The question that was on the minds of the Israelite people as Exodus 11 drew to a conclusion was simple, yet carried many implications; how would they avoid the consequences when the angel of the Lord carries out the recently delivered tenth plague. The tenth plague, or the Plague of the Firstborn, would soon be carried out against the people of Israel. A plague that would see all first born, both of man and animal, killed throughout the night. The reasons to celebrate the original Passover become quickly evident. How would this original event evolve in the years to come? Why celebrate it after the initial occurrence? This paper will endeavour to uncover why the Israelites had to engage in the first celebration, how they celebrated it, and why many people today still celebrate the sacred tradition.
Although the origins of the Passover may be debated among scholars , there is common thought that the festival celebrates the Israelite’s exodus from the land of Egypt. Modern day thinking tells us that Passover is known as a memorial of the original festival, rather than something that is still practiced today. This festival can be compared to the Lord’s Supper that Christians celebrate regularly today. Although the act may not be a necessary to sustain life, the celebration remains as a tribute to the graciousness of God.
During the Exodus, there were a number of plagues placed upon the people of Egypt. The final of these ten plagues was the Plague on the Firstborn. A plague that would see each of the firstborn son’s of every Egyptian family die. This curse would also be applied to the cattle of the Egyptians as well. This plague was placed upon the Egyptians as a result of their behaviours towards Moses and the Israelite people. Through the plagues, Pharaoh, the Egyptian leader was being pressure by God to let the Israelite slaves return to their native land.
This plague was given very little description within the book of Exodus. While opinions may vary, it was unknown what type of death would be brought upon these young males. Similarly, it was unknown exactly how many would be affected. It simply is not stated whether all young males would be affected, or simply those who held the highest value. Whether it would afflict the best of the Egyptians, or everyone, it mattered not. The Lord had provided the opportunity for His chosen people to be set free from bondage. This freedom had not be known to them for several centuries.
Passover was to represent the moment before the movement into a new freedom. This was a meal that was designed with great care and obvious involvement by the God of Israel. Passover is to be celebrated by the Nation, yet as a close-knit family. Taking part in this festival meant that you were a part of His family and were bestowed with his protection and nourishment. Taking part in such a sacred meal not only delivered nourishment, it also spoke to the safety and protection provided by the sovereign God.