Leonardo Da Vince might have been a great painter, but he sure knew nothing about Hebrew nor Roman customs!
When we look at the world famous painting he did of the "Lord's Supper, there are so many things that are not correct.
to start with: 1)This particular Passover feast started when the first 3 stars were seen at the end of the day....in his painting it looks to me like there is a bright blue Roman sky, peeking through the window in the background.
2) Some of the people in the painting are wearing blue.... This was a very rare and expensive colour and only the rich and famous could afford to buy it and the disciples were poor fisher men and tax collectors they could not afford it.
3) At this meal they would be eating Lamb stew and drink wine, sure there would most likely be other meat too, but the main course was lamb!
All we can see on this table is some fish, and some cups and a most beautiful tablecloth...
4) The table itself is a wrong shape. It should be a "U" shape called a TRICLINIUM
This table was used for special occasions and they could relax and recline at it. It has three sides. The right side was the most important side the left side was for the servants.
So, obviously the table in the painting is not correct at all.
And, where Jesus is sitting, at this long table in the painting, is not the most important seat at all in Hebrew or Roman times.
And as I said before, they would not be sitting, but reclining, leaning on the left arm/elbow and eating with the right hand, as the right hand is always used for Blessings and eating.
So this is how it should have looked....
On the right side of this "U" shaped table, the important people would be seated, and opposite, on the left the servants would be seated. In this way the servants would be seated opposite the host, and they would be watching for signs from the host as to what they maybe should be doing!
So, when Jesus sent Peter and John out to look for a man who was carrying a jug of water, he told them, "Go to follow him and go to the home owner and say to him, The
teacher says he will celebrate the feast at your home, and there, he will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready, go there and prepare the feast"
This was a very big task for Peter and John as it had to be made spotlessly clean no left over bread crumbs with leaven in them was allowed...no leaven at all....
Now, you might remember in the previous week before the passover feast, the disciples were arguing about who should sit where....I should sit on his right or left...the important seat...so much so that Jesus tells them, when you are invited to a feast, don't go sitting in the most important seat for the host might say to you, go and sit there, in the least important seat, which is embarrassing for you, instead sit in the lowest seat, then the host could come and say to you, "Don't sit there, come and sit here..."
Gives us a new understanding of the seating arrangements.
So they arrive at the large upper room and Peter and John have done their work well.
Now next to the lowliest servants seat, on the table there is a jug of water and a towel. The servant is to wash the guests hands before they eat, as they get dusty and dirty.
As a matter of fact, they wash the hands several times during the meal.
We read that Jesus took off his outer garment and tied the towel around his waist and started to wash their feet beginning with the most important guest.
Obviously, none of the disciples had wanted to do it, so Jesus did it, but he washed their feet, which, in the Hebrew culture, were considered to be the most reprehensible, dirty, terrible part of the body. There are several indications thatthe servant who failed in his duty was Peter.
The reason for this is that it explains in the gospels, that, when Jesus came to Peter, the last one mentioned, Peter said, "Lord You cannot wash my feet..."
Then Jesus said, "If I cannot wash your feet you have no part in me..."
Now, the three seats on the right are the most important seats.
In the second seat, is where the host sits, in the first seat is where the youngest one sits. In this case it was John, who was the youngest.
Why did the youngest sit there? Well the host would be telling the story of the escape from Egypt and the youngest had to hear it all so he could listen and remember it...and the more the host told the better a story teller he would be....and they sang psalms too, mostly from 113 to 118 and they danced and were rejoycing as this was a happy feast.
So, if the first seat was for the youngest and the second seat was for the host, who was the third seat for?
The third seat was for the most honoured and important and trusted guest.
You see, as Jesus as host, was reclined at the table this most trusted friend/guest would be at his back, "guarding his back"....so to speak, that was why he was such a trusted guest.
Now, who was it that sat in this very important seat?
It was Judas......That was how, when Jesus spoke and said, " One of you will betray me..." and John, leaning into Jesus, who was behind him as they were reclined at this table, said, "Is it I Lord?"
Then Jesus said, They one who dips with me," and Jesus dipped into the sop and picked a choice morsel of lamb, and gave it to Judas, and said to him, "Whatever you do....do it quickly"
And Judas got up and left....
None of that would have been possible if the table and the customs had been different.
Can you now understand the thoughts that must have raced through Peter's head, when he saw Judas sitting there, in the most honoured seat, and the arguments they'd had the week leading up to this evening, and here he was, seated at the lowest part of the table, a lowly servant and Judas, in the most honoured seat of all?
The Lamb was the most important part of this meal, and what it stood for...
The blood of the lamb that was shed for them when they had to kill it and put the blood on the door posts, is not even visible in the painting!
No this painting is not at all proclaiming what the Lord's supper really is!
For more interesting video's on the Hebrew culture go to:
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