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Passover

Passover [N] [E] [S]

See Feasts and Festivals of Israel

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of
Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan USA.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

For usage information, please read the Baker Book House Copyright Statement.


[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Elwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Passover'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology". . 1997.

Passover [N] [B] [S]

the name given to the chief of the three great historical annual festivals of the Jews. It was kept in remembrance of the Lord's passing over the houses of the Israelites ( Exodus 12:13 ) when the first born of all the Egyptians were destroyed. It is called also the "feast of unleavened bread" ( Exodus 23:15 ; Mark 14:1 ; Acts 12:3 ), because during its celebration no leavened bread was to be eaten or even kept in the household ( Exodus 12:15 ). The word afterwards came to denote the lamb that was slain at the feast ( Mark 14:12-14 ; 1 Corinthians 5:7 ).

A detailed account of the institution of this feast is given in Exodus 12 and 13. It was afterwards incorporated in the ceremonial law ( Leviticus 23:4-8 ) as one of the great festivals of the nation. In after times many changes seem to have taken place as to the mode of its celebration as compared with its first celebration (Compare Deuteronomy 16:2 Deuteronomy 16:5 Deuteronomy 16:6 ; 2 Chr 30:16 ; Leviticus 23:10-14 ; Numbers 9:10 Numbers 9:11 ; 28:16-24 ). Again, the use of wine ( Luke 22:17 Luke 22:20 ), of sauce with the bitter herbs ( John 13:26 ), and the service of praise were introduced.

There is recorded only one celebration of this feast between the Exodus and the entrance into Canaan, namely, that mentioned in Numbers 9:5 . (See JOSIAH .) It was primarily a commemorative ordinance, reminding the children of Israel of their deliverance out of Egypt; but it was, no doubt, also a type of the great deliverance wrought by the Messiah for all his people from the doom of death on account of sin, and from the bondage of sin itself, a worse than Egyptian bondage ( 1 Corinthians 5:7 ; John 1:29 ; 19:32-36 ; 1 Peter 1:19 ; Galatians 4:4 Galatians 4:5 ). The appearance of Jerusalem on the occasion of the Passover in the time of our Lord is thus fittingly described: "The city itself and the neighbourhood became more and more crowded as the feast approached, the narrow streets and dark arched bazaars showing the same throng of men of all nations as when Jesus had first visited Jerusalem as a boy. Even the temple offered a strange sight at this season, for in parts of the outer courts a wide space was covered with pens for sheep, goats, and cattle to be used for offerings. Sellers shouted the merits of their beasts, sheep bleated, oxen lowed. Sellers of doves also had a place set apart for them. Potters offered a choice from huge stacks of clay dishes and ovens for roasting and eating the Passover lamb. Booths for wine, oil, salt, and all else needed for sacrifices invited customers. Persons going to and from the city shortened their journey by crossing the temple grounds, often carrying burdens...Stalls to change foreign money into the shekel of the temple, which alone could be paid to the priests, were numerous, the whole confusion making the sanctuary like a noisy market" (Geikie's Life of Christ).

These dictionary topics are from
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Passover". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .

Passover, [N] [B] [E]

the first of the three great annual festivals of the Israelites celebrated in the month Nisan (March-April, from the 14th to the 21st. (Strictly speaking the Passover only applied to the paschal supper and the feast of unleavened bread followed, which was celebrated to the 21st.) (For the corresponding dates in our month, see Jewish calendar at the end of this volume.) The following are the principal passages in the Pentateuch relating to the Passover: ( Exodus 12:1-51 ; 13:3-10 ; 23:14-19 ; 34:18-26 ; Leviticus 23:4-14 ; Numbers 9:1-14 ; 28:16-25 ; 16:1-6 ) Why instituted . --This feast was instituted by God to commemorate the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and the sparing of their firstborn when the destroying angel smote the first-born of the Egyptians. The deliverance from Egypt was regarded as the starting-point of the Hebrew nation. The Israelites were then raised from the condition of bondmen under a foreign tyrant to that of a free people owing allegiance to no one but Jehovah. The prophet in a later age spoke of the event as a creation and a redemption of the nation. God declares himself to be "the Creator of Israel." The Exodus was thus looked upon as the birth of the nation; the Passover was its annual birthday feast. It was the yearly memorial of the dedication of the people to him who had saved their first-born from the destroyer, in order that they might be made holy to himself. First celebration of the Passover . --On the tenth day of the month, the head of each family was to select from the flock either a lamb or a kid, a male of the first year, without blemish. If his family was too small to eat the whole of the lamb, he was permitted to invite his nearest neighbor to join the party. On the fourteenth day of the month he was to kill his lamb, while the sun was setting. He was then to take blood in a basin and with a sprig of hyssop to sprinkle it on the two side-posts and the lintel of the door of the house. The lamb was then thoroughly roasted, whole. It was expressly forbidden that it should be boiled, or that a bone of it should be broken. Unleavened bread and bitter herbs were to be eaten with the flesh. No male who was uncircumcised was to join the company. Each one was to have his loins girt, to hold a staff in his hand, and to have shoes on his feet. He was to eat in haste, and it would seem that he was to stand during the meal. The number of the party was to be calculated as nearly as possible, so that all the flesh of the lamb might be eaten; but if any portion of it happened to remain, it was to be burned in the morning. No morsel of it was to be carried out of the house. The lambs were selected, on the fourteenth they were slain and the blood sprinkled, and in the following evening, after the fifteenth day of the had commenced the first paschal meal was eaten. At midnight the firstborn of the Egyptians were smitten. The king and his people were now urgent that the Israelites should start immediately, and readily bestowed on them supplies for the journey. In such haste did the Israelites depart, on that very day, ( Numbers 33:3 ) that they packed up their kneading troughs containing the dough prepared for the morrows provisions, which was not yet leavened. Observance of the Passover in later times . --As the original institution of the Passover in Egypt preceded the establishment of the priesthood and the regulation of the service of the tabernacle. It necessarily fell short in several particulars of the observance of the festival according to the fully-developed ceremonial law. The head of the family slew the lamb in his own house, not in the holy place; the blood was sprinkled on the doorway, not on the altar. But when the law was perfected, certain particulars were altered in order to assimilate the Passover to the accustomed order of religious service. In the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of Exodus there are not only distinct references to the observance of the festival in future ages (e.g.) ( Exodus 12:2 Exodus 12:14 Exodus 12:17 Exodus 12:24-27 Exodus 12:42 ; Exodus 13:2 Exodus 13:5 Exodus 13:8-10 ) but there are several injunctions which were evidently not intended for the first Passover, and which indeed could not possibly have been observed. Besides the private family festival, there were public and national sacrifices offered each of the seven days of unleavened bread. ( Numbers 28:19 ) On the second day also the first-fruits of the barley harvest were offered in the temple. ( Leviticus 23:10 ) In the latter notices of the festival in the books of the law there are particulars added which appear as modifications of the original institution. ( Leviticus 23:10-14 ; Numbers 28:16-25 ; 16:1-6 ) Hence it is not without reason that the Jewish writers have laid great stress on the distinction between "the Egyptian Passover" and "the perpetual Passover." Mode and order of the paschal meal . --All work except that belonging to a few trades connected with daily life was suspended for some hours before the evening of the 14th Nisan. It was not lawful to eat any ordinary food after midday. No male was admitted to the table unless he was circumcised, even if he were of the seed of Israel. ( Exodus 12:48 ) It was customary for the number of a party to be not less than ten. When the meal was prepared, the family was placed round the table, the paterfamilias taking a place of honor, probably somewhat raised above the rest. When the party was arranged the first cup of wine was filled, and a blessing was asked by the head of the family on the feast, as well as a special, one on the cup. The bitter herbs were then placed on the table, and a portion of them eaten, either with Or without the sauce. The unleavened bread was handed round next and afterward the lamb was placed on the table in front of the head of the family. The paschal lamb could be legally slain and the blood and fat offered only in the national sanctuary. ( 16:2 ) Before the lamb was eaten the second cup of wine was filled, and the son, in accordance with ( Exodus 12:26 ) asked his father the meaning of the feast. In reply, an account was given of the sufferings of the Israelites in Egypt and of their deliverance, with a particular explanation of ( 26:5 ) and the first part of the Hallel (a contraction from Hallelujah ), Psal 113, 114, was sung. This being gone through, the lamb was carved and eaten. The third cup of wine was poured out and drunk, and soon afterward the fourth. The second part of the Hallel, Psal 115 to 118 was then sung. A fifth wine-cup appears to have been occasionally produced, But perhaps only in later times. What was termed the greater Hallel, Psal 120 to 138 was sung on such occasions. The Israelites who lived in the country appear to have been accommodated at the feast by the inhabitants of Jerusalem in their houses, so far its there was room for them. ( Matthew 26:18 ; Luke 22:10-12 ) Those who could not be received into the city encamped without the walls in tents as the pilgrims now do at Mecca. The Passover as a type . --The Passover was not only commemorative but also typical. "The deliverance which it commemorated was a type of the great salvation it foretold." --No other shadow of things to come contained in the law can vie with the festival of the Passover in expressiveness and completeness. (1) The paschal lamb must of course be regarded as the leading feature in the ceremonial of the festival. The lamb slain typified Christ the "Lamb of God." slain for the sins of the world. Christ "our Passover is sacrificed for us." ( 1 Corinthians 5:7 ) According to the divine purpose, the true Lamb of God was slain at nearly the same time as "the Lords Passover" at the same season of the year; and at the same time of the day as the daily sacrifice at the temple, the crucifixion beginning at the hour of the morning sacrifice and ending at the hour of the evening sacrifice. That the lamb was to be roasted and not boiled has been supposed to commemorate the haste of the departure of the Israelites. It is not difficult to determine the reason of the command "not a bone of him shall be broken." The lamb was to be a symbol of unity--the unity of the family, the unity of the nation, the unity of God with his people whom he had taken into covenant with himself. (2) The unleavened bread ranks next in importance to the paschal lamb. We are warranted in concluding that unleavened bread had a peculiar sacrificial character, according to the law. It seems more reasonable to accept St, Pauls reference to the subject, ( 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 ) as furnishing the true meaning of the symbol. Fermentation is decomposition, a dissolution of unity. The pure dry biscuit would be an apt emblem of unchanged duration, and, in its freedom from foreign mixture, of purity also. (3) The offering of the omer or first sheaf of the harvest, ( Leviticus 23:10-14 ) signified deliverance from winter the bondage of Egypt being well considered as a winter in the history of the nation. (4) The consecration of the first-fruits, the firstborn of the soil, is an easy type of the consecration of the first born of the Israelites, and of our own best selves, to God. Further than this (1) the Passover is a type of deliverance from the slavery of sin. (2) It is the passing over of the doom we deserve for your sins, because the blood of Christ has been applied to us by faith. (3) The sprinkling of the blood upon the door-posts was a symbol of open confession of our allegiance and love. (4) The Passover was useless unless eaten; so we live upon the Lord Jesus Christ. (5) It was eaten with bitter herbs, as we must eat our passover with the bitter herbs of repentance and confession, which yet, like the bitter herbs of the Passover, are a fitting and natural accompaniment. (6) As the Israelites ate the Passover all prepared for the journey, so do we with a readiness and desire to enter the active service of Christ, and to go on the journey toward heaven. --ED.)


[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Passover,'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.

PASSOVER

pas'-o-ver (pecach, from pacach, "to pass" or "spring over" or "to spare" (Exodus 12:13,23,17; compare Isaiah 31:5. Other conjectures connect the word with the "passing over" into a new year, with assyr pasahu, meaning "to placate," with Hebrew pacah, meaning "to dance," and even with the skipping motions of a young lamb; Aramaic [~paccha', whence Greek Pascha; whence English "paschal." In early Christian centuries folk-etymology connected pascha with Greek pascho, "to suffer" (see PASSION), and the word was taken to refer to Good Friday rather than the Passover):

1. Pecach and Matstsoth

2. Pecach mitsrayim

3. Pecach doroth

4. Matstsoth

5. The `Omer

6. Non-traditional Theories

7. The Higher Criticism

8. Historical Celebrations:

Old Testament Times

9. Historical Celebrations:

New Testament Times

10. The Jewish Passover

1. Pecach and Matstsoth:

The Passover was the annual Hebrew festival on the evening of the 14th day of the month of 'Abhibh (Abib) or Nisan, as it was called in later times. It was followed by, and closely connected with, a 7 days' festival of matstsoth, or unleavened bread, to which the name Passover was also applied by extension (Leviticus 23:5). Both were distinctly connected with the Exodus, which, according to tradition, they commemorate; the Passover being in imitation of the last meal in Egypt, eaten in preparation for the journey, while Yahweh, passing over the houses of the Hebrews, was slaying the firstborn of Egypt (Exodus 12:12; 13:2,12); the matstsoth festival being in memory of the first days of the journey during which this bread of haste was eaten (Exodus 12:14-20).

2. Pecach mitsrayim:

The ordinance of pecach mitsrayim, the last meal in Egypt, included the following provisions:

(1) the taking of a lamb, or kid without blemish, for each household on the 10th of the month;

(2) the killing of the lamb on the 14th at even;

(3) the sprinkling of the blood on doorposts and lintels of the houses in which it was to be eaten;

(4) the roasting of the lamb with fire, its head with its legs and inwards--the lamb was not to be eaten raw nor sodden (bashal) with water;

(5) the eating of unleavened bread and bitter herbs;

(6) eating in haste, with loins girded, shoes on the feet, and staff in hand;

(7) and remaining in the house until the morning;

(8) the burning of all that remained; the Passover could be eaten only during the night (Exodus 12:1-23).

3. Pecach doroth:

This service was to be observed as an ordinance forever (Exodus 12:14,24), and the night was to be lel shimmurim, "a night of vigils," or, at least, "to be much observed" of all the children of Israel throughout their generations (Exodus 12:42). The details, however, of the pecach doroth, or later observances of the Passover, seem to have differed slightly from those of the Egyptian Passover (Mishna, Pesachim, ix.5). Thus, it is probable that the victim could be taken from the flock or from the herd (Deuteronomy 16:2; compare Ezekiel 45:22). (3), (6) and (7) disappeared entirely, and judging from Deuteronomy 16:7, the prohibition against seething (Hebrew bashal) was not understood to apply (unless, indeed, the omission of the expression with water" gives a more general sense to the Hebrew word bashal, making it include roasting). New details were also added:

for example, that the Passover could be sacrificed only at the central sanctuary (Deuteronomy 16:5); that no alien or uncircumcised person, or unclean person could partake thereof, and that one prevented by uncleanness or other cause from celebrating the Passover in season could do so a month later (Numbers 9:9). The singing of the Hallel (Psalms 113-118), both while the Passover was being slaughtered and at the meal, and other details were no doubt added from time to time.

4. Matstsoth:

Unleavened bread was eaten with the Passover meal, just as with all sacrificial meals of later times (Exodus 23:18; 34:25; Leviticus 7:12), independently perhaps of the fact that the Passover came in such close proximity with the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:8). Jewish tradition distinguishes, at any rate, between the first night and the rest of the festival in that the eating of matstsoth is an obligation on the first night and optional during the rest of the week (Pesachim 120a), although the eating of unleavened bread is commanded in general terms (Exodus 12:15,18; 13:6,7; 23:15; 34:18; Leviticus 23:6; Numbers 28:17). The eating of leavened bread is strictly prohibited, however, during the entire week under the penalty of kareth, "excision" (Exodus 12:15,19; 13:3; Deuteronomy 16:3), and this prohibition has been observed traditionally with great care. The 1st and 7th days are holy convocations, days on which no labor could be done except such as was necessary in the preparation of food. The festival of matstsoth is reckoned as one of the three pilgrimage festivals, though strictly the pilgrimage was connected with the Passover portion and the first day of the festival.

During the entire week additional sacrifices were offered in the temple:

an offering made by fire and a burnt offering, 2 young bullocks, 1 ram, 7 lambs of the first year without blemish, together with meal offerings and drink offerings and a goat for a sin offering.

5. The `Omer:

During the week of the matstsoth festival comes the beginning of the barley harvest in Palestine (Menachoth 65b) which lasts from the end of March in the low Jordan valley to the beginning of May in the elevated portions. The time of the putting-in of the sickle to the standing grain (Deuteronomy 16:9) and of bringing the sheaf of the peace offering is spoken of as the morrow after the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:15), that is, according to the Jewish tradition, the day after the first day, or rest-day, of the Passover (Mend. 65b; Meg Ta`an. 1; Josephus, Ant, III, x, 5), and according to Samaritan and Boethusian traditions and the modern Karites the Sunday after the Passover. At this time a wave offering is made of a sheaf, followed by an offering of a lamb with a meal and drink offering, and only thereafter might the new grain be eaten. From this day 7 weeks are counted to fix the date of Pentecost, the celebration connected with the wheat harvest. It is of course perfectly natural for an agricultural people to celebrate the turning-points of the agricultural year in connection with their traditional festivals. Indeed, the Jewish liturgy of today retains in the Passover service the Prayer of Dew (Tal) which grew up in Palestine on the basis of the needs of an agricultural people.

6. Non-traditional Theories:

Many writers, however, eager to explain the entire festival as originally an agricultural feast (presumably a Canaanitic one, though there is not a shred of evidence that the Canaanites had such a festival), have seized upon the `omer, or sheaf offering, as the basis of the hagh (festival), and have attempted to explain the matstsoth as bread hastily baked in the busy harvest times, or as bread quickly baked from the freshly exempted first-fruits. Wherein these theories are superior to the traditional explanation so consistently adhered to throughout the Pentateuch it is difficult to see. In a similar vein, it has been attempted to connect the Passover with the sacrifice or redemption of the firstborn of man and beast (both institutions being traditionally traced to the judgment on the firstborn of Egypt, as in Exodus 13:11-13; 22:29,30; 23:19; 34:19,20), so as to characterize the Passover as a festival of pastoral origin. Excepting for the multiplication of highly ingenious guesses, very little that is positive has been added to our knowledge of the Passover by this theory.

7. The Higher Criticism:

The Pentateuch speaks of the Passover in many contexts and naturally with constantly varying emphasis. Thus the story of the Exodus it is natural to expect fewer ritual details than in a manual of temple services; again, according to the view here taken, we must distinguish between the pecach mitsrayim and the pecach doroth. Nevertheless, great stress is laid on the variations in the several accounts, by certain groups of critics, on the basis of which they seek to support their several theories of the composition of the Pentateuch or Hexateuch. Without entering into this controversy, it will be sufficient here to enumerate and classify all the discrepancies said to exist in the several Passover passages, together with such explanations as have been suggested. These discrepancies, so called, are of three kinds:

(1) mere omissions,

(2) differences of emphasis, and

(3) conflicting statements.

The letters, J, E, D, P and H will here be used to designate passages assigned to the various sources by the higher criticism of today merely for the sake of comparison.

(1) There is nothing remarkable about the omission of the daily sacrifices from all passages except Leviticus 23:8 (H) and Numbers 28:19 (P), nor in the omission of a specific reference to the holy convocation on the first day in the contexts of Deuteronomy 16:8 and Exodus 13:6, nor even in the omission of reference to a central sanctuary in passages other than Deuteronomy 16. Neither can any significance be attached to the fact that the precise day is not specified in Exodus 23 (E) where the appointed day is spoken of, and in Leviticus 23:15 (H) where the date can be figured out from the date of Pentecost there given.

(2) As to emphasis, it is said that the socalled Elohist Covenant (E) (Exodus 23) has no reference to the Passover, as it speaks only of matstsh in Exodus 23:15, in which this festival is spoken of together with the other reghalim or pilgrimage festivals. The so-called Jehovistic source (Jahwist) (Exodus 34:18-21,25) is said to subordinate the Passover to matstsoth, the great feast of the Jehovistic history (JE) (Exodus 12:21-27,29-36,38,39; 13:3-16); in De (D) the Passover is said to predominate over matstsoth, while in Le (P and H) it is said to be of first importance. JE and P emphasize the historical importance of the day. Whether these differences in emphasis mean much more than that the relative amount of attention paid to the paschal sacrifice, as compared with matstsoth, depends on the context, is of course the fundamental question of the higher criticism; it is not answered by pointing out that the differences of emphasis exist.

(3) Of the actual conflicts, we have already seen that the use of the words "flock" and "herd" in De and Hebrew bashal are open to explanation, and also that the use of the matstsoth at the original Passover is not inconsistent with the historical reason for the feast of matstsoth--it is not necessary to suppose that matstsoth were invented through the necessity of the Hebrews on their journey. There is, however, one apparent discrepancy in the Biblical narrative that seems to weaken rather than help the position of those critics who would ascribe very late dates to the passages which we have cited:

Why does Ezekiel's ideal scheme provide sacrifices for the Passover different from those prescribed in the so-called P ascribed to the same period (Ezekiel 45:21)?

8. Historical Celebrations:

Old Testament Times:

The children of Israel began the keeping of the Passover in its due season according to all its ordinances in the wilderness of Sinai (Numbers 9:5). In the very beginning of their national life in Palestine we find them celebrating the Passover under the leadership of Joshua in the plains of Jericho (Joshua 5:10). History records but few later celebrations in Palestine, but there are enough intimations to indicate that it was frequently if not regularly observed. Thus Solomon offered sacrifices three times a year upon the altar which he had built to Yahweh, at the appointed seasons, including the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1 Kings 9:25 equals 2 Chronicles 8:13). The later prophets speak of appointed seasons for pilgrimages and sacrifices (compare Isaiah 1:12-14), and occasionally perhaps refer to a Passover celebration (compare Isaiah 30:29, bearing in mind that the Passover is the only night-feast of which we have any record). In Hezekiah's time the Passover had fallen into such a state of desuetude that neither the priests nor the people were prepared for the king's urgent appeal to observe it. Nevertheless, he was able to bring together a large concourse in Jerusalem during the 2nd month and institute a more joyful observance than any other recorded since the days of Solomon. In the 18th year of King Josiah, however, there was celebrated the most memorable Passover, presumably in the matter of conformity to rule, since the days of the Judges (2 Kings 23:21; 2 Chronicles 35:1). The continued observance of the feast to the days of the exile is attested by Ezekiel's interest in it (Ezekiel 45:18). In post-exilic times it was probably observed more scrupulously than ever before (Ezra 6:19).

9. Historical Celebrations:

New Testament Times:

Further evidence, if any were needed, of the importance of the Passover in the life of the Jews of the second temple is found in the Talmud, which devotes to this subject an entire tractate, Pecachim on which we have both Babylonian and Palestine gemara'. These are devoted to the sacrificial side and to the minutiae of searching out and destroying leaven, what constitutes leaven, and similar questions, instruction in which the children of Israel sought for 30 days before the Passover. Josephus speaks of the festival often (Ant., II, xiv, 6; III, x, 5; IX, iv, 8; XIV, ii, 2; XVII, ix, 3; BJ, II, i, 3; V, iii, 1; VI, ix, 3). Besides repeating the details already explained in the Bible, he tells of the innumerable multitudes that came for the Passover to Jerusalem out of the country and even from beyond its limits. He estimates that in one year in the days of Cestius, 256,500 lambs were slaughtered and that at least 10 men were counted to each. (This estimate of course includes the regular population of Jerusalem. But even then it is doubtless exaggerated.) The New Testament bears testimony, likewise, to the coming of great multitudes to Jerusalem (John 11:55; compare also John 2:13; 6:4). At this great festival even the Roman officers released prisoners in recognition of the people's celebration. Travel and other ordinary pursuits were no doubt suspended (Compare Acts 12:3; 20:6). Naturally the details were impressed on the minds of the people and lent themselves to symbolic and homiletic purposes (compare 1 Corinthians 5:7; John 19:34-36, where the paschal lamb is made to typify Jesus; and Hebrews 11:28). The best-known instance of such symbolic use is the institution of the Eucharist on the basis of the paschal meal. Some doubt exists as to Whether the Last Supper was the paschal meal or not. According to the Synoptic Gospels, it was (Luke 22:7; Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12); while according to John, the Passover was to be eaten some time following the Last Supper (John 18:28). Various harmonizations of these passages have been suggested, the most in genious, probably, being on theory that when the Passover fell on Friday night, the Pharisees ate the meal on Thursday and the Sadducees on Friday, and that Jesus followed the custom of the Pharisees (Chwolson, Das letzte Passahmal Jesu, 2nd edition, Petersburg, 1904). Up to the Nicene Council in the year 325, the church observed Easter on the Jewish Passover. Thereafter it took precautions to separate the two, condemning their confusion as Arianism.

10. The Jewish Passover:

After the destruction of the temple the Passover became a home service. The paschal lamb was no longer included. Only the Samaritans have continued this rite to this day. In the Jewish home a roasted bone is placed on the table in memory of the rite, and other articles symbolic of the Passover are placed beside it:

such as a roasted egg, said to be in memory of the free-will offering; a sauce called charoceth, said to resemble the mortar of Egypt; salt water, for the symbolic dipping (compare Matthew 26:23); the bitter herbs and the matstsoth. The cedher (program) is as follows: sanctification; washing of the hands; dipping and dividing the parsley; breaking and setting aside a piece of matstsah to be distributed and eaten at the end of the supper; reading of the haggadhah shel pecach, a poetic narrative of the Exodus, in answer to four questions asked by the youngest child in compliance with the Biblical command found 3 times in Exodus and once in Deuteronomy, "Thou shalt tell thy son on that day"; washing the hands for eating; grace before eating; tasting the matstsah; tasting the bitter herbs; eating of them together; the meal; partaking of the matstsah that had been set aside as 'aphiqomen or dessert; grace after meat; Hallel; request that the service be accepted. Thereafter folk-songs are sung to traditional melodies, and poems recited, many of which have allegorical meanings. A cup of wine is used at the sanctification and another at grace, in addition to which two other cups have been added, the 4 according to the Mishna (Pecachim x.1) symbolizing the 4 words employed in Exodus 6:6,7 for the delivery of Israel from Egypt. Instead of eating in haste, as in the Egyptian Passover, it is customary to recline or lean at this meal in token of Israel's freedom.

The prohibition against leaven is strictly observed. The searching for hidden leaven on the evening before the Passover and its destruction in the morning have become formal ceremonies for which appropriate blessings and declarations have been included in the liturgy since the days when Aramaic was the vernacular of the Jews. As in the case of other festivals, the Jews have doubled the days of holy convocation, and have added a semi-holiday after the last day, the so-called 'iccur chagh, in token of their love for the ordained celebration and their loathness to depart from it.

Nathan Isaacs


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'PASSOVER'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.