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THE DATE FOR THE MEMORIAL SUPPER
IN our last issue we noted that the Hebrew Calendar seemed this year to disagree with the original methods of reckoning (and we have experienced similar difficulties in the past). Since then we have interviewed Rabbi Mayer on this subject. His explanation is that the Jews had great difficulty in securing uniformity of date for the Passover, because, after the watchers had noted the new moon, the fact required to be signalled by fires from hill tops, and by messengers sent to various communities, etc. Consequently, about fifteen hundred years ago, in the fourth century, Hillel’s Calendar was adopted, and it has been followed since.
We are to bear in mind two important matters relating to the date of the Passover. (1) It was to be after the Spring Equinox (yet not too long after), so that the 16th of Nisan, the date of our Lord’s resurrection, could be provided with a sheaf of the first-fruits of the harvest—a type of “Christ, the first-fruits” born from the dead. (2) The lamb was to be killed at the full of the moon, as representing the fulness of God’s favor under the Law Covenant, to the Jews, which culminated there, and which was followed by the rejection of that nation and their waning in accordance with their prayer, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
The decision regarding the month to be esteemed the first month was seemingly left to the Elders of Israel, subject to the limitations foregoing; and it appears that they did not always wait until the Spring Equinox, and then after that wait for the following new moon, to begin counting Nisan. (To have done so this year would have been to begin Nisan as late as April 11th.) On the contrary, knowing when to expect the equinox, they accepted as the beginning of this first month, the beginning of their year, the appearance of the new moon whose full would be about the harvest time, and after the equinox. And this evidently is the rule which we should follow.
Following this rule, we find that the full moon after the equinox this year will be on March 27th, which therefore should be recognized as the 14th of Nisan, the anniversary of our Lord’s death: and according to Jewish reckoning the 14th would begin on Sunday, March 26th, at six o’clock, P.M., the anniversary of the Last Supper. From this it will be observed that the date given in our last issue was in error, as well as the Jewish date, and we are glad to have opportunity of correcting the matter thus early.
Some will doubtless notice that almanacs give the date of the new moon as March 11th, but if the fourteen days were counted from that date it would not bring us to the full of the moon. We assume, therefore, that the Jews, instead of accepting the dark moon for the new moon, waited until a sufficiency of the moon would be visible to the eye, and counted from that date. So counting now, the new moon would be expected to be visible on the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th of March, which would be Nisan 1st.
— February 1, 1899 —