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Each spring, the Christian world commemorates the death and resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus). Traditional observances include "Good Friday" as the day of crucifixion, and "Easter (or more appropriately Resurrection) Sunday" as the day Yeshua rose from the dead. Yet, how accurate is this? Yeshua spoke very succinctly regarding the proof that would substantiate that He is the Messiah: "…there shall no sign be given…but the sign of the Prophet Jonah: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matt. 12:39-40)

Clearly, Friday afternoon to Sunday morning is not three days and three nights. You may have wondered about this incongruity. I did. I was told that it is not important, and that any part of a day counts as a whole day. Not satisfied with these answers, I continued to research over the years for a more satisfactory answer. I was certain that since Yeshua made such a specific statement, and it was to be the singular sign to the generation, that it had to be important and accurate. There is also something compelling about "TRUTH." Believers in the LORD are given His Spirit-the Spirit of Truth. Revealing truth, and causing us to seek and love truth, is am important function of the Holy Spirit. "…when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth." (John 16:13) When our traditions are not based on truth, they can be a stumbling block before the Jewish people.

I have been challenged with this discrepancy, being told that "By Jesus' own words, He is not who He said He was - He said that He would be in the earth three days and three nights, but He wasn't! Why is this important? The Good News of Messiah is to go to the Jew first - if we skew the truth, we conceal His identity from His own. Similarly, da Vinci's painting of "The Last Supper" doesn't communicate that this was a traditional Jewish gathering in a Jerusalem dwelling, but rather reinforces the fallacy that Jesus came and started a new and strange religion. While da Vinci probably wished to honor the Lord, the painting is historically inaccurate and gives a fictitious representation of the event.

Another Way Of Seeing:

To make sense of the chronology of Yeshua's last week on earth, we must be willing to leave our current experiential reality behind; and immerse ourselves in the biblical narrative and the historical context of understanding. We need to take a "time elevator" back 2000 years to Israel!

Our calendar, and even our concept of when a new day "dawns" and ends are completely different than the biblical, historical perception. Then as now, Hebraic reckoning views the day as beginning or "dawning" at sundown. This is the biblical model, derived from Genesis 1:5 "And the evening and the morning were the first day." As evening is mentioned first, the Jews always viewed evening as the beginning of the day. To make it even more difficult, the Bible and the Israeli/Jewish people -to this day- do not use the Names of Roman gods for the days of the week. The days are simply identified as "Day One (Yom Ree-Shon) (Sunday), Day Two (Yom Shey-Nee) (Monday), etc."

Another view that we need to grasp, is that the Bible defines special Sabbaths (days where no regular work is to be done), not just the weekly Sabbath. At the start of Passover week, there is a commanded Sabbath: "In the first month (Nisan), on the fourteenth day of the month between sundown and complete darkness, comes Pesach (Passover) for Adonai. On the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of Matzah (Unleavened Bread); for seven days you are to eat Matzah. On the first day you are to have a holy convocation; don't do any kind of work…(Lev. 23:5-8CJB) This is referring to the special Sabbath, not the weekly Sabbath.

Take The Time Elevator!

Here is where we take the "time elevator" back to 30 AD… After the return from Babylonian captivity, Israel struggled over the restoration of the original lunar calendar. Many accounts record that the feasts were celebrated on differing days by the Qumran community (the Essenes), the Sanhedrin, and even the Nazarenes kept a different calendar! However, the general consensus holds that in 30 AD the two calendars overlapped resulting in the two Passover Seders occurring in the same week, one day apart. This seems to be a likely scenario, with Yeshua revealing the prophetic significance of the elements of the Seder to His Talmidim (Disciples) this first Seder, then after the crucifixion occurred, when they gathered for the Second Seder the next night, the full impact of His Words would reveal the reality of redemption to them.

From John 13:29, we know that Yeshua's meal with the Twelve was already completed, therefore, the fact that the Disciples speculated that Judas was going to buy supplies for the upcoming Passover meal, indicates that there was yet a Passover Seder anticipated for the next day. Also, after Yeshua's arrest, when He was taken before Pilate, John's account reflects: "They (the Jewish leaders) did not enter the headquarters building because they didn't want to become ritually defiled and thus unable to eat the Pesach meal." (John 18:28 CJB) And most likely, the lambs were yet to be slaughtered, as Yeshua was the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29)

Interestingly, in the British Museum in London, there is preserved a letter Pontius Pilate wrote to the Roman Emperor. At the end of the letter, he dates it: "The 5TH of the Calends of April. "Calends" generally refers to the first of the month; therefore it appears to have been written the 5TH of April, according to the Roman calendar. The letter is an attempt to explain having Yeshua crucified. In the year 30 AD, Nisan 14 was on Wednesday, April 3rd; 2 days prior to Pilate's letter. It is logical that Pilate would have written of the incident within a couple of days of the event. Tuesday, the Talmidim purchased unleavened bread, bitter herbs and wine in preparation for Pesach. "Where do you want us to go and prepare your Seder (Passover meal)?" (Mark 14:12 CJB) Even if their meal was not a Pesach Seder, as some scholars believe, brad with leaven (yeast) would not have been available for purchase, as Preparation Day is the time of making certain that there is no leaven in the house, and all that vendors would have available would have been foods appropriate to the Feast.

Pesach (Passover) began at sundown on Wednesday (according to the Roman calendar), as the new day dawned. Traditional thought has been that the weekly Sabbath was impending, and that's why Yeshua had to be removed from the executioner's stake before sundown. However, it was the special Sabbath of Pesach that was about to begin. "It was Preparation Day, and the Judeans did not want the bodies to remain on the stake on Shabbat, since it was an especially important Shabbat…" (John 19:31 CJB)

If we cede that the day of the slaying of the lambs was Wednesday, which coincides with the Roman calendar as well, we find a much more reasonable chronology which dovetails with the Scriptures:

The Chronology:

On Tuesday, Yeshua and the Twelve went to Jerusalem to prepare for the Feast of Pesach. (John 19:14)

On Tuesday evening, they shared the prophetic meal, which may have been a "First Seder," in which Yeshua revealed His role as the Lamb of God who was to suffer. This was actually the beginning of Wednesday, as the day began at sundown. In the early morning hours, Yeshua struggled with what lay before Him, alone in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was then arrested, scourged, judged and sentenced before noon.

On Wednesday afternoon, He was crucified. He gave up His Spirit between 3 PM (9th hour) and 6 PM. According to Matt. 27:46-50: "Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying, ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI? That is, 'MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?' …And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit."

After sundown Wednesday, as Thursday dawned, the commanded Sabbath of Pesach began.

The next day would begin the weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread, and then the preparation for and observance of the weekly Sabbath.

Most likely, exactly 3 days and 3 nights after giving up His Spirit, Yeshua rose from the dead - on Saturday afternoon; the seventh day of the week; the weekly Shabbat. Remember, He called Himself "the Lord of the Sabbath." Perhaps this was also a hint at His victory of Resurrection. (Matt. 12:8, Luke 8:5)

Of course, He wouldn't be found until after the weekly Sabbath ended, as the woman would not have had the opportunity to attend to His body until sundown, "early on the first day, while it was dark," (to us Saturday night, but in biblical time the first day of the week.) (John 20:1) Even if the woman found the empty tomb in the morning hours on Sunday, Yeshua would have already risen the previous afternoon, in perfect harmony with His own Word.

We can depend on God's Word. His Word is truly "forever settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89) Every verse we consider unimportant and change to fit our tradition, removes stones from our spiritual foundation, and diminishes the authority and wonder of God' perfect Word.


Tuesday -
Wednesday -
Thursday -
Friday -
Saturday -

Yeshua and His Talmidim went to Jerusalem for the Feast

Preparation Day for Pesach

Yeshua arrested in the morning, scourged, judged,and sentenced before noon.

Yeshua crucified between 3-6 pm and laid in the tomb

Sabbath of Pesach

Yeshua's 1st day in the "heart of the earth"

Preparation Day for the weekly Sabbath

Yeshua's 2nd day in the "heart of the earth"

The weekly Sabbath

Yeshua rises from the dead, 3 days and 3 nights from the moment He gave up His Spirit, the
"Lord of the Sabbath"


Yeshua's Last Supper
(or Seder), with His Talmidim

Yeshua in the Garden of Gethsemane through
the night

Sabbath of Pesach
traditional Seder is taken.

Yeshua's 1st night in
"the heart of the earth"

Feast of Unleavened Bread (for 7 days)

Yeshua's 2nd night in "the heart of the earth"


Yeshua's 3rd night in
"the heart of the earth"

The women find the
empty tomb


13 Nisan
14 Nisan
15 Nisan
16 Nisan
17 Nisan



This article originated at Jewish Voice Today magazine (March/April 2004) and was written by Sarah. It was reposted here with permission. This magazine published by Jewish Voice International is well worth reading.

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