The Israelites were commanded to select on the tenth of Abib (Nisan) a he-lamb of the first year, without blemish, to kill it on the eve of the fourteenth and to sprinkle with its blood the lintel and sidepost of the doors of their dwellings so that the Lord should "pass over" them when he went forth to slay the first-born of the Egyptians.
As before remarked, there seems no direct connexion between the paschal sacrifice and what appears to be essentially an agricultural festival; the Hebrew tradition, to some extent, dissociates them by making the sacrifice on the 14th of Nisan and beginning the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the 15th.
These were presented in the month Rajab, corresponding to Nisan (Smith, Religion of Semites, p. 210).
This would seem to point to a time when the fixing of the sabbath was determined by the age of the moon, so that the first day of the Passover, which is on the 15th of Nisan, would always occur on a sabbath.
In Nisan the Kalda prince, M e rodach (Marduk)-baladan, entered Babylon and baladan. ?
Before the departure of the Israelites from Egypt their year commenced at the autumnal equinox; but in order to solemnize the memory of their deliverance, the month of Nisan or Abib, in which that event took place, and which falls about the time of the vernal equinox, was afterwards regarded as the beginning of the ecclesiastical or legal year.
The author of the first book of Maccabees makes the era commence with the month Nisan, or April; and the author of the second book with the first Tishrin, or October.
The first Babylonian month Nisan, dedicated to Anu and Bel, was that of " sacrifice "; and its association with the Ram as the chief primitive object of sacrifice is thus intelligible.'
The Passover was kept at the full moon of the lunar month Nisan, the first of the Jewish ecclesiastical year; the Paschal lambs were slain on the afternoon of the, 4th Nisan, and the Passover was eaten after sunset the same day - which, however, as the Jewish day began at sunset, was by their reckoning the early hours of the r 5th Nisan; the first fruits (of the barley harvest) were solemnly offered on the 16th.
These four lines of inquiry have shown that the Crucifixion fell on Friday, Nisan 14 (rather than 15), in one of the six years 28-33 A.D.; and therefore, if it is possible to discover (i.) exactly which moon or month was reckoned each year as the moon or month of Nisan, and (ii.) exactly on what day that particular moon or month was reckoned as beginning, it will, of course, be possible to tell in which of these years Nisan 14 fell on a Friday.
Exactly what modifications were first made in the system under which each month began by simple observation of the new moon we do not know, and opinions are not agreed as to the historical value of the rabbinical traditions; but probably the first step in the direction of astronomical precision would be the rule that no month could consist of less than twenty-nine or more than thirty days - to which appears to have been added, but at what date is uncertain, the further rule that Adar, the month preceding Nisan, was always to be limited to twentynine.
277) onwards accused the Jews of disregarding the (Christian) equinoctial limit, and of sometimes placing the Paschal full moon before it; and it is possible that in the time of Christ the 14th of Nisan might have fallen as far back as the 17th of March.
In the following table the first column gives the terminus paschalis, or 14th of the Paschal moon, according to the Christian calendar; the second gives the 14th, reckoned from the time of the astronomical new moon of Nisan; the third the 14th, reckoned from the probable first appearance of the new moon at sunset.
It will be seen at once that Friday cannot have fallen on Nisan 14th in any of the three years A.D.
29, Friday, 18th March (Friday, 15th April, would no doubt be too early even for the 14th of Nisan); A.D.
44 by supposing that he commenced reckoning a second year of his reign on Nisan I, A.D.
37, so that his ninth would run from Nisan 1, A.D.
44 after Nisan, so that it will have been at the Passover of that year that St Peter's arrest and deliverance took place.
Mr Fotheringham is of opinion that the evidence from Christian sources is too uncertain, and that the statements of the Mishnah must be the starting-point of the inquiry: taking then the phasis of the new moon as the true beginning of Nisan, he concludes that Friday cannot have coincided with Nisan 14 in any year, within the period A.
The Intercalary Month, Veadar, Is Introduced In Embolismic Years In Order That Passover, The 15Th Day Of Nisan, May Be Kept At Its Proper Season, Which Is The Full Moon Of The Vernal Equinox, Or That Which Takes Place After The Sun Has Entered The Sign Aries.
Nisan 15, Passover.
The orthodox later Jews reckoned the fifty days from the 16th of Nisan, but on this there has been considerable controversy among Jews themselves.
I i, 15 is the 15th Nisan, or the first day of the feast of Massoth.
Hitzig maintained that in the Hebrew calendar 14th and 21st Nisan were always Sabbaths, and that 1st Nisan was always a Sunday, which was the opening day of the year.
A tablet dated 275 B.C. states that on the 12th of Nisan the inhabitants of Babylon were transported to the new town, where a palace was built as well as a temple to which the ancient name of E-Saggila was given.
It may be regarded as certain that among Jewish Christians it almost imperceptibly grew out of the old habit of annually celebrating the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, and of observing the "days of unleavened bread" from the 15th to the 21st of that month.
Even the fact that this latter was celebrated on the first of Nisan, or a fortnight after the Jewish date for Purim, is confirmed by the Book of Esther itself, which states that "In the first month, which is the month Nisan, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman" (Esther iii.