I have a question about the context of Mark 16:1 and Luke 23:56 as they relate to the buying and preparing of the burial spices for Jesus of Nazareth.

Mark 16:1 (ESV) states:

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.

Luke 23:56 (ESV) says:

Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Mark clearly shows that, the purchasing of spices occurs after the day of rest after Jesus death. And Luke clearly shows the preparing of spices clearly occurs before the day of rest, after Jesus death.

If the spices were purchased after the day of rest, how could they be prepared before the day of rest unless the verses speak of two different days of rest?

  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other sites. This question was really hard to follow. I've edited it to make it more clear. Let me know if I've missed your intent.
    – Dan
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 1:00
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    I find this to be resolved if Luke's phrase is taken as an authorial insertion to describe to the reader as to why they returned to do this activity.
    – swasheck
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 4:44
  • @swasheck Could you expand that into an answer? I don't see how it fits the context. (24:1, "But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.") To my ears, it sounds like they had prepared the spices before their rest. Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 19:19
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    I keep getting ignored but the question from me can be restated like this-- since it is clear that the women bought spices after a day of rest and that the women prepared spices before a day of rest --then in order to follow proper hermeneutics we can only have the women buy the spices before preparing the spices. This must be so because if we have Luke go first and prepare spices precedes buy spices then the problem exists for the exegete to resolve the issue of where and when did the women get the spices. If preparing of spices prior to buy occurs then one must add to the text to answer the
    – Mary
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 0:41
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    question of where and when did they get the spices. Since days of rest (greek has one word for atleast 3 possible Hebrew renderings of day of rest) can therefore be referring to anyday of the week (seventh day Sabbath does have one day- but the others do not) we are easily looking at Mark answering the question of what and when did the women get the spices. Mary
    – Mary
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 0:41

11 Answers 11


I believe the other answer is not a good understanding of the historical event in context.

One thing we should not do is try to read into the text what we know from tradition. The tradition I am speaking of is Good Friday. We should not try to fit the text into man made traditions because it simply doesn't work and it does not match with the written record. The Sabbaths spoken of here are indeed two different Sabbaths. Let me explain.

The only way this portion of scripture makes sense is if you remember how the Jewish people handle days and the fact that this is all taken place during the time of the Spring Feasts of the Lord. Remember a Jewish day is from sundown till sundown... An evening and a morning which completes a day Gen 1:5. So for instance the weekly Sabbath is from Sundown Friday evening until Sundown Saturday evening. That is the weekly Sabbath. So what about this apparent contradiction? The issue resolves itself if you understand the cultural and Biblical mandate here. The "Last Supper" was actually the Passover Seder. This had to have taken place on a Tuesday evening which would make Jesus' arrest, trial and execution happen between his arrest sometime late Tuesday evening through sometime early Wednesday Morning... He would have been on the Cross at the 9th hour or 3:00pm Wednesday...

You see in the text they want him off the cross because the Sabbath was about to start right? Well indeed it was. This would have been the High Sabbath the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev 23:5-8) which the first day would have been a High Sabbath. So the High Sabbath starts off and would have been Wednesday Evening until Thursday sundown. This would have given Mary time to buy the spices on Friday which would have been after the High Sabbath and yet before the weekly Sabbath. Remember, they couldn't be purchased on a Sabbath, there is no buying or selling allowed. So then you have the weekly Sabbath Friday Evening and Saturday... Then the Sabbath closes on Saturday Evening and Mary shows up Sunday morning after the weekly Sabbath and Jesus has risen! He arose Sometime after Sundown Saturday evening and before she arrived Sunday Morning.

Oh by the way... This is indeed Three Days and Three nights just as Jonah was in the whale. So don't forget that this was during the Lord's Feast days... Also, another fun tidbit... Jesus would have rose on what is called the Feast of First Fruits! Ever wonder why 1 Cor 15:21-23 calls Jesus the First Fruits? Because He was raised on the Feast of First Fruits. So in detail, the Spring Feasts of the Lord are all in play here. There are 7 Feasts, The first 4 (Spring) are in relation to Jesus Death, Burial, Resurrection, and the giving of the Holy spirit 50 days later. Then we have the three fall feasts all in which are in relation to His second coming. I hope this clears things up for you. If you need any further clarification please feel free to ask.

  • Tom, Could you add in some links to where folks can look into this further?
    – user2027
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 5:52
  • Here is a nice link explaining my points I wrote earlier. Although I am not sure my days line up with this writer, the events are the same. torahclass.com/other-studies/47-other-studies-text/…
    – user3301
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 2:17
  • I have been writing up a detailed response on this. I may not have it ready until next week.
    – user3301
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 14:18
  • Well thank you Lance- finally someone who understands some Torah. Sara the links are in the Word- or email something to [email protected] and we will walk with you through a complex but not complicated subject. Back to Lance- the "last supper" is on the 14th but is not the official Passover meal- Jews may have seders but let us stick to Torah and not tradition. That said the last supper was just that for the sinless one went into the garden after the meal and the command in Torah is that none shall go out till morning after partaking in Passover-
    – Mary
    Commented Jan 18, 2014 at 0:25
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    I have been puzzling over this for a while, and my current position is this exact one... though over time I've been changing on this as I learn more. I really like this answer as it not only provides the full 3 days and 3 nights, but it also aligns with what we think we know about the calendar the moon cycles - 31 AD had a sabbath on Wednesday like this. One question might be, does it really take all day to get the spices? Why wait til Sunday? I think it's because of the guard postings. They specifically mentioned guarding for 3 days and nights.
    – Josh
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 19:41

I find your question a little perplexing, though I assume--rightly I hope--that your question has to do with the apparently conflicting descriptions of the events which occurred after Jesus' death and before He resurrected and appeared to His disciples, starting with Mary Magdalene.

In attempting to come up with an answer, I consulted Orville E. Daniel's excellent A Harmony of the Four Gospels (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986), pp.281-285, which puts all four evangelists' accounts side by side in a rather novel way: either you can choose to read only the bold print, which conflates all the differing details of all four Gospels into one narrative which you can follow by reading from column to column wherever you see bold print; or you can simply read each evangelist's account separately in each of the four columns, which contain both bold print and regular print. Neat!

Perhaps if I list the events which are of particular interest to you in quasi-chronological order (and some events that are not of particular interest to you), we can see how there is no contradiction among the two (let alone four) Gospel accounts of these events:

  1. On Friday, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus take Jesus' expired body from the cross and carry it (or perhaps they have servants with them to do the heavy lifting; we just don't know) to the unused tomb Joseph had purchased and prepared which was located in a garden near the site of the crucifixion. They wrap Jesus' body with cloths and 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes and place Him in the tomb.

  2. On the same day, Friday, the two Marys (and perhaps others) take note of where Joseph and Nicodemus placed Jesus' body and had rolled the stone over the grave's entrance.

  3. The two Mary's return home, and from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday (Sabbath) they rest.

  4. Perhaps after sundown on Saturday, the two Marys purchase their spices, although I suppose it's a possibility they bought them early Sunday morning. From whom they bought the spices the Bible does not tell us. The seller could have been a merchant, I suppose, with whom the women had conducted business before, or s/he could have been a neighbor. We just do not know.

  5. Very early on Sunday morning while it was still dark, the two Marys brought the spices with them to Jesus' tomb, expecting to anoint His body.

  6. An earthquake occurs; an angel descends from heaven and rolls the stone from the entrance of the tomb and sits on it; the Roman guards are frightened nearly to death; Mary Magdalene (and the other Mary), upon seeing the open tomb and finding no body inside the tomb is confronted by two men in gleaming clothes. Perhaps one of them who stood before her had heretofore been sitting on the stone (we don't know), and the other man was already standing before her. The two men (both angels, I assume) tell Mary to go quickly to inform the disciples--Peter first--that Jesus had risen and that He will meet them in Galilee. When Peter and John hear the news, they race to the tomb. John outruns Peter and only peers into the empty tomb, whereas Peter goes right into the tomb! Reluctantly, perhaps, John screws up his courage and decides to enter the tomb, whereupon he believes, though along with Peter He did not yet make the connection between the empty tomb and the scriptures which foretold Jesus' resurrection.

  7. Mary Magdalene who had returned to the tomb with Peter and John (this was her third trip to the tomb) lingers behind after Peter and John go back home; she sees two angels inside the tomb who ask her why she's crying; she tells them; she turns around (perhaps because she senses the presence of someone behind her) and seeing a man she presumes is the gardener asks Him if He's taken Jesus' body somewhere; when Jesus speaks her name, she immediately recognizes Him.

I hope you find this list helpful! More to the point, I hope it answers your question!

  • I've edited the question to make it more clear. You may now want to include specific verse references in your answer for each parallel account to make it clear which texts are being discussed. I made a small edit to your post because we expect posts to not use signature, taglines, or greetings. +1 from me :)
    – Dan
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 1:12
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    So are you saying you favor Mark's chronology over Luke's? Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 4:40
  • @BruceAlderman: I don't think so. I've tried to conflate the unique details of each Evangelist into a narrative flow, just as Dr. Orville did, without giving a preference to any one Evangelist. I plan to edit the post for better clarity, so I may need to get back to you again. Don Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 19:09

There is a logical sequence to the spices: (1) Purchase (2) Prepare (3) Attempt to Use. Were it not for the reference to the Sabbath, this is what Mark and Luke report:

Purchased by Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome (Mark 16:1)
Prepared by the women who had come with Him from Galilee (Luke 23:55-56)
They take the spices which had been prepared to the tomb (Luke 24:1)

Even though the sequence is present, there is a hint of uncertainty. Luke, who provides the most information, makes no mention of the purchase, and states the women were those who had come with Him from Galilee. This means Mary and Martha, who were from Bethany, did not participate. So with respect to Mark, the implication is the three women who made the purchase were part of a larger group who had come with Him from Galilee.

The Sabbaths
Within Luke's account, adding the Sabbath does not disturb the chronology:

Prepared by the women who had come with Him from Galilee  
 - On the Sabbath (singular) they rested  

"They" [presumably the women from Galilee who did the preparation] take to the tomb. 
 - On the first of the Sabbaths (plural) very early.

Luke's use of the plural Sabbath to identify the time at which the women took the spices on their trip to the tomb agrees with Mark's account:

And very early on the first day of the week,τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. (Mark 16:2)
But on the first day of the week,τῇ δὲ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. (Luke 24:1)

Neither account names the women who went to the tomb, but it is reasonable to assume each writer refers to the same women. For Mark it was the three who purchased the spices; for Luke it is the women from Galilee who prepared them. With respect to the exact number of women, the use of "they" leaves open the possibility the actual number was more than three.

Since Mark goes from Sabbath, singular in 16:1, to plural in 16:2, it is linguistically possible to insert time between Sabbath and Sabbaths. However, there is only one way to reconcile Mark's account of the purchase with Luke's chronology of preparation, and the agreement of both accounts on when the women went to the tomb:

On the Sabbath (singular) before the crucifixion, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome purchased the spices
After the crucifixion the spices were prepared by the women who had come with Him from Galilee. Then they rested on the Sabbath (singular)
On the first of the Sabbaths (plural) very early, the women who prepared the spices took them to the tomb.

Three women from Galilee purchased the spices after the Sabbath which was before the crucifixion. The Triumphal Entry likely was a Sabbath; the next day the three purchased the spices. After the crucifixion the spices were prepared and the women rested according to the command. After the Sabbaths (plural) the women went to the tomb.

Why make the purchase before the crucifixion?
Mark gives the reason for the purchase:

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. (Mark 16:1)

These women had come Galilee with Jesus. During the journey, Jesus predicted He would die in Jerusalem. Three women believed Jesus and upon arrival the women purchased the spices in preparation for the inevitable. When the Sabbath was past, after they reached Jerusalem, they purchased spices so they might go and anoint Him.

Argument against the Sabbath before the Crucifixion
The objection to this timeline is simple: Mark has placed the statement of purchase after the crucifixion. Therefore, the Sabbath before the crucifixion should be ruled out.

Mark's first statement about the women from Galilee is parenthetic:

There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem. (15:40-41)

The reference to ministering to Him while in Galilee it is out of place chronologically. In the narration of the Gospel, this statement which could easily and more logically be placed earlier, has been purposely placed after Jesus is dead. It establishes the pattern of referring to the women from Galilee parenthetically.

Mark's account of the journey to Jerusalem begins with Jesus telling the twelve He will be condemned to death but will rise after three days (cf. Mark 10:32-34). Unlike Matthew who records the mother of the John and James making a request to sit at His right and left hand (Matthew 20:20-21), Mark has the request coming from John and James without any reference to their mother (Mark 10:35-45).1Despite being present and ministering to Jesus, reference to women from Galilee has been intentionally omitted until after Jesus is dead.

After arriving in Jerusalem, the first mention of any woman is the anointing at Bethany:

It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him... And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. (Mark 14:1,3)

This anointing can be included in the chronology:

  1. The Sabbath before the crucifixion Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome purchase the spices to go and anoint Jesus
  2. Anointed by an unidentified woman at Bethany
  3. Prepared and Sabbath rest by the women who had come with Him from Galilee
  4. On the first of the Sabbaths (plural) very early, taken to the tomb

Seeing 16:1 as parenthetic allows the oil used to anoint Jesus before His death to be included in the purchase made by the three women from Galilee. Mark's explanation why the women bought the spices, "so they could go and anoint Him..." (with no statement the spices were actually taken to the tomb) is broad enough to support both actions. If the oil used to anoint was purchased, the theme of ministering to Him is continued to explain He would be anointed before His death.

Some of the women from Galilee believed Jesus would die in Jerusalem. Upon arrival, they made preparations for the inevitable. The pre-death anointing combined with the post-death preparation by the women, suggest at least three women believed He would rise from the dead and prepared to anoint Him.

Note: 1. If Salome is the mother of the Zebedee brothers, Mark's omission of her in this instance is further evidence of Mark's intent to focus attention on her only after Jesus is dead and would be additional evidence of his parenthetic intent.

Though Christian tradition tells us that messiah dies on Friday, the gospel accounts (see above) to indicate that he more likely was crucified and died before sundown on Wednesday. My questions, outlined below, revolve around this thesis.

Luke's record about the preparation of spices leaves open the question of what spices, and from where they were purchased. The account in Mark clearly answers the questions; So if we put the accounts in Mark and Luke together, we discover that more than one Sabbath is recorded. So if we read Mark and Luke together we discover the Pesach (Passover) occurred on Wednesday, unless you can refute the above text.

We know from Torah that days of "rest" (Sabbaths) may occur on any day of the week (year to year). For example, the Day of Atonement is an automatic Sabbath day irrespective of the day of the week that this feast/festival occurs, because the date never changes on the calendar. The same with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which immediately follows Pesach (Passover). The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (day right after Passover) is a Sabbath day of rest irrespective of the day of the week this occurs. In other words, while the date of Pesach (Passover) never changes, and by implication the date of the Feast of Unleavened Bread never changes (because it immediately follows Passover), the day (not date) of "Sabbath" rest of the Feast of Unleavened Bread will change from year to year.

So if messiah dies on Wednesday and is laid in the tomb just before sundown, then 3 days and 3 nights later would be just before sundown on the Sabbath according to my calculations. That is, messiah would or could rise from the dead on Saturday before sundown.

The aforementioned discussion concerning the spices provokes us to reexamine our assumptions concerning the day when Jesus was crucified and died. (At least we should re-open discussion on the subject.) Let us suppose that Jesus dies on Wednesday and rises on the Sabbath Saturday...

Here are three scenarios that I wish to propose for consideration and comment:

(1) The "panim" or Bread of Presence is renewed or replaced by the cohen (priest) on the Sabbath per Lev 24:5-9. My first question is why did the Father of all perfection have this recorded as a shadow or symbol for us to learn from... do you know of any other application of the replacement of the Bread of Presence in this context? I inferred this conclusion regarding the "panim" and its meaning after reading and meditating upon the word panim after reading a book from Brandt Pitre titled Jesus and the Jewish roots of the Eucharist (New York: Doubleday, 2011).

(2) The second scenario of the Sabbath resurrection reveals our future: on our day of resurrection we shall enter our eternal rest ("Sabbath"), that very day.

(3) Thirdly we must look at the Feasts as set forth in Torah itself (without necessarily defining their significance through the lens of contemporary Jewish traditions). Prior to the Feast of First Fruits ever appearing on the Biblical calendar, the barley is first checked for ripeness Ex 12. Barley must be ready prior to the end of the Sabbath and the beginning of First Fruits. In other words, one does not offer fruit of the ground that is unripe; to offer unripe barley does not make sense. So if messiah is the First Fruits, which always lands on a Sunday, then he is ripe, ready prior to the end of the sabbath and the beginning of FF. One does not need to rise on FF to be FF,you are such prior to First Fruits by designation.

In summary, these three descriptions clearly point to a Saturday Sabbath resurrection. I submit that Jesus the Messiah rose on the Sabbath, which was a Saturday. (We rise on a day that begins our eternal "rest").... I am sorry for lacking specific texts to support my views; I follow a regimen of not using the word of man, but in the future I understand the need to use them and will. But I must say that if we had been doing as the Psalmist says, then we would be much further along. We are not ( I was not), so I will try to provide more information in the future.

That being said we find in Ex 12:1-3 that the Father (the Lord) had commanded the Hebrews to "synchronize" their watches -- i.e., have the lambs blood on your doorposts when I tell you or it will not go well for you. This is in the month of the "ripe" barley and shall be the first month of your year. Most Jews celebrate the new year, Roshhoshana, on the first day the seventh month. I see the Father giving us a new calendar so that we will see His plan unfolding, and so something happening on the wrong day, and we should be wary (maybe the deceiver at work), and so days are very important to the Father. Pesach (Passover) is on the 14th day of first month; the day is the 14th, which again is Pesach (Passover), the slaughter of the lamb. Pesach (Passover) is date of the month driven, and so (as noted above in this posting) can happen any day during the week (year to year).

In conclusion, the discussion of the spices in Mark and Luke tell us this event happened on a Wednesday before sundown and is followed by a day of rest (first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread) or Thursday (Lev 23:6ff). The next important day is the Sabbath followed by the Feast of First Fruits (Lev 23:9-14). This First Fruits feast is an offering of the barley harvest each spring in Israel: the barley is ripe prior to the offering, so if the Jesus the Messiah is fulfilling the Feasts ("shadow pictures of good things to come") then how do you have Him rise after First Fruits begins? Does He come late for His own feast/festival which He had set in motion before the hills were ever formed?

Thus I have presented three scenarios, or word pictures for a Sabbath resurrection. Can anyone provide me feedback? I do want to know truth and believe that I am sent to present this truth. Thank you for your patience!!

  • Mary, thank you. This is a start. It was not easy though to follow your logic because of all the other messages you were sending in your answer. I edited it in effort to draw out your thesis, logic, support, and sources by removing everything else. I encourage you to focus your answer: 1) State your thesis clearly at the top, 2) present your three main points/proofs, 3) explain them clearly and logically, step by step so we can follow them, 4) provide specific references for all Bible passages you refer to, 5) provide sources if you know of any where others have set forth this perspective.
    – user2027
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 16:08
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    You make a number of allusions (e.g. to some stuff you say is in the Torah) but you don't actually give us references out quotes that can be verified. The same goes for historical and other assertions here. Sarah's edit is a big help to following your main point, but it is still nearly impossible to reconstruct your argument because you haven't given us all the pieces. With something that reads contrary to conventional wisdom, you will have to be more detailed in order for anyone to buy this.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 18:41
  • Mary - I very much admire your desire to dig and fathom the depths. You indicate that the Feast of First Fruits "always" lands on a Sunday, which seems to be contrary to your argument that the "day" of the "date" of these festivals and feasts changes year-to-year. (Why then "always" Sunday?) Also, according to Lev 23:11, this High Feast Day of First Fruits occurs on the day immediately after the Sabbath, which in context is the First Day of Unleavened Bread (High Sabbath). What are your thoughts?
    – Joseph
    Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 21:50
  • joseph thanks for the help-- ff is day of week sensitive- pesach is an event on the 14th making it day of month sensitive mary i reedited the question above
    – Mary
    Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 18:17
  • @Joseph asks "Why then "always" Sunday?*". The first fruits is waved on the morning after the first weekly sabbath during the days of unleavened bread, which is always a Sunday. Had it been referring to the annual high sabbath, which was on Thursday that year, there would be no point in counting the 50 days until Pentecost, as it would always occur on the same calendar date. The requirement of having to count until the day after the seven sabbaths implies that Pentecost doesn't occur on the same calendar date each year. Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 20:05

Joseph, the Feast of First Fruits always lands on a First day of the Week, we think of primarily as Sunday. Lev 23:11 uses strongs 7676 and that word never even remotely occurs in the text describing the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, so that first day of "unleavened" is not a "sabbath" but Jewish tradition has produced such confusion, day of holy convocation yes but not Sabbath.

  • Welcome to BH.SE! Please take the tour to get a feel for how the site operaties. Not to be pedantic, but Leviticus 23:11 doesn't use Strong's numbers. It includes a Hebrew word that Strong identified in his numbering as 7676. Exodus 12:15-16 would suggest your conclusion is in error.
    – enegue
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 2:52

There is no contradiction between the two scriptures,both are saying the same and there is not two separate sabbaths either. Mark is not saying that the women went to buy spices but rather that they have already bought spices when the sabbath was over (had bought) as stated in the passage is in the past tense and suggested that the women brought these items that they have already purchased in the past. The sabbath was a high sabbath because it fell on passover week and also it seems the passover sabbath fell on the weekly sabbath.Neither sabbaths was called high sabbath separately before crucifixion week as suggested in some commentaries.


Mark 16:1 (NASB)

" When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of [a]James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him."

Luke 23:55-56 (NASB)

55 "Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment."

Jesus' body was prepared for the burial according to the custom of the Jews.

John 19:39-40 (NASB)

39 Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.

Jesus died about three hours before the Sabbath and the burial task was probably done hastily. After the Sabbath the women returned to add more spices and oils, likely they would apply the spices and oils over the wrapped body.

Luke 23:50-56 (NASB)

Jesus Is Buried

50 "And a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man 51 (he had not consented to their plan and action), a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God; 52 this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. 54 It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55 Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment."

Luke 24:1 (NASB)

1 "But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared."


There is no contradiction. Jesus died just before the Sabbath was about to begin, ( Luke 23:54) the preparation for the burial was hastily carried out according to the custom of the Jews, and on the first day of the week (the day after the Sabbath) the women returned to add more spices and oils to the body.(Luke 24:1)

  • the only way that the apparent contradiction is resolved is with a Wednesday crucifixion. Your scenario - buying spices after the weekly sabbath - is impossible. The only light besides the moon and stars in the 1st century was candles/oil lamps. Plus, it was not safe for merchants to travel with money and goods after dark, - to set up the market on Saturday night. [There was no Food Lion ] The High Sabbath was Feast of Unleavened bread, and went Sundown Wed to Sunset Thurs. They bought spices after the sabbath - Unleavened bread, - on Frid, then rested on the Weekly Sabbath.
    – Tennman7
    Commented Apr 2, 2021 at 13:11
  • Also, according to Jewish burial custom, - the spirit lingers near the body for three days - meaning they are in a coma-like state - and resurrection is possible. After three days - the spirit departs- meaning they are fully dead, and resurrection is not possible. Thus Lazarus and Jesus death was that much more a miracle. No Jewish person could say they were just in a coma.
    – Tennman7
    Commented Apr 2, 2021 at 13:11

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 -

  1. Sabbaths, - what they are and the different laws for different sabbaths. and
  2. 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.

    1. 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.
    1. 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.
    1. 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!" https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/magazines/2009/march-april/the-sign-of-jonah

  • 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.


I've already written two answers to this in Christianity.SE (though I think the questions would have been more appropriate here in Hermeneutics.SE):

The answers are generally in agreement with @Mary's self-answer, though I think a little easier to follow, and can be summarized as:

if we ignore the Good Friday tradition, and we accept the Biblical truth knowing that it is self-consistent and not contradictory, the we must believe that:

  • The women rested on the high sabbath (first day of Passover).
  • The women bought spices and prepared them (the next day).
  • The women rested on the weekly sabbath.

And if we believe that, then the resurrection really could have been 72 hours after the crucifixion, without any complicated explanations or weasel arguments.

  • Jesus died at 3pm on Wednesday and was buried shortly before the 6pm sunset.
  • The next 24 hours, one night and one day, were the annual Passover High Sabbath.
  • After another 12 hours of night, there were 12 hours of daylight on Friday in which the spices were bought and prepared.
  • The next 24 hours (one night and one day) were the weekly Sabbath.
  • Shortly before sunset on Saturday, 72 hours after his burial, Jesus rose from the dead.
  • Early Sunday morning, before sunrise, while it was still dark (and cold enough to minimize the stench), the women discovered the empty tomb.

All the details fit together. There's nothing to explain or justify. It's simply as Jesus predicted: three days and three nights. Why would any Christian doubt it? Why would any Christian believe a tradition that explicitly contradicts the only proof that Jesus gave? Celebrating Good Friday is nothing less than celebrating Jesus's failure to prove he was Christ.

For specific details and scriptural references, see my Synoptic Crucifixion Table. (Best seen on a wide screen, not on a cell phone.)


Judaism tabulates and Christendom follows a sunset to sunset day which was adopted post destruction of the second temple. Prior to this it is clear from scripture that the biblical day is sunrise to sunrise.

A study of Genesis 1:5 in Hebrew, provides the template, incorporating the vav consecutive into the narrative, 'then' (ereb) there was 'setting' - 'then' there was dawn or daybreak (boqer) - yom ehad (one day).

Without the above template for the day, the temple sacrifices and the Exodus and the the three days and three nights do not synchronise.

The Messiah therefore according to the text rose on a sabbath morning, and the day before would have been as we know it a Friday, the day part, having the option to purchase the aforesaid spices.

  • 1
    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 13:41

The translation is incorrect and the Biblical day is from sunrise to sunrise, read Gen 1:5, the Hebrew vowel points on the wav indicates - and then -

The chronology will go around and around unless the text is read correct and the day cycle.

Sunrise DAY Later and First of Sabbaths

  • As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 14:33
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    – agarza
    Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 14:34
  • 1
    Thanks for your answer, Bobster. It is intriguing! Can you just add a bit to explain the chart's relation to the context in Mark and Luke in relation to the preparing of spices? If you merged your other answer with this, that might do the business!
    – Anne
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 7:12
  • Sure Anne will do - ha when I have a moment, as this particular subject is dense but easy to understand once we have a handle on the dynamics and working parts of this event - a cryptic puzzle if you will.
    – Bobster
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 9:49

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