Passover is NOT the Exodus from Egypt as many are told.
According to the Bible – where the original instructions are – it is to be kept in remembrance of God ‘passing over’ the Hebrew slaves in Egypt.
“It will come to pass when you come to the land which the Lord will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households’.”
Exodus 12: 25, 26. (NKJV)
Following the Passover
The Exodus from Egypt was the following evening, after the people had gathered in Rameses and assembled themselves for the journey out of the land of their captivity.
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 at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread.”
Leviticus 23: 4 – 6 (NKJV)
These are two distinct days. The fourteenth at twilight – Passover. The fifteenth at twilight – the Exodus. Those are GOD’S instructions. Yes, things have been changed over the centuries, but in trying to work things out – is it not better to go to the word of God, rather than man’s calculations, no matter how intelligent, or qualified they are.
Just a word of warning about that… by Jesus’ day the religious authorities had changed the original meaning. Therefore it is wise to go to the original instructions.
- Sacrificed at home
- Killed at twilight as the 14th day was beginning
In Jesus’ day…
- Mainly a temple sacrifice, although some kept to the original instruction
- Killed by priests on the 14th day at the time of the evening sacrifice – which was around 3 pm. (Although those who kept the original instructions, as Jesus did, had already eaten the Passover.)
A complication for us
In the 21st century we count time differently.
On a first read of the scripture, with my Western time frame – Passover is at evening time on the fourteenth.
Wrong! As a Scot and Australian I view time through the eyes of a person living under the Gregorian calendar.
The Hebrew slaves were Israelites and their time was as God had created it.
“God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So, the evening and the morning were the first day.”
Genesis 1: 5 (NKJV)
(See Biblical day for more information on the Biblical days.)
We are used to the Roman clock where the day officially begins in the darkness of night time. Why they chose to have the day change as soon as it passed midnight is a mystery but the Roman calendar was not in use then. (The various Roman calendars are an interesting read. You will find all of them listed on Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_calendar)
So, to answer the question posed in the title –
What is Passover?
It is a remembrance of God ‘passing over’ and sparing the households of the children of Israel, the Hebrew slaves, in Egypt.
(There is a great deal of information online about the New Covenant Passover celebration.)
Some ‘food for thought’ –