(The translation of the Bible used, Tanakh and New Testament, is essentially that of the English Standard Version.)
The month presented is Aviv because of its usefulness in describing the events leading up to and following on from the resurrection of Ye’shua; including his execution in the manner of the Roman Empire. For ease of writing and reading, these notes are presented following the Calendar dates to which these notes refer.
Aviv 1: We know the name of the month in which each New Year begins, from Exodus 23:15 . We also know that this is a clear instruction to Yisra’el from their God, Yhwh (normally expressed in English Bibles as LORD, but see Day 8).
We also see that this new Calendar is immediately used by Yhwh to locate specific activities on particular dates, eg on the 10th collect your lamb, Exodus 12:3. Have a look at how this Calendar is used elsewhere in chapter 12.. Conventionally today, this month of Aviv is known as Nisan.
Aviv 14 was designated as the day on which the lamb was both slaughtered, and eaten roasted “between the twilights” [ben ha’arbayim, Ex12:6]. In the time of Ye’shua, the synoptic Gospels report: the Day of Preparation for Passover had become the first Day of Unleavened Bread. Thus Jews roasted and ate their lambs between the twilights at the beginning of the second day of Unleavened Bread, namely 15th Aviv. Why?
This separation between offering the lamb (14th) and eating the lamb (15th), became necessary when Pesach1 stopped being a domestic memorial and became first a Tabernacle-based2 event and later a Temple-based event which was catering for more than 2.53 million Jews by the end of the Second Temple era. Even so in the year of the execution of Ye’shua, let us say much more conservatively, that a quarter million Jews had come for Passover, translating to 25,000 lambs to be killed in a few hours, requiring two adult men per lamb. Not only a huge effort for priests but also a great throng to be accommodated and, importantly, time-consuming.
Each lamb was killed in front of a priest who took the blood produced to pour on the sides of the altar before the then dead lamb was carried to a wall hook/peg to be flayed and placed on a pole for carrying to the place where it was then to be roasted and eaten after Sunset. All this during an afternoon from approximately noon to as late as 8pm in some years when Pesach was late because of the leap year.
Alongside this logistical necessity there was a separate factor. Pesach was a Memorial required by Yhwh, to be repeated on the same date each year as a commemoration of the day that Yhwh set free Yisra’el, His chosen people. What was the important element of this festival?
Clearly, the blood on the lintels and horizontal of the door into the home because the blood marking had to be visible during the night to keep safe those inside the house while the Angel of Death did his work among the Egyptians, Ex 12:12-14. Remainder of para deleted
In that light, it is easy to see why the meal would have been considered something that could be eaten on the second Day of Unleavened Bread, ie 15th Aviv. It seems that although the eating of the roast lamb and other dishes was much enjoyed by Yisra’el, the important aspect was still the killing of a lamb so that a priest might cast the blood against the sides of the Altar; representative of the door posts and lintel.
So, the lamb was slaughtered on the 14th Aviv and the meal4 was eaten on the 15th Aviv, between the twilights, ie at the beginning of the second day of Unleavened Bread, being completed before Dawn on the 15th. Even so 14th Aviv, the first day of Unleavened Bread is known as the Day of Preparation and the 15th known as the Day of Passover.
From our point of view, it would be better if the 14th were referred to as the Day of Passover Offering, with the 15th referred to as the Day of the Passover Meal.
Aviv 15, the Day of Passover became the eventful day for Ye’shua.
Having delegated the preparations to followers, Ye’shua declared at the meal how much he had been looking forward to eating the meal with the Twelve, see Mt 26:17; Mk 14:12; Lk 22:7. John’s gospel skips over all of this as far as the meal is concerned5. He highlights moments that happen during the meal, viz the departure of Iscariot to join the conspirators and the washing of the feet of the twelve by Ye’shua6.
Ye’shua, having eaten the Passover meal between the twilights early on the 15th, leaves with His followers, to go to the garden where He is captured at dead of night on the 15th, is confronted by High Priests and then Sanhedrin in the dark/morning twilight (see here), of the 15th, passed on to Pilate during the early morning of the 15th and is executed around noon of the 15th, dies during the afternoon of the 15th and is taken down from his cross and buried before the sunset at the end of the 15th. Sabbath is then the 16th and Ye’shua’s resurrection is before dawn on the 17th.
Aviv 16 is Sabbath. Having demonstrated the sequence of events to this date for Sabbath, we are able to relate the dates of Aviv to days of the week for that particular year. Therefore, we can say that Ye’shua, arrived in Bethany on Aviv 8, during the Day of Preparation for Sabbath. After sunset, between the twilights on the Sabbath of Aviv 9, He ate the meal that Mary and Martha had prepared in his honour. The next day Aviv 10, was therefore the first day of the week (John 12:12), the day Ye’shua rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. This is the day the Church calls Palm Sunday.
Aviv 17 Resurrection day. Again John tells us this is the first day of the week
Aviv 20 Ends The Festival of Unleavened Bread.
It is easy to see now how all the details of this period fit together without resorting to the introduction of extra days.
Note also that in that year, the Resurrection happened to fall on the First Day of the week. The following year, according to the Hebrew Calendar, it would have fallen on a different day, eg the Third day of the week running from our Tuesday evening to sunset on our Wednesday because of the way the Hebrew Calendar followed the Moon Cycle. Thus it continued throughout the apostolic era and beyond.
Not until a Roman Bishop, namely Viktor – presiding over a Council in 193ce, was anything altered to the foregoing arrangements. However, thenceforth, Western followers of Yeshua were obliged to memorialise the execution and resurrection of Yeshua on dates determined by a Solar Calendar, displacing the Hebrew Moon-based calendar instituted by God Himself in Scripture, Exodus 12:1-6…7.
Note, this change took place some 150 years or more after the events. A further consequence was that the Resurrection was moved from the 16th Aviv to Sunday every year. This change, so that the death and resurrection of Ye’shua always occurs on Friday/Sunday, was nothing to do with the Apostles let alone Ye’shua himself.
Perhaps it is time for the church world-wide to acknowledge that this was an unnecessary act for the convenience of western churches mistakenly using a solar calendar8 at that time. It is an error that continues to be relied upon, even today, in every church in the world; an error that has led to much confusion in the minds of church-going christians.
- Pesach is the Hebrew behind the English word Passover. ↩
- Exodus 25:8 but consider reading from the beginning of that chapter. Note then: Exodus 34:18-25; thus within a year, a maximum of two years, Yisra’el did not keep Pesach as a domestic event but a national event and it remained so from there on. ↩
- See Sanders E.P., Judaism Trinity Press International, page 128 for comment on numbers present ↩
- The meal only became important in its own right after the Temple had been destroyed by the Romans 70ce. The meal continues to be eaten on the 15th but no longer includes the eating of a roast lamb. ↩
- John 13 & 14 ↩
- Both “the washing” & the “departure of Iscariot”, are described in Matthew, Mark and Luke ↩
- …being chosen by Ye’shua as the date on which for Him to make His momentous sacrifice of atonement, Matthew 23:39; 26:1,12, 18, 30-46; Mark 14:7&8, 17-21, 34-36, 41&42; Luke 22:37, 42-44; John 10:17&18; 12:3-8, 14&15, 27-36; 13:21, much else in the remainder of John shows clearly that Ye’shua not only knew what was coming but was both the master of those events and acting in concert with the desires of His Father. Ye’shua as atonement sacrifice for unrighteousness ought not to be confused or correlated with the Passover offering of a lamb which is unconnected with atonement for sin of any kind. ↩
- The change was resisted by followers of Ye’shua, today often referred to disparagingly, as the Quartodecimans, claiming that they were an insignificant minority of cranks. The truth is very different: the Church of Ephesus and the Church of Antioch (effectively the eastern church) were substantial and largely ignored by the west for far too long. Indeed, even with the ISIL actions so present, the eastern church has remained a footnote. The eastern church stretched via Babylon and India to China at that time. They should not be confused with the Orthodox Churches of the west. ↩