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Jewish Writer on "Passover"

Secularism and Evolutionism!

                           THE JEWISH FESTIVALS

                          History and Observance


                              Hayyim Schauss

                        (First published in 1938) 

(Please REMEMBER - you are reading a Jewish mind that not always
believed in the divine inspiration of the Bible [just as some
Christian teachers of today] and also from the Pharisee religious
teaching mind-set - Keith Hunt)



     Pesach, usually called Passover, is first in the calendar of
Jewish festivals. It is the greatest of Jewish festivals. For
over two thousand years it has been more than a holiday; it has
been the holiday, the festival of redemption.
     In addition, Pesach is the oldest of Jewish festivals. Jews
observed it in the most ancient of times, in the days when they
were still nomadic shepherds in the wilderness.
     Pesach is the Jewish spring festival. It begins on the eve
of the fourteenth day of the Jewish month Nisan. Originally it
was a seven-day festival and is so observed today Palestine and
among Reform Jews with only the first and seventh days as days of
rest. Due, however, to the unsettled state of the Jewish calendar
in olden times the festival was extended to last eight days
amongst Jews not resident in Palestine. The full holiday, with
cessation of work, is observed only the first two and the last
two days of the festival. The four intervening days are

(Originally the festival was, as other Jewish scholars admit, an
EIGHT DAY festival, the 14th and then the 15th to the 21st of
Nisan. Schauss' last comments are probably way out of date today
for Jews outside of Palestine - he was writing in 1938 remember -
Keith Hunt)

A Festival of the Shepherds

     Pesach was not always the holiday that we know today.
Generation after generation came and went, epoch upon epoch of
Jewish life passed by, and each contributed its strivings and
ideals, its hopes and emotions to the festival before it became
the great holiday of deliverance and freedom.
     Festivals change and develop in accordance with various
modes of life and periods of history. Holidays usually start as
nature festivals and are observed in that season of the year when
nature itself changes, and the ceremonies attending the holiday
grow out of these manifestations of nature. Later, however, when
men reach a higher cultural level, they give a deeper spiritual
meaning to the festival and the old ceremonies assume a new
symbolic significance.
     It is, therefore, true that a holiday is always older than
the interpretation which is given to it. First comes the custom,
the ceremony, the observance; no interpretation for them is
needed or sought. The ceremony explains itself. Later, after a
long time passes, need is found for an interpretation of the
festival and its rites. So, Pesach was originally a nature
festival, an observance of the coming of spring. Later, as time
went on, it became a historic and national holiday, the festival 
of the deliverance from  Egypt, and it thus assumed a newer and
higher meaning.

     Pesach as a spring festival is very old. Jews observed a
spring festival long befor the deliverance from Egypt. (It may be
wothwile to mention that according to a Midrashic interpretation
of the Bible, Lot baked "matsos" for the three angels because
that episode happened during Pesach. See Rashi on this passage).

     The beginnings of Pesach carry us back to those pre-historic
days when Jews were still tribes of sheherds wandering in the
desert. Wherever they found pasturage for their herds, they
pitched their tents and grazed their flocks. In the month when
the kids and lambs were born, the month that ushered in spring,
they observed a festival at full moon (the fourteenth to the
fifteenth day of the month). Every member of the family took part
in the observance this festival, which was featured by the
sacrifice of a sheep or goat from the flock. The sacrifice
occurred just before nightfall, after which the animal was
roasted whole and all members of the family made a hasty meal in
the middle of the night. It was forbidden to break any of the
bones of the sacrificial animal or to leave uneaten any part of
it by the time daybreak came.
     One of the chief ceremonies attendant upon the festival was
the daubing of the tent-posts with the blood of the slain animal.
It was clear to these primitive shepherds why certain ceremonies
were commanded and other practices forbidden. They knew that
observance was an antidote to plagues, misfortunes, and
illnesses, and that it was an assurance of good luck and safety
for the coming year. Similar beliefs, customs, and fetishes were
prevalent amongst other peoples, too.
     These primitive nomads knew why the sacrifice that was so
hastily eaten and the festival with which it was connected were
called Pesacb. It was not till a long time later that the meaning
of the word was lost and a new interpretation given to it. To
this day we cannot be certain what the word meant originally;
neither can we be certain of the details of the ceremonies and
rites that accompanied the observance. 

(Here we see the authors "un-inspired idea of the Bible" creeping
into his thoughts and writings - Keith Hunt)

     We do know, however, that the celebration was held at night
and that morning brought with it the end of the festival. We also
know that the ceremony was not tied up with any sanctuary or
priesthood; it was a family festival, conducted by the head of
the family. (That IS a fine point to note - a correct point -
Passover of the 14th originally had nothing to do with a
priesthood or Tabernacle/Temple - Keith Hunt)

     A time came when the Jews ceased to be nomads and settled in
Palestine. (Of course the author believed all Israelites were
Jews, which is not the case at all, as a reading of the Old
Testament should make plain to a reader that has no preconceived
ideas - Keith Hunt). But even then they did not forego observing
the spring festival of the shepherds which they had brought with
them from the desert. It was observed, naturally, in the rural
districts only, in those sections where there were still
shepherds who made a living from their flocks. There were more
shepherds in Judah, in the south, than in Israel, where the land
was more fertile and the inhabitants gained their main livelihood
from tilling the soil. (Now he does see a difference between
Judah and Israel, such at times is the strange mind-set of people
today who think of Israelites as just Jews - Keith Hunt)

An Agcricultural Festival

     The Jewish peasants of Palestine, those hwo lived by tilling
the soil, had another form of spring festival, one related to the
cutting of the grain, which they called "The Festival of Matsos
(Unleavened Bread). The grain harvest began in the spring with
the cutting of the barley and ended with the reaping of the
wheat, a season that lasted about seven weeks.
     Before the start of the barley harvest, the Jews would get
rid of all the sour dough (fermented dough used instead of yeast
to leaven bread) and the old bread they possessed; everything, in
fact, connected with "chomets," the leaven of the last year's
crop. We cannot know for certain, by now, what was the origin of
the removing of all sour dough and the eating of unleavened
bread. It was probably regarded as a safeguard against an
unproductive year. In later years the Jews created a new
interpretation for this old custom, just as they evolved a new
meaning for the Pesach eve ceremonies. (Again the author is back
to his mind-set of no "inspired Scriptures" or he would have
known exactly why "unleavened bread" was practiced. He will
continue his next paragraph with the same mind-set - Keith Hunt)

     The real importance of the holiday, however, centered in the
ceremony of the omer, the first sheaf of newly cut barley that
was offered to the priest on the first day of the harvest as a
sacrifice, as a gift to God. For, all people, in those days, had
the belief that everything that man used belonged to the gods and
they must, therefore, offer the best of everything, the very
first, to these gods as a gift.

     There was more than just this one seasonal, agricultural
festival observed by the Jews in Palestine. In addition to the
"Festival of Unleavened Bread," they also observed the "Feast of
Harvest" (Shovuos) and the "Feast of Ingathering" (Sukkos). These
three occasions were the greatest and most festive holidays of
the year and were always observed in a sanctuary. In those days
Jerusalem was not yet the only holy spot in Palestine; temples
were situated in many parts of the country. In addition, there
were holy sites known as "high places" in many small towns and
villages. These were hills considered holy by the Canaanites.
When the Jews settled in the land, they also used these hills as
places of sacrifice and worship. The Canaanites served their
gods, the baalim, in these "high places"; the Jews used the same
spots to serve their God. The "high places" were open to the sky
and on each one was a stone slab which was used as an altar for
sacrifices; each one also contained a sacred stone (matsevoh) and
a sacred tree (asheroh), objects which were taken over by the
Jews. The services on these "high places" were performed by a
priest, who was not only the most learned member of the community
and its spiritual leader, but who also acted as the judge in
settling all disputes of the region.

(The author mixes up the "high spots" with when Israel fell away
from worshipping God as the Lord had directed - Keith Hunt)

     The village generally stood on the slope of the hill, within
easy reach of the "high place" on top of the hill. At the coming
of a festival, the entire village would make its way to the "high
place" and there offer its sacrifices; they would then hold a
huge feast of the meat of the sacrificial animals, singing holy
songs and dancing religious dances. All were joyous and merry. In
fact, holy services in the sanctuaries were called "eating before
God" and "being merry before God." 

     Pesach and Shovuos were the seasons for the grain harvest,
the time of the year when there was much work to do in the
fields, and it was difficult for the Jewish peasant to leave his
home and travel to a geat sanctuary in a large center. He could
do this only at Sukkos, the autumn festival when he had finished
his work and the produce of his field and orchard was stored
away; therefore he observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread   
generally at his local "high place." (Not fully true at all, many
Israelites did travel to the Temple at Passover and Pentecost
festival time, as we see Jesus and his parents did at Passover,
as recorded in the Gospels - Keith Hunt)
     It is not hard for us to picture the simple, joyous scene on
that occasion; we can see festive Jewish peasants from hilly
Ephraim or from the Valley of Jezreel, winding up the hill in a
joyful procession, bearing the omer, the first sheaf of barley,
to the "high place." The priest takes the sheaf and, chanting
prayers and blessings, waves it over the altar, symbolically
giving it to God. (No! Many parts of the "festival" rituals were
only to be done at the central Temple location - first was Shiloh
and then Jerusalem - Keith Hunt)

     We must thus bear in mind that Pesach and the Feast of
Unleavened Bread were originally two distinct festivals, observed
at the same time. (Well, the same time in regards to one after
the other. But note he admits they were TWO distinct festivals,
which indeed they were. It was only after the Jews returned from
the 70 year Babylon captivity that the Pharisees put the Passover
on the evening of the 15th - Keith Hunt). 
     Pesach was the older holiday, the one the Jews brought with
them from the desert; the Feast of Unleavened Bread was newer,
instituted only after the Jews had settled in Palestine and
become farmers. (Wrong again because of his lack of believing the
Old Testament as inspired - Keith Hunt).
     Both were spring festivals, but the Feast of Unleavened
Bread was observed by the entire community gathered in a holy
place, while Pesach was celebrated in the home as a family
festival. (Now he does have that correct, which many today have
missed as they try to blend the true Passover with the Pharisees
Passover of the 15th - Keith Hunt)

A Day of Deliverance

Holidays are closel bound up with their spiritual culture. In the
course of time when the life of the people changes, then the
festivals of that people also change and assume a new character.
The ceremonies and rites, to a great extent, remain but they take
on new meaning. They are interpreted differently, given symbolic
values, and in this way become something almost entirely new.
This has happened with all festivals, ceremonies, and customs, as
it happened to Pesach. Jewish culture and Jewish life evolved and
changed during the early centuries that the Jews spent in
Palestine. Newer and higher conceptions and ideals arose and, in
time, the Jews forgot the meaning and spirit of the old customs
and ceremonies of Pesach and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Above
all, the idea of observing nature and the harvest festivals
ceased to appeal to the Jews. They had a much greater desire to
observe, in the spring of the year, a holiday with a historic
background, a festival that would represent symbolically the
social and spiritual strivings and ideals of the day. In answer
to this desire they began to emphasize Pesach as the festival of
the deliverance from Egypt.

(Ah ah, do you see how this author is filled with "secularism" -
the idea of "evolution" of festivals from people moving into
spirituality. He obviously does not take the Old Testament Bible
as inspired or truthful, but believes the Israelites made up
their religion and festivals all by themselves as they evolved
over time into "spiritualism" - Keith Hunt)

     This transition came very easily. The memory of the exodus
from Egypt burned brightly in the minds of the Jews, and with it
the memory that it was in the first spring month of the year that
they had left the land of the Pharaohs. The re-living of that
great event in the dawn of Jewish history became the chief motive
for the celebration of the spring festival. Spring, the time of
liberation for nature, and the idea of human freedom seemed to
fit very well together; in this way Pesach became the festival of
the freedom of the Jewish people, its deliverance from slavery,
and its awakening to a new life.

(The author believes the Israelites "gradually" moved into new
understanding of the "spring" festival, or they "adapted" it to
fit their present spiritual needs - Keith Hunt)

     All the customs and ceremonies which were bound up with
Pesach and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were then re-interpreted
and became associated with the deliverance from Egypt. Pesach,
for instance, was declared to mean "passing by or over"; and the
holiday was called by that name because God passed over the
Jewish homes when he slew the first-born of Egypt. The quickly
baked matsos, according to the new interpretation, were eaten
because the Jews were in such a hurry to get out of Egypt that
they had no time to leaven their bread and bake it properly. The
bitter herbs eaten on Pesach eve were declared to be reminders of
the bitterness of the Jewish lot in Egypt. Even the fruit salad
of the Pesach night, the charoses, was in later times bound up
with the deliverance; it was considered symbolic of the mortar
mixed by the Jews when they were slaves in Egypt.

(The author mixes up SOME Jewish additions and meanings added
later to the Passover, and so thinks it was ALL new ideas and
evolving religion on their part. He cannot see the true basic
Passover symbols were giving in Exodus 12, for he obviously does
not beleive in the inspired writing of the books of Moses - Keith

     These new interpretations were intended for a new
generation, to whom the old ceremonies lacked meaning. And one of
the foremost problems in those days of change was that of
enlightening the new generation, making clear to the young son
the symbolic meanings which the old ceremonies had assumed, for
the children were entirely strangers to the customs handed down
from the old days. (No they were not strangers, for the meaning
of the symbols of the Passover were never lost by the Jews, so
the children never lost them either - Keith Hunt)

"And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come,
saying, 'What is this?' that thou shalt say unto him: 'By
strength of hand the Lord brought us out from Egypt, from the
house of bondage.'"

     It was in this way that Pesach and the Feast of Unleavened
Bread were joined together, and two distinct spring festivals
became one historical holiday, a symbol of the striving of the
people toward national freedom. But, since the festival was still
bound up with the family, or, at most, the village community, it
could not yet become a great national holiday. It was only later,
when Pesach was observed by all Jews in one place, in one great
sanctuary, that it gained national importance.

(Again, total garbage! The Feast or the two Festivals were from
the time of Moses ... NATIONAL festival holy times. Especially
the tribes of Judah, and Levi, NEVER lost the national importance
of these two festivals - Keith Hunt)

     This happened in the last few decades before the destruction
of the first Temple, in the time of Josiah, King of Judah.
Israel, the great Jewish kingdom of the north, was no more. All
that remained was Judah, the smaller kingdom of the south. In the
reign of Josiah there was a strong progressive party, seeking to
reconstruct Jewish national life and establish it on a new basis
of justice and right. Sweeping reforms were instituted. One of
the most outstanding was the elimination of all the "high places"
because Jerusalem was declared the one sanctuary for all the
Jews. Sacrifices were forbidden anywhere else and only Jerusalem
was to be the goal of the pilgrimages made at holiday time. The
festivals, therefore, lost their local character and became
national observances that united all Jews in the one holy place,
the Temple in Jerusalem.

(The author tries to frame a "revival" in Judah, of truth and
God's word, as if this was the first time that Passover and
Unleavened Bread was brought into the light of present
understanding and teaching. Loosing something for a time and then
reviving it, does not of itself prove you just drafted the
spiritual truths for the first time and gave it the meanings we
associate with it today. If the USA lost observing the 4th of
July for a genersation or two, then under revival, found it
written in some book and started to teach and keep it again,
would not mean that generation was introducing it and giving it
up-to-date meaning. It would only mean they lost it and found it
again - Keith Hunt)

     Through this reform, the Pesach ceremonial took on almost a
new character. Since it was forbidden to make the Paschal
sacrifice anywhere but in the Temple at Jerusalem, it was
impossible to smear the blood of the sacrificial lamb upon the
doorposts of the houses. In general, the observance lost its
ancient weird character. The Book of Kings tells us truly that
such a Pesach as was observed in the eighteenth year of the reign
of Josiah, the year in which the reform was instituted, had not
been celebrated since the Jews settled in Palestine.

(It does not say in the book of Kings that the Passover was
invented with new rites and understanding and practices. The
context of the book of Kings and Chronicles simply tells us that
at different times the people departed from God, stopped
observing the Lord's Festivals, turned their back on God, and
then under some king HAD A REVIVAL back to truth and back to
serving God, including observing His Feasts. The book of Kings
does not say what the auhtor want you to believe - it's a
deceptive mind-bend he is leading you on - Keith Hunt)

     We cannot be certain how long a time passed before the Jews
accepted these reforms in practice and ceased to offer the Pesach
sacrifice in their own homes. 

(The truth on that is that among God's people the observance of
"family Passover" meal was NEVER lost! See my many studies under
"Passover" on this Website - Keith Hunt)

     Nor can we be certain how long it took for Pesach and the
Feast of Unleavened Bread to become as one festival. 

(Yes, we can know! It was AFTER the Jews returned from the 70
year captivity in Babylon, and the rise of the Pharisee religious
sect - Keith Hunt)

     But we do know that the importance of the festival grew and
that it became, in time, the greatest Jewish national holiday.
Sukkos remained the most festive and most joyous of the holidays,
but Pesach attained the greatest national importance.

The Greatest Jewish Holiday

     The highest point in the evolution of Pesach in the last
century of the second Temple, when the Jews suffered from the
heavy oppression of the Romans. It was during this period that
the Messianic hope flamed up, and in the minds of the Jews the
deliverance of the future became bound with the first redemption
in Jewish history: the deliverance from Egypt. Jews had long
believed that in the deliverance to come, God would show the same
sort of miracles that He had performed in redeeming the Jews from
Egypt. This belief gained added strength in this period of Roman
occupation and oppression. Jews began to believe that the Messiah
would be a second Moses and would free the Jews the self-same
eve, the eve of Pesach.  So Pesach became the festival of the
second as well as the first redemption; in every part of the
world where Jews lived, especially in Palestine, Jewish hearts
beat faster on the eve of Pesach, beat with the hope that this
night the Jews would be freed from the bondage of Rome, just as
their ancestors were released from Egyptian slavery.
     The ritual of the Pesach eve had, by that time, developed to
rich proportions and was entirely different from the spring
festival of the Jewish shepherds of old. 

(It is true indeed that the Passover among those OUTSIDE of the
truth of God, the elect of God, had become filled with strange
ideas, wrong practices in the Temple and the priesthood as taught
by the sect of the Pharisees. All of this is dealt with in my
studies on the Passover on this Website - Keith Hunt)

     The great Greco/Roman civilization ruled almost the entire
known world and influenced the Jews to observe their holiday in a
richer, more luxurious fashion. 

(Not sure how much the Greco/Roman world was to blame for this, 
but we certainly know the Pharisees had a large part in it all, 
as we know from Jesus' words in Mark 7 about their traditions 
making void the commandments of God and as He told His disciples 
to be aware of the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees - 
Mat.16:11-12 - Keith Hunt)

     They adopted the wine and the soft sofas and the other
luxuries that in those days were part of a feast. Jews still
partook of the meat of the sacrificial lamb, but not in haste, as
the Samaritan sect does to this very day; they ate leisurely and
reclined on the softest of cushions.
     The Pesach ritual at that time was a compromise between the
Pesach of the very old days that was observed in the home, and
the Pesach that followed it, the holiday that was observed only
in the Temple. Observance, therefore, was divided into two main
parts, and was celebrated in two different places, the Temple and
the home. 

(But the people of God knew, Jesus and His disciples knew, that
Passover observance on the 14th had nothing to do with the Temple
or priesthood. They true people of God observed the Passover
evening as it was always to be observed, in private groups in
homes, with the Passover meal - Keith Hunt)

     In the afternoon of the day before Pesach, the sacrificial
animal was slaughtered with elaborate ceremonies in the Temple;
it was then taken home, roasted, and eaten in groups, with
ceremonies that are almost identical with the Seder observed by
Jews today. Outside of Jerusalem, the offering of sacrifices was
not allowed and Pesach eve was observed in the home, in the
family circle, and in the synagogue. In some places, however, it
was customary to eat roast lamb, though no sacrifice was offered.

(This last pharagraph is totally wrong except for the fact that
the author is describing the Pharisee Passover, as they taught it
for the Temple and the home. The true people of God had always
known that the Passover lamb and meal and evening was totally in
their hands. They had always known the Passover evening had
nothing to do with the Temple or any priesthood. See all of my
studies on the Passover. I present this authors writings so you
can see the clever falsehood of the ideas of men and the
teachings of the Pharisee sect. See also on this Website the
study "Passover - A Seder Service?" - Keith Hunt)


To be continued

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