And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem…
It will be interesting to know how St. Joseph and St. Mary spent the days which they are here said to have "fulfilled," especially when we remember that they had the Holy Child with them, whose human mind, we may be sure, would drink in eagerly everything which He saw in the Temple worship. Where, then, in the first place, did they live during these days? Some of the country people who came up to keep the Passover were accommodated in private houses. This was the case with our Lord and His disciples, who ate together His last Passover in a private house, to which He directed them by the token of a man carrying a pitcher of water, who should enter into it. It was usual in these cases for the guests to leave behind them, as a kind of payment for their accommodation, the skin of the lamb, and the utensils employed in cooking it. But very often such accommodation was not to be found; every inn and private house in Jerusalem was quite full, and in this case people from the country were obliged to lodge without the walls in a tent which they brought with them. Perhaps St. Joseph and St. Mary may have been all the more ready to do this, because, having the Holy Child with them, whose life had already been sought by those in power, they may have thought it prudent not to be seen in the city more than was absolutely necessary. St. Joseph would have to go to the Temple on the afternoon of the fourteenth of Abib to kill his Passover lamb, and probably he would take our Lord with him. The Holy Child watched the slaughter of the lamb, as the blood gushed forth from the wound into the golden cup held by one of the priests to receive it, and was then splashed out in one jet at the foot of the altar of burnt-offering. Then they returned to their tent, carrying the carcase of the lamb with them, and prepared the supper, of which, probably, as their household must have been too small for the lamb, and as ten people at least were required to make a Passover company, some of St. Joseph's family or neighbours partook with them. The first thing would be to roast the lamb, which was usually done by running two skewers of pomegranate wood, one lengthwise through the body of the creature, and another crossing it through the breast and forelegs, so that the lamb had the appearance of being crucified, and then placing it carefully in the midst of an oven, the bricks of which were made red-hot, but not allowing it to touch the sides. Then they would spread the table, and place on the sideboard, ready at hand, a plate of unleavened bread (large thin biscuits), another of bitter herbs, such as endive, or wild lettuce, and a vessel containing a thick sauce, made of the consistency of clay, to remind them of the brickmaking in Egypt, into which sauce everything eaten at the supper was to be dipped. Last would come the partaking of the supper. St. Joseph, as head of the family, would take a cup of red wine in his hand, and, after saying a grace, taste it and pass it round. Then the herbs were placed on the table and partaken of; then the unleavened bread; and, that being done, the roasted lamb was brought in and placed before the head of the family. But before it was eaten, a second cup of wine was filled; and then it was customary for some child (perhaps, in this case, it may have been our Lord Himself) to ask the head of the house, "What meaneth this service?" In reply, the reason of keeping the Passover was recited, &c., after which Psalm 123, and 114. were sung. Then the lamb was carved and eaten; a third and a fourth cup of wine succeeded; and then all was concluded by singing Psalm 115. to 118.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.