Passover, Then and Now

Jan 18, 2015

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל־אַהֲרֹן בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לֵאמֹר׃

Hashem said to Moshe and Aharon in the land of Egypt:

Exodus 12:1

וַיֵּלְכוּ וַיַּעֲשׂוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהֹוָה אֶת־מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן כֵּן עָשׂוּ׃

And the Israelites went and did so; just as Hashem had commanded Moshe and Aharon, so they did.

Exodus 12:28

God takes this opportunity to instruct Moses on preparing the nation for the final Exodus. He commands each household to take a lamb on the tenth day of the month and bring it into the house. On the fourteenth day, they are to slaughter the lamb and roast it, brushing its blood on the doorposts of their homes. They are to eat the roasted lamb accompanied by bitter herbs and matza, a special unleavened flatbread, while dressed for a journey, with shoes on and walking stick at the ready. The entire lamb must be finished, with any leftovers burned the next morning; therefore, God tells the people families should join together to make sure that there are enough people to consume it. The blood on the doorpost is meant to ensure God passes over the homes of the Israelites during His attack on Egyptian firstborns, set to take place the same night.


God goes on to tell the people that this practice, with some modification, will become part of His worship for all eternity. So that future generations may recall the miracle of the Exodus, Moses tells the people, as per God’s instructions, that from now on, on the anniversary of the Exodus, they are to remove all leavened products from their homes for the duration of seven days. They will bring the Passover lamb as an annual sacrifice and eat the same matza to commemorate the momentous occasion.


God introduces the laws of the Passover lamb by telling Moses that this month should be commemorated for all time as the first month of the year. Yet we know Passover takes place six (and a half) months after the Jewish New Year! As the Israel Bible explains, although the year begins in Tishrei, which in Jewish tradition is the anniversary of creation, the months are numbered from Nissan, when the Exodus took place. In ancient Israel, Nissan was also the point in the year from which kings’ reigns were counted. Nissan holds this significance because it is the birth month of Israel as a nation.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think God asks the Israelites to paint lamb’s blood on their doorposts? Surely He knows which homes belong to them! God doesn’t need a sign to differentiate between Israelites and Egyptians, so what purpose would the blood serve?

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