The Passover

The following outline is a handout given during a mid-week service where we studied the background of the Passover and Feast of Unleavened bread.  It was attached to our churches live facebook feed for those who were unable to attend.

The Passover

Exodus 12:1-33

The Biblical Narrative

  • The Passover is the tenth plague God sent to Israel.
  • Pharaoh would not allow the people to go free after nine plagues (11:10).
  • God instructed Moses that each home was to take an unblemished lamb for their house and poor neighbors (12:3-4).
  • On the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan, the first month of the Jewish calendar, the lamb was slain (12:6).
  • They would take the blood and strike it on the two side posts and upper door post of the house where they ate the lamb and stayed the night (12:7)
  • They roasted the lamb, flesh and all, and ate it with unleavened bread, and bitter herbs (12:8).
  • They were to eat is all, not raw, and were to be packed and dressed as though they were leaving (12:9-11).
  • God would pass through the land, and where a house did not have the blood applied to the post, he would take every firstborn male in the house.  The homes with the blood applied, the Lord “passed-over.”
  • This would be a memorial throughout generations (12:14).
  • God did precisely this, and after Pharoah’s firstborn died, he released the people from slavery (12:21-33).

Why Plagues

  • God sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh with the goal to secure the release of the Israelites from Egypt.
  • This would be done by God performed signs and wonders.  In Exodus 6:6 and 7:4, these are called “great judgments.”
  • At this time in history, Egypt was one of the most influential nations.  But using the ten plagues, Pharaoh and his people learned the hard way that there was no one like the God of Israel, who was supreme in heaven and earth (7:5; 9:14).
  • Plagues as natural disasters that the Egyptian deities could not prevent.7:14-25 water to blood – Hapi, the god of the Nile, bringer of fertility.
    • 8:1-15 swarms of frogs – Hek/qet, the frog-headed goddess of fruitfulness
    • 8:16-19 gnats – Khepri, god-like beetle symbolizes the daily cycle of the sun.
    • 8:20-32 flies – Same of the third plaque
    • 9:1-7 pestilence upon cattle – Hathor, Khnum, Amon, Geb, Isis, are all gods pictured as cows.
    • 9:8-12 boils on humans and cattle – same as the fifth plaque.
    • 9:13-35 hail, thunder, and lightning – Nut, the sky goddess, and protector of the dead.
    • 10:1-20 locusts – Serapia, protector from locusts.
    • 10:21-29 3 days of darkness – Re, the king of the gods, father of humans, the sun god.
    • 11:1-12:36 death of firstborn – Taurt, goddess of maternity and childbirth.
  • Plagues as Eschatological forerunners.  Symbolizing the deliverance of the righteous in the book of Revelation.

The Passover Lamb

  • Unlike the previous plagues where the children of Israel were exempt (cf. 8:22; 9:4), there were special instructions with regard to the sparing of the firstborn sons.  
  • The key provision was a one-year-old unblemished lamb in place of the firstborn son in the house.
  • This is an illustration of substitutionary atonement.  
  • First Corinthians 5:7 calls Jesus Christ our Passover lamb.
  • First Peter 1:19 calls Jesus Christ a lamb without blemish or defect.
  • John 1:29 calls Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.  John also says in 19:36 that not a bone of Jesus was broken, correlating to the commands in Exodus 12:46 and Number 9:12, the bones of the Passover lamb could not be broken.
  • A further connection to Christ as the Passover lamb is in Matt. 2:18-30 that tells us Christ died shortly after observing the Passover with His disciples.  Notice, he also instituted a new observance, a different meal called the Lord’s Supper.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

  • The Feast of Unleavened Bread began the next day after Passover and continued from the 15th to 21st day of the month.  
  • Since the people had to leave Egypt quickly, they did not have time to bake dough with yeast (Ex. 12:11, 39).  
  • The bread was to be ate with bitter herbs, perhaps to remind them of the hard labor they had been required to perform (cf. 1:14).
  • Mark 14:12, demonstrates the close relationship between the feasts of Passover and the Unleavened as one feast.

In conclusion, in Exodus 13:1-16, the Passover is further strengthened by instructions on the Feast of Unleavened Bread (vs. 3-10) and consecration of the firstborn (3:11-16).  These two sections stress that God’s redemption is both from and into (vs. 3-5 & vs. 8-11).  


Hamilton, V. (2015) Hanbbook on the Pentateuch (2nd Ed.) Baker Academic

Wolf, H. (2007) An introduction to the Old Testament: Pentateuch.  Moody Publishers

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