The Sign of Jonah
by Erich Matthew Janzen
2002 – 2008 (5th Printing/Revision – 9.2008) Edited by: Lise Gilbert
All quotations of Scripture are from the King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.
SEC = Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Comments or questions may be addressed to: Erich Matthew Janzen
4101 Haralson Mill Rd. Conyers, GA. 30012
Chapter 1: Two Sabbaths in the Gospels? 9
Chapter 2: The 17th of Aviv 23
Chapter 3: The Road to Emmaus 27
Chapter 4: The Wave Sheaf Offering 29
Chapter 5: Daniel’s Prophecy 31
Chapter 6: Understanding Matthew 12:40 33
Bibliography of Abbreviated Books 43
THERE ARE MANY Bible believers who have given attention to the duration of the Messiah’s entombment. One famous passage, often quoted by many commencing a conversation of the subject, is found in Matthew 12:40. “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Those who espouse to what they call a literal interpretation of this verse believe that what our Messiah here is that He would be entombed (in the grave) for a total of 72 hours, no more, no less.1
The Messiah Himself said in John 11:9 “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” Upon realizing this, we can know that this means there are also twelve hours in the night. Three days, would then be three full and complete twelve hour days, and three nights would be three full and complete twelve hour nights, composing a total time of 72 hours. Furthermore, one Biblical passage tells us that the Messiah said he would rise after three days. According to the 72 hour proponents, this would mean anything less than a 72 hour entombment would not satisfy the term after. Seeing that even another passage states that the Messiah would rise in three days, they reason that anything more than 72 hours would not satisfy the term in. Even further evidence may be found in the purchasing of the burial spices by the women desiring to anoint the body of the Messiah. While the gospel according to Mark tells us that spices were bought after the Sabbath, Luke’s gospel mentions preparing spices and ointments before the Sabbath. How could the women prepare spices they had not even bought? This could only happen if two Sabbaths occurred in the week of the crucifixion, i.e. a “high day Sabbath,” and a weekly Sabbath. So, this teaching has to be absolutely true, or is it?
I am not about to attack anyone who chooses to believe that the Messiah was entombed for a total of 72 hours, or that there were two Sabbaths in the week of the crucifixion. I can honestly see how a person can believe such a teaching. I will, however, make an effort to show you the many reasons why I personally cannot accept this view. I feel my reasons are intelligent and logical, and need to be examined by the diligent seeker of truth. My reason for bringing this matter to fruition is twofold:
1. I want to believe what is true. Truth is paramount in my life. To me, any willful rejection of truth is at least in some way a rejection of the Messiah.
2. There have been out-of-the-order statements made by some 72 hour proponents, against those not accepting such a teaching.
1 This is the view taken by those holding to a “Wednesday Crucifixion” or a “Fourth Day of the Week Crucifixion”. There are some holding to a “Thursday (or Fifth Day) Crucifixion” which do not believe 72 hours had to elapse during the Messiah’s entombment. They do however embrace that parts of 3 daylights and parts of 3 night times had to of taken place. Anyone wishing to study on the relevance of a Thursday/Fifth Day crucifixion should consult Brooke Foss Westcott’s, An Introduction to the Study of the Gospels/6th edition/Cambridge and London, 1881 pages. 343-349. However, this booklet will also deny a Thursday/Fifth day crucifixion with the arguments which are given throughout. I believe the Gospels bear witness that the Messiah died on the preparation of the weekly Sabbath, thus denying both of the theories above. I hope that which ever way Yahweh2 leads us to believe on this matter, we can be respectful to one another.
Harmonizing the Scriptures
In studying any Biblical topic we need to realize that we must take all of what the Scriptures say on a subject, and not just pull one verse out here or there or one verse of its context. A verse in the Psalms, from the New American Standard Bible, comes to mind. “The sum of thy word is truth… (Psalm 119:160)” I feel that this passage has been overlooked by many people holding to a 72 hour entombment. They seem to ignore, intentionally or unintentionally, what the rest of the Bible has to say on the subject. They seem to do an excellent job in declaring why they hold to their position, but rarely, and even then in a limited fashion, does one find them dealing with the rebuttals given by the opposing side. According to them, a person is not accepting the true Messiah if they do not believe that Yeshua3 was entombed for 72 hours. I must point out that not all those who accept this teaching believe that the opposing position rejects the Messiah, but most people that I personally have encountered do. It is almost impossible to even speak to them at times.
A conversation with a man I had a few years ago explains the difficulty accurately. After a delightful Sabbath worship, we began to discuss the Scriptures in general just outside of the building as we approached our vehicles. I forget what prompted his question, but as we were talking, he just calmly asked me what I thought about the 72 hour teaching. I very calmly returned an answer, “I do not believe there were two Sabbaths in the crucifixion week.” Boy was I not expecting his response at the time! “That would mean that the Messiah could not have been in the grave for 72 hours!” he said. He then told me that he would not be able to continue our conversation, and turned around and walked away. These situations are not what I consider a diligent longing to know what is true. We should be willing to sacrifice any doctrine we may hold at the present time on the altar of truth. At the same time, this must be balanced with a firm regard for the truth. We should not accept any teaching that comes along. I know of people who hear something once and automatically believe it because it “sounds good” or “touches their heart.” We are called to be Bereans (Acts 17:11). This means that before we believe and accept a doctrine to be factual, we must examine it carefully and prayerfully, not being tossed about with every wind of doctrine that blows by.
As we begin our search, we should notice in the Bible that when Yeshua refers to His death and resurrection, He often uses the term, the third day. Once, in Matthew 12:40, He uses the terminology three days and three nights, to describe His duration of time in
2 Yahweh is the personal, proper name of the heavenly Father in Scripture. Everywhere the words LORD, GOD, OR Jehovah appear in the Old Testament portion of the Scripture, the underlying Hebrew text reads YHWH, pronounced Yahweh. For an in-depth study on this name write for the book Hallowed be Thy Name.
Introduction -- 7
what He refers to as the heart of the earth. However, in Matthew 12:40, any direct reference to a death or resurrection is conspicuously absent.
I could use many more passages which mention the third day in reference to the Messiah’s resurrection, but I have limited the passages to those which are from the very mouth of Yeshua the Messiah, just as Matthew 12:40. This
table, once again, shows that for the majority of the time the Messiah chose to use the phrase the third day when speaking of His resurrection.
Let me clarify what I am not doing in the above chart. I am not suggesting that we pit Scripture against Scripture. I am not a fan of pitting Scripture against Scripture. As in the case at hand, I am not demanding that we ignore the one time4 the Messiah uses the terminology three days and three nights. I am simply asking you to realize that this term may just so happen to be defined by the other (majority) third day passages. If one passage doesn’t seem to fit into the puzzle, we may be able to determine through strict exegesis what the original intent of
the passage was when it was written. Along with this, we need to realize
the possibility that perhaps the phrase heart of the earth may not be a phrase referring to the grave. Concerning the aforementioned chart let us ask ourselves this question: what does the phrase the third day denote?
Third Day Passages
There are many passages in the Bible that plainly teach us the meaning of the phrase the third day. In Genesis 22 we read of Abraham being tested by Yahweh, as Yahweh told him to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering. We then read that, “Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled an ass.” Further on we read, “Then on the third day, Abraham lifted up his eyes.”5 The point being that the third day was reckoned from day one, and did not denote three full and complete twenty-four hour days. In Exodus 19:10-11, just before the giving of the law of Yahweh, we read the following:
And Yahweh said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes, and be ready against the third day: for the third day Yahweh will come down in the sight of all the people…
4 I believe that when discussing scripture, only one witness is needed to prove a particular point. We must have two or more witnesses to condemn or accuse a man, however, Yahweh has to say something only once, and it is sufficient. We are to live by every word that proceeds out of his mouth (Deuteronomy 8:3).
Here, the term today expresses whatever part of the first day remained, tomorrow would have to be the next day, and the third day referred to the day after tomorrow, at any time. In Leviticus 19:5-7 we learn that a sacrifice of peace offerings unto Yahweh may be eaten on the same day you offer it or on the morrow, but if any is left to the third day it should be burnt with fire. We see the same sequence in First Samuel 20:12 during David and Jonathan’s conversation on the day before the new moon.
And Jonathan said unto David, O Yahweh God of Israel, when I have sounded my father about tomorrow any time, or the third day…
Here, the day they were speaking in was day one. Following this day was tomorrow, and then of course comes the third day. There are also other examples to be given, but I feel that these successfully prove that the phrase the third day can mean and often means the day after tomorrow. Thus for those who believe the Messiah was crucified on the 14th6, the weekly/annual Sabbath took place on the 15th, and the Messiah rose from the grave on the 16th, this scenario fits the third day precedent perfectly.
Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests and scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him unto the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify: and the third day he shall be raised up. (Matthew 20:18-19)
The third day here is reckoned from the day of the crucifixion. Crucifixion day being day one, the morrow being day two, and then obviously you would have the third day. This method is known as inclusive reckoning;7 a method we will detail a little later in this treatise. This could definitely be the time period the Messiah was speaking of in the previously cited seven passages on the given chart.
6 There are some who teach the Messiah was crucified on the 15th of Aviv, while even fewer teach a 13th of Aviv crucifixion. I’ve chosen to use the most accepted time frame of the 14th, and I do feel it is the best scriptural choice.
TWO SABBATHS IN THE GOSPELS?
ONE SHOULD EASILY realize, that in order for the Messiah to be entombed for 72 hours, there would, of necessity, have to be two Sabbaths in the week of His crucifixion. Most people believing the 72 hour teaching do believe that the “high day Sabbath,” was on the 15th day of Aviv, but the regular weekly Sabbath was on the 17th of Aviv. Do we obtain these facts from the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, or is this a hypothesis found wanting?
First of all, Mark mentions the day of the Messiah’s death as having the title of the preparation. “And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath. (Mark 15:42)” Notice very carefully that Mark describes this word preparation as “That is, the day before the Sabbath.” It was on this day of preparation that the Messiah was crucified. Mark shows that he was speaking of a regularly occurring day. He simply explains in more details to the reader which day the preparation was. In case the reader did not know which day the preparation was, Mark clarifies his speech by saying it was the day before the Sabbath. The reader would of a surety understand that the Sabbath mentioned would be the weekly Sabbath. You would not make this sort of a statement if you wished to convey this particular Sabbath as only being an annual Sabbath. As one writer put it, “If he was trying to explain that “the preparation” here meant something different – the day before the Sabbath on Thursday, he failed to make his point very clear.”8 Secondly, we must discover the origin and meaning of the term preparation, when found in relation to the word Sabbath. We find an interesting verse in light of this term in the book of Exodus 16, as Yahweh gives instructions on what the children of Israel were to do with the manna given to them on the sixth day of the week. “And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” (Exodus 16:5)
Hopefully you caught the key word in this passage, it being prepare. This word prepare had the meaning of preparing the manna, or in other words, the preparation of the manna for the Sabbath. The main point to notice here, is that the term preparation had the primary meaning of food preparation for the weekly Sabbath.9
Therefore, the fact that the day of the crucifixion is called the day of preparation
8 TDTN-RLS, p. 9
This conclusion ignores the fact, cogently stated by Norval Geldenhuys, “that at the time when John wrote, the Greek term paraskeue (‘preparation’) was already for a long time the technical term used to indicate ‘Friday,’ the equivalent of the Hebrew erebh shabbath.
strongly suggests that the Sabbath that followed was the regular weekly Sabbath, which would have fallen on the 15th day of Aviv.
We then read in Mark 16:1 that, “…when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought sweet spices that they might come and anoint him.” A good question would be, when WHAT Sabbath was past? Could
it possibly be the only Sabbath previously mentioned? This would be the most logical
way to see this, seeing that Mark doesn’t so much as even hint at another Sabbath day occurring anywhere else within the timing of the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah. In conclusion, we then have mention of the first day of the week in Mark
16:2. “And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came early to the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.”
This first day of the week followed right after the Sabbath, which followed right after the day of the preparation. Thus we have a preparation, Sabbath, and first day sequence of events surrounding the timing of the death, burial and resurrection.
Next I would like to examine Luke’s chronology of the events which took place during this specific week. He tells us in Luke 23:50-52, that a man named Joseph, of the city of Arimathea, begged for the body of the Messiah. He managed to obtain our Messiah’s body, and he then, “Took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never a man before was laid.” (Luke 23:53)
Brother Luke then tells us that this day was “The day of the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on.” (Luke 23:54) We then read: “And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how His body was laid, and they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.” (Luke 23:55-56)
A simple reading of the text has the women beholding the laying of the body on the 14th, then they return (obviously from beholding the body) and prepare spices and ointments on the 14th, and rest the weekly Sabbath day, which would be the 15th of Aviv, according to the commandment. Although I feel this is easy to see, some claim this Sabbath to be the 17th day of the month of Aviv. However, this would place two entire days between verses which clearly show that the weekly Sabbath came directly after the day of preparation. It is not sound or logical reasoning for us to believe that Luke mentions the women beholding how the body was laid, and then speaks of them returning from some other place, unknown to us, and any other reader of Luke’s evangel. Yet, this is what one has to believe in order to hold to a 72 hour entombment. Furthermore, it is inconsistent with the context to demand that the Sabbath day of verse 56 is not the same Sabbath day of verse 54. An exegetical reading of the historical account has the weekly Sabbath coming directly after the preparation.
Luke then mentions that, “Upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher.” (Luke 24:1) This teaches us a preparation, a Sabbath, and first day sequence once again. We should note here that both Mark and Luke agree that the visit to the tomb took place very early in the morning on the first day of
the week, this is abundantly clear.
What about the Spices?
Although I feel I have given sufficient evidence from these two gospel accounts, that there was a 14th, 15th, and 16th10, sequence of events involved in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah, an objection involving the spices bought, and brought, by certain women, is almost always given by those holding to the 72 hour entombment.
As I stated at the beginning of this treatise; Mark records that spices were bought after the Sabbath, while Luke records spices were prepared before the Sabbath. The question arises, how can you prepare spices you’ve not bought? The answer is that you can’t! However, for one to believe this, he has to assume that the spices mentioned by Mark and Luke were the exact same spices; then and only then could the two Sabbaths be proven. Could there be two sets of spices in question here?
The spices in Luke’s account were prepared before the Sabbath. The text mentions nothing of the women buying this set of spices, so they probably had them handy at one of their respective homes. If they did not happen to have them handy, these items could be obtained on very short notice. We find this to be factual in that, “Nicodemus, which at the first came to Yeshua by night… brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight.” (John 19:39)
Nicodemus managed to obtain a hundred pound of myrrh and aloes for the body of the Messiah. Some may object to this because of an alternative reading noted by the great commentator Adam Clarke. However, notice all of what Adam Clarke has to say concerning this verse.
Some have objected that a hundred pounds’ weight of myrrh and aloes was enough to embalm two hundred dead bodies; and instead of, a hundred, some critics have proposed to read —a mixture of myrrh and aloes, of about a pound EACH. See Bowyer’s Conjectures. But it may be observed that great quantities of spices were used for embalming dead bodies, when they intended to show peculiar marks of respect to the deceased. A great quantity was used at the funeral of Aristobulus; and it is said that five hundred servants bearing aromatics attended the funeral of Herod: see Josephus, Ant. b. xv. c. 3, s. 4; and b. xvii. c. 8, s. 3: and fourscore pounds of spices were used at the funeral of R. Gamaliel the elder.11
Upon reading this commentary, we can clearly see that Nicodemus most likely brought a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes, as the Messiah was probably held in high esteem by him,12 but whether a mixture or a hundred pounds, the fact remains that Nicodemus was apparently able to obtain these spices on very short notice.13 Not only do we have this evidence, showing burial spices did not take a great amount of time to obtain or prepare, but we should also note what author Ralph Woodrow states in his book on this same subject.
…there is no reason to assume that a whole day was required to prepare spices! In Jewish practice, burial followed soon after death, usually the same day. When Ananias died – they “wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him,” the whole procedure being completed within “three hours” (Acts 5:6, 7). Lazarus was buried the same day he died, for when Jesus arrived he had been in the tomb “four days already” and had “been dead four days” (John 11:17, 39). Nicodemus provided a considerable quantity of spices, seemingly in a short time, when he hurriedly helped prepare the body of Jesus for burial (John 19:39, 40)… Because burials followed so soon after death, it is evident it did not take long to prepare burial spices.14
There is absolutely nothing in Scripture to insinuate that the Jews’ preparation of burial spices took a great amount of time, they were obviously prepared quite easily and quite quickly. Thus the women, after leaving the burial sight, would have had plenty of time to prepare a portion of spices and ointments before resting the Sabbath day.
Seeing that the Messiah died at the ninth hour (Matthew 27:46-50), and that most authorities place this at around 3:00 p.m., there would be at the very least three hours until the following day commenced. This places the beginning of the next day at 6:00 p.m. The body of the Messiah was taken off of the tree, the women beheld the body and how it was laid, and then as Luke tells us they, “Returned, and prepared spices and ointments.” (Luke 23:56)
We then encounter the spices mentioned by Mark. Mark, once again, tells us that, “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.” (Mark 16:1) The spices mentioned here were obviously not the same spices mentioned in Luke. Perhaps the women felt they needed more spices out of respect for the deceased body of Yeshua. After the Sabbath, they purchased other spices, possibly to go along with the ones they had already prepared. We should also notice that while spices and ointments were prepared before the Sabbath, only spices (not ointments) were bought after the Sabbath. This would be further evidence of two sets of spices.
Furthermore, consider the possibility of there being a difference between the women mentioned in Luke that prepared spices and ointments before the Sabbath, and the women mentioned in Mark which bought spices after the Sabbath. While Mark clearly points out that Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, were the women who bought spices after the Sabbath; the women which prepared spices and ointments before the Sabbath, are described in Luke 23:55 as “The women... which came with him from Galilee.” Luke 24:10 then makes mention of the two groups of women when he states, “It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them.” This possibly suggests that some of the women prepared spices and ointments before the Sabbath, while other women waited until after the Sabbath was past, and decided to buy spices.
An interesting point for one to consider is that a 72 hour teaching has the women buying and preparing spices only after the annual Sabbath of the 15th. It in turn teaches that the 16th of Aviv was the preparation for the weekly Sabbath. Thus giving the women an entire day to buy spices, prepare spices, and anoint the body of their beloved Messiah. Yet this teaching claims that the women decided to wait until either
14 TDTN-RLS, p. 18
the end of the Sabbath day or the first day of the week. This has them arriving to anoint a body over 72 hours old. What did the woman, Martha, say to Yeshua when he asked that the stone be removed from Lazarus’ tomb?
Yeshua said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Master, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. (John 11:39)
Why wait the entire day of preparation and then attempt to put aromatic spices on a body over 72 hours old? One writer I am aware of15 attempts to prove that the reason the women did not come to anoint the Messiah’s body was because they found Roman soldiers guarding the tomb, and a Roman seal engraved into the stone. Though this may sound logical on the surface, those believing this are simply assuming, without any Scriptural precedent, that the women even made an attempt to come to the tomb on what they believe to be the 16th of Aviv (weekly preparation day). If we read the Gospels with the mindset of a 72 hour entombment, they do not give us any evidence that the women even attempted to come to anoint the body on this supposed “day between the Sabbaths.” To say that a Roman seal prohibited these women from anointing the Messiah’s body is a hypothetical claim.
If anything has been learned in this dissertation on the spices and ointments, it should be that one cannot conclude from the accounts in Mark and Luke that there had to be two Sabbaths on two differing days. I have shown that an alternative, logical, and, most importantly, Scriptural explanation can be given which gives credence to a 14th, 15th, and 16th sequence of events in the week of the crucifixion.
What about John’s account? Doesn’t John clearly show that the Sabbath day in the crucifixion week was only the first day of unleavened bread? Quite the contrary is actually the case. In John 19:31 we find that the Jews wanted to get the bodies off of the trees as soon as possible, because of the day that awaited them. “The Jews, therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was a high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken.” (John 19:31)
I have heard many people say the following concerning this verse: “Don’t you know that the Sabbath after the Messiah’s death was a high day Sabbath?” However, no Scripture has been given to prove this. This passage does not say that this was a “High Day Sabbath,” not at all; it rather says “That Sabbath day was a high day.”
There is a difference. Notice the following:
In our community there is a fine museum which a large number of people purposely choose to visit on the first Tuesday of each month. The reason is simple: on that Tuesday the admission is free! If we were to say: “Many people went to the museum on Tuesday (for that Tuesday was a free day,)” no one would suppose this was a different day of the week than any other Tuesday.16
15 The Sacred Name Broadcaster, April 2001 edition, pp. 16-17; published by the Assemblies of Yahweh, Bethel PA 19507.
The fact that John first calls this day the Sabbath day, twice, argues for this day being the regular weekly Sabbath. This day is then described as being a high day as well. I was rebuked once in front of a large congregation of people because of my interpretation of this passage, by someone who told me “Can’t you see what the passage plainly says!” However, no rebuttal or proof was given on his part in objection to my statements.
John then mentions this preparation day once again when he says, “There laid they Yeshua therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulcher was nigh at hand.” (John 19:42) This was the day of preparing for the previously mentioned Sabbath, the weekly Sabbath that was a high day.
Now, before bringing up this next bit of information, I must make it very clear that I have already established that the term preparation, when used in conjunction with the term Sabbath, has the primary meaning of food preparation. Thus, when this technical term is used in this fashion, we can be sure that it means the sixth day of the week. I should also mention the Jewish historian, Josephus, in regards to this word preparation, seeing he uses it in his writings in reference to the day before the weekly Sabbath. Josephus tells us of an edict given by Emperor Augustus in the Jews’ favor which stated:
That no one shall be obliged to give bail or surety on the Sabbath day, nor on the preparation before it, after the ninth hour.17
This gives us an understanding of what the word preparation meant in the Jewish frame of mind, back in the first century A.D.
The word preparation is also used in conjunction with the term Passover in the book of John 19:14; John says that the day of the Messiah’s crucifixion was “The preparation of the Passover.” The word Passover here would have to refer to the
entire feast, beginning on