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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Passover

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(See FEASTS.) Ρecach (Exodus 12:11, etc.). The word is not in other Semitic languages, except in passages derived from the Hebrew Bible; the Egyptian word pesht corresponds, "to extend the arms or wings over one protecting him." Also she'or , "leaven," answers to Egyptian seri "seething pot," seru "buttermilk," Hebrew from shaar something left from the previous mass. Pass-over is not so much passing by as passing so as to shield over; as Isaiah 31:5, "as birds flying so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem, defending also He will deliver it, passing over He will preserve it" (Matthew 23:37, Greek episunagon , the "epi" expresses the hen's brooding over her chickens, the "sun" her gathering them together; Ruth 2:12; Deuteronomy 32:11). Lowth, "leap forward to defend the house against the destroying angel, interposing His own person." Vitringa , "preserve by interposing." David interceding is the type (2 Samuel 24:16); Jehovah is distiller from the destroying angel, and interposes between him and the people while David intercedes.

So Hebrews 11:28; Exodus 12:23. Israel's deliverance front Egyptian bondage and adoption by Jehovah was sealed by the Passover, which was their consecration to Him. Exodus 12:1-14 directs as to the Passover before the Exodus, Exodus 12:15-20 as to the seven days' "feast of unleavened bread" (leaven symbolising corruption, as setting the dough in fermentation; excluded therefore from sacrifices, Leviticus 2:11). The Passover was a kind. of sacrament, uniting the nation to God on the ground of God's grace to them. The slain lamb typified the "Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). The unleavened loaves, called "broad of affliction" (Deuteronomy 16:3) as reminding them of past affliction, symbolized the new life cleansed from the leaven of the old Egyptian-like nature (1 Corinthians 5:8), of which the deliverance from the external Egypt was a pledge to the believing.

The sacrifice (for Jehovah calls it "My sacrifice": Exodus 23:15-18; Exodus 34:25) came first; then, on the ground of that, the seven days' feast of unleavened bread to show they walked in the strength of the pure bread of a new life, in fellowship with Jehovah. Leaven was forbidden in all offerings (Leviticus 2:4-5; Leviticus 7:12; Leviticus 10:12); symbol of hypocrisy and misleading doctrine (Matthew 16:12; Luke 12:1). The seven stamped the feast with the seal of covenant relationship. The first and seventh days (the beginning and the end comprehending the whole) were sanctified by a holy convocation and suspension of work, worship of and rest in Jehovah, who had created Israel as His own people (Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 43:15-17). From the 14th to the 21st of Nisan. See also Exodus 13:3-10; Leviticus 23:4-14. In Numbers 9:1-14 God repeats the command for the Passover, in the second year after the Exodus; those disqualified in the first month were to keep it in the second month.

Talmudists call this "the little Passover," and say it lasted but one day instead of seven, and the Hallel was not sung during the meal but only when the lamb was slain, and leaven was not put away. In Numbers 28:16-25 the offering for each day is prescribed. In Deuteronomy 16:1-6 directions are given as to its observance in the promised land, with allusion to the voluntary peace offerings (chagigah , "festivity") or else public offerings (Numbers 28:17-24; 2 Chronicles 30:22-24; 2 Chronicles 35:7-13). The chadigah might not be slain on the Sabbath, though the Passover lamb might. The chagigah might be boiled, but the Passover lamb only roasted. This was needed as the Passover had only once been kept in the wilderness (Numbers 9), and for 38 years had been intermitted. Joshua (Joshua 5:10) celebrated the Passover after circumcising the people at Gilgal. First celebration. On the 10th of Abib 1491 B.C. the head of each family selected a lamb or a kid, a male of the first year without blemish, if his family were too small to consume it, he joined his neighbor.

Not less than ten, generally under 20, but it might be 100, provided each had a portion (Mishna, Pes. 8:7) as large as an olive, formed the company (Josephus, B. J., 6:9, section 3); Jesus' party of 13 was the usual number. On the 14th day he killed it at sunset (Deuteronomy 16:6) "between the two evenings" (margin Exodus 12:6; Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:3-5). The rabbis defined two evenings, the first the afternoon (proia ) of the sun's declension before sunset, the second (opsia ) began with the setting sun; Josephus (B. J., 6:9, section 3) "from the ninth (three o'clock) to the 11th hour" (five o'clock). The ancient custom was to slay the Passover shortly after the daily sacrifice, i.e. three o'clock, with which hour Christ's death coincided. Then he took blood in a basin, and with a hyssop sprig sprinkled it (in token of cleansing from Egypt-like defilements spiritually: 1 Peter 1:2; Hebrews 9:22; Hebrews 10:22) on the lintel and two sideposts of the house door (not to be trodden under; so not on the threshold: Hebrews 10:29).

The lamb was roasted whole (Genesis 22:8, representing Jesus' complete dedication as a holocaust), not a bone broken (John 19:36); the skeleton left entire, while the flesh was divided among the partakers, expresses the unity of the nation and church amidst the variety of its members; so 1 Corinthians 10:17, Christ the antitype is the true center of unity. The lintel and doorposts were the place of sprinkling as being prominent to passers by, and therefore chosen for inscriptions (Deuteronomy 6:9). The sanctity attached to fire was a reason for the roasting with fire; a tradition preserved in the hymns to Agni the fire god in the Rig Veda. Instead of a part only being eaten and the rest burnt, as in other sacrifices, the whole except the blood sprinkled was eaten when roast; typifying Christ's blood shed as a propitiation, but His whole man hood transfused spiritually into His church who feed on Him by faith, of which the Lord's supper is a sensible pledge. Eaten with unleavened bread (1 Corinthians 5:7-8) and bitter herbs (repentance Zechariah 12:10).

No uncircumcised male was to partake (Colossians 2:11-13). Each had his loins girt, staff in hand, shoes on his feet; and ate in haste (as we are to be pilgrims, ready to leave this world: 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 2:11; Hebrews 11:13; Luke 12:35-36; Ephesians 6:14-15), probably standing. Any flesh remaining was burnt, and none left until morning. No morsel was carried out of the house. Jehovah smote the firstborn of man and beast, and so "executed judgment against all the gods of Egypt" (Exodus 12:12; Numbers 33:3-4), for every nome and town had its sacred animal, bull, cow, goat, ram, cat, frog, beetle, etc. But the sprinkled blood was a sacramental pledge of God's passing over, i.e. sparing the Israelites. The feast was thenceforth to be kept in "memorial," and its significance to be explained to their children as "the sacrifice of the Passover (i.e. the lamb, as in Exodus 12:21, 'kill the Passover'), to Jehovah" (Hebrew Exodus 12:27).

In such haste did Israel go that they packed up in their outer mantle (as the Arab haik or "burnous") their kneading troughs containing the dough prepared for the morrow's provision yet unleavened (Exodus 12:34). Israel's firstborn, thus exempted from destruction, became in a special sense Jehovah's; accordingly their consecration follows in Exodus 13. This is peculiar to the Hebrew; no satisfactory reason for so singular an institution can be given but the Scripture account. Subsequently (Leviticus 23:10-14) God directed an omer or sheaf of firstfruits (barley, first ripe, 2 Kings 4:42), a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, with meat offerings, on the morrow after the sabbath (i.e. after the day of holy convocation) to be presented before eating bread or parched grain in the promised land (Joshua 5:11). If Luke 6:1 mean "the first Sabbath after the second day of unleavened bread," the day on which the firstfruit sheaf was offered, from whence they counted 50 days to Pentecost, it will be an undesigned coincidence that the disciples should be walking through fields of standing grain at that season, and that the minds of the Pharisees and of Jesus should be turned to the subject of grain at that time (Blunt, Undesigned Coincidences, 22). (But (See SABBATICAL YEAR.)

The consecration of the firstborn in Exodus 13, naturally connects itself with the consecration of the firstfruits, which is its type. Again these typify further "Christ the firstfruits of them that slept"; also the Spirit, the firstfruits in the believer and earnest of the coming full redemption, namely, of the body (Romans 8:23); also Israel, the firstfruit of the church (Romans 11:16; Revelation 14:4), and elect believers (James 1:18). "The barley was smitten, for the barley was in the ear ... but the wheat was not smitten, for it was not grown up" (Exodus 9:31-32). The seasons in Judaea and Egypt. were much the same. Therefore in Deuteronomy 16:9 the direction is "seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the grain," namely, at the Passover when the wave sheaf was offered, the ceremony from which the feast of weeks was measured. By "grain" the barley harvest is meant: had Moses written "wheat" it would have been impossible to reconcile him with himself; but as "corn" means here barley, all is clear, seven weeks still remaining until wheat harvest, when at Pentecost or the feast of weeks the firstfruit loaves were offered (Blunt, Undesigned Coincidences, 1).

Moreover, the Passover lambs were to be slain at the sanctuary, and their blood sprinkled on the altar, instead of on the lintel and doorposts (Deuteronomy 16:1-6). The Mishna (Pesachim, 9:5) marks the distinctions between "the Egyptian Passover" and "the perpetual passover." The lamb was at the first Passover selected on the tenth day of the month (not so subsequently: Luke 22:7-9; Mark 14:12-16); the blood was sprinkled on the lintels and side-posts; the hyssop was used; the meal was eaten in haste; and only for a day was unleavened bread abstained from. The subsequent command to burn the fat on the altar, and that the pure alone should eat (Numbers 9:5-10; Numbers 18:11), and that the males alone should appear (Exodus 23:17; Deuteronomy 16:16), was unknown at the first celebration; nor was the Hallel sung as afterward (Isaiah 30:29); nor were there days of holy convocation; nor were the lambs slain at a consecrated place (Deuteronomy 16:2-7). Devout women, as Hannah and Mary, even in late times attended (1 Samuel 1:7; Luke 2:41-42).

The fat was burned by the priests (Exodus 23:18; Exodus 34:25-26), and the blood sprinkled on the altar (2 Chronicles 35:11; 2 Chronicles 30:16). Joy before the Lord was to be the predominant feeling (Deuteronomy 27:7). The head of the family or anyone ceremonially clean brought the lamb to the sanctuary court, and slew it, or on special occasions gave it to Levites to slay (2 Chronicles 30:17). Numbers at Hezekiah's Passover partook "otherwise than it was written," "not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary" (Numbers 9:5-10). Instead therefore of the father of the family slaying the lamb and handing the blood to the priest, to sprinkle on the altar, the Levites did so; also at Josiah's Passover (2 Chronicles 35:6; 2 Chronicles 35:11). Hezekiah prayed for the unpurified partakers: "the good Jehovah pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God ... though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary."

Hezekiah presumes that those out of Ephraim coming to the Passover were sincere in seeking Jehovah the God of their fathers, though they had been unable to purify themselves in time for the Passover. Sincerity of spirit in seeking the Lord is acceptable to Him, even where the strict letter of the law has been unavoidably unfulfilled (Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:8; Matthew 9:13). Hezekiah kept the Passover as "the little passover" in the second month, for "they could not keep it" at the regular time, "because the priests had not sanctified themselves sufficiently, neither had the priests gathered themselves to Jerusalem." They kept other seven days beside the first seven,

(1) because Hezekiah had given so many beasts that there was more than they could use during the ordinary seven days;

(2) so many priests bad sanctified themselves as to be able to carry on the altar services with such numerous sacrifices.

Josiah's Passover is the next recorded (2 Chronicles 35). Then Ezra's (6). The Pesachim (7:1) say a wooden (pomegranate) spit was thrust lengthwise through the lamb; Justin Martyr says (Trypho, 40) another spit was put crosswise, to which the front feet were attached; so do the modern Samaritans in roasting the Passover lamb; type of the cross, it was roasted thoroughly in an earthen beehive-shaped oven, but not touching the sides, that the roasting might be wholly by fire (Exodus 12:9; 2 Chronicles 35:6-13). The modern Jews use dry thin biscuits as unleavened bread; a shoulder of lamb thoroughly roasted, instead of a whole one; a boiled egg, symbolizing wholeness; sweet sauce to represent the sort of work in Egypt; a vessel of salt and water (representing the Red Sea) into which they dip their bitter herbs; a cup of wine stands all the night on the table for Elijah (Malachi 4:5); before filling the guests' cups a fourth time an interval of dead silence follows, and the door is opened to admit him. The purging away of leaven from the house, and the not eating leavened bread, is emphatically enforced under penalty of cutting off (Exodus 12:15-20; Exodus 13:7).

The rabbis say that every corner was searched for leaven in the evening before the 14th Nisan. The bitter herbs (wild lettuces, endive, chicory, or nettles, all articles of Egyptian food: Pesachim 2:6) symbolized Israel's past bitter affliction, and the sorrow for sin which becomes us in spiritually feeding on the Lamb slain for us (Luke 22:62). The sauce is not mentioned in the Pentateuch, but in John 13:26; Matthew 26:23. Called haroseth) in the Mishna: of vinegar and water (Bartenora). Some say it was thickened to the consistency of mortar to commemorate Israel's brick-making hardships in Egypt. Four cups of wine handed round in succession were drunk at the paschal meal (Mishna, Pes. 10:1, 7), which the Pentateuch does not mention; usually red, mixed with water (Pes. 7:13). (See Luke 22:17; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 10:16; and (See LORD'S SUPPER.)

The second cup was filled before the lamb was eaten, and the son (Exodus 12:26) asked the father the meaning of the Passover; he in reply recounted the deliverance, and explained Deuteronomy 26:5, which was also connected with offering the firstfruits. The third was "the cup of blessing." The fourth the cup of the Hallel; others make the fourth, or "cup of the Hallel," the "cup of blessing" answering to "the cup after supper" (Luke 22:20). Schoettgen says "cup of blessing" was applied to any cup drunk with thanksgiving (compare Psalms 116:13). The Hallel consisted of Psalm 113; 114, sung in the early part of the Passover, before the lamb was carved and eaten; Psalm 115-118, after the fourth cup (the greater Hallel sung at times was Psalm 120-138). So the "hymn" sung by Jesus and His apostles (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26). The ancient Israelites sat. But reclining was the custom in our Lord's time (Luke 22:14; Matthew 26:20; John 21:20 Greek).

A marble tablet found at Cyricus shows the mode of reclining at meals, and illustrate, the language of the Syrophoenician woman, "the dogs eat of the crumbs." The inhabitants of Jerusalem accommodated at their houses as many as they could, so that our Lord's direction to His disciples as to asking for a guestchamber to keep the Passover in was nothing unusual, only His divine prescience is shown in His command (Matthew 26:18; Mark 14:13-15). Those for whom there was no room in the city camped outside in tents, as the pilgrims at Mecca. In Nero's reign they numbered, on one occasion, 2,700,000, according to Josephus (B. J. 6:9, section 3); seditions hence arose (Matthew 26:5; Luke 13:1). After the Passover meal many of the country pilgrims returned to keep the remainder of the feast at their own homes (Deuteronomy 16:7). The release of a prisoner at the Passover was a Jewish and Roman custom which Pilate complied with (Matthew 27:15; John 18:39). (See PILATE.)

As to the reconciling of the synoptical Gospels, which identify the last supper with the Passover, and John, who seems to make the Passover a day later, probably John 13:1-2 means "before the Passover (i.e. in the early part of the Passover meal) Jesus gave a proof of His love for His own to the end. And during supper" (ginomenou , the Vaticanus, Sinaiticus manuscripts, even if genomenou be read with the Alexandrinus manuscript it means when supper had, begun to be), etc. Again, John 13:29, "buy those things that we have need of against the feast," refers to the chagigah provisions for the seven days of unleavened bread. The day for sacrificing the chagigah was the 15th, then beginning, the first day of holy convocation. The lamb was slain on the 14th, and eaten after sunset, the beginning of the 15th. Also John 18:28, the rulers "went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover," means that they might go on keeping the Passover, or that they might eat it even yet, though having suffered their proceedings against Christ to prevent their eating it before, or especially that they might eat the chagigah (Deuteronomy 16:2; 2 Chronicles 35:7-9); the Passover might be eaten by those not yet cleansed (2 Chronicles 30:17), but not so the chagigah .

Joseph however did not scruple to enter the praetorium and beg Jesus' body from Pilate (Mark 15:43). Had the Passover supper not been until that evening (John 18:28) they might have been purified in good time for it by ablution; but as the feast had begun, and they were about to eat the chagigah (or the Passover lamb itself, which they ought to have eaten in the early part of the night), they could not. Lastly, John 19:14, "the preparation of the passover," is explained by Mark 15:42, "the preparation, the day before the subbark" in the Passover week; the day of holy convocation, the 15th Nisan, not "before the Passover." So John 19:31, "the preparation for the sabbath" began the ninth hour of the sixth day of the week (Josephus, Ant. 16:6, section 2). "That sabbath was a high day," namely, because it was the day (next after the day of holy convocation) on which the omer sheaf was offered, and from which were reckoned the 50 days to Pentecost. It is no valid objection that our Lord in this view was tried and crucified on the day of holy convocation, for on the "great day of the feast" of tabernacles the rulers sent officers to apprehend Jesus (John 7:32-45).

Peter was seized during the Passover (Acts 12:3-4). They themselves stated as their reason for not seizing Him during the Passover, not its sanctity, but the fear of an uproar among the assembled multitudes (Matthew 26:5). On the Sabbath itself not only Joseph but the chief priests come to Pilate, probably in the praetorium (Matthew 27:62). However, Caspari (Chronicles and Geogr. Introduction Life of Christ) brings arguments to prove Christ did not eat the paschal lamb, but Himself suffered as the true Lamb at the paschal feast. (See JESUS CHRIST.) The last supper and the crucifixion took place the same (Jewish) day. No mention is made of a lamb in connection with Christ's last supper. Matthew (Matthew 27:62) calls the day after the crucifixion "the next day that followed the day of preparation." The phrase, Caspari thinks, implies that "the preparation" was the day preceding not merely the Sabbath but also the first day of the Passover feast. All the characteristics of sacrifice, as well as the term, are attributed to the Passover.

It was offered in the holy place (Deuteronomy 16:5-6); the blood was sprinkled on the altar, the fat burned (2 Chronicles 30:16; 2 Chronicles 35:11; Exodus 12:27; Exodus 23:18; Numbers 9:7; Deuteronomy 16:2; Deuteronomy 16:5; 1 Corinthians 5:7). The Passover was the yearly thank offering of the family for the nation's constitution by God through the deliverance from Egypt, the type of the church's constitution by a coming greater deliverance. It preserved the patriarchal truth that each head of a family is priest. No part of the victim was given to the Levitical priest, because the father of the family was himself priest. Thus when the nation's inherent priesthood (Exodus 19:6) was delegated to one family, Israel's rights were vindicated by the Passover priesthood of each father (Isaiah 61:6; 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9).

The fact that the blood sprinkled on the altar was at the first celebration sprinkled on the lintel and doorposts of each house attested the sacredness of each family, the spiritual priesthood of its head, and the duty of family worship. Faith moving to obedience was the instrumental mean of the original deliverance (Hebrews 11:28) and the condition of the continued life of the nation. So the Passover kept in faith was a kind of sacrament, analogous to the Lord's supper as circumcision was to baptism. The laying up the lamb four days before Passover may allude to the four centuries before the promise to Abram was fulfilled (Genesis 15), typically to Christ's being marked as the Victim before the actual immolation (Mark 14:8; Mark 14:10-11). Christ's blood must be sprinkled on us by the hyssop of faith, else guilt and wrath remain (Isaiah 53:7; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Being first in the religious year, and with its single victim, the Passover stands forth preeminent.


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Passover'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/p/passover.html. 1949.

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Friday, July 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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