What Is Passover?

The First Passover

The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. Exodus 12:13-14 ESV

If you knew today was the last day you’d spend in a difficult situation, how would you feel? Tomorrow you might rejoice and say, “This is the first day of the rest of my life.” God had told Moses and Aaron, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year” (Exodus 12:2). Their calendar would change. Soon Egypt and slavery would only be a memory. But the feast would be commemorated by generations to come—forever (Exodus 12:14).

As Moses blessed the meal, did his voice tremble as he remembered in vivid detail God’s description of this day marked by death or deliverance? God had sent nine plagues; on this night He would send the tenth (Exodus 11:1).

PassoverThe aroma of the roasted lamb filled the room. Chosen four days ago, the one-year-old, blemish-free male had been slaughtered that afternoon; its blood had been sprinkled on the doorposts and lintel (12:7). Every Israelite family had done the same; their lives depended on it (12:3-13). All firstborn sons in Egypt who were not behind a blood-marked door would die that night.

Safe inside the house with Moses was his wife, Zipporah, and his sons, Gershom and Eliezer. His brother Aaron and sister Miriam with their families might have been there too, because the whole lamb had to be eaten.

All were dressed in traveling clothes, ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Their belongings waited by the door, including silver and gold jewelry God had told them to obtain from their neighbors (12:35).

At midnight, God struck down every firstborn son in Egypt—the firstborn of the Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, down to the firstborn of the prisoner in the dungeon. The firstborn of all the livestock died too (12:29).

Pharaoh summoned Moses and told him, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me” (12:31-32).

God delivered His people as He promised. Do you know and act upon the promises God has given to His people? To you?


What was the only provision the Israelites took with them from Egypt (v. 39)? After it ran out, what did God provide (see Exodus 16:1-36)? On what significant day did this provision stop (see Joshua 5:10-12)?

After the people left Egypt, what feast did God add to the Passover according to Exodus 13:3-10? What phrase is repeated in verses 3 and 9? How can you be encouraged as you pray for God’s deliverance?

Compare the promise made to Abraham regarding his descendants in Genesis 15:13 and what actually happened as recorded in Exodus 12:40-41. The numbers may be rounded off in your translation. What promises has God made to you that you’ve seen fulfilled just as He said?

Nancy J. Baker

Note: This devotion will be part of a series on Jewish spring holidays, including Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of First Fruits. To read more devotions on Jewish holidays, go to the navigation bar and click on Dig into Holidays under Dig into Devotions.



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