“It is the passover of the LORD.” (v. 11)

Exodus 11:10-12:14 Friday 7 November 2014


In this passage, the narrative flow pauses in thelead-up to the escape of God's people. Two themes are interlocked.The Passover meal is a preparation for the coming exodus. However,Exodus sets out the key features carefully because in latergenerations the Passover was to become an annual remembrance andcelebration of God's salvation of the Israelites from theirEgyptian bondage. Nothing was of greater importance in clarifyingand cementing Israel's identity and faith.

So significant is the ritual that it has reshapedthe calendar. The "month" (not named in verse 2, but later calledAbib or Nisan) marks the beginning of the Jewish liturgical year.It occurs in March-April. (The Jewish calendar year begins with themonth Tishri, in September/October).

The word 'Passover' probably means protection(verse 11). It is likely to be linked to the same word in Isaiah31:5, where a flock of birds hovering over Jerusalem is ametaphor for God's protective shield over the people. Putting bloodfrom the sacrificed male yearling lamb or kid on doorposts andlintel was a sign of God's protection. It was the first time thatGod had needed deliberately to protect the Hebrews from the seriesof plagues - so awful was the death of the first-born deemed tobe.

Many layers of meaning were later attached to thevarious elements in the Passover meal - not leaving any meat forconsumption the next day; the unleavened bread and the bitterherbs. In our passage, however, the main theme is 'readiness for ahasty departure'. Everything has to be done as easily and speedilyas possible to prepare and eat the meal. The family breaks normalcustom by getting ready for a journey before the meal is eatenrather than afterwards! God's salvation is about to dawn! Beprepared!

To Ponder

  • In Christian practice, Passover is forever linked with the lastsupper Jesus ate with his disciples (Mark14:12-25) and with the centuries-long celebration of the Lord'sSupper in the Church. What features of the Lord's Supper mean mostto you and which most puzzle you?
  • Jesus frequently called on his disciples to be alert andprepared for moments laden with great possibility for unveilingGod's presence and God's demands (eg Matthew 25:1-12). How in your personalspiritual life and in your congregation are you best kept 'on yourtoes'?
  • Reflect on the needs of a family grieving the death of a child.How is Christian compassion most sensitively and creativelyexpressed for them?


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