What is the context in Mark and Luke as regards the buying and preparing of the spices?
One of the most important principles of Bible Interpretation [Hermeneutics] is Context, and in this passage, the context that we have to examine is the key to solving the question is Jewish Sabbaths. It is ironically the very thing that is missing in countless answers, theories and blogs - Jewish culture, Jewish culture & Jewish culture.
The confusion is because the Bible is written by Jews, about a Jewish man, in a Jewish culture, to Jews and Gentiles and there are two key things that people do not understand about Jewish culture -
- Sabbaths, - what they are and the different laws for different sabbaths. and
- Jewish Inclusive reckoning. People invoke this practice as a way to support the tradition, but they don't know when it applies and when it doesn't, and so they have a very flawed, distorted view of this concept.
The best answer so far - is User3301, because he/she addresses these.
But I wanted to provide some extra context and cultural background that it vital for understanding this question.
- Most pastors start with tradition, and then try to twist scripture to make it fit a common tradition, like wrapping tin foil around a tennis ball, but they don't understand Jewish culture or feast days.
- Feasts and Culture - without this understanding of both feasts and Hebrew language, there will only be contradictions which mean people have to ignore plain words of Christ himself and other scriptures to get it to match tradition.
- Hebrew culture and cross-referencing other passages.
Most of the confusion and apparent contradictions comes from people making assumptions.
The first one is Hebrew shabbat - the word where we get Sabbath in English. In Hebrew, Shabbat is the weekly sabbath, but also the 7 feasts - including Pentecost/Shavuot, Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur, Feast of Trumpets/Yom Teruah, Feast of Unleavened bread, etc.
So one word- shabbat - but 8 shabbats - 7 feasts of the lord, plus weekly sabbath.
**Some of the feasts were High Shabbat in which no work of any kind could be done, no cooking, no making fires, no burying bodies, and no buying or selling.
Jews use a Lunar/solar calendar so each month starts with the new moon, and in this way, the moon is "born again" every month, and because Passover is always Nisan 14th it always falls on a full moon.
Jewish Scholar Avi Ben Mordecai Signs in the Heavens is an excellent resource.
Passover is a feast, but not a high Sabbath, but the next day, Feast of Unleavened Bread IS, and Passover is preparation day for Nisan 15, Feast of Unleavened bread, in which no work can be done.
People read the passage in Mark 16:1 and they assume this is the weekly Sabbath, [because they don't know that Feast of Unleavened Bread is also Shabbat].
They bought spices after the sabbath. It's not like borrowing a teaspoon of nutmeg from a neighbor, to make an apple pie.
The spices and oils used for the body was about 100 pounds total, which had to be bought, mixed and prepared in advance
The Jewish "Day" goes from sunset to sunset, so weekly sabbath is Sunset Friday night, to Sunset Saturday night.
It was not possible to buy spices after the weekly Sabbath ended on Saturday night.
Remember they didn't set up the markets Friday night/Saturday day, and work was forbidden on the weekly sabbath and high sabbaths. In the first century, it was dangerous to travel at night, especially for merchants with money and goods, and the only light was candle and torches. They would not travel, and set up their goods on Saturday evening. Instead, they would wait until Sunday morning, when the week started.
No chance for the women to buy, mix, prepare and carry all these spices after dark on Saturday night. Just think of making a giant wedding cake from scratch. It's not a 20 minute Betty Crocker Mix where you add an egg.
The women rested on the High Sabbath [Thursday,] then went to observe the tomb and bought spices, and prepared them after the sabbath, Friday, and rested on the weekly Sabbath.
Matthew 28:1 also confirms that there were two Sabbaths.
Again, because of not understanding that all feasts are Shabbat, many translators have mistakenly put Sabbath, singular, but we can see from the original Interlinear Hebrew that it is plural - After the Sabbaths - First one was Thursday, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the second was the weekly Sabbath.
Forerunner Bible Commentary, Matthew 28:1
"Matthew 28:1 provides additional proof of two Sabbaths occurring that week. However, the Bible's translators, confused by the Greek wording of this verse, have consistently mistranslated it. Matthew writes, "Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn." The wording of the original text, though, reads, "after the Sabbaths" - plural! https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/5231/After-Sabbaths.htm
- The only sign that Christ gave the religious leaders that he was the messiah was the Sign of Jonah. Pretty Big deal. What's the sign of Jonah?
This is very significant, because it involves the other Hermeneutic principle of comparing/ cross-referencing other passages. [Scripture interprets scripture]
IN JESUS' OWN WORDS
"If we look carefully at Jesus' own words, we can see the key behind the sign of Jonah. "But He answered and said to them, 'An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth'" (Matthew 12:39–40).
Three days and three nights—this is the sign Jesus gave to establish His Messiahship. Our Savior staked His very identity on what some might brush off as a seemingly trivial detail!"
- Parts of days? Countless pastors, blog writers and even some commentaries incorrectly invoke a Jewish counting practice to "explain" away the contradiction.
There is a very common practice called "Inclusive reckoning" in which a part of a day is counted as a whole day. [Think of tow-truck counting] They get your car at 10 pm Saturday night, and open at 7:00 Monday morning and you pick it up at 8:00 am. They count Saturday as a day [2 hrs] Sunday and 1 hr on Monday as a day.
But clear or explicit passages always trump or take precedent over unclear ones.
Multiple Jewish rabbis from orthodox and reformed Judaism, confirm that Jewish inclusive counting [fraction of a day= day] does not apply in these passages like Jonah and Genesis 7 where it explicitly says 40 days and 40 nights, or 3 days and 3 nights.
It applies in places where it talks about 3 days' journey.
Friday crucifixion does not even give us 2 nights. It's 1 day and a few hours.
Aside from the incorrect use of Jewish Inclusive reckoning, they also count the dark hours of Saturday night/Sunday Morning.
But all the gospels agree - no passage says Jesus rose on Sunday - it's just when the women went and saw the empty tomb.
Finally, we have - interestingly, Three examples in scripture of someone being dead, and buried for at least 3 days and 3 nights. [72 hours or more]. Wow.
Jesus, Lazarus, and the 2 witnesses in Revelation.
This is because in Jewish burial customs- after a person dies, the spirit lingers near the body for 3 days -[in a coma]. After that, the spirit departs meaning that the person is truly dead/ totally dead, and thus resurrection is impossible.
It means it could only be a miracle, and only Yahweh God can raise the dead.