Among the three pilgrimage festivals, Passover (Pessah) stands in a class by itself.

By Dov Chaikin |
Israeli family
Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90

All three point to the season of the year, a reference to nature expressly stated in regard to Pentecost (Shavuot) and Tabernacles (Succot) but not Passover. On the other hand, great prominence is given to the historical bearing of Passover, which is not the case with reference to the other two. For it was on the night of the (first) Passover that the Children of Israel first became a nation – by direct intervention of God.

“On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover” [Lev. 23:5]. The word ‘Passover’ signifies the Lord’s passing over the homes of the Israelites, sparing them on that night of His wrathful vengeance, when He smote all the first-born of Egypt.

The sign for the Lord to pass over the homes of the Israelites (traditionally, of anyone who believed God to the point of obedience) was the blood smeared on the doorposts and lintels – no deliverance without blood. Surely, one might wonder, the Lord – or His messenger – will have known which were the homes of the Israelites, even without the outward manifestation of the blood!
True enough. But aside from this manifestation being used by the Lord for testing the people’s obedience, He was no doubt instructing His people already then as to the necessity of the shedding of blood – the substitutional sacrifice – for atonement. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” [Lev. 17:11]. As such, it pointed to the blood that would be shed on Calvary, the once and for all remission of sin, by the true Paschal Lamb, the Lamb of God, on that future Passover eve.

A significant allusion to the Passover-blood, as securing immunity from destruction, occurs in Ezekiel’s prophecies [9:4-6], where “the man clothed with linen” is directed to “put a mark on the foreheads” of the godly (like the first Passover-mark), so that those who were to “utterly slay old and young” might not “come near” any of them. The same symbolic reference and command occur in the Book of Revelation [7:2, 3; 9:4] in regard to those who have been “sealed (as) the servants of our God on their foreheads”.

To Perfect the World. The first Passover, the institution of which we read in Exodus 12 & 13, was the only feast introduced before the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. At the time of the giving of the Ten Commandments, God chose to describe Himself as “the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” [Ex. 20:2]. By His very act of redemption from physical bondage in Egypt, God called the Children of Israel to be His own.

Centuries later, at a time when the Jews were recalling this redemptive act, God stepped in once again, this time providing spiritual freedom.


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