One of the most sacred and consecrated holidays in the Jewish religion, is the Passover (“Pesach” in Hebrew) which reminds the nation of Israel of God’s divine protection and providence over His people when they were in ancient Egypt and until they depart and go to the Promise Land. The Pentateuch (Five Books of Moses) clearly described the Passover to be a memorial to them and to their children’s children.
Laws and Customs of Passover in the Bible
The Torah has the complete and exhaustive details of the ancient Passover’s customary procedure as commanded by the Lord through Moses.
- The preparation of the Passover Lamb (Paschal Lamb) which is without blemish and spot to be slaughtered and be eaten in haste.
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. 7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. 8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. 10 You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. 11 And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.
- The removal of all the leavened bread known as “Chametz” on the first day and the seven days of eating the Unleavened bread known as “Matzah”
15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.
19 For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.’”
Other Festivities of Passover in the Bible
After Moses died, his assistant, Joshua took over the leadership of the people of Israel and dwelt and camped in Gilgal where the first observance of Passover in Palestine was held.
10 Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho. 11 And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day.
After the death of Joshua, in almost the time of the Judges, Passover is more likely to have lost its role and its tradition has diminished. Hence, at the time of Samuel, The Passover has regained its function as a Jewish religious rite and during the leadership of King Josiah about 400 years after Samuel, it was formally decreed for the people to be observed.
2 Kings 23:21-23
21 Then the king commanded all the people, saying, “Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 Such a Passover surely had never been held since the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was held before the Lord in Jerusalem.
Even before the reign of King Josiah, King Hezekiah restored the Temple worship kept the Passover to the Lord.
2 Chronicles 30:1-5
30 And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover to the Lord God of Israel. 2 For the king and his leaders and all the assembly in Jerusalem had agreed to keep the Passover in the second month. 3 For they could not keep it at the regular time,[a] because a sufficient number of priests had not consecrated themselves, nor had the people gathered together at Jerusalem. 4 And the matter pleased the king and all the assembly. 5 So they resolved to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that they should come to keep the Passover to the Lord God of Israel at Jerusalem, since they had not done it for a long time in the prescribed manner.
However, after the destruction of the temple, modifications have been made in observing the present-day Passover, hence the essence and the significance of this festival has retained its original purpose why God commanded it. You can read more on Passover in the Modern Day Israel.