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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

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פסח , signifies leap, passage. The passover was a solemn festival of the Jews, instituted in commemoration of their coming out of Egypt; because the night before their departure the destroying angel that slew the first-born of the Egyptians passed over the houses of the Hebrews without entering them, because they were marked with the blood of the lamb, which, for this reason, was called the paschal lamb. The following is what God ordained concerning the passover: the month of the coming out of Egypt was after this to be the first month of the sacred or ecclesiastical year; and the fourteenth day of this month, between the two evenings, that is, between the sun's decline and its setting, or rather, according to our reckoning, between three o'clock in the afternoon and six in the evening, at the equinox, they were to kill the paschal lamb, and to abstain from leavened bread. The day following, being the fifteenth, reckoned from six o'clock of the preceding evening, was the grand feast of the passover, which continued seven days; but only the first and seventh days were peculiarly solemn. The slain lamb was to be without defect, a male, and of that year. If no lamb could be found, they might take a kid. They killed a lamb or a kid in each family; and if the number of the family was not sufficient to eat the lamb, they might associate two families together. With the blood of the lamb they sprinkled the door posts and lintel of every house, that the destroying angel at the sight of the blood might pass over them. They were to eat the lamb the same night, roasted, with unleavened bread, and a sallad of wild lettuces, or bitter herbs. It was forbid to eat any part of it raw, or boiled; nor were they to break a bone; but it was to be eaten entire, even with the head, the feet, and the bowels. If any thing remained to the day following it was thrown into the fire, Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; John 19:36 . They who ate it were to be in the posture of travellers, having their reins girt, shoes on their feet, staves in their hands, and eating in a hurry. This last part of the ceremony was but little observed; at least, it was of no obligation after that night when they came out of Egypt. During the whole eight days of the passover no leavened bread was to be used. They kept the first and last day of the feast; yet it was allowed to dress victuals, which was forbidden on the Sabbath day. The obligation of keeping the passover was so strict, that whoever should neglect it was condemned to death, Numbers 9:13 . But those who had any lawful impediment, as a journey, sickness, or uncleanness, voluntary or involuntary, for example, those who had been present at a funeral, &c, were to defer the celebration of the passover till the second month of the ecclesiastical year, the fourteenth day of the month Jair, which answers to April and May. We see an example of this postponed passover under Hezekiah, 2 Chronicles 30:2-3 , &c.

The modern Jews observe in general the ceremonies practised by their ancestors in the celebration of the passover. While the temple was in existence, the Jews brought their lambs thither, and there sacrificed them; and they offered their blood to the priest, who poured it out at the foot of the altar. The paschal lamb was an illustrious type of Christ, who became a sacrifice for the redemption of a lost world from sin and misery; but resemblances between the type and antitype have been strained by many writers into a great number of fanciful particulars. It is enough for us to be assured, that as Christ is called "our passover;" and the "Lamb of God," without "spot," by the "sprinkling of whose blood" we are delivered from guilt and punishment; and as faith in him is represented to us as "eating the flesh of Christ," with evident allusion to the eating of the paschal sacrifice; so, in these leading particulars, the mystery of our redemption was set forth. The paschal lamb therefore prefigured the offering of the spotless Son of God, the appointed propitiation for the sins of the whole world; by virtue of which, when received by faith, we are delivered from the bondage of guilt and misery; and nourished with strength for our heavenly journey to that land of rest, of which Canaan, as early as the days of Abraham, became the divinely instituted figure.

Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Passover'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​wtd/​p/passover.html. 1831-2.
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