Luke 23 Commentary


NOTE: This Verse by Verse Commentary page is part of an ongoing project to add notes to each verse of the Bible. Therefore many verses do not yet have notes, but if the Lord tarries and gives me breath, additions will follow in the future. The goal is to edify and equip you for the work of service (Eph 4:12-13-note) that the Lord God might be glorified in your life and in His Church. Amen (Isa 61:3b-note, Mt 5:16-note)

From Jensen's Survey of the NT by permission

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Luke 23:44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour,


Kenneth Bailey - The only daily service in the temple area was the atonement offerings that took place at dawn and again at three o’clock in the afternoon (Here is a depiction of what the alter may have looked like). Each service began outside the sanctuary at the great high altar with the sacrifice for the sins of Israel of a lamb whose blood was sprinkled on the altar, following a precise ritual. In the middle of the prayers there would be the sound of silver trumpets, the clanging of cymbals and the reading of a psalm. The officiating priest would then enter the outer part of the sanctuary where he would offer incense and trim the lamps. At that point, when the officiating priest disappeared into the building, those worshipers in attendance could offer their private prayers to God. An example of this precise ritual appears in Luke 1:8-note, where Zechariah had the privilege of offering up the incense in the sanctuary. Lk 1:10-note states, “At the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside” (my translation). Many pious Jews who were not at the temple would offer their private prayers at the time of day when they knew the incense offering was being made in the Temple. In this way they could participate even when they were not able to be present. This particular service afforded the opportunity for what we today would call both public worship and private prayer. It is for this service that the Pharisee and the tax collectorwent up” to the temple. The language of the text and what is known of the twice daily atonement sacrifice in the second temple assume such a setting.  (Ibid) (Bolding added)

Comment: It is fascinating and more than mere coincidence that at 3 PM (ninth hour by Jewish time), the time when the lamb was offered on the altar for the second atonement offering, was also the same time when the veil of the Temple split in two from top to bottom (see explanation in Heb 10:19-20-note) and the Messiah, the Lamb of God [cf John 1:29] cried out in a loud voice "Father, INTO THY HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT." And having said this, He breathed His last." - Luke 23:44-46-note. (See parallel descriptions in Mt 27:46-53, 54, Mark 15:34-38, 39, cf "It is finished" in John 19:30-note) Note that the ninth hour in Lk 23:44 is about 3 PM. If you have time, compare what the writer of Hebrews says about the lamb offered at 3 PM (Hebrews 10:1-3, 4-note) and the Lamb of God offered at 3 PM on the "altar" of the Cross on Calvary (Hebrews 10:5-9, 10-note)

Excursus on the Altar in Herod's Temple - During Herod the Great's extensive building activity on the Temple Mount, it was likely refurbished. Talmudic scholars give a very precise description of the altar during the Second Temple period. The altar was built as a perfect square and was quite large: it reached a height of 10 cubits (app. 5 meters ~16 feet high) and its width was 32 cubits (app. 16 meters = 52.5 feet wide). It was constructed of two main parts: the altar itself, and the ascent ramp. Both were constructed of stones and earth. On top of the altar at its four corners, there were hollow boxes which made small protrusions or "horns." These horns measured one cubit square and 5 handbreadths high, each (or, app. 18" x 18" x 15").[3] In this form, the altar remained in its place until the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE. (Wikipedia)

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