On the evening of the 19th April, corresponding with the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, Jewish people all over the world will begin celebrating ‘Pesach’ (Passover) to remember the miraculous events of G-d taking the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt into freedom.
‘Pesach’ is a joyous festival and it is usually celebrated by the entire family (uncles, aunts, cousins etc).
The name ‘Pesach’ comes from the Hebrew root ‘Pei-Samekh-Cheit’ meaning to pass through, to pass over, to exempt or to spare. It refers to the fact that G-d "passed over" the houses of the Children of Israel when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt.
'Pesach' is also the name of the sacrificial offering (a lamb) that was made in the temple on this holiday. The holiday is also referred to as ‘Chag he-Aviv’ (the Spring Festival), ‘Chag ha-Matzot’ (the Festival of ‘Matzoth’) and ‘Z'man Cheiruteinu’ (the Time of Our Freedom).
‘Pesach’ is a feast celebrated by Jewish people to remember the biblical events which took place in Exodus 12:1-27 when the Angel of Death passed over the houses of the Children of Israel and smote all the firstborn of the Egyptians.
‘Pesach’ is observed by Jewish people according to the commandment found in Leviticus 23:4-8: ““These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at their appointed, times. On the fourteenth day of the first month (‘Nissan’) at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.””
This commandment is also found in Numbers 9:1-5 and Deuteronomy 16:1-4.
On the eve of ‘Pesach’ (two nights in the Diaspora) a ‘Pesach’ dinner is held, called a ‘Seder’, in which the story of the exodus of the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land is related.
In Exodus 12:26-27 and Deuteronomy 6:20-25, G-d commanded fathers to relate the story of Passover to their children from generation to generation.
During ‘Pesach”, no bread or yeast is eaten by Jewish people; instead, ‘matzah’ is eaten. ‘Matzah’ is unleavened bread made simply from flour and water and cooked very quickly. This is the ‘bread’ that the Jews made for their flight from Egypt.
Much in Passover is Prophetic of Yeshua
- The shank bone is prophetic of the slaughtered lamb which symbolises Yeshua (The Lamb of G-d) and the crucifixion.
- The lamb without spot or blemish, which was slaughtered and eaten, is symbolic of the perfect Lamb of G-d, Yeshua, who became our sacrifice – “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
- The blood on the doorposts and lintels is symbolic of Cross and the shed Blood of the Yeshua.
- The egg on the Seder plate which represents both mourning and new life is symbolic of the death and resurrection of Yeshua.
- The ‘matzo’ (stripes and holes) is symbolic of the affliction of Yeshua (the stripes that He took on our behalf as well as His nail pierced hands and feet).
- The three ‘matzoth’ is symbolic of The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- The broken middle ‘matzo’ (‘Afikoman’) is symbolic of the broken body of Yeshua.
- The removal and replacement of the ‘Afikoman’ is symbolic of the death and resurrection of Yeshua.
- The linen bag into which the ‘Afikoman’ is placed is symbolic of the linen shroud in which Yeshua’s body was wrapped before it was placed in the tomb.
- Eating of the ‘Matzo’ and drinking of the cup of wine is symbolic of the Last Supper where the first communion was instituted by Yeshua.
The meaning of the four cups of wine drunk during the ‘Seder’
Four cups of wine are drunk and with each cup G-d’s words in Exodus 6:6-7 are remembered.
“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.’”
1. Cup of SANCTIFICATION: “I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians”.
2. Cup of DELIVERANCE: “I will free you from being slaves to them”.
3. Cup of REDEMPTION: “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgement”.
4. Cup of PRAISE: We praise G-d for his promise “I will take you as my own people”.
The extra Cup
At every ‘Seder’ table, there is an extra cup of wine. According to Jewish tradition, this cup is for Elijah the prophet; however as Believers, we understand that this cup is for Yeshua.
The two empty chairs
In some Jewish homes, two empty chairs are placed at the ‘Seder’ table; the one chair is for any stranger who does not have a ‘Seder’ to go to and who would like to join the ‘Seder’ - no one is turned away.
The other chair is a ‘chair of honour’ for Elijah the prophet; however, as Believers, we see the other chair as a ‘chair of honour’ for Yeshua.
At every ‘Pesach Seder’ Jewish people look forward to the coming of the ‘Mashiach’ through the cry: ‘L’SHANAH HABA’AH BI’YERUSHALAYIM’ – ‘NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM’
Finally let us remember that, as G-d brought the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land, He has brought all who believe that Yeshua is the ‘Mashiach’ for whom both Jews and Gentiles are waiting for, from being enslaved to sin and the darkness of this world to the glorious freedom we have in Yeshua.
We, at Emet Ministries, would like to wish Jewish people all over the world ‘Chag Sameach’.