Day Before the Sabbath
(he paraskeue, "preparation"): Considered as a day of preparation, in accordance with Ex 16:23, both before the regular Sabbath and before a feast Sabbath (Mt 27:62; Mr 15:42; Lu 23:54; Joh 19:14,31,42). At 3 p.m., the Hebrews began to prepare their food for the next day, and to perform all labors which were forbidden to be done on the Sabbath and yet must be done. They bathed and purified themselves, dressed in festive apparel, set their tables, and lighted their lamps. On the day before Easter, the Hebrews of the later period made it their chief business to remove all leaven from the house (1 Cor 5:7). This custom of converting at least a portion of the day before the Sabbath into a holy day was recognized by the Romans to such an extent that, according to a rescript of Augustus, Jews need not appear in court after 3 p.m. on such days. Criminal cases were not brought before court on this day, and journeys exceeding 12 Roman miles were prohibited. The signal for the preparations was given by the priests by means of trumpets blown six times at intervals.
Frank E. Hirsch