According to the book of Exodus in the Bible, Passover was a Jewish spring holiday. This feast commemorated Israel’s liberation by God from ancient Egyptian slavery under the leadership of Moses at about 1300 BCE.
God helped the Children of Israel escape Egypt by inflicting ten plagues upon the land before Pharaoh accepted to release his Israelite slaves. The tenth plague was the death of the Egyptian first-born. To distinguish between the two camps, the Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a slaughtered lamb and, upon seeing this, the angel of the Lord would pass over the first-born in these homes and he will not be destroyed.
The Passover was closely connected with the feast of unleavened bread which was reminiscent of the haste in which the Israelites left Egypt (Ex. 12:33, 39; Deut. 16:3). According to the Mishnah (Pesaḥim 10, Soncino ed. of the Talmud, pp. 532–623), the ritual of the Passover meal was as follows:
(1) The head of the house hold mixed the first cup of wine (unfermented), passed it to the others, and asked a blessing upon the day and upon the wine.
(2) Then he washed his hands.
(3) The table was then spread. Foods served at the paschal meal consisted of the paschal lamb, the unleavened bread, the bitter herbs, lettuce, and other vegetables, and a relish sauce called charoseth, made of almonds, dates, figs, raisins, spice, and vinegar.
(4) The head of the house hold passed a second cup of wine around the table and explained the meaning of the Passover.
(5) The members of the family or gathering sang the first part of the Passover hallel, consisting of Ps. 113 and 114.
(6) At this time the Passover meal was eaten. The head of the house hold offered thanks and broke the unleavened cakes and distributed a portion to each person. And portions of the paschal lamb were eaten.
(7) The third cup of wine was passed, and the blessing over the meal announced.
(8) Finally, a fourth cup of wine was passed, after which all the members of family and guests joined in the second part of the hallel, consisting of Ps. 115 to 118.
Jesus celebrated the Passover one day before His crucifixion: “Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat; this is My body. Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28).
In His service,
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