleavened Bread day 1.

    'Waving the sheaf of first fruits' is the day after the sabbath (Lev 23:11,12) and on that same day "new growth" may then be eaten (Lev 23:14). This further bears on Joshua 5:11 wherein they 'ate some of the produce of the land' which was proscribed until 'waving the sheaf' permitted new growth to be eaten (Lev 23:14). Because Jos 5:11 states "produce of the land" and "unleavened cakes" were being eaten, the context is 'waving the sheaf of first fruits' on Unleavened Bread 2nd day when "new growth" could be eaten, and Joshua explicitly declares this was the day after Passover, the day after Unleavened Bread 1st day.

    Because Lev 23:11,12 declares 'waving the sheaf' to be the day after the sabbath, and Joshua 5:11 declares they ate produce of the land the day after Passover, and Passover is Unleavened Bread day 1, that equates Unleavened Bread day 1 to "the sabbath", as Joshua recognized.

    In Joshua, "Passover" is referring not to the night of Passover that began Nisan 14th, but the day on which Passover ended (Nisan 15th) which is also Unleavened Bread 1st day. Consequently, the following day after Passover (ended) is Unleavened Bread 2nd day and 'waving the sheaf of first fruits'. It is precisely this misnomer of Passover being thought of as Nisan 15th or all seven days of Unleavened Bread that was clarified above (Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread).

    Further, here is:

    Keil & Delitzsch on Jos 5:10-12 affirming the 1st day of Mazzoth (unleavened bread) is a sabbath:

    According to Lev 23:11, the presentation was to take place on the day after the sabbath, i.e., the first day of the feast of Mazzoth, which was kept as a sabbath, or the 16th of Nisan, as the seven days' feast of Mazzoth commenced on the 15th (Lev 23:6; Num 28:17). “On the morrow after the passover” is the same as “on the morrow after the sabbath” in Lev 23:11, the term passover being used here not in its original and more restricted sense, in which it applies exclusively to the observance of the paschal meal, which took place on the evening of the 14th, and is expressly distinguished from the seven days' feast of Mazzoth (Exo 12:23, Exo 12:27; Lev 23:5; Num 28:16), but in the broader sense, which we have already met with in Deu 16:2, in which the name was gradually extended to the whole of the seven days' feast. The writer assumed that the facts themselves were already well known from the Mosaic law, and therefore did not think it necessary to give any fuller explanation. Moreover, the words, “they did eat of the fruit of the land,” etc., are not to be understood as signifying that they began to eat unleavened bread for the first time on the 16th Nisan (they had already eaten is as an accompaniment to the paschal lamb); but unleavened bread of the produce of the land, the green corn of that year, was what they ate for the first time on that day.

    Karl Fredreich Keil, Franz Delitzsch, Joshua 5, verse 10-12,
    Commentary on the Old Testament (1866, 1887)

    Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown on Lev 23:15, likewise affirms the 1st day of "Passover week" (7-day festival of Unleavened Bread) is a sabbath:

    Feast of Pentecost
    ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath--that is, after the first day of the Passover week, which was observed as a sabbath.

    Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, Leviticus 23 verse 15,
    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, 1871

  3. Unleavened Bread day 1 (a sabbath) begins the count to the "appointed" time of the Feast of Weeks:

    The Levitical command is to 'wave the sheaf of first fruits' on the day after the sabbath, and commence a count of fifty days to the Feast of Weeks:

    (NASB) Lev 23:10-16 "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 'He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 'Now on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb one year old without defect for a burnt offering to the LORD. 13 'Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the LORD for a soothing aroma, with its drink offering, a fourth of a hin of wine. 14 'Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 15 'You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbathH7676, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. 16 'You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD.

    Lev 23:10-16, New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

    The Septuagint (translated from original Hebrew scrolls to Greek by Hebrew scholars between 275 - 100 BC at Alexandria) confirms the designation "sabbath" in Lev 23:15:

  4. (Brenton) Lev 23:15 And ye shall number to yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day on which ye shall offer the sheaf of the heave-offering, seven full weeks:

    Charles Lee Brenton, Lev 23:15,
    The English Translation of the Septuagint (1851)

    (Septuagint) Lev 23:15  και 2532[CONJ] αριθμησετε 705[V-FAI-2P] υμεις 4771[P-NP] απο 575[PREP] της 3588[T-GSF] επαυριον 1887[ADV] των 3588[T-GPN] [sábbaton] σαββατων 4521[N-GPN] απο 575[PREP] της 3588[T-GSF] ημερας 2250[N-GSF] ης 3739[R-GSF] αν 302[PRT] προσενεγκητε 4374[V-AAS-2P] το 3588[T-ASN] δραγμα [N-ASN] του 3588[T-GSN] επιθεματος [N-GSN] επτα 2033[N-NUI] εβδομαδας[N-APF] ολοκληρους 3648[A-APF]

    Deuteronomy 16:9 further clarifies and reinforces that "first fruits" (what the sickle begins to cut first) on Unleavened Bread 2nd day (Nisan 16th) begins the count to the Feast of Weeks:

    (NASB) Deu 16:9-10 "You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. 10 "Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as the LORD your God blesses you;

    Deu 16:9-10, New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

    The count of fifty days to the Feast of Weeks begins the day after a sabbath (Lev 23:15), that count begins the same day when the 'sickle begins to cut' (Deu 16:9-10), and what the sickle begins to cut first is the 'first sheaf of standing grain' that is waved on Unleavened Bread day 2, i.e. Deu 16:9 requires that the day prior, Unleavened Bread day 1, be a sabbath.

    Four times in Leviticus 23 the holy convocations are declared to be at "appointed times". These were fixed festivals. Their times were appointed, set at a fixed time of day or date of the year:

    (NASB) Lev 23:2 "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'The LORD'S appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations--My appointed times are these:

    Lev 23:2, New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

    A time appointed by God would not vary year to year. The Feast of Weeks is always exactly fifty days from Passover (which ends on Nisan 15th) or the 1st day of Unleavened Bread (also Nisan 15th). The fifty days can not be counted, scripturally, from a weekly sabbath during or after Unleavened Bread because intercalation and postponement rules adjust when the sacred calendar starts (which is always Nisan 1) and hence when Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15-21) falls. While Passover and Unleavened Bread always fall on the same dates of the Hebrew month (Nisan 14th evening and Nisan 15th), the day of the week varies often, and hence the number of days between Passover or Unleavened Bread day 1 to a weekly sabbath also varies often, which in turn would insert a different variable 1-6 days every year into when the Feast of Weeks would fall, but such a variation is not an "appointed time".

    From the day after the sabbath, the day when the 'sheaf of first fruits is waved' (Unleavened Bread day 2, also Nisan 16th) exactly 50 days are to be counted, but if the count begins on a weekly sabbath then a variable numbers of days is introduced into the end result. But that end result, as per the Talmud, was an unvarying Sivan 6th (or sometimes the 5th or 7th):

    This would be correct according to Rabbi (who holds that the intercalary month 1 is not a part of the year), and it occurs in a leap year, when one consecrates anything (to the Temple) after the Feast of Passover; for when the end of the second Adar has arrived, a year (of twelve months) has elapsed, yet the three festivals have not passed by in their regular order. But how can such a case occur according to the rabbis? It can happen as R. Shemaiah teaches: Pentecost falls on the fifth, sixth, or seventh of Sivan. How is this possible? In a year when the months of Nisan and Iyar have thirty days each, Pentecost falls on the fifth of Sivan; when they each have twenty-nine days, Pentecost falls on the seventh of Sivan; but when the one has twenty-nine days and the other has thirty days, Pentecost falls on the sixth of Sivan.

    Michael L. Rodkinson, trans., Tractate Rosh Hashana, Chapter I,
    The Babylonian Talmud

    Reiterating a point above made by F.F. Bruce:

    In general, the Jewish calendar in NT times (at least before ad 70) followed the Sadducean reckoning, since it was by that reckoning that the Temple services were regulated. Thus the day of Pentecost was reckoned as the fiftieth day after the presentation of the first harvested sheaf of barley, i.e. the fiftieth day (inclusive) from the first Sunday after Passover (cf. Lv. 23:15f.); hence it always fell on a Sunday, as it does in the Christian calendar. The Pharisaic reckoning, which became standard after ad 70, interpreted ‘sabbath’ in Lv. 23:15 as the festival day of Unleavened Bread and not the weekly sabbath; in that case Pentecost always fell on the same day of the month [Sivan 6] (an important consideration for those in whose eyes it marked the anniversary of the law-giving) but not on the same day of the week. [p. 225]

    F.F. Bruce, "Calendar"
    The Illustrated Bible Dictionary Vol. 1, ed. Douglas, Hillyer, InterVarsity Press (1980)

    The Rabbi's knew the count of fifty days was to conclude on Sivan 6, the first day of the Feast of Weeks. It varied only in embolismic years plus or minus one day due to some intercalation inconsistencies, no longer in use. But it didn't vary every year by however many days from whatever weekly sabbath. Here is a visual portrayal contrasting the consequences of starting the count with Unleavened Bread day 2 versus a weekly sabbath. Sivan 5th, 6th, or 7th is an impossible end date for any count beginning from a weekly sabbath:

    Variable days between Unleavened Bread and the weekly sabbath:
        

    M a z z o t h                                                                       S i v a n   6 = S h a v u o t
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7                                                                                       1 2 3 4 5 6 7
      1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0            
      ? ? ? ? ? ? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

    This count requirement to the appointed time for the Festival of Weeks proves that "sabbath" in Lev 23:15 refers to the first day of Unleavened Bread and not the weekly sabbath.

Summarizing the evidence presented, Unleavened Bread 2nd day, is the day:

Consequently, Lev 23:11 and Lev 23:15 refer to Unleavened Bread 1st day (Nisan 15th) as a sabbath:

  1. 'Waving the sheaf of first fruits' is on day 2 of Unleavened Bread, which sheaf of first fruits is brought in the day after "the sabbath" (Lev 23:11) and consequently that sabbath day before 'waving the sheaf of first fruits' is Unleavened Bread day 1.
  2. The Feast of Weeks is an "appointed time" fifty days from 'waving the sheaf of first fruits' on day 2 of Unleavened Bread (Lev 23:10), which count begins from the appointed day after the sabbath (Lev 23:15) and that sabbath day before beginning the count is Unleavened Bread day 1.

With the above evidence as background, here is Keil & Delitzsch on Lev 23:5-14:

The "sabbath" does not mean the seventh day of the week, but the day of rest, although the weekly sabbath was always the seventh or last day of the week; hence not only the seventh day of the week (Exo 31:15, etc.), but the day of atonement (the tenth of the seventh month), is called "sabbath," and "Shabbath shabbathon" (Lev 23:32; Lev 16:31). As a day of rest, on which no laborious work was to be performed (Lev 23:8), the first day of the feast of Mazzoth is called "sabbath," irrespectively of the day of the week upon which it fell; and "the morrow after the sabbath" is equivalent to "the morrow after the Passover" mentioned in Jos 5:11, where "Passover" signifies the day at the beginning of which the paschal meal was held, i.e., the first day of unleavened bread, which commenced on the evening of the 14th, in other words, the 15th Abib.

Karl Fredreich Keil, Franz Delitzsch, Leviticus 23, verse 5-14,
Commentary on the Old Testament (1866, 1887)

This same sabbath, Unleavened Bread day 1, is referred to by Luke and John.

Luke 6:1 refers to the "second sabbath after the first":

(KJV) Luk 6:1-2 And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the firstG1207 G4521, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. 2 And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?

(YLT) Luk 6:1-2 And it came to pass, on the second-first sabbath, as he is going through the corn fields, that his disciples were plucking the ears, and were eating, rubbing with the hands, 2 and certain of the Pharisees said to them, `Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbaths?'

(Textus Receptus) Luk 6:1 εγενετοG1096 V-2ADI-3S  δεG1161 CONJ  ενG1722 PREP  σαββατωG4521 N-DSN  [second first]δευτεροπρωτωG1207 A-DSN  διαπορευεσθαιG1279 V-PNN  αυτονG846 P-ASM  διαG1223 PREP  τωνG3588 T-GPM  σποριμωνG4702 A-GPM  καιG2532 CONJ  ετιλλονG5089 V-IAI-3P  οιG3588 T-NPM  μαθηταιG3101 N-NPM  αυτουG846 P-GSM  τουςG3588 T-APM  σταχυαςG4719 N-APM  καιG2532 CONJ  ησθιονG2068 V-IAI-3P  ψωχοντεςG5597 V-PAP-NPM  ταιςG3588 T-DPF  χερσινG5495 N-DPF

Strong's G1207
δευτερόπρωτος
deuteroprōtos
dyoo-ter-op'-ro-tos
From G1208 and G4413; second first, that is, (specifically) a designation of the Sabbath immediately after the Paschal week (being the second after Passover day, and the first of the seven Sabbaths intervening before Pentecost): - second . . . after the first.

Here is Adam Clarke's commentary from Luke 6:1 - "On the second Sabbath after the first":

The Vulgar Latin renders δευτεροπρωτον [deuteroprōtos, Strong's G1207], secundoprimum, which is literal and right. We translate it, the second Sabbath after the first, which is directly wrong; for it should have been the first Sabbath after the second day of the Passover On the 14th of Nisan, the Passover was killed; the next day (the 15th) was the first day of the feast of unleavened bread; the day following (the 16th) the wave sheaf was offered, pursuant to the law, on the morrow after the Sabbath: Lev 18:11. sic [Lev 23:11] The Sabbath, here, is not the seventh day of the week, but the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, let it fall on what day of the week it would. That and the seventh day of that feast were holy convocations, and therefore are here called Sabbaths. The morrow, therefore, after the Sabbath, i.e. after the 16th day of Nisan, was the day in which the wave sheaf was offered; and after that seven Sabbaths were counted, and fifty days completed, and the fiftieth day inclusively was the day of pentecost. Now these Sabbaths, between the Passover and pentecost, were called the first, second, etc., Sabbaths after the second day of the feast of unleavened bread. This Sabbath, then, on which the disciples plucked the ears of corn, was the first Sabbath after that second day. Dr. Lightfoot, has demonstrably proved this to be the meaning of this σαββατον δευτεροπρωτον, (Hor. Hebraic. in locum), and from him F. Lamy and Dr. Whitby have so explained it. This Sabbath could not fall before the Passover, because, till the second day of that feast, no Jew might eat either bread or parched corn, or green ears, (Lev 23:14). Had the disciples then gathered these ears of corn on any Sabbath before the Passover, they would have broken two laws instead of one: and for the breach of these two laws they would infallibly have been accused; whereas now they broke only one, (plucking the ears of standing corn with one's hand, being expressly allowed in the law, Deu 23:25), which was that of the Sabbath. They took a liberty which the law gave them upon any other day; and our Lord vindicated them in what they did now, in the manner we see. Nor can this fact be laid after pentecost; because then the harvest was fully in. Within that interval, therefore, this Sabbath happened; and this is a plain determination of the time, according to the Jewish ways of reckoning, founded upon the text of Moses's law itself. Dr. Wotton's Miscellaneous Discourses, etc., vol. i. p. 269.

Adam Clarke, Luke 6, verse 1,
Commentary on the Bible (1831)

However, the NASB and ESV translations seemingly ignore the underlying Greek text on this issue:

(NASB) Luk 6:1-2 Now it happened that He was passing through some grainfields on a SabbathG4521; and His disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating the grain. 2 But some of the Pharisees said, "Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?"

Luk 6:1-2, New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

 

(ESV) Luk 6:1-2 On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. 2 But some of the Pharisees said, "Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?"

Luk 6:1-2, English Standard Version, Good News Publishers (2001)

So, Luke in verse 6:1 recounts the plucking of new growth ears which was no longer prohibited because 'waving the sheaf of first fruits' on the 2nd Day of Unleavened Bread had passed, and this sabbath on which these 'new growth ears' were plucked was the "deuteroprōtos sabbath", translated either:

  • the second [weekly] sabbath after [the sabbath of] the first day of Unleavened Bread; or,
  • the first [weekly] sabbath after the second day of Unleavened Bread,

Either way, "deuteroprōtos sabbath" is a sabbath reference relative to the 1st and 2nd days of Unleavened Bread having passed, which was Luke's point. Luke was not counting, naming or enumerating weekly sabbaths, but rather by his choice of vernacular Luke was implying that it was lawful after Unleavened Bread to pluck and eat new growth ears. Jesus subsequently defended that doing such on a weekly sabbath was likewise lawful.

John 19:31 refers to Unleavened Bread day 1 as the sabbath that was a "high day":

John uses identical language to John 19:31 when he refers to a sabbath feast day as a "great (Greek 'megas') day" in John 7:37. John 7:2 sets the context as the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) and then John 7:37 refers to the 8th and last day of Tabernacles as a "great day" using the exact same terminology (Greek "megas", Strong's G3173) for that sabbath feast day as for the 1st day of Unleavened Bread, also a sabbath feast day (as established above).

(NASB)
Joh 7:37 Now on the last dayG2250, the greatG3173 day of the feastG1859,
Joh 19:31 Then the Jews, because it was the dayG3904 of preparationG3904, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the SabbathG4521 (for that SabbathG4521 was a highG3173 dayG2250),

New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

The Lockman Foundation confirms their published NASB w/Strong's cite of G3904 is an error and will be corrected to G2250 as shown and translated as "day" - April 9 2008.

(KJV)
Joh 7:37 In the last dayG2250, that greatG3173 day of the feastG1859, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
Joh 19:31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparationG3904, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day,G4521 (for that sabbathG4521 dayG2250 was an highG3173 day) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

King James Version (1769)

Though John 19:31 refers to the sabbath following preparation as a "high day", the argument advanced for a "Friday crucifixion" is Passover or Unleavened Bread day 1 fell on Saturday, making it a 'double sabbath'. Except that Passover is neither a sabbath nor an entire day, and Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15th) seldom falls on Saturday. It is also illogical and inconsistent for "Friday crucifixion" advocates to argue Unleavened Bread day 1 is not a sabbath but then contrarily deem it one sabbath of a 'double sabbath' when it falls on Saturday, specifically. Nor did Passover or Unleavened Bread 1st day fall on Saturday in A.D. 30. Further, A.D. 33 and 36 are the only years in which the "double sabbath" argument could apply, and both those years are generally acknowledged as too late to reconcile with Jesus' birth in 5 B.C. and baptism at 'about the age of 30' in A.D. 26.

The Greek word 'megas' translated "high" in John 19:31 is translated "greatest" in John 7:37 referring to the 8th or last day of Tabernacles, but the reason for John's qualifying it as 'greatest' (or 'high') is not because that day was a 'double sabbath' but because that feast day was itself a sabbath and a holy convocation. Likewise, 'megas' in John 19:31 refers to a feast day that is also a sabbath and a holy convocation, Unleavened Bread day 1.

The 8th day of Tabernacles (Tisrhi 22) actually falls on a weekly sabbath (Saturday) only in A.D. 27 and A.D. 30. But as demonstrated above, Jesus was crucified in Nisan of A.D. 30 and hence John would not be mentioning an event in Jesus' earthly life after the crucifixion.

The A.D. 27 date for Tabernacles 8th day falling on a weekly sabbath plausibly could be the context for John 7:37. John twice mentions Passover observances prior to the crucifixion (John 2:13,23 and 6:4), and the reference in John 7 to Tabernacles plausibly would have followed the Passover observance referenced in John 6:4. Because the first Passover Jesus would have observed (since His baptism in the Jordan beginning his earthly ministry) would have been the one mentioned in John 2 which (given Jesus was baptized months after Passover, in approximately Elul or Tishri of A.D. 26 when He had just turned about 30 years of age) would have been in Nisan of the year following his baptism, i.e. A.D. 27, hence Jesus' subsequent first observance of Tabernacles could have been six months later in Tishri of A.D. 27. The intervening near 18 months since His baptism could plausibly accommodate the events of John chapters 2 through 7 (representing perhaps two thirds of Jesus' earthly ministry), though that leaves the events of John chapters 8 through 10 spread over the next two years (A.D. 28 and 29) which seems too little activity for too much time.

Though an A.D. 27 Tabernacles 8th day feasibly coincided with a weekly sabbath in John 7:37, however regarding the context of John 19:31 such a coincidence did not happen in A.D. 30, the year of crucifixion: Unleavened Bread 1st day did not fall on the weekly sabbath in A.D. 30, rather it fell on Thursday (by Hillel II Jewish calendrics), and hence if John was being consistent in his choice of terminology, his choice was not based on a 'double sabbath' but on Unleavened Bread 1st day, the day after Passover and the day before 'counting the omer' to the Feast of Weeks, a holy convocation and a sabbath, being a "high day" on its own merits.

How did Unleavened Bread 1st day, a "perpetual" sabbath, succumb to misinformation and lead to confusion on when is Pentecost? The political power struggle (to influence Herod, control the Temple, interpret the Law and set the sacred feast dates) between the Pharisees and the Sadducees:

Alfred Edersheim comments:

The Pharisees held, that the time between Easter and Pentecost should be counted from the second day of the feast; the Sadducees insisted that it should commence with the literal "sabbath" after the festive day. But, despite argument, the Sadducees had to join when the solemn procession went on the afternoon of the feast to cut down the "first sheaf," and to reckon Pentecost as did their opponents.

Alfred Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, chapter 15, (1876)

Tim Hegg, in Counting the Omer, concludes:

At least three different sects understood the chronology of the omer counting differently: a) the majority of the Jewish community, and perhaps particularly those in Judea, near Jerusalem, considered the phrase “the morrow after the Sabbath" to be the day following the opening sabbath of Chag HaMatzot, that is, the 16th of Nisan; b) a sub-group of the Sadducees, the Boethusians, took the Leviticus text to mean “the morrow after the (weekly) Sabbath," and thus commenced their counting on the day following the first weekly Sabbath within the festival week. c) the Qumran sect apparently understood the Sabbath in question to be the final day of Chag HaMatzot, and thus began their counting on the first day of the week following the completed festival.

All of these views are possible given the meaning of the word "Sabbath" in the Leviticus text. The majority view, however, has the strength of giving full credence to the prohibition of eating any of the new growth until the sheaf had been waived. Since the waving of the sheaf was an offering in the Temple, the priests were obliged to eat from it. When this is collated with the historical narrative of Israel entering the Land, waving the sheaf on the day following Passover seems most warranted.

Tim Hegg, Counting the Omer, at www.TorahResource.com

The requirements of Deu 16:9-10 further supplement Hegg's conclusion, but moreover the minority view is eliminated by the Feast of Weeks being an "appointed time" which cannot vary from year to year, which requirement cannot be met when counting fifty days from a variable weekday instead of a fixed calendar day (as is Unleavened Bread 2nd day, Nisan 16th), which fixed appointed time is confirmed in the Talmud:

Tractate Kodashim (Holy Things): Seder Menachot (Meal Offerings): Chapter 10 Mishnah 1:

The reaping of the ephah of barley for the Omer offering was performed immediately following the First Day of Unleavened Breads – that is at nightfall, at the beginning of Nisan 16, whether it was a weekday or a Sabbath, because the specific commandment superceded Sabbath prohibitions.

Tractate Rosh Hashana, Chapter I, p9:

It can happen as R. Shemaiah teaches: Pentecost falls on the fifth, sixth, or seventh of Sivan.

Michael L. Rodkinson, trans., Tractate Rosh Hashana, Chapter I,
The Babylonian Talmud

Leviticus 23 verses 11 and 15 both refer to Unleavened Bread day 1 as a sabbath (as demonstrated by two proofs above) and it was given as a "perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places" (Lev 23:14). That sabbath was observed by Joshua and centuries later its observance was noted in the Talmud and then both Luke 6:1 and John 19:31 refer to this same sabbath day. Unlike "Friday crucifixion" chronologies, the above harmonization of Passion Week accounts for crucifixion on Passover preparation day, the sabbath of Unleavened Bread day 1, the weekly sabbath, and resurrection after 3 days and nights by Sunday morning.

Two Passovers?

The question or criticism naturally arises as to whether two Passover observances is biblical or plausible.

Adam Clarke observes in the chapter end notes of his Commentary on Matthew 26 (unabridged, hosted at www.God Rules.net):

The question considered, whether our Lord ate the passover with his disciples before he suffered? Every candid person must allow that there are great difficulties relative to the time in which our Lord ate the last passover with his disciples. In the Introduction to my Discourse on the nature and design of the Holy Eucharist, I have examined this subject at large, and considered the four following opinions, viz. I. Our Lord did not eat the passover on the last year of his ministry. II. Our Lord did eat it that year; and at the same time with the Jews. III. He did eat it that year, but not at the same time with the Jews. IV. He did eat a passover of his own instituting, but widely differing from that eaten by the Jews. The two first opinions do not appear to be solidly supported. The two last are of the most importance, are the most likely, and may be harmonized.

Adam Clarke, Mat 26 [end notes],
Commentary on the Bible (1831)

Annie Jaubert in "The Date of the Last Supper", Staten Island (N. Y.): Alba House, 1965 (translated by Isaac Rafferty from "La date de la Cène: calendrier biblique et liturgie chréienne", Études Bibliques, 1957) advanced the theory that Jesus was an Essene, kept the Essene calendar, that the Lord's Supper was an Essene Passover observance, and that in the year of His crucifixion the Essene Passover and Jewish Passover fell in the same week. While doubtful that Jesus was an Essene and doubtful that He generally kept an Essene calendar, Jaubert seems correct that the Lord's Supper coincided with an Essene Passover observance and which, as demonstrated above, fell one day before the Jewish Passover only in A.D. 30.

The point of harmonizing the gospel accounts was to demonstrate the accuracy of the biblical record and determine the year of crucifixion, not argue one group's behavior was necessarily more "biblical" than another group. The Bible is replete with factually accurate accounts of human error and disobedience to what God otherwise has required. However, the above harmonization does not characterize either Passover observance as unbiblical, rather it merely argues there were two observances, as the gospel writers faithfully, factually recorded.

So, what does God and scripture actually require regarding the date of either or both Passover observances? Both were observed, as per scripture's requirement, evening on the 14th into night on the 15th of Nisan, and the issue then pivots on how scriptural is either group's date determination methods for their respective Passover observance.

Canonical scripture is mostly silent on calendrics. Over the centuries since the Exodus, had not some form of intercalation been introduced, the ancient Hebrews' calendar would rarely align with that time of the year when the Lord's destroyer "passed over" those Israelite homes in Egypt that had the Paschal Lamb's blood spread on the lintel & doorposts (Exodus 12) and the Holy Sabbaths and Feasts were declared (Leviticus 23). The calendar-keeping problem is caused by a lunar calendar (as used by the Hebrews) never aligning for very long with the solar year.

Scripture did indirectly inform the ancient Hebrews when to observe Passover:

Exo 34:18 "You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month of AbibH24, for in the month of AbibH24 you came out of Egypt.

Deu 16:1 "Observe the month of AbibH24 and celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God, for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night.

New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation (1995)

where "Abib" is Strong's H24: aw-beeb' From an unused root (meaning to be tender); green, that is a young ear of grain; hence the name of the month Abib or Nisan: - Abib, ear, green ears of corn.

But the month when young ears of grain appear varies, even assuming the same crop (barley) is always planted and droughts do not preclude a crop. Keil & Delitzsch remark on Lev 23 "In the warmer parts of Palestine the barley ripens about the middle of April, and is reaped in April or the beginning of May, whereas the wheat ripens two or three weeks later (Seetzen; Robinson's Pal. ii. 263, 278)." Determining the beginning day of the month of Nisan (Abib) involves observations of the new moon, and then counting 15 days to arrive at Nisan 15, Passover night. Sometime over the millennia the Hebrews refined their calendar keeping to rely more on calculations, but the resulting general time of year when Passover was observed remained approximately the same season - when barley began to bud. At some point the Essenes (rejecting the legalistic Pharisees and apostate Sadducees) relied on a different computation relative to observing the vernal equinox which resulted in a consistent Passover season that likewise aligned with barley beginning to bud. As demonstrated in Essene Passover Dates, the Passover observance of both the Essenes and Jews was usually within a week to two weeks of each other, and arguably both always complied with the only scriptural criteria known - the month of Nisan ("Abib") when barley began to bud.

Continuing from Adam Clarke's Commentary on Matthew 26:

Dr. Cudworth, who of all others has handled this subject best, has proved from the Talmud, Mishna, and some of the most reputable of the Jewish rabbins, that the ancient Jews, about our saviour's time, often solemnized as well the passovers as the other feasts, upon the ferias [a weekday of a church calendar on which no feast is celebrated] next before and after the Sabbaths. And, that as the Jews in ancient times reckoned the new moons, not according to astronomical exactness, but according to the fasiv, or moon's appearance: and, as this appearance might happen a day later than the real time, consequently there might be a whole day of difference in the time of celebrating one of these feasts, which depended on a particular day of the month; the days of the month being counted from the fasiv, or appearance of the new moon. As he describes the whole manner of doing this, both from the Babylonish Talmud, and from Maimonides, I shall give an extract from this part of his work, that my readers may have the whole argument before them.

[Clarke quoting Cudworth:]
"In the great or outer court there was a house called Beth Yazek, where the senate sat all the 30th day of every month, to receive the witnesses of the moon's appearance, and to examine them. If there came approved witnesses on the 30th day, who could state they had seen the new moon, the chief man of the senate stood up, and cried ?dqm mekuddash, it is sanctified; and the people standing by caught the word from him, and cried, Mekuddash! mekuddash! But if, when the consistory had sat all the day, and there came no approved witnesses of the phasis, or appearance of the new moon, then they made an intercalation of one day in the former month, and decreed the following one and thirtieth day to be the calends.

But if, after the fourth or fifth day, or even before the end of the month, respectable witnesses came from far, and testified they had seen the new moon in its due time, the senate were bound to alter the beginning of the month, and reckon it a day sooner, viz. from the thirtieth day.

"As the senate were very unwilling to be at the trouble of a second consecration, when they had even fixed on a wrong day, and therefore received very reluctantly the testimony of such witnesses as those last mentioned, they afterwards made a statute to this effect-That whatsoever time the senate should conclude on for the calends of the mouth, though it were certain they were in the wrong, yet all were bound to order their feasts according to it."

This, Dr. Cudworth supposes, actually took place in the time of our Lord; and "as it is not likely that our Lord would submit to this perversion of the original custom, and that following the true fasiv, or appearance of the new moon, confirmed by sufficient witnesses, he and his disciples ate the passover on that day; but the Jews, following the pertinacious decree of the Sanhedrin, did not eat it till the day following." Dr. C. farther shows from Epiphanius [Cudworth in "The True Intellectual System Vol IV", p264-265 references Epiphanius' "Panarion / Adversus Haereses book II"], that there was a contention, qorubov, a tumult, among the Jews about the passover, that very year. Hence it is likely that what was the real paschal day to our Lord, his disciples, and many other pious Jews who adopted the true fasiv phasis, was only the preparation or antecedent evening to others, who acted on the decree of the senate.

...

At first view, this third opinion, which states that Christ did eat the passover with his disciples that year, but not in the same hour with the Jews; and that he expired on the cross the same hour in which the paschal lamb was killed, seems the most probable. For it appears, from what has already been remarked, that our Lord and his disciples ate the passover some hours before the Jews ate theirs; for they, according to custom, ate theirs at the end of the fourteenth day, but Christ appears to have eaten his the preceding evening, ...

Adam Clarke, Mat 26 [end notes],
Commentary on the Bible (1831)

Clarke later concludes:

But, secondly, should it appear improbable that such double celebration took place at this time, and that our Lord could not have eaten the passover that year with his disciples, as he died on the very hour on which the paschal lamb was slain, and consequently before he could legally eat the passover, how then can the text of St. Luke be reconciled with this fact? I answer, with the utmost ease; by substituting a passover for the passover, and simply assuming that our Lord at this time instituted the holy EUCHARIST, in place of the PASCHAL LAMB: and thus it will appear he ate a passover with his disciples the evening before his death, viz. the mystical passover, or sacrament of his body and blood; and that this was the passover which he so ardently longed to eat with his disciples before he suffered. This is the opinion of Mr. Toinard, and, if granted, solves every difficulty. Thus the whole controversy is brought into a very narrow compass: Our Lord did eat a passover with his disciples some short time before he died:-the question is, What passover did he eat-the regular legal passover, or a mystical one? That he ate a passover is, I think, demonstrated: but whether the literal or mystical one, is a matter of doubt.

Adam Clarke, Mat 26 [end notes],
Commentary on the Bible (1831)

What the analysis here adds to Clarke's viewpoint and Jaubert's theory is only that, as demonstrated above, the passover Christ ate with His disciples the evening before His death coincided with an Essene Passover, as well as instituting the Christian sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, and that Christ was crucified on Wednesday April 3rd A.D. 30 (Gregorian).

The Essenes and Pharisees employed different calendrics to arrive at approximately the same time of year to observe Passover, both in compliance with what little scripture offers to determine the date.

Would God view one or the other date as more obedient?

Every devout person ostensibly observed Passover only once, albeit some on a different day depending on their respective calendrics, but consistently the 15th day of Nisan (Abib) as best they knew to determine it and always that season when barley began to bud. Which person is knowingly, defiantly disobedient? Which person dishonors the memory of God's deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt? Consider that nowadays, because of where everyone resides relative to the international dateline, some Jews attend synagogue on Saturday which to other Jews is Sunday and some Christians attend church on Sunday which to other Christians is Monday, so who is knowingly unobservant and what specific biblical criteria have they violated? Which Jew is not consistently observing the Sabbath? Which Christian is not consistently worshipping on Sunday?

The point of the foregoing was not to speak for God on who properly observed Passover and who didn't; that is left to God to reveal as He sees fit. Rather, the point was to illustrate how two Passovers can be observed on two different dates by two different groups, both endeavoring to be scriptural in their observances, and how their observances may be reflected in harmonizing the historically accurate gospel accounts of Passion Week; i.e., the point was not which Passover should Jesus have observed but that plausibly Jesus acknowledged both, one day apart, and thereby enabled history to verify the biblical accounts and fix the exact date of His sacrifice for us all.



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(last updated October 10, 2013)