The Type of the Passover and Its Fulfillment

THE type of the Passover was instituted by God on the occasion of his deliverance of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt. The account is recorded in the twelfth chapter of Exodus, and it is the events which occurred on the fourteenth and fifteenth of Nisan that became typical. According to the account, the Israelites were to take every man a lamb according to the number in his house. The lamb was to be selected on the tenth of Nisan. They were to keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month. (The fourteenth began at sundown at the end of the thirteenth day.) Then the whole assembly was to slay it on the fourteenth at sundown. This means that the lamb was slain between sundown and dark. The blood was sprinkled on the doorposts of the house, and then the lamb was roasted and prepared for the meal which was to be eaten before morning. The death angel was to pass through the land at midnight of the fourteenth of Nisan.—Exod. 12:29,42

In the thirty-first through the thirty-ninth verses of Exodus twelve, we have a summary of what actually took place after the death angel passed through the land about midnight on the fourteenth. Pharaoh called for Moses while it was still night and instructed him to leave with the children of Israel. In verse thirty-five, we are told that the Israelites did as Moses had instructed them, and they took a spoil from the Egyptians. This was during the daylight hours (approximately 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.) of the fourteenth. By sundown on the fourteenth, which ended the day, they were ready to leave Egypt. We read in Numbers 33:3, “And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month, on the morrow after the Passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians.” In Exodus 12:17 we read: “And ye shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever.” The Feast of Unleavened Bread was on the fifteenth of Nisan, the day after the Passover.—Lev. 23:5,6

One year after the children of Israel left Egypt the Lord told Moses to instruct the people to keep the Passover. We read in Numbers 9:1-5, “Let the children of Israel also keep the Passover at his appointed season. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even [dusk or sundown] ye shall keep it in his appointed season, according to all the rights of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.” From this we must conclude that in the type all of the rights and all of the ceremonies were concluded in the twenty-four hours of the fourteenth of Nisan.

Before proceeding with a discussion of the fulfillment of the type, there are some points in the twelfth chapter of Exodus that should be clarified in order that the exact fulfillment by Jesus might be better understood and appreciated. The first of these is the thought in the sixth verse of the twelfth chapter of Exodus, which reads, “And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening [Margin—between the two evenings].” The marginal comment is the meaning of the original Hebrew text, and is important to our understanding, because at the time of our Lord’s first advent the rabbinical idea was that the first evening began about 3:00 p.m., and the second at sunset. It is interesting to read from Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, 1951 edition: “Different opinions have prevailed among the Jews from a very early date as to the precise time intended. Aben Ezra agrees with the Caraites, Samaritans, and the Sadducees 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 about 6:00 o’clock p.m. to 7:00 p.m. According to the rabbinical idea, the time when the sun began to descend, viz., from 3:00 to 5:00 o’clock, was the first evening, and sunset the second. So that between the two evenings was from 3:00 to 6:00 o’clock. Modern expositors have very properly decided in favor of the view held by Aben Ezra.”

A study of the Hebrew word ereb, which is translated ‘evening’ in our King James Version, reveals the following:

Strong’s Concordance: The word ereb has the meaning of ‘dusk’. The number is 6153, and it is taken from the prime root arab, #6150, which means ‘to grow dusky at sundown, be darkened, toward evening’. From this, the word ereb has the additional thought of ‘even (ing, tide), and night’.

The following pertinent texts use the word ereb, #6153:

Exodus 12:6—“shall kill it in the evening [dusk]”

Deuteronomy 16:6—“Thou shalt sacrifice the Passover at even [dusk].”

Leviticus 23:5—“In the fourteenth day of the first month at even [dusk] is the Lord’s Passover.”


Exodus 12:6—“slay it between the two evenings”

Professor Rotherham has a footnote that reads as follows: “i.e.: ‘at dusk’—Kalisch: ‘probably between sunset and dark’—o.g.” The same interpretation is given to Exodus 16:12; Numbers 28:4; Deuteronomy 16:6.


Exodus 12:6—“toward evening”

Leviticus 23:5—“toward evening”

Deuteronomy 16:6—“at evening at the going down of the sun”


Exodus 12:6—“kill it at sunset”

Deuteronomy 16:6—“in the evening at the going down of the sun”

The New English Bible:

Exodus 12:6—“shall slaughter the victim between dusk and dark”

Leviticus 23:5—“on the fourteenth day between dusk and dark is the Lord’s Passover”

Deuteronomy 16:6—“in the evening as the sun goes down”

The Torah:

Exodus 12:6—“shall slaughter it at twilight”

Leviticus 23:5—“on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight there shall be a Passover offering to the Lord”

Deuteronomy 16:6—“you shall slaughter the Passover sacrifice in the evening at sundown”

The Diaglott:

Alphabetical Appendix, page 887, under the heading ‘evening’ states as follows: “The Jews had two evenings. The first was the after part of the day; the second was the hour or two immediately after dark. Where the word occurs in Exodus 12:6 … [and] Numbers 9:3 … it reads in the original ‘between the evenings’ and means the ‘twilight’. This was the time the paschal lamb was to be sacrificed.”—Deut. 16:6

A footnote to Matthew 26:17 (Diaglott) reads, “The Passover feast began yearly on the fourteenth day of the first moon in the Jewish month Nisan and it lasted only one day; but it was immediately followed by the days of unleavened bread, which were seven. So the whole lasted eight days, and all the eight days are sometimes called ‘the feast of the Passover’, and sometimes ‘the Feast (or days) of Unleavened Bread’.” The Passover as a separate feast gradually lost its importance to the Jews. In the text quoted above, it states that on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus asking where they should eat the Passover. The expression the first day could be rendered the day before. This rendering of a like construction in John 1:15, namely, “he existed before [protos] me.” (Liddel-Scotts Greek-English Lexicon) At this time, Passover day had come to be generally considered as the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. So then the original Greek, harmonized with the Jewish custom, allows for the question to have been asked of Jesus on the day before the Passover, or the thirteenth of Nisan, “Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover?”—Matt. 26:17

Another point that needs clarification is the meaning of the word ‘preparation’. In John 19:14 we read, “And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour [The Matthew, Mark, and Luke accounts indicate that it was about the third hour, which would be between 6:00-9:00 a.m. It is believed that John used the actual hour of 6:00 a.m., which harmonizes the account.]; and he said unto the Jews, Behold your king!” This, of course, was after the time of Passover meal, the meal having been eaten about six hours before, near midnight. The word ‘preparation’ is a translation of the Greek word paraskeue. It carries the thought of preparing for the Sabbath. The Greek-English New Testament Lexicon states, “Preparation: the day immediately before a Sabbath or other festival.” The word had its origin when God began to provide manna to the children of Israel in the wilderness. He instructed that they should gather a double portion on the day before the Sabbath. So in preparation for the Sabbath the Jews collected and prepared extra manna on the day preceding the Sabbath. (Exod. 16:22,27-29) In time, the day before the Sabbath came to be known as the preparation. In Mark 15:42 the apostle so uses the term, “and now when even was come, because it was the preparation, that is the day before the Sabbath [Strong’s #4315—weekly Sabbath].” The day of preparation ended at sundown the day before the Sabbath. In this instance the day of preparation and the Passover (that is the fourteenth of Nisan) fell on the same day. This, of course, was Friday, and the Sabbath was Saturday. In confirmation of this, scholars have determined that the Passover day when Jesus died did fall on a Friday. The following schedule shows the days on which the Passover fell from A.D. 27 to A.D. 34:

A.D. 27—April 10, Thursday
A.D. 28—March 30, Tuesday
A.D. 29—April 18, Monday
A.D. 30—April 7, Friday
A.D. 31—March 27, Tuesday
A.D. 32—April 14, Monday
*A.D. 33—April 3, Friday
A.D. 34—March 24, Wednesday

(Among the several authorities is Dr. Adam Rutherford, Bible Chronology, 1961)

It is evident that on this occasion, the day that Jesus died (the Passover) and the day of preparation spoken of in the account, fell on Friday and that the following day was Saturday, the Sabbath.

Since the day following the Passover was the fifteenth of Nisan and the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev. 23:6), and it was also the Sabbath, the Apostle John said it was a high day (that is, two festivals falling on the same day). “The Jews, therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.”—John 19:31

With these thoughts in mind as a background, let us observe how Jesus fulfilled the type of the Passover. On the tenth of Nisan (John 12:1-16) Jesus presented himself to the nation of Israel in fulfillment of two prophecies. (Exod. 12:3 and Zech. 9:9) Just as the Passover lamb was to be the means of deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, so Jesus, when he presented himself to the nation was their long-promised Messiah, King, and Deliverer. The promise in Zechariah was to revive the hopes of the nation of Israel as to their ultimate deliverance from the oppressive forces in control of their destiny. All of this was a hearkening back to the actual previous deliverance of the people of Israel and making it a harbinger of good things to come.

Chart showing the events of the 10th through the 17th of NisanThe following days before the fourteenth of Nisan were very busy days for our Lord. The time was spent in teaching, healing, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom. It was during this time that he gave many of his most instructive parables for the benefit of the church.

As the day of the Passover approached, we read in Matthew 26:17, “Now the first day [the day before] the Feast of Unleavened Bread [the Passover] the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover?” This was most likely late in the afternoon on the thirteenth of Nisan. Jesus gave them instructions and the disciples prepared the Passover that was to begin at sundown, which marked the end of the thirteenth and the beginning of the fourteenth of Nisan. Apparently the lamb was slain and placed on the fire to roast shortly after 6:00 p.m. It was during the time the lamb was roasting, in preparation for the meal, that all of the events recorded in John thirteen through John seventeen took place. We read in John 13:2, “And as supper was preparing, the enemy having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, that he should betray him.” (Diaglott) Then followed the description in some detail of the events that occurred before and during the Passover meal.

When Jesus entered into the arrangements at the beginning of the evening of the Passover, he was fulfilling the typical picture, and when he finished the Jewish Passover feast with his disciples, that was the end of the type. No longer were believing Jews required to partake of the typical Passover. Then, in symbol (by inaugurating the Memorial Supper which was to be a memorial of the fulfillment of the type), Jesus showed that the value of his surrendered life, which was shortly to be offered, was going to first deliver the antitypical church of the firstborn—that is the footstep followers of Jesus during the Gospel Age—and then, by sealing the New Covenant, prepare the way for the deliverance of the world of mankind from condemnation, sin, and death. This was shown through the emblems of the bread and the cup.

After the Memorial Supper was ended, we believe that the Lord uttered the wonderful prayer recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John. This was most probably about midnight of the fourteenth of Nisan. The account then states that Jesus and his disciples went forth “over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into which he entered, and his disciples.” It was while he was in the garden that he prayed to the Heavenly Father, and was given assurance by the angel. (Luke 22:43; Heb. 5:7) It was probably two or three o’clock in the morning when Judas led the mob to the garden and betrayed Jesus. They then took him to the high priest’s house, where he was abused and reviled. “And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council.” (Luke 22:66) From the council, he was taken to Pilate and then to Herod and then back to Pilate. And finally, at the third hour, they crucified him. (Mark 15:25) The third hour, according to Jewish reckoning, was 6:00 to 9:00 o’clock a.m. (This was the morning of the fourteenth of Nisan.) Assuming that Jesus was placed on the cross at 9:00 a.m. and he died at 3:00 p.m., he was on the cross for six hours, plus.—Mark 15:34

John 19:31 states, as we have already considered, that the Jews were anxious to get the bodies down from the crosses before sundown because it was unlawful for them to hang on the cross on the Sabbath. The Luke account states: “And he took it down and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation [Passover—the fourteenth of Nisan], and the Sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, 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 [that is the day after the Sabbath, the sixteenth of Nisan], very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them … and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.”—Luke 23:53-56; 24:1-3; Mark 16:1-8

Jesus died on the fourteenth of Nisan. He spent the entire day fulfilling the type. We believe that it was by a marvelous arrangement of the Heavenly Father that Jesus should die at 3:00 p.m., which, as a result of the accretions of a stiff-necked and rebellious people, was the time they chose to slay the Passover lamb. Even though they had rejected him, God was showing in this way that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Rom. 11:29; Luke 19:42), and that in God’s own way and time Jesus, as their Passover lamb, will be the means of their deliverance.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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