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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 26 - Verse 2
The festival of the passover was celebrated to preserve among the Jews the memory of their liberation from Egyptian servitude, and of the safety of their firstborn in that night when the firstborn of the Egyptians perished, Ex 12:1. The name passover was given to the feast because the Lord passed over the houses of the Israelites without slaying their firstborn, while the Egyptians were cut off, Ex 12:13. It was celebrated seven days, viz., from the 15th to the 21st of the month ABIB, or NISAN, (April,) Ex 12:15-20. During all this period the people ate unleavened bread, and hence the festival was sometimes called the feast of unleavened bread, Ex 12:18; Le 23:6. On the evening of the fourteenth day, all the leaven or yeast in the family was removed with great care, as it is to the present time—a circumstance to which the apostle alludes in 1 Co 5:7. On the 10th day of the month the master of a family separated a lamb or a goat of a year old from the flock, (Ex 12:1-6,) which he slew on the 14th day before the altar, De 16:2,5,6.
The lamb was commonly slain at about 3 o'clock, P.M . The blood of the paschal lamb was, in Egypt, sprinkled on the doorposts of the houses; afterwards it was poured by the priests at the foot of the altar, Ex 12:7. The lamb thus slain was roasted whole, with two spits thrust through it —-one lengthwise, and one transversely—crossing each other near the fore legs; so that the animal was, in a manner, crucified. Not a bone of it might be broken—a circumstance strongly representing the sufferings of our Lord Jesus, the Passover slain for us, Joh 19:36; 1 Co 5:7. Thus roasted, the lamb was served up with wild and bitter herbs. Not fewer than ten, nor more than twenty persons, were admitted to these sacred feasts. At first it was observed with the loins girt about, with sandals on their feet, and with all the preparations for an immediate journey. This, in Egypt, was significant of the haste with which they were about to depart from the land of bondage. The custom was afterwards retained.
The order of the celebration of this feast was as follows: The ceremony commenced with drinking a cup of wine mingled with water, after having given thanks to God for it. This was the first cup. Then followed the washing of hands, with another short form of thanksgiving to God. The table was then supplied with the provisions, viz., the bitter salad, the unleavened bread, the lamb, and a thick sauce composed of dates, figs, raisins, vinegar, etc. They then took a small quantity of salad, with another thanksgiving, and ate it. After which, all the dishes were removed from the table, and a second cup of wine set before each guest as at first. The dishes were removed, it is said, to excite the curiosity of children, and to lead them to make inquiry into the cause of this observance. See Ex 12:26,27. The leading person at the feast then began and rehearsed the history of the servitude of the Jews in Egypt, the manner of their deliverance, and the reason of instituting the passover. The dishes were then returned to the table, and he said, "This is the passover which we eat, because that the Lord passed over the houses of our fathers in Egypt;" and then holding up the salad and the unleavened bread, he stated the design, viz., that the one represented the bitterness of the Egyptian bondage, and the other the suddenness of their deliverance. This done, he repeated the 113th and 114th Psalms, offered a short prayer, and all the company drank the wine that had been standing some time before them. This was the second cup. The hands were then again washed, and the meal then eaten, with the usual forms and solemnities. After which they washed the hands again, and then drank another cup of wine, called the cup of blessing, because the leader was accustomed in a particular manner, over that cup, to offer thanks to God for his goodness. This is the cup which our Saviour is supposed to have taken when he instituted the Lord's Supper, called by Paul the cup of blessing, 1 Co 10:16. There was still another cup, which was drunk when they were about to separate, called the Hallel, because in connexion with it they were accustomed to repeat the lesser Hallel, or the 115th, 116th, 117th, 118th Psalms. In accordance with this, our Saviour and his disciples sang a hymn, as they were about to go to the Mount of Olives, Mt 26:30. It is probable that our Saviour complied with these rites according to the custom of the Jews. While doing it, he signified that the typical reference of the passover was about to be accomplished, and he instituted in place of it the Supper—the communion—and of course the obligation to keep the passover then ceased.
The Son of man is betrayed. Will be betrayed. He did not mean to say that they then knew that he would be betrayed, for it does not appear that they had been informed of the precise time. But they knew that the passover was at hand, and he then informed them that he would be betrayed.
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