by Nathan Barnard
Many within the Body of Messiah, due to a leading from the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), seek to celebrate the Passover as they become aware of the Feasts of YHVH.
Scripture informs us that Yeshua is our Passover Lamb. Paul writes, “…For Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed” (1 Corinth 5:7). Nevertheless, how did Yeshua fulfil this and become our Passover Lamb, and what was the purpose of this sacrifice?
When believers attend a Messianic Seder, they will have explained the symbolism within the Seder that points to Messiah’s death, He being the Passover Lamb. The Matzah being pierced, stripped, and burnt symbolises the Messiah being beaten, bruised, and pierced. They will see the importance of the four cups, that it was the one after the meal, the third cup, the cup of redemption, with which Messiah made the reNewed covenant. They will also understand that the bones of the lamb could not be broken, just as Messiah did not have His bones broken to quicken His death, and that the lamb was examined from the 10th till the 14th day prior to it being slaughtered, to ensure that it was without blemish, just as Messiah was examined and no fault was found in Him.
How much of the Seder which we have today was in existence and practised at the time of Messiah during the Second Temple Period? How are we to observe the Passover as believers in Messiah?
This article seeks to briefly examine academic research on the Seder and the Haggadah and their development, along with scriptural references, in an attempt to ascertain how the Passover was kept at the time of Yeshua and the early church, during the Second Temple Period. This understanding will assist how we, as believers in Messiah, can keep and celebrate Passover in relation to Messiah being our Passover Lamb.
Academic writings on the Seder and Haggadah
Within academia, there is a consensus amongst scholars that the Passover Seder and the Haggadah as described within rabbinic literature did not exist during the Second Temple Period. However, one would be significantly misled to think that aspects of the Seder and the Haggadah are not grounded within Second Temple customs and practices.
While current scholars agree that many of the customs of the Seder described in the rabbinic literature were formulated after 70 CE and that no Seder or Haggadah existed in its present form during the Second Temple Period, we find that aspects of the Seder and the Haggadah were practised at the time of Yeshua.
The Seder structure as recorded within rabbinic writings, is based on the drinking of four cups of wine (m. Peschim 10.1), each cup being accompanied by a benediction and the first cup accompanying the Kiddush, the sanctification of YHVH’s name with which all festival meals begin (10.2).
Certain leading scholars on rabbinic literature argue that most of the elements of the Seder, as outlined within the Mishnah, are absent from literature descriptions of the Second Temple period. This includes the absence of the Seder and the Haggadah. The principal element that existed in the Second Temple period was the sacrificing, by non-priests and the eating of the sacrifice, accompanied by the singing of psalms of praise as described in Jubilees, Philo, the Gospels, Josephus and rabbinic literature.
The meal of lamb (referred to as the Passover) included eating matzah, bitter herbs and the drinking of wine, although one did not have to drink wine (Jubilees and Philo).
The custom of eating charoset, is argued by Safrai and Safrai (1999), to have also been eaten during the Passover meal. However, Friedman (2002) argues that this assumption is based upon a later Talmudic source and that the introduction of the charoset was a later tradition.
Brumbery-Kraus (1999) and Stewart-Sykes (1998), strongly assert that the Mishnah does preserve practices from the Second Temple period; however, one cannot assume that the Passover meal Jesus shared was as kept and as recorded in later rabbinic writings. The Mishnah in its current form is from the third century, yet Tabory (1981,1996a, 1996b,1999) argues that this does not invalidate its importance in preserving aspects of the Passover ritual as celebrated before 70CE.
According to Bokser’s (1984, 2002) scholarly work, he argues that a pristine version of the tenth chapter of m. Pesachim existed towards the end of the 2nd Temple period and described the Passover rituals as celebrated during the 2nd temple.
Tobory (1999) reconstructs what he argues to be the Passover Seder’s key elements prior to 70 CE.
- Four cups and their accompanying benedictions
- Eating of the paschal lamb
- The telling of the story
- The midrash on Deuteronomy
- The reciting of the Hallel
Although the Second Temple period description of the Passover does not mention the telling of the exodus, Tobory (1996a, 1999) argues that Jews would have used the Passover festival to retell these events to their children. We know further that YHVH instructed Moses and Israel (Exodus 12) to tell of the exodus to their children when they remember the Passover in subsequent years. Thus, this would have been part of the Passover celebrations.
Although we know that the Seder and the Haggadah used today were not in use at the time of Yeshua, we do know that certain customs which have continued within the rabbinic writings outlined within the Seder and Haggadah were in existence at the time of Yeshua, as attested within the academic literature, but as all scholars will agree, the Seder which is used today, as outlined within rabbinic literature, was not used during the Second Temple period. It would be a significant error for one to make such associations.
Therefore, how do we interpret practices and customs within the Seder and Haggadah which speak of Messiah? What we must understand is that rabbinic literature on the Passover has sought over the centuries to preserve, as much as possible, the customs and traditions of the Passover. Although they have evolved and been adapted, the main focus was to preserve customs and to re-evaluate the Passover in light of the absence of a Temple. They could no longer offer the Passover sacrifice, which was the main focus of the celebration. Rabbis sought to preserve aspects of the Passover and so formulated the Seder and the Haggadah, in an attempt, to provide a means by which they could still keep Passover. Focus shifted from the temple and the sacrifice to the home and the retelling of the exodus through interactive aspects of the Seder, so that children would not forget about how YHVH delivered them from slavery and enabling them to keep the commandment that had been given.
Therefore, if Messiah was the Passover Lamb, certain aspects and customs of the Passover as practised and recorded within the Seder and the Haggadah would record them. This, however, does not mean that all the customs within the Seder and the Haggadah relate to Messiah, nor that they are based within scripture, but rather in tradition, seeking to explain historical events found within scripture.
To further understand the Passover and how we are to observe this Feast of YHVH, let us now examine biblical accounts of the Passover.
A Biblical overview of Passover
The first mention of Passover is recorded in Exodus 12, in which YHVH outlines to Moses and Aaron how the children of Israel are to keep the Passover as it pertains to their deliverance out of Egypt and their redemption from slavery.
And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.(Ex.12:1-2)
We see that the passage commences with YHVH informing Moses that it is from this point that the calendar is to commence, that this month will be the first of the months.
We then see how Yah instructs them to take the lamb into their homes on the 10th of the month, and then on the 14th of the month at twilight, they are to kill it.
3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: 4 and if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6 and ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. (Exodus 12:3-6)
We need to understand that Passover is on the 14th Day and not the 15th Day, most observed today as the Passover. Passover begins on the 14th day; it is a normal day. The 14th is the preparation day for the Feast of Unleavened bread, which commences on the 15th just as Leviticus 23:4-8 states:
These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. 5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. 7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. We also see this recorded in Numbers 28:16-17 And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of the LORD. 17 And in the fifteenth day of this month is the Feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten. The passage in Numbers 28 continues to outline the sacrifices for the Feast of unleavened bread.
Furthermore, it is crucial that we understand that it was the 15th day of the month that was the 1st day of the Feast of unleavened bread, which was a High Sabbath, in which no work was allowed to be done. However, this was not true of the 14th, which was not a High Sabbath nor a weekly Sabbath. Additionally, the children of Israel were to kill the lamb at the twilight of the 14th day. Tractate Tamid, which outlines the events of the daily sacrifice, informs us that the morning and twilight sacrifices where offered at 09:00 and 15:00 each day. Thus we can see that twilight with regards to the temple was 15:00. Furthermore, we read that the Passover the lamb, for the congregation, was slaughtered after the daily sacrifice, just after 15:00 on the 14th of the first month.
The passage then continues as YHVH outlines the practices and how Israel are to observe the Passover, which will bring about their deliverance from Egypt and redemption from slavery.
7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. 10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’s passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. 13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. 14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.(Exodus 12:7-13)
Here we see that YHVH sets out key aspects of the Passover, which will continue to be observed in future years as recorded in other scriptures.
- Lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year
- That it will be taken into your home from the tenth until the fourteenth day of the same month.
- The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight on the fourteenth.
- Then they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
- They shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs.
- It must not be eaten raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
- Nothing of it should remain until the morning; and that which remains must be burned with fire.
- It is to be eaten; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and eat in haste: it is the Lord’s Passover.
Numbers 9:1-14 And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, 2 Let the children of Israel also keep the Passover at his appointed season. 3 In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it. 4 And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the Passover. 5 And they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.
6 And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the Passover on that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day: 7 and those men said unto him, we are defiled by the dead body of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of the LORD in his appointed season among the children of Israel? 8 And Moses said unto them, stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you.
9 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 10 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the Passover unto the LORD. 11 The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it. 13 But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the Passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the LORD in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin. 14 And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the Passover unto the LORD; according to the ordinance of the Passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.
We find in the above account that YHVH calls to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year of them coming out of Egypt and instructs them to keep the Passover.
Let the children of Israel also keep the Passover at his appointed season. 3 In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it. Numb. 9:2-3.
We then see how YHVH makes provision for those who cannot observe the Passover in the first month to do so in the second month, according to all the rites and ceremonies pertaining to it. Within this, we see a prophetic act, as scripture speaks about a further gathering out of exile into the land which Yah has given Israel; a regathering which will be far greater in measure than the first. We refer to this as the “Greater Exodus”. This takes place during the time of Jacob’s Trouble. This prophecy is central to the Messianic expectation of Israel’s redemption and salvation as spoken of by the prophets. I encourage you to research this further, as it is crucial for our generation. The passage then outlines how this will be kept.
The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it. (Numb 9:11-2). The regulations for keeping the Passover is for all persons And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the Passover unto the LORD; according to the ordinance of the Passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.(Numb. 9:14).
Thus, for believers in Messiah who have been grafted into and become part of Israel, those who sojourn among you, for the stranger, and native born must adhere to keep the Passover how YHVH has ordained. Consequently, making it important for us to know how to keep the Passover.
Joshua 5:10-12 And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. 11 And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the Passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day. 12 And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna anymore; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.
In the above passage, we read how the children of Israel observed the Passover for the first time since they had entered the land of Israel. However, prior to this, we read how Joshua circumcised the males before the Passover. This was in accordance with a commandment that no male who is uncircumcised can eat the sacrificial Passover lamb.
Exodus 12:43-47And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: 44 But every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. 45 A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. 46 In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. 49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.
We must note here that to eat the Passover sacrificial lamb one must be circumcised. This requirement raises a question regarding circumcision. The answer we find recorded in Ezekiel regarding the temple worship that no one who is uncircumcised in the heart and flesh will be allowed to minister unto YHVH in the temple. Therefore, will we see Yeshua just as Joshua did, the two names being the same in Hebrew – Joshua was a foreshadow of the Messiah, circumcise the males prior to taking them into the land? Now, I am not saying one needs to be circumcised for salvation, which is the whole argument in Galatians and also discussed at the Jerusalem synod as recorded in Acts 15, but if it is significant within prophecy, we must see a fulfilment. I will leave that for you to study further.
We must understand thus far regarding the Passover is that the sacrificial lamb was not offered at the temple as one did not exist, nor is it stated that it was offered at the Tabernacle. Scholars note that during this period of Israel’s history, the Passover was centred within the home, this being in ancient times a sanctuary unto the god of the house; in the case of Israel, a sanctuary unto YHVH. Hence why we do not allow pagan gods or associated articles into our homes, as they bring defilement. Our homes are to be holy, set apart unto YHVH, just as our lives are to be.
We also note that it was not the priests who killed the Passover Lamb, but it was the head of each house, as the head of the house within middle eastern custom and scripture, was the firstborn male who was the priest of the home.
One final point before we move on is that within Exodus 12:21-28, quoted below, it outlines a further commandment which I will briefly go over.
21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. 22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. 24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. 25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. 26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? 27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. 28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.
Exodus 12:1-13, as already discussed, outlines the requirements for Passover; first 14-20 outlines the Feast of unleavened bread; then we come to the above part of the chapter. In this, we see how Moses relays the aspects of the Passover and then states:
24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. 25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.
When your children ask why we do this, answer them regarding the exile out of Egypt and how YHVH brought the children of Israel out of captivity. The question is, ‘Which ordinances are to be observed forever when you come into the land?’ The ‘continually’ pertains to sons; some argue that this refers to the saving the firstborn male from death; however, that is not dependent upon them being in the land. Therefore, could it also be a reference to the fact that Israelites males were circumcised prior to leaving Egypt; something Joshua also did before they celebrated the Passover, once they had entered the land. Alternatively, could this be hinting at another custom which is argued by some, that the Israelites would still put the blood upon the doorposts of their homes, as a symbol and commemoration of the first Passover when in the land. Moreover, some further argue that it is the Passover which is to be kept once in the land. However, as already mentioned in the second year of them coming out of Egypt, Yah commanded Moses to instruct the Israelites to keep Passover and all its ordinances. However, there must have been some aspects they did not keep, as Yah had stated that certain aspects of the service are not to be kept until they enter the land.
One thing is clear; the more we seek to audit our lives against scripture, the more it raises further questions, many of which we will not find answers to until Messiah returns. Then He will teach us His ways, as the Torah will go forth from Zion (Isaiah 2:3).
With regards to the firstborn male being redeemed from death, we will examine this further when we look at how Messiah fulfilled Passover.
2 Kings 23:21-28 & 2 Chronicles 35:1-19
In the above passages, we read how King Josiah commanded the people to keep the Passover to YHVH, as written within the scroll of the covenant. During this time, Josiah put away all the pagan practices and idols, necromancers, familiar spirits, house idols, and the images within the land so that they could observe the Passover of YHVH.
4 The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the Temple of the LORD all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel. 5 He did away with the idolatrous priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts. 6 He took the Asherah pole from the Temple of the LORD to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people. 7 He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the Temple of the LORD, the quarters where women did weaving for Asherah. 2 Kings 23:4-7
Before keeping the Passover of YHVH, Josiah removed all idolatry and ungodly acts from within the Temple, Jerusalem and Israel, so that they could observe the Passover. In his actions, he was getting rid of the sin/the leaven from Israel, so that they could cleanse themselves and draw close to Yah and observe His Passover. This is also true of us when we are asked to prepare by getting rid of the leaven in our homes, leaven being a symbol of sin. As we rid our homes of leaven, we are also to examine our lives, our actions and our homes regarding sin, so that we can come close to YHVH at this time. During the Feasts of YHVH, we audit our lives so that we keep a short account.
We further see within the account that they roasted the lamb according to the ordinances and that they sang hymns to YHVH (2 Chronicles 35:13-15).
Within the account in 2 Chronicles 30:1- 27, we read that the Passover was kept in the second month, informing us that the people were unclean when the Passover was to be kept in the first month. King Hezekiah instructed the people to prepare to keep the Passover to YHVH. We also see here that they cleansed the land of pagan altars before keeping the Passover, 2 Chronicles 30:14. However, because the people had not fully consecrated themselves, the Levites had to slaughter the lambs 2 Chron. 35:17-18.
Ezra 6: 19 -22 On the fourteenth day of the first month, the exiles celebrated the Passover. 20 The priests and Levites had purified themselves and were all ceremonially clean. The Levites slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the exiles, for their relatives the priests and for themselves. 21 So the Israelites who had returned from the exile ate it, together with all who had separated themselves from the unclean practices of their Gentile neighbors in order to seek the LORD, the God of Israel. 22 For seven days they celebrated with joy the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because the LORD had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel.
Within the book of the covenant, we read how the children of Israel observed the Passover of YHVH. Over time, the sacrificing of the Passover lamb moved away from the home and centred within the corporate Temple worship of YHVH. However, the male of the household would still slaughter the lamb, and the Levites would have sprinkled the blood against the altar. Yet, when the people were unable to kill the lamb, the priests did this for them.
It could be argued that even though historically the Israelites had killed the Passover lamb away from the Temple, Yah had always intended this to be done at the temple, once a Temple was built. Jerusalem is the city that bears YHVH’s name, as it is the city of the Great King, the city from which the Messiah will reign. For Jerusalem is the foundation of the earth, the throne of Yah.
Within the accounts so far, we see how the Passover celebrations and observations have changed over time, as the people have developed their worship of YHVH. However, throughout this, they have maintained the essential elements which Yah had given them.
Thus, we see outlined in the above scripture, as recorded within the book of the covenant, that the main aspects of the Passover are:
- Lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year
- That it will be taken into the home from the tenth until the fourteenth day of the same month.
- The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight on the fourteenth – this had moved to the temple once built.
- They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted with fire, and unleavened bread, and with bitter herbs.
- It must not be eaten raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roasted with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
- Inform children why we do this, as you retell the exodus story.
- The singing of hymns.
Therefore, let us, in the light of this, examine the reNewed covenant accounts to understand better how we are to keep the Passover of YHVH.
We see the account of the Passover in Matthew start by the disciples asking Yeshua about the Passover Now the first day of the Feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover? We notice here that the Passover has become part of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which now runs from the 14th Passover then the 15th – 21st Feast of Unleavened Bread. This is confirmed in Mark’s account of the Passover Mark 14:12 And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover? We see here that they refer to the 14th, the day the Passover lamb was slaughtered as being the first day of unleavened bread.
18 And he said, go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at thy house with my disciples. 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the Passover. 20 Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. 21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, LORD, is it I? 23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.
Within the modern Passover Seder and Haggadah we see that it is customary to dip twice during the meal, saying, “On all other nights we do not dip even once, but on this night we dip twice.” The first dip is near the beginning of the Seder when we dip in the karpas. Much later is the second dip, when we dip bitter herbs into charoset. We know that the Passover Seder and Haggadah used today were not used during the time of Yeshua. However, could it be as some scholars argue that the charoset was part of the Passover Meal in some form at this time, and it was this Judas dipped his hand into, that the bitter herbs dipped into the charoset was a symbol of the bitter betrayal about to be committed? I am not saying that this is what took place but merely posing the question, ‘Could it have been?’
24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. 25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said. 26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. 30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. 31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
We then see how Messiah took bread and broke it and gave thanks and stated that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until He drank it anew with His disciples in His Father’s kingdom. We see here Messiah making a Nazarite vow, to abstain from wine, but more importantly, what Messiah is doing is initiating the reNewed covenant as recorded within Jeremiah 31:31-34, which would bring about the unification of both the House of Judah and the House of Israel. He is also making a declaration of marriage, that He would not drink of that cup, it being a symbol of marriage, as the groom would not drink from that cup – the one he made the covenant with – until his wedding day when he would once again drink from it with his bride, and then break it.
We further read ‘And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.’ (Matt. 26:30) Here we see that the custom to sing psalms was already established, one which Messiah and His disciples observed. Within the Haggadah, it is customary to sing the Hallel psalms 113-118 as part of the Passover. Could it be that these were the Psalms the disciples sang with Messiah?
‘Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.’ In the traditional Passover Seder, there are three matzahs. The middle one is broken and half of this is wrapped in a cloth and hidden until the end of the meal. This symbolises the Passover lamb. Although rabbis have certain ideas about what this stands for, they do not know how this has become part of the tradition. However, some scholars argue that this comes from a Messianic Seder preserved when believers in Messiah fled Jerusalem when it was surrounded in 70 AD. They believed this is what Yeshua spoke of in the Olivet discourse. If this is correct, what we have preserved is an aspect of a Messianic tradition which has been incorporated within the Seder of the rabbis, that the matzah, which is hidden in a cloth, is a symbol of Messiah, the Passover lamb, in a grave cloth and hidden in a tomb.
Mark 14: 12- 26 And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover? 13 And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. 14 And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? 15 And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. 16 And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. 17 And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. 18 And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me. 19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? 20 And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish. 21 The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born. 22 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. 23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. 24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. 25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. 26 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
Again, Mark’s account reveals the same as Matthew’s account and shows us that during the Passover meal, they dipped, drank wine, had bread and ate the Passover (which is a term to mean the lamb) and they sang hymns.
Luke 22: 7- 7-38 Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed. We know just as the previous accounts inform us that it was coming up to the 14th day of the first month, at twilight when the Passover lamb must be killed. We further see how Passover has become part of the feast of unleavened bread.
8 And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. 9 And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? 10 And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. 11 And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? 12 And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. 13 And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.
14 And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. 15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: 16 for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. 17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18 for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
In Luke’s account of the Passover meal, we see more than one cup, that with the first cup Messiah gives thanks, then passes it to the disciples. It is because of this that the scholars argue for this to be the Kiddush cup. We then see that after the meal, Messiah takes another cup and states that this is the new covenant in His blood, which is shed for them. At this point, Messiah makes the reNewed covenant with His disciples and thus with all humanity who wish to enter into the covenant.
21 But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. 22 And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! 23 And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.
We also see here that Messiah informs them that someone will betray Him, but Luke goes on to discuss another matter – one that sees the disciples arguing as to who is the greatest amongst them.
24 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. 25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. 28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30 that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. 34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.
35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. 36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. 37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. 38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
We further see in Luke’s account, Messiah instructing His disciples to buy a sword. Now I have not got time to explore why, but what I would say is this, the commandments state, “Do not murder” not “Do not kill”. There is a difference, for if it had stated do not kill, then Yah would have instructed Israel to commit sin when they killed those in the land. Furthermore, you are permitted within the Torah to defend yourself and others.
John 13: 1- 19 Now before the Feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; 3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. 18 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. 19 Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.
We see in John’s account how Messiah washes His disciples’ feet. This is not part of the Passover, but it is hinting to something more. One of the final acts the husband would do within a Hebrew wedding is to wash his bride’s feet and put new shoes on her. This act symbolises so much; I would encourage you to search scripture for the meaning. A hint is that it pertains to the priesthood. Remember, the bride of Messiah is a priest in the millennium kingdom. We also see how John, unlike the synoptic gopsels, states “now before the feast of Passover.” Some have argued that this is prior to the 14th day, however, what scholars note is that Passover and the Feast of unleavened bread had become synonymous during the second temple period. Today Jews around the world celebrate from the 14th – 21st as Passover, as they now refer to both Passover and the Feast of unlevened bread simply as Passover.
So, let us now revisit how we should keep the Passover in the light of what we have looked at.
First scholars conclude that certain aspects of the Seder and Haggadah were practised at the time of Yeshua during the Second Temple period, those being:
- Four cups and their accompanying benedictions.
- Eating of the paschal lamb.
- The telling of the story.
- The midrash on Deuteronomy.
- The reciting of the Hallel.
We also see that Yeshua and His disciples did the following:
- Broke bread.
- Had more than one cup of wine.
- Ate the Passover lamb.
- Recited/song hymns.
We further know that within the book of the covenant, YHVH instructs the following to be observed when keeping the Passover:
- Lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year.
- That it will be taken into the home from the tenth until the fourteenth day of the same month.
- The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight on the fourteenth day, which the slaughtering of the Passover lamb had been moved to the temple, once it had been built.
- They shall eat the flesh in that night, roasted with fire, and unleavened bread, and with bitter herbs.
- It must not be eaten raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roasted with fire; its head with its legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
- Inform children why we do this, as you retell the exodus story.
- The singing of hymns; this became the practice during the second Temple period.
So, how do we as believers in Messiah keep the Passover? We know that we cannot offer the Passover sacrifice while there is no temple; therefore, we cannot do this key aspect of the Passover. This, therefore, prevents many of the associated practices. So, what are we to do?
It was because of this that the rabbis developed the Seder and Haggadah in an attempt to keep the commandment to commemorate and remember the Passover. The Seder would assist them in keeping the Feast and allow for it to be interactive so that the children could learn about the Passover. Therefore, we are at the same crossroads that rabbis and early believers were after the temple’s destruction. So how do we proceed without adopting errors?
Personally, I do not think all rabbinical customs are wrong, but I understand that people may not want to follow rabbinical traditions. What I would say is that within scripture, we find Messiah, the disciples and the apostle Paul keeping, and at times upholding rabbinical traditions. It must also be noted that they rejected and disagreed on many of the traditions of the religious leaders too.
Within my walk, I have always asked the following questions – first, “Is the manmade tradition contrary to the scriptures?” and secondly – “Does it bring me closer to Yah, or hinder me and put a millstone around my neck?” If it does not contradict with scripture and brings me closer to YHVH then I do not mind it, but if it is contrary to scripture and hinders me in seeking Him and drawing close, I reject it straight away.
We need to remember that many of the traditions of Judah are good, as some of those which we keep at Shabbat help us to enjoy the Sabbath and assist in setting the day aside: like having a family meal, lighting the candles, blessing our children, having bread and wine, all of these assist us in observing the appointed time.
One further point – when I am looking at keeping the commandments of YHVH, I look at what the spirit of the commandment is relaying and not at the letter. What does that mean? Well, if we look at Zitzits, we do not wear the same garments like those in ancient times, and so we cannot keep the commandment as instructed. However, when we look at why it was given (the spirit of the law), we see that it was to act as an instrument to remind us to keep the commandments. Therefore, we can put them on our garments, as we choose to, as long as we have the blue thread, so that they will remind us to observe and keep YHVH’s word.
Consequently, let us use wisdom and discernment as we audit our lives, as we seek to do away with anything that hinders us from drawing close to YHVH, but let us not in our passion and zeal as they say “throw the baby out with the bath water.”
So, how can we keep Passover in light of scripture and what I have said? Below are just my thoughts to assist.
- Search our homes for leaven, that being, let us remove all idols from our lives and our homes, as we spend time with Yah seeking His face, and examining ourselves for sin.
- From the 14th day of Passover, through to the Feast of unleavened bread, eat no foods with leaven in them.
- The 15th and 21st of the month are High Sabbaths, which means no work; they are a celebration unto Yah; set these days apart unto Yah.
- Have a meal on the 14th at twilight and make your own traditions, changing them every year if you want to focus upon a different aspect of the Passover. If you want to keep aspects of the Seder then do so, but do not feel bound to do so.
- Have wine, if you wish, as part of the meal, and specifically take the bread and the wine, remembering the reNewed covenant.
- Sing hymns and recite Psalms. If you want to read the Hallel Psalms, do so, but do not feel obligated. It is more than likely that these are the ones Yeshua recited, but we are not 100% certain.
- The important thing is to remember the Passover, thank Yah for His salvation, and enjoy the Passover! It is a Feast of YHVH.
- If you want to keep and use a messianic Seder and Haggadah, that is fine too.
So finally, how was Messiah our Passover Lamb?
1 Corinthians 5:6-8 6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
What does it mean when we say, as scripture states, “Yeshua is our Passover lamb?” When we look at Passover, we see that this reveals a picture of Yeshua, the Passover lamb of YHVH, who takes away the sins of the world, but what does this mean? Let us look at the Passover and its purpose, seeking to understand this, as we strive to lay precept upon precept in an endeavour to understand the deeper meaning. To do this, we need to look at the first Passover, which took place just before the Exodus from Egypt.
We read within scripture how YHVH defeated all of Egypt’s gods, through the various plagues which He brought upon Egypt, while at the same time YHVH was revealing who He was to Israel, showing that He is the one true Elohim, El Shaddai. The final plague, the death of the firstborn, is the one we will focus.
We read in Exodus 12: 21 -23 the instructions YHVH gave to Moses on how He would save the firstborn males of Israel.
Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23 When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
We further read in Exodus 12 how YHVH instructed the people to take a one-year-old male lamb, one without any defect or blemish, and that the bones are not to be broken.
When we remember Passover, we can draw many parallels with Yeshua and the Passover lamb. However, there is a deeper meaning found within this account – one that is entwined within Messianic expectations revealed within Bible prophecy concerning the Messiah of Israel. It is this I want to examine more closely in relation to Passover.
Within scripture, we read that the Messiah will unite the tribes of Israel, that He would unify the House of Judah and the House of Israel, which is the reNewed covenant that the Messiah would make with the children of Israel (Jeremiah 31:31, Hebrews 8:8). A keynote here is that the word for New, found in Jeremiah 31:31, is Strong’s 2319 chadash new:–fresh, new thing. It comes from Strong’s 2318 chadash, a primitive root; to be new; causatively, to rebuild:–renew, repair. The word ‘New’ as used is not referring to a new thing, but rather to something being renewed or repaired, as when we say “It is a New moon.” It is not a new moon but rather a renewed moon. It is this understanding of the word New which is used here in Jeremiah 31:31 and quoted in Hebrews 8:8. This, therefore, implies that it is the renewing of a covenant that has previously been established but has for some reason broken down. It is not a new covenant that disregards the previous one.
A key Messianic expectation, as outlined within prophecy, is the renewing of the covenant with the House of Israel (Ephraim) and the House of Judah, which in doing so will reunite the tribes and make them one in the Messiah’s hand, as recorded in Ezekiel 37.
However, the rabbis cannot understand how the Messiah can do this. The House of Israel, often referred to Ephraim or Joseph was given a bill of divorce by YHVH (Jer 3:8) and sent into the nations for committing spiritual adultery with pagan gods. Under Torah, a man cannot remarry his wife whom he has divorced for adultery, nor can a priest marry an adulterous woman (Lev 21:7,14; Deut 24:4). So how can YHVH bring back the House of Israel into covenant with Himself when He has already stated in His Torah, that this cannot happen?
The answer is found within the Torah, one which Paul refers to when speaking about the reNewed covenant, that the wife is free to remarry once the husband has died. Therefore, when Messiah died to pay the price for sin, He also made way for the House of Israel (Ephraim) to come back into covenant, but not just for them, but for anyone who believes in Him, who calls on the name of YHVH.
You see, so much more happened on the cross than what people teach today. Yes, the gospel message is a simple message, even when taught in its entirety, as it reveals how great YHVH is.
What about the Passover lamb? Well, what was the Passover lamb for? The purpose of the Passover lamb was to save, redeem the first born sons of Israel, so that they would not die. However, for them to be redeemed, they had to obey the commandments of YHVH, that of staying inside the house and placing the blood of a one-year male lamb on their doorposts with hyssop. If they did not place the blood on the door or remain in their homes, the firstborn male would die. They had to, in faith apply the blood of the lamb and obey YHVH’s commands, expecting as they trusted in YHVH to redeem and save the firstborn males of the household.
Does YHVH have a firstborn? We find in scripture that YHVH has a firstborn son; it is Ephraim, or the House of Israel (Jer 31:9). Therefore, what we see in the Passover, is that the Messiah would come and redeem the firstborn of YHVH, the House of Israel – Ephraim, by paying the price for sin, as scripture states. Ephraim had made a covenant with death, because they had rejected YHVH, resulting in them being given a bill of divorce. Yet, YHVH had already made a way to redeem them and bring them back into covenant, but in doing so, He would also make a way for all of humanity to come into a covenant relationship with Him. He grafts in the wild olive tree back into Israel’s main root, thus making way for all to come to YHVH through the atoning sacrifice made by Yeshua.
Messiah did so much more when He died than what is taught. We see this in the parable of the prodigal son. It is often taught that the prodigal is a sinner who does not know YHVH, but let me ask “How can someone who does not know YHVH be called a son?” It is impossible, to be a son of YHVH is to be in covenant with Him. John himself writes that through Yeshua, we have the right to become sons of YHVH (John 1). A non-believer is not a son of YHVH but a son of HaSatan. They do not become a son of YHVH until they enter into covenant, as they are Gentiles, out of covenant. It is when they come into a covenant and are no longer a Gentile that they become a son of YHVH and a citizen of Israel. The parable of the prodigal son is speaking of the House of Israel, the son who goes away, and the House of Judah is the one who remains with the father.
This is the Gospel of the Kingdom, which is to be proclaimed before the return of Messiah. It is this Gospel which Paul proclaimed. He said “If anyone comes to you and proclaims a different gospel, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8). Why did he say this? It is because if the hearts of the fathers and the hearts of the sons do not turn back to each other, the land will be cursed (Mal 4:6; Luke 1:17). Thus, if this fact is not proclaimed, then HaSatan has won. This is why he has sought to water down the word of YHVH and prevent the Gospel in its entirety from being proclaimed. However, YHVH is moving in these days by the Ruach HaKodesh so that this Gospel of the Kingdom, as revealed in the sacrificial lamb, in the parables, and as prophesied by the prophets, is being proclaimed and will be proclaimed before Yeshua’s return. It is this unity which Yeshua was referring to in John 17, for it is as the two houses are united that YHVH’s name is glorified. It is those of the House of Israel who are the sheep that have been scattered because they were not shepherded correctly. It is of these which Yeshua said, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them in as well, and they will listen to My voice.” (John 10:16). We see in the passage in Genesis when Joseph is watching his father’s sheep. In the Hebrew it says that they are the aleph and the tav’s sheep. Who is the alpeh and the tav? Messiah Yeshua, and Israel are His sheep, and He will shepherd them; He will unite them when He returns.
The above is just a very brief overview of the Passover lamb and the Gospel of the Kingdom, which is the mystery of the Gospel which Paul wrote. I encourage you to re-examine key prophecies concerning the reunification of the houses and study the history of Israel. It will give you a greater understanding of Bible prophecy and the Gospel of the Kingdom, which will be proclaimed. Remember Yeshua is the king of Israel, and He will reign over a united Israel.
The Gospel of Salvation preached today is only a part of the Gospel of the Kingdom. When we accept YHVH’s gift of salvation and make Yeshua our Lord and king, we become a citizen of the kingdom of Israel, but this is only the beginning. We are then to submit to the word of YHVH and Yeshua and be discipled in how to live in the kingdom of YHVH. The Torah is key to this, as the commands of YHVH contained within all scripture are the key principles of kingdom living.
We must understand that many today when they look at Messiah being the Passover lamb, they do it from the point of view that does not fully understand the reNewed covenant, nor do they know about the two houses of Israel. Therefore, they seek to draw parallels with post second Temple Judaism and the aspects of the Seder and the Haggadah, which as already outlined, where not in existence during the time of Messiah, although aspects of them where practised.
Furthermore, we must understand that the Passover lamb did not require a priest to offer the sacrifice. We need to understand that Messiah fulfilled all the commandments in his sacrifice as the Passover lamb, as outlined by YHVH. However, He did not fulfil later traditions associated with the Passover, from which many draw parallels. Furthermore, Messiah’s execution took place on the Mount of Olives, which overlooked the temple. It is the same place from which the Red Heifer sacrifice was offered. For Messiah is our Passover lamb, who came to redeem YHVH’s firstborn (the House of Israel). In doing so He made way for whoever believers to come into covenant, as they are grafted in with the wild olive branch. After this, they will be washed with the waters of purification, that of the Red Heifer sacrifice, as they walk in accordance with His word.
So, did Messiah observe a Passover meal with His disciples? Through examining the scriptures, we see that Messiah did observe a Passover meal with His disciples. However, Messiah did this on the night of the 13th, the beginning of the 14th day and not on the night of the 15th, after the lambs had been slaughtered at twilight on the 14th. So, how could Messiah observe the Passover early? We know that YHVH had permitted a second Passover for those who were unclean or away on a journey and therefore unable to observe the Passover. So, is it not practical for Messiah, who would not be able to observe the Passover because He would be crucified while the Passover lambs would be slaughtered, to observe the Festival early? However, while I believe Messiah did observe a Passover meal with His disciples, He did not need to partake of the meal to fulfil being the Passover lamb. It was not conditional on fulfilling the prophecies and the requirements of the Passover lamb for Messiah to observe the meal. He is the Passover lamb and therefore could not observe eating of the meal on the commanded day as well as being the Passover lamb sacrificed for the world.
Friends, I have tried in this article to give a very brief historical overview of the development of the Seder and the Haggadah, along with a biblical examination to determine how best we as believers in Messiah can observe and keep Passover. The key is to test everything against the whole counsel of scripture. I have tried to keep this article brief. There is so much I would have liked to expound upon, but time does not permit. Therefore, I urge you to use this article as a tool for further study on the topic.
One final point is that what we witnessed when Yah judged Egypt and brought the plagues upon them will be done again on a global scale during the time of Jacob’s trouble when YHVH judges the nations and redeems His people, and leads them back to the land. Therefore, it is crucial in these days that we are ready and walking close with YHVH – that during this period of the Feast of Passover and unleavened bread, we examine ourselves and ensure that we have no sin in our lives and our homes, as we draw close to YHVH. The days are getting shorter, and the countdown is drawing to an end. The Day of Messiah’s return is coming soon.
Baruch Bokser, (1988), Ritualizing the Seder. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 56(3), pp. 443-471.
Baruch Bokser, (2002), The Origins of the Seder. JTS Press.
Shmuel Safrai & Ze’ev Safrai, (2007), Haggadah of the Sages. Carta.
Shmuel Safrai, (1987), The literature of the Jewish people in the period of the Second Temple and the Talmud, Volume 3: The Literature of the sages. Brill.
Joshua Kulp, (2005), The origins of the Seder and Haggadah. Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies, 4(1), pp. 109-134.
 Shmuel Safrai & Ze’ev Safrai, (1998), Haggadah of the Sages. Jerusalem. Karta.
 Freidmann, S. (2002), Tosefta Atiqta Pesah Rishon: Synoptic Parallels of Mishna and Tosefta Analyzed with a Methodological Introduction. Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press.
 Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus, (1999), Not by bread alone: The ritualization of food and table talk in the passover seder and in the last supper. Society of Biblical Literature – Semeia, 86, pp. 165-191.
 Alistair Stewart-Sykes, (1998), The Lamb’s highest feast: Melito, Peri Pasha and the Quartodeciman Paschal liturgy at Sardis. Leiden: Brill.
 Joseph Tabory, (1981), The Passover Eve Ceremony—An Historical Outline’, Immanuel, 12, 32-43.
Joseph Tabory, (1996a), The Passover Ritual Throughout the Generations. Hakibbutz Hameuchad.
Joseph Tabory, (1996b), The Cruciﬁxion of the Paschal Lamb. JQR, 86, pp. 395-406.
Joseph Tabory, (1999), Towards a History of the Paschal Meal. In Bradshaw and Hoffman (Eds.). Passover and Easter: Origin and History to Modern Times. pp. 62-80. University of Notre Dame Press
 Baruch Bokser, (1984), The Origins of the Seder. University of California Press.
Baruch Bokser, (2002), The Origins of the Seder. JTS Press.
 Joseph Tabory, (1999), Towards a History of the Paschal Meal. In Bradshaw and Hoffman (Eds.). Passover and Easter: Origin and History to Modern Times. pp. 62-80. University of Notre Dame Press
 Tobory (1996a, 1999).