The first reference to Passover has been found in the Book of Exodus and then in the New Testament of the Bible. According to Exodus 12, King James Version, about 3000 years ago, God promised the people of Israel to free them from the slavery in Egypt and unleash the tenth plague that was to 'Smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt.' To be sure that Israelites didn't fell prey to his wrath, he instructed them to mark their door posts with lamb's blood, stating: "and when I see the blood, I will pass over you." The book was later translated to English in William Tyndale. Thus, the name 'Passover' came into vogue for this celebration. Since the original word in the Hebrew Torah for 'pass over' was 'Posach', the celebration is also known as 'Pesach'. Follow up the writing to know and understand why Passover is an important festival for Jewish and the whole history behind Passover celebration.
Origins Of The Passover Feast
History Of Passover
The origin of Passover or Pesach relates back over 3,000 years ago as told in the first fifteen chapters of the exodus to remember the astonishing and miraculous events that god performed for the Hebrews that led to their freedom. God commanded Moses and the Hebrews to eat slaughtered and roasted paschal lamb that symbolizes Passover sacrifice and to eat with bitter herbs and matzah. Along with this, god also instructed the Hebrews to spread the blood of the paschal lamb on the doorposts and on the lintel above the door of the houses in which they will eat the paschal lamb. This act was god's sign to pass over the Hebrews' homes during the 10th plague, which was to kill the firstborn sons of the Egyptians as a punishment for enslaving the Hebrews. "He" also instructed the Hebrews to have matzah for the whole seven-day period of the Passover festival and to clear their house from leavened items by the first day of the Passover. Also stated that the first and seventh day of Passover were to be the sacred holidays for the Hebrews which are to be spent in sustaining themselves with food. It means a person should work only one work that is assigned to him and no other work should be permitted for any reason. Since the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E. (Common Era or A.D. to Christians) by the romans, the slaughter of the paschal lamb was replaced by the roasting of a hard-boiled egg and the shank-bone, which are the two of the symbolic foods on the Passover Seder plate. However, even today there are certain groups who still follow slaughtering lambs for Passover as instructed in the Book of Exodus by God.
There have been references, which confirm that the parts of this feast were observed even in earlier times. In Genesis 19:3 talks about 'unleavened bread' while in Maimonedes has a short commentary saying - "It was Passover". Though there have been no particular reasons stated for eating unleavened bread, but the best guess is that people used to be in such a hurry to serve the angels that they did not have enough time to let the dough rise and prepare proper, leavened bread. Besides the two main commandments of eating matzoh and prohibiting leavened foods on the days of Pesach, one of the ancient rituals still followed by Samaritans was to offer sacrifice of a lamb in the evening on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Nisan (or Abib). These commandments are now clubbed together as observing Seder or the special Passover feast on the first two evenings of the holiday.
Originally, Passover was celebrated for seven days and first day being the day the Israelites left Egypt, to seventh when they came to the Yam Soof, which is the Hebrew phrase for "Sea of Reeds". As a result of these events it is celebrated for seven days in isreal. As the jewish calendar goes by the cycle of the moon, jewish scholars in biblical times added the extra day to compensate for the different times the moon appeared in places outside of Israel, but only for seven days in Israel.
Significance Of Passover
The origin of Passover and history of Pesach can be traced back to the liberation of Hebrew slaves from Egypt as told in the Book of Exodus.
- Passover is an historical festival, commemorating the exodus from Egypt, notably the physical redemption of the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery.
- It is also an agricultural festival, celebrating the spring season and the new growth and harvest season, particularly the earliest barley and cereal harvest.
- It is a religious festival; it celebrates the fact that God is the redeemer of the Hebrews from the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh who forced Hebrews into slaves.