When springtime comes, most people think about Easter and what it means to them. There is another day celebrated during the spring, often before or after, sometimes even falling on the same day as Easter. This is the Jewish holy day Passover, celebrated on the 15th of Nissan. If you’re not aware of this holy day, here is an explanation: the story of Passover.
The Bible records the story of Passover in the book of Exodus. The Israelites had moved to Egypt to be with Joseph when there was a great famine in Egypt and the surrounding countries. After Joseph died and the famine was over, the Bible says the Israelites were enslaved by Pharaoh Ramses II who had not known Joseph.
A man named Moses, an Israelite who had been raised in Pharaoh’s household, was called by God to lead his people out of slavery and into the Promised Land. Several times he went to Pharaoh and told him God said, “Let my people go.” However, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he refused to let the Israelites leave.
Each time Pharaoh refused to release the Israelites, God sent a plague against the people of Egypt. Those plagues were:
1. Changing the water to blood
2. Frogs covered the land
3. Lice covered the people of the land
4. Flies or wild animals covered the land and destroyed everything in their path
5. Disease, or blight, on the cattle of the land
6. Boils on the skin of people
7. Hail which destroyed the crops and killed anyone who was outside
8. Locusts which came and ate what the hail didn’t destroy
9. Darkness which could almost be felt
10. Slaying of the first-born male of both man and beast
In Hebrew the holy day’s name is Pesach, which means passing over. To avoid this final plague, the Israelites sacrificed a lamb, placed the blood on the lintels and door posts of their home, and then roasted the lamb. As the Death Angel traveled throughout Egypt, He would enter the homes where the blood was not and slay the first-born. For those homes where the blood was found, He passed over that house to go to the next.
Because Pharaoh lost his own son, he finally relented and let the Israelites leave Egypt. They left so quickly they didn’t have time to bake bread, so to this day they have unleavened bread called matzoh during Passover and the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread. Passover is also considered to be the birth of the Jewish people as a nation.
Each year Jewish and some non-Jewish people celebrate Passover. They recount the story of the Exodus from Egypt and the birth of the Jewish nation. They celebrate by having a Passover Seder and remember what God had done for them as a people.
Now that you know the story of Passover, you may be interested in attending a Seder. You may be able to find them listed in the newspaper as being offered by some Christian churches, but more than likely you can find them advertised by a Jewish synagogue. Call them up and ask if you can attend so you can learn more about the Passover story.