CHRIST IN THE PASSOVER #6
From the book of the same name by Ceil and Moishe Rosen (1978)
THE CONTEMPORARY PASSOVER
As long as the second Temple stood, Jerusalem remained the
hub of Jewish life. Then, in A.D.70, Roman legions leveled the
great house of worship. The prophetic words of Jesus became
history, its pages written in blood and stained with tears. 1
(NO! It was not so! Jesus' words are not history, they are still
prophetic! The Temple was not destroyed fully to fulfil Jesus'
words about one stone not being left on another. The WAILING WALL
that religious Jews visit and pray before each day of the year,
is PART of the outer wall of the Temple of Christ's day. This
prophecy in Matthew 24 is YET to be fulfilled. See my studies on
prophecy on this Website - Keith Hunt)
Only rubble and ashes - painful reminders of past splendor -
covered the Temple site. (Not so! When the Jews regained all of
Jerusalem in the 1967 6 day war, they moved away the rubble and
whatever....to discover that part of the Temple Wall had survived
the centuries of wars over Jerusalem, by the mighty protective
hand of the Lord, and there today the Jews worship before this
Wall - Keith Hunt)
Exiled, without an altar and without a sacrifice, the Jewish
people felt a deep need to remember and rehearse the great things
Jehovah had done for them in days past. They clung to the hope
that once again He might do marvelous things for His people.
It is fitting that this hope should continue to burn in the
hearts of God's chosen people, for "the gifts and calling of God
are without repentance" (Romans 11:29). Against all odds, through
centuries of oppression and struggle, the Jewish people survived.
They nurtured the memories of the past and fervently looked for a
future deliverance. Each Jewish family, each small community,
bore the responsibility of keeping a spark of faith alive in the
darkness and despair of exile. The holidays and traditions -
links in the chain of survival - became more important than ever.
So the celebration of "The Season of Our Deliverance" took on new
meaning and a new setting.
1 "There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not
be thrown down" (Matthew 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 21:5-6).
The people of the Diaspora ***embellished and added*** to
the required ritual of the Passover in order to intensify and
reinforce the holiday's meaning. They wrote special songs so the
ear might have melodies and rhythms to remind the heart;
celebrants reclined on cushions to promote a sense of freedom and
relaxation; they used lamps and candles to give a greater measure
of brightness so they could see the festival's familiar elements
in a new light. Even the sense of taste was involved as they
adopted new foods from new cultures to enhance the holiday table
with unique and savory dishes. They continued to drink the four
cups of wine to symbolize gladness. Still, the main course of the
feast was conspicuously missing!
(The Jews, rejecting Christ as Messiah, were rejecting also the
New Testament Passover as instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ.
They added traditions upon traditions, made up their own religion
so to speak, thinking God would still accept them - see Mark 7:7
- Keith Hunt)
What can Passover be without the Passover lamb? It is like a
birthday party complete with cake and candles for a departed
loved one, or like a wedding without the bride.
JEWISH PASSOVER ON EVE OF
UNLEAVENED BREAD FEAST
The holiday that Jewish people today call Passover is really
the eve of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The remembrance of
redemption from death by the blood of the lamb is overshadowed by
emphasis on the redemption from Egyptian slavery and thoughts of
national liberty. Nevertheless, we still call the holiday
Passover. Although this is not entirely accurate, there is good
precedent for using the title. Even as far back as Bible times,
the two observances - Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread
- were referred to by both names, and they were often treated as
one holiday. 1
How, then, do Jewish people celebrate Passover today? We
shall not find the answer in the synagogue. It is not in the
pages of the well-worn prayer books; nor is it in the parchment
scrolls of Holy Writ encased in their mantles of
1 Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:1. Josephus once called it
"A feast for eight days" ("Antiquities" 2. 15.1; cf. 3.10. 5 and
9. 13. 3).
(And in that one instant from Josephus it the truth of the matter
- indeed 8 full days covered the original Passover of the 14th
and 7 days of Unleavened Bread - all proved in my Passover
studies - Keith Hunt)
scarlet and blue velvet, embroidered with gold and silver thread.
The first Passover ritual took place in individual homes.
There they were, Hebrew families gathered around the table for a
meal - a meal that was to become the epic symbol of past
redemption and future hope. So we must look again into the home,
the family unit, to see and know the Passover of today.
(Interesting, if only to know how the Jews observe it without
Christ in the Passover - Keith Hunt)
The Jewish housewife tackles her spring cleaning with a holy
zeal! This is because Passover comes in the spring, in the month
of Nisan, also called Abib. She is preparing to obey the command
in Exodus 12:19: "Seven days shall there be no leaven found in
your houses." Do the walls need paint, carpets need shampooing,
cupboards need rearranging? Wait until just before Passover! The
straw broom of ancient days has given way to the vacuum cleaner;
and instead of the city dump, we have garbage disposals. The
means may be different, but the end result is still the same.
Every scrap of bread, every cookie crumb, every bit of yeast,
every speck of baking powder or other leavening agent must go.
The housewife must also banish from the home all grain products
that have the capability of becoming leavened. If she has too
many of these costly staples to throw away, the rabbis have
provided a remedy. She stores all the items in one place in the
house. This can be a high, out-of-the-way shelf or, better yet,
an unused room. Then she finds a Gentile friend, who is not bound
by the laws of Israel, to buy title to all the leaven. The
purchase price is a token amount, usually a dollar or two. Now,
technically, the leaven is no longer in the possession of the
Jewish householder, though it remains locked away in the house.
After the seven days of the holiday, the Gentile friend will sell
back all the leaven (for the same low price, one would hope!).
(Weeeelllll, without God and the "spirit of the law" and Christ
in your heart, I guess you can come up with all kinds of ways to
get around the literal and physical part of this Feast - Keith
THE 13TH OF NISAN/ABIB
Now it is the thirteenth of Nisan, the day before the
Passover celebration. The house is hospital clean. Even the
floors gleam and sparkle. The rays of the late afternoon sun
stream in through windows so spotless they look invisible. Not in
any corner, nor under any piece of furniture, is there so much as
a speck of dust or a crumb of leaven. But the house is not yet
As in ancient times, the ceremonial search for the leaven,
called 'Bedikat Chametz,' must follow. The ceremony and the
prayer remain much the same as they were two thousand years ago,
and the man of the house gets the credit for all the backbreaking
work. Some rabbinical authorities command that he must search
every room; others say only those rooms that would normally have
food in them.
For the search, the head of the house takes with him a
child, to hold the lighted candle, and some strange cleaning
equipment - a wooden spoon, a feather, and an old cloth napkin.
He searches upstairs and downstairs, in the attic, in the
basement, and in all the rooms until he comes to the last room.
The housewife knows beforehand which room this will be. Just so
he will not have said the prescribed prayer in vain, she has
placed a few crumbs in a highly visible spot where he can find
them easily. They may be the crumbs from his morning toast, but
now they are something unclean! He points the feather at the
offending material and sweeps it into the wooden spoon. Then he
wraps spoon, feather, and crumbs in the old napkin and pronounces
the words of the ancient formula: "Now I have rid my house of
leaven." 1 The next morning he joins the other men of the Jewish
community at a desig-
1 This prayer is called the "Kal Hamira." Cf. chap. 5, p.47.
nated ritual bonfire. They all toss in their bundles of leaven
and return home ready for the Passover.
(The Jews, from the Pharisee religion are about 24 hours late in
observing the true and original Passover; they combined the
Passover with the eve of the 15th Sabbath day, hence making the
total 7 days instead of 8 as Josephus, the Jewish historian [and
Pharisee] of the first century admitted it was, knowing in his
mind that originally the Passover and Unleavened Bread feast was
a total of 8 days not 7 days - Keith Hunt)
CLEANING RITUAL OF
After the house is ritually clean, the housewife puts away
the everyday dishes and brings out special dishes that are used
only at Passover. If the home is too poor to afford special
dishes, the old dishes must be ritually cleansed. This is a
complicated process. The rule is that the metal utensils like
pots and pans must be heated until red hot; cutlery must be
placed in boiling water; glazed ware must be soaked in cold
water. Because unglazed pottery is too porous and cannot be
cleansed, it must be put away until after the holiday.
THE SEDER TABLE
At sundown on the fourteenth of Nisan, (THIS IS THE END OF
THE 14TH they are talking about - Keith Hunt) everything is in
readiness for the beginning of the festivities. The children are
as scrubbed and shiny as the furniture, and everyone is wearing
new clothes. Hunger - teasing aromas float out of the steamy
kitchen and fill the house, making it difficult to concentrate on
other matters. But it is not yet time for the food.
The stage is set in the dining room for the ceremonial part
of the meal. The woman of the house has covered the table with
fine linen and lighted the candles as though in preparation for
the Sabbath. Indeed, the holiday is considered a Sabbath, being
designated a "holy convocation" in the Bible. But this is no
ordinary table with ordinary place settings. (Indeed it is a
Sabbath of the 15th or 1st day of Unleavened Bread feast, as they
are 24 hours late in observing the original Passover - Keith
In a prominent place on the table sits the seder plate, the
focal point of the whole seder service. This seder plate is a
large, blue-enameled brass dish. It is specially designed, with
divisions for each of the six symbolic foods, but a poor family
may use an ordinary large serving plate without partitions. The
symbolic foods on the plate are much the same as those used on
seder tables for the past several hundred years.
First we see on the plate the roasted shank bone of a lamb
(or sometimes a chicken neck instead). The name of this symbol is
"zeroah," which means "arm," or, in animals, "shoulder." It
represents the Paschal sacrifice, which is no longer possible.
The zeroah also speaks of the outstretched arm of the Lord, by
which He freed His people from Egypt.
Next we see a hard-boiled egg that has been roasted to a
brown color. Its name on the seder plate is "baytzah," which
literally means "egg." However, the symbolic name for the egg is
"haggigah," meaning the holiday sacrifice that was made in Temple
times. Many interpret this egg as a symbol of new life and hope
and triumph over death (resurrection). Before the regular meal,
hard-boiled eggs are sliced and given to all the persons at the
table. They dip the eggs in salt water, which represents tears,
and eat them to portray mourning over the destruction of the
The seder plate holds three kinds of bitter herbs. Two of
these we recognize as being bitter. One, a piece of whole
horseradish root, 1 is called "chazereth" in Hebrew. The other
is freshly ground horseradish, in Hebrew, "maror." The third
bitter herb, surprisingly, is a piece of lettuce, parsley or
celery. It is designated "karpas," and is the first food that
will be eaten at the seder. The ancients considered lettuce and
endive to be bitter herbs. The Talmud states: "Just as lettuce at
first tastes sweet and then bitter, so did the Egyptians treat
our ancestors ... in Egypt. At first they settled them in the
best part of the land.... but
1 If horseradish is difficult to obtain, some people use a whole
onion or a whole, large, white radish.
later they embittered their lives" (Yerushalmi Pesahim 29c). In
the contemporary Passover service, the "karpas" is not usually
considered a bitter herb. Rather, it is thought of as a symbol of
life, because it is usually a green of some sort. However, Jewish
people of some cultures do use radishes or raw potato instead.
These substitutions remain in keeping with the ancient concept of
using bitters for the first course.
Last on the seder plate we see a sweet, brownish mixture of
chopped apples, nuts, raisins, cinnamon, and wine, called
"charoseth." Jewish people who come from Middle Eastern and
Mediterranean cultures, where they do not grow apples but have an
abundance of figs, use chopped figs instead of apples. Charoseth
is symbolic of the mortar or red clay of Egypt, which the
children of Israel used when they were forced to make bricks for
Pharaoh. The question may be asked: If this mixture represents
the bitter labor of Egypt, why is it sweet to the taste? "Ah,"
says one sage, "when we knew that our redemption drew nigh, even
the bitterest of labor was sweet!" Charoseth is not commanded in
Scripture. Nevertheless, like the eating of the hard-boiled eggs,
it dates back to very ancient times.
(Maybe it does go back a long time, but we can see MOST of all
this is added traditions and "make up your own religion as you go
along" ism - Keith Hunt)
In addition to the contents of the seder plate, three more
items are essential to the Passover table: the unleavened bread,
the wine, and the Haggadah.
The unleavened bread (matzo) of ancient times was flat,
round, and irregular in shape. Likewise, the handbaked matzo of
today, used by very strict sects of Judaism, is round and
somewhat irregular in shape. However, most modern matzo is
machine-made and square, measuring about seven inches by seven
inches. These flat, bland, crackerlike wafers are marked with
even rows of tiny holes. The perforations, which are put in to
prevent excessive bubbling of the dough, cause uneven browning,
which produces a striped appearance. In an earlier chapter we
examined the symbolism of the unleavened bread as a type or
picture of the sinless Messiah, Jesus. 1 The appearance of the
striped and pierced matzo brings to mind two verses of Scripture
that help to complete the picture: "With his [Messiah's] stripes
we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5), and "They [Israel] shall look upon
me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him"
The unleavened bread on the table is encased in a special
container called the "matzo tash." The matzo tash is a square,
white, silk bag that is divided into three compartments for three
matzo wafers. If the family does not own one of these bags, three
pieces of matzo must be stacked on a plate, each wafer separated
with a napkin; then the three wafers are covered with another
cloth. According to Jewish tradition, these three matzo wafers
symbolize a unity. Contemporary Judaism gives no set
interpretation of this unity, but there are several popular
theories. One school of thought declares it to be the unity of
the fathers - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; another thought is that
the unity represents the unity of worship in Israel, that is, the
priests, the Levites, and the rest of the congregation; a third
idea is that it is the unity of crowns - the crown of learning,
the crown of the priesthood, and the crown of kingship. Another
Jewish source explains that two of the pieces of matzo represent
the traditional loaves set out in the ancient Temple during the
festival clay, and the third is symbolic of Passover. 2 We shall
explore yet another interpretation later in examining the ritual
of the Passover seder.
1 Chapter 3, p.30.
2 Herbert Bronstein, ed., "The New Union Haggadah", rev. ed., p.
Also at the seder table, beside each place setting, are
small wine goblets - small because they will be filled with the
sweet, red Passover wine four times during the seder. The custom
of drinking four cups of wine dates back to ancient Temple times.
(Not as ancient as the writers would want you to believe - Keith
The Mishnah teaches that, according to two authorities,
Rabbi Yohanon and Rabbi Benayah, these four cups correspond to
the four verbs in Exodus 6:67, describing God's redemption: I
will bring you out; I will deliver you; I will redeem you; I will
take you to be my people.
(More Pharasee theology and traditions - Keith Hunt)
Two of the wine goblets at the table are usually larger and
more ornate than the rest. This night they are silver, with
intricate pictures of Bible history crafted into the metal. One
of these goblets sits at the head of the table for the ruler of
the feast; the other occupies a prominent place at the foot of
the table, before an empty chair. It awaits the lips of Elijah,
who, according to Malachi 4:5, is to announce the coming of the
Messiah. The prophet is the invited guest of honor at every
seder, for, should he come, it would indeed be the most festive
(The Elijah to come, will come, as Jesus said he would before the
coming of the day of the Lord, and will restore all things -
Mat.17:9-13. He came once in the form of John the baptist. He
will come again, but the Jews and all others will not recognize
him, as they did not in John the baptist. Only the "very elect"
will recognize the "Elijah to come" - Keith Hunt)
The Messianic hope prevails more strongly at Passover than
at any other time, for Midrashic tradition says:
"Nisan is the month of redemption; in Nisan Israel was redeemed
from Egypt; in Nisan Israel will again be redeemed" (Exodus
Rabbah 15:12). 1
The last item to notice on the table is a large, decorative
book called the "Haggadah." This book more than covers the host's
dinner plate. Bound in a royal blue, velvety cover, it is
inscribed with gold lettering and illustrated with many colorful
reproductions of ancient art. Next to each person's place setting
is a much smaller, plain, paper-
1 Cf. chap. 6, pp.53-55.
bound edition of the same book. The participants will need these
to follow along during the service. The Haggadah not only tells
what to do at the seder, but also when, how, and why. Haggadah is
Hebrew for "telling," or "showing forth." It is the same root
used in Exodus 13:8: "And thou shalt shew thy son in that day."
We find the same connotation in the Greek, where the apostle
Paul, in describing the Last Supper, writes: "As often as ye eat
this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till
He comes" (I Corinthians 11:26).
Our modern Haggadah is based on ancient writings in the
Mishnah about Passover. These fragments date back to the second
century. The first full record we have of the Haggadah is
contained in a section of an old prayer book called seder, or
siddur, which was edited in the ninth century by Rab Amram ben
Sheshnah. The Haggadah finally emerged as a completely separate
book in the thirteenth century. Much of the ritual and thought
contained in even the latest versions goes back as far as
Maccabean and second Temple times.
(Note, only from the SECOND century! Trying to make them fit into
the first century before 70 A.D. and the time of Christ, is NOT
possible - Keith Hunt)
These, then, are all the unique foods and accouterments on
the Passover table.
But before the ritual meal itself is examined, there is yet
another unusual feature to capture the attention. On each chair
around the table there is a pillow. Most are sofa pillows, but
often one or two bed pillows are used as well, for everyone must
have one. Every person at the table tonight will recline or sit
at ease during the ceremonial meal, for once we were slaves in
Egypt, but now we are free. Once we ate the Passover in fear and
haste, but tonight we eat in leisurely comfort and safety. We
celebrate redemption. We rejoice in liberty!
(But it is all in "vian do they worship me; teaching the
commandment of men, you make void the commandments of God" as
Jesus often said in the main, about the false religion of the
Pharisees and Sadducees. What you have read here, as the Jewish
"seder," means nothing without Christ in the center of the table.
And if He was of course the Passover observance would be as He
instituted it in the New Testament, and not as a Jewish "seder"
meal at the wrong time to boot - Keith Hunt)
To be continued