|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
26:17-25 Observe, the place for their eating the passover was pointed out by Christ to the disciples. He knows those hidden ones who favour his cause, and will graciously visit all who are willing to receive him. The disciples did as Jesus had appointed. Those who would have Christ's presence in the gospel passover, must do what he says. It well becomes the disciples of Christ always to be jealous over themselves, especially in trying times. We know not how strongly we may be tempted, nor how far God may leave us to ourselves, therefore we have reason not to be high-minded, but to fear. Heart-searching examination and fervent prayer are especially proper before the Lord's supper, that, as Christ our Passover is now sacrificed for us, we may keep this feast, renewing our repentance, our faith in his blood, and surrendering ourselves to his service.
Verses 20-25. - The last Supper. Jesus announces his betrayer. (Mark 14:17-21 Luke 22:14, 21-23; John 13:21-30.) Verse 20. - When the even was come; i.e. according to Jewish reckoning, the beginning of the 14th of Nisan; with us, the Thursday evening - the eve of Good Friday. He sat down; he was reclining at table. Originally, the Passover was ordered to be eaten standing, in reference to the circumstances of its first institution (Exodus 12:11); but after the settlement in Canaan the posture had been changed to that of reclining in token of rest alter a weary pilgrimage. The rule that obtained concerning the number in one company of partakers of the Paschal feast was that it never should be less than ten, nor more than the lamb would suffice to feed, though a morsel of the flesh was considered to satisfy all requirements.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Now when the even was come,.... The second evening, when the sun was set, and it was dark, and properly night; for
"on the evenings of the passovers near the Minchah, a man might not eat , "until it was dark" (p).''
This was according to the rule, Exodus 12:8,
he sat down with the twelve, his twelve disciples; so the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, and Munster's Hebrew Gospel; and which also adds, "at table"; even all the twelve apostles, who were properly his family, and a sufficient number for a passover lamb (q): for
"they do not kill the passover for a single man, according to the words of R. Judah, though R. Jose permits it: yea, though the society consists of an hundred, if they cannot eat the quantity of an olive, they do not kill for them: nor do they make a society of women, servants, and little ones?''
Judas was now returned again, and took his place among the disciples, as if he was as innocent, and as friendly, as any of them: this he might choose to do, partly to avoid all suspicion of his designs; and partly that he might get intelligence where Christ would go after supper, that he might have the opportunity he was waiting for, to betray him into the hands of his enemies. "He sat, or lay down with them", as the word signifies; for the posture of the Jews, at the passover table especially, was not properly sitting, but reclining, or lying along on coaches, not on their backs, nor on their right side, but on their left; See Gill on John 13:23. The first passover was eaten by them standing, with their loins girt, their shoes on, and staves in their hands, because they were just ready to depart out of Egypt: but in after passovers these circumstances were omitted; and particularly sitting, or lying along, was reckoned so necessary to be observed, that it is said (r), that
"the poorest man in Israel might not eat, , "until he lies along", or leans;''
that is, as some of their commentators (s) note, either upon the couch, or on the table, after the manner of free men, and in remembrance of their liberty: and another of them (t) says,
"we are bound to eat, "lying along", as kings and great men eat, because it is a token of liberty.''
Hence they elsewhere say (u),
"it is the way of servants to eat standing; but here (in the passover) to eat, "sitting", or "lying along", because they (the Israelites) went out of bondage to liberty. Says R. Simon, in the name of R. Joshua ben Levi, that which a man is obliged to in the passover, though it be but the quantity of an olive, he must eat it, "lying along".''
The account Maimonides gives of this usage, is in these words (w):
"even the poorest man in Israel may not eat until he "lies along": a woman need not lie; but if she is a woman of worth and note, she ought to lie: a son by a father, and a servant before his master ought to lie: "but a disciple before his master does not lie, except his master gives him leave" (as Christ did his); and lying on the right hand is not lying; and so he that lies upon his neck, or upon his face, this is not lying; and when ought they to lie? at the time of eating, the quantity of an olive, of unleavened bread, and at drinking of the four cups; but at the rest of eating and drinking, if he lies, lo! it is praiseworthy: but if not, there is no necessity.''
This custom was so constantly and uniformly observed at the passover, that it is taken particular notice of in the declaration, or showing forth of the passover by the master of the family, when he says (x), "how different is this night from all other nights", &c. and among the many things he mentions, this is one;
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