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About the Passover Seder

When Israel was in Egypt, Yahweh told Israel to keep the Passover by taking a lamb on the tenth of the month, and then offering it up on the afternoon of the fourteenth. Our forefathers were to sacrifice their lambs in the mid-afternoon, and apply the blood to their doorposts. Then they were to eat the Passover in haste, fully clothed, with their staves in their hands, as if ready to leave Egypt at any moment.

Shemote (Exodus) 12:7-11
7 “And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.
8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9 Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire — its head with its legs and its entrails.
10 You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire.
11 And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is Yahweh’s Passover.”

They were also told to observe it as an ordinance for themselves and their sons forever.

Shemote (Exodus) 12:24
24 “And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever.”

Yahweh is so specific that we might easily conclude we should do the same thing now. However, Yahweh later modified His instructions. In Deuteronomy 12, Yahweh starts a long monologue, in which He talks about how He wants us to keep the Passover whenever we live on the soil of Israel.

Deuteronomy 12:1
12 “These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which Yahweh Elohim of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the soil.”

(1) אֵלֶּה הַחֻקִּים וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר תִּשְׁמְרוּן לַעֲשׂוֹת בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נָתַן יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֶיךָ לְךָ לְרִשְׁתָּהּ | כָּל הַיָּמִים אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם חַיִּים עַל הָאֲדָמָה

This monologue continues in Deuteronomy 16, where Yahweh tells us that when we are in the land, we may not sacrifice the Passover in any of our gates, but that we are to go up to the place where He chooses to make His name dwell, and sacrifice the Passover there. Verse 7 says we are to stay the night there, and then in the morning we can return to our tents.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:1-7
1 “Observe the month of the aviv, and keep the Passover to Yahweh your Elohim, for in the month of the aviv Yahweh your Elohim brought you out of Egypt by night.
2 Therefore you shall sacrifice the Passover to Yahweh your Elohim, from the flock and the herd, in the place where Yahweh chooses to put His name.
3 You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life.
4 And no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the meat which you sacrifice the first day at twilight remain overnight until morning.
5 “You may not sacrifice the Passover within any of your gates which Yahweh your Elohim gives you;
6 but at the place where Yahweh your Elohim chooses to make His name abide, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight, at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt.
7 And you shall roast and eat it in the place which Yahweh your Elohim chooses, and in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents.”

When we live in Israel, we need to go up to Jerusalem, but what do we do when we live in the dispersion? Shaul (Paul) did not go up to Jerusalem for some fourteen years. What did he do in the meantime?

Galatim (Galatians) 2:1
1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.

Shaul undoubtedly ate the Passover in the dispersion because he tells the Corinthians to keep the feast.

Qorintim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 5:8
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The question is not whether Shaul kept the feast in the dispersion, but how Shaul kept the feast. Did he keep it as a modified Exodus 12 service? Or did he keep it like a traditional rabbinical Passover seder? And what should we do, today?

Shaul came from a rabbinical background. He was steeped in the traditions of the rabbis, and the rabbis believe that Yahweh did not just give Moshe (Moses) the Torah, but that Yahweh gave Moshe the authority to set Torah for his generation. Since the rabbis see themselves as heirs to this authority, they believe they have the authority to set Torah for their generation; and because the rabbis like set traditions, when they were separated from the temple they created a Passover seder service, to establish traditions for themselves.

The term seder means “order of service,” and the rabbis believe their order of service supersedes the one Yahweh gave in the Torah. It is true that it helps to have some form of tradition, but the rabbinical seder seems to contradict almost everything Yahweh says. While Yahweh says to eat lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, the rabbis tell us to place a shank bone on a platter, alongside an egg. They also place a lot of emphasis on four cups of wine, and the hiding of an afikomen (a piece of unleavened bread). And, while Yahweh said to eat the Passover fully clothed and ready to flee, the rabbis tell us to eat the Passover while reclining, and in a leisurely manner.

Some say the Last Supper looks like a rabbinical seder in that it was a leisurely affair in which the disciples reclined, and drank wine (for more details, please see “The Passover and Unleavened Bread,” in The Torah Calendar.) However, this is not proof that the Last Supper was a seder service, as Israelites have always broken bread and taken wine at all of their Sabbath and festival gatherings (except for Yom Kippur) going all the way back to Melchizedek.

B’reisheet (Genesis) 14:18
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of Elohim Most High.

Even if Yeshua hypothetically did hold the Last Supper as a seder meal (which is not a given), since it was the night before Passover, we do not have any reason to contradict the things Yahweh commands us to do in His Torah (such as eating in haste with our belt on our waist, shoes on our feet, and ready to leave “Egypt” at a moment’s notice). Yet because we cannot make animal sacrifices right now, we cannot keep the Exodus 12 service exactly as Yahweh states. Therefore, what should we do?

Some say that if we cannot keep the whole Torah, we should not keep any of it. (This makes no sense. If we cannot keep all of the laws of society, does that mean we should keep none of them?) Others suggest we should keep the rabbinic traditions, so as to be in unity with our Orthodox brothers and sisters (which sounds lovely until we stop to realize that this is a call to unite with those who put Yeshua to death, and who keep us in exile). Others believe we should follow Hezekiah’s example, and keep as much of the Torah as we can, while asking Yahweh’s forgiveness for the rest.

Divre HaYamim Bet (2 Chronicles) 30:1-27
30 And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of Yahweh at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover to Yahweh Elohim of Israel.
2 For the king and his leaders and all the assembly in Jerusalem had agreed to keep the Passover in the second month.
3 For they could not keep it at the regular time, because a sufficient number of priests had not consecrated themselves, nor had the people gathered together at Jerusalem.
4 And the matter pleased the king and all the assembly.
5 So they resolved to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that they should come to keep the Passover to Yahweh Elohim of Israel at Jerusalem, since they had not done it for a long time in the prescribed manner.
6 Then the runners went throughout all Israel and Judah with the letters from the king and his leaders, and spoke according to the command of the king: “Children of Israel, return to Yahweh Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel; then He will return to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria.
7 And do not be like your fathers and your brethren, who trespassed against Yahweh Elohim of their fathers, so that He gave them up to desolation, as you see.
8 Now do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to Yahweh; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve Yahweh your Elohim, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you.
9 For if you return to Yahweh, your brethren and your children will be treated with compassion by those who lead them captive, so that they may come back to this land; for Yahweh your Elohim is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him.”
10 So the runners passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun; but they laughed at them and mocked them.
11 Nevertheless some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.
12 Also the hand of Elohim was on Judah to give them singleness of heart to obey the command of the king and the leaders, at the word of Yahweh.
13 Now many people, a very great assembly, gathered at Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month.
14 They arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and they took away all the incense altars and cast them into the Brook Kidron.
15 Then they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought the burnt offerings to the house of Yahweh.
16 They stood in their place according to their custom, according to the Law of Moses the man of Elohim; the priests sprinkled the blood received from the hand of the Levites.
17 For there were many in the assembly who had not sanctified themselves; therefore the Levites had charge of the slaughter of the Passover lambs for everyone who was not clean, to sanctify them to Yahweh.
18 For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the good Yahweh provide atonement for everyone
19 who prepares his heart to seek Elohim, Yahweh Elohim of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.”
20 And Yahweh listened to Hezekiah and healed the people.
21 So the children of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and the priests praised Yahweh day by day, singing to Yahweh, accompanied by loud instruments.
22 And Hezekiah gave encouragement to all the Levites who taught the good knowledge of Yahweh; and they ate throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings and making confession to Yahweh Elohim of their fathers.
23 Then the whole assembly agreed to keep the feast another seven days, and they kept it another seven days with gladness.
24 For Hezekiah king of Judah gave to the assembly a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep, and the leaders gave to the assembly a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep; and a great number of priests sanctified themselves.
25 The whole assembly of Judah rejoiced, also the priests and Levites, all the assembly that came from Israel, the sojourners who came from the land of Israel, and those who dwelt in Judah.
26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.
27 Then the priests, the Levites, arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard; and their prayer came up to His set apart dwelling place, to heaven.

In verse 18, many of the people had not cleansed themselves, and yet Yahweh still provided atonement, probably because they were making an effort. Then verse 23 tells us that the people kept the feast an additional seven days, and Yahweh blessed them, showing that Yahweh typically smiles on honest efforts to obey His commandments.

Some will favor the rabbinical seder service, but my feeling is that we should stay as close to the Exodus 12 service as we can without making a literal sacrifice of a lamb. Yet if you feel like you should take a lamb on the tenth of the month, and then butcher it on the fourteenth either as a memorial, or as a teaching tool for your children, then let the children make him into a pet for four days. As gruesome as that might sound, the whole point is to help the children understand how Yeshua was sinless, and never did anything mean to anyone; yet He still had to suffer and die because of our sins.

Some people think of the temple sacrifices as a holy barbecue with the Creator, but in reality they are a stark object lesson about the wages of sin. The temple sacrifices are supposed to be felt deeply, as if one’s family pet is put to death. The idea is for your children to understand what it might feel like for Yahweh to have to give up His Son, so that we might live.

Whether you take a live lamb as a pet on the tenth of the month, or simply buy lamb from the store, Exodus 12:21 tells us that the Passover service is to be performed by households.

Shemote (Exodus) 12:21-22
21 Then Moshe called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb.
22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.”

According to verse 22, once the sun goes down, whoever is at your house should spend the night.

Shemote (Exodus) 12:3-7
3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.
4 And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb.
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.
7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.’”

One of the purposes of the Passover is to help our children understand what sin does. It is also to help them to know who Yeshua is, as well as who they are. Children enjoy re-enacting the plagues, and painting (imaginary) blood on the doorposts, to protect them from the plagues. Help them to understand how Yeshua is the door.

Yochanan (John) 10:7-9
7 Then Yeshua said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.
9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”

One thing you should not do is eat the meal in a slow, leisurely fashion. Rather than reclining at the Passover, (as if we have arrived at permanent freedom), we are to eat the Passover in haste, with our loins girded, ready to flee “Egypt” at Yahweh’s command. This is because all of Yahweh’s festivals still have future fulfillments.

The Passover is a miqra qodesh, or what Strongs’ Concordance calls a set-apart rehearsal.

OT:4744 miqra’ (mik-raw’); from OT:7121; something called out, i.e. a public meeting (the act, the persons, or the place); also a rehearsal.

Shaul also tells us that the festivals are rehearsals for future events. In Colossians 2:16-17, Shaul tells us the Sabbath, festivals, and new moon days are all a “shadow of things to come.” However, the King James Version (KJV) supplies two words in italics (days and is) which invert the true meaning of this passage.

Colossians 2:16-17, KJV
16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moons, or of the sabbath days:
17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
BGT Colossians 2:
16 Μὴ οὖν τις ὑμᾶς κρινέτω ἐν βρώσει καὶ ἐν πόσει ἢ ἐν μέρει ἑορτῆς ἢ νεομηνίας ἢ σαββάτων·
17 ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων, τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ.

Because of these two added words (days and is), the KJV leads us to believe no one (not even the body of Messiah) can tell us what to eat, what to drink, or what days of worship to keep, because such things are supposedly no longer important. Yet once we realize that the supplied words days and is are not in the source texts, we should take them back out. Here is the same passage from the KJV with the supplied words days and is removed.

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moons, or of the Sabbath; which are a shadow of things to come; but the Body of Christ.

If we read this passage carefully, we can see that there are three main ideas here (1-2-3).

  1. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moons, or of the Sabbath
  2. which are a (prophetic) shadow of things (still) to come
  3. but the body of [Messiah]

If we rearrange the clauses to make the English read better (3-1-2), we can see that what the Apostle Shaul was really saying was that we should not let anyone but the body of Messiah judge us in what we eat, what we drink, and what festival days we keep; but we should let the body of Messiah speak to us about these things because they are all shadows of coming prophetic events.

Let no man (but the body of Messiah) judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moons, or of the Sabbath; for the festivals are shadows of things (still) to come.
[Colossians 2:16-17, reordered]

As we explain in The Torah Calendar, Yahweh works in cycles. Certain patterns work for Him, so He uses them over and over again. What He has done in the past, He will likely do again. Therefore, if we are not to allow anyone but the body of Messiah to tell us what festival days to keep, then perhaps we should not allow anyone but the body of Messiah tell us how to keep them either? If the Passover is a rehearsal of coming prophetic events, then why shouldn’t we keep it as close to the way Yahweh says to keep it?

As we show in Revelation and the End Times, the Ingathering will take place after the tribulation. In the tribulation there will be hunger, war, disease, and general societal unrest (if not outright collapse). Although Yahweh promises to take care of us, we are expected to do what we can for ourselves. While it might be cute to wear sandals and carry a literal shepherd’s staff for the Passover, it seems that Yahweh originally meant was to be ready to travel at a moment’s notice. (This is one reason our Jewish brothers and sisters have traditionally kept their wealth in liquid form, such as gold, jewels, and other portable items.) While it is fine for the kids to have some fun, this rehearsal is designed to help us prepare emotionally for the times to come.

People often ask what to read. The needs of each family vary widely, and I believe this is a decision for the head of each house to make. However, if you ask me, I recommend reading the Exodus 12 account (beginning in Exodus 12 or before), and then also reading about the Last Supper through Yeshua’s resurrection, either in one of the synoptic accounts (Matthew, Mark, and/or Luke), and/or in John. How much you read depends on your household, but I would advise reading about as much as you might read in a weekly Torah portion, and then have the same kind of open discussion. Yet it needs to be a special night, so your children ask why you do this once a year. How you do that all depends on your household.

I do not recommend this, but some might choose to keep the Pesach with their assembly, similar to how we will keep it at the temple when we come to His land. If you do it that way, then verse 7 would seem to indicate that you should probably spend the night inside the building (just as you would if you did it at home).

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:7
7 “And you shall roast and eat it in the place which Yahweh your Elohim chooses, and in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents.”

One area of discussion is the foot-washing ceremony. In The Torah Calendar we show how the Last Supper was the night before the Passover; and we show how Yeshua did not change the Torah in any way. Yet it is clear that Yeshua told us that we should wash each other’s feet.

Yochanan (John) 13:13-17
13 “You call Me Teacher and Adon, and you say well, for so I am.
14 If I then, your Adon and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.
17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

We can discuss whether Yeshua meant this spiritually or literally, and there are pros and cons to each side of the argument. My belief is that Yeshua did not add a day of worship, because to do so would have been to add to His Father’s Torah (which is prohibited).

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 12:32
32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.”

Yahweh’s Spirit is leading more and more Christians to be curious about the Passover, and they frequently want to come and participate. We should not do this, as the Passover is a closed festival (while the Feast of Tabernacles is considered open). However, there is no real issue holding a teaching seder, so long as it does not coincide with the actual Passover night.

But why teach people to keep a seder service? Why teach people to sit around a seder plate, pointing to a shank bone and an egg, when Yahweh wants us to rehearse for the second exodus? Why teach children to hunt for an afikomen, as if the Passover is all in the past?

As long as we are in the dispersion, we are in training and preparation for the day we go back to His land. In the meantime, we need to keep as much of His Torah as we can, so that He will want to call us back home.

May Yahweh be with us all, and lead us in His paths.

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