Hebrew Voices #67 – Was the Last Supper a Passover Seder

Da Vinci's painting of the Last SupperIn this episode of Hebrew Voices, Was the Last Supper a Passover Seder, Nehemia Gordon and Professor Shaye Cohen of Harvard University give an overview of the Passover sacrifice from Biblical times up until the destruction of the Temple, and how it evolved into the modern-day Passover Seder. Then they use that as a foundation for looking at the nature of the Last Supper in the New Testament.

I Look forward to reading your comments!

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Related Posts:
When was the Passover Sacrifice Brought
Passover and Leaven
From Slavery to Freedom
Pesach: Feast of Protection
Guess Who’s Coming to Seder
An Early Christian Passover

Show Notes:
Exodus 12
Exodus 13
Numbers 15
Psachim Chapter 10, Mishnah 5
Prof. Shaye Cohen
The Seder of Passover and the Eucharistic Words

31 thoughts on “Hebrew Voices #67 – Was the Last Supper a Passover Seder

  1. Nehemiah… great study w S Cohen!
    Can we obtain a copy of Bahr’s.The Seder of Passover and the Eucharistic Words from you and not jstor [$34!] Thank you

      • Nehemiah…. you’re right, I have an account and was being cheeky… and cheap.

        Great study, tho feel the Jaubert hypothesis on calendric issues may have bit of traction…
        Most Important, Happy Passover/DUB

  2. Wow that’s extremely interesting in light of what source material I’ve heard over this journey..

    Can’t wait for part 2 either.

  3. Nehemia what options do we take for the actual celebration date when we bring the Feast of Unleaven Bread when there are two shabbats according to the calendars in use? One here in the US, and another in Israel

    And, what of this practice of allowing a gentile to “purchase” our chamatz when we remove it from our dwelling, and then us buying it back? When did this traditional practice originate?

    When will Part Two of this interview be released????

  4. I just stumbled upon the Fast of the First Born. could it be that Jesus and his disciples where having the last super before his fast which was done by the first born the day before Passover?

  5. I am not totally agree with this perspective. it is indeed obvious that Yeshua’s Last Supper was not similar to the modern day Seder ,since Yeshua ate the Pesach Lam. However, there are some similarities with the Seder and these are:
    1. The cups of wine. In Luke 21 Yeshua use cups of wine , although this was not commanded in Torah. The cups of wine were added by the Rabbis
    2.Yeshua spoke the bracha before each cup as in the Seder, where the bracha is spoken before each cup.
    3.The dipping of food we see in John 13;26 as in the Seder.

  6. Now According to the gospels, the Last supper of Yeshua ve-ha’Talmidim occured the Evening BEFORE the preparation day. As Yeshua was killed on the day before the Sabbath of the unleavened Bread. therefore it seems to me that “last supper” was one evening to early, ( eg, the evening of 13:th/14:th of Nissan) to be a Pascal meal as the lambs/goats were not yet slaughtered. If this could be discussed i would be grateful.

    • Lars, Shanah Tovah! The Gospel of John seems to align the best, both if Yeshua would be killed as the “Passover lamb”, but in alignment with the other events. It’s pretty safe to say that events can not be viewed without “Hebrew goggles”. Time wise, Yeshua is anointed on the 5th day of the week (8thday of first month), rides into Jerusalem (10th day of the first month) and teaches on Shabbat at the Temple. After Shabbat, occurs the “last supper” which could not be a Passover Seder. On that evening after Shabbat, Yeshua is arrested. After 3 days of inspection which includes Caiaphas (bearing iniquities against Yeshua) pressuring Pilate to kill Yeshua, who is found without fault. That has to occur not on a Shabbat, nor after the 14th, as Caiaphas didn’t want to be defiled at Pilate’s court. Yeshua is crucified on the afternoon of the 14th day of the first month (4th day of week). He is taken down (dead already?) and placed in the tomb prior to the 15th day. 3 days in the tomb, and Mary goes to the tomb early on the 1st day of the week (after Shabbat) and finds the tomb empty. I have a problem that on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, that any Pharisees would go to Pilate and insist on a Roman guard, which is not mentioned in any other Gospel.

    • The last supper was indeed a Passover meal since the Gospels Matthew ,Mark, and Luke called it ‘passover”. Yeshua also called it’ Passover”. In order to understand the verse in John 18:28 It is good to take into accountability the custom of some Jews during the period of the second temple to slain the Passover Lam on the afternoon of nisan 14 and eat it at the beginning of nisan 15. So this mean that some Jews kill the passover lam at the start of nisan 14, this according to the command in exodus 12, and other groups such as sadducees, kill the lam on the evening of nisan 14 and eat it on nisan 15

      • Hi, Yes that is one explanation, that it was possible to eat the pascal lamb both on the first and second evening of the fourteenth of Nissan. Yeshua ate it on the first evening ( Luke 22;13) and the Zadokim ate it on the second evening. (John 18:28) And Yeshuas trial and cruxifiction takes place on the day of the 14:th , the preparation day. Then we have Nehemia Gordon arguing in another post, that evening the 14:th/15:th of Nissan is what is commanded in Exodus 12. I dont know much about the history of this intra-jewish point of contention. But if its been around since the 2nd Temple period its ancient indeed.

      • John 18:28 proves that the “last supper” the night before was Not the Passover. “They themselves did not go into the palace {Rome’s Fort Antonia}, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover {which would be later that evening}.”

  7. Shalom! Thank you for your work. My understanding is that the earliest most complete Haggadah goes back to the 9th century and resembles much of what we have today. Have you heard of or come across this document?

  8. wow! 1st, the professor encumbers the requirement of the Temple altar to qualify the pouring out of the blood of the Paschal lamb sacrifice (Takanot). I assume this is where Christian doctrine places so much emphasis on “the Blood” yet says that the Torah no longer applies due to sacrifices requiring the Temple, : no temple – no sin sacrifice possible. More importantly, If Talmudists declare that there can’t be a Pashal sacrifice without the Temple, then per Ex 12:48, there is no way to keep Pesach, and therefore no sojourner can be grafted in as native under one Law.

  9. Thank you, Nehemiah. That was a very interesting show as usual.
    As far as Yeshua’s “Last Supper” being a Seder or not, I found the best understanding to this topic compiled in the comments of Michael Rood’s “Chronological Gospels”. According to this commentary the Last Supper was not a Seder, especially as the bread was leavened according to the Greek translation of that word which would be a big clue. Could there have been a deeper meaning or possibly a rehearsal of Melchizedek’s bread and wine?
    I don’t know, but after reading it from that perspective it gave me more things to chew on!!

    • Actually the Greek word is not restricted to Leavened as Luke 24:30 and in the Sept. Lev 2:4 Lev 8:26 & Num 6:19 testify

  10. WOW Nehemia! This one professional interview discusses and contains numerous historically relevant explanations for the current Pesach ceremonious practices brought forth through time to our so called Seder by “tradition without credibility”. This validated by the cited 12th C origins in chronology that many of these practices were not even done before then.
    For this Karaite family, this has determined our prayers recited, practices of what is served on that table, and most importantly, our BELIEFS of What Pesach truly means to us today since we no longer offer sacrifices in remembrance of this high holiday.

    So looking forward to the Second part of this interview!

    Toda raba

  11. Perhaps the name of the Last Supper should be changed to the ‘First Supper’. It may be the first example of a Pesach remembrance meal, ‘Do this in remembrance of me’. After all, did Yeshua not tell the disciples that the Temple would be destroyed? Could this have been a last instruction to his disciples?

  12. Listening to your discussion on the transformative function of ritual brought to mind a recent experience I had at the Museum of the Bible in D.C. There is an interactive exhibit called The Hebrew Bible. At a point in the exhibit, you and all the others attending, stand in the dark around a single poignant sculpture of an Israelite family while the events of Passover are told. And then you continue on into the exodus, so to speak. It was remarkable – sensing the power, the fear, the relief. The artist(s) desire seems to be the same as the direction from the Mishnah and Haggadah – placing the person in Egypt at that specific point in time.
    Thank you for bringing these interesting discussions, looking forward to part 2.

    • No, they are not the same. Passover is the 14th day of the 1st month. The Day of Atonement is the 10th day of the 7th month, so almost 6 months apart.

  13. Shalom from Lansing, Michigan ? I enjoy listening to your teachings and just listened to your part #1Segment about Passover. My question is, will you also be posting part #2 ?

    Thank You For All You Do, You have been one of the Blessing in my walk towards Truth ? Shalom, LuEvea “Lu” Zamarron

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