I have read two articles that seem to point to a Wednesday crucifixion. What do you think?

Email Received:

This page indicates that Jesus' crucifixion was on Wednesday: http://www.biblebell.org/threedays.html. Here is another page that seems to point to Wednesday: http://home.sprynet.com/~pabco/jewsrej.htm. In the latter, he seems to show that Jesus ate the Passover on the correct night, but the Jews had confused the timing over the centuries and ate it on the wrong night (the next night). I would be interested in seeing your comments about either or both of these pages, if you have the time.

Tedís Response:

The main point of people who opt for a Wednesday crucifixion is that they feel Jesus had to be in the tomb 3 full days and 3 full nights, as fulfillment of Matthew 12:40. The person who wrote that page makes the assumption that "Jesus Christ was resurrected at twilight on Saturday...at the instant Saturday died, and the instant Sunday was born." By that, I guess he means that Jesus was resurrected at sunset at the end of Saturday.

If there was any evidence of this in Scripture, then he might have a point. In that case, we couldn't count any of the night-time hours from sunset Saturday to sunrise Sunday as one of three nights in question, and we would need to back up to a Wednesday crucifixion to fit in all three nights.

But I see no evidence in Scripture of this, and it seems much more plausible to me that Jesus rose and emerged from the grave during the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning. That way, no people would have seen Him, nor would they have been running around causing a great commotion in the middle of the night, yelling "Jesus has risen!"

Also, whoever wrote that page stated, "By Jewish reckoning, each day begins at evening (twilight)." He also said that twilight "is the first instant of a new day." In my opinion, those statements are incorrect. The word "twilight" is translated from the Hebrew beyn haíarbayim, which means "between the evenings" or about 3:00 (mid-afternoon), which was the "ninth hour" of daylight (Matthew 27:45-50; Mark 15:33-37; Luke 23:44-46). These things are explained here: Twilight.

In Hebrew tradition, any portion of a day qualifies as a "day" and any portion of a night qualifies as a "night." So crucifixion mid-afternoon on Thursday would have satisfied Jesus' 3-day/3-night requirement. There are more details in the crucifixion not on Wednesday section of my commentary here: crucifixion not on Wednesday.

As for the second article (http://home.sprynet.com/~pabco/jewsrej.htm), it was like focusing on one leaf of one tree of a gigantic forest. Although I read all of it, it held no interest for me, as I have seen most of those points before. In my view, discussing it is kind of like standing in an art gallery all afternoon, talking about one small section of one painting, and ignoring all the other hundreds of paintings in the gallery.

Anyway, I absolutely do agree that most of the Church has failed to understand the significance of the Hebrew feasts and festivals. They are important because they point to the first and second comings of Jesus. In the early 90s, I wrote about these things in two chapters here:

The writer of the second article to which you referred me, Herman Hoeh (deceased), insisted that the Jews did not eat the Passover meal at the correct time, but Jesus did. He also believed that the Passover originally was celebrated at sunset beginning Nisan 14. He cited historians to "prove" his points.

However, historians often use information that may or may not be correct to convince the reader of something that they themselves believe. As such, I typically refrain from referring to or quoting historians in the things I write. I also am hesitant to believe something that someone wrote simply because that person quotes the words of a historian to "prove" his/her point.

Although Hoeh never uses the word "twilight" in his article, he states this:

If the Jews once knew that the sacrificing of the Passover lambs occurred on the eve or beginning of the 14th of Nisan, "between the two evenings," at dusk, and that God passed over them THAT NIGHT -- the 14th -- and that they left Egypt on the 15th of Nisan, why did the Jews in Judaea in Christ's time confuse the events and celebrate the Passover one day late?
I would rather examine the passage in Exodus 12 myself, which I have done many times before. There is no doubt that the Lord commanded the Israelites to slaughter the lambs at "twilight" (12:6). If twilight was referring to the instant after sunset when Nisan 14 began, then I think Hoeh might have a good point. But, as I have indicated before, I am convinced that twilight refers to mid-afternoon on Nisan 14 and that both the Passover lambs and Jesus, the Lamb of God (John 1:29,36), died at that time.

Between then and sunset, they were to place the lambs' blood on the doorframes of their homes. They also were to prepare the lambs, the bitter herbs, and the unleavened bread. Soon after sunset which began Nisan 15, they were to eat their meals in haste inside of their homes and then not leave their homes until morning. At midnight (on the 15th), the Lord struck down all the firstborns in Egypt but passed over the Israelites' houses with the blood on the door frames.

This was the chronological sequence of events, as I see it. I have no reason to doubt that the Jews in Jesus' time celebrated the Passover feast at the correct time, on the first night of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15). In fact, John wrote about this incident several hours after Jesus had been arrested:

Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. (John 18:28)
If the Jews wanted to avoid ceremonial uncleanness so that they could eat the Passover, that means that they were going to eat that meal the following night. Furthermore, I do believe that Jesus celebrated the Passover seder one night early (soon after Nisan 14 began) because He knew He would be killed at 3:00 pm that afternoon and would not be around to celebrate the Passover at the usual time, after sunset the next night. He really had no choice.

As I have stated in my commentary, "Twice in the past, the Passover had been celebrated one month lateóNumbers 9:6-11; 2 Chronicles 30:2,3,15. So it was entirely permissible for Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, to observe it one night early." I feel that anybody else should believe whatever they wish to believe about this topic; however, no one has been successful in changing my view about it, and it is highly doubtful that anyone will be.

Now, Hoeh also pointed out that the Jews have come to celebrate Pentecost (which actually is their Feast of Weeks or Shavuot) at the wrong time, and I agree with him about that. However, he believes Pentecost always is on a Monday, whereas I believe it always is on a Sunday. If you have the time and interest to see why I believe this, you can read an email response that I have written about that topic here: How do you calculate the timing of Shavuot or Pentecost?

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