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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 20: Matthew 26:1-30, by Kevin M. Williams

For many, because of the separation of the Jewish and Christian traditions, that Yeshua may have been sacrificed on the 15th and not the 14th flies in the face of all they have been taught.

Yes, it does.

But as already noted, Passover and the Feast of Unleavened bread are synonymous in Hebraic theology and practice. Even further, there is strong biblical parallel for Yeshua to have been offered up as the 2nd Chagigah. Numbers 33:3 reads, “And [the people of Israel] journeyed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the next day after the Passover the sons of Israel started out boldly in the sight of all the Egyptians”3 (brackets mine).

The day of Israel’s liberation from bondage did not take place on the 14th, but on the 15th of the month. This is part of the historical foundation of the overall picture. If we accept that Yeshua’s life is a portrait of redemption, patterned after the reality of the entirety of the Passover season, when death was made to pass over the faithful on the 14th, and liberty came on the 15th of Nisan, we find a more perfect representation of spiritual truth in the sacrifice of Yeshua as the 2nd Chagigah.

And as they were eating, He said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.” And being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?”” And He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me” (Matthew 26:21-23).

Again our story is involved in the Passover narrative. Dipping in the bowl was not unusual. In fact, the tradition calls for a bowl of salt water into which the karpas, or greens are dipped. Interestingly and poignant to the story of Judas’ betrayal is the fact that the salt water represent “the tears of life.” Yeshua and Judas together, dipped into the tears of life. “The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born” (Matthew 26:24). Tears indeed.

And while they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body” (Matthew 26:26).

The bread, or in this case matzah bread, was the only bread eaten during the eight days of the Feast, and the blessing—assuming they held to the religious tradition then as well as today—was, “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who causes bread to come from the earth.” In Hebrew tradition, the blessing over a meal is a blessing to God coupled with thanksgiving. In that regard, Christian prayers that ask God to “bless this meal” are alien to the Jewish culture.

The breaking of the matzah during the Seder is likewise a traditional observance. Generally, the head of the house—the grandfather or father of the family—would lead the meal and would break and distribute pieces of the bread. In the relationship of a rabbi and his talmadim (disciples), the rabbi functioned as the head.

However, something deeper and potentially more prophetic and profound happened here as well. Next to the Paschal lamb, the matzah bread plays one of the most significant roles in the eight days of Passover. After the temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 of the Common Era, the surviving Pharisees convened an emergency session called the Council of Yavneh. The Sadducees and Scribes had largely been casualties of the temple’s razing, and if Judaism was to survive, those assembled in Yavneh would have to pave the way. In that regard, much of today’s Orthodox Jewish practice traces its roots to the Pharisees of Yavneh. It was here that the religious observance and authority of priest and temple transitioned to the synagogue.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Spring 2006

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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