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rendæ eruditionis gratia-Τετάρτη δὲ, τῶν διαβατηρίων, ἣ καλεῖται πάσχα . . . ἕκτη δ ̓, ἄζυμα—Συνάπτει δὲ . . . τοῖς διαβατηρίοις ἑορτὴ, διάφορον ἔχουσα καὶ οὐ συνήθη τῆς τροφῆς χρῆσιν, ἄζυμα, ἀφ' οὗ καὶ ὠνόμασται : ii. 278. 1. 2022 ; 293. 1. 1-3. De Septenario et Festis Diebus.
In like manner Ezechiel Tragicus, as quoted by Eusebius in the ninth book of his Evangelica Præpa
In order to remove the difficulty in question, or to reconcile the express testimony of St. John with the apparent testimony of the other Evangelists, most commentators have supposed either that our Lord with his disciples anticipated by one whole day the regular time of the Passover; or that a part of the Jews, with whom he concurred, kept their Passover on one day, and the rest, with whom he differed, kept their's on the next. To those who should maintain that there was no difference in this respect between him and the Jews at large, or that all kept their Passover alike, viz. on the night before Jesus suffered, what has been proved concerning the signification of πρὸ τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ πάσχα, standing absolutely in St. John's Gospel, must be a sufficient answer. In defence of the same opinion they are obliged also to give a novel and an untenable sense
to the same word, in the other instances of its occurrence, ἵνα φάγωσι τὸ πάσχα—and, ἦν δὲ παρασκευὴ τοῦ Taxa: and that too not the same sense in both, but as much at variance, the one with the other, as either with the truth of the case.
In the first they would restrict the word to the sacrifices which made a part of the ceremonial of the seven days' feast, distinct from the sacrifice of the Passover itself; grounding this construction on Deut. xvi. 2, and forgetting that, whereas there is but this one text, either in the Old or in the New Testament, where the word Passover might be interpreted in this catachrestic sense, there are innumerable passages in both where it can be construed only properly. This very text is understood by Maimonides to denote the peace-offerings, which were required to accompany the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month; in which case, though these might be intended here, yet on the morning of our Saviour's crucifixion both they and the Passover would either both be over, or both still to come; over, if the Passover had been celebrated already; to come, if the Passover was to be celebrated that evening.
But whatever the terms Tò Táoxa, standing by themselves, could be shewn to mean, this would be of little avail upon the point at issue, unless it could be also proved that the phrase which is actually here employed, τὸ φαγεῖν τὸ πάσχα, is ever used of any thing but eating the Paschal sacrifice as such. Those, who by the Law would be bound to eat of any sacrifices during this feast in particular, distinct from that, would be the Priests or the Levites. During the seven days of the ἄζυμα as such, says Josephus, καθ ̓ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν, ταῦροι σφάττονται δύο, καὶ κριὸς μὲν εἷς, ἑπτὰ δὲ ἄρνες. καὶ ταῦτα μὲν ὁλοκαυτοῦται, προστιθεμένου τοῖς πάσι
e De Sacrificio Paschali, x. 12.
καὶ ἐρίφου, ὑπὲρ ἁμαρτάδων, εἰς εὐωχίαν κατὰ ἡμέραν ἑκαστὴν τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν. And again, ταύτας . . . (sc. τὰς ὑπὲρ ἁμαρτάδων θυσίας) ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ μόνοι δαπανῶσιν οἱ ἄῤῥενες τῶν ἱε ρέων αὐθημερόν 5. Now those who conducted our Lord to Pilate it cannot be proved were exclusively Priests or Levites. On the contrary, according to St. John's account, whatever share in his deduction the members of the Sanhedrim also might have taken, they must have been among others the parties who first apprehended him—ἡ σπεῖρα, καὶ ὁ χιλίαρχος, καὶ οἱ ὑπηρέται h:
and these in particular could have had no motive to deter them from entering into the judgment-hall of a Gentile magistrate, except the ordinary dread of such pollution as would have prevented their taking part in any ceremony of the Law, which like the Paschal feast required them to be clean. And that contact with a Gentile might have produced such pollution is too well known to need any proof.
In the second instance, it may be admitted that the word Taρaσkeun, standing absolutely, might be understood to denote Tроσáßßaтov: and such is its meanπροσάββατον: ing in the phrase, παρασκευὴ τῶν Ἰουδαίων, John xix. 31. 42, which follows afterwards. This παρασκευὴ, according to Josephus, began on the day before the sabbath, with the ninth houri: ἐν σάββασιν, ἢ τῇ πρὸ ταύτης παρασκευῇ, ἀπὸ ὥρας ἐννάτης: which explains at once the propriety of Mark xv. 42; èπeì v πaρаσкεvn, ő éσTI TроσáßßаTov-and the meaning of Matt. xxvii. 62; τῇ δὲ ἐπαύριον, ἥτις ἐστὶ μετὰ τὴν παρασκευήν—or of Luke xxiii. 54; καὶ ἡμέρα ἦν παρασκευὴ, καὶ σάββατον éré woke where this verb has its secondary sense of was coming on, not, was dawning.
In the complex, Tараσкеυn тоû Tάoxa, however, it is
f Ant. Jud. iii. x. 5. Jud. xvi. vi. 2.
g Ibid. iv. iv. 4.
h xviii. 12. 28.
by no means certain that the phrase can bear the simple sense of προσάββατον. The Passover was of importance enough to have a period, called its Tapaσken, appropriated to it exclusively. As equivalent to pooáßßαTov, that period would be limited to between the ninth hour, or three in the afternoon, on the Friday, and sunset; but thе Tаρаσкeνn тоû áσxa, according to St. John, had begun either as early as six in the morning, or not later than twelve at noon. Though, however, even in the complex, it might bear the simple sense of προσάββατον ; how would that prove the Passover to have been kept already, and at the usual time? Προσάββατον τοῦ πάσχα, if it denotes the day before the Paschal sabbath, means either the day before the fifteenth, or the day before the twenty-first, of Nisan, both which, whensoever they might fall, were by the appointment of the Law to be kept as sabbaths, and, consequently, were strictly the Paschal sabbaths. The day before the twenty-first, I apprehend, must be out of all question; and the day before the fifteenth is the fourteenth, the very day of the Passover itself.
But if προσάββατον τοῦ πάσχα does not mean the day before a Paschal sabbath as such, what can it mean but the day before the sabbath άπλŵs? and how could that be confounded with the day before the sabbath in the Paschal week-which would be a specific designation? We might as well contend that oáßßaTOV, standing alone, would denote the ordinary sabbath of the Paschal week, as that рỏσáßßaтov would the ordinary day before that. The poσáßßaтov is merely προσάββατον so much of the sixth day of the week, as was in any way devoted to preparation against the seventh; which, consequently, might always be express and intelligible,
k Ch. xix. 14.
1 Exod. xii. 16. Lev. xxiii. 7, 8. Numb. xxviii. 18. 25.
with reference to that day as such-but not to that day, as one of the days of the Paschal feast. If the phrase παρασκευὴ τοῦ πάσχα were equivalent, in this sense, to the phrase προσάββατον τοῦ πάσχα, it would require to be rendered as follows, and unless so rendered it would not be understood: The preparatory part of the Friday before the Saturday in the Paschal week-than which, what can be further from the proper sense of the terms? Yet even this explanation, harsh as it is, will not hold good in the present instance, except at the expense of a still greater absurdity; which is that of making any part of one sabbath preparatory to another. The Friday in the Paschal week is supposed, upon this principle, to have been the fifteenth of Nisan; and the fifteenth of Nisan, whensoever it fell, was a sabbath. The preparation on this Friday, then, with a view to the Saturday, would be the preparation on one sabbath with a view to the arrival of another: than which conclusion there cannot be a greater inconsistency either with the nature of terms, or with the nature of things. For the preparation was necessarily part of a dies profestus— and never of a sabbath.
We have still, therefore, to choose only between the two alternatives stated above: with respect to which, could it be shewn that, on so important a subject, as the time of celebrating the first and most cardinal festival in their calendar, any schism or misunderstanding could possibly prevail among the Jews; more especially any such schism or misunderstanding, as might arise from an inability to compute the days of the month aright, so that what one party reckoned to be the lunar fourteenth of Nisan was really the lunar fifteenth, or vice versa; if the astronomical canons, the oral testimony, or the actual phasis of the new moon, by which the