ALL the Jewish people worldwide would celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their freedom for over 3,300 years ago by GOD from being slaves in ancient Egypt and their birth as a nation under the leadership of Moses.
Passover commemorates the story of the Exodus as described in the Hebrew Bible especially in Torah, specifically in the Book of Exodus, in which the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt.
Passover is the second “appointed time” (Heb: moed) mentioned in Leviticus 23 but it was first observed in Exodus 12. The first appointed time mentioned was Shabbat and then followed by Passover. It is technically a MEMORIAL rather than a Feast. However, even the writers of the Newer Covenant “appear” to combine Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread as we shall see later. Passover is an event that is most celebrated by the Jewish people even up to
today. As many secular Jews would say, they’d make sure to celebrate the Passover every year even if the miss out any other Biblical/Jewish Feast, its fine with them. Yom Kippur is another “appointed time” they would observe.
THE English word "Passover" was first recorded in the English language by William Tyndale's translation of the Bible, later appearing in the King James Version as well.
The Hebrew verb "pasàch" is first mentioned in the Torah account of the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:23). There are many speculations about its exact meaning: the commonly held assumption that it means "He passed over", in reference to God "passing over" (to skip) the homes of the children of Israel during the final plague against the Egyptians. This stems from the translation provided in the Septuagint (παρελευσεται in Exodus 12:23, and εσκεπασεν in Exodus 12:27). Targum Onkelos translated Pesach as "He (GOD) had pity”.
WE have heard and read many different messages about the Passover and yet we can always learn something new every time this time of the year comes. When we think that we know enough about this Event, we should think again, maybe we don’t. Let us examine the biblical passage that first mentioned this moed or appointed time of the Lord:
Exo 12:1-3,5-11 “And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD'S passover.”
Passover “goat” anyone?
How come it says in verse 5 that the Israelites can also take it also from the goats but did we ever hear a Passover goat at all? Maybe….or maybe NOT. Let us just say, it is not “common”. In verse 5, the phrase “or from” Hebrew [ מנּי מנּי מן min or minn y or – which means : a part of; hence (prepositionally), from or out of in many senses: - above, after or among]. This is a slight mistranslation but we have to get over it. Its always the sheep or specifically the lamb, thus, John the Baptizer cried out “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29).
When was the First Passover?
When was the first Passover? Everyone knows that it happened just before the 10th plague in Egypt, which was the destruction of the first born by the angel of death as mentioned in Exodus 12, or was it? Let us examine further the Scripture passages:
1. Yeshua was “The Lamb of God” (John 1:29, 36; Rev 5:12-13; 21:22)
2. Yeshua was our “Passover” (1 Cor 5:7)
3. Yeshua was from the foundation of the world? (Rev 13:8)
Let us examine this further:
Rev 13:8 “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (KJV)”
The Greek word for “foundation” here is (pronounced: kat-ab-ol-ay', which means a deposition, that is, founding; figuratively conception:).
When Adam and Eve sinned, what happened? They realized that they were naked and they tried to cover themselves with some fig leaves (Gen 3:7). After GOD judged them, the LORD had pity on them for He made them “garments of leather” for their covering. If GOD has no pity on them, He would have sent them with their sewed fig leaves and soon
enough, it will dry up and they will be naked again. But GOD had a provision for them. He has to kill an innocent animal, we don’t know what kind, but He did and took its skin and made a clothing for the couple. Could it be that it was a lamb that was slain to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve? It is not far-fetched and it is definitely a strong theory, isn’t it?
If we analyze it further, we can safely say that the lamb was slain from the founding of the world or civilization and not necessarily during the creation of the world. We have to remember that during the creation, there was perfection. No need for a sacrifice. However, when sin entered humankind, there was now a need for that sacrifice.
Without reaching a conclusion, I would think that the first Passover was in the Garden of Eden when man sinned and was judged and GOD took pity on them (Targum Onkelos translated Pesach as "He (GOD) had pity”) and provided a covering of skin and in the process, had killed the Passover lamb.
When is the Passover?
Passover is always a controversial topic because throughout history a debate has raged concerning the proper timing of the LORD’s Passover. Many observe the Passover on the 14th of the first month (Abib – Chaldean orig while Nisan is Hebrew) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the 15th. Others believe that both the Passover and the first day of
the Feast of Unleavened Bread are on the 14th. Still others observe the Passover and first day of the Feast on the 15th of Abib.
I believe that part of the error is historical. When Judah and Benjamin went into Babylonian exile by the Nebuchadnezzar, these two tribes combined what is known in the Bible as the Passover and the first day of the
Feast of Unleavened Bread. No one knows exactly when these two observances were combined, but what is known is that it happened during the Exile in Babylon. As unfortunate as it was, Israelites picked up a few errors while under Babylonian influence, and the joining of Passover with the Feast was one of them. Because of this error some believe Passover is also the first high day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Checking the Encyclopaedia Judaica, it confirms the mistake committed by the Jews: "The feast of Passover consists of two parts: The Passover ceremony and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Originally, both parts existed separately; but at
the beginning of the [Babylonian] exile they were combined," (Ref: Vol. 13, p. 169)
Another book corroborates with Encyclopaedia Judaica, saying, "The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread rituals were originally two separate observances which were combined sometime between the events of the Exodus and the redaction of the text" (The Torah, by W. Gunther Plaunt p. 445).
If we examine the four Gospel accounts, it is obvious that they are referring to the Passover as the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Are the Newer Covenant writers in error? I don’t think so. They were writing it based on the current standard of understanding the Jews (and Gentile converts) during their time. We have to remember that they were not making a commentary about Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread but rather recording the factual events as to when they held their Passover supper and when our Messiah was crucified. Whether it was referred to as the First day of the Feast, being the Passover is irrelevant at that point. However, we have to note that they did eat the Passover in the exact night as God commanded it. Some people would say that Yeshua celebrated it a night before the actual Passover because, He being the Lamb of God, will be killed at the time when the Passover lamb is to be killed. The problem with this speculation is that it will make Yeshua violate the Scripture:
Lev_23:5 “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S Passover”.
Num_9:2 “Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season”.
When is the Passover Lamb Sacrificed?
One of the highly debated topic during this event is the timing of the killing of the Passover lamb. The Scripture is very clear that the Israelites has to have the Passover lamb in their possession on the 10th of Nisan and keep it until the
14th and kill it “ìn-between” the evenings. Let us examine the passage
12:6, “And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.”
Once again, the translation here is simplified and limited it within few hours of the evening “ONLY”. The Hebrew word used here for “in” is “beyn” which means “in-between”, thus would make sense the time and the practicality of the situation. Instead of limiting the killing of lambs to few hours, it made it almost a day. With this argument, the Passover lamb that Yeshua and His disciples ate was a proper sacrificed done by the priests while those awaiting for their turn can eat it the next evening, justifying the passage John 18:28.
Who Should Eat the Passover?
Now let us examine when and who are required and allowed to take the Passover meal. Let us read the following passages below:
Lev_23:5 “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover.”
Num_9:2 “Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season.“
Num_9:4 “And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover.”
Num_9:13 “ But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the LORD in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.”
Num_9:14 And if a stranger (Heb: Ger) shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the LORD; according to the ordinance of the passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.
Exo_12:48 “And when a stranger (Heb: Ger) shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.”
From these passages, we can see that:
1. The Passover has to be taken at 14th of Nisan in the evening
2. The Passover has to be taken by the children of Israel in its appointed season
3. The children of Israel are required to KEEP the Passover
4. Passover should be kept by the children of Israel who are CLEAN and NOT in journey.
5. Any STRANGER (“Ger” – a friendly guest NOT “nekar” – a hostile or not so friendly stranger) who sojourns or attached himself/herself to the commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:12-13) may chose (NOT required) to take the Passover
BUT must be circumcised. (This is a requirement and Yeshua said that Scripture CANNOT be broken – John 10:35)
Who Should NOT Take the Passover?
At this time, we have to determine as to who among the people CAN NOT take the Passover. The following passages need to be examined carefully.
Exo_12:43 “And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger (Heb: ben nekar) eat thereof:”
Exo_12:48 “And when a stranger (Heb: Ger) shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no
uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.”
Num_9:6 “And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the passover on that day”
Based on these Biblical passages, the LORD directed Moses and His people not to allow certain people from taking the Passover:
1. No STRANGER (“ben nekar” was in the original text thus it should be properly translated as “son of a non-friendly or hostile stranger”) shall eat the Passover.
2. No uncircumcised person can take the Passover. No wonder, there was a huge debacle among the leadership of believers in the first century with regards to the circumcision. Although it was not mentioned that Passover was an issue but with this passage how will they treat the massive numbers of uncircumcised “former” gentiles who want to take the Passover? We have to remember that Yeshua said that Scripture cannot be broken. How can they go around about it?
3. No unclean or defiled can take the Passover. Paul has clear instructions as well on how to take the Lord’s table in Corinthians. Believers should examine themselves before taking it.
When the children of Israel were finally allowed to leave Egypt, there was a massive number of non-Israelites who went with them. It is obvious to say that they were not affected by God’s judgment and they believe in the God of Israel. Since these people were obviously not circumcised, therefore, they were not allowed to take the Passover. As to why they were not affected by the killing of the first born is unknown but most likely, since they were considered as “Ger” or a friendly stranger, their Israelite counterpart may have shared the “blood of the Passover lamb”, which is a sign of Yeshua’s blood to save those will believe and avail it, whether circumcised or uncircumcised.
We cannot ascertain with finality that the Lord ’s Supper, which is used to be known as Eucharist (which means to give thanks in Greek) may have been developed by the apostles to accommodate the uncircumcised Gentiles who came to faith in Yeshua because they cannot take the Passover meal. However, we know for a fact that the Lord’s Supper, its essence and its elements came from the Passover. We have to remember that the Temple was still standing up until 70 C.E. and during those times, of whom the majority of the apostles were still alive, have to take the Passover. The Scripture cannot be broken and the apostles had to do what they were required of.
Since it was determined in the Council of Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 15 that Gentile converts are no longer required to go through the painful circumcision, these same uncircumcised believers CANNOT take the Passover but
their circumcised counterparts are REQUIRED according to the Scriptures. However, we know for a fact that the Asia Minor congregations were celebrating the Passover, thus being tagged as QUARTADECIMANS. These same believers argued that these were instructions from John and Phillip the apostles. Were they circumcised? We don’t know. But here is my take, since there was no more Temple after 70 C.E., the Passover sacrifice CANNOT be performed. In my opinion, the LORD barred the uncircumcised from eating the “meat” of the sacrificed “passover lamb” BUT the other elements MAYBE eaten. The elements of the Lord’s supper namely, the bread and the cup, came from the Passover, thus they can be eaten.
When these things are taken into consideration, we can say that the physically uncircumcised but spiritually circumcised believers in Yeshua can partake the Passover if they chose to because the Passover lamb sacrifice is NOT
in the table but REAL PASSOVER LAMB, namely Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus Christ) has been sacrificed for ALL mankind and need not be eaten but received in the hearts of men.