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Pesach Study Notes


Pesach today is synonymous with Hag Ha Matzoth (Feast of Unleavened Bread, being the eve of the Festival, and in the Tanach, Pesach is used as a synonym for both (Deuteronomy 16). It is one of the three Pilgrim Festivals, when all the able men were to worship at the temple. It comes at Spring Harvest, and it commemorates the Exodus from Egypt. It is called the Feast of Redemption, or Zeman Herutinu (Season of our Freedom).

Two classes of people were barred from celebrating Passover:

  1. The stranger who was not in covenant with God – Exodus 12:43-49.
  2. The Israelite who was ritually impure – Numbers 9:6-12.

Biblical Observance (Exodus 12)

A lamb was chosen for each family, on the tenth day of the first month. It had to be a male of the first year, and without blemish. It was roasted with fire on the 14th of the month at 'twilight', just after mid-afternoon, and eaten that evening with unleavened bread and bitter herbs; nothing was to be left until the morning.

Modern Observance

Today, Pesach is celebrated on the evening of the 14th Nisan (the first month of the sacred calendar, the seventh month of the secular calendar), towards the end of the day. On the festival table there are:

  • Matzos (unleavened bread) – the leader of the service has three pieces in a cover.
  • Candles and Wine – Four cups of wine are partaken of by the celebrants.
  • The Haggadah, or service-book from which all read.
  • An extra cup for Elijah, recalling the promise in Malachi 4:5.
  • A Seder dish containing six symbols:

    1. A lamb’s bone, a reminder of the Passover lamb.
    2. Bitter herbs, recalling the bitter bondage in Egypt.
    3. Salt water, a symbol of our tears in bondage and of the divided Red Sea.
    4. Charoseth, a sweet jam that resembles the clay from which bricks were made.
    5. A sprig of parsley, like the hyssop used to sprinkle the blood of the lamb.
    6. A roasted egg, type of the burnt offering at Pesach.

The celebrants all follow the order laid down in the Haggadah, which includes hymns, prayers and narrative, with the Pesach meal. At the end of the ceremony, we all conclude with the prayer: “Next year in Jerusalem”.

A Night To Be Much Observed (Exodus 12:41)

Pesach is the anniversary of the Exodus, and also of the Akkedah (the binding of Isaac, Genesis 22), that took place 430 years earlier (See Exodus 12:41). It is also the anniversary of the night in which Messiah, the Lamb of God, suffered and died. (Corinthians 11:23-26) Pesach commemorates deliverance from human bondage. Messiah’s substitutionary sacrifice commemorates deliverance form spiritual. While Pesach inaugurated the Sinai covenant (Exodus 20), Messiah’s death inaugurated the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

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