Q. My question for you today involves when the Jewish day begins and when the numeric date actually changes. I know that based on Genesis it was evening first and therefore the new day begins at sundown.
If Passover begins on 14 Nisan with confirming the unblemished animal, does the actual Passover meal take place on 15 Nisan as the new day begins at nightfall?
A. There were actually two meals associated with Passover after the Jews were settled in the Land. The quick meal of lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs became a ceremonial meal that was eaten after the sundown that began the 14th, as the Jews had done in Egypt. The commandment was to observe the lamb until the 14th, slaughter it at twilight as the 14th was beginning, and eat it that same night. (Exodus 12:6) Then, on the 15th, a leisurely festival meal was eaten where the Exodus story was recounted. It actually began the 7 day Feast of Unleavened Bread and is known as the Seder today.
The 15th was the special Sabbath where no work was allowed. The 14th became known as preparation day because that’s when preparations for the festival meal were made. That’s why Jesus had to be taken off the cross by sundown on the 14th. It would have been illegal to take him down and bury him after that because the special Sabbath would have begun. (John 19:31)
Jesus ate the ceremonial meal with His disciples as the 14th was beginning and was arrested, tried, convicted, executed and buried before the day was over, all on Passover.