The Myth of a Jewish Passover

By William T Boyd 

Every year around the time that Christianity is preparing to celebrate Easter, (actually named for Ishtar, a pagan goddess!) we get a number of notices from the Jewish community about their preparation and celebration of the Passover. Anyone that ever went to Sunday school as a child knows about the Passover because of the teachings of how the Israelites were freed from the oppression of the Egyptian Pharos.

In order to refresh our knowledge about the House of Israel in Egypt we’ll have to go back to the beginning – just who was down there and who was actually “passed over” and removed from Egypt. Initially only Joseph was sent down to Egypt as the result of his brother’s jealousy. His story is found in the book of Genesis starting at chapter 37. As the story goes he went through some terrible times but was subsequently made the Prime Minister of Egypt, directly under the Pharaoh in authority. At that time the famine in Canaan where the family of Jacob/Israel was living forced Jacob to send some of his son’s down to Egypt for supplies. This story is found in chapter 42 of Genesis. Later of course the entire family of Jacob/Israel is moved down to Egypt and is given preferential treatment by the Pharaoh due to the relationship of Joseph in his government. We’re told that the party of Israelites consisted of approximately 70 individuals at the time they went to Egypt. They are listed in Genesis 42 starting at verse 5. In a prophecy many years earlier, God told Abraham:

“Know of surety that thy seed shall be stranger in a land that is not theirs and shall serve them and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation whom they shall serve, I will judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.” Gen 15:13-14.

The plight of the children of Israel in Egypt changed from the position of respect and admiration to severe oppression and slavery as the changes in the leadership of the government were implemented. After the nearly 400-year period had passed and the ruling made that all Israelite babies were to be slaughtered at birth we are told the story of the birth of Moses and how he was saved from death and became the adopted son of the daughter of Pharaoh. After some forty years of living as royalty and being educated in all the best schools in the nation, Moses is still attached to his Israelite source and in defending an oppressed brother kills an Egyptian. He is then forced to flee and goes out into the land of Midian and becomes a shepherd for a priest of that nation named Jethro. He is in this position for an additional forty years after leaving Egypt. In the well-known “burning bush” incident, Moses is told by God, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” The LORD also said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt … and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians…”

Moses is then sent back to Egypt and goes through the series of plagues upon the Egyptians ending in the curse of the death of the firstborn that required the blood on the doorpost known as the Passover. The procedure of preparation of the Passover lamb is quite detailed and set forth in chapter 12 of Exodus. Two things were required of the lamb, first the blood to be brushed upon the homes’ two side doorposts and the upper door post of a member of the congregation of Israel; this was the saving indication that a child of Israel lived here and was exempt from the death curse mandate for all firstborn. Secondly the lamb was to be eaten in a specific way to prepare for the exodus from Egypt under the auspices of the Lord God of Israel.

After spending the approximately 400-year period in Egypt (Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. – Exodus 12:40) the congregation of Israel had grown to a number approaching 2.5 million souls. The number of adult men is given as 650 thousand and assuming four people per family that is a logical number. In keeping with the prophecy given Abraham as to the people leaving “with great substance” we’re told in 12:35 &36 that the Egyptian people loaded the Israelites down with valuables.

Keep in mind that the people that were in Egypt for this extended period were specifically of the 12 tribes of Israel. It is noted that there was with them a “mixed multitude” that were not of the congregation of Israel. Although Israel did add Joseph’s two sons, Manassas and Ephraim, to the tribes they were still known as the “twelve.” When Jacob/Israel came back from his period of indentured servitude to his uncle Laban with his two wives, two concubines and twelve sons he was met by his brother Esau. Jacob was quite concerned about the reaction of Esau because of the bitterness and rancor that had occurred because of Jacob’s theft of the elder son’s blessing years before. That meeting is given in chapter 33 of Genesis and tells how Esau/Edom met with Jacob/Israel and then because of his substantial possessions “returned that day on his way to Seir.” Esau or Edom as he was also known had lived in the area of Mt. Seir for the entire period that Jacob/Israel had been in Egypt. So, both brothers had by that time become rather sizeable groups. The magnitude of Esau’s generations is shown in Genesis chapter 36. None of Esau’s tribes were ever in Egypt and were never under the bondage of slavery during that time. This is verified by the Edomites themselves later when they told Jesus in John 8:33 “We are Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man. How sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?’

At Exodus 12:14 there is a part of the order the Lord God of Israel gave Moses that verifies the exclusive nature of the Israelite Passover:

And this day (the day of Passover) shall be unto you (Israel) for a memorial; and ye (Israel) shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations (meaning all of Israel’s successive generations.); ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever

Later at 12:17 Moses is told, “…and ye shall make this day a perpetual ordinance for you throughout your generations.” (LXX)

Both of these quotes are meant only for the children of Israel. Throughout scripture there is no mention of any other group of people being included in the Passover directions.

At that time the children of Israel left Egypt and went for a 40-year stroll in the wilderness. They had experienced the plagues upon Egypt and performed the ritual of the Passover given to them and them alone. Their trek in the wilderness is not a part of this dissertation so we’ll leave them out there on their own.

So, I’ve written all the above to get to the point of who was at the Passover, who was the Passover meant for and was there anyone else that should be claiming participation it that ritual? The answer is of course not! For an Edomite Jew to claim alliance with the provision for the Passover there would have necessarily have been Jews involved in the original version – and there weren’t! All the names given in Genesis and Exodus associated with the Egyptian period and the preparation for the Exodus are strictly Israelites and the sons of Jacob/Israel. Prior to that the statement of the Lord God of Israel to Moses (who wasn’t a Jew) about being the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, (none of whom were Jews) did not include any of Esau’s/Edom’s progeny. Therefore, if the modern-day Jews want to claim participation in the Passover as a “covered” party they must do so on an uninvited basis. There were no Jews there with the original congregation and there was never another instance of that action being required.

Posted - 4.17.19