What is Passover?

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In the Jewish calendar, one of the most important religious festivity is the Passover festival. The festival is celebrated in the early spring for eight days in the Hebrew month of Nissan. Passover is celebrated by the Jewish community to commemorate the emancipation of the children Israel from the bondage in ancient Egypt. Jews and many Christians celebrate the Passover to remember the inhuman conditions their ancestors were exposed to and appreciate the freedom that they now enjoy. The commencement of this celebration is well documented in the book of Exodus chapter 12. The primal feature of the Hag HaPesach festival, during the ancient celebration of this feature, is the slaughtering of a lamb by the families of Israelites (Leviticus 23.5) a day before the festivities commenced (Langer 2011). The blood of the slaughtered lamb was poured by the priests at the base of the altar. Ordinarily, all other forms of sacrifice to be slaughtered were commissioned by the priests.

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The biblical history of Passover.

The Passover narrative is recorded in the book of Exodus chapter 12. The chapter details the strict instructions that the children of Israel were to follow to the letter. The Israelites were instructed that on the tenth day of the month, the man of the house was to take a lamb for his family and share with his nearest neighbor. The animals were to be a one-year-old goat or lamb. The family was to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and tops of their door of the houses where they ate the lamb. The meat was to be consumed roast over the fire, and every meat was to be consumed and if any was left it to be burnt. They were to eat the meal with their clothes tucked into their belt while wearing sandals on their feet. The Passover meal was to be eaten by the Israelites in haste. God's angel of death was to pass the night through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals and God promised to bring judgement to all the gods of Egypt. In essence, this was the tenth plague that was the last straw that broke the back of pharaohs camel of defiance. The blood was to act as a sign that the houses belonged to the Israelites, and the Angel, who brought death, was to pass over that house.

The chapter further details God commandment to the children of Israel to judiciously celebrate this day for the years to come. The reason was to so that they would remind themselves about the day God brought them from the land of Egypt. They were to celebrate this day as the Festival of the Unleavened Bread and during this period for seven days they will eat bread made without yeast. Moses asked the children of the Israel to obey the instructions of the ceremony as a symbol of a lasting ordinance for them and their future generations (Jackson 2008). Moses told them to reveal to their children the reason for the festival as a reminder that it signified a sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over their houses when brought the tenth plagued over Egypt.

Passover in the modern day.

Passover is a feast of emancipation from the bondage that signifies redemption by God. The edicts of feast span over the Old and New Testaments, the festivities have spread to the modern age Christians who celebrate the occasion with a renewed meaning that was established by Jesus Christ when during the last supper. Many indications have shown that the festival has continued to be observed even in the current Christian age. The festival marks a celebration of the past, the present and the future deliverance of the people of Israel. Scholars like Samuele Bacchiocchi, have argued that the festival could signify a typographical celebration of the past realization of the Abrahamic covenant and shows a future fulfilment of the Messianic congregation of all nations ("Ultra-Orthodox Burn Leavened Food Before Passover Begins" 2015). The deliverance of the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt is tantamount to the redemption of all the people from the bondage of sin occasioned by the death of Jesus on the cross. This redemption posits a promise of an imminent deliverance of the nations of the earth. It is in this spirit and hope of redemption that is being celebrated in the modern day church.

Samuele Bacchiocchi purports that the festival can be perceived to be prophetic, typical as well as commemorative. The Passover is commemorative in the sense that it symbolizes the monumental redemption of the children of Israel by God from bondage in Egypt. He also purported that the feast is typical since it bear a resemblance to the Messianic redemption from the bondage of sin of the human race occasioned by the death of Jesus Christ. He further supposes that the festivities have a prophetic dimension because it posits the final deliverance of people from all nations. The prophetic nature of the Passover is made apparent by the many references to the book of Exodus in the New Testament. The Exodus itself, the song of Mosses and the marriage supper of the lamb are a number of references found in the New Testament. These allusions imply that the festivities have spanned over from the Old Testament, and the New Testament and the modern Christian also shares in this celebration since the festivities did not die when Jesus was crucified. It is not only symbolic but prophetic that Jesus gave Himself up to be sacrificed as the true blameless lamb to purge the sins of men. In doing so, He chartered a new form of realization to the festivities; He made the celebrations not only a commemorative subject of the Jew alone but of every man on earth who accepted God through Him ("Ultra-Orthodox Burn Leavened Food Before Passover Begins" 2015). Men of the earth would heartily remember Him for redeeming them from the manacles and bondage of sin. The belief of a universal role played by the festival offers to nourish the hope and fortify the faith of humanity in the final deliverance of Gods people.

The sacrificial nature of the festival gives us the legitimacy to argue that the festival is celebrated even by the modern Christians. The modern Christian church observes Passover religiously practice the edicts of the festivals as the Jews do. The distinct difference between the Old Testament Christian and the New Testament Christian is that the latter does not offer a lamb as a sacrifice (Rovner 2000). The reason being that Jesus was the blameless lamb that shed his blood to redeem the human race and bring people back to Gods fold (1 Cor 5:7). The modern day Christian instead partakes of the symbols of Christs sacrifice, the bread which implied his body and wine which implied the blood he shed on the cross. The contrasting difference here is that in the Jewish Passover, the people ate a lamb they had sacrificed and in the Christian Passover entails consuming the symbols of bread and wine to signify the lamb that had already been sacrificed. The Christian believe that Christ being sacrificed as the Lamb does not render unnecessary the Passover celebration. In their belief, Christ gave the celebrations a new meaning of the celebrations becoming a commemoration from the bondage of sins and not a celebration of emancipation from the Egyptian bondage (Langer 2011).

The first three Gospels books have mentioned the festival in a number of passages. In Luke 22:15 Jesus proclaims that he earnestly wanted to enjoy the Passover with His disciples before he was subjected to suffering. References about the festivities are on eating the Passover reiterated the imperativeness of the festival (Matt 26:18; Luke 22:11). The Passover indicated in the Gospel Books is just the same old Passover although it was celebrated uniquely. The Passover in the New Testament was celebrated a day earlier than the normal Passover. The reasons are suggested by some theologians is that it was because Christ knew he will be sacrificed as the Lamb on the material day of the Passover (Clarke 1971). The disciples and Jesus celebrated the Passover without a lamb being sacrificed. Instead, Jesus instituted a new Passover meal which constituted bread and a cup of wine. The celebration was also in commemoration of redemption from the bondage of sin and not the celebration from the Egyptian bondage (Kitov, Bulman and Royde 1970). The indication here by these new way of observing the festivities is that Christ gave the Christian a new reason to celebrate. The celebration was not a preserve of the Jews but all men of all nations. These are the evidence that Passover is still being observed and celebrated, albeit distinctly different from the instructions of Moses but following the instruction laid out by Jesus Christ.


The feast of Passover has great religious implication and history since the days the children of Israel were emancipated from the Egyptian bondage. The Old Testament has shown historical moments where the festivities have been religiously observed. The death of Christ had the potential of signifying the end of this celebration, but He instead changed the ceremonies clarion call from a festival to remember the emancipation from Egyptian bondage to the call of redemption from the sin. He sacrificed himself, and whenever Christian partakes of bread and wine, they do so in memory of Passover. The Christian of the modern day has not forgotten these festivities and what they mean as the Passover celebration endeavors to strengthen the faith of the Christian about the second coming of Christ. In celebrating the Passover, the Christian hope in the deliverance of man is nourished and becomes renewed. Therefore Passover for a Jew or a Christian, it holds a very important religious significance that its commemoration becomes an obligation to honor the beliefs of the Jews or the Christians. Passover there has survived the ravages of religious history and has stood an important celebration in the calendar of Christians and the Jews.


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"Ultra-Orthodox Burn Leavened Food Before Passover Begins". 2015. Haaretz.Com. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/ultra-orthodox-burn-leavened-food-before-passover-begins-1.356761.

Clarke, Ernest G. 1971. "The Samaritan Pentateuch And The Origin Of The Samaritan Sect James D. Purvis". Journal Of Near Eastern Studies 30 (2): 144-146. doi:10.1086/372108.

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Langer, Ruth. 2011. "Jewish-Christian Dialogue About Covenant". SCJR 2 (2). doi:10.6017/scjr.v2i2.1441.

Rovner, Jay. 2000. "An Early Passover Haggadah According To The Palestinian Rite". The Jewish Quarterly Review 90 (3/4): 337. doi:10.2307/1454759.

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