Matthew 26 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Last days of Jesus Christ #5 Matthew 26:17-19 – Passover Preparations
|| Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-13
MT26:17 Now on the first day of the unfermented cakes the disciples approached Jesus and asked, “Where do you wish to prepare to eat the Passover?” MT26:18 Jesus told them, “Go into the city and when you face So-and-so say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near. With you I am having the Passover with my disciples.”’” MT26:19 And the disciples did just as Jesus directed them. They prepared the Passover.
 The first day of the unfermented cakes: There is no universal agreement on this phrase. The Greek PROTE may infer, “the day before,” meaning Nisan 13. Compare Exodus 12:18; Exodus 23:15. Mark 14:12 adds, “… when they customarily sacrificed the Passover.” (Luke 22:7) Nisan 14 would begin at sundown. The Jews had to clear all leaven out of their homes and prepare the sacrificial meal of lamb. In the case of the collection of manna it was to be done the day before Sabbath when they would get a double portion (Exodus 16:5, 22-27; Exodus 20:10). In time “the day before the sabbath” came to be termed “Preparation,” as Mark explained (Mark 15:42). “(The Jews) need not give bond (to appear in court) on the Sabbath or on the day of preparation for it (Sabbath Eve) after the ninth hour (3 PM).” The Jews thus began to prepare for the Sabbath on Friday afternoon, or on those occasions where a special Sabbath fell on another day, the afternoon before [Jewish Antiquities, XVI, 163 (vi, 2)]. Nisan 14 was also a Sabbath day no matter what day it fell on. Friday evening at sundown would begin a high holy day with a double Sabbath (John 19:31, 42; Mark 15:42, 43; Luke 23:54). There is disagreement on these dating of matters.
 When you face So-and-so say to him: Mark 14:13 adds, “… a man carrying an earthenware vessel of water will encounter,” something rare for men so easily identifiable (Luke 22:10). Or, NEB: go to a certain man in the city.
 My time is near: Or, NEB: my appointed time is near. How would Jesus know this? It is possible he could calculate the “middle of the week” of Daniel 9:25, 26 or three and a half years after the beginning of the Nazarene’s ministry which would have begun in the Fall of 29. This would be a period of 1,260 days or 42 months.
 With you I am having the Passover: Or, KJV: I will keep the Passover at thy house; RHM: with thee will I keep the Passover.
 They prepared the Passover: According to tradition this would begin late on Nisan 13 some hours before sundown and the beginning of Nisan 14. The first day of the eight-day Passover festival was also a Sabbath no matter the day of the week upon which it fell. This period was called “preparation” and would have occurred twice during this particular year. The disciples would have prepared a lamb, green herbs, unleavened bread, red wine for a dozen people. This was the average family size as the Passover was a family celebration.
Even among the Jews there is disagreement about the precise timing: some choosing Nisan 14 and others Nisan 15. “Different opinions have prevailed among the Jews from a very early date as to the precise time intended. Aben Ezra agrees with the Caraites and Samaritans in taking the first evening to be the time when the sun sinks below the horizon, and the second the time of total darkness; in which case, ‘between the two evenings’ would be from 6 o’clock to 7.20…. According to the rabbinical idea, the time when the sun began to descend, viz. from 3 to 5 o’clock, was the first evening, and sunset the second; so that ‘between the two evenings’ was from 3 to 6 o’clock. Modern expositors have very properly decided in favour of the view held by Aben Ezra and the custom adopted by the Caraites and Samaritans.” (Commentary on the Old Testament, 1973, Vol. I, The Second Book of Moses, p. 12)