The origin of Passover - Passover celebration - Artist unknown

The origin of Passover

The Israelites lived in Egypt for 430 years. At the end of 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt. Because God kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night, all Israelites are instructed to keep vigil to honor God for the generations to come.

God told Moses and Aaron,

“These are the regulations for the Passover meal. No foreigner may eat it. Any slave you have brought may eat it if they have been circumcised. A temporary resident or hired worker may not eat it.

The meal must be eaten inside the house – take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones. The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.

A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised – then he may take part like one born in the land.”

The origin of Passover came from these instructions and all the Israelites did just as the Lord commanded. And on that very day, God brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.

What the story means to us today

Moses and the origin of Passover – A special event for the Israelites to celebrate God’s grace and protection during the exodus

Passover celebration - Artist unknown

God “kept vigil” over the Israelites to protect them and ensure they could escape Egyptian enslavement. The purpose of Passover if for the Israelites to “keep vigil” to honor God for his grace and protection. It is a special event reserved for the Jewish people to celebrate their freedom. As such, God places special requirements and restrictions over the event to ensure its sacredness to the Jewish people is upheld.

Additional thoughts and considerations

430 years in Egypt

The Bible tells us the Israelites lived in Egypt for 430 years. We were already told in Genesis 15:13,

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“Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.”

Since genealogies suggest the time would be closer to 100 years, scholars have long compared the time spent in Egypt to biblical genealogies and tried to reduce the years the Bible tells us the Hebrews spent in Egypt. This reconciliation however, is unneeded.

Some propose that the genealogies listed in Exodus (Levi – Kohath – Amram – Moses) are simply summaries, not a complete genealogical list. Other biblical genealogical listings (e.g. 1 Chronicles 2:3-230, Numbers 10:22, 1 Chronicles 7:22-26) suggest that indeed, the four generations leadup to Moses by Exodus’ account may not be a complete listing. Thus these shortened genealogies may appear to inaccurately compress the Bible’s timeline.

May foreigners partake of the Passover meal or not?

Passover celebration - Artist unknown

Verse 43 says, “No foreigner may eat it” while verse 48 says, “a foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all males in the household circumcised.” The directives ensure the Passover celebration is not taken lightly. It is a celebration of Israel’s freedom and should be celebrated by Israelites. Thus, foreigners are prohibited from participating unless they are (1) members of the community and (2) circumcised like an Israelite.

Bible Text

NIV

40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD’s divisions left Egypt. 42 Because the LORD kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the LORD for the generations to come.

43 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover meal:

“No foreigner may eat it. 44 Any slave you have bought may eat it after you have circumcised him, 45 but a temporary resident or a hired worker may not eat it.

46 “It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones. 47 The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.

48 “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the LORD’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it. 49 The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.”

50 All the Israelites did just what the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the LORD brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.

The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.

The NET Bible

12:40 Now the length of time the Israelites lived in Egypt was 430 years. 12:41 At the end of the 430 years, on the very day, all the regiments of the LORD went out of the land of Egypt. 12:42 It was a night of vigil for the LORD to bring them out from the land of Egypt, and so on this night all Israel is to keep the vigil to the LORD for generations to come.

12:43  The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover. No foreigner may share in eating it. 12:44 But everyone’s servant who is bought for money, after you have circumcised him, may eat it. 12:45 A foreigner and a hired worker must not eat it. 12:46 It must be eaten in one house; you must not bring any of the meat outside the house, and you must not break a bone of it. 12:47 The whole community of Israel must observe it.

12:48 “When a foreigner lives with you and wants to observe the Passover to the LORD, all his males must be circumcised, and then he may approach and observe it, and he will be like one who is born in the land—but no uncircumcised person may eat of it. 12:49 The same law will apply to the person who is native-born and to the foreigner who lives among you.”

12:50 So all the Israelites did exactly as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron. 12:51 And on this very day the LORD brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt by their regiments.

Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006. Print.

New King James Version

40 Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years—on that very same day—it came to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It is a night of solemn observance to the LORD for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the LORD, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations.

43 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it. 44 But every man’s servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it. 45 A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it. 46 In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to 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 a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. 49 One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.”

50 Thus all the children of Israel did; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. 51 And it came to pass, on that very same day, that the LORD brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt according to their armies.

The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

The Message

      40–42 The Israelites had lived in Egypt 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, GOD’s entire army left Egypt. GOD kept watch all night, watching over the Israelites as he brought them out of Egypt. Because GOD kept watch, all Israel for all generations will honor GOD by keeping watch this night—a watchnight.

      43–47 GOD said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the rules for the Passover:

      No foreigners are to eat it.

      Any slave, if he’s paid for and circumcised, can eat it.

      No casual visitor or hired hand can eat it.

      Eat it in one house—don’t take the meat outside the house.

      Don’t break any of the bones.

      The whole community of Israel is to be included in the meal.

    48 “If an immigrant is staying with you and wants to keep the Passover to GOD, every male in his family must be circumcised, then he can participate in the Meal—he will then be treated as a native son. But no uncircumcised person can eat it.

    49 “The same law applies both to the native and the immigrant who is staying with you.”

    50–51 All the Israelites did exactly as GOD commanded Moses and Aaron. That very day GOD brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, tribe by tribe.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005. Print.

King James Version

40 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.

43 And 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. 50 Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. 51 And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.

The Holy Bible: King James Version. Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009. Print.

Sources: NIV, The Message, The NET Bible, King James Version, NET Bible Notes, Faithlife Study Bible, The Apologetics Study Bible, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary, The Bible Reader’s Companion, Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Holman Concise Bible Commentary, The Bible Exposition Commentary, The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, The Teacher’s Commentary, The Bible Guide, Word Studies in the New Testament, Holman Bible Handbook, Calvin Commentaries, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines, The New Manner and Customs of the Bible, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Bible Dictionary, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, The Archaeological Encyclopedia, Biblical Archaeology Review, The New Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Analytical Lexicon, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database
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