In the Hebrew New Testament book of John (MS. Vat.ebr.100), there is a seeming anomaly regarding the burial and anointing of the body of Yahushua the messiah.
The Hebrew text suggests that the burial of Yahushua’s body by Joseph of Arimathea occurred during the late afternoon of Abib 14. Later, he returned on Abib 15, sometime after sunset, with Nicodemus to anoint the body.
This circumstance would contradict the Greek texts, which have both events occurring during the late afternoon of Abib 14 before sunset.
The relevant passage of John 19:38-39 when translated from the Greek and Hebrew texts, is as follows:
• Greek – After this, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Yahushua, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Yahushua, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body. NICODEMUS ALSO, WHO HAD AT FIRST COME TO HIM BY NIGHT, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds’ weight. They took the body of Yahushua, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
• Hebrew – After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who remained hidden for fear of the Jews because he was the disciple of Yahushua, asked Pilate that he would give permission to take Yahushua from the cross. And Pilate permitted to him. THEN JOSEPH CAME WITH NICODEMUS TO YAHUSHUA IN THE NIGHT, bringing a mixture of myrrh (about a hundred pounds). They took the body of Yahushua, bound it in linen cloths, and anointed the body with precious ointments as is the custom of the Jews to embalm.
It is evident that the Hebrew text has Joseph and Nicodemus return to the tomb after sunset, at night, to anoint Yahushua’s body with precious ointments. This also means that this occurred on Abib 15.
This study will proceed with the premise that the Hebrew text, which renders the events to occur on Abib 14 and 15, is correct.
With the basis that the Hebrew text is accurate, this study will provide scriptural evidence which will prove without any doubt that the day of Passover, Abib 14, is a High Sabbath and the first day of the 7-day Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread.
We will first establish that the meal that Yahushua the messiah ate at the beginning of Abib 14 was the authentic Passover meal.
In the late afternoon of Abib 13, Yahushua and his disciples make ready to prepare and eat their last Passover meal together. Of this event, in Matthew and Mark, we read the following:
• Matt. 26:17 (Greek) But πρώτῃ (prote; before) the unleavened (bread), the disciples came to Yahushua, saying to him, Where will you have us PREPARE YOUR EATING OF THE PASSOVER.
• Matt. 26:17 (Hebrew) And the ראשון (rashun; former, previous) day of Passover, the disciples came and said to him, In what place do you want THAT WE PREPARE THE PASSOVER?
• Mark 14:12 (Greek) And the day πρώτῃ (prote; before) THE UNLEAVENED (BREAD), AT WHICH TIME THEY KILLED THE PASSOVER, the disciples said to him, Where do you wish us to go so that we can PREPARE AT THAT PLACE THE EATING OF THE PASSOVER?
• Mark 14:12 (Hebrew) And the ראשון (rashun; former, previous) day of the unleavened bread when they prepared the Passover, the disciples said to him, Where do you want that we go and PREPARE THE PASSOVER FOR YOU THAT YOU MAY EAT?
Next, it will be established that the Passover meal took place after sunset (dusk, twilight) at the beginning of Abib 14.
• Matt., 26:20-21 (Greek) And ὀψίας (opsias; dusk) having occurred, he (Yahushua) reclined with the twelve. And as they were eating he said, Truly I say to you, that one from you will deliver me up.
• Matt. 26:20-21 (Hebrew) And when it was ערב (arab; evening, dusk) he sat by the table to eat with his twelve disciples. And while they were eating he said to them, Truly I say to you that one of you will betray me.
• Mark 14:17-18 (Greek) And ὀψίας (opsias; dusk) having occurred, he (Yahushua) came with the twelve. And as they were reclining and eating, Yahushua said, Truly I say to you that one from you will deliver me up, who is eating with me.
• Mark 14:17-18 (Hebrew) And when it was ערב (arab; evening, dusk), Yahushua came with the twelve disciples. And while they were reclining, Yahushua said to them, Truly I say to you that one of you who eats with me will betray me.
Undoubtedly, Scriptures also firmly establish that Yahushua and his disciples did, in fact, eat the Passover meal.
• Mark 14:18 (Greek) And as they were reclining and eating, Yahushua said, Truly I say to you, that one from out of you who is EATING WITH ME will deliver me up.
• Mark 14:18 (Hebrew) And while they were reclining, Yahushua said to them, Truly I say to you that one of you who EATS WITH ME will betray me.
Day of the Week
Our next step is to establish the day of the week the Passover meal took place.
Assisting us is the story found in Luke 24. After giving the account of the women coming to the tomb of Yahushua ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK (SUNDAY), just before day-break, and finding the tomb empty (vs. 1-8), it continues by saying that the women immediately went to the apostles and other disciples to report their findings (vs. 9-10).
These people disbelieved the women, but Keph (Peter) rose up and went to the tomb to see for himself. Finding their testimony true, he returned home wondering about what had happened (vs. 11-12). We next read:
And behold, two of them (the disciples) were going ON THE SAME DAY (SUNDAY) to a village being 60 furlongs distant from Jerusalem, which is named Emmanus; and they were conversing with one another about all these things which had taken place. (Luke 24:13-14)
Therefore, the conversation between the two men was “ON THE SAME DAY” (SUNDAY) that the messiah was raised, which occurred on the first day of the week. Moreover, their discussion shows that this journey happened after the women had reported the empty tomb to the disciples and, therefore, in the daylight hours of that first day.
The Third Day After
While these two men were walking along, the resurrected Yahushua drew near and began walking with them. Their eyes being kept from seeing that it was Yahushua, Yahushua asked them why they appeared so downcast. They responded by discussing the great events which took place in Jerusalem:
And answering the one, whose name was Kleopas, said to him, You sojourn alone in Jerusalem, and have not known the things which are come to pass in it (Jerusalem) in these days? And he (Yahushua) said to them, What things? And they said to him, The things concerning Yahushua the Nazaraean, who was a man, a prophet, mighty in deed and word before eloahim and all the people; and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him up to judgment of death, and put him upon a stake. But we were hoping it was he who was about to redeem Israel. But indeed, with all these things, TODAY IS THE THIRD DAY ἀφ᾽ οὗ (aph ou; AFTER WHICH) THESE THINGS CAME TO PASS. (Luke, 24:18-21)
Therefore, TODAY, being the same day that Yahushua was resurrected, i.e., the first day of the week (SUNDAY), was the third day “after which” the messiah was put on a stake and murdered.
This important story continues by relating how Yahushua chastised the men for being slow to trust in the things spoken of by the prophets and how it was needful for the messiah to suffer and to enter into his glory.
As Yahushua recited to them various passages from Scriptures concerning himself, they came close to the village to which the two men were traveling, and Yahushua appeared to be going farther still:
And they constrained him, saying, Abide with us, for it is πρὸς ἑσπέραν (pros esperan; toward twilight), and the day has declined. And he entered in to abide with them. (Luke, 24:29)
This portion of the text demonstrates that when the above comment was made, that today was “the third day after which these things came to pass,” it occurred just prior to sunset (i.e., late afternoon of the same day, Sunday).
With this information in hand, one can calculate back from the “THIRD DAY AFTER,” which was Sunday, Abib 17, bringing us to the first day after the death and burial of Yahushua. This takes us to the afternoon of Friday, the FIRST DAY “AFTER WHICH THESE THINGS CAME TO PASS.”
Therefore the day when “THESE THINGS CAME TO PASS” is Thursday afternoon of Abib 14.
Also, when one calculates for the years 30-33 C.E. to when Passover, Abib 14, occurred during a Wednesday night and Thursday day, the result is the year 30 C.E.
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We can now address the chronology of Yahushua’s death and burial with the proper framework.
As mentioned previously, the Hebrew text has the burial occur just before sunset during the afternoon of Abib 14. This would be late afternoon Thursday.
Two scenarios are now presented.
Scenario 1 – Yahushua’s Protocol
Abib 14 is the first day of the 7-day Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread (Abib 14-20). The 24-hour day consisting of Wednesday night and Thursday day was a High Sabbath. Yahushua partook of the Passover meal on Wednesday night. He was put to death and was buried just before sunset on Thursday afternoon.
On Abib 15, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus came to the tomb Thursday night after sunset to anoint Yahushua’s body. The 24-hour day consisting of Thursday night and Friday day was not a High Sabbath but a preparation day for the weekly Sabbath of Abib 16. This day is also the second day of the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread.
Scenario 2 – Pharisaic Protocol
Abib 14 was a preparation day for the 7- day Jewish Festival of Unleavened Bread (Abib 15-21). This day would not be a High Sabbath. It is concluded that Yahushua incorrectly partook of the Passover meal Wednesday night. He was put to death and was buried just before sunset on Thursday afternoon. This day was the Jewish preparation for the High Sabbath of Abib 15.
On Abib 15, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus come to the tomb Thursday night after sunset, a Jewish High Sabbath, to anoint Yahushua’s body. The complete 24-hour day consisting of Thursday night and Friday day would be the Jewish High Sabbath. The very next day, Abib 16, was the weekly Sabbath. Abib 15 was also the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread.
Feast of the Jews
At this point, it is essential to recognize that John states that he was an eyewitness to the events surrounding the crucifixion, death, and burial of Yahushua.
He who saw it has borne witness. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth that you also may trust. (John 19:35)
John also distinguishes between Yahushua’s adherence to the festival regulations and the one observed by the Jews or religious leaders.
After this there was a FEAST OF THE JEWS, and Yahushua went up to Jerusalem. (John 5:1)
Now the PASSOVER, the FEAST OF THE JEWS, was at hand. (John 6:4)
Of course, John was a Judahite, and there would be no need to make a distinction from the others if he and Yahushua observed the Festival days in the same manner.
What all of this means is that since John was pointing out that the Jews were observing Passover differently than Yahushua and his disciples, then by default, the Jews were wrong!
Accordingly, as we will demonstrate, the sequence of events, as given by the Hebrew version of the book of John, confirms that the Festival of Passover, Abib 14, was indeed a High Sabbath and the first day of the 7-day Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread.
However, as many believe in and follow, we shall now test the sequence of events for Passover and Unleavened Bread from the Pharisaical or rabbinic point of view, which is an 8-day observance from Abib 14-21.
• Abib 14. Wednesday night after sunset. According to the Pharisaic viewpoint, Yahushua and his disciples ate the Passover meal on the wrong day. For the Pharisees, this day was a preparation day for the Jewish Passover on Abib 15. Not a High Sabbath.
• Abib 14. Thursday afternoon. The Passover lambs are sacrificed in preparation for the Jewish festival on Abib 15. At about 5:45 PM, Joseph of Arimathea placed Yahushua’s body in the grave and sealed the tomb by rolling a stone over the entrance. Not a High Sabbath.
• Abib 14. Thursday afternoon. The women were watching the burial process.
• Abib 15. Thursday night after sunset. The women arrive home and prepare their meal for the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. They prepare aromatics. Jewish High Sabbath. (PROBLEM)
• Abib 15. Thursday night after sunset. At about 8:00 PM, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus arrive at the tomb bringing 100 lbs. of ointments and aromatics to anoint Yahushua’s body. Jewish High Sabbath. (PROBLEM)
• Abib 15. Friday morning. Jews ask for guards to be placed at the tomb. Jewish High Sabbath.
• Abib 15. Friday day, the women prepare spices and aromatics. The women did not know that Yahushua’s body had already been anointed. Jewish High Sabbath. (PROBLEM)
• Abib 16. Friday night to Saturday night. Weekly Sabbath observed.
• Abib 17. Saturday night. After sunset begins the first day of the week.
• Abib 17. Sunday early morning before sunrise. Yahushua resurrected.
When analyzed, one has to conclude that there are major problems with the above sequence based on a Pharisaical and rabbinic approach.
To begin with, according to the Pharisaical method, Yahushua was placed in the grave on Abib 14, Thursday afternoon before sunset. This would fulfill the command given in the book of Deuteronomy.
And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, BUT YOU SHALL BURY HIM THE SAME DAY, for a hanged man is accursed by eloahim; you shall not defile your land which Yahweh your eloahi gives you for an inheritance. (Deut. 21:22-23)
Also, the Jews did not want the crucified bodies to remain on the torture-stakes after sunset because of their High Sabbath, which began after sundown on Thursday, Abib 15.
Since it was the (Jewish) day of preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the torture-stake on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. (John 19:31)
Problems With Pharisaic Approach
As one can readily notice, a serious problem now arises for the reason that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus proceeded to carry 100 lbs. of aromatics to the tomb on Thursday night, the Jewish High Sabbath of Abib 15.
This problem is further compounded by the fact that Yahushua was already buried before sunset, fulfilling the command in Deuteronomy. Once the stone was rolled over the entrance to the tomb, Yahushua was buried before the beginning of the Jewish High Sabbath of Abib 15. Therefore, the completed burial was on Abib 14.
Importantly, even though the burial of a dead person is allowed on a Sabbath day, there is no provision in the Torah for one to exhume a body from the grave on a Sabbath, let alone a High Sabbath, for the purpose of embalmment.
Therefore, the idea that Joseph and Nicodemus would reopen the tomb or unbury Yahushua on a High Sabbath and then proceed to perform the labor of washing and embalming Yahushua’s body lacks credibility. After burial, this type of work could only be done on a non-Sabbath day.
Abib 15 Not a High Sabbath
An additional problem comes about if the women who returned home from the crucifixion site had prepared spices and ointments on the Jewish High Sabbath of Abib 15. Scriptures state:
The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid; then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath, they rested according to the commandment. (Luke 23:55-56)
Amazingly, Scriptures have provided proof that Abib 15 was not a High Sabbath. To illustrate, the women stayed and witnessed the burial of Yahushua during the late afternoon near sunset of Abib 14 and then arrived home after sunset on Abib 15 to prepare their meal for the second day of Unleavened Bread.
According to Scriptures, they also prepared spices and ointments on Abib 15. Therefore this day could not be a Sabbath. Then Scriptures also point out that the next day, Abib 16, was a weekly Sabbath day on which the women rested.
Therefore, the scriptural evidence provided by the Hebrew text clearly supports the High Sabbath day of Abib 14, Passover Day, the day when Yahushua and his disciples ate the Passover meal. It then follows that Abib 15 could not be a High Sabbath because of the sequence of events requiring laborious work.
Scriptures Confirm Correct Passover
The following is the final sequence from the Hebrew text, which demonstrates the Passover practice of Yahushua the messiah and proceeds to confirm the validity that Abib 14 is a High Sabbath:
• Abib 14. Wednesday night after sunset. The Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread. First day of Unleavened Bread. Yahushua and his disciples ate the Passover meal. High Sabbath.
• Abib 14. Thursday afternoon. Passover day and still the first day of Unleavened Bread. About 5:45 PM. Joseph of Arimathea placed Yahushua’s body in the grave and sealed the tomb by rolling a stone over the entrance. Yahushua’s burial is final and official. High Sabbath.
• Abib 14. At about 5:45 PM, the women observed the burial process.
• Abib 15. At about 6:30 PM, Thursday night after sunset, the women arrived home and prepared their meal for the second day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. Not a High Sabbath.
• Abib 15. Thursday night after sunset. At about 8:00 PM, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus arrived at the tomb bringing about 100 lbs. of ointments and aromatics to anoint Yahushua’s body. Not a High Sabbath.
• Abib 15. Friday morning after sunrise. Jews ask for guards to be placed at the tomb. Preparation day for the weekly Sabbath. Not a High Sabbath.
• Abib 15. During the daytime of Friday, the women prepare spices and aromatics. The women did not know that Yahushua’s body had already been anointed the previous night. This day is a preparation day for the weekly Sabbath. Not a High Sabbath.
• Abib 16. Friday night to Saturday night. Weekly Sabbath observed.
• Abib 17. Saturday night. After sunset begins the first day of the week. The women purchase more aromatics to anoint Yahushua’s body.
• Abib 17. Sunday early morning before sunrise. Yahushua resurrected. Women are on the way to the tomb.
As one can readily see in the sequence of events, when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus went to the tomb Thursday night after sunset, they did not break the Sabbath. The Sabbath commandment was completely followed.
During the night of Abib 15, Joseph and Nicodemus worked meticulously washing and anointing the messiah’s body and then properly wrapped it in fine linen. When finished, they replaced the stone at the entrance.
It is important to note that the women had already left for home a few hours before Joseph and Nicodemus had returned to the tomb and did not realize that Yahushua’s body had already been embalmed. They would never have considered coming back if they had known that Joseph and Nicodemus had brought 100 lbs. of aromatics, which was more than enough for a proper embalming.
Another point to consider is that since Joseph of Arimathea was a disciple of Yahushua, he would have had the Passover meal Wednesday night before becoming unclean by touching the dead body of Yahushua during Thursday afternoon. This would also hold true for John, who was at the crucifixion site. Also, Nicodemus would have become unclean on Abib 15 a few hours after sunset. Therefore, there was no need for them to observe the Festival of Passover in the second month.
If, in fact, the Hebrew text of the book of John is correct in that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus returned to anoint Yahushua’s body after sunset on Thursday night, Abib 15, which was a non-Sabbath, it would help explain the reason why the women thought they needed to return to the tomb for a proper embalmment.
The text also helps explain all of the other events that took place after Yahushua’s death concisely while strictly adhering to the practice of the 7-day Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread that Yahushua and his disciples kept.
Finally, for those who accept the authenticity of the Hebrew text of John, this text affirms that the 7-day Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread is observed from Abib 14-20. Accordingly, Abib 14 and 20, the first and last days of the Festival, are High Sabbaths.