There were two high sabbath days associated with the feast of unleavened bread which began on Nisan 15 every year. God commanded it to Israel in Leviticus 23.
ESV - 31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.
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JOHN 19:31 “for the Sabbath was a High day To understand the significance and the timing one has to go back into the Old Testament as the New Testament is fulfilment of the Old. In Genesis 1:5 God called “the light day, and the darkness He called night. And the evening and the morning were the first day” In Bible times therefore one day was from sundown (Night) to the following sundown; not as it is today midnight to midnight. Leviticus 23:5, “in the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s Passover”. All feast days or “holy convocations” are High day or Sabbath Days. During this feast day there is a day of preparation when the spotless lamb (Representative of Yeshua) must be killed (the day before the Feast Day) for the Passover meal. Mathew 12:40 Yeshua said “ 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” The Roman custom was to allow bodies to remain on the cross but according to Jewish Law (Deut. 21:22-23) the body of one that was hanged on a tree was not to remain all night, but to be taken down that day and buried; though this was not always observed (2 Samuel 21:9-10). Yeshua is the Passover lamb, the spotless lamb for that feast day and had to be crucified on the day of preparation (Leviticus 23:5), the day before the Sabbath Passover. This particular preparation day was also the first day of Pesach a Sabbath day (a High Day Sabbath) but not the seventh day Sabbath even though the Passover Sabbath sometimes fall on the seventh day Sabbath. It had to coincide with Yeshua’s word in Mathew 12:40 so that he would be in the bowels of the earth three days and three nights prior to His resurrection. The day of Passover in Bible times would see millions of Jews in Jerusalem on pilgrimage and it would be an important celebration, one of crossing the Red Sea, one of deliverance. At Yeshua’s crucifixion the Passover would be on Thursday night (or Wednesday night in Bible times as the night comes before the day (Genesis 1:5). (Wednesday night to Friday night (three nights); Thursday to Saturday sundown which would be early Sunday morning or the beginning of the week three days (fulfillment of Mathew 12:40)
As I understand it, "high Sabbaths" in the Bible did not necessarily fall on the seventh day of the Jewish week (as regular Sabbaths did), but corresponded to special days of observance (translated in English as "appointed feasts" or "holy convocations") in the Jewish calendar that had been commanded by God in the Law given to Israel through Moses, on which the people were required to assemble in worship. As with regular Sabbaths, the high Sabbaths were to be days of rest from work. There were seven such days in the Jewish calendar, as follows: the first and seventh days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, beginning the day after the observance of Passover (Leviticus 23:4-8) (The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was the high Sabbath to which the verse cited in the question was referring.); Pentecost (Shavuot)(Leviticus 23:15-21); the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)(Leviticus 23:23-25); the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)(Leviticus 23:26-32); the first and eighth days of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth)(Leviticus 23:33-36). In addition to not necessarily falling on the same day as the weekly Jewish Sabbath, these high Sabbaths (although they fall on the same date of the Jewish lunar calendar every year) fall on varying dates of the Gregorian solar calendar from one year to the next, just as the Christian observance of days such as Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter does.
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