There are some who hold the view that the Messiah did not eat a Passover meal as the lamb was not killed until the afternoon of the 14th with the meal actually taking place on the evening/night of the 15th. Does Scripture support this?
We believe that Yahshua ate the Passover meal at the beginning (sunset) on Abib 14 with His disciples. The key to the timing of Passover is found in Exodus 12:6: “And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.”
According to Scripture, the lamb was to be slaughtered in the “evening.” This word comes from the Hebrew ben ha arbayim, literally meaning “between the two evenings.” According to the Pharisaic tradition, this phrase refers to the time between noon / 3:00 pm and sunset. Conversely, the Samaritans understood this time was between sunset and complete darkness.
The following references all render “evening” as found in Exodus 12:6 as sunset or twilight: The New International Bible, Revised English Bible, New American Bible, New Jerusalem Bible, New King James Bible, James Moffatt Bible, Complete Jewish Bible, Lamsa Bible, The Holy Scriptures (JPS), and the Jewish TANAKH.
In addition to the above, the Bible is clear that all aspects of the Passover were to be observed on Abib 14th. Numbers 9:3 states, “In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.”
If ben ha arbayim was from 3:00 pm to sunset, this would place the actual eating of the lamb and the destroyer on the evening of Abib 15. However, based on Numbers 9:3, “all rites” and “all ceremonies” of the Passover were to occur on Abib 14.
Based on the fact that Yahshua died at 3:00 pm on Abib 14 and is called the “Lamb of Yah” in the first chapter of John, some argue that the Passover must also occur at that time. However, there are two facts to consider. Number one, Yahshua Himself had to keep the Passover. If not, He would have been in violation of the law. And number two, the New Testament verifies that He kept the Passover the evening before, as seen in Matthew 26:18-21:
“And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. And the disciples did as Yahshua had appointed them; and they made ready the passover. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.”
Not only does Matthew confirm that Yahshua ate the Passover meal, but also when He ate it. He and the disciples ate the Passover on the evening of Abib 14. The word “even” comes from the Greek opsios and according to Thayer’s refers to, “…either from three to six o’clock p.m. or from six o’clock p.m. to the beginning of night.” From the context, it’s clear that opsios is describing the night before Yahshua died.
For addition evidence on this topic, please read our online booklet: The Timing of Passover.