Passover is the first of the spring holidays. Passover is celebrated in the month of Nisan. It states in Exodus 12:1-2 Adonai spoke to Moshe and Aharon in the land of Egypt; he said, “You are to begin our calendar with this month; it will be the first month of the year for you.”
Leviticus 23 describes eight “appointed times” of the Lord. The feasts divide naturally into two groups. In the first group, all related to Passover, are the Paschal sacrifice, the feast of Unleavened Bread, the feast of First Fruits, and Shavuot. In the second group, all observed during Tishri, the sacred seventh month, we find the feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the feast of Tabernacles.
The word Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, means to pass or to hover over.
Nisan is the first month of the year not Rosh Hashanah celebrated in Tishrei.
· Why is Rosh Hashanah known as the Head of the Year?
Because it is believed that the world was created on that day (Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 11a).
· There are four New Years:
Nisan 1 – is the first month of the year reminding us of the freeing from Egypt. It is also known as the first month to determine the number of years of a King’s reign.
Elul 1 – Tithing of animals.
Shevat 15- for the trees.
Tishrei 1 – New Year for years.
Passover lasts for only one day and it is considered an extra Sabbath day. Passover starts the Feast of Unleavened Bread that last for seven days.
Jewish holidays always start sunset. (Gen. 1:5 …So there was evening, and there was morning, one day)
· This is a Feast for every Generation. (Ex. 12:14)
· Passover is the 14th day of Nisan and it is a high Sabbath called a “shabbaton”. It also begins the Feast of Unleavened Bread. (Ex.12: 16)
· The Feast of Unleavened Bread last for seven days.
· The foreigner is not allowed to eat the Passover (Pesach) lamb unless they are circumcised.
(Ex, 12: 43-51)
How to Celebrate:
On the 10th day of Nisan you must take a lamb or kid for each household…. (Ex. 12:3 –5)
· If the household is too small, then they are to share it with their neighbor.
· The lamb or kid must be a one-year-old male.
· The animal must be without defect or blemish.
· The animal can be either a lamb or goat.
On the 14th day of Nisan the entire assembly of the community of Israel will slaughter it at dusk… (Ex. 12:6-10)
· Take some of the blood and smear it on the top and sides of the entrance to the house.
· They are to eat the meat roasted in fire with Matzah (unleavened bread) and maror (bitter herbs).
· Must be roasted and not eaten raw.
· Must roast the entire animal (head, the lower parts of its legs, and its inner organs).
· Any part of the lamb that remains must be completely burnt.
How it is to be eaten:
Here is how to eat it…(Ex 12:11)
· Belt fastened
· Shoes on your feet
· Staff in your hand
· Eat it in haste
What was to happen that night
For that night, I will pass through the land of Egypt… (Ex. 12: 12-14)
· Killed all the first-born males and the livestock of all the houses that did not have the blood on them.
· God executed judgment on the gods of Egypt.
· The blood was a sign.
· We are to celebrate this as an everlasting ordinance for every generation.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread
For seven days you are to eat Matzah… (Ex. 12: 15-20)
· Remove all the leaven from your house.
· If you eat leaven, you will be cut off from Israel.
· 1st and 7th days are to have an assembly and they are Sabbath days (except to prepare the food).
· This is the day that the Lord brought us out of Egypt.
· No one is to eat anything with leaven in it even the foreigner among you.
· Observe this day from generation to generation.
Then Moshe call for all the leaders of Israel and said, “Select and take lambs for your families and slaughter the Pesach lamb…. (Ex. 12:21-28)
The Actual Event
· Dip the blood and put it on the doorframes of your home.
· After this is accomplished, you are not to go out of the door of the house until morning.
· Adonai will pass through to kill the Egyptians, but when He sees the blood Adonai will pass over the door and not allow the Slaughterer
to enter the house.
· You are to observe this law, you and your descendants forever.
· You are to teach it to your children.
The Consequence of Disobedience
At midnight Adonai killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt…(Ex. 12:29-31)
· The firstborn of Pharaoh was killed.
· The firstborn of the prisoner in the dungeon.
· The firstborn of all the livestock.
· Without the covering of blood, there was death in the house.
Make Haste and Leave
He summoned Moshe and Aharon by night and said “Up and leave my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go…. (Ex. 12:31-42)
· Egyptians wanted the Israelites to leave quickly because they feared they would be dead.
· The Israelites took their dough before it had become leavened.
· The Egyptians gave the Israelites silver, gold, jewelry, and clothing.
· It was at night when the people left.
A Command from Adonai
Adonai said to Moshe and Aharon, “This is the regulation for the Pesach lamb…(Ex. 12:43-50)
· No foreigner is to eat it.
· You must be circumcised.
· You are not to take the meat outside of the house.
· You are not to break any of its bones.
Traditional Celebration of Passover
Because of its historical meaning for the Jewish people, the celebration of Passover is perhaps the most elaborate feast. The season starts by an extensive cleaning of the home to remove anything with leaven in it. The search for leaven is called bedikat chametz, which is conducted by the head of the household (usually male) in which he symbolically searches for every last bit of leaven in every room of the house.
It is customary to proceed through the house by candlelight searching for leaven. When it is found, a feather is used to brush the crumbs into a wooden spoon. After all the rooms have been examined, then the spoon, feather and crumbs are wrapped together and burned the following morning. Matzah will be the only thing left after the search. Thus, the long and laborious task of making one’s home chametz-free is far more than mere “spring cleaning.” The scrubbing of cabinets and closets helps scrub the chambers of one’s heart and purge them of that which distances one from his Creator. The sweep of the broom helps sweep the dust off one’s soul so that it can renew itself when the festival of Pesach arrives (R’ Shlomo Halberstam of Bobov). 
The puffed up chametz dough alludes to pride and arrogance, while the flat Matzah alludes to humility. Arrogance is a most despicable trait, as Scripture states, Abhorrent to HASHEM are all who are arrogant of heart (Proverbs 16:5). While the removal of the chametz reminds us to uproot all that is negative from within ourselves, it should be cause for reflection regarding this trait in particular. Note: Leaven represents sin in ones heart and life.
Matzah was used in the sacrificial system o the Temple. Offerings had to be absolutely pure, and anything leavened (chametz) was considered impure because it had fermented, or soured. (The word chametz literally means “sour”). Matzah – unleavened bread – on the other hand was a symbol of purity. The Talmud says, “leaven represents the evil impulse of the heart” (Berachot 17a).
Deuteronomy 16: …but for seven days, eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste – so that all your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt. Let no yeast be found in your possession in all your land for seven days. They ate the bread of affliction to remind them of their time in slavery and they ate Matzah (unleavened without yeast) to remind them to not have any sin among them. The bread of affliction is a representation of Yeshua and His ultimate sacrifice as the Passover Lamb. We keep Passover to remember the physical deliverance God gave us in Egypt and we keep Messiah’s Passover (communion) to remind us of the spiritual deliverance He brings us from sin.
From the Haggadah: The Matzah is unleavened, in it’s baking; it is pierced and striped. Unleavened because it is to be without contamination, without sin. Pierced and striped, it illustrates the Messiah, who being without sin, was pierces and striped, as the scriptures say, ” And I will pour out on the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me whom they have pierced, and mourn for Him as one grieves for a first-born son. (Zechariah 12:10)
The Prophet Isaiah said: “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53)
In the evening the family will hold a Seder. Seder means “order of service”. A meal is prepared with ritual food based on Exodus 12 (lamb, Matzah, and bitter herbs). Rabbis later added numerous other elements, including green vegetables, a roasted egg, kharoset (apple/nut mix) and cups of wine.
The Rabbis also added the Matzah tash. The Matzah is placed in a special pouch containing three separate sections. One piece of Matzah is placed in each of the sections. Rabbinic commentaries hypothesize that the Matzah represents unity.
The Seder is conducted with the re-telling of the Passover story. A Haggadah, or storybook, is used. The Haggadah was introduced by the members of the Great Assembly almost 2,500 years ago in order to comply with the biblical verse, “And you shall instruct your son on that day….” (Exodus 13:8). The Haggadah is basically a book of instruction, particularly for the young.
Preparing for the Passover Seder
How does one go about performing a Seder? The following is a list of items that you will need to get started:
Pair of Candles
Haggadah for all participants
Seder plate with all its ingredients:
roasted lamb bone
small bowl of salt water
Karpas (usually parsley)
bitter herbs (usually horseradish)
kharoset (apple/nut mixture)
Wine or grape juice
Cup for Elijah
Pillow for leaders chair
Bowl of water and towel for hand washing
A special dinner
There are many rich customs in the Jewish heritage that provide a great opportunity for “show and tell”. This is one such event. Parents are commanded to “teach your sons and daughters”; therefore, by the re-telling of the story in conjunction with the ritual foods children will come to learn and enjoy this symbolic time.
The Meaning of the Seder Plate
There are several items placed on the Seder plate. We would like to give you the traditional and the messianic meaning behind each item:
· Lamb Shankbone:
Traditional: The shankbone (zeroa in Hebrew) is a reminder of “the mighty arm” of God, as the Bible describes it, which encouraged Pharaoh to release the Children of Israel from bondage. It is also symbolic of the Paschal lamb offered as the Passover sacrifice in Temple days.
Messianic: The shankbone reminds us of the sacrificial lamb. The lamb reminds us of the way of redemption and the blood of the sacrifice which Yeshua fulfilled.
Traditional: The middle of the three Matzahs is broken and then hidden to be found later during the service. The hidden Matzah is called the “afikomen”, a Greek word meaning “that which comes last”. On Passover, since bread is not to be eaten, two Matzahs are baked instead. A third Matzah is added as a reminder of the joyous nature of this holiday of freedom. Some authorities interpret the use of the three Matzahs as representing the three groups in Jewish religious life: Priests, Levites, and Israelites.
Messianic: We believe the three Matzahs represent the tri-unity of God – Father, Son and Rauch HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). The afikomen represents Yeshua, who as broken for our sins, wrapped in a white cloth of burial, placed in a tomb (hidden), and then rose from the dead (was found again).
· Maror (Bitter Herbs):
Traditional: Maror symbolizes the bitter lot of the Israelites during their enslavement in Egypt.
Messianic: We believe the bitter herbs also symbolize the bondage and burdens we experience while living in the world before we accepted Yeshua into our life.
· Karpas & Salt Water:
Traditional: The custom of serving karpas dates back to Jerusalem of the first and second centuries, when it was common to begin a formal meal by passing around vegetables as hors d’oeuvres. The vegetable was dipped into salt water before eating. The salt water is also used to symbolize the tears the Israelites shed while in slavery.
The karpas also reminds us of the time when Moses went before Pharaoh asking for the Israelites to go into the wilderness for three days to worship God (Exodus 8:16).
· Roasted Egg:
Traditional: The egg is symbolic of the regular festival sacrifice brought in the days when the Temple stood in Jerusalem. Some authorities have interpreted the roasted egg as being a symbol of mourning for the loss of the two Temples that once stood in Jerusalem. With the Temple destroyed, sacrifices could no longer be offered. The egg
symbolized this loss and traditionally became the food of mourners.
Messianic: This represents new birth in Messiah Yeshua.
Traditional: Kharoset is symbolic of the mortar the Children of Israel were compelled to make for their Egyptian taskmaster during their period of enslavement in Egypt. Aside from the token amount placed on the Seder tray, a small amount is served together with the bitter herbs (maror) to reduce the bitter taste of the horseradish.
Messianic: To the Believer, the kharoset reminds us that even the worst of circumstances can be sweetened when have the hope of Messiah in our lives.
The Seder Service
1. We Light the Candles:
Using the following blessing
Barukh atah Adonai eloheynu melekh ha’olam asher kidshanua bidevaro uvishmo anakhnu madlikim haneyrot shel yom tov
Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has set us apart by His Word, and in whose Name we light the festival light.
2. The Four Cups of Wine:
These four cups symbolize the words spoken to Moshe:
I will bring you out of Egypt.
I will deliver you from bondage.
I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.
I will take you to Me for a people.
The Cup of Sanctification: The first cup of wine that starts the Seder. We are to sanctify this service and dedicate it to the Lord.
The Cup of Plagues: The second cup is not drunk, but instead is dipped reduced by the number of each plague, thus reducing the fullness of our cup of joy.
The Cup of Redemption (salvation): This cup symbolizes the spiritual redemption found in Messiah’s sacrifice.
The Cup of Praise: God’s acceptance of His people.
3. The Cup of Sanctification:
Barukh atah adonai eloheynua melekh ha’olam borey pri hagafen.
Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.
4. We Wash our Hands.
5. We eat the Karpas.
6. We ask the Four Questions:
The Four Questions asked at the Seder are mentioned in the Talmud (mishna Pesachim 10:4). Originally, the fourth question did not ask, “Why do we recline tonight?” The fourth question read, “On all other nights we eat meat which has been roasted, stewed, or boiled, but on this night we eat only roasted meat.” After the Temple was destroyed (70 CE) and the sacrificial system abandoned, the question about reclining was substituted. The new question was introduced because reclining symbolized freedom, the motif of the Passover Seder.
Typically it is the youngest child in the family that will ask these questions. The questions could be viewed as being asked in the order of the most simple to the most difficult. The first two questions relate to bondage (Matzah and maror) and the last two questions relate to freedom (dipping foods and reclining). The questions are answered by the telling of the Passover story.
7. We Answer the Questions:
Question One deals with the Matzah. Matzah is flat bread that is has perforations in it. The perforations allow the air to escape reducing the chance of fermentation. These tiny holes also prevent the dough from rising while baking. When it is finished baking, the Matzah has a “striped” look. The middle Matzah, or the afikomen, is broken and hidden only to be found at the conclusion of the Seder. We view the Matzah as a figurative example of Isaiah 53.
In fact, it was our diseases he bore,
our pains from which he suffered
yet we regarded him as punished,
stricken and afflicted by God.
But he was wounded for our transgressions
He was bruised for our iniquities
the chastisement of our peace was upon him
and by his stripes we are healed.
The Matzah is striped and is brown in color.
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn him as one mourns for his only son…(Zechariah 12:10)
With the perforations in the Matzah, it gives the appearance of being pierced.
Just like the afikomen, Yeshua was broken in death but did return to ascend into heaven.
Question Two deals with the bitter herbs. This is to remind us of the bitterness of slavery.
Question Three deals with dipping vegetables. The kharoset reminds us of the mortar and clay used to make bricks. By dipping the maror and the kharoset, we remember that even the most bitter of situations can be sweetened by God.
Question Four deals with why do we recline?: Reclining in ancient times was a symbol of a free man. The ancient Israelites were finally free from the bondage of slavery and oppression. When we receive the salvation of Yeshua, we are free from our old life and transformed into a new creature.
8. The Story of Passover
The story of Passover is one of redemption and freedom, meant to instill faith in our children and ourselves.
9. The Cup of Plagues
Religion in ancient Egypt was characterized by a complex polytheism, as a wide variety of local deities and nature gods were worshiped by the people. Many gods were associated with fertility and agriculture, and the protection of virtually every aspect of life was ascribed to some deity. The ten plagues were direct challenges to the worship of Egyptians deities who were thought to protect Egyptian life and property. In this way the supremacy of Adonai, the God of Israel, was vividly demonstrated 
The plagues occurred within a period of approximately nine months. The following chart indicates the plague and the possible Egyptian deity it was directed against.
10. The Passover Lamb
Certain attitudes and symbols seem to maintain their meaning through tradition. Perhaps one of the most pervasive themes is the value place upon blood and blood sacrifice. Most rituals involve the killing of animals and the splashing, spattering, and daubing of blood. Blood is a vital substance in Israelite religious life, holding a critical place in narrative and performative aspects of tradition. Sacrifice is the central feature of Israelite ritual life, a means of mediating the relationship between God and humans by offering up something of value.
God commanded Israel to take a lamb on the tenth day of Nisan and set it aside until the fourteenth day (Exodus 12:3,6). These four days were fulfilled by Yeshua during the Passover week. He entered Jerusalem and went to the temple, which was the house of God, and went on public display there for four days from Nisan 10 to Nisan 14 (Matthew 21:1,9-12,17-18,23; 24:1,3; 26:1-5).
The lamb was to be without blemish (Exodus 12:5). Yeshua was the Lamb of God and as such was spotless, without blemish, without sin (chametz). During the final week of His life, Yeshua was examined by many individuals:
The chief priests
Annas the high priest
Caiaphas, the high priest
The Repentant thief
A Passover lamb was to be killed between the evenings (Exodus 12:6). The biblical day goes from evening to evening, from sundown to sundown, which is roughly 6:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The day is divided into two 12-hour periods. The evening runs from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am. From 6:00 am to 6:00 pm is the morning part of the day. From noon to 6:00 pm is the evening part of the day. The phase “between the evening” refers to the period of the day that goes from noon to 6:00 pm, which is exactly 3:00 pm. This would be the ninth hour of the day, counting from 6:00 am.
Yeshua died at the ninth hour of the day.
Dayenu means, “it would have been sufficient”. It is a traditional song sang at Passover.
The afikomen is found and “ransomed” back by the head of the table. The afikomen is then shared by all at the table.
12. The Cup of Redemption
This is the third cup of the Seder. This cup symbolizes the blood of the Passover lamb.
Yeshua celebrated the Passover Seder before his death. It was this cup, which now symbolizes the blood of the lamb that brought salvation to all who confess and believe.
It is at this time that the door is opened to welcome the Prophet Elijah. John the Baptizer fulfilled Elijah’s role in announcing the coming of Messiah. Yeshua recognized John when he said, “And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.” (Matthew 11:14).
13. The Cup of Praise
This is the last and final cup of the Seder. The Hallel Psalms are recited with this cup.
14. The Ending Blessing
Lashanah haba’ah bi Yesushalaym
Next Year in Jerusalem!