Parashat Tzav (Make a Command)Leviticus 6:1-8:36
Shabbat HaGadol – The Great Sabbath
Special Haftarah: Malachi 3:4-24
The Shabbat before Passover is called the Great Shabbat. When one studies this week’s Torah portion he will find that in the eighth chapter of Leviticus there is an emphasis on anointing. Moses was instructed to take the anointing oil and to anoint the Tabernacle, the Altar, Aaron, Aaron’s sons, and their garments.
Shabbat HaGadol is traditionally when the Hebrews who were in Egypt took the lamb to be offered as the Passover offering into their homes.
“Speak to all the congregation of Israel saying on the tenth day of this month they shall take for themselves every man a sheep to the father’s house, a sheep per house.” Exodus 12:3
It is interesting that Jewish tradition says that during the first Passover in Egypt, the tenth day of Nissan (the day which scripture says that one must bring the Passover lamb into one’s home and keep it there until the fourteenth day of the month when one would sacrifice it) occurred on a Shabbat-Saturday. This would mean that the Lamb was sacrificed on a Wednesday.
10th of Nissan Shabbat – day 1
11th of Nissan Sunday- day 2
12th of Nissan Monday- day 3
13th of Nissan Tuesday- day 4
14th of Nissan Wednesday- day 5
We know that Yeshua was crucified on the fourteenth day of Nissan. This day is known as preparation day and both Luke’s Gospel (see Luke 23:54) and John’s Gospel (see John 19:31) reveal this. It is called preparation day because it serves as the day that one has to prepare the lamb, sacrifice and cook it, so as to eat it in the evening (the start of the fifteen day of Nissan) the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The fifteenth day of Nissan is treated as a Shabbat, regardless of what day of the week it occurs.
It is very significant that Yeshua came to Bethany six days before Passover (see 12:1). This day would have been on a Friday, the ninth of Nissan. It was there a special meal was prepared. This word in the Greek is δεῖπνον. This word denotes a meal usually associated with a biblical commandment. The timing would suggest it was a Sabbath meal. Since Yeshua arrived on Friday, the next day (actually the beginning of that very night—erev Shabbat) would have be a Shabbat. This is the day that Mary would have anointed Yeshua with the costly perfume, signifying that He would die in five days.
The lambs which were brought into the homes to live with the family were announced to be the Passover sacrifice; hence Yeshua would die in five days. It is significant that only Mary understood Yeshua’s message that He was going to die. This is why Yeshua commanded that whenever the Gospel is shared, that this account of her would be told (see Mark 14:9) as a memorial to her. In regard to this anointing many people note that John’s account says she anoints Yeshua’s feet, while in Mark’s account she anoints His head. Is there a conflict? No, Mary anoints both His head and then His feet. Each Gospel was inspired to record just one of the places because of the message each one contained. In Mark’s account the head of Yeshua is mentioned, signifying that He is King. Kings were anointed on the head. While John’s Gospel emphasizes the feet, signifying that this King would be humble and did not enter the world at this time to rule, but to serve—for this was the reason He was going to die.
“For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
As you observe this Shabbat focus on the biblical commandment to bring a lamb into one’s house and remember that Yeshua entered into this world to be our Passover Lamb. He came to die, so that we could have life! G-d willing there will be a special Blog before Passover speaking of the fact that although He died, He rose!
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