Good Thursday

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The days of the week have different names on the Hebraic calendar compared to the Roman calendar.  The following chart shows both sets of names; however, for ease of understanding, the Roman days of the week will be used throughout this commentary:

Days of the Week
Hebrew Names and Roman Names

Day Number Hebrew Name Roman Name
First Day Yom Rishon Sunday
Second Day Yom Sheni Monday
Third Day Yom Shlishi Tuesday
Fourth Day Yom Revi’i Wednesday
Fifth Day Yom Chamishi Thursday
Sixth Day Yom Shishi Friday
Seventh Day Yom Shabbat Saturday

In ancient Israel, including during the first century A.D., preparations for the Pesach or Passover feast took place on “Preparation Day.”  On that day, in the middle of the afternoon (that is, at beyn ha’arbayim, often referred to as “twilight”), the Passover lamb was sacrificed at the temple in Jerusalem.  After sunset, when Preparation Day had ended and the Feast of Unleavened Bread had begun, the lamb and other specific foods for the Pesach feast were eaten.

Jesus was crucified and died on Preparation Day.  Traditionally, this has been thought to have been on a Friday.  I would like to demonstrate that Jesus’ crucifixion and death occurred not  on a Friday (the sixth day of the week), as has been traditionally accepted, but rather on the previous day, Thursday (the fifth day of the week).

At that time, the days of the week were referred to as the “first day,” the “second day,” the “third day,” and so on, rather than as Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc., which were named after various planets and deities.  For ease of understanding by the “Western” mind, though, I will refer to the days of the week as we do today.

My Holy Week chart, near the bottom of this page, displays my depiction of the week during which the following occurred in the month of Aviv (also called Nisan) of that year:

  1. Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey (on Palm Sunday, Aviv 10), as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9;
  2. He was crucified four days later (on Thursday, Aviv 14); and
  3. He was resurrected from the dead on the third day after that (on Sunday, Aviv 17).
The first two points are fulfillments of (Exodus 12:2,3,6).  The first Passover lambs were to be taken in on the tenth  day of the first month (Aviv or Nisan) and slaughtered four days later, on the fourteenth  day of that month.  The third point is a fulfillment of Jesus’ own prophecy:  “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth(Matthew 12:40).

Some believe that Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday.  The crucifixion not on Wednesday section demonstrates why I am convinced that this was not  the case.  The “three days and three nights” in the Matthew 12:40 prophecy did not  automatically imply a period of 72 hours.

Pesach or Passover

While the Israelites were being held captive in Egypt, God described to Moses and Aaron how the first Passover should take place (Exodus 12:1-28).  During its observance, all the firstborn children of the Egyptian families were struck down by the Lord, after which the Israelites were able to make their Exodus out of Egypt (12:29-51).

On Aviv (or Nisan) 10, each household was to take in a lamb without defect (Exodus 12:3).  Each lamb was to be cared for, for four days, by a family (or two neighboring families) until Aviv 14, on which day the lamb would be slaughtered (sacrificed) at “twilight” (12:6) or “between the evenings” (Exodus 12:6 in Young’s Literal Translation).  This was at mid-afternoon, not  at sunset or dusk (see Twilight).  A hyssop branch was to be dipped into the blood of each lamb, with the blood then being brushed onto the lintel (top of the doorframe) and onto each doorjamb (two sideposts of the doorframe) of every Hebrew house (Exodus 12:3-7,22).

Doorway of an Israelite Home in Ancient Egypt with Blood of the Passover Lamb on the Top, Sides, and Bottom of the Doorframe Doorway of an Israelite Home in Ancient Egypt with Blood of the Passover Lamb on the Top, Sides, and Bottom of the Doorframe
Presumably, due to gravity, at least a few drops of the blood would have dripped from the hyssop branch and/or from the top of the doorway to the bottom of the doorway.  Thus, the blood on the four sides of each doorframe would have demarcated a cross .

Later, every family was to roast its lamb over a fire and eat it; it had to be fully cooked, even the inner parts (Exodus 12:8,9).  Traditionally, to cook it evenly inside as well as outside, a wooden stake was driven vertically through a lamb, while another stake was inserted horizontally.  Note, again, that the configuration of the stakes formed a cross .

At midnight (on Aviv 15, since the Hebrew day begins at sunset), the Lord allowed the “destroyer” (death angel) to strike dead the firstborn of every household in the land which did not have blood applied to the doorway (Exodus 12:29).  However, the thresholds of the homes where blood was present were passed over (thus the name, “Passover” or Pesach) and were not disturbed (12:23).

In every Egyptian dwelling (including Pharaoh’s palace), each firstborn son, as well as the firstborn of every kind of animal, was killed (Exodus 11:5, 12:12,29,30).  However, no one in any Hebrew family, nor any of their livestock, was harmed (11:7, 12:13,23,27).  When Pharaoh discovered that even his own firstborn son was dead, which was prophesied to happen (4:23), he finally told Moses to take the Israelites and their livestock and leave (12:31,32).

Sacrificing the Pesach or Passover lamb on Aviv 14 was a ceremony to be observed as a lasting ordinance for all subsequent generations (Exodus 12:24,25; Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 28:16; Deuteronomy 16:1,2,5,6).  It was to be a reminder to them of God’s special care and concern for, as well as deliverance of, His chosen people—chosen to be the agents through whom He later would reveal His great and wonderful Plan of Salvation, by way of the coming Messiah, to those in the world who willingly would accept and embrace it.

parallels between Jesus and the Passover lamb

In the time of Jesus, it was on Aviv 10 (“Palm Sunday”) that the procession of the national Passover lamb for Israel was taking place.  The lamb was led into the city from the east.  It was being taken to the temple in Jerusalem to be the public sacrifice for all of Israel, four days later, on Aviv 14 (Exodus 12:6).  The lamb was met by crowds of people waving palm branches and joyously singing “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” and other portions of Psalm 118, as they remembered God’s miraculous delivery of their ancestors from the clutches of the Egyptian Pharaoh.

One passage being sung was, “Oh Lord, please save us, Oh Lord, please save us.  Oh Lord, send us prosperity, Oh Lord, send us prosperity.  Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.”  This was an expansion of the psalmic verses, “Oh Lord, save us; O Lord, grant us success.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 118:25,26).

Following the procession of the Passover lamb, Jesus made His final entrance from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem on a donkey (Matthew 21:1-11)—as had been prophecied centuries before (Zechariah 9:9)—indicating that He was coming humbly and in peace.  He followed exactly the same path to the temple that the Passover lamb had just taken.

The crowds of people, most of whom had witnessed or known of Jesus’ great miracles, placed more palm branches on the pathway ahead of Him (thus, the name “Palm Sunday”) and shouted to Him as He passed by, “‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’  ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’  ‘Hosanna in the highest!’” (Matthew 21:7-9).  “Hosanna” or Hoshana means “Deliver us!”  Most of the people were hoping that Jesus would deliver them from the heavy and burdensome leadership of Rome.

It was, and still is, a tradition to rid one’s home of leaven or yeast—representative of “sin”—prior to the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  In essence, this is what Jesus did when He entered the temple, driving out all who were buying and selling and overturning all of the tables of the money changers (Matthew 21:12,13).

For four days, the Pesach lamb was kept in public view at the temple for everyone to examine to make sure that it was perfect and without defect.  During the same four days, the chief priests, elders, Pharisees, and Sadducees interrogated Jesus; but He always left them speechless, because they could find no fault with His impeccable logic and character (Matthew 21:23-27, 22:23-46, 26:59,60).

Moreover, after Jesus was arrested, Pilate (governor of Jerusalem) and Herod (governor of Galilee) could find no evidence against Him nor fault with Him (Matthew 27:22,23; Luke 23:4; John 19:4,6a).  This is because Jesus was perfect  and without defect, just as the Passover lamb was expected to be.

The Passover lamb was to be sacrificed in the temple on Aviv 14 at “twilight(Exodus 12:6), or at the “twain of the evening.”  In Hebrew, the literal translation is beyn ha’arbayim, or “between the evenings” (Exodus 12:6 in Young’s Literal Translation).  The last half of the daylight hours (from about noon to 6:00 p.m.) was further divided into two parts: the minor evening oblation (noon to 3:00 p.m.) and the major evening oblation (3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.).  Thus, “between the evenings” means between these two periods, or about 3:00 p.m.  This was the time midway between the beginning of the sun’s descent into the west (about noon) and its setting (about 6:00 p.m.).  So the Passover lamb was killed at about 3:00 p.m. on Aviv 14, which was Preparation Day for the Passover feast.

The Passover lamb in the temple was bound to the altar at about 9:00 a.m.  Similarly, “It was the third hour when they crucified [Jesus]” (Mark 15:25); that is, it was the third hour of daylight, or about 9:00 a.m.  Darkness came over the land from about the sixth to the ninth hour (noon to 3:00 p.m.).  This was not explainable by a solar eclipse, as some claim, because there always is a full moon on Passover and never a new moon.

It was about 3:00 p.m. that Jesus died (Luke 23:44-46)—the same time that the sacrificial Passover lamb in the temple was slaughtered.  As the high priest killed the lamb, he would have announced, “It is finished!”  It is no accident that, on the cross a few miles away, Jesus’ last words also were, “It is finished(John 19:30), which implied, “Paid in full.”

Jesus was sacrificed on a wooden cross, just as the Passover lamb was impaled on two wooden stakes, in the shape of a cross, to be roasted.  Also, the blood stains of Jesus’ head, hands, and feet on the cross matched the locations of the blood of the lamb on the doorframe (top, sides, and presumably bottom) of each Hebrew family’s house in Egypt.

Finally, it was forbidden for any of the Passover lamb’s bones to be broken (Exodus 12:46).  After the crucifixion, the legs of the two criminals crucified on either side of Jesus were broken to ensure that they would die (by suffocation) quickly, as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Aviv 15, was soon to begin at sunset.  But Jesus already was dead, so they did not break His legs (John 19:31-33).  Indeed, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7b).  John the Baptist referred to Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29,36).

It might be added that it often took two or three days for a person to die on a cross.  But it took Jesus—a strong, healthy man—only six hours to die.  Besides the fact that he had been severely flogged and beaten beyond recognition (Isaiah 52:14), He had more appointments to keep.  Jesus had said, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again” (John 10:18).  Moments before Jesus died, at mid-afternoon on Aviv 14, He called out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit(Luke 23:46); then He voluntarily gave up his Spirit (Matthew 27:50).

He knew that He had to keep the appointment of dying at the same time as the Passover lamb in the temple.  He also had to leave time to be placed in the tomb before the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a “special” or “high” Sabbath began at sunset, since the Jews did not want any bodies left on the crosses during a Sabbath (John 19:31,42).

crucifixion not on Friday

Traditionally, it has been accepted that Jesus was crucified on “Good Friday.”  The assumption for this is based upon the fact that, after Jesus’ death, the Jews asked that all crucified bodies be taken down from the crosses in respect for a “special” or “high” Sabbath, which began at sunset and continued through the next day (John 19:31).  Also, other passages state that it was the Preparation Day, the day before the Sabbath which was about to begin (Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54).

Because the usual weekly Sabbath began at sunset after Friday was over, traditionally it has been assumed that Jesus died on Friday.  Had Jesus died on Friday, though, He would have been in the grave for portions of only 2 days (the rest of Friday and all day Saturday) and 2 nights (the beginning of Saturday and the beginning of Sunday—see the Holy Week chart).  Thus, His own prophecy (“...the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”—Matthew 12:40) would not  have been fulfilled.

Actually, though, the Sabbath referred to in this case was one of the “special” or “high” Sabbaths occurring each year.  This was a day on which a sacred assembly was to be held, and no regular work was to be done (Leviticus 23:6,7)—which, by definition, is a “Sabbath of rest” (23:3).  According to John, the crucifixion day “...was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath...” (John 19:31).

The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Aviv 15), the “special” or “high” Sabbath under consideration, began at sunset after the day of Preparation (Aviv 14) had ended.  This is the Sabbath on which the women rested after preparing spices and perfumes (Luke 23:55,56).

The day on which Passover began (Aviv 14) was referred to as the “day of Preparation” (John 19:14,42) because it was the day the unleavened bread was made and the Passover lamb was slain, in preparation for the evening meal, eaten after sunset (when Aviv 15 began).  Thus, in that particular year, there were two Sabbaths in a row: Aviv 15 (a “special” or “high” Sabbath) and Aviv 16 (the regular weekly Sabbath).

This further is inferred in Matthew’s account by the statement, “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week...” (Matthew 28:1a).  Here, “Sabbath” is a mistranslation into English; the Greek reads “Shabbaton” (), not “Shabbat” ().  The direct translation refers to the day following the two Sabbaths (a “special” or “high” Sabbath, plus the weekly Sabbath) that had passed since Jesus’ crucifixion.  Here is the Greek for each verse with the direct translation into English:

triumphal entry

Some will point out how, according to John 12:1, Jesus arrived at Bethany six days before the Passover.  Then, the next day, Jesus went on to Jerusalem, where the crowds went out to meet Him with palm branches (12:12,13).  Assuming that this triumphal entry into the city was on “Palm Sunday,” then the day prior to that was Saturday.  The argument, then, is that Saturday (the day Jesus arrived at Bethany) was six days before Passover Friday; therefore, Jesus’ crucifixion must have been on “Good Friday.”

However, in Hebraic thinking, any portion of a day was considered to be a “day.”  Passover officially began at mid-afternoon on Aviv 14 (see the Passover and Related Periods chart).  Therefore, a mid-afternoon crucifixion on Thursday—which had begun at sunset, about 21 hours before that point—works out fine if the six days of John 12:1 are counted backwards as follows:

day 6: the hours of Thursday (Yom Chamishi) prior to the slaughter of the Passover lambs, which was the beginning of Passover (at mid-afternoon),
day 5: Wednesday (Yom Revii),
day 4: Tuesday (Yom Shlishi),
day 3: Monday (Yom Sheni),
day 2: Sunday (Yom Rishon), and
day 1: Saturday (Yom Shabbat).
So Friday does not  fit, as this would result in seven days, not six days, being counted backwards to Saturday, the day Jesus arrived in Bethany.  That would violate what is stated in John 12:1.

three hours of darkness

Prior to Jesus’s death on the cross, there were three hours of darkness over all the land (Matthew 27:45).  Some of those who maintain that the crucifixion was on Friday suggest that these three hours of darkness were the first “night” of the prophesied “three days and three nights” that Jesus would be in the belly of the earth (Matthew 12:40).

However, it was about the ninth hour, at the end  of the three hours of darkness, that Jesus gave up His spirit and died (Matthew 27:46,50); so He was not dead during any of that dark period.  If it had been dark, the person who ran to get the sponge with vinegar would not have easily seen what he was doing and would not have been running, and he would not easily have been able to see Jesus’ mouth to offer it to Him (27:48).

Sun, Earth, MoonMoreover, those three hours of darkness were not  "night," which explicitly is between evening and dawn.  It is similar to how a new moon blocks out the sun during a solar eclipse.  Although it is dark, it still is daytime, not nighttime, because the sun is not on the opposite side of the earth.

Incidentally, a solar eclipse is not  what caused the three hours of darkness on crucifixion day, as some have suggested.  There always is a full moon on Passover; but there must be a new moon, where the moon is between the sun and the earth, for a solar eclipse to take place.

The darkening of the sun for three hours, from the sixth hour (noon) to the ninth hour (mid-afternoon), must have been due to a supernatural act of God.  Perhaps the Father, who cannot look upon sin, had to look away as the sin of the world was being placed on Jesus (1 Peter 2:24).  Jesus, the Light of the world (John 8:12), was dying; and He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45,46).  Maybe these events help explain why darkness fell upon the land.

With a Friday crucifixion, even if  the three hours of darkness could be considered to be one “night” of the “three days and three nights” prophecy, then Jesus’ body would have been in the tomb or grave (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27), and his soul in the depths of the earth (Ephesians 4:9), for only two days: part of Friday and all day Saturday, but not  Sunday.

Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week (Sunday) when it was dark.  We know this because Mary Magdalene and the other Mary got to the tomb at dawn, having walked there while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been rolled away (Matthew 28:1; John 20:1).  If the stone was rolled away while it was still dark, then Jesus had to have risen while it was dark, not when it was already light.

Passover and crucifixion on Thursday

first day of unleavened bread

Three Gospel accounts, as translated directly from the Greek, indicate that it was the “first day” or the “day” of unleavened bread—the same day the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed—when Jesus told Peter and John to go to a certain man in the city to arrange for them to eat the Passover meal at his house.  Here are correct translations from the Greek of the first portion of each verse:

Now on the first [day] of unleavened bread... (Matthew 26:17).
And on the first day of unleavened bread... (Mark 14:12).
Here is the Greek for those two verses, with the direct translations into English:

In many Bible versions, though, there is a mistranslation to English in the Matthew and Mark accounts:
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread... (Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12).
In the original Greek, which is correct, the word “feast” is not  present, nor is it implied, because this was not  the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  In fact, it would have made no sense for Jesus’ disciples, on Aviv 15, to prepare for the Passover, which began at mid-afternoon on Aviv 14.

On this Preparation Day (Aviv 14), all the preparations for the Passover and for the week of the Feast were made, including removing any leaven from the people’s homes.  It also included mixing the unleavened dough (without yeast) and baking the bread, as well as slaughtering and roasting the Passover lambs.  They would be eaten at the Passover meal that evening, after sunset.  Not only was it permissible to eat unleavened bread during Preparation Day, it was (and still is) customary to do so, as there is no commandment against doing so.

Therefore, following the “day of unleavened bread” or Preparation Day, on which the unleavened bread was prepared, the actual Feast of Unleavened Bread technically did not begin until after sunset.  This was just a few hours after the start of Passover at mid-afternoon (at “twilight”), when the lambs were slain.  In other words, people could “snack” on unleavened bread as they were preparing the Passover meal during Preparation Day (Aviv 14); then the meal was eaten after sunset (Aviv 15), when the Feast of Unleavened Bread began.

In Mark’s account, the sentence continues, “...when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb....” (Mark 14:12).  This obviously could not  have been the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Aviv 15), since it has been shown that the Passover lamb was sacrificed the day before this—that is, on Preparation Day (Aviv 14), just a few hours before sunset.

Moreover, as noted in a previous section, on Aviv 15 a sacred assembly was to be held, and no regular work was to be done (Leviticus 23:6,7)—which, by definition, is a “Sabbath of rest” (23:3).  Activities such as walking around the house removing leaven, making and baking unleavened bread, slaughtering a lamb, and preparing a big Passover feast would have been considered to be work.  As such, it would not have been permitted to perform these tasks on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was a “special” or “high” Sabbath that followed the day of Preparation (John 19:31a).

Only in the third Gospel account is the translation from Greek to English correct:  “Then came the day of unleavened bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed” (Luke 22:7).  Now, the day the Passover lamb was sacrificed (Preparation Day) always was Aviv 14 (Exodus 12:6).  Here, it is clear that this was the “first [day] of unleavened bread,” since this is when the unleavened bread was prepared.

It would have been acceptable to eat a little of the bread on this day (as there was no regulation prohibiting it), much as people might taste something they are making before it goes into the oven or have a small sample of it, after it is cooked or baked, before it is served at the evening meal.  Then it was required  to eat the unleavened bread, prepared on this day, for the next seven days during the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The fourth Gospel account correctly notes that the time was “...before the Passover Feast” (John 13:1).  The feast began during the evening hours (that is, at the beginning) of the 15th, at some point following sunset after the 14th.  The 15th was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and was a “special” or “high” Sabbath (John 19:31a) because there was to be a sacred assembly and no work was to be done on that day (Exodus 12:16; Leviticus 23:3; Numbers 28:17,18).  Unleavened bread was eaten on this day as well as on the previous day, the day of Preparation, when the bread without yeast was prepared.

Last Supper

Jesus seemed to display a sense of urgency in saying that His appointed time to leave the world (that is, to be killed) was near (Matthew 26:18; John 13:1).  He was eager to eat the Passover with His disciples before He suffered, since He would not eat it again until its fulfillment in the kingdom of God (Luke 22:15,16).  Jesus, being the Passover Lamb for humanity (1 Corinthians 5:7b), knew that He must die in the afternoon on that very date (Aviv 14) at the same time that Israel’s annual Passover lamb was slain in the temple.  This would have been at the “twain of the evening” or “twilight” at mid-afternoon, and the regular Passover feast would be eaten throughout Jerusalem after sunset the following evening (Aviv 15).

Some will insist that Jesus and His disciples ate their meal at the same time that all the other Jews ate the Passover, which would have been during the beginning hours of Aviv 15 (soon after sunset following Aviv 14).  If that had been the case, then Jesus would have died on the cross the following afternoon, on Aviv 15, twenty-four hours after all the Passover lambs had been slain.

Yet, by examining two passages, it can be shown that the Last Supper was eaten during the beginning hours of Aviv 14, following sunset after Aviv 13.  Firstly, it should be noted that Jesus dipped some bread and handed it to Judas Iscariot and told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly”; then Judas went out (John 13:26,27,30).  Judas, intending to betray Jesus, was on his way to gather some soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees and bring them back (18:3) to arrest Jesus.

However, some of the disciples thought that Jesus was telling Judas to go buy what was needed for the Feast (John 13:29)—that is, for the regular Passover Feast, which would not take place until the following night, soon after Aviv 15 began.  Moreover, if Jesus and His disciples had been eating the regular Passover meal during the initial hours of Aviv 15, the disciples would have known that Judas was not going out to buy anything, since it would have been forbidden to do so on a special/high Sabbath.  Thus, the Last Supper, on Aviv 14, was not  the regular Passover Feast, which took place the following night on Aviv 15.

Secondly, a few hours after Jesus was arrested, He was led by the Jews to the palace of the Roman governor, Pilate, in the early daytime hours of Aviv 14.  But none of the Jews entered the palace because doing so would have made them ceremonially unclean, and they would not have been able to eat the Passover (John 18:28).  This traditional Passover meal was to be eaten as usual  by the Jews the next night after sunset, during the initial hours of Aviv 15.

Jesus would have known that He would be unable to eat the traditional Passover meal the following night, as He knew that He would not be alive.  Furthermore, even if Jesus had not  been crucified, He would not have been able to eat the usual Passover meal the next night (Aviv 15), since He was Jewish in the flesh and would have become ceremonially unclean after having entered Pilate’s palace (John 18:28).  Also, being a Galilean, it may be that Jesus was observing seudah maphsehket, the ritual meal occurring during the evening hours at the beginning of Aviv 14.


In the Spring, a Hebraic “day” began with darkness for about 12 hours and continued into daylight for the next 12 hours.  So it would have been during the evening hours at the beginning of Preparation Day on Thursday, Aviv 14 (soon after sunset following Wednesday, Aviv 13), when Jesus instructed His disciples to go make preparations to eat the Passover meal, even though it was one night sooner than usual.  The large upper room, where Jesus and the disciples ate their Passover Seder—the “Last Supper”—already was furnished and ready (Mark 14:15,16; Luke 22:12,13).

One might wonder how the disciples, on such short notice, would have had the time to mix and bake unleavened bread for the evening meal.  Unleavened bread was eaten only at that time of year and was not easily accessible without making it, which was not done until later on this Preparation Day.  However, let us take a look at the following two verses:

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen.  But this is to fulfill the scripture:  ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me’” (John 13:18).
In both of these verses, the word for “bread” in the Greek is artos” (), which is translated as “leavened loaf.”  Basically, it was an ordinary loaf of bread made with leaven/yeast.  Thus, it would seem that Jesus and the disciples did not eat unleavened bread for this meal, as commonly is assumed, which they did not need to do because the regular Passover Seders, requiring unleavened bread, would not be eaten for another 24 hours.

Interestingly, the bread eaten at this meal represented the body of Jesus (Luke 22:19) that later would be broken and crucified.  He was made to be sin or a sin offering for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), and He bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24).  Furthermore, Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus, was the sinner who ate the dipped bread that Jesus gave to him.  Since leaven or yeast was associated with sin, malice and wickedness (1 Corinthians 5:8), it seems appropriate that leavened bread would have been eaten at the Last Supper.

So the preparations for this evening meal would not have taken long; and the meal was eaten that very night, after Aviv 14 had begun, when the hour to eat had arrived (Luke 22:14).  This would have permitted Jesus to be nailed to the cross several hours later, at about 9:00 a.m. in the morning, which was the beginning of the third hour (Mark 15:25) of daylight, and then to die at about 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon—all  on Aviv 14.  Indeed, Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.


As to whether or not a lamb was eaten as part of the final meal (the Last Supper) that Jesus had with His disciples, the details are inconclusive.  Certainly, there is no mention of a lamb having been slaughtered and prepared for this meal, nor having been eaten at the meal.  We do know that bread and wine were consumed (Matthew 26:26-29).  Perhaps bitter herbs would have been eaten as well.  In addition, with all of the activities that transpired later that evening (including Jesus’ praying on the Mount of Olives and His subsequent arrest and interrogation), it would seem plausible that they would not have spent the time required to eat a full and complete Passover meal.

Some might assume that the disciples’ preparations for the meal (Mark 14:15,16; Luke 22:12,13) would have included the slaughtering of a Passover lamb.  However, this sacrifice was not  to be carried out until the middle of the following afternoon of Aviv 14, at beyn ha’arbayim or “twilight(Exodus 12:6), for a meal to be eaten the following night.  This is when the rest of the Jews would be eating the Passover (John 18:28).  Also, the slaughtering, skinning, and roasting of a lamb, a time-consuming process in itself, would seem to be an activity that, realistically, would have been very difficult to fit into the evening, at the beginning of Aviv 14, before Jesus and the disciples ate their meal.

Moreover, on some level, it would seem to be incongruous for Jesus to have eaten a slain lamb when He Himself was going to be slain, the following afternoon, as the Passover Lamb for Israel and for humanity as a whole.  In fact, it would seem to have been superfluous and unnecessary, if not a manifest distraction, for an actual slain lamb even to have been present in the same room.

Paul said, “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7b).  This is because Jesus was the ultimate Passover Lamb, and His disciples figuratively ate His body (bread) and drank His blood  (red wine) at their final meal together: the Last Supper.

In essence, the true Passover Lamb, Jesus, was present; there did not need to be another lamb on the premises.  In fact, in that context, it would seem to have been absolutely essential  that the disciples’ Passover meal was eaten on Aviv (Nisan) 14, rather than 24 hours later on Aviv 15, when a roasted lamb certainly would  have been an integral part of the standard Passover meal.

Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread

Aviv 14 was Preparation Day, on which the lambs were slaughtered at mid-afternoon—that is, at “twilight” (which was not  the same as sunset).  It was at “twilight” that Passover began (Leviticus 23:5).  Then about three hours later, at sunset, Aviv 15 commenced; this was a “special” or “high” Sabbath, immediately following Preparation Day, Aviv 14 (John 19:31a).  This special Sabbath was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasted for seven days (Exodus 12:16; Leviticus 23:6,7).

On Aviv 15, a sacred assembly was to be held and no work  was to be done (Leviticus 23:7).  This, by definition, is a Sabbath (23:3), since the family members were to assemble together for their Passover meal, and no work was to be done on the first day (nor on the last day) of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  In this particular case, it was a “special” or “high” Sabbath, before which  Jesus’s body had to be removed from the cross (John 19:31) and laid in the tomb, still on Preparation Day (19:42).

Passover was a covenant that God made with the Israelites.  Their part was to slaughter their flawless, unblemished lambs on Preparation Day, Aviv 14, and to apply the blood of the lambs to the tops and sides of the doorframes of their homes (Exodus 12:22).  That night (on Aviv 15), as the Lord went through the land, He would pass over those homes with the blood and no one inside would be struck down (12:23).  However, at midnight, all the firstborn in Egypt were struck down (12:29), since no blood was seen on the thresholds of their homes.

So “Passover” officially began when the lambs were slain at mid-afternoon (or “twilight”) on Preparation Day (Aviv 14) and ended at midnight on the first night of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Aviv 15).  Thus, Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread overlapped by about six hours.  Traditionally, Aviv 15 is referred to as the “first day of Passover (or Pesach),” and the entire week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread often is referred to as “the week of Passover (or Pesach)”; however, these are not scriptural designations.

Passover and Related Periods
Beginnings and Conclusions

Time Period Begins Concludes
Preparation Day Sunset at the
end of Aviv 13
Sunset at the
end of Aviv 14
Passover Mid-afternoon
on Aviv 14
on Aviv 15
Feast of
Unleavened Bread
Sunset at the
end of Aviv 14
Sunset at the
end of Aviv 21

prophecy fulfillment

Jesus died at mid-afternoon (beyn ha’arbayim or “twilight”—about 3:00 p.m.) on Good Thursday (Aviv 14) at the very time the Pesach lamb was sacrificed in the temple.  In Jesus’ prophecy (Matthew 12:40), He implied that the Son of Man would be “in the heart of the earth” after His death.  This would be for three days and three nights.  In Acts 2:26,27, Peter quoted a Psalm by David (Psalm 16:9,10), which indicated that, during the period of time that Jesus’ body was dead in the grave or tomb, His soul would reside in hades:

Thus, as soon as Jesus uttered the words “It is finished(John 19:30) and His body died, He descended to the lower, earthly regions (Ephesians 4:9); that is, evidently His soul went into hades ().  There, He accepted the punishment for human souls, thereby providing atonement for the sins of those who would place their faith in Him (Romans 3:25,26; 1 John 4:10).  Shortly after Jesus died, His body was placed in the grave or tomb.  The Hebrew sheol  can designate “grave” or “hades.”  So whether we refer to Jesus’ body going into the grave or His soul descending to hades, both of these events occurred prior to sunset on Preparation Day (Aviv 14).

Traditionally, a “day” could be any portion of a day and a “night” any portion of a night.  Since the body of Jesus—who became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13)—had to be buried that same day, prior to sunset (Deuteronomy 21:22,23), it would have been in the tomb for portions of 3 days and 3 nights.  This span of time encompassed the rest of Thursday, all night/day Friday, all night/day Saturday, and into the night-time hours at the beginning of Sunday.

This would have allowed Jesus to be resurrected sometime between sunset on Saturday (Aviv 16) and sunrise on the first day of the week (Mark 16:9), which was Sunday (Aviv 17).  As such, Jesus’ prophecy would have been fulfilled properly:

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:40).
Sunday, Aviv 17, was the Feast of Firstfruits, as well as the day following the weekly Sabbath (Leviticus 23:9-11), because Jesus kept His mo’ed  (appointment) to be the “firstfruits” of all who will be raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).  See the Holy Week chart for more details.

counting of the Omer

During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a priest was to wave a sheaf of the first grain of the barley harvest on the day after the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:9-11).  On this day after the Sabbath, the seven-week count until the Feast of Weeks—commonly referred to as the “counting of the Omer”—was to begin (23:15).  Some consider this particular Sabbath to be the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was a “special” or “high” Sabbath (23:6,7).

However, the Sabbath in question actually is the regular weekly Sabbath during that week.  This can be shown by looking at this passage:

From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.  Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD (Leviticus 23:15,16).
Following the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread—during which there are two “special” or “high” Sabbaths, on both the first day and the last day (Leviticus 23:6-8)—there are no more of these special/high Sabbaths for the next seven weeks.  So the seventh Sabbath in the fifty-day count must  refer to the last of seven regular weekly Sabbaths; and the count ends on the day after the seventh Sabbath (23:16), on the first day of the week.

Therefore, the count of the seven weeks, up to Shavuot, Feast of Weeks, or Feast of Harvest, always begins on the first day of the week and ends on the first day of the week (Yom Rishon or Sunday).  During Holy Week, this count began on the day of Jesus’ resurrection, the Feast of Firstfruits (which usually, but not always, is “Easter Sunday”), and ended fifty days later on Pentecost.  So with Jesus’ crucifixion taking place on Aviv 14, His resurrection took place on Aviv 17:

  • Aviv 14: Preparation Day (Yom Chamishi or Thursday)
  • Aviv 15: first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a “special” or “high” Sabbath (Yom Shishi or Friday)
  • Aviv 16: regular weekly Sabbath (Yom Shabbat or Saturday)
  • Aviv 17: Feast of Firstfruits = Resurrection Day (Yom Rishon or Sunday)
In any given year, though, the date of Aviv 17 is not always on the first day of the week.  However, during Holy Week, it was on Yom Rishon (Sunday), the first day of the week.

crucifixion not on Wednesday

Some believe that Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday.  Their foundational assumption is that the “three days and three nights” in the Matthew 12:40 had  to indicate a period of 72 hours, but this is not  the case.  Here are four questions that have been proposed to me, along with my responses:

1) Your premise that Jesus died on a Thursday is based upon the assumption that He rose on a Sunday.  How do we know that Jesus rose on a Sunday?  What if, instead, he rose before dawn on Saturday rather than before dawn on Sunday, in which case He would have been crucified on Wednesday rather than on Thursday or Friday?

There are several reasons why I am convinced that Jesus rose from the dead sometime after sunset on Saturday, Aviv 16, at which time Sunday, Aviv 17 (the first day of the week), had begun.

  • Mark wrote, “When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week...” (Mark 16:9).  The first day of the week is Sunday, not Saturday.  That means the earliest  He could have risen was a moment after the previous sunset, which ended the seventh day (Saturday).  He could not have risen anytime prior to sunset (and certainly not prior to dawn) on Saturday.  Furthermore, we know that Jesus rose before the women reached the tomb.  Matthew 28:1 and John 20:1 point to a resurrection prior to sunrise on the first day of the week, while it was still dark.  Thus, Jesus had to have risen at some point during the nighttime hours of Sunday, before dawn.  The hours of darkness on Sunday (which began a moment after sunset on Saturday and ended at daylight on Sunday), during which Jesus arose, were the third night of the Matthew 12:40 prophecy.  Even if Jesus had been crucified on Wednesday and had been entombed during the dark hours of Thursday (following sunset on Wednesday), then He would have been “in the heart of the earth” during four nights, rather than three nights, thus contradicting His prophecy.

  • Luke wrote, “Now on that same day [the first day of the week—Luke 24:1], two of them were going to a village called Emmaus...” (24:13).  Jesus came and walked along with them, asking them questions and getting them to talk about the events that recently had happened to Jesus, including the crucifixion (24:19b-21a).  They said, “And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place” (24:21b).  If they said this to Jesus on the first day of the week, and we count back three days, we move back to Thursday (not Wednesday or Friday) as His crucifixion day.  Moreover, these men said that the women had gone to the tomb early that morning (24:22), which was the first day of the week (24:1).

  • The women would have broken Levitical law if they had run to the tomb on a Sabbath day.  Had Jesus been crucified and buried on Wednesday, then Thursday would have been a “special” or “high” Sabbath (John 19:31a); and the women would not have been permitted to run to the tomb on that day.  Presumably though, with a Wednesday crucifixion, they would  have rushed to the tomb at dawn on Friday.  If they did not have the spices they needed, they could have purchased and prepared them on Friday morning and gone to the tomb in the afternoon.  Yet, they did not, because two Sabbath days in a row—Friday (a special/high Sabbath) and Saturday (the regular weekly Sabbath)—kept them away until Sunday morning.  Thus, Jesus died on Thursday; and the next day (Friday) was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a special/high Sabbath, with the following day (Saturday) being the usual weekly Sabbath.  Then the women went to the tomb, with the spices they had prepared, on the first day of the week (Luke 24:1).

  • Leviticus 23:3 indicates that the seventh day of the week is the regular weekly Sabbath.  Leviticus 23:9-14 describes the celebration of firstfruits, and the specific day for this to occur is seen to be the day after the regular Sabbath (23:11), making it be the first day of the week.  Jesus fulfilled the four Spring feasts/festivals (Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Firstfruits, and Shavuot) at His first coming.  As the firstfruits from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20,23), Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Firstfruits by rising from the dead on that day—the first day of the week, which in that year was Aviv 17.
As long as Jesus rose at some point after the previous sunset, which was the beginning of Sunday (and which began the final night of the “three days and three nights” sequence), then He rose on the first day of the week.  It doesn’t matter whether He rose before or after midnight; either way, it still was on the first day of the week, as long as it was after sunset following Saturday.

Paul said,

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
Jesus was the firstfruits from the dead of all those who would rise and never would die again (see The Rapture).  It is a fact that He fulfilled the Feast of Firstfruits by rising from death on that day.  According to Leviticus 23:11, this is the day (Sunday) after the weekly Sabbath (Saturday).  If there is any question whether this is referring to the regular weekly Sabbath, or to a special/high Sabbath, we just need to look a little further in Leviticus to find out.

The Feast of Weeks, also known as Shavuot or Pentecost, was to take place seven weeks following the Feast of Firstfruits:

From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.  Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD.  From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the LORD (Leviticus 23:15-17).
That is, counting the day after the regular weekly Sabbath as day #1, then day #50 (seven weeks later) would be the day that they were to present another firstfruits offering.  The latter was to be “the day after the seventh Sabbath”; that seventh Sabbath was a regular weekly Sabbath.  Shavuot/Pentecost, when counted correctly, always is on a Sunday.  Likewise, the Feast of Firstfruits (Resurrection Day) was, and is, on the first day of the week: Sunday.

2) How do you know that Yeshua’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem wasn’t on a Saturday, rather than on the traditionally accepted “Palm Sunday,” which would have caused the crucifixion to be on Wednesday rather than on Thursday?

We know that the 10th of Aviv was when the Passover lambs were selected by the Israelites (Exodus 12:3).  It was the date that Yeshua/Jesus, the ultimate Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-7).  He was following the procession of the national Passover lamb (see parallels between Jesus and the Passover lamb).

It is true that the only way the 14th of Aviv could have fallen on a Wednesday was if Yeshua had ridden into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-7) on a Saturday, the Sabbath.  However, Exodus 23:12 and Deuteronomy 5:14 forbade work by donkeys, among other animals, on the Sabbath.  This would have included carrying around loads, including people, on their backs.

Thus, Yeshua would not have been able to ride a donkey on Saturday, the Sabbath.  Had He done so, He would have broken the Torah/Law—which He never did, even once, as He was the living, breathing Torah (see Torah and Prophets).

We know that the 14th of Aviv was when the Passover lambs were slaughtered (Exodus 12:6).  This was the date that Yeshua was slain.  So with Palm Sunday (not  Saturday) being the 10th day of Aviv, we can count the days as follows:

  • Sunday (Yom Rishon), the 10th of Aviv
  • Monday (Yom Sheni), the 11th of Aviv
  • Tuesday (Yom Shlishi), the 12th of Aviv
  • Wednesday (Yom Revii), the 13th of Aviv
  • Thursday (Yom Chamishi), the 14th of Aviv

3) Do we have any Scripture to confirm whether Christ arose before or after midnight on Sunday?

No, but a Hebrew day runs from sunset to sunset (not midnight to midnight).  As long as He rose at some point after the previous sunset, which was the beginning of Sunday (and which began the final night of the “three days and three nights” sequence), then He rose on the first day of the week.  It doesn’t matter whether He rose before or after midnight; either way, it still was during the hours of darkness on the first day of the week, satisfying the third “night” of the Matthew 12:40 prophecy.

4) Doesn’t Jesus’ prophecy, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40), imply a full 3-day (or at least a 72-hour) time interval in the tomb?

Traditionally, any portion  of a day or night was considered to be a “day” or a “night.”  There is no stipulation anywhere indicating that Jesus had to have been “in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40) for a minimum of 72 hours (which is three full periods of 24 hours each).  Furthermore, there was no indication that Jonah was even inside the fish three full days and three full nights (Jonah 1:17); that is mere conjecture.

We know that it was the ninth hour of daylight (about 3:00 p.m.) that Jesus died (Matthew 27:45-50; Mark 15:33-37; Luke 23:44-46).  Furthermore, after Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus, he took it down from the cross, wrapped it in linen cloth, and placed it in the tomb while it still was Preparation Day and before the (High) Sabbath (first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread) had begun (Luke 23:50-54).

If Jesus died at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, and assuming the 72-hour time limit, then the latest  Jesus could have risen would have been at mid-afternoon on Saturday.  Surely, the guards (and others nearby) would have been awake during daylight hours and would have seen the stone rolled away.  Yet, all of that is irrelevant; Jesus could not  have risen on Saturday because He rose on the first day of the week (Mark 16:9), which is Sunday.

Even without the 72-hour time constraint, if Jesus had died at about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday and had risen sometime after sunset on Saturday, this would have comprised parts of four days and four nights (the remainder of Wednesday, all night and all day Thursday, all night and all day Friday, all night and all day Saturday, and the beginning of the night on Sunday), nullifying Jesus’ prophecy.  Thinking that “three days and three nights” must  be equivalent to “72 hours” of time, in my opinion, is an attempt to force Jesus’ prophecy to comply with one’s personal preferences and assumptions.

If I say, “I visited my friend in the hospital yesterday and last night,” it most likely does not  mean that I had to have been there from dawn yesterday morning to dawn this morning—one entire day and one entire night or 24 hours.  In fact, anyone listening to me most likely would have assumed that I was not  there that entire time.  I could have gone there at 9:00 a.m. and left at 11:00 a.m., then gone again at 6:00 p.m. and left at 8:00 p.m., which meant that I was there only part  of a day and part  of a night.

Jesus died on Thursday at about 3:00 p.m. (at “twilight”—halfway between the minor evening oblation, from noon to 3:00 p.m., and the major evening oblation, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.).  Since He would have had to have been buried prior to sunset (which began the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a “special” or “high” Sabbath—John 19:31,42), then He would have been in the earth the remainder of Thursday, the night and day of Friday, the night and day of Saturday, and some part of the night after sunset, beginning Sunday.  This qualifies as “three days and three nights.”  (See the Holy Week chart.)

Isaac was a “type” of Jesus.  In the eyes of God, Isaac was Abraham’s only legitimate son (Genesis 22:16); and Abraham was willing to offer him as a sacrifice to God.  God told Abraham to go to Moriah and sacrifice his son, Isaac, as a burnt offering (22:2).  At that point, Isaac’s fate was sealed; for all intents and purposes, he was as good as dead.

The next morning (the first day after the commandment for Isaac to die), Abraham saddled his donkey and left with Isaac and two servants (Genesis 22:3).  They continued traveling on the second day.  On the third day (22:4), after they had reached their destination, Abraham told his servants to stay where they were while he and Isaac went to worship (when Isaac’s sacrifice was scheduled to take place), after which they would return (22:5).

How could Abraham believe that they both  would return if Isaac would be dead?  Abraham believed that if he were to follow through with sacrificing Isaac, God could resurrect him—which, figuritively speaking, He did (Hebrews 11:19)—and the two of them would return together.

We do not know on which day of the week God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac; but, for a moment, let us assume that it was a Thursday.  Figuratively speaking, that  was the day of Isaac’s sacrifice and death, because God had commanded it, and only God can rescind His own command.

It was the next day—the first day after the command to sacrifice Isaac—that Abraham and Isaac set out for Moriah.  On our proposed time line, this would have been Friday.  The second day, Saturday, was a travel day.  Then it was on the third day that Isaac’s reprieve from God came; and Isaac, in effect, was raised from death (Hebrews 11:19) on that day.  If Friday had been the first day after Isaac’s “sacrifice” (in the eyes of God), Saturday would have been the second day, and Sunday (Isaac’s “resurrection day”) would have been the third day.

Holy Week

Holy Week

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