The Definition of Passover

The plague passed over the houses that had put the lamb’s blood on the sides and tops of the doorframes(Exodus 12:23-30)

To define the Passover, the greatest festival of the Bible, in one word is to compare it as an Independence Day. The one and only God, Jehovah, established the festival for the Jews under Egyptian rule around 1498 BC.

The plague of death that took place on the night of the Passover, passed over the houses that had put the lamb’s blood on the sides and tops of the doorframes in accordance to God’s command. Thus the Jews were dramatically emancipated from Egypt. Throughout Exodus 12, the story of the #Passover and the Exodus is clearly illustrated. Furthermore, the Israelites celebrated Passover as the day of the power of God who saved Israel from oppression in Egypt and gave them freedom.

According to the Torah1), the Passover is the first festival among the annual festivals of God to be kept year after year.2) In addition to that there is a warning that whoever does not keep the Passover will be cut off from the people.3) The #Passover date is the evening of the 14th-day, 1st-month and the evening of the 14th-day 2nd-month of the Jewish calendar (Religious calendar).4) In terms of seasons, it is in early spring.

In the New Testament times, the #way of keeping the Passover was drastically changed by Jesus Christ. On the Passover evening, Jesus ate and drank bread and wine symbolizing His flesh and blood with His disciples.5)

Early Christianity celebrated the Passover and preserved it. However, at the end of the #Paschal controversy between the Eastern and Western Churches around the 2nd century, the first #Council of Nicaea was convened by Emperor Constantine the Great of the Roman Empire in 325 A.D. And through the Council of Nicaea completely abolished the Passover.

Because of the chain of events, most of Christianity, including Catholics and Protestants, does not celebrate the Passover. In contrast, Judaism keeps its own tradition of Passover, centering on the family. In fact, the only group that slaughters the lamb according to the Old Testament law is the Palestine Samaritan Community.6) In truth, the only organization that keeps the Passover as it was in the early days of Christianity is the #World Mission Society Church of God based in the Republic of Korea.7)8)

The Passover is ‘פֶסַח (peh'-sakh)’ in Hebrew, derived from the verb 'פָסַח (paw-sakh)’, which means 'pass by' and 'jump over'. In Greek (Ancient Greek, Greek) 'πασκα (Pascha, pas'-khah)' it is an exact copy of the original language pronunciation. In Chinese ‘(pass 逾[yú], over 越[yuè], festival 節[jié])’, and English ‘Passover’ has the same meaning of, to ‘pass’, ‘over’.
(Other Chinese characters [pass 過, over 越, festival 節]).

When God established the Passover, He promised those who kept the Passover that He would make plagues pass over them. Also in Exodus 12, there is a record that the firstborn of any household of Israel who kept the Passover were protected from the plague of death.9)

In each language, the word 'Passover' is derived from the Hebrew word 'פֶּסַח (Pesach)' or the Greek word 'πασκα' (Pascha), which means to 'pass over’. Even in the Chinese character cultural sphere, the translation contains the meaning of, to ‘pass over’. However, because most of Christianity today does not observe the Passover, many people associate the word with the ‘Jewish Feast’ or use the word interchangeably with ‘Easter (actually Resurrection Day)’.

The word Passover expressed in various languages (in alphabetical order).

  • Nederlands(Dutch): het Joodse Paasfeest
  • Norwegian: : påske
  • German: Pạssah•fest
  • Latin: Pascha(festum Iudaicum)
  • Russian: еврейская пасха
  • Romanian: Pesah
  • Mongolian: Дээгүүр өнгөрөх баяр
  • Swahili: Pasaka ya Kiyahudi
  • Swedish: påskhögtid
  • Spanish: Pascua
  • English: Passover
  • Ukranian: Песах
  • Italian: pasqua ebraica
  • Indonesian: Paskah
  • Japanese: 過越祭(すぎこしさい)
  • Chinese: 逾越节[yúyuèjié]
  • Czech: pesach
  • Turkish: Fısıh Bayramı, Hamursuz Bayramı
  • Persian: فصح[fesh]
  • Portuguese: páscoa
  • Polish: Pascha(święto w judaizmie)
  • French: Pâque(juive)
  • Finnish: pääsiäinen
  • Korean: 유월절[yuwoljeol]
  • Hungarian: Páska

1)
The Hebrew Torah (תּוֹרָה, Torah) means ‘Law’. It refers to the Pentateuch, but also to Scripture.
2)
Leviticus 23:5-44
3)
Numbers 9:13
4)
Numbers 9:10-11
5)
Matthew 26:17-28, Mark 14:12-24, Luke 22:7-20
6)
Samaritan community in the West Bank, Public Radio International, 2011. 4. 22.https://www.pri.org/stories/2011-04-22/samaritan-community-west-bank
8)
Special Feature•500 Years of Lutheran Reformation – The Church of God and the Truth of the Bible, What do you believe and what do you practice?, Monthyly Joo-ang 2017 December issue, http://jmagazine.joins.com/monthly/view/318953
9)
Exodus 12:23-30