Adverts

Open Access Articles- Top Results for Passover

Passover

This article is about the Jewish holiday. For other uses, see Passover (disambiguation).
Passover
File:Pessach Pesach Pascha Judentum Ungesaeuert Seder datafox.jpg
A table set up for a Passover seder.
Official name Pesach - פסח (in Hebrew).
Observed by Jews. (In various forms also by: Samaritans; Messianic Jews; Some groups claiming affiliation with Israelites).
Type One of the Three Pilgrim Festivals
Significance

Celebrates the Exodus, the freedom from slavery of the Children of Israel from ancient Egypt that followed the Ten Plagues.

Beginning of the 49 days of Counting of the Omer
Celebrations In Jewish practice, one or two festive Seder meals – first two nights; in the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Passover sacrifice. In Samaritan practice, men gather for a religious ceremony on mount Gerizim that includes the ancient lamb Sacrifice.il (7th day)
Begins 15th day of Nisan[1][2]
Ends 21st day of Nisan in Israel, and among some liberal Diaspora Jews; 22nd day of Nisan outside of Israel among more traditional Diaspora Jews.[3]
Date Lua error in Module:Wikidata at line 138: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
2015 date sunset of Friday 3 April to nightfall of Friday 10 April / Saturday 11 April (7th day)
Related to Shavuot ("Festival of Weeks") which follows 49 days from the second night of Passover.

Passover or Pesach (/ˈpɛsɑːx, ˈpsɑːx/;[4] from Hebrew פֶּסַח Pesah, Pesakh), is an important, biblically derived Jewish festival. The Jewish people celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation by God from slavery in Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses. It commemorates the story of the Exodus as described in the Hebrew Bible especially in the Book of Exodus, in which the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. According to standard biblical chronology, this event would have taken place at about 1300 BCE (AM 2450).[5]

Passover commences on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan and lasts for either seven days (in Israel) and for Reform Jews and other progressive Jews around the world who adhere to the Biblical commandment or eight days for Orthodox,Hasidic, and most Conservative Jews (in the diaspora).[6][7] In Judaism, a day commences at dusk and lasts until the following dusk, thus the first day of Passover only begins after dusk of the 14th of Nisan and ends at dusk of the 15th day of the month of Nisan. The rituals unique to the Passover celebrations commence with the Passover Seder when the 15th of Nisan has begun. In the Northern Hemisphere Passover takes place in spring as the Torah prescribes it: "in the month of [the] spring" (בחדש האביב Exodus 23:15). It is one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays.

In the narrative of the Exodus, the Bible tells that God helped the Children of Israel escape from their slavery in Egypt by inflicting ten plagues upon the ancient Egyptians before the Pharaoh would release his Israelite slaves; the tenth and worst of the plagues was the death of the Egyptian first-born.

The Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a slaughtered spring lamb and, upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord knew to pass over the first-born in these homes, hence the English name of the holiday.[8]

When the Pharaoh freed the Israelites, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread dough to rise (leaven). In commemoration, for the duration of Passover no leavened bread is eaten, for which reason Passover was called the feast of unleavened bread in the Torah or Old Testament.[9] Thus Matzo (flat unleavened bread) is eaten during Passover and it is a tradition of the holiday.

Historically, together with Shavuot ("Pentecost") and Sukkot ("Tabernacles"), Passover is one of the three pilgrimage festivals (Shalosh Regalim) during which the entire population of the kingdom of Judah made a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.[10] Samaritans still make this pilgrimage to Mount Gerizim, but only men participate in public worship.[11][12]

Date and duration

See also: Jewish calendar

The Passover begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan, which typically falls in March or April of the Gregorian calendar. Passover is a spring festival, so the 15th day of Nisan begins on the night of a full moon after the northern vernal equinox.[citation needed] To ensure that Passover did not start before spring, the tradition in ancient Israel held that the first day of Nisan would not start until the barley was ripe, being the test for the onset of spring.[13] If the barley was not ripe, or various other phenomena[14] indicated that spring was not yet imminent, an intercalary month (Adar II) would be added. However, since at least the 4th century, the date has been fixed mathematically.[15]

In Israel, Passover is the seven-day holiday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, with the first and last days observed as legal holidays and as holy days involving abstention from work, special prayer services, and holiday meals; the intervening days are known as Chol HaMoed ("Weekdays [of] the Festival"). Diaspora Jews historically observed the festival for eight days, and most still do. Reform and Reconstructionist Jews and Israeli Jews, wherever they are, usually observe the holiday over seven days. The reason for this extra day is due to enactment of the ancient Jewish sages.[citation needed] It is thought by many scholars that Jews outside of Israel could not be certain if their local calendars fully conformed to practice of the Temple at Jerusalem, so they added an extra day. But as this practice only attaches to certain (major) sacred days, others posit the extra day may have been added to accommodate people who had to travel long distances to participate in communal worship and ritual practices; or the practice may have evolved as a compromise between conflicting interpretations of Jewish Law regarding the calendar; or it may have evolved as a safety measure in areas where Jews were commonly in danger, so that their enemies would not be certain on which day to attack.[16]

Karaites and Samaritans use different versions of the Jewish calendar, which are often out of sync with the modern Jewish calendar by one or two days.[citation needed] In 2009, for example, Nisan 15 on the Jewish calendar used by Rabbinic Judaism corresponds to April 9. On the calendars used by Karaites and Samaritans, Abib or Aviv 15 (as opposed to 'Nisan') corresponds to April 11 in 2009. The Karaite and Samaritan Passovers are each one day long, followed by the six day Festival of Unleavened Bread – for a total of seven days.[citation needed]

Origins and Biblical development

File:Israel's Escape from Egypt.jpg
Illustration of The Exodus from Egypt, 1907

Scholarly consensus dates the origin of the festival to a period earlier than the exodus.[17] The Passover ritual, prior to Deuteronomy, is widely thought to have its origins in an apotropaic rite, unrelated to the Exodus, to ensure the protection of a family home, a rite conducted wholly within a clan. Hyssop was employed to daub the blood of a slaughtered sheep on the lintels and door posts to ensure that demonic forces could not enter the home.[18] A further hypothesis maintains that, once the Priestly Code was promulgated, the exodus narrative took on a central function, as the apotropaic rite was, arguably, amalgamated with the Canaanite agricultural festival of spring which was a ceremony of Unleavened Bread, connected with the barley harvest. As the Exodus motif grew, the original function and symbolism of these double origins was lost.[19] Several motifs replicate the features associated with the Mesopotamian Akitu festival.[20] Other scholars, John van Seters and J.B.Segal) and Tamara Prosic disagree with the merged two-festivals hypothesis.[21]

Called the "festival [of] the matzot" (Hebrew: חג המצות hag hamatzot) in the Hebrew Bible, the commandment to keep Passover is recorded in the Book of Leviticus:

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at dusk is the LORD's Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD; seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work. And ye shall bring an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days; in the seventh day is a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work. (Leviticus 23:5–8)

The biblical regulations for the observance of the festival require that all leavening be disposed of before the beginning of the 15th of Nisan[22] An unblemished lamb or goat, known as the Korban Pesach or "Paschal Lamb", is to be set apart on Nisan 10,[23] and slaughtered at dusk as Nisan 14 ends in preparation for the 15th of Nisan when it will be eaten after being roasted.[24] The literal meaning of the Hebrew is "between the two evenings".[25] It is then to be eaten "that night", Nisan 15,[26] roasted, without the removal of its internal organs[27] with unleavened bread, known as matzo, and bitter herbs known as maror.[26] Nothing of the sacrifice on which the sun rises by the morning of the 15th of Nisan may be eaten, but must be burned.[28] The sacrifices may only be performed in a specific place prescribed by God (for Judaism, Jerusalem, and for Samaritans, Mount Gerizim).[29]

The biblical regulations pertaining to the original Passover, at the time of the Exodus only, also include how the meal was to be eaten: "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" Exodus 12:11.

The biblical requirements of slaying the Paschal lamb in the individual homes of the Hebrews and smearing the blood of the lamb on their doorways were observed in Egypt. However, once Israel was in the wilderness and the tabernacle was in operation, a change was made in those two original requirements (Deuteronomy 16:2-6). Passover lambs were to be sacrificed at the door of the tabernacle and no longer in the homes of the Jews. No longer, therefore, could blood be smeared on doorways.

The biblical commandments concerning the Passover (and the Feast of Unleavened Bread) stress the importance of remembering:

  • And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt; and thou shalt observe and do these statutes" (Deuteronomy 16:12).
  • Exodus 12:14 commands, in reference to God's sparing of the firstborn from the Tenth Plague: 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 13:3 repeats the command to remember: Remember this day, in which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, for by strength the hand of the LORD brought you out from this place.

In extra-biblical sources

Some of these details can be corroborated, and to some extent amplified, in extrabiblical sources. The removal (or "sealing up") of the leaven is referred to in the Elephantine papyri, an Aramaic papyrus from 5th century BCE Elephantine in Egypt.[30] The slaughter of the lambs on the 14th is mentioned in The Book of Jubilees, a Jewish work of the Ptolemaic period, and by the Herodian-era writers Josephus and Philo. These sources also indicate that "between the two evenings" was taken to mean the afternoon.[31] Jubilees states the sacrifice was eaten that night,[32] and together with Josephus states that nothing of the sacrifice was allowed to remain until morning.[33] Philo states that the banquet included hymns and prayers.[34]

Etymology