Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Three Days and Three Nights -- When Did Yeshua Die?
Those who teach a Wednesday crucifixion and a Saturday resurrection believe that during those 72 hours -- while Yeshua lay in the tomb -- the Jews observed TWO Sabbaths. However, the sacrifice made in fulfillment of a vow or as a peace offering, found mentioned in Leviticus 7:16-18 and 19:5-7, proves otherwise. The commands concerning this sacrifice -- which were prophetic of Yeshua -- clearly point to the resurrection being ON THE THIRD DAY -- JUST OVER 36 HOURS from his death!
John D. Keyser
In Matthew 12:38-40 we read:
"Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, 'Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.' But he answered them, 'An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale , so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth'" (see also Luke 11:29-30, and Jonah 1:17).
Most Christians today believe that Yeshua (Christ) died on a Friday afternoon and rose from the dead at dawn on Sunday -- the first day of the week on the Gregorian calendar we now follow.
There are, however, a number of Christians who hold the view that Yeshua died on a Wednesday afternoon and was supposedly resurrected late on the Saturday afternoon. Matthew 12:38-40 is quoted as the primary support for a Wednesday crucifixion and a Saturday resurrection since, it is said, Friday afternoon to Sunday at dawn does not encompass three entire days AND three entire nights -- or 72 hours.
In this article we will explain WHY Yeshua died on the Preparation Day for the weekly Sabbath and was raised from the dead at dawn on the first day of the week -- "the third day." The period of his death covered just 36 hours. Let us explain:
If the Messiah were speaking these words today, counting back three days and three nights from a Sunday would indeed lead us to a Wednesday or Thursday crucifixion (depending on how one counted) and a "Friday" crucifixion would be ruled out. But we have to realize that the Messiah spoke these words in the first century A.D. and people, at this time, did NOT count days as we do today. We also have to remember that there are MANY Biblical verses and also MANY passages in early Christian literature that clearly indicate that the Messiah died on the Preparation Day for the Passover (which also happened to be the Preparation Day for the weekly Sabbath) -- Nisan 14. So HOW are we to interpret the "three days and three nights" of Matthew 12:40?
Writes Colin J. Humphreys --
"According to Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, a PORTION of a day and a night counts as a WHOLE day and night (an Onah)" (The Mystery of the Last Supper. Cambridge University Press, 2011, p. 24).
When the Messiah died at 3 p.m. on the Preparation Day this therefore counts as a WHOLE DAY AND NIGHT (sunset 5th Day of the Week to sunset of the Preparation Day). The body of the Messiah was in the tomb on the SECOND day and night (sunset Preparation Day to Sabbath sunset), and, according to the gospels, he rose from the dead on the THIRD day and night (Sabbath sunset to sunset of the 1st Day of the Week). Counting in the way Jewish people counted in the first century A.D., a Preparation Day crucifixion and 1st Day of the Week resurrection are therefore CONSISTENT with the Messiah being dead for three Onahs -- that is, for "three days and three nights."
Feasts and Festivals Around Passover in the Jewish Calendar At the Time of the Messiah
|Nisan 1||Start of Jewish religious year|
|Nisan 10||Passover lambs selected|
|Nisan 14||Passover lambs slain from about 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.|
|Nisan 15||Passover meal eaten: first day of Feast of Unleavened Bread|
|Nisan 16||First-fruits festival to inaugurate the barley harvest|
"Although," adds Humphreys, "this INCLUSIVE method of counting days and nights seems strange to us today, I do not think it would have seemed strange at all to Jewish people living in the first century A.D., because this was the way they would have been brought up to count" (ibid., p. 24).
"Nor Did His Flesh See Corruption"
In Acts 2:25 we read --
"For David says concerning him, 'I saw the LORD always before me, for he is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh shall dwell in hope. For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption'" (see Psalm 16:10).
Then, applying the words of this prophecy to Yeshua, we read:
"He forsaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades (death -- the grave), nor did his flesh see corruption (decay). This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses (Acts 2:30-31).
Rather than argue about how long it would take a body, placed in a tomb in Jerusalem, in March (Nisan), to begin to decay, let's turn to the Bible for an answer. Concerning the sacrifice made in fulfillment of a vow or as a peace offering, the Israelites were instructed by YEHOVAH to eat of the sacrifice on the day it was offered (the first day). If any of the meat remained, they were permitted to eat of it on the day following the sacrifice (the second day). ON THE THIRD DAY they must burn in fire whatever was left. It was called "an abomination" to eat of a sacrifice on the THIRD DAY. It was considered to be decaying. The sacrifice was prophetic of Yeshua (our sacrifice), whose body was "burned with fire" (as it were) when YEHOVAH God's Shekinah Glory raised him from the dead. Notice Leviticus 7:16-18 and 19:5-7:
"But if the sacrifice of his offering is a votive offering or a freewill offering, it shall be eaten the same day that he offers his sacrifice, and on the morrow what remains of it shall be eaten, but what remains of the flesh of the sacrifice on THE THIRD DAY shall be BURNED WITH FIRE. If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be credited to him; it shall be an abomination, and he who eats of it shall bear his iniquity" (Leviticus 7:16-18).
"When you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted. It shall be eaten the same day you offer it, or on the morrow; and anything left over until THE THIRD DAY shall be BURNED IN THE FIRE. If it is eaten at all ON THE THIRD DAY, it is an abomination; it will NOT be accepted" (Leviticus 19:5-7).
And WHY would it not be acceptable? Because it would spoil the symbol of Yeshua our sacrifice!
Note the time frame of the sacrifice: (Day 1) "the same day that he offereth his sacrifice; (Day 2) "the morrow"; (Day 3) "the third day." The sacrifice was a symbol of Yeshua -- "the Lamb of God." The remainder of the sacrifice was "burned with fire" before the end of THE THIRD DAY, so that nothing remained -- just as nothing of the flesh of Yeshua remained in the tomb, before the end of the third day. It was consumed by the "fire of the LORD" (YEHOVAH's Shekinah Glory) on the third day. ("The LORD thy God is a consuming fire" -- Deuteronomy 4:24). The presence of YEHOVAH -- the spirit of the Father -- brought Yeshua back to life -- on the THIRD DAY.
Peter's argument is that Yeshua's flesh did not "see corruption" because he was raised from the dead before the corruption of decay could take place. The argument is not for a miraculous preservation of flesh -- if it was, the well-preserved body would be laying there still! Peter seeks to convince the Jews that the Messiah has come, and that YEHOVAH has raised him from the dead -- in fulfillment of the Scriptures.
While on the road to Emmaus with his disciples after the resurrection, Yeshua "opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. And he said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day" (Luke 24:45-46).
Then, in I Corinthians 15:4, "he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"
Now WHERE, in the Old Testament (the "Scriptures" during Yeshua's day) do we find a prophecy that Yeshua would suffer and be raised from the dead on the third day? The closest to be found is Hosea 6:1-3, which reads:
"Come, and let us return to the LORD; for he has torn, that he may heal us; he has stricken, and he will bind us up. AFTER TWO DAYS he will revive us; ON THE THIRD DAY he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know, let us press on to know the LORD; his going forth is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth."
The disciples were "torn," and "smitten" with grief, and after two days their grief was turned to joy when Yeshua was resurrected on the third day. Apart from this, the commands concerning the sacrifices -- especially that of the Passover lamb and the offering of the "firstfruits" -- typified the death and resurrection of Yeshua. The commands concerning what might remain of any sacrifice on the third day clearly pointed to the resurrection ON THE THIRD DAY -- JUST OVER 36 HOURS!
Yeshua the First Fruits
We find written in I Corinthians 15:20-23:
"But now is Christ risen from the dead and became the first fruits of them that slept. For since BY MAN [Adam] came death, by MAN [Christ -- Yeshua] came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every MAN [including Christ] in his own order: CHRIST THE FIRST FRUITS; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."
On the day following the Passover -- the 16th day of the Jewish month of Nisan -- a unique celebration took place. On that day the high priest entered the Temple with a sheaf of new grain -- the first of the year. He waved the sheaf of grain (actually flour made from the grain of the sheaf) before the veil in the Temple, in recognition of YEHOVAH'S blessing in the year's harvest. UNTIL THAT SHEAF OF GRAIN WAS OFFERED BEFORE YEHOVAH IN THE TEMPLE, NO GRAIN COULD BE HARVESTED. Until this sheaf was offered, the Israelites were to eat of the grain from the previous year's harvest. As soon as this sheaf was offered, the sickle was put to the fields of standing ripened grain.
In John 12:23-24, calling himself "a grain of wheat," Yeshua said, "The hour is come for the Son of man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
The festivals appointed by YEHOVAH were given as acted prophecies of the great events in the plan of salvation. They foreshadowed the work of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah. EVERY FULFILLMENT OF THE TYPE MUST TAKE PLACE "AT THE TIME APPOINTED." The lamb must die on the afternoon of the 14th day of Nisan. The firstfruits must be offered on the 16th day.
Yeshua died at 3 pm on the 14th day of Nisan -- at the very time when the lambs for the Passover feast were being sacrificed in the Temple. Yeshua "the Lamb of God" is called "our Passover" in I Corinthians 5:7. In fulfillment of the type he must also present himself before the Father's throne, on the 16th day of Nisan. Here, as the firstfruits of the harvest to follow (the 144,000), Yeshua, as OUR High Priest, waved the sheaf before YEHOVAH's throne so that WE, THE FOLLOWERS OF THE MESSIAH, might be accepted.
If (Yeshua) the Lamb was sacrificed on Wednesday (the 14th), and the Passover fell on Thursday (the 15th), then the ceremony of the firstfruits must take place on Friday (the 16th). Yet the Wednesday to Saturday afternoon scenario has Yeshua still asleep in the grave on Friday. He is not raised until late on Saturday afternoon, which would have been the 17th day of Nisan -- too late to fulfill the type of the Wavesheaf offering!
Those who teach a Wednesday crucifixion and a Saturday resurrection believe that during those 72 hours -- while Yeshua lay in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb -- the Jews observed TWO sabbaths. First the Passover, beginning at sundown on Wednesday, and second, the weekly 7th day Sabbath, beginning at sundown Friday. A common work day -- Friday -- would then separate the two Sabbaths. (Passover is called "THE sabbath" in Leviticus 23:15).
Notice what John 19:14 says --
"And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him."
Here we see that Yeshua died on "the preparation [day] of the Passover." If we now go to Luke 23 we learn that this day was ALSO the preparation day for the WEEKLY SABBATH! Notice:
"And that day [of Yeshua's death] was the preparation [day], and the SABBATH drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was layed. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; AND RESTED THE SABBATH DAY ACCORDING TO THE COMMANDMENT (23:54-56)."
What "commandment" is this? The FOURTH COMMANDMENT, of course: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of YEHOVAH your God" (Exodus 20:8-10).
The Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H. Stern leaves no doubt as to which day Luke is referring to here:
"It is sometimes claimed that the New Testament says nothing about keeping the fourth commandment. This verse [Luke 23:56] contradicts that claim, so it is important for a Jewish understanding of the New Testament. On Shabbat the women rested, in obedience to the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8-11, Deuteronomy 5:12-15; also Exodus 16). Of course they did! They observed Shabbat every week. The writer [Luke] mentions it only to explain why they didn't go to Yeshua's tomb the very next day. '[B]ut on the first day of the week, while it was still very early' -- as soon as it was practical to do so -- 'they went to the tomb' (24:1). The Greek has the correlative conjunctions 'men...de' in this sentence; the sense is not easily translated word-for-word, but it implied the just-explained 'of course...but' relationship between the parts of the sentence: 'Of course [they observed the Shabbat], but [as soon as they could, they went].'"
Yeshua died on the afternoon before the Passover began -- on Nisan 14. At the time of Yeshua's death the Passover (1st Day of Unleavened Bread) fell on the weekly Sabbath -- as it did every year according to the lunar calendar kept by the Jews during this time. The "preparation" day was for BOTH the Passover AND for the weekly Sabbath.
Buying and Preparing Spices
It seems that those who teach that Yeshua died on a Wednesday and was resurrected on a Saturday claim there are accounts in the New Testament of common work activity (buying and preparing spices and ointments) during the time of Yeshua's entombment. This would necessitate, they say, at least one common work day between the two Sabbaths. Jews were required to refrain from ordinary work on the Passover and on the 7th day Sabbath -- from sundown to sundown. Since (in actual fact) the Passover and the weekly Sabbath fell on the SAME DAY, buying, selling and travel were strictly forbidden, as was cooking food.
In Luke 23:52-56 and 24:1-3, we read:
"This man [Joseph] went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus."
A simple reading of the text -- without any preconceived ideas -- has "the women" preparing spices on the afternoon before the Passover/weekly Sabbath began. (One would assume they had to buy them first, which lends credence to the wording of the KJV -- "had bought sweet spices," see Mark 16:1). Now, was there time to do this? Yeshua died at "the 9th hour." In Jerusalem sundown occurred at the 12th hour. Three hours therefore remained until sundown.
According to The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 2, at the time of Yeshua the "day" -- from sunrise to sunset -- was divided into 12 equal parts called "hours." These were based upon the position of the sun. The "hours" varied in length depending on the time of the year. Passover falls somewhere between mid-March and Mid-April on our Gregorian calendar of today -- making an "hour" in the year Yeshua died slightly longer than our 60 minute hour.
Going now to John 19:39-42 we find that
"there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixure of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices; as the manner of the Jews is to bury."
It was the custom to prepare the corpse for burial (after cleansing) with various types of aromatic spices. In the case of Yeshua's burial, 100 pounds of spices were used -- not an unusual amount for an important person. The grave clothes were made up of a number of long strips of linen sewed together without any knots. Beginning at the feet, the body was wrapped with the strips of linen up to the armpits. The arms were then folded down and the wrapping continued up to the neck -- then down to the feet again. A separate napkin was wrapped around the head.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (vol. 1, pp. 556-557) notes that fragments of a fragrant wood were pounded into a dust known as aloes, which was mixed with a gummy substance known as myrrh. This mixture of spices was spread between the strips of linen as the body was wrapped. The entire encasement would weigh around 120 pounds. The gummy resin would adhere the linen so closely to the body that the grave clothes could not easily be removed. The New Testament says that when John looked into the tomb "he believed." What did John see that made him so quickly affirm his belief? He saw the grave clothes in the EXACT SAME POSITION where he had seen them last, wrapped around the body of Yeshua. But now they were completely empty -- perhaps a little caved in like an empty cocoon from which a butterfly has emerged.
Mark 15:46 relates that Joseph of Arimathea "bought fine linen," and Nicodemus seems to have obtained and prepared 100 pounds of spices and ointments on very short notice. It would clearly seem that the women could have done the same thing. The women waited until after the body was cleansed, wrapped, and laid in the tomb, before returning to the city to buy and to prepare their spices and ointments. Counting the time it took for Joseph to obtain permission from Pilate to remove the body, the women probably had about an hour to "prepare" the sweet spices -- leaving no time to return to the tomb with their preparations before sunset. So they waited until the Sabbath/Passover day was past.
Plenty of Time?
In Mark 15:47-16:4 it says that "Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James beheld where he was laid. And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun." Notice that the King James Version says "had bought." Most versions simply read, "bought."
Those who believe that Yeshua died on a Wednesday and was resurrected on a Saturday claim that these three women bought their spices and prepared them on Friday "when the [Passover] sabbath was past." They then rested (so they say) on the weekly Sabbath from Friday sundown to late Saturday afternoon, walking to the tomb BEFORE the sun set. But WHY, I ask you, would the women wait until Sabbath afternoon? THE WOMEN HAD ALL DAY FRIDAY (according to this theory) TO BUY THE SPICES, AND PREPARE THEM, AND TO TAKE THEM TO THE TOMB. THEY HAD PLENTY OF TIME TO DO ALL THIS ON FRIDAY!
Too Late for Spices?
In the story of Lazarus (John 11:39), "Jesus said, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, Lord, BY THIS TIME THERE WILL BE AN ODOR, for he has been dead FOUR DAYS." It is easy to see that the women would want to anoint the body with aromatic spices approximately 36 hours after death (3 p.m. Preparation Day to the 1st Day of the Week at dawn), but it is HARD TO BELIEVE they would want to roll away that stone and put their spices on A STINKING CORPSE after 72 hours plus (Wednesday (4th Day of the Week) 3 p.m. to early a.m. Sunday (1st Day of the Week)). It is also easy to understand why they wouldn't want to be out at night, and would be hurrying to the tomb as soon as there was enough daylight on Sunday (1st Day of the Week) morning.
Why Go Back for Spices?
Matthew 28:1-2 reads --
"In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it...."
Now, in Verses 5-6:
"And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said."
Those who believe that Yeshua was crucified on a Wednesday also teach that he was raised from the dead late on the afternoon of the weekly Sabbath. The two Marys, so they argue, came to the sepulchre late on the Sabbath before the sun had set. A great earthquake occurred and the women were told by an angel that Yeshua had risen. Then, as they ran to tell the disciples, Yeshua himself met them and they worshipped him.
If this scenario is correct, and the two Marys worship the risen Messiah late on the Sabbath afternoon, WHY would they return at dawn on the first day of the week to anoint the body with spices -- see Mark 16:1-2, Luke 24:1, 10. This makes no sense whatsoever!
Luke 24:1 says, "upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the seopulchre, bringing the spices." Verse 10 confirms that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James were among this party. Mark 16:1-2 says that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James came to the sepulchre at the rising of the sun, to "anoint him." The women would NOT have walked to the tomb, carrying the spices, before sunset on the Passover/weekly Sabbath -- it was considered A VIOLATION OF THE SABBATH to "carry a burden" on that day.
Why Did Yeshua Wait Until the First Day of the Week to Appear?
If Yeshua was raised from the dead before sunset on the Passover/Sabbath afternoon, WHY did he wait until the morning of the first day of the week to appear to the women, to Mary, and to the two men on the road to Emmaus? WHY did he wait until the evening of the first day of the week to reveal himself to his grieving disciples? Why not appear to someone after the Passover/Sabbath during the night time portion of the first day of the week? Also, if Yeshua appeared to the women late on the Passover/Sabbath afternoon and they RAN to bring the disciples -- WHY would Peter and John wait until the morning of the first day of the week to RUN to the tomb? Read John 20:4. This theory of 72 hours in the grave is totally destitute of any logic whatsoever!
The Problem With Punctuation
In Matthew 27:66-28:1-2 we read the following --
"So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it" (KJV).
Here the argument is made by those who propose the "three day, three night" theory that the word "dawn" means "to approach towards." Thus, they claim, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre "in the end of the sabbath," as it began to approach towards the first day of the week. On Sabbath evening, continues this reasoning, before sunset -- they found the tomb empty.
How Does the Bible Count Days? Example: The Messiah Rose On the Third Day
|1st Day||From death at 3 p.m. Preparation Day to sunset Preparation Day|
|2nd Day||Sunset Preparation Day to sunset Sabbath Day|
|3rd Day||Sunset Sabbath Day to the resurrection before sunrise on the 1st Day of the Week|
There is, however, something we should keep in mind -- the ancient Greek contained no punctuation marks, no spaces between the words and no lower case letters! These features were all added later by the translators to make the reading easier. Also, the ancient manuscripts contained no numbered verses or chapter divisions. So, with this understanding, let's write out Matthew 27:66 again --
"So they went and made the sepuchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch in the end of the sabbath. As it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre."
Did you catch the change? I simply moved the period from after the word "watch" to after the word "sabbath." I also eliminated the verse division, making "in the end of the sabbath" the END of 27:66 instead of the BEGINNING of 28:1. By this very legitimate change the whole meaning of these verses is changed -- just by a change in punctuation. Now the guard is set at the end of the Sabbath. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary come to the sepulchre very early, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week -- just as they do in the other three accounts of this story:
Mark 16:1-2: "very early in the morning on the first day of the week"
Luke 24:1, 10: "upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning"
John 20:1: "the first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark"
Mary ran to tell the disciples that the tomb was empty. John and Peter both ran to the tomb -- all on the morning of the first day of the week.
Matthew 27:66 -- 28:1: Other Translations
1) "And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone. Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave" (New American Standard).
2) "So they left, and made the grave secure by putting a seal on the stone and leaving the guard on watch. After the Sabbath, as Sunday morning was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the grave" (Today's English Version).
3) "So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb" (New International Version).
4) "And they went and made the grave secure, putting a seal on the stone and leaving it under guard. When the Sabbath was over, just as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary from Magdala and the other Mary went to look at the tomb" (Phillips Modern English).
5) "So they went and made the sepulchre secure, putting seals on the stone and mounting a guard. After the sabbath, and toward dawn on the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to visit the sepulchre" (Jerusalem Bible).
6) "So they went and made the sepulchre secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre" (Revised Standard Version).
7) "So they went and made the grave secure; they sealed the stone, and left the guard in charge. The Sabbath was over, and it was about daybreak on Sunday, when Mary of Magdala and the other Mary came to look at the grave" (New English Bible).
8) "So they went and made the grave secure by sealing the stone and putting the guard on watch. After Shabbat, toward dawn on Sunday, Miryam of Magdala and the other Miryam went to see the grave" (Complete Jewish Bible).
Unfortunately, the Douay Version and the James Moffatt Version follow the incorrect King James punctuation -- as do the earlier versions of the New American Standard and the American Standard.
Who Will Roll Away the Stone?
In Mark 16:1-4 we come across something that most of the "three days, three nights" advocates have chosen to ignore. Notice:
"And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and ANOINT him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, WHO SHALL ROLE US AWAY THE STONE FROM THE DOOR OF THE SEPULCHRE?"
It is very clear from these verses that "very early on the first day of the week" they didn't know about the guard -- they didn't know that the tomb had been sealed! WHY didn't they know?
Going now to Matthew 27:62-66 --
"Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation [the day after Yeshua was laid in the tomb would have been the Passover/weekly Sabbath], the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that the deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure, UNTIL THE THIRD DAY, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch. ['In the end of the sabbath...']"
We see that the Pharisees went to Pilate on the Passover/weekly Sabbath day. After obtaining the order from Pilate, they left immediately to post the guard at sundown that evening "lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away."
Now, was the guard posted on the Thursday evening (assuming a Wednesday crucifixion and Saturday resurrection), or on the Sabbath before sundown? If Yeshua died on a Wednesday, and the guard was posted on Thursday evening, one of the women would have more than likely visited the tomb on Friday and the disciples would have received word that it was sealed. (The men probably stayed away out of fear of being arrested). NO FURTHER ANOINTING WOULD BE POSSIBLE BECAUSE THE TOMB WAS SEALED! It was a capital offense to break a Roman seal.
Yet Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome were NOT AWARE of the guard -- or of the seal -- when they came to the tomb on the morning of the first day of the week. Pilate had commanded that the tomb be "made secure until the third day." The wording in the Greek suggests the tomb was guarded continuously -- not just during the night.
If, however, Yeshua died on the day before the Passover/weekly Sabbath (which evidence indicates was NOT a Friday in our Gregorian calendar of today), and the guard was posted on the Sabbath at sundown -- at "the end of the Sabbath" -- the disciples were not likely to have received word of it. No one would go to the tomb on the Passover/Sabbath day because the law forbade walking more than the distance to the Temple. Not only that, to anoint a body on the Passover would render one ceremonially "unclean" -- an unthinkable thing to a Jew (see Lev. 11:39; 12:2; 13:45 and 15:19).
People did not venture out at night to visit the tombs in those days before public lighting, for fear of robbers and accidental defilement. (Tombs were "whitewashed" to identify areas considered unclean). The women set out for Yeshua's tomb as soon as there was enough light on the morning of the first day of the week -- and THEY WERE NOT AWARE THAT THE TOMB HAD BEEN SEALED!
"In the Heart of the Earth"
In Matthew 12:40-41 Yeshua said: "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE HEART OF THE EARTH:"
Either Yeshua contradicted himself, or this statement must be reconciled with all of his other predictions which specified "the third day," with the written prophecies of the Old Testament, and with the prophetic imagery of the sacrifices and festivals appointed by YEHOVAH.
Yeshua taught the people with parables and with obscure sayings (Matthew 13:34-35; Psalm 78:2). The phrase "in the heart of the earth" is not defined in the text. There simply are no parallel passages -- only Matthew quotes Yeshua in this instance. The phrase has been understood by most to mean "in the grave; but there is much more to it than this.
Since his birth, Yeshua had lived in intimate contact with his Father YEHOVAH: "He that sent me is WITH ME: the Father HATH NOT LEFT ME ALONE" (John 8:28). Now he would experience something vastly different. Now he would be "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." WHAT does this phrase mean?
In Genesis 6:5 we read that "God saw that the wickedness of man was great IN THE EARTH, and that EVERY IMAGINATION OF THE THOUGHTS OF HIS HEART WAS ONLY EVIL CONTINUALLY." "And Jesus, knowing their thoughts [in his day] said, Wherefore think ye EVIL in your HEARTS?" (Matthew 9:4). The HEART OF THE EARTH (MANKIND) was evil.
When David swore that YEHOVAH would help him to take the head of the giant Goliath, he said, "that all the EARTH [ALL MANKIND] MAY KNOW that there is a God in Israel."
The HEART of Jerusalem ["THE HEART OF THE EARTH"], the HEART of the appointed leadership of YEHOVAH's people, was evil. Jerusalem was regarded as the CENTER (or HEART) of the earth. Jews were to travel from every part of the earth to Jerusalem, for worship on the Festival Days -- John 4:20; Acts 2:5-11; 8:27; Deuteronomy 16:16. "For God is my King of old, WORKING SALVATION IN THE MIDST [HEART] OF THE EARTH" (Psalm 74:12; Ezekiel 38:12). "THIS IS JERUSALEM: I HAVE SET IT IN THE MIDST [HEART] of the nations and countries that are round about her" (Ezekiel 5:5).
As Jonah was thrown into the sea, so Yeshua was "betrayed," "delivered into the hands of sinful men" (Luke 24:7), "delivered unto the Gentiles" (Luke 18:32), rejected, abandoned, forsaken of YEHOVAH (Luke 17:20; Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34; Matthew 26:56; Mark 14:50). AS JONAH WAS SWALLOWED BY THE GREAT FISH, SO YESHUA WAS SWALLOWED BY THE EVIL WHICH SURROUNDED HIM. He was left to battle with Satan and all the demons -- and with men under their control.
Verses which specify "the third day" include those things which Yeshua must suffer -- not simply his death. The whole process of humiliation was included in this "belly of the fish" experience (Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31; Mark 9:12; Luke 9:22 and Luke 17:25). To the mob near the garden, Yeshua said, "THIS IS YOUR HOUR, AND THE POWER OF DARKNESS" (Luke 22:53). "BEHOLD THE HOUR IS AT HAND, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners" (Matthew 26:46). "THE HOUR" begins with the kiss of Judas. From the kiss of Judas on the evening portion of the Preparation Day, to the earthquake just before dawn on the first day of the week -- "three days AND three nights" without the protection of YEHOVAH his Father -- he was left in the HEART OF THE EARTH.
Night 1: Evening portion of the Preparation Day: Taken and tried.
Day 1: Preparation Day: Scourged and crucified.
Night 2: Evening portion of the Sabbath/Passover day: Sleeping in death.
Day 2: Sabbath/Passover Day: Sleeping in death.
Night 3: Evening portion of the first day of the week: Sleeping in death.
Day 3: First day of the week at dawn: Raised from the dead.
At the conclusion of this article it should be
carefully noted that at the time
of Yeshua -- and for several centuries thereafter -- the Jews did not name their
days. This was a custom later introduced by Roman influence. The Jews simply
called the days "the first day of the week," "the second day of the week"...
"the Preparation Day," and "the Sabbath." Evidence indicates that in the year of
the Messiah's death (31 A.D.) the Preparation Day (14th of Nisan) fell on a Tuesday in
our Gregorian calendar, while the Passover/weekly Sabbath (15th of Nisan) fell
on a Wednesday -- making the First Day of the Week (Nisan 16 to fall on a Thursday. For more information read our articles, Have We
Been Observing the Sabbath At the Wrong Time All These Years? and
The Sabbath: When is it?
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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