From: Over 50 Interpreters Explain the Gospel of Mark Return to Home
By Roland H. Worth, Jr. © 2013
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CHAPTER 14A: 14:1-14:31
WEB: It was now two days before the feast of the Passover and the unleavened bread, and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might seize him by deception, and kill him.
Young’s: And the passover and the unleavened food were after two days, and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how, by guile, having taken hold of him, they might kill him;
Conte (RC): Now the feast of Passover and of Unleavened Bread was two days away. And the leaders of the priests, and the scribes, were seeking a means by which they might deceitfully seize him and kill him.
14:1 After two days. As the Passover fell this year on Thursday, the conspiracy was made on Tuesday. 
was the feast of the Passover and of Unleavened Bread. Two names for the same thing, though slightly differing in their representation of it. The Passover was celebrated on a single day, and the seven days that followed were called "the days of unleavened bread," from the prohibition of leaven that continued through them (Exodus -19). Of course it was the beginning of this period, the Passover day itself, the fourteenth day of Nissan, that was said to be two days off. 
and the chief priests and the scribes. The Pharisees were prominent as opposers all through the ministry, but at the end, when the Passion approached, the chief priests became the leaders of opposition. 
sought how they might take Him by craft
[trickery, NKJV]. Mark here goes less into detail than
Matthew. He simply states the fact that
it was now two days to the Passover, while Matthew represents Jesus as
reminding His disciples of this fact, and telling them that then He would be
crucified. Mark also mentions the bare
fact that “the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by
craft, and put Him to death;” while Matthew describes a formal assemblage for
this consultation at the
by craft [trickery, NKJV]. Not openly, but secretly and treacherously. 
There was a great crowd
at the Passover at
and put Him to death. They were gambling for the highest possible stakes—an innocent man’s life. There were far too many people who thought well of Him and would likely react vehemently if they attempted to grab Him when the crowds were present. [rw]
For a lengthy historical note on the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread and how it was observed, consult the extract at the end of this chapter from Alfred Edersheim, The Temple (1874).
WEB: For they said, "Not during the feast, because there might be a riot of the people."
Young’s: and they said, 'Not in the feast, lest there shall be a tumult of the people.'
Conte (RC): But they said, "Not on the feast day, lest perhaps there may be a tumult among the people."
14:2 But they said, Not on the feast day. The plans of the Sanhedrin were apparently changed by the offer of Judas. With his aid, they were able to do what they had thought to be impossible, viz., to arrest Jesus during the feast without causing a great disturbance among the people. 
lest there be an uproar of the people. The feast brought a great multitude of Jews to Jerusalem, amongst whom would be many who had received bodily or spiritual benefits from Christ, and who therefore, at least worshipped Him as a Prophet; and the rulers of the people feared lest these should rise in His defence. 
Most of Christ's followers were Galileans, and the Galileans were ALL considered bold and quarrelsome. 
WEB: While he
Young’s: And he, being in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, at his reclining (at meat), there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment, of spikenard, very precious, and having broken the alabaster box, did pour on his head;
Conte (RC): And when he was in Bethania, in the house of Simon the leper, and was reclining to eat, a woman arrived having an alabaster container of ointment, of precious spikenard. And breaking open the alabaster container, she poured it over his head.
14:3 And being in
in the house of Simon the leper. Probably already healed by Jesus, since otherwise he would have been unclean. He must not be confounded with the Pharisee called Simon, at whose house in Galilee a similar anointing had taken place long before (Luke 7:36-50). The two occurrences are clearly distinguished in many ways. 
One tradition makes this Simon the father of Lazarus; another the husband of Martha, who served on this occasion. Both families may have occupied the same house; or Simon may have been the owner, and Lazarus his tenant. 
As He sat at meat [at the table, NKJV] there came a woman. The
woman, we learn from
Having an alabaster box. A soft limestone, resembling onyx and easily cut into various shapes. 
Of ointment of spinenard. A fragrant oil. 
A perfumed unguent the precise nature of which is uncertain. 
very precious [costly, NKJV]. A fact that determines the standing of the family as among the comparatively rich. 
and she brake the box and poured it on His head. The narrow neck of the small phial or flask. She did not wish to hold back anything: offered up all, gave all away. 
This may mean no more than that she broke the seal of the box, so that it could be poured out. Boxes of perfumes are often sealed, or made fast with wax, to prevent the perfume from escaping. It was not likely that she would break the box itself when it was unnecessary; and when the unguent, being liquid, would have been wasted, when it was very precious. Nor from a broken box, or phial, could she easily have poured it on His head. 
In depth: Is Mark 14:3-9 the same incident narrated in Matthew 26:6-13 and John 12:1-8 ? "It appears to me more probable that Matthew and Mark should have introduced this story a little out of its place; that Lazarus, if he made this feast (which is not expressly said by John), should have made use of Simon's house as more convenient; and that Mary should have poured this ointment on Christ's head and body, as well as on His feet; than that, within the compass of four days, Christ should have been twice anointed with so costly a perfume; and that the same fault should be found with the action, and the same value set on the ointment, and the same words used in defence of the woman, and all this in the presence of many of the same persons; all which improbable particulars must be admitted, if the stories be considered as different" (Doddridge). Neither Matthew nor Mark says that this occurred no more than two days before the Passover; they only relate it subsequent to some transactions which took place at that time.
WEB: But there were some who were indignant among themselves, saying, "Why has this ointment been wasted?
Young’s: and there were certain much displeased within themselves, and saying, 'For what hath this waste of the ointment been made?
Conte (RC): But there were some who became indignant within themselves and who were saying: "What is the reason for this waste of the ointment?
14:4 And there were some. Matthew: "His disciples;" John: "one of His disciples, Judas." Judas alone spoke out; the feeling was general, though no doubt instigated by him. 
that had indignation. "It is indecent" (say the
within themselves. However wrong, the sentiments were genuine. There is no incompatibility between being sincere and genuinely wrong at the same time. [rw]
and said, Why was waste of the ointment made? Sacrifices, made out of love to Christ, seem wasteful to the world, and even to the Church when under the influence of a mercantile spirit. 
Weymouth: For that ointment might have been sold for fifteen pounds or more, and the money have been given to the poor." And they were exceedingly angry with her.
WEB: For this might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor." They grumbled against her.
Young’s: for this could have been sold for more than three hundred denaries, and given to the poor;' and they were murmuring at her.
Conte (RC): For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and been given to the poor." And they murmured against her.
14:5 For it might have been sold. The objection was not that the use was luxurious and sinful, though this may possibly be implied, but that the value of the ointment might have been better spent in relieving the suffering poor. 
for more than three hundred pence [denarii, NKJV]. A year's wages of a laborer (cf. Matthew 20:2). 
and have been given to the poor. It is barely possible that some of the criticism of the woman sprang from the disciples' exaggeration of the teaching of Jesus about almsgiving. From their point of view it did seem prodigal to anoint with a perfume worth a year's wages of a laborer. But Jesus would never permit the spontaneous expression of love to be misinterpreted. Even the obligations of charity are subject to love. 
This suggestion, put forward by Judas, was with him a mere pretext (see John 12:6). Judas may have hoped to get the money in his possession, but not necessarily to make off with it; his intention was scarcely ripe enough for such a scheme. 
And they murmured against her [criticized her sharply, NKJV]. Peculiar to Mark. This seems to be the work of more than Judas: too many of the disciples fell in with his plausible but heartless [criticism]. This was a mistake of theirs similar to that about the coming of the little children to Jesus (Mark ), a worldly divergence from the spirit of the Master. 
WEB: But Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for me.
Young’s: And Jesus said, 'Let her alone; why are ye giving her trouble? a good work she wrought on me;
Conte (RC): But Jesus said: "Permit her. What is the reason that you trouble her? She has done a good deed for me.
14:6 And Jesus said, Let her alone. Leave her, suffer her to do what she is doing (compare the use of the same verb in ; , 11:6). 
Let her alone; why trouble ye her? Trouble: literally, give (or afford) labours, cares, vexations. 
She hath wrought [done, NKJV] a good work on [for, NKJV] me. Christ measured the moral quality of the act by the motive, the disciples by its seeming utility. This utilitarian age presents many temptations to follow the lead of Judas. 
You see it is very unlike our conventional notions of what constitutes a “good work." Christ implies that anything, no matter what are its other characteristics, that is directed towards Him under the impulse of simple love to Him, is a “good work;" and the converse follows that nothing which has not that saving salt of reference to Him in it deserves the title. 
Weymouth: For you always have the poor among you, and whenever you choose you can do acts of kindness to them; but me you have not always.
WEB: For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want to, you can do them good; but you will not always have me.
Young’s: for the poor always ye have with you, and whenever ye may will ye are able to do them good, but me ye have not always;
Conte (RC): For the poor, you have with you always. And whenever you wish, you are able to do good to them. But you do not have me always.
14:7 For ye have the poor with you always. This suggests that no reorganization of society will ever banish poverty from the earth. 
It is only a perverted exegesis that sees in these words of Jesus a justification of the perpetuation of poverty. If His teachings as to wealth were once operative, poverty would be greatly reduced, if not destroyed. 
poor. In Jesus' time and in His eastern country, poverty was not as it is with us. Because of the warm climate and the very simple habits of the people, to sustain life was a much easier problem. For those willing and industrious, food and shelter were seldom difficult to obtain. The poor whom Jesus knew were chiefly the blind, deaf, crippled, and those in such bodily affliction that they could not work to sustain even their simple wants. 
and whensoever ye will [wish, NKJV] you may do them good. Helpfulness to the needy is no optional work: it is one of the duties, and not less one of the privileges, in His kingdom. See how He identifies His needy brethren with Himself in Matthew 5:40. 
Those who talk much about the poor will have constant opportunities to do much for them. Let them do, as well as talk. Lightfoot conjectures that the Jews thought there would be no poor in the days of the Messiah. 
But Me ye have not always. He had given such powerful suggestions of approaching death and they allow themselves to be diverted into a—comparatively—unimportant issue such as this! [rw]
WEB: She has done what she could. She has anointed my body beforehand for the burying.
Young’s: what she could she did, she anticipated to anoint my body for the embalming.
Conte (RC): But she has done what she could. She has arrived in advance to anoint my body for burial.
14:8 She hath done what she could. She seized the opportunity, which might not occur again, of doing honor to her Lord by anointing Him with her very best. 
May not the same Lord say of us, when we meet Him in the great day, "These were feeble children, that were not able to do much for Me, but they have done what they could?" Angels can do no better, though they may do more. 
she is come aforehand. The word thus rendered only occurs three times in the New Testament: here; 1 Corinthians 11:21; Galatians 6:1. It denotes (1) to take beforehand; (2) to take before another; (3) to outstrip, get the start of, anticipate. 
to anoint My body to the [for, NKJV] burying.
Such words would scarcely have been spoken if they had not represented
the purpose that was present in Mary's mind.
The time was [soon after] His entrance to
WEB: Most certainly I tell you, wherever this Good News may be preached throughout the whole world, that which this woman has done will also be spoken of for a memorial of her."
Young’s: Verily I say to you, wherever this good news may be proclaimed in the whole world, what also this woman did shall be spoken of -- for a memorial of her.'
Conte (RC): Amen I say to you, wherever this Gospel shall be preached throughout the entire world, the things she has done also shall be told, in memory of her."
14:9 Verily, I say unto you. The formula of solemn affirmation which we have already met with so repeatedly (3:28; 6:11; 8:12; 9:1, 41; 10:15, 29; 11:23; 12:43; 13:30). 
whersoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world. That the gospel is to be thus preached He does not state, but assumes; it is the woman's part that needs to be mentioned [specifically]. 
this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. i.e., as a means of keeping her in remembrance. No one else ever received from the Lord such a promise. 
In depth: "Impossible" prophecy as evidence of genuine inspiration . It brings no small authority to the predictions of the New Testament that, when many of them were made, there appeared no likelihood that they should ever be made good. When a poor virgin, that was betrothed to a carpenter, confidently pronounces that "all ages should call her Blessed," what probability was there that what she said would come to pass? And when another private woman, then living in a village, had it foretold her that a censured action of hers should be reported "through the whole world," to her praise, what sober man, that were not a prophet, would venture to lose his credit by making such a promise? And therefore, since we see such unlikely predictions actually accomplished, it may well convince an unbiased man, that the authors of them were really endowed with a true prophetic spirit; and that the events, by that foretold, were not effects of chance or policy, but of Divine Providence.
WEB: Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went away to the chief priests, that he might deliver him to them.
Young’s: And Judas the Iscariot, one of the twelve, went away unto the chief priests that he might deliver him up to them,
Conte (RC): And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went away, to the leaders of the priests, in order to betray him to them.
And Judas Iscariot. Or Judas the inhabitant of Kerioth. He was probably the only one of the Twelve who was not a Galilean. 
one of the twelve. Mentioned as an aggravation of his guilt. 
went unto the chief priests to betray Him unto them. The motives leading Judas to this act of treachery are said (John 12:4-6) to have been dishonesty and covetousness, but doubtless in addition were anger rising from having been, as he supposed, duped by Jesus into believing that He was the Christ. In the future now outlined by Jesus, he saw no preferment and no realization of what we may safely believe were his hopes as to the messianic kingdom. Cupidity and revenge easily become allies in any man's life. The share of Judas in the conspiracy was simply that of piloting the servants of the Sanhedrin to some place where Jesus might be arrested without causing a popular uprising. The arrest was the only time when such a danger threatened the authorities. If once Jesus were in the hands of the Romans, no popular movement would be expected. As, however, the Romans would not arrest Him, since He had in no way been a disturber of the peace, and as the priests themselves dared not face openly public opinion, treachery was the only resource left. 
WEB: They, when they heard it, were glad, and promised to give him money. He sought how he might conveniently deliver him.
Young’s: and having heard, they were glad, and promised to give him money, and he was seeking how, conveniently, he might deliver him up.
Conte (RC): And they, upon hearing it, were gladdened. And they promised him that they would give him money. And he sought an opportune means by which he might betray him.
And when they heard it, they were glad. This was more than they could expect, for they must have supposed that the friends of Jesus would be true to Him. 
and promised to give him money. Matthew (26:15) tells of a bargain, in which Judas was paid thirty shekels, the ordinary price of a slave (Exodus ). 
Thirty pieces of silver were equivalent to 120 denarii. At this time the ordinary wages for a day’s labor was one denarius; so that the whole sum amounted to about four months’ wages of a day laborer. 
And he sought how he might conveniently betray Him. Opportunely, as a good time, i.e., safely for himself and so as to secure his employers from the popular commotion which they so much dreaded. 
WEB: On the first day of unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the Passover, his disciples asked him, "Where do you want us to go and prepare that you may eat the Passover?"
Young’s: And the first day of the unleavened food, when they were killing the passover, his disciples say to him, 'Where wilt thou, that, having gone, we may prepare, that thou mayest eat the passover?'
Conte (RC): And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they immolate the Passover, the disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?
And the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover [NKJV adds, lamb]. The "day of unleavened bread” is here still more closely identified by the modifying expression, “when they killed the Passover." This was done at the close of the fourteenth day of the month, the Passover week beginning at sunset the same evening, which was the dividing point between the fourteenth and the fifteenth days of the month. 
These words afford proof that Mark wrote for Gentiles, for whom the explanation was necessary. 
Where wilt thou that we go and prepare. As to the necessary preparation, (1) originally the head of the household killed the lamb, which had been selected and kept four days beforehand; but in later times the lamb was slain by the priests in the temple, some member of the household presenting it there and assisting. This was a part of the service proposed by the disciples on this occasion--to buy the lamb and attend to the sacrificing. (2) It was necessary to attend to the roasting of the lamb, to provide the bread, wine, bitter herbs, and sweet fruits, and to spread the table; in this case, also, to provide a place. 
that thou mayes eat the Passover? A brotherhood like that of the disciples would naturally, as a family, eat the Passover lamb together. 
They do not inquire in
what city or town. The Passover could not
be sacrificed anywhere but in
The question of the disciples shows clearly that Jesus had not disclosed to them His plans. Perhaps His reticence was due to His knowledge of the plot of Judas. 
Weymouth: So He sent two of His disciples with instructions, saying, "Go into the city, and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water: follow him,
WEB: He sent two of his disciples, and said to them, "Go into the city, and there you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him,
Young’s: And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith to them, 'Go ye away to the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water, follow him;
Conte (RC): And he sent two of his disciples, and he said to them: "Go into the city. And you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water; follow him.
And he sendeth forth two of His
disciples. Peter and John (Luke [22:8]). Jesus Himself still remained in
and saith unto them, Go ye into the
city, and there shall meet you a man bearing
a pitcher of water: follow him. It was generally the task
of women to carry water. Among
the thousands at
Nothing could be less the object of natural sagacity and foresight than the events here mentioned. Had the two disciples come to the place specified, rather sooner or latter than they did, the “man bearing the pitcher of water” would either not have arrived, or he would have gone. But our Lord knew that the owner of a certain commodious house in Jerusalem favoured Him; He foresaw that at a precise time of the day, he would send his servant for a pitcher of water; that the disciples would meet him just when they entered the city; that by following him they would find out the person whom He intended; and that by mentioning Him as "the Master” or "the Teacher" the owner of the house would readily consent to accommodate them in an upper chamber. When the disciples found all these circumstances so exactly accord to the prediction, they could not but be deeply impressed with a conviction of their Lord's knowledge of every event, and His influence over every heart. 
Alternate interpretation: It is unnecessary to interpret these words of Jesus as indicating miraculous prescience. The use of the term “My guest chamber” (vs. 14) clearly indicates that He had had some previous understanding with the owner of the house. This is supported by the fact that, in accordance with Jewish law (Exodus 12:3), Jesus must have chosen a lamb on the 10th of Nisan. Probably the bearing of a pitcher of water, ordinarily the work of the women, had been agreed upon as the sign of recognition. By these precautions Jesus was able to select the room for the Passover feast without disclosing its location to Judas in time for him to betray the fact to the priests. 
Rebuttal: Our Lord here shows superhuman knowledge, for even if He had previously arranged with the master of the house--of which there is no evidence--this [method of recognition] could not have been preconceived. 
Weymouth: and whatever house he enters, tell the master of the house, 'The Rabbi asks, Where is my room where I can eat the Passover with my disciples?'
WEB: and wherever he enters in, tell the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"'
Young’s: and wherever he may go in, say ye to the master of the house -- The Teacher saith, Where is the guest-chamber, where the passover, with my disciples, I may eat?
Conte (RC): And wherever he will have entered, say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher says: Where is my dining room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?'
And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman [master, NKJV] of the house. The
owner must have been a man of some substance, and probably a friend if not a
disciple of our Lord. Tradition says
that this was the house of John whose surname was Mark; and that it was in this
house that the disciples were assembled on the evening of our Lord's
resurrection, and where, also, they received the miraculous gifts of the Holy
Spirit on the day of Pentecost. It was
to this house that Peter betook himself when he was delivered by the angel out
of prison. Hence it was known as one of
the earliest places of Christian worship by the name of "Coenaculum Sion;" and here was
built a church, called the
The Master saith, Where is the the guestchamber. In the best [Greekl] text, "my" guest-chamber, which naturally indicates either that He had arranged for the room or that He had used it for some purpose before. 
where I shall eat the Passover with My disciples? Who constituted, as it were, His household, and would therefore be expected to unite with Him in this observance. 
In depth: The nature of the Passover ritual as it eventually existed in its fully developed form . The Passover was celebrated among the Jews:
(1) By eating two or three flat cakes of unleavened bread (Exodus ), and by a succession of four cups of red wine always mixed with water (Psalms 16:5; 23:5; 116:13). These were placed before the master of the house where the paschal feast was celebrated, or before the most eminent guest, who was called the celebrant, the president, or proclaimer of the feast.
(2) After those assembled had reclined, he took one of the four cups, known as the "cup of consecration," in his right hand and pronounced the benediction over the wine and the feast, saying, "Blessed be Thou, Jehovah, our God, Thou King of the universe, Who hast created the fruit of the vine." He then tasted the cup and passed it round.
(3) Water was then brought in, and he washed, followed by the rest, the hands being dipped in water.
(4) The table was then set out with bitter herbs, such as lettuce, endive, succory, and horehound, the sauce called charoseth, and the passover lamb.
(5) The celebrant then once more blessed God for the fruits of the earth, and taking a portion of the bitter herbs, dipped it in the charoseth, and ate a piece of it of "the size of an olive," and his example was followed by the rest.
(6) The Haggadah
or "shewing forth" (1 Corinthians ) now commenced, and the celebrant declared
the circumstances of the delivery from
(7) Then the second cup of wine was filled, and a child or proselyte inquired, "What mean ye by this service?" (Exodus 12:26), to which reply was made according to a prescribed formula or liturgy. The first part of the "Hallel," Psalms 113-114, was then sung, and the second cup was solemnly drunk.
(8) The celebrant now washed his hands again, and taking two of the unleavened cakes, broke one of them and pronounced the thanksgiving in these words, "Blessed be Thou, O Lord our God, Thou King of the universe, Who bringest forth fruit out of the earth." Then he distributed a portion to each, and all wrapping some bitter herbs round their portion, dipped it in the charoseth and ate it.
(9) The flesh of the lamb was now eaten, and the Master of the house, lifting up his hands, gave thanks over the third cup of wine, known as the "cup of blessing," and handed it round to each person.
(10) After thanks for the food of which they had
partaken, and for their redemption from
The Passover meal proper began with the second cup and ended with the third.
WEB: He will himself show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Get ready for us there."
Young’s: and he will shew you a large upper room, furnished, prepared -- there make ready for us.'
Conte (RC): And he will show you a large cenacle, fully furnished. And there, you shall prepare it for us."
And he will shew you a large upper room. The word means primarily "a room above ground," but here no doubt one in the second story. Many eastern houses, anciently as now [in the nineteenth century], consisted of two stories besides the flat roof. 
furnished and prepared. This act was one of hospitality, provided by some pious Jew or disciple, who was prepared to lend the room to some one. He had made ready the table and couches, and covered them with carpets, and willingly yielded the use of them to any who asked him. 
there make ready for us. The room was ready but they would have to provide the lamb, the unleavened bread, wine, and bitter herbs. 
WEB: His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found things as he had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.
Young’s: And his disciples went forth, and came to the city, and found as he said to them, and they made ready the passover.
Conte (RC): And his disciples departed and went into the city. And they found it just as he had told them. And they prepared the Passover.
And His disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as He had said unto them. In spite of the distance involved and lack of specific names or geographic locations, it occurred just as the Lord had said. In a city so (over)crowed with pilgrims, this had to have made a powerful impression upon them. [rw]
and they made ready the Passover. This would consist in obtaining the Paschal lamb and taking it to the temple to be sacrificed by the priests. It would then be brought to the house to be cooked; and the unleavened bread, the bitter herbs, and the wine would be provided, and the water for purification. After all these preparations had been made, the two disciples would return to their Master. 
WEB: When it was evening he came with the twelve.
Young’s: And evening having come, he cometh with the twelve,
Conte (RC): Then, when evening came, he arrived with the twelve.
And in the evening. He spent most of the day outside of the city. A time of psychological preparation for the pain and sorrow so soon to come? [rw]
He cometh. Into the city, to the house and room prepared for Him. 
with the twelve. There was a somewhat larger circle of near followers but there is no indication that any of these were now present. 
In depth: Was this observance on the official Passover date ? The festival began at sunset of the 14th day of the month Nisan. That Jesus and the twelve partook of the feast on the usual day, is the only inference that can be drawn from the accounts of the first three evangelists; and indeed no other view seems consistent with their narratives. Yet there are difficulties in John's gospel which have led many to adopt the opinion that they kept the Passover a day earlier than usual, on the 13th of the month. The passages in John, however, may be harmonized with their keeping the feast at the customary time, as Mark's narrative seems clearly to indicate. This question has led to very elaborate discussions.
WEB: As they sat and were eating, Jesus said, "Most certainly I tell you, one of you will betray me--he who eats with me."
Young’s: and as they are reclining, and eating, Jesus said, 'Verily I say to you -- one of you, who is eating with me -- shall deliver me up.'
Conte (RC): And while reclining and eating with them at table, Jesus said, "Amen I say to you, that one of you, who eats with me, will betray me."
And as they sat and did eat. It does not appear that the Jews ate the Passover now, as their fathers did formerly, standing, with their shoes on, and their staves in their hands. 
Verily [Assuredly, NKJV] I say unto you. Although they had heard this expression many times during the ministry, this time it had to be particularly shocking because it concerned the treachery of one of their inner group and not some action by the broader (and much larger) band of disciples in general. [rw]
one of you. This indefinite announcement would give Judas an opportunity of repentance. But it produced no effect, except to startle and sadden them all 
which eateth with Me shall betray Me. There may be a reference to Psalms 12:9 [41:9], quoted by John (). 
WEB: They began to be sorrowful, and to ask him one by one, "Surely not I?" And another said, "Surely not I?"
Young’s: And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to him, one by one, 'Is it I?' and another, 'Is it I?'
Conte (RC): But they began to be sorrowful and to say to him, one at a time: "Is it I?"
And they began to be sorrowful. The very thought excited great surprise and deepest sorrow. 
Jesus Himself “was troubled in spirit" as He made the disclosure (John ). 
and to say unto Him one by one. There is no sin whatever of which a man ought to think himself capable, since he has the seed of all in his corrupt will. 
Is it I? No doubt each of the Apostles felt in his heart that he could not betray his Master, but then each believed the Lord knew his heart better than he knew it himself. 
WEB: He answered them, "It is one of the twelve, he who dips with me in the dish.
Young’s: And he answering said to them, 'One of the twelve who is dipping with me in the dish;
Conte (RC): And he said to them: "It is one of the twelve, who dips his hand with me in the dish.
And He answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve. Again stressing that it is one of the inner group of disciples who will be guilty. [rw]
that dippeth with Me in the dish. This would indicate that Judas was near Jesus at the table. Those who were near to each other dipped their bread into the same dish or bowl; but it is implied that not all dipped into the same one. No doubt several dishes would be required for the number of persons here partaking of the meal. On this occasion these probably contained liquid food prepared with the bitter herbs. 
WEB: For the Son of Man goes, even as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for that man if he had not been born."
Young’s: the Son of Man doth indeed go, as it hath been written concerning him, but woe to that man through whom the Son of Man is delivered up; good were it to him if that man had not been born.'
Conte (RC): And indeed, the Son of man goes, just as it has been written of him. But woe to that man by whom the Son of man will be betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born."
The Son of
indeed goeth as it is written of Him. Written, as in Isaiah 53. 
but woe to that man by whom the Son is Man is betrayed! The guilt of willful human agents is unaffected by prophecies and predeterminations. So it is said concerning Judas in the prayer of the apostles (Acts ). Prophecy does not interfere with responsibility. 
Good were it for that man if he had never been born. "A proverbial expression for the most terrible destiny, forbidding the thought of any deliverance however remote" (Riddle). 
WEB: As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had blessed, he broke it, and gave to them, and said, "Take, eat. This is my body."
Young’s: And as they are eating, Jesus having taken bread, having blessed, brake, and gave to them, and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body.'
Conte (RC): And while eating with them, Jesus took bread. And blessing it, he broke it and gave it to them, and he said: "Take. This is my body."
And as they did eat. Still engaged with the Paschal meal; there was no special preparation or clearing of the table, as if to do justice to a new beginning. All was simple and quiet. 
Jesus took bread. The unleavened bread of the Passover was doubtless in thin cakes. 
As there was no special preparation for the new institution, so there was no providing of new materials. No special significance appears in the fact that the bread was unleavened, and there is nothing to make us doubt that He would have used leavened bread just as readily, if that had been before Him. 
And blessed. It is not intimated that the blessing and thanksgiving changed the character of the elements used, any more than at an ordinary meal. 
and brake it. Into fragments; whether using one loaf or more does not appear. 
Its purport is given in Paul's account (1 Corinthians ), "This is my body, which is broken for you." It referred to what He was to endure in His flesh for the sins of men. 
and gave to them. The apostles, as they reclined about the table. 
and said, Take. i.e., with the hand, in order to eat it. There is no spiritual mystery in the word, as if it related to some mystical appropriation. 
eat. The word "eat" is omitted here from the best [Greek] text, though unquestioned in Matthew; both words are omitted by Luke and Paul. 
this is My body. i.e., it represents my body, as today we say looking at a picture, "This is my father." 
There was no possibility of a literal acceptation of His words by the disciples, for His body was visibly and tangibly among them, as real to their senses as their own bodies. [Hence] any suggestion of literalism, as if Jesus meant that the bread by miracle was literally His body, would have amazed the disciples beyond measure. 
Alternate interpretation: The copula means neither "represents" nor "symbolizes," but simply is. The Lord is pleased to establish the most intimate relation possible between the consecrated elements and His sacred humanity. The faithful communicant, when he receives the Eucharistic bread and wine, eats the flesh and drinks the blood of the Son of Man (John -56). It ought not to be necessary to add that "this is a great mystery," and that the eating and drinking are purely spiritual acts--and, because spiritual, therefore most real and true. 
WEB: He took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave to them. They all drank of it.
Young’s: And having taken the cup, having given thanks, he gave to them, and they drank of it -- all;
Conte (RC): And having taken the chalice, giving thanks, he gave it to them. And they all drank from it.
And He took the cup. Nowhere in the accounts of the Lord's Supper is the word “wine” used, but “cup," "fruit of the vine,” so that fresh, unfermented grape juice fulfills all the conditions of this observance, and is even a more perfect symbol than fermented wine. 
Alternate interpretation: There is no mention of wine at the Passover in the Pentateuch, but before our Lord's time the various "cups" of the feast—never less than four in number--had become a regular part of the service. The wine was the common wine of the country, and was mixed with water as it was drunk. Here, again, our Lord provided nothing new, but took what was before Him. 
and when He had given thanks. The same word that is used by Luke and Paul of the first prayer. Hence there was no new quality or character in the second. This too was a simple "grace before meat." 
He gave it to them; and they all drank of it. Matthew quotes Jesus as saying of the cup, "Drink ye all of it." Thus again the one account incidentally supplements the other. 
In depth: At what point in the Passover observance was the Lord's Supper instituted ? Many of the commentators, in explaining the last Passover, and he institution of the Lord's Supper, endeavor to designate the point or stage in the former ceremony, when the bread was broken, and then that at which the cup was given. They follow a somewhat complicated ritual of the Passover, made out chiefly from the Talmud and the writings of Maimonides, a later Jewish author. But that the ceremonies there described were observed in our Lord's day, cannot be established, and must be regarded as doubtful; and that there was such a uniform order, as that there was a particular time for the passing around of each of the four cups, or five according to some authorities, is not probable. Those who follow this order in their explanation seem generally to believe that it was the third cup that our Lord used in instituting the new sacrament, while others maintain that it was the fourth. Alexander says, "whether the third or any other of the five cups in the later Jewish ritual, is as unimportant as it is uncertain."
WEB: He said to them, "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many.
Young’s: and he said to them, 'This is my blood of the new covenant, which for many is being poured out;
Conte (RC): And he said to them: "This is my blood of the new covenant, which shall be shed for many.
And He said unto them. While they were drinking; so the words naturally mean. In Matthew, "He gave it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you;" Luke and Paul, simply, "in like manner also the cup, after supper," in which the second prayer is not mentioned, except by implication in the phrase, "in like manner."23
This is My blood of the new testament [covenant, NKJV]. The word "covenant" is probably intended to remind the disciples of the covenant of Exodus 24:3-8. The blood sprinkled on the altar and on the people symbolized the covenant of peace between God and the people, they agreeing to obey Him and He accepting them. So Jesus shed His blood--gave His life--that through the shedding of it men might be brought into fellowship and peace with God. 
Probably a reference to the new covenant of Jeremiah 31:31ff. 
which is shed for many. Mark omits, after this expression, the words "for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:26), which declare to what end the blood of Jesus was “shed for many,” presuming on the information of his readers in regard to the design of Christ's death. 
certainly I tell you, I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until that
day when I drink it anew in the
Young’s: verily I say to you, that no more may I drink of the produce of the vine till that day when I may drink it new in the reign of God.'
Conte (RC): Amen I say
to you, that I will no longer drink from this fruit of the vine, until that day
when I will drink it new in the
Verily [Assuredly, NKJV] I say unto you. Implies that the truth thus introduced was of deep import to the apostles. 
I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine until that day
when I drink it new in the
Expositors are by no means agreed in the interpretation of this verse. Some understand it to declare a change of dispensations; others, to refer to Christ's second coming; others, to the marriage supper for the church in the new kingdom on earth. Some think it means spiritual communion at the Lord's table, or more generally in all worship; and many apply it to the joys of heaven. 
Weymouth: After singing a hymn, they went out to the
WEB: When they
had sung a hymn, they went out to the
Young’s: And having sung an hymn, they went forth to the mount of the Olives,
Conte (RC): And having
sung a hymn, they went out to the
And when they had sung a hymn. One word in Greek meaning, “having hymned," which does not indicate whether one or more hymns or Psalms were sung. It is generally supposed that they sun Psalms 115:118, called the Great Hallel, with which the paschal feast was closed, according to the later Jewish ritual. 
they went out into the
WEB: Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of me tonight, for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'
Young’s: and Jesus saith to them -- 'All ye shall be stumbled at me this night, because it hath been written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered abroad,
Conte (RC): And Jesus said to them: "You will all fall away from me in this night. For it has been written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'
And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended [made to stumble, NKJV]. i.e., surprised, shocked, disappointed, broken in faith. It is a pity that there is no English word that represents this Greek word better than the literal but awkward "cause to stumble" which the revisers have usually adopted. 
this night. The crisis is that extremely close, “this night.” [rw]
for it is written. Freely quoted from Zechariah 13:7, not exactly as in the Hebrew or as in the Septuagint, but not diverging essentially from either. The citation from Zechariah shows (see the context there) that He was thinking of His death in the spirit of Isaiah 53:5-6, 10. 
I will smite the Shepherd. He had called Himself the Good Shepherd who would lay down His life for the sheep (John ), and now the moment was at hand. 
And the sheep shall be scattered. Like frightened sheep, they will panic and flee. [rw]
after I am raised up, I will go before you into
Young’s: but after
my having risen I will go before you to
Conte (RC): But after I
have risen again, I will go before you to
But after that I am risen. See 8:31; 16:6. 
I will go before you into
"Go before" is a pastoral act, referring to the figure of a flock in the preceding verse (compare John ). 
WEB: But Peter said to him, "Although all will be offended, yet I will not."
Young’s: And Peter said to him, 'And if all shall be stumbled, yet not I;'
Conte (RC): Then Peter said to him, "Even if all will have fallen away from you, yet I will not."
But Peter said unto him. Surely with complete sincerity. There are crises in life—in the modern age such things as someone shooting at you—that you have no certainty of how you will react until it happens. You know how you should react and you fully intend to do so, but when disaster hits “out of the blue,” those intentions may abruptly crumble because it’s a situation you’ve never faced before. [rw]
Although all shall be offended [are made to stumble, NKJV]. All may not be so sure as I of their own love. Compare the searching question [to Peter], "Lovest thou no more than these?" (John 21:15). "Are you so much more sure of your own heart? Is your love that stronger love that you thought it was?" 
yet will not I. Our Lord had just distinctly stated that they would all be offended and therefore these words of St. Peter were very presumptuous. 
WEB: Jesus said to him, "Most certainly I tell you, that you today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times."
Young’s: And Jesus said to him, 'Verily I say to thee, that to-day, this night, before a cock shall crow twice, thrice thou shalt deny me.'
Conte (RC): And Jesus said to him, "Amen I say to you, that this day, in this night, before the rooster has uttered its voice twice, you will deny me three times."
And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee. Jesus, so far from admitting Peter's claim to superior power of adherence to Himself in danger, forewarns him that his offence will be far more aggravated than the general one foretold of all. 
That this day, even in this night. Emphasizing not only the fact of his coming flight, but its imminence. Not at some indefinite point in the future, but this very night! [rw]
before the cock [rooster, NKJV] crow. It
is said that the inhabitants of
twice. As the cocks usually crow about and again at early dawn, this is equivalent to saying, "tonight, before day breaks again." 
All the other historians report Jesus as saying, “before the cock crow thou shalt deny Me thrice,” or, “the cock shall not crow before thou shall deny Me thrice." This is no other than an instance in which Mark reports with more exactness a speech which the other historians report in terms less definite but having in effect the same meaning. Doubtless, Mark quotes the exact words of Jesus, but the other writers, knowing that the object of the mention of cock-crowing was to indicate the time at which the denial would occur, and knowing that when one cock crows in the morning, he is always followed by others in rapid succession, saw fit to employ the less definite style to indicate the same time of night. 
thou shalt deny Me. i.e., disown Me, disavow connection with Me or knowledge of Me. This was fulfilled a few hours later (verses 66-72). 
thrice [three times, NKJV]. The definite announcement of three denials does not look like a forecasting of probabilities or an inference from Peter's weakness and danger. It is a claim of true foreknowledge. 
WEB: But he spoke all the more, "If I must die with you, I will not deny you." They all said the same thing.
Young’s: And he spake the more vehemently, 'If it may be necessary for me to die with thee -- I will in no wise deny thee;' and in like manner also said they all.
Conte (RC): But he spoke further, "Even if I must die along with you, I will not deny you." And they all spoke similarly also.
Bit he spake the more vehemently. Vigorously, with passion, it was so utterly incomprehensible and unbelievable. [rw]
If I should die with Thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. The sense is that he went on repeating over and over again, in substance, what he had before avowed. So far from Peter's being humbled by the prophetic warning of his Master, his pride and self-confidence rose with the rebuke. There is no surer precursor of a fall, "When pride cometh, then cometh shame” (Proverbs 11:2; ). 
He was, no doubt, sincere in all this, but he had yet to learn his own weakness. St. Hilary ways on this, “Peter was so carried away by the fervour of his zeal and love for Christ that he regarded neither the weakness of his own flesh nor the truth of his Master's word." 
Likewise also said they all. No less rash than Peter's pledge. 
But equally sincere and well intended. [rw]
A historical note on Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread: From Alfred Edersheim, The Temple (1874):
The cycle of Temple-festivals appropriately opens with "the Passover " and "Feast of unleavened bread." For, properly speaking, these two are quite distinct, the "Passover" taking place on the 14th of Nisan, and the " Feast of unleavened bread" commencing on the 15th, and lasting for seven days, to the 21st of the month. But from their close connection they are generally treated as one, both in the Old and in the New Testament ; and Josephus, on one occasion, even describes it as "a feast for “eight days.”
There are peculiarities about the Passover
which mark it as the most important, and, indeed,
take it out of the rank of the
other festivals. It was the first of the three feasts on which all males in
The name of the Passover, in Hebrew Pesach, and in Aramaean and Greek Pascha, is derived from a root which means to " step over," or to "overleap," and thus points back to the historical origin of the festival. But the circumstances in which the people were placed necessarily rendered its first celebration, in some particulars, different from its later observance, which, so far as possible, was brought into harmony with the general Temple practice. Accordingly, Jewish authorities rightly distinguish between "the Egyptian" and the " Permanent Passover."
On its first institution it was ordained that the head of every house should, on the 10th of Nisan, select either a lamb or a kid of the goats, of the first year, and without blemish. Later Jewish ordinances, dating after the return from Babylon, limit it to a lamb; and it is explained that the four days previous to the slaying of the lamb referred to the four generations that had passed after the children of Israel went down into Egypt.
The lamb was to be killed on the eve of the 14th, or rather, as the phrase is, "between the two evenings." According to the Samaritans, the Karaite Jews, and many modern interpreters, this means between actual sunset and complete darkness (or, say, between six and seven P.M.); but from the contemporary testimony of Josephus, and from Talmudical authorities, there cannot be a doubt that, at the time of our Lord, it was regarded as the interval between the sun's commencing to decline and his actual disappearance. This allows a sufficient period for the numerous lambs which had to be killed, and agrees with the traditional account that on the eve of the Passover the daily evening sacrifice was offered an hour, or, if it fell on a Friday, two hours, before the usual time.
In the original institution the blood of this sacrifice was to be sprinkled with hyssop on the lintel and the two doorposts of the house, probably as being the most prominent place of entrance. Then the whole animal, without breaking i bone of it, was to be roasted, and eaten by each family— or, if the number of its members were too small, by two neighbouring families—along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, to symbolise the bitterness of their bondage and the haste of their deliverance, and also to point forward to the manner in which the true Israel were in all time to have fellowship in the Paschal Lamb. All who were circumcised were to partake of this meal, and that arrayed as for a journey ; and whatsoever was not consumed was to be burnt on the spot.
These ordinances in regard to the Passover were afterwards modified during the journey in the wilderness to the effect, that all males were to appear "in the place which the Lord shall choose," and there alike to sacrifice and to eat the lamb or kid, bringing at the same time also another offering with them. Lastly, it was also ordered that if any man were unclean at the time of the regular Passover, or " in a journey afar off," he should celebrate it a month later.
The Mishnah * contains the
following, as the distinctions between the "Egyptian" and the "Permanent"
Passover: "The Egyptian Passover was selected
on the 10th, and the blood
was to be sprinkled with a sprig of hyssop on the lintel
and the two door-posts, and it was to be eaten in
haste in the first night; but the
Permanent Passover is observed all the seven
days;" i.e., the use of unleavened cakes was, on its first observance,
enjoined only for that one night, though, from Israel's haste, it must, for
several days, have been the only available bread ;
while afterwards its exclusive use was ordered during the whole
week. Similarly, also, the journey of the children of
To these distinctions the following are also added: In Egypt the Passover was selected on the 10th, and killed on the 14th, and they did not, on account of the Passover, incur the penalty of " cutting off," as in later generations; of the Egyptian Passover it was said, "Let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it," while afterwards the Passover-companies might be indiscriminately chosen; in Egypt it was not ordered to sprinkle the blood and burn the fat on the altar, as afterwards; at the first Passover it was said, "None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning," which did not apply to later times; in Egypt it was slain by every one in his own house, while afterwards it was slain by all Israel in one place; lastly, formerly where they ate the Passover, there they lodged, but afterwards they might eat it in one, and lodge in another place.
Scripture records that the Passover was
kept the second year after the
Exodus, and then not again till the Israelites
actually reached the promised land, but, as the Jewish commentators rightly observe, this
intermission was directed by God Himself (Exodus 12:25; 13:5). After that,
public celebrations of the Passover are only
mentioned once during the reign of Solomon (2
Chronicles ), again
under that of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30:15), at the time
of Josiah (2 Chronicles ), and once more after the return from
On the other hand, a most significant allusion to the typical meaning of the Passover-blood, as securing immunity from destruction, occurs in the prophecies of Ezekiel (9:4-6), where "the man clothed with linen " is directed to "set a mark upon the foreheads" of the godly (like the first Passover-mark), so that they who were to "slay utterly old and young" might not "come near any" of them. The same symbolic reference and command occur in the book of Revelation,1 in regard to those who have been "sealed as the servants of our God in their foreheads.”
But the inference that the Passover was only celebrated on the occasions actually mentioned in Scripture seems the less warranted, that in later times it was so punctiliously and universally observed.
We can form a sufficiently accurate idea of all the
circumstances attending it at the time of
our Lord. On the 14th of Nisan every Israelite who was physically able, not in a state of Levitical
uncleanness, nor further distant from the city than
fifteen miles, was to appear in
Indeed, it was a joyous time for all
How large the number of worshippers was, may be gathered from Josephus, who records that, when Cestius requested the high-priest to make a census, in order to convince Nero of the importance of Jerusalem and of the Jewish nation, the number of lambs slain was found to be 256,500, which, at the lowest computation of ten persons to every sacrificial lamb, would give a population of 2,565,000, or as Josephus himself puts it, 2,700,200 persons, while on an earlier occasion (A.D. 65) he computes the number present at not fewer than three millions.
Of course, many of these pilgrims must have camped outside the city walls. Those who lodged within the walls were gratuitously accommodated, and in return left to their hosts the skins of the Passover lambs and the vessels which they had used in their sacred services. In such festive "company" the parents of Jesus went to, and returned from this feast "every year," taking their "holy child" with them, after He had attained the age of twelve—strictly in accordance with Rabbinical law (Yoma, 82 a)—when He remained behind, "sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions.”
But the preparations for the Passover had begun long before the I4th of Nisan. Already a month previously (on the I5th of Adar), bridges and roads had been repaired for the use of the pilgrims. That was also the time for administering the testing draught to women suspected of adultery, for burning the red heifer, and for boring the ears of those who wished to remain in servitude—in short, for making all kinds of preliminary arrangements before the festive season began.
One of these is specially interesting as recalling the words of the Saviour. In general, cemeteries were outside the cities; but any dead body found in the field was (according to an ordinance which tradition traces up to Joshua) to be buried on the spot where it had been discovered. Now, as the festive pilgrims might have contracted "uncleanness" by unwitting contact with such graves, it was ordered that all " sepulchres " should be "whitened " a month before the Passover. It was, therefore, evidently in reference to what He actually saw going on around Him at the time He spoke, that Jesus compared the Pharisees "unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.”
Then, two weeks before Pesach, and at the corresponding
time before the other two great festivals, the flocks and herds were to be tithed, and also the
The special preparations for the Passover commenced on the evening of the 13th of Nisan, with which, according to Jewish reckoning, the 14th began, the day being always computed from evening to evening. Then the head of the house was to search with a lighted candle all places where leaven was usually kept, and to put what of it he found in the house in a safe place, whence no portion could be carried away by any accident.
Before doing this, he prayed: "Blessed art Thou, Jehovah, our God, King of the Universe, who hast sanctified us by Thy commandments, and commanded us to remove the leaven." And after it he said: "All the leaven that is in my possession, that which I have seen and that which I have not seen, be it null, be it accounted as the dust of the earth." The search itself was to be accomplished in perfect silence and with a lighted candle.
To this search the apostle may have
referred in the admonition to "purge out the old leaven" (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Jewish tradition sees a reference to this search with candles in Zephaniah : "And it shall come
to pass at that time that I will search
The question what substances constituted leaven was thus solved. The unleavened cakes, which were to be the only bread used during the feast, might be made of these five kinds of grain — wheat, barley, spelt, oats, and rye—the cakes being prepared before fermentation had begun. Anything prepared of these five kinds of grain—but only of these—would come within range of the term "leaven," that is, if kneaded with water, but not if made with any other fluid, such as fruit-liquor, etc.
The next care was to select a proper Paschal lamb, which, of course, must be free from all blemish, and neither less than eight days, nor more than exactly one year, old. Each Paschal lamb was to serve for a "company," which was to consist of not less than ten, nor of more than twenty persons. The company at the "Lord's Passover Supper" consisted of Himself and His disciples. Two of them, Peter and John, the Master had sent early forward to "prepare the Passover," that is, to see to all that was needful for the due observance of the Paschal Supper, especially the purchase and sacrifice of the Paschal lamb.
Probably they may have purchased it in the
While the Saviour still tarried with the other disciples outside the city, Peter and John were completing their preparations. They followed the motley crowd, all leading their sacrificial lambs up the Temple-mount. Here they were grouped into three divisions. Already the evening sacrifice had been offered, Ordinarily it was slain at , and offered at about 3.30. But on the eve of the Passover, as we have seen, it was killed an hour earlier; and if the 14th of Nisan fell on a Friday—or rather from Thursday at eve to Friday at eve—two hours earlier, so as to avoid any needless breach of the Sabbath.
On the occasion to which we refer the evening sacrifice had been slain at 1.30, and offered at 2.30. But before the incense was burned or the lamps were trimmed, the Paschal sacrifice had to be offered. It was done on this wise:—
The first of the three festive divisions, with their Paschal lambs, was admitted within the Court of the Priests. Each division must consist of not less than thirty persons (3 X 10, the symbolical number of the Divine and of completeness). Immediately the massive gates were closed behind them. The priests drew a threefold blast from their silver trumpets when the Passover was slain.
Altogether the scene was most impressive. All along the Court up to the altar of burnt-offering priests stood in two rows, the one holding golden, the other silver bowls. In these the blood of the Paschal lambs, which each Israelite slew for himself (as representative of his company at the Paschal Supper), was caught up by a priest, who handed it to his colleague, receiving back an empty bowl, and so the bowls with the blood were passed up to the priest at the altar, who jerked it in one jet at the base of the altar.
While this was going on, a most solemn "hymn" of praise was raised, the Levites leading in song, and the offerers either repeating after them or merely responding. Every first line of a Psalm was repeated by the people, while to each of the others they responded "Hallelujah," or "Praise ye the Lord."
This service of song consisted of the so-called "Hallel," which comprised Psalms cxiii. to cxviii. The singing of the " Hallel" at the Passover dates from very remote antiquity. The Talmud dwells on its peculiar suitableness for the purpose, since it not only recorded the goodness of God towards Israel, but especially their deliverance from Egypt, and therefore appropriately opened1 with "Praise ye Jehovah, ye servants of Jehovah"—and no longer of Pharaoh.
Hence also this " Hallel"
is called the Egyptian" or "the Common." The Egyptian
"Hallel," it may here be added, was
altogether sung on eighteen days and on one night in the year.
These eighteen days were, that of the Passover sacrifice, the Feast
of Pentecost, and each of the eight days of the Feasts of Tabernacles and of the
Dedication of the
If the " Hallel" had been finished before the service of one division was completed, it was
repeated a second and, if needful, even a third time. The Mishnah remarks, that as the
Next, the sacrifices were hung up on hooks along the Court, or laid on staves which rested on the shoulders of two men (on Sabbaths they were not laid on staves), then flayed, the entrails taken out and cleansed, and the inside fat separated, put in a dish, salted, and placed on the fire of the altar of burnt offering. This completed the sacrifice. The first division of offerers being dismissed, the second entered, and finally the third.
The Passover, or rather the 15th of Nisan, was to be observed like a Sabbath, no manner of work being allowed. There was, however, one most important exception to this rule. It was permitted to prepare the necessary articles of food on the 15th of Nisan. This explains how the words of Jesus to Judas during the Paschal (not the Lord's) Supper could be misunderstood by the disciples as implying that Judas, "who had the bag," was to "buy those things" that they had "need of against the feast" (John ).