Christians keep the Passover or the Last Supper?
There is a great deal of misunderstanding within the Churches
God (those keeping the Sabbath and the Holy Days of Lev 23) about when
the Passover lambs were killed at the time Jesus was on earth.
has resulted in an attempt to combine the NT Last Supper with the OT
Passover, and thus losing some important points that should be made by
I understand it, the Sunday keeping churches, are even more confused
about how to follow the instructions Jesus gave during the Last Supper.
big part of the problem is that because the
in general do not keep the Lev 23 Holy Days, they miss some of the more
subtle points being made in the NT, and end up giving the world some
there is enough evidence available in
both the Old Testament (OT) and New Testament (NT) for us to be able to
overcome the errors in the translations. Once we can see around the
current errors, we can see that the events described, fit into the
Scriptures like a hand into a glove.
I feel the place to start is Lev 23:32, because
it makes a good point about just what is a day in Biblical terms.
23:32 NET. It is a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you
humble yourselves on the ninth day of the month in the evening, from
evening until evening you must observe your
is talking about the Day of Atonement, but it brings up the point that
the day starts in the evening and ends the following evening. It also
brings out the point that we need to be humble (started our fasting)
before the day starts at Sunset. We should also use this principle with
the Sabbath, and be in "Sabbath mode" as the day begins, not just
dropping our tools minutes before.
you like, God's Holy Days and Sabbath, can overlap into the day before
the day following, rather than being confined to just the seconds of
the actual day.
We need this information to
correctly understand about what time the Passover lamb was killed.
was the Passover lamb killed?
This is a place where the
translators are not on top of things.
12:6 NET. You must care for it until the fourteenth day of
month, and then the whole community of Israel will kill it around
are a number of sources (including the NIV Concordance) that point out
what has been translated as "around sundown" comes from the Hebrew
"between the evenings".
An important point to
understand here is
that Strongs is based on the King James Bible, not the original Hebrew
or Greek. If there is a mistake in the KJV - as there is in the way
they have translated "between the evenings" - then there will also be a
mistake in the way Strong puts the English back into Hebrew. While
Strong's is good and is very helpful, it turns out that it is not
totally accurate. In
this case particularly, we need an Interlinear (direct
translation from the Hebrew) to get a better translation.
to let the Bible tell us what time of the day is being referred to
in Exodus 12:6. This can be done by linking some instructions
original Passover in Exodus.
Exo 12:18 NET. In
the first month, from the
of the month, in the
you will eat bread made without yeast until the
twenty-first day of the month in the evening.
" evening" in v18 is being talked about - the start of the day or the
end of the day? Remember Lev 23:32 shows us that parts of
both can be
included. This verse does not tell us, but if we read on we can find
Verse 18 also gives us the
ending day for eating unleavened bread - the 21st of the month. Now
notice the verse following.
12:19 NET. For seven
yeast must not be found in your houses,
for whoever eats what is made with yeast — that person will
cut off from the community of Israel, whether a foreigner or one born
in the land.
seven days - as instructed - ends on the 21st of the month.
Counting backwards, seven days must start on the 15th. So, the "in
the evening" in verse 18 has to be the "even" at the END of
14th day - not
the start of the day.
This is confirmed by:
NET. "For seven
days you must eat bread made without yeast. Surely
on the first day you must
put away yeast from your houses
anyone who eats bread made with yeast from the first day to the seventh
day will be cut off from Israel.
God's instructions are
clear - the leavened bread is to be put out of our living quarters at
the START of the 15th day - the First Holy Day of Unleavened Bread. A
few minutes into the start of the Holy Day, with a simple ceremony, the
leavened bread is taken away and the unleavened bread is brought out -
and then eaten for the SEVEN days.
Now notice what type
of bread is eaten with the Passover lamb.
NET. They will eat the meat the same night; they will eat it
roasted over the fire with
bread made without yeast and with bitter herbs.
can follow the logic of Exodus 12:8,15,18,19 (Passover lamb
with unleavened bread, no unleavened bread put out for eating until the
start of the 15Th) - the Passover lamb has to be eaten during the night
of the 15th.
Therefore the Passover lamb is killed
towards the end of the 14th day.
evenings" is a time between noon and sunset - usually around 3:00pm.
on three other OT verses.
There are two
other verses that are brought up when discussing "between the
evenings", so let's have a look at them.
NET. They departed from Rameses in the first month, on the
fifteenth day of the first
month; on the day after the Passover [H6453] the Israelites
went out defiantly in plain sight of all the Egyptians.
first reading, this could be saying that the Passover was on the 14th,
since they left "on the day after" and that was the 15th. The
problem is caused by
Passover activities taking place over two days, and the same Hebrew
word (H6453) can refer to either the victim or the Festival.
there is the killing of the lamb (victim) on the 14th, and then its
eating (Festival) on
the 15th, you have to know what is going on before you can
the translation right.
The question we need to ask
is - what part of the Passover is being referred to in verse 3?
the time this was written, I can well imagine that the blood on the
door posts which saved their lives, was more important to them than a
belly full of roast lamb. Therefore the killing of the lamb
the 14th is what is being referred to in verse 3, and it all makes
perfect sense, with what we have established previously.
second verse referred to is:-
Exo 12:22 NET.
Take a branch of hyssop,
dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and apply to the top of the
doorframe and the two side posts some of the blood that is in the
basin. Not one of you is to go out the door of his house until morning.
said "Not one of you is to go out the door of his house until about
1:00am when Pharoah's Storm Troopers come round and throw you out".
Notice Ex12:31 "in the night".
original instruction has been translated "morning", but this can be
taken as almost
any time after midnight. The word "morning" is from H1242
"boqer" - notice how it is used in Gen 1:13 (refers to 12 hours) and
Ruth 3:14 (too dark to recognize people).
not force our modern meaning of "morning" back into the OT.
The third verse referred to is:-
Exo 16:12 Darby I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak to them, saying, Between the two evenings
[before sunset] ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be
filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God.
Exo 16:13 NET. In the evening the quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning a layer of dew was all around the camp.
In v13 the word for evening [after sunset] is used.
than trying to make the two different periods of time refer to just
one, it could simply mean that their eating started before sunset but
the main eating
continued after sunset. Or, there could be a copying error and it could
read "By the evening the quail had come up and ...". This is a clear
case of where we have to use the First Rule for reading the Bible - put the words from God's mouth first, and also the Second Rule - and go with the theme, not a specific verse or two.
Sabbath (the day the quails arrived) is not a fast day, and there are
no restrictions on preparing
and eating food on the Sabbath (Ex 12:16 - if it is OK for a Holy Day
then it certainly is OK for the Sabbath, Ex 16:23 - what was left
would be baked or boiled on the Sabbath, just like it was on Friday).
deleavening our homes.
we have already seen, there is a specific time set by God in the Bible
to make the "switch" between leavened bread and unleavened bread. The
seven days ending on the 21st, means that the change-over point is at
the beginning of the 15th.
tradition that is held by most Church of God people in spending weeks
"deleavening" their homes is completely at odds with God's
reason we put out leaven is to remind us of the SPEED with
which Israel came out of Egypt, and the DAY.
Deu 16:3 NET. You must not eat any yeast with it; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast, symbolic of affliction, for you came out of Egypt hurriedly. You must do this so you will remember for the rest of your life the day you came out of the land of Egypt.
has NOTHING to do with "leaven =
sin" - at least no more than "Kingdom of God = sin" (Mat 13:33). Yes,
the Apostle Paul does draw the analogy that yeast is like sin (1 Cor
5:8), but this gives us no right to overrule the words spoken by God
(the ones we are to live by - Mat 4:4) by the words written by a man.
estimate that they had to travel about 40 miles (64 km) a day to get to
the place where they crossed the Red Sea. Solomon marked the entrance
and exit points with stone pillars, but only the one at the entry
still in position today (thanks to the Israel Army standing it back
up). Covering this distance in six days left no time to wait for bread
to rise, and the "pillar of fire" allowed them to
travel during the night as well as the day (Deut 16:1).
13:21 NET. Now the LORD was going before them by day in a pillar
of cloud to lead them in the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to
give them light, so that they could travel day or night.
reason we go a week without leavened bread and leavened products, is
because God wants us to think back to the Exodus, and the might and power displayed by God in bringing Israel out of bondage.
Yes - there was "affliction" in that they had to travel hard to reach the Red Sea, but all the glory should go to God.
for the Evening Sacrifice?
time for the killing of the Passover lamb and the evening sacrifice,
are both given - in the Hebrew - as "between the evenings".
If we can
deduce when the evening sacrifice took place, then that will also
confirm the time for the killing of the Passover lamb. People have put
forward two times as possible explanations for the phrase "between the
evenings" - between noon and sunset, or between sunset and dark. I will
refer to the two options as "before sunset" or "after sunset"
jumping to conclusions, let us look at some places where the time
"between the evenings" is used, or the evening sacrifice is spoken
about, and try to see what fits best.
A thought, and something to keep in mind.
the equator, the time between sunset and dark varies about 15 to 30 minutes. God
does not give one set of laws for those living near the equator and
another for those living away from the equator. So, just because some
countries have hours between sunset and dark (during a Northern
hemisphere Summer for example), we should not use that to "justify" the
time available after sunset to do certain things.
Back to Elijah.
KJV And it came to pass, when midday was
prophesied until the
time of the offering of the evening sacrifice,
that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
midday has been passed, we are in the time of "before sunset" for
"between the evenings"
18:36 NET. When
it was time for the evening offering, Elijah the
prophet approached the altar and prayed: "O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac,
and Israel, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your
servant and have done all these things at your command.
look at all the things that happened after the sacrifice was consumed
by fire - bringing the prophets down from the top of the mountain,
killing them, then climbing back up, praying seven times
and the servant still being able to see the sea - and then
being told that it became dark because of dark clouds not sunset (v45),
the most logical time
for the evening sacrifice is around 3:00pm.
sacrifice was "after sunset" - or around half an hour after sunset - then
there just is not
enough time for all these things to happen before natural darkness
descends, and even more so the closer you go to the equator.
I was trying to point this out to someone, they wrote back and said it
could not be the evening sacrifice, as that could only be done in
Jerusalem. The human mind will skip over words. The Bible said Elijah's
sacrifice was at the TIME of the evening sacrifice - it does not say he
was making the evening sacrifice.
This ability (or
lack of it) to not understand all that is being said was displayed big
time by the disciples.
18:31-34 NET. Then Jesus took the twelve aside and said to
"Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written
about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.
(32) For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; he will be
mocked, mistreated, and spat on. (33) They will
severely and kill him. Yet on the third day he
(34) But the
twelve understood none of these things. This saying
was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what Jesus meant.
their minds, they were about to witness the restoration of the kingdom
of Israel - even arguing about who would get the best positions - and
those thoughts completely blocked out what Jesus was saying to them. So
it is very human, if your mind is already made up, not to hear (or see)
what is being said.
Keeping the story short, they had
37,600 passover lambs to kill, before the end of "between the evenings".
sunset as 6:00pm (which is close around the equinox), technically there is up to six hours for the job to
be done if we are looking at the "before sunset" situation. The animals
were killed, bled and skinned (v11), and if this could be done in six minutes
per lamb, then around 940 men could do the job between 1:00pm and
5:00pm, or 627 could do the job between noon and sunset (6:00pm).
men should not use sharp knives in the
"after sunset" time only allows about an hour (more or less depending
on where you are) for the job to be done.
To kill 37,600 lambs in one hour would require about 3,760 men (if my
maths is right). Having 3,760 Levities available and the space to
work in, in order to get the job done on time, makes it highly unlikely
that this is how it was done. Also, since they could not start cooking
the lambs till long after sunset, what time was the last lamb that was
Midnight? The lambs were cooked whole - which would take longer - so to
be ready for the "Passover meal" the cooking would have to start well before
The "before sunset" time fits much better
than the "after sunset" time.
Num 28:4 MKJV The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer between the evenings [check with an Interlinear not Strongs, that the original Hebrew does indeed say "between the evenings"].
Num 28:4 YLT the one lamb thou preparest in the morning, and the second lamb thou preparest between the evenings;
simple and can be easily understood.
the first offering for the day is in the morning, then the second
offering for the day, must happen before the day ends. Therefore it
must be offered before sunset (the end of the day). As best as I can
see, the OT always talks of a morning sacrifice followed by the evening
Any one should be able to figure
out that if there are
two parts of
a daily sacrifice, then both parts have to fit between a
sunset and the following sunset (a Biblical day).
However, someone that has been taught
error from the beginning, and then had that error repeated many times
many years, often can not follow the simple logic.
told us to live by the words from God's mouth (Mat 4:4). If we move the
second sacrifice for the day till after sunset, then it becomes the
"first" sacrifice of the next day, and we have disobeyed the clear
instructions from God Himself.
now that we have the OT information that the evening sacrifice and the
passover lamb were both killed between noon and sunset, and unleavened
bread is only available at the start of the 15th, and the
lamb is eaten from the beginning of the 15th, let us now look at how
fits in with the NT information.
Five times, John
Feast Days that Jesus kept, with the Jewish nation (John 2:13, 5:11,
6:4, 7:2, 11:55). In John 7 we read about people living away from
Jerusalem, leaving their area and going up to Jerusalem. It was a
national Feast that Jesus and His disciples kept, not a Feast of a sect
or minority group.
Coulter in his book "The Christian
Passover" on pages 439 - 443, has material showing that the Jews knew
that the evening sacrifice and the Passover sacrifice took place mid
afternoon. They would estimate the number of Passover lambs
killed and skinned, and then they would move the starting time forward
in order to get the job done on time. On non-special days, the evening
sacrifice would have started about 3:00pm, when the year was close to
as it is at Passover time.
out the translation errors.
mid-afternoon killing of
the Passover lamb on the 14th, fits like a glove into the NT
information about Jesus's last 24 hours alive on earth, once
we resolve the apparent contradiction between Mat 26:17 ("first
day of Unleavened Bread"), Mar 14:12 (the same expression),
22:8 (go prepare the Passover), John 13:1 (Last Supper before the
Passover Feast), and the OT facts (Passover lamb killed during the
afternoon of the 14th).
This is where the
translators - who do not keep God's Holy Days as listed in Lev
23 - make a horrible
job of things.
By way of background, Let's
11:55 NET. Now the Jewish feast of Passover was near, and
people went up
to Jerusalem from the rural areas before
cleanse themselves ritually.
12:12 NET. The next day [from
v1, this is 5 days before
the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming
these verses, the Believer's Bible Commentary, and other books, it was the
tradition to go up to Jerusalem a few days before
the Passover, and have a family/friends get-together and meal on those
nights leading up to the Passover. Just as today, we often include
meals or events that happen on our way to the Feast of Tabernacles as
part of our Feast stories, the word Passover (G3957 - the
or the sacrifice, or the meal) was used to also describe the events
up to the actual killing of the lamb. It was also used at times to
refer to the Days of Unleavened Bread as well. In other words, we
should see it
as having a wide usage rather than a narrow one.
is to be translated, we have to know the date and time of day to be
able to correctly translate it.
13, John makes two very good points.
13:1-2 NET. Just before
the Passover feast,
Jesus knew that his
time had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his
own who were in the world, he now loved them to the very end.
was in progress, and the devil had already
put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, that he should
John clearly identifies
events of the
Last Supper are not the official Passover feast - which was to come
later. Thus, the Last Supper and the Passover meal are two separate
events, and one has only leavened bread available,
while the other has
only unleavened bread.
This is a very important
fact, and has great ramifications that we need to be aware of.
to Mat 26 and Mark 14.
26:17 NET. Now
on the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread
the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover [G3957]?"
is from G4413,
"first" is a valid translation, it can also be translated as "coming
before" (Thayer - "first in time or place"). Very similar, but when we
are talking about Unleavened Bread,
the "first day of ULB" and the "day coming before ULB" are two
different days. When we are using G3957 in a general sense, we have to
know all the facts before we can
translate it correctly.
A more accurate translation
of Mat 26:17 could be,
26:17 NET. Now the day before the feast of Unleavened
Bread the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Where do you want us to
prepare for you to eat the evening meal at the start of the Passover day? [the14th]"
was writing down reports that were circulating some 30 years after the
actual events. Luke was not an eyewitness himself - he just relied on
what he was told.
NLT Many people have set out to write accounts about the events
that have been fulfilled among us. (2) They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. (3) Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus,
in the telling and retelling of the events, some of the facts got
dropped and others got merged. There are over 60 places where Luke
records things differently to the actual eyewitnesses like Matthew and
Mark and John.
Thus we should read the word "Passover" as a
general term including the preparation day as well, which would be easy
for people to do over time.
Now the comments John says
Jews in John 18 and 19 makes perfect sense.
18:28 NET. Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the Roman
governor's residence. (Now it was very early morning.) They did not go
into the governor's residence so they would not be ceremonially
defiled, but could eat
the Passover meal.
The time for the
killing of the Passover lambs and their eating was still in the future.
19:14 NET. (Now it
was the day of preparation for the Passover,
about noon. ) Pilate said to the Jewish leaders, "Look, here is your
these events are taking place on the 14th - the
day the Passover lambs were killed. John 19:14 again proves that the
Jesus had with His disciples at the beginning of the 14th could not
have been the Passover meal. Here He is before Pilate, and the killing
of the Passover lambs is still future. It is just the preparation day.
Remember, the 14th is not a Holy Day, and is not a part of Unleavened
Bread, and while it is the preparation day for the following Holy Day,
the most significant event is that the Passover lamb has to be
killed on that day.
27:45 NET. Now from
noon until three, darkness came over all the land.
the priests could legally start killing the Passover lambs after noon,
I have no doubt that the darkness was used to stop them from doing so -
untill the most important "lamb" of the day was killed. Jesus died
3:00pm (Mat 27:46) - about the same time the daily evening sacrifice
killed for hundreds of years prior. The type of the evening sacrifice
was fulfilled exactly.
To me, the New Testament is
kept the same Holy Days, and at the same time, as the general Jewish
population. The Pharisees and Sadducees were constantly looking for
something to prove Jesus was wrong. If He was keeping the Holy Days on
different days than the general population, then they would have had
are two different events.
The NT Last Supper meal that Jesus
had with the disciples precedes the OT Passover meal by about
are two different events - and it has to be this way.
Heb 9:10 NET. They
served only for matters of food and drink and various washings; they
are external regulations imposed until
the new order came.
have a "new order" then that implies that there is also an "old order".
Heb 9:15 NET. And
so he is the mediator of a
so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has
promised, since he died to set them free from the violations committed
under the first covenant.
15 confirms that there is a "first covenant" - also called the Old
Testament Covenant - and a "new covenant" - called the New Testament
Covenant. The two covenants continue to run in parallel, as we can see
by what is happening in the New Jerusalem after God and Christ return
NET. Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah will become
the sight of the LORD who rules over all, so that all who offer sacrifices
may come and use some of them to
boil their sacrifices in them. On that day there will no
longer be a Canaanite [trader
- see Mat 21:13] in the house of the LORD
who rules over all.
there will still be the opportunity to make animal sacrifices in the
Millennium. Thus, those still following the "old order" will kill and
eat a Passover lamb, those who are following the "new order"
partake of the symbols of the Last Supper, or the Memorial of Christ's
death, on the evening before.
The Old Covenant - as outlined in the Old
Testament - was, as described in
Hebrews, only a shadow, or a reminder, of greater things to come.
person making a sacrifice, felt better, and felt that they had restored
their relationship with God, but there was no deep and lasting change
on the inside.
Sooner or later they would sin again, and have to repeat the process.
For the law possesses a
of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore
completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year
after year, to perfect those who come to worship.
otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the
worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have no further
consciousness of sin? (3) But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year
after year. (4) For the blood of bulls
and goats cannot take away sins.
process of keeping the letter of the Law and making sacrifices under
the Old Covenant, was all pointing to what was needed to happen in the
10:12-19 NET. But when this priest had offered one sacrifice
sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of
(13) where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a
footstool for his feet [see Ps 110:1]. (14) For by
offering he has perfected for all time those who are made
(15) And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us, for after
saying, (16) "This
covenant that I will establish with them after those days, says the
Lord. I will put my laws on their hearts and I will inscribe
on their minds," (17) then he says,
"Their sins and
their lawless deeds I will remember no longer."
where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering
accepting Christ's sacrifice - as shown by our birth by water -
something changes in our hearts and minds. We start to put God's law of
love to work in our lives, but still being human, we will slip up and
sin from time to time. Unlike the people following the Old Covenant, we
have the extra benefit of being able to ask for our sins to be forgiven
(but we may have to live with the consequences). Once that sin is
forgiven, it no longer exists, so we are not required to make a
sacrifice. Christ did that for us by living a sinless life and then
being willing to die for all humanity.
NET. how much more will the
blood of Christ,
who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God,
purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living
(15) And so he is the mediator
of a new covenant, so that those who are called may
receive the eternal inheritance he has promised, since he died to set them free from the
violations committed under the first covenant.
The Old Covenant gave the
people the rules for living life in a way that would give the best
outcome - God giving His blessing.
The New Covenant
outlines a way of changing our human nature to God's nature.
all start out under the Old Covenant - a child has to learn to take
instructions from their parents - and then when we are grown and wiser,
we make the move to the New Covenant, when God calls us to Christ.
Act 2:38-39 NET.
Peter said to them, "Repent,
and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the
forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy
Spirit. (39) For the promise is for
you and your children, and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will
call to himself."
we need two different events.
Supper or Memorial is required for those who have accepted Christ's
sacrifice, and the Passover lamb is sacrificed and eaten by those still
under the Old Covenant.
Thus we have two different
different times with different symbols.
Festival has the roasted lamb, bitter herbs and unleavened bread.
Last Supper has the foot washing, leavened bread and wine.
to the question - should Christians keep the Passover or the Last
killing and eating a Passover lamb is for people following the Old
Covenant, Christians should leave that behind and move on to observing
the Last Supper.
To put it another way, if you are
committed to following Christ, and are trying to follow His
instructions, then you will definitely follow the instructions He gave
during His last supper here on earth.
right and partly wrong.
The practice of having a service just after sunset on the 14th of the
month of God's calendar, has the time right. However, it is wrong to
call it the "Passover", because the Passover lamb is not eaten till the
beginning of the 15th.
The service at the start of
the 14th should contain the symbols of foot-washing, leavened bread and
the leavened bread with unleavened bread because of the incorrect name
of "Passover" misses the point that Jesus said that He was the "bread
6:48-51 NET. I
am the bread of life.
(49) Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they
died [eating physical bread, or food in general, will not give us
eternal life]. (50) This is the bread that has come
heaven, so that a person may eat from it and not die [accepting
Christ's sacrifice (and all that that means) will give us eternal
(51) I am the
living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats
from this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for
the life of the world is my flesh."
am sure that Jesus followed the OT command (spoken by God) to bring
the unleavened bread at the start of the seven days of Unleavened Bread
(Ex 12:15), so on the night before, only leavened bread would have been
available. And that fits in with Christ saying that He was "living
Time for a change.
prayer, and meditation, let us leave behind the errors of
the past and step into the New Covenant by keeping the Last Supper and
leave the Passover for those still under the
Orchard Dec 2010
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