Memorializing Passover

GoatOur family is going to be memorializing the Passover event of Exodus 12 tonight, April 3, 2016 after the sun goes down.

We’ll be eating lamb and unleavened bread with bitterness, remembering what happened on the night before the great exodus from Egypt in Moses’ day, as well as recalling the event of Yeshua’s death as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

How to Memorialize Passover

When we first rejected the idea of celebrating Good Friday and Easter Sunday six years ago, our desire was to simply learn about the Passover because we never paid that much attention to it in the past. But over time, as we met others who were observing Passover, it was difficult to know how we were supposed to recognize this occasion each year, given what we were hearing from them.

We did not feel comfortable with the traditional Jewish Seder service/meal because much of it was based on tradition, and we were only interested in doing what the Bible said. So, we understood the Passover meal was to simply consist of eating roasted lamb (or goat) with unleavened bread and bitterness.

And the best way to memorialize it we thought was to read (and discuss) the story of Moses being called to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, and the plagues leading up to and including the plague of death to the firstborn as outlined in the first 12 chapters of Exodus. 

When is Passover Memorialized?

When it came to knowing when to memorialize this event, we initially found that to be very confusing.

According to the calendar we hung on our wall, it gave a particular date for the Passover holiday. But knowing the Jews considered the “day” to be from sundown to sundown, we weren’t sure if the date noted on the calendar was when the 24-hour day of Passover began, or if it was the date the lamb was to be slain and then eaten later that night.

According to the account given in Exodus 12, the lamb was to be slain “between the evenings”, which we currently understand to be in the afternoon, on the 14th day of the 1st month of the year.

Then, it was roasted over fire and eaten later that night indoors. It was during that night that the death angel came through Egypt and killed all the firstborn of homes that did not have the sign of the blood on their doorposts.

We had no idea the first year we recognized Passover about the different “calendars” folks went by to determine the start of the year and/or each month. We just went with the date given on our Gregorian wall calendar.

It was after this first year that I began to study the Bible regarding the various elements of time (day, week, month and year) from that point forward. I wrote a post last year explaining my understanding of the Passover Timeline based on Exodus 12.

Currently, we understand the “year” to be a reference to a solar year, and the 1st month of the year referenced in Exodus appears to be in the spring. So, we started counting from the Spring Equinox to determine the date to memorialize the Passover event.

We also recognize there are no “24 hour days”, there is just “day” and “night”, two components that make up a 24-hour period. This morning, at dawn’s early light, marked the 14th “day” after the spring equinox.

Circumcision

There are particular instructions as to who can eat of the Passover according to Exodus 12:43-49. It was only for those whose males have been circumcised. Both my husband and sons were circumcised shortly after birth, so this has not been a particular concern for us.

Slaughtering the Lamb

As for the whole slaughtering of the lamb/kid and putting the blood on the doorposts exercise, we struggled over the years with whether or not that was something we were supposed to do in this day and age. I am still not totally settled on it.

What was done in Egypt was a home-based slaughter; it was not a temple sacrifice. The instructions for performing a temple/tabernacle sacrifice came later in the wilderness for when the tabernacle was built.

Exodus 12:25 specifically says, “when ye are come to the land which YHVH will give you…”, which indicates to me that the slaughtering of the lamb was to be done specifically in the promised land.

We see that the Passover was kept in the book of Joshua, just after they crossed the Jordan River. Eventually however, they were expelled from the land for their wicked ways. And there is no indication from the Bible (that I can find) that this slaughtering was done outside of that land.

Given this, we have chosen again to simply buy lamb’s meat from the store, forego marking our doorposts with blood (which is something we’ve never done), and eat the roasted lamb with unleavened bread and bitterness, all the while reading and talking about what was done during the actual Pass Over event in Egypt. This seems sufficient for our purposes.

Generally speaking, we have slaughtered chickens and goats before…not for a sacrifice, of course, but for food. Although we could slaughter a kid from our own flock for this meal, if the idea is to eat it completely in one night or else burn up what remains, that seems like a terrible waste to us, given there are so few people who would be participating in the meal.

But having slaughtered our own animals before, we are keenly aware of what it means to do such an act, and to literally have blood on our hands.

It seems to me the intention for this memorial service is to remember the event, not necessarily re-enact it.

Remembering the Death of Yeshua

While the instructions for the Passover memorial are particularly addressing what took place in Egypt, we also recognize that Yeshua was killed on the day of the Passover feast roughly 2,000 years ago.

Throughout the Old Testament we see references to the children of Israel as “sheep”, so I can see how Yeshua, being one of the sons of Israel, can be referred to as a “lamb”. And since he was without blemish (or blameless), and was slaughtered on Passover (as opposed to dying of natural causes), I can understand the reference to him being the Passover lamb, or “the lamb that was slain”.

Growing up in Christianity I was taught that Jesus died for our sins. And that through his death and resurrection somehow we were saved. All we had to do was accept, believe and confess Jesus as Lord and we would be saved. But I didn’t understand how this all fit in with the Old Testament.

I have since done quite a bit of studying of the Old Testament and am continually reassessing the words written in the New Testament. I’m not saying I have it all figured out, but I think I have a better understanding now concerning Yeshua’s death and what was accomplished through it, considering what the Old Testament teaches.

I look forward to delving into these things more over the coming week, as we spend seven days eating Unleavened Bread. But as for now, my mind is stayed on the events surrounding this day of Passover memorial.

About Carrie Wigal

Homesteading Wife, Homeschooling Mom and perpetual Bible student, continually taking the road less traveled. (@messyanic)
This entry was posted in Jesus / Yeshua, Passover - Pesach. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Memorializing Passover

  1. Kay says:

    Awesome! We’re memorializing Pesach this evening, too! Our family is on the same page as yours on all points! HalleluYah!

    Why do you call it “bitterness,” instead of “bitter herbs?”

    And I’m learning some from your insights on Yahshua’s death. Thanks for sharing, Carrie! Chag sameach!

    • Isha says:

      I say, “bitterness” because the Hebrew word used where most translations say “bitter herbs” in Ex 12:8 is “meror”. “Herbs” is added in by the English translator.

      H4844
      מרור / מרר
      merôr
      BDB Definition:
      1) bitter thing, bitter herb, bitterness
      Part of Speech: noun masculine
      A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H4843

      H4843
      מרר
      mârar
      BDB Definition:
      1) to be bitter
      1a) (Qal) to be bitter
      1b) (Piel)
      1b1) to show bitterness
      1b2) to make bitter
      1c) (Hiphil) to make bitter, embitter
      1d) (Hithpalpel)
      1d1) to embitter oneself
      1d2) to be enraged
      2) (TWOT) to be strong, strengthen
      Part of Speech: verb
      A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: a primitive root
      Same Word by TWOT Number: 1248

      • Isha says:

        I posted that last comment and had to run real quick. I see that the BDB definition for “meror” includes “bitter herb”, but when I looked at how else it is used in Scripture and the oddity of including an “herb” at the end of the instruction to eat unleavened bread, it seems more likely to me that it simply means bitterness.

        Exo 12:8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; [and] with *bitter* [herbs] they shall eat it.

        Num 9:11 The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, [and] eat it with unleavened bread and *bitter* [herbs].

        Lam 3:15 He hath filled me with *bitterness*, he hath made me drunken with wormwood.

        (The bracketed [] words are italicized in the KJV.)

        See also H4845, H4846, and H4847.

  2. Kelly says:

    Hi Carrie,
    Just wondering more about ‘bitterness’…do you eat bitter herbs or do you just feel bitter? I understand what you’re saying from the Hebrew definition, but not sure how its fleshed out.

    • Isha says:

      In the past we’ve eaten horseradish as a garnish, thinking the text literally said to eat the meal with bitter *herbs* but this year I’m not planning on doing that. (Although, my husband just brought in something from the garden that he considers bitter for us to eat with the meal tonight. 😛 ) Personally, I really think the reference to eating it with “bitterness” is about our state of mind, not necessarily about what we put in our mouths.

      This event was not a celebration. I think it was a very grievous time. I mean, they were enslaved there, mistreated and had already experienced several letdowns already with the previous plagues not forcing Pharaoh to let them go…and I imagine it was just getting worse for them.

      Plus this plague of death to the firstborn meant that every household would be touched by death, of both men and beast. In order to stave off death for the firstborn in their household that night, the Israelites had to slaughter an innocent animal and brush its blood on their doorframes. Then consume it all in one night or burn whatever was left by morning. It was a very solemn occasion, I think.

      That’s my thinking, anyway.

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