|Description of Holiday||Easter|
|Culture and Tradition||Messiah in the Holiday|
|The Passover Seder Meal||Ezekiel's Passover Vision|
|Unleavened Bread||Misc. Passover Notes|
|Passover and Sukkot Connection||Food For Thought|
|Uniqueness of the Holiday||Share with Friends|
Passover is the oldest Jewish holiday (unless you consider the Sabbath a holiday). The name Passover came from the event that ended Jewish slavery in Egypt. The Angel of Death "passed-over" the first born of Israel when they had their doorpost covered by the blood of the Passover Lamb.
Some view Passover as a combination of two separate holidays: the Feast of the Paschal lamb (Chag Hapesach), which is the first day of the eight days of Passover, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamatzot), which is the following seven days. Most people just celebrate one holiday now. The two holidays have been merged together creating one single eight day holiday often referred to only as Passover.
There is, however, a difference. The Feast of the Passover Lamb commemorates the redemption from bondage in Egypt. It is spring, a new beginning, or like your first birthday. The nation of Israel was "birthed" out of bondage. Israel wasn't really a nation until after it left Egypt. This was such a big event that Nissan, the month of their redemption, became the first month of the ceremonial calendar.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread last for seven days instead of one day. For seven days, foods that contain leaven are forbidden to be eaten. The home is cleaned to get rid of food containing leaven. Leaven represents sin and or evil and this is to represent a purging of sin from our lives. This holiday is a time when we should examine ourselves to see if we can find any sin that is in our lifestyle and try to do better.
There was another difference between the supper and the feast. The supper was a memorial of the redemption of the first born of Israel on the night before the exodus; the feast was the anniversary of their actual deliverance from the house of bondage. The super was not a part of the feast; it was morally the basis on which the feast was founded. This distinction is also found in the Pentateuch. In the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of the Lord; and in the fifteenth day of the month is the feast (Numbers 28:16-17). (1)
The week of unleavened bread can also be a remembrance of a time of affliction, (sometimes matza is referred to as the "bread of affliction"). A time to remember trials and testing, to purge us of our pride; to teach us humility and obedience by the things we suffer.
And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way theses forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not" (Deut. 8:2).
This is one of the holidays that God Himself has named.
Sometimes the term Passover refers to the sacrificial animal although most of the time it is referred to as the Pascal Lamb.
Old Testament Scriptural References Include: The beginning of the book of Exodus include Exodus 12:1-20,39). The actual passing over of the Angel of Death can be found at Exodus 12:27. The commandment to remember this holiday is found in Deuteronomy 16:1,3. There are other places in scripture that give reference to its observance like Leviticus 23:5-8.
New Testament Scriptural References Include: There are several but the one that shows the Messiah's fulfillment in the holiday is when John recognizes Jesus as the Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29).
Some areas where we are taught that leaven represents sin are Matthew 16:12; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; Acts 20:6; Hebrews 11:28 and Galatians 5:8-9.
Psalm 22 teaches about Jesus death by crucifixion which happened on this holiday.
Passover is a story of redemption, the story of the Jewish slaves in Egypt being redeemed by God. The Jews went from being welcomed and invited to live in Egypt to being slaves. Their stay in Egypt lasted 430 Years. Passover is the retelling of the story of their redemption. Passover is celebrated on the fifteenth of Nisan. This is usually around late March to mid-April. If one could not make the Passover celebration on the 15th of Nissan, they were allowed to celebrate it on the 14th of the next month. This is known as a "Minor Passover."
The story begins with Moses as a baby. Pharaoh had issued an order to have all newborn Hebrew males drowned by the midwives (Exodus 1:22). Moses' mother could not allow her own child to die like that. Instead, she built a basket and set him afloat in the Nile River, where royalty often took a bath. Pharaoh's daughter was bathing that day and found baby Moses. She kept him as her son, and Moses grew up in the royal family.
Moses knew he was a Hebrew child, and one day he observed something that made him very angry. A Hebrew slave was being punished, and Moses became so angry he killed the Egyptian that was punishing the slave. He then feared for his life and fled into the desert. He took refuge in Midian where he became a shepherd and began a family. Forty years later the story of the Exodus is about to take center stage.
One day Moses went to Mt. Horeb (also known as Mt. Sinai). There he encountered a thorn bush that was on fire. He went over to see why it was not being consumed by the fire. The Lord spoke to him. Moses was then commissioned by God to be His representative. He was instructed to go back to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to free the children of Israel. God sent Aaron with Moses to be his speaker, and the two of them, sent by God, went to Pharaoh and made the request.
Pharaoh did not want to release the slaves. There were ten specific plagues that God allowed Egypt to suffer so that they could know His power. The tenth plague is the killing of the first-born. Because the children of Israel had a Passover offering in the form of a lamb and used the blood of the lamb to mark their doorpost of their homes, they were spared. The Angel of Death took the first born of everything in Egypt. It saw the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and passed over those homes. That's why the holiday is called Passover. The first-born Jews were saved by the blood of the lamb. There was nothing else that the Angel of Death was looking for, only the blood of the lamb. He was not looking for the first born's good works or good life or good deeds. The first born had to totally trust in the lamb's blood for deliverance from physical death.
Pharaoh's own son was taken during this plague, and the Jews were then given permission to leave Egypt. Pharaoh changed his mind and pursued the Jews to the Red Sea in an effort to get revenge for the killing of his first-born son. God miraculously splits the Red Sea so the children of Israel could cross over. The Egyptians followed in hot pursuit. After Israel crossed over, God allowed the Red Sea to close, and the Egyptians were killed. The story has now come full circle: from the decree by Pharaoh himself to drown all the newborn, Hebrew male children to Pharaoh's army being drown by God (Exodus 15:19).
For an insightful read please check out Lessons From The Exodus. This article can teach us about three difficulties we may have in our spiritual walk with God today and lessons we can learn from the exodus that will help us deal with these three difficulties.
Passover is rich in culture and even richer in tradition.
This was one of the three feasts that Jews tried to return to Jerusalem for. After the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., there could no longer be a sacrificial Paschal Lamb offering, and the pilgrimages stopped.
There was a commandment to retell the story of the redemption to our children. A meal known as a Seder was the usual way that Jewish families passed on this story. This Seder meal became a part of the holiday and after the temple's destruction, it grew in significance.
Today in Israel one of the signs that the Passover holiday is coming is the increased activity involving garbage trucks. Observant Jews not only have found this to be a commanded time of cleaning their house of unleavened bread but many take part in an annual spring cleaning of the house which involves throwing away unneeded items not related to the holiday as well.
There is a general outline of 14 Seder Steps that make up a complete Seder meal. As the Seder meal is eaten, the family has a chance to discuss the Seder Plate. This symbolic dish has food items on it to help with the retelling of the redemption. One of the most exciting parts is the retelling of the Ten Plagues. The Seder meal is helped along with the use of a Haggadah. The Aramaic word is Agadta. The creation of the Haggadah helped parents teach their children. The Seder meal and story should be a part each person at the meal helps out with. Children can help with asking the four questions, opening the door for Elijah, and looking for the Afikomen. There is no requirement for a designated leader to be at the Seder. If one is appointed, then sometimes a pillow is placed at his or her chair to stress comfort. Slaves didn't have this option.
The story of the Exodus in the Haggadah starts with the youngest child asking the famous Four Questions. These questions with their answers allow for the discussion of what makes Passover night so different.
During and after the meal, there are Four Cups Of Wine that are drunk. Traditionally red wine was preferred, but with the rise in anti-Semitism, Jews were accused of stealing Christian babies and sacrificing them for the blood to put in these Passover wine cups. To prove their innocence, they used only white wine. Today society recognizes how anti-Semitic this thinking really was. At the Seder table today one can find red or white wine or grape juice, whichever is preferred.
The Passover Seder meal ends with this expression of hope "Next year in Jerusalem." For those living in Jerusalem, it ends with "Next year in Jerusalem rebuilt." The hope is that we will all be reunited together in Jerusalem when the Messiah comes and sets up His Millennial Kingdom. He will be able to rule from the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.
The Seder when done with the proper attitude can be a multi-sensory, interactive and interpersonal event.(2)
The most well known Passover food item is by far the Matzah (unleavened bread). A home that has been prepared specifically for the Passover holiday will have special things done to it in preparation for the holiday. This includes getting rid of all foods containing grain products that have the capability of becoming Hametz (leaven). This is known as Nullification. Because of a passage in the Mishna that says a person should annul it in his heart (Pesahim 3:7), the process can be both physical and mental. We annul leaven in our heart by thinking about and then asking God to help us remove sin. There is a commandment in Exodus 12:18 to eat Matzah on each day of Passover. Later, the Rabbis changed this to be only obligatory on the first night of Passover (Pesachim 120a). Matzah is a very symbolic food that reminds us that Israel, as a nation, needed to be ready to leave at a moment's notice. Therefore, the wheat in the bread did not have time to rise. This special food is sometimes known as "the bread of our affliction." In order for Matzah to be kosher, it must cook for less than 18 minutes.
Because leaven rises, it represents inflated egotism and arrogance, which is the true spiritual leaven in our lives - the removal of which is stressed at Passover.(3)
For a more comprehensive look at leaven please read Lessons From Leaven.
A passage in Leviticus teaches us that Passover and Sukkot (The Feast Of Tabernacles) are connected:
"so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God"(Leviticus 23:43).
Both are related to the Exodus, and both are observed on the 15th of the month.
Passover marks the attainment of the end of bondage and the right of religious freedom. Sukkot marks the attainment of national and territorial independence (except from God) the essential ingredients of Sovereignty.
Sukkot is an Exodus festival.(4)
After Sukkot is over, the palm branch is often used later in the year during Pesach (Passover) to burn the Hametz (leaven), since it is appropriate to use them only for fulfilling another mitzvot (commandment).
Learn how God used the prophet Zechariah to also show the connection between Passover and the Feast Of Tabernacles by reading about The Coming Of Israel's King - Jesus' Triumphant Entry (Zechariah 9:9 Prophecy).
The slavery of the Jewish nation was predicted in Genesis 15:14. The slavery was accepted as fulfillment of that prophecy.
Although the Temple was destroyed, the biblical obligation to eat Matzah on the 14th of Nissan is still in effect. (Pesachim 120a) This day was to be set aside as a memorial.
The timing of the crossing of the Jordan River was timed for Passover. The first two official rites ordered by Joshua were the rites of circumcision and the Paschal lamb (Joshua 5:3,10).
Since there is no longer a Paschal lamb sacrifice, there is no longer the blood of the lamb to put on our doorpost. For some, the Mezuzah has become a reminder of the blood. By placing the mezuzah for all to see on their outside doorpost, they are symbolically associating with the blood of the lamb throughout the entire year. (Mechilta Exodus 12:23?)
Some Rabbis had the view that Passover wasn't really over until Shavuot (also known as the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost) came. They felt this was the day that Israel received the law on Mt. Sinai and that it was the completion of the redemption. (Tracate Shabbat 86b)
The historical and agricultural phases of Passover were each celebrated for seven days. The Exodus theme was marked during the seven days of Passover. It is believed that the Exodus took seven days from the 15th of Nissan (the actual Passover) to the crossing of the Red Sea on the 21st of Nissan. The agricultural theme, which was the ripening of the harvest, was marked during the last six days of Passover and the day of Shavuot. The agricultural festival was seen by many as a thanksgiving for the creation of the Earth which took seven days.(4)
There were three feasts that Jews were required to travel to Jerusalem to observe if possible: Passover, Pentecost, (Shavuot-giving of the law) and Sukkot (feast of booths-tabernacles). People would come from all over. For Passover, if they were from out of town, they would have to come at least a week early because they couldn't enter the Temple without a seven day purification period.
Moses is never mentioned in the Haggadah because everyone should be reminded that it was God, not Moses, who really delivered the Jewish people out of bondage. Moses was just His instrument.
Because Jews were slaves, they should be able to relate to others who have had to go through or are currently going through slavery. This should be a common bond and each should be willing to stand up for the rights of others.
Sometimes people like to use the terms Easter and Passover interchangeably. They are not the same thing. While both holidays can be found around the same time on the calendar (within a month or so), they have separate origins and meanings. For more on this, read about Easter and the Transition From Passover To Easter.
There is a tradition that Yom Kippur is partially based on the transgression of the golden calf.
|Christ In The Passover A look at several different areas that the Messiah is found in this holiday.|
|The Last Supper|
Other articles of interest include:
Elijah In The Passover Seder And His Connection To John The Baptist.
The eighth day of Passover is traditionally associated with our fervent hope for the coming of the Messiah.(2)
The Messiah spoke of the ultimate redemption when in Luke 14:14-18 He quoted Isaiah 61:1, proclaiming release and liberty (redemption) to the captives (sinners) while acknowledging from the Synagogue that He was there to fulfill Isaiah's prophecy.
The Mimouna Holiday:
On the day after Passover, Israeli Jews of Moroccan and North African descent, celebrate the Mimouna holiday. The name Mimouna is derived from the word meaning emunah, which means faith. The ancient Jewish sages said that just as in the Hebrew month of Nissan, the Jewish People were redeemed from Egypt (on Passover), so too will they be redeemed in Nissan in the future. Each year that the holiday of Passover ends with the Jewish people not yet merited redemption, Moroccan Jewry celebrates the day as a great statement of faith, that even though the Messianic King delays his coming, the Jews continue "to long for Him every day." There have also been other explanations offered for this holiday.(5)
Ezekiel had a vision that most Bible commentators believe refers to a day there would be a rebuilt third temple and a Passover celebration during the Millennial Kingdom. Ezekiel 45:21-24
Check out the progress of groups wanting to Rebuild The Third Temple.
Why did God choose the lowly thorn bush to represent Him when He spoke with Moses.
Pick up some Kosher for Passover candy and ask your Jewish friends to retell you the story. (Fruit is also kosher for Passover:) There is special Kosher for Passover wine that is used at the Seder meal if you would like to give a gift. Isaiah 53:7 could make for some interesting discussion. Perhaps you could even sit in on a traditional Passover Seder.
Israel was to observe Passover every year after the original one. There is only one recorded instance in scripture over the following 40 years where it was done (Num 9:1-14). That may be because of the lack of circumcision while they wandered in the desert.
For Jews who lived in exile in places like Babylon, even though they didn't have a Paschal lamb many tried to observe the other two requirements of the holiday. Those were getting rid of all the leaven in the house and eating only unleavened bread for a seven day period. The commandments to offer a Passover lamb and to eat only unleavened bread were independent of each other.
The first day of the month of Tishri is considered a Sabbath (Rosh Hashanah) Lev. 23:23-25. Passover, Yom Kippur, and the Feast of Tabernacles also have declared days of rest as part of their observance.
During temple days, the Passover sacrifice was slain in late afternoon.
If you were unable to celebrate the Passover because you lived too far away, were unclean, or on a journey, there was a second Passover celebration on the 14th of the following month, Iyar (Numbers 9:9-14).
Articles related to Passover that may be of interest include:
For a list of future holiday dates, check the Master Calendar Table.
1). The Coming Prince by Sir Robert Anderson p.108-109.
2). Chabad of Peoria Jewish Art Calendar 5766.
3). Messiah Magazine Special Addition - Passover p.13 Issue 90.
4). Some Information for this research came from The Biblical And Historical Background Of The Jewish Holy Days, by Abraham P. Bloch. This is copyrighted material and was used with permission of the publisher. KTAV Publishing, 900 Jefferson Street. Box 6249, Hoboken, NJ 07030-0102
5). Arutz Sheva News 4-11-2007.
The Family Treasury of Jewish Holidays by Malka Drucker.
The Feast of Israel by Bruce Scott of Friends of Israel ministries.
Chosen People Ministries.