The Israelites had lived in Egypt in worry for years and it had come to their time when God wanted to rescue them from their enemies. To do this, God prepared a calamity for the people of Egypt and left the Israelites free. In exodus 12: 14 -24, God orders Moses and Aaron to give the people of Israel the instructions they had to follow as they cerebrate their rescue by God. They had to listen to what God had instructed to avoid being cut off from the rest. (American Israel corporate enterprise, 2011).
Exodus 12:14-22 says “14'Now this day will be memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. 15 seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day, you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 in the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you. 17You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore, you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance. 18In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land. 20You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.' 21Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. 22You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.” (Birch, Brueggemann, Fretheim, and Peterson 1999, 300)
The theme of this paper is to explore the verses one by one using the bible. This will give an overview of the understanding of the content by its original audiences before and after their escape from the captivity by the Egyptians as it also shows the modern application of the texts in the end.
Exodus 12:14 says “14'Now this day will be memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. This was an instruction to the people Israel that they had an obligation to remember the Passover day. The lord our God put it as an order that they were to have a feast in this day to honor God for his mercies in every generation that was to come. This was supposed to be permanent since it was an order from the lord and no one was supposed to break it or go against it. This describes Passover feast that God had in store for the Israelites. Since God in his instructions stressed on the remembrance of the festival, the meal was and is still done every year in all Jewish house hold so that they remembers how the Israelites were delivered from the land of Egypt where they were slaves. They kept on observing this and it is documented that their early commemoration of the Passover was after the tabernacle was completed. This tabernacle fell on the schedule as it was through two weeks before the commemoration. This tabernacle was held holy and was anointed with oil. Of the anointed was the Leviticus where Aaron in particular was to serve in the tabernacle. The people of Israel gathered in the wilderness to remember the Passover and even when they got to the land of Canaan, they focused on Jerusalem where t6hey would go and worship. Here in Jerusalem, it became obvious that in every year the people had to gather and commemorate Passover according to what God spoke to Moses had in earlier days (16:1-8).
In these commemorations, the people followed what others had done before they were taken out of the land of Egypt to Canaan. This is according to the instructions in exodus 12. They examined the lamb they were to slaughter for 4 days so that it was not with any blemish. If they were sure of this, they were to slain it in the evening and the blood shed applied to lintels and two of the doorposts and then roasted as done before to sustain the Israelites on their journey to Canaan. This was the only method they were allowed to prepare their meat since God knew they were to have a very long journey ahead of them and that they would only do with roasted meat.
Verse 15 says, seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day, you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. God thus continue to give instructions to the people of Israel and orders them not to eat leavened bread on any day of the festival. He insists on this and anyone who goes against it is threatened to be cut from the rest when time comes for escape. The verses clearly show the hurry in which the people of Israel were in this particular night when they were ready to escape. This is why God instructed them on the kind of bread they were to make for their families because there was no time for them to prepare raised bread. If there was any bread already in the house that was leaven, they were instructed to remove it from the house. If this instruction was not well followed and any of them ate the leaven bread, then that person was to be cut off from the rest of the Israelites. (Capoccia, 2003)
In verse 16, the bible says that god instructed Moses to tell the people of Israel that they were supposed to hold assemblies on the first and seventh day and that they were not allowed to involve themselves in any work but only prepare what their families could eat. This is because God was so sure, that he was setting them free and that they were only supposed to involve themselves in the preparations to leave the land of Egypt. The hurry they were in could not let them wait for the bread to rise. The flat bread was also a symbol for the festival and this is why it is a times called the festival of unleavened bread. (Edwards, 2007)
In verse 17, God said, "You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore, you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance. God goes on telling the people of Israel the importance of the unleavened bread even on days to come as a symbol of the day when he got his people out of the land of Egypt. He continues to tell them that it was not a matter of choice but an order from him that they always remember that day in all the generations to come. The instructions were very clear for them to follow and any one who went against them stood to be punished. The Israelites therefore remembered every time that the feast was a gift for them by the mercies that God had for them and they learnt that the blessings they received came to them through the act of sprinkling of the shed blood. In first Corinthians chapter five and verse seven, (1Co 5:7), we observe that the lamb used by the Israelites was typical and that Christ is now our Passover since he is taken to be the son of the most high God. (Boshart, 2006)
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God had purposed that in the coming generations even after the children of Israel had been delivered from slavery, they could have many questions that needed answers. Some of the questions people ask are why the ceremony is performed at night and the best answer to this is that the night could remember the Passover of the people of Israel since it was conducted in the night to allow the angel come and Passover their houses as God had planned. The question on the bitter herbs could also be answered in that they were designed to remember how the Israelites anguished in the slavery (Exodus 2:23). The reason as to why the bitter herbs were twice dipped in water is that it signifies how bad slavery in Egypt was and the only hope is god who should have mercy on his people and wherever thee is calamity, rescue them and make them happy. The reason people eat reclining is that today they are free to come to the lord as compared in the order days when they were bound and cried to the lord for his everlasting mercies. (Marvin 2004, 37)
In verse 18, he told them "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening". This means that the festival was to last for the seven days where they were supposed to continue eating the unleavened bread as God had instructed. This was to symbolize the day that God got his people from slavery in the land of Egypt. (William, 1998)
In verse 19, he said that "Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land". This was the bread of haste that God commanded his people to eat for the seven days because they were in hurry and had no time to bake the raised bread. This is because had plans for them to get out of Egypt and wanted them to waste no time because they were going to leave any time. In remembrance of this day, they were to prepare the unleavened bread to show that they left in hurry and had no time to wait for their bread to rise. This is the reason that even in verse 20, he continues to stress on the unleavened bread y saying that "You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread".
In verse 21, Moses gathered all Israel elders and asked them to take lambs for their families and kill them in preparation for Passover. "Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb". God had instructed that it was only for the elders of the families to take and kill the lambs for Passover festival and no one else and this is the reason why Moses made sure they did.
In verse 22, God had asked Moses to tell his people on how they were to apply blood on the lintels and doorposts for the angel of doom to distinguish their houses from those of the Egyptians. "You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.” God called Moses and Aaron and instructed them to choose for every family a lamb that was supposed to be 1 year old. This lamb was supposed to have no blemish and was slaughtered and eaten together with the unleavened bread as well as with bitter herbs. The people were not supposed to break any of the bones from the slaughtered lamb. In the same verse 22 the same chapter, God said to Moses that the people of Israel were to take a bunch hyssop which they dipped in the basin where the blood had been put and then applied some of it to two of the door posts as well as the lintels so that when the angel came. He knew which house belonged to the Israelites and which belonged to the Egyptians.
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To God, it was his plan that every family that belonged to the Israelites to participate in the cerebrations that he had instructed them because he did not want to leave any one behind. This means that God does not favor anybody and that he is there for anyone who hears and follows his instructions the way he wants. He thus instructed that each of the Israelite family to slaughter a lamb and that if there was a family that felt small to consume the whole lamb alone should join with another family. This is the essence of sharing that god wants for us all and the people of Israel having been faithful to the lord followed the instructions and did not feel offended in any way. It is from the killed lamb that the people of Israel were to get the blood that they sprinkled on their doorposts as a mark when the angel came to destroy the people of Egypt. The people were also ordered that they were not supposed to go out of their houses until the morning came in the same chapter. The killed lamb was also to bee eaten in the manner that God himself ordered Moses and Aaron and every body that needed deliverance had to follow the instructions given by God. (Childs 2003, 345)
When the angel came, he was supposed to pass over the houses that were marked by the blood and on those not marked; he killed Egyptian’s firstborns. This is where the name is derived from and it began to be called the Passover of the lord. This feast was so holy for the Israelites of that time and they were ordered by god to keep on remembering it every year as a sign of how Israelites were delivered from the Egyptians and their preservation. This is because by the act that the angel passed over the Israelites houses, he preserved them in the sense that none of their firstborns got killed if they had followed the instructions given to Moses and Aaron buy god. In the new world, this is a sign of the remarkable type of Christ since even as Christ came to the world he came to restore every human kind and preserve the goodness in us through his blood that was poured on the Calvary tree. In the New Testament, the act of persecuting Jesus and finding him die on the cross is a representative of this holy feast. The Passover thus remains the most holy day for the Israelites and it is a festival that was never forgotten. The festival honors the migration of the Israelites from the land of Egypt where they suffered and wished for rescue. In Egypt, these people served as slaves and they were tired of it and every time prayed to god that he may see them out of it. For Jews today, this is the most cerebrated holiday and continues to be observed. God helped the Israelites to escape when pharaoh released them after observing his son die in the night of Passover. Therefore, the Israelites safety cannot be assumed to be due to their righteousness, but the mercy God had and gave them as a gift they had to remember in all of their lives. It is still applied in the New Testament since by Jesus dying for us, it was a gift that he gave us and every time we ought to remember and give lots of thanks to the almighty father for giving us the only son. That he has as a way to redeem us from the evil of the enemy whose name is Satan.
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When God plans to deliver his people, he makes sure that they are all like a new garment that has never been worn by any body. Pharaoh had bonded the people of Israel for a long time and time had now come for them to be taken away from the suffering they were always going through. God therefore presented himself to his people because they had proven so in his eyes and purposed to redeem them. When God presents to his people, to them they feel renewed in a magnificent manner and all the glories and honor go he that delivers them.
The events following the distractive night when the angel killed all the firstborns of the Egyptians and passed over the houses where there was blood on the lentils and doorposts were an escape for the Israelites. This was powered by the fact that among the killed sons was pharaohs own son and this made him feel very bad. He thus decided to end the era of misfortunes by releasing these people to go away from them. This night, the first male offspring of either men or cattle that belonged to the Egyptians were killed. Many people left together with Moses as he took with himself the bones of Joseph as was last instructed in his will. God guided them through a pillar of clouds during the day and at nigh, he used fire to guide them in their journey to the Promised Land Canaan.
In today’s world, Passover is still commemorated where the same pattern as found in the earlier days is followed. In the book of Galatians 3: 1, the bible shows how people involved in portraying what had happened before for the people to follow exactly what the Israelites did on the night of Passover. The proceedings explained in Galatians base on four cups to guide them all. The use of candles is employed where a word of prayer is made to bless the wine in the first cup. "Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, the Creator who brings forth the vine from the earth with its fruit" (Genesis 1:11). Today, this cup is the meant to sanctify. "I the Lord will bring you out from under the yoke of slavery" (Exodus 6:6) where God set apart the Israelites from himself. After this first cup, everybody in the congregation who wills to participate wash their hands. This is according to psalms 24:3-4 that say, “Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart". After the washing of the hands, each of the participants dips the herbs in salty water and eats. This is meant to serve as a reminder that in the earlier days the Passover was cerebrated with bitter herbs where in this case the salt makes the herbs to taste bitter (Exodus 12:8). The bitterness is the indication of how bitter the children of Israel were in their slavery ion the land of Egypt where pharaoh refused their escape in other lands because to him they were supposed to work for him. They used to cry from pain and suffering and the bitter herbs in this scenario made the participants to shed tears. "The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help went up to God" (Exodus 2:23). This is why God had mercy on them and decided to punish the Egyptians so that the stubbornness of their king could be softened to release these children from the bondage of slavery. Through these bitter herbs therefore, Jewish remember God as the source of all the good things there are in the world. The head of the family or congregation then takes the bread and breaks it such that one-half is wrapped and kept aside in a white cloth made of linen and this is the dessert. Three pieces of the bread are kept in the remembrance of god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who keeps his covenant and who rescued the Israelites from bondage. The breaking of the bread in the middle signifies that Abraham, Jacob and Isaac represent the holy tri-unity. Abraham willingly offered his only son as a sacrifice just as Jesus Christ was offered as a sacrifice by God himself even as he is the only son God had. (Genesis 22:2, 12) (John 3:16).
On this day therefore, God established a feast as that of the Old Testament as pascha to also mean Passover. This is meant as a way to deliver Gods people from all misfortunes of any kind just as the Hebrew were passed by the angel of death during Passover night. The lambs blood was used by the Hebrews to save their firstborns from the death by the angel of death just like savior himself seen as the lamb of God took all the sins of the world by himself and whose blood is used to deliver anybody faithful to his words from eternal death. In the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus Christ signifies that eternal death has passes over human kind and that Jesus rescued us from the bondage of Satan to eternal life. (Roukema and Spronk, 2010)
Slavery today could mean all the misfortune every one encounters in the lives we live in. it could consist of all the evils that devil himself brings to god’s people such that they are not happy as they are supposed. It is thus upon the faithful that they focus their faith to God and hope for his mercies just as the Israelites did. We should trust in god because we can learn from the bible that his promises are for real. In exodus, we learn that god promised Moses of a land where they would be free from all the sufferings and where they would be free at last. In the end, God really fulfills this promise because he has abundant mercies and his word never fails. When given instructions it is always good to follow them so that to avoid destruction like it could have been the case for the Israelites who did not do as Moses instructed. This way, god’s promises will surely be real and his mercies upon is people will keep on adding time after time. (Weinstein 1997, 37)