so….what’s the passover anyway?

  Well, as always, we need to go back to the Bible and see where it all started…

The Passover refers to the fact that God passed over the houses of the Jews when he was bringing down judgement and slaying the firstborn of Egypt.   This all begins in the second book of the Bible, Exodus.

Jacob and his children had arrived in Egypt, to be close to Joseph ….. you’re saying, slow down there sister…...  Who is Jacob and Joseph, you say?  Well, then we need to back up again and see what their story is all about.

Jacob is Joseph’s father.  Jacob loved Joseph dearly and gave him preferential treatment causing his own brothers to envy him and sell him into slavery.  He landed into Egypt, where after serving enslavement and prison, he interpreted Pharaoh’s puzzling dreams and becomes second in command in Egypt.  So Joseph (and his forgiving heart) decide to bring his family to Goshen where they prospered and their numbers grew and grew.  So as long as Jacob’s sons are alive, the children of Israel were given honor and respect.  However, after the passing of Joseph, there arose a king who did not know him (or as some commentaries say, CHOSE not to know him).  So now there is trouble a brewing….(and it’s not coffee…)

The king sees that the children of Israel are great in number and he starts to freak.  So the “egyptian way” of dealing with their ‘jewish problem’  is to make them their slaves.  The jews are now forced into back breaking labor as they built cities of treasure houses for Pharaoh.  But Pharaoh notices that they are multiplying like rabbits and he tells the midwives to kill all the newborn baby jewish boys.  Thankfully, the midwives just can’t bring themselves to do it and Pharaoh notices that they are still growing in leaps and bounds!  So he just decides to find ALL the baby boys and have them thrown into the Nile!  What a nut-job!

However, one mother hides her newborn (enter Moses) and is able to conceal him for three months before putting him in a little woven basket and placing him in the Nile River.  She sends her daughter, Miriam, to watch the baby as he floated toward the Pharaoh’s daughter, who is bathing.  She sees the basket, opens it and finds a little Jewish baby boy!  Meanwhile, Miriam casually walks up and says, “Soo…..if you need a lady to be a wet-nurse for the baby, I could find someone for you!”  (wouldn’t this totally seem suspicious?  Praise God, her interest was NOT peaked!)  So Miriam goes back to her mother, where she cares for and nurses, little baby Moses.  When Moses has grown older, he goes back to the palace for Pharaoh’s daughter to raise him like her own.

Ok.  Still with me?  Joseph has died…Moses has been born…and the children of Israel have been hammering out an entire city during all this time.  PHEW!!!  So much has happened and the craziness is just getting started!!!!

Moses eventually leaves the palace and sees the hardship of his fellow jews.  In fact, he sees an Egyptian beating a jewish man and Moses steps in and kills him!  Ooopsy!  Next thing you know, he is found out and has to flee!  But no prob.  He goes to a place called Midian and marries a woman and becomes a shepherd of his father in law’s flock.  (hmm….things seem to be going along quite smoothly, don’t you think?)  No.

So, Moses is out with his flock of sheep, where he comes upon a burning bush!  AND it speaks to him!!  God is telling him to go back to Pharaoh and tell him to ‘free His people so that they can serve Him’.   And get this….Moses says, “Well, I have a bit of a speech impediment…..sooo…..why don’t you get my brother, Aaron to speak for me?”  (Wow. … trust me…if God asks….no TELLS you to do something….in the words of Nike, JUST DO IT!)

Moses and Aaron pack up and go back to Pharaoh to tell him to let the people of Israel go.  However, their little speech only causes more trouble to be poured out on the jewish people.  Moses cries out to God and God tells him that there is a Promised Land, and He will surely take his people there.

Ok, finally we are getting around to the meaning of Passover.  In a nutshell, Moses continually goes to Pharaoh and tells him to ‘let his people go’ yet Pharaoh’s heart is hardened.  So here are the plagues that rain down on Egypt.

  • Aaron strikes the Nile, the waters turn to blood;
  • Swarms of frogs overrun the land;
  • Lice infest all men and beasts. Still, Pharaoh remains stubborn;
  • Hordes of wild animals invade the cities,
  • A pestilence kills the domestic animals,
  • Painful boils afflict the Egyptians.
  • Fire and ice combine to descend from the skies as a devastating hailstorm
  • A swarm of locusts devours all the crops and greenery;
  • a thick, palpable darkness envelops the land
Pharaoh continues to harden his heart and not let the children of Israel go, so God instructs the Israelites to prepare a PASSOVER OFFERING to God.  A lamb is to be slaughtered and it’s blood is to be sprinkled on the doorpost of each jewish house, so God will passover the home when He comes to kill the firstborn of every Egyptian family.  The lamb is to be roasted and eaten with matzah and bitter herbs later that evening.
 So the tenth plague is brought upon the Egyptians at the stroke of midnight and every firstborn child was killed except for the homes with the blood of the lamb, sprinkled over the doorframe of the jewish homes.
So there you are!  For over 3,400 years Jews the world over have celebrated this event – the escape from Egypt by power and by blood, and the beginnings of the people of Israel as an actual nation – in THE PASSOVER.

(Another interesting fact) The Christian Lord’s Supper, also celebrating the redemption of God’s people by power and blood, grows out of the Passover, both historically and theologically.

2 thoughts on “so….what’s the passover anyway?

  1. Patrick

    The reason there were only 9 plagues instead of 10 was that Moses warned Pharoah that the 10th plague would be a series of endless, terrible puns.


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