SPECIAL TOPIC: THE PASSOVER

I. Opening Statements

A. The divine act of judgment of Egyptians and deliverance for Israel is the touchstone for YHWH's love and establishment of Israel as a nation (i.e., esp. for the Prophets).

B. The exodus is a specific fulfillment of YHWH's promise to Abraham in Gen. 15:12-21. The Passover commemorates the exodus.

C. This is the last, most pervasive (geographically, i.e., Egypt and Goshen) and devastating (first born of humans and cattle killed) of the ten plagues sent by YHWH on Egypt through Moses.

II. The Term Itself (BDB 820, KB 947)

A. Meaning of noun is uncertain

1. connected to "plague," thereby "to strike a blow" (i.e., Exod. 11:1); YHWH's angel strikes the firstborn of humans and cattle

B. Meaning of verb

1. "to limp" or "to hobble" (cf. 2 Sam. 4:4), used in sense of "jump over the marked homes" (i.e., Exod. 12:13,23,27, BDB 619, a popular etymology)

2. "to dance" (cf. 1 Kgs. 18:21)

3. Akkadian – "to appease"

4. Egyptian – "to strike"

5. parallel verbs in Isa. 31:5, "to stand guard over" (cf. REB of Exod. 12:13)

6. early Christian popular sound play between Hebrew pasah to Greek paschō, "to suffer"

C. Possible historical precedents

1. shepherd sacrifice for a new year

2. Bedouin sacrifice and communal meal at the time of moving tents to spring pasture to ward off evil

3. sacrifice to ward off evil from nomadic people

D. The reasons it is so hard to not only be sure of the meaning of the word itself, but also its origins is that so many varied features of the Passover are also found in other ancient rituals.

1. spring date

2. etymology of noun uncertain

3. connected to night watchings

4. use of blood

5. imagery of angels/demons

6. special meal

7. agricultural elements (unleavened bread)

8. no priests, no altar, local focus

III. The Event

A. The event itself is recorded in Exodus 11-12.

B. The annual feast is described in Exodus 12 and is combined into an eight day festival with the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

1. originally it was a local event, cf. Exod. 12:21-23; Deut. 16:5 (cf. Numbers 9)

a. no priest

b. no special altar

c. specialized uses of blood

2. it became an event at the central shrine

3. this combination of a local sacrifice (i.e., lamb's blood to commemorate the passing over of the death angel) and a harvest feast at the central sanctuary was accomplished by the close proximity of dates Abib or Nisan 14 and 15-21

C. The symbolic ownership of all of the firstborn of humans and cattle and their redemption is described in Exodus 13

IV. Historical Accounts of Its Observance

A. the first Passover celebrated in Egypt, Exodus 12

B. at Mt. Horeb/Sinai, Numbers 9

C. the first Passover celebrated in Canaan (Gilgal), Jos. 5:10-12

D. at the time of Solomon's dedication of the temple, 1 Kgs. 9:25 and 3 Chr. 8:12 (probably, but not specifically stated)

E. the one during Hezekiah's reign, 2 Chronicles 30 

F. the one during Josiah's reforms, 2 Kgs. 23:21-23; 2 Chr. 35:1-18

G. Notice 2 Kgs. 23:22 and 2 Chr. 35:18 mention Israel's neglect in keeping this annual feast

V. The Significance

A. This is one of three required annual feast days (cf. Exod. 23:14-17; 34:22-24; Deut. 16:16):

1. Passover/Unleavened Bread

2. Feast of Weeks

3. Feast of Booths

B. Moses foreshadows the day it will be observed at the central sanctuary (as were the other two feasts) in Deuteronomy.

C. Jesus used the occasion of the annual Passover meal (or the day before) to reveal the New Covenant in the symbol of bread and wine, but did not use the lamb:

1. communal meal

2. redemptive sacrifice

3. ongoing significance to later generations

 

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