The Meaning Of Passover In The Bible And Why We Celebrate It

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Published by Kimberly Wall


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Passover is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the Exodus, when the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. The holiday lasts for eight days and is celebrated when Christians eat unleavened bread. The word “Passover” comes from the Hebrew Pesach, which means “to pass over.”

This refers to the story in the Bible where God “passed over” the houses of the Israelites when he was punishing the Egyptians by killing their firstborn sons. The meaning of Passover in the Bible is sometimes known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread because eating matzo is one of the main traditions behind the holiday. Passover dates change every year because the Jewish calendar is based on lunar cycles.

Key Takeaways

  • Passover is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the Exodus from Egypt, highlighted by the tradition of eating unleavened bread and remembering the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery.
  • In the Bible, Passover symbolizes the salvation from sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who is regarded as the Passover lamb in Christian interpretation.
  • Traditional Passover foods include the Seder Plate with symbolic items, unleavened bread (matzo), and other dishes like charoset and maror, emphasizing the themes of freedom and redemption.

What Is The Passover Meaning In The Bible?

The Lord’s Passover is one of the important holidays in the Bible. It commemorates the deliverance of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt by the mighty hand of God. According to the Exodus account, the Pharaoh of Egypt ordered that all the firstborn Hebrew males be killed.

Moses [1], a Hebrew prophet, instructed his people to mark their doorposts with the blood of the Passover lamb so that God would pass over their homes and spare their lives. When the Pharaoh saw that his own son had been killed, he relented and allowed the Hebrews to leave Egypt. The holiday of Passover celebrates this deliverance. It is observed by Jews and Christians alike.

Passover is a reminder that we are all slaves to sin. But, just as the Hebrews were delivered from slavery in Egypt and all their firstborns were spared as the Israelites marked their doors with lamb’s blood, we can be delivered from the bondage of sin through faith in Jesus. Christ is our Passover lamb, and his blood was shed to redeem us. When we trust in him, we are set free from our sins.

The Passover lamb was a symbol of obedience and sacrifice. Jesus fulfilled this symbolism when he obediently sacrificed his life for our redemption. We are forgiven and set free from the slavery of sin. We can then live our lives to the fullest, as God intended.

The holiday of Passover is a critical time for Christians because it marks the time of Jesus coming full circle. We remember the sacrifice of Jesus and his redemptive work as the Passover lamb on our behalf. It is also a time to celebrate our freedom from sin and our new life in him. As you observe this memorable holiday and Passover traditions, reflect on their Bible meaning and thank God for his amazing grace.

What Is The Story About Passover?

The story of Passover is told in the Book of Exodus. It tells how God used Moses to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and bring them into a covenant relationship with him. The Feast of the Unleavened Bread begins the night all the firstborn sons of the Jews were spared from death and the firstborn son of the Pharoah perished.

God spoke to Moses in Egypt, telling him to go back to his people and lead them out of the land. But before he could do so, God had Moses identify himself as God’s representative by performing miracles. God instituted a ritual meal at this time where they would partake of unleavened bread for seven days. He instructed all the elders that this was to be their statute for their sons forever.

When Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt, God cursed all the gods and brought plagues on Egypt until Pharaoh finally relented and allowed them to go. The Israelites left Egypt with great wealth: gold, silver, and livestock (Exodus 12:36).

As they traveled toward Canaan, they camped at Mount Sinai, where God gave them his laws and instructions for worshiping him (Exodus 20), such as eating unleavened bread for seven days. God threatened that anyone who disobeyed and ate leavened bread before the seventh day would be banished.

He then instructed them to build an ark called a tabernacle (Exodus 25:10–22) where they could meet with him regularly through sacrifices and offerings (Exodus 25:1–9). The Israelites were instructed to keep these laws forever (Leviticus 23:3).

Why Do Christians Observe Passover?

While it’s traditionally a Jewish holiday, Christians also find great meaning and solemnity in Passover symbols. For instance, lamb’s blood was used to spare the lives of Jewish firstborns when the Pharaoh decreed their deaths to purge them from the land of Egypt.

The Bible teaches us that Jesus is the proverbial lamb of God. Just like in the Old Testament, Jesus answered God’s call in the New Testament and shed blood for us to be saved from sin and be granted salvation.

faded brown illustration of the Last Supper and passover meaning in the bible

What Is The Passover Tradition?

The Passover tradition is a time-honored custom that the Jewish people have observed for centuries. It is a commemoration of the Exodus from the Land of Egypt, and it is celebrated in early spring. During the seder, special foods are eaten, specific prayers are recited, and unleavened bread is consumed until the seventh day.

The highlight of Passover traditions is the Seder. It is the reading of the Haggadah, which tells the story of the Exodus from the Old Testament. Passover is a time for family and friends to gather together and celebrate their heritage. For many Jews, it is one of the year’s most important holidays. The Passover tradition is a reminder of the deliverance of the Hebrew people from slavery in the land of Egypt.

It is also a reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins. We are reminded of the great price paid for our freedom when we partake in the meal during Passover.

We are also reminded of the need to be obedient to God and his commands. The Lord’s Passover tradition is an integral part of our Christian faith, and it is a time for us to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Passover commemorates our gratitude for our freedom in Christ, as told in the New Testament.

What Are Examples Of Traditional Passover Food?

The Seder Plate

The Seder Plate is a traditional Passover food that consists of six items. The items on the plate represent different aspects of the Passover story and serve as a food offering to the Lord. The first item is a lamb shank bone, representing the sacrificed lamb eaten when Passover begins. The second item is a roasted egg, representing new life and fertility.

The third item is bitter herbs, which represent the bitterness of slavery. The fourth item is the charoset, which represents the mortar used by the slaves in Egypt. The fifth item is a green vegetable, which represents springtime and renewal. The sixth and final item is salt water, which represents the tears shed by the slaves in Egypt.


Karpas is a traditional Passover meal that originated in Eastern Europe. The dish consists of boiled potatoes, carrots, and onions that are then fried in schmaltz (chicken fat). It is served with boiled eggs and pickled cucumbers.

Some people also add apples to the dish, which gives it a sweetness that offsets the richness of the chicken fat. Karpas is a hearty dish that is perfect for a holiday meal. It is also easy to make, which makes it a good choice for busy cooks. While it is not a traditional Passover food in the United States, it has become increasingly popular as people look for new ways to celebrate the holiday.


Maror is a bitter herb that is eaten during the Passover Seder. It is served with charoset, a mixture of apples, walnuts, and wine (or grape juice).

This combination represents the bitterness of slavery and suffering experienced by the Israelites as they wandered through the desert for forty years before finally arriving at their Promised Land. Also, the bitter taste of maror reminds Jews of the bitterness of slavery and suffering, which are part of God’s plan for the Jewish people.


Chazeret, also known as “bitter greens,” has been a traditional part of the Passover meal for centuries. While the specific type of greens varies by region, common chazeret includes dandelion greens, endive, and radicchio. It is eaten as a salad with olive oil, vinegar, or lemon juice.

In some Ashkenazi homes, chazeret is served as a side dish. While the bitter taste of chazeret may not be to everyone’s liking, it is symbolic of the bitter slavery experienced by the Jewish people in Egypt. For many, eating chazeret is a way of reconnecting with their heritage and celebrating their freedom.


Charoset is a traditional Passover food made from chopped apples, nuts, and wine. Its sweet, sticky texture and flavor are reminiscent of the mortar used by the Israelites to build the pyramids. It is served as part of the Passover Seder, a ceremonial meal that tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

The Seder plate is traditionally loaded with all sorts of other symbolic foods, including bitter herbs (to symbolize the bitterness of slavery), haroset (to symbolize the bricks used by the Israelites), and a roasted lamb bone (to symbolize the sacrificial lamb). But charoset is the crucial food on the Seder plate because it reminds us that even in the darkest times, there is always hope for sweetness and freedom.


Beitzah is a traditional Passover food. It is a roasted egg served as part of the seder plate. It has been eaten at Passover for centuries and is believed to represent new life. The egg also symbolizes spring and rebirth. Beitzah is eaten with salt water, horseradish, and sometimes other vegetables such as parsley or carrots. It is a simple food but an important part of the Passover tradition.


Zeroah is a traditional food that is eaten during Passover. It is a roasted lamb shank bone, and it is one of the symbols of the holiday. The zeroah represents the Paschal lamb, which was sacrificed during the holiday in ancient times.

It is also a reminder of the Exodus from Egypt, when God instructed Moses to sacrifice lambs and smear their blood on Israelite doorposts as protection. Today, Zeroah is often served with roasted potatoes and vegetables. It is a simple but delicious dish that everyone can enjoy during Passover.

Other Passover Foods

In addition to the traditional Passover foods, many other dishes are commonly served during the holiday. These include matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, kugel, and brisket. While these foods are not strictly required for the Passover Seder, they are often enjoyed by families and add variety to the meal. No matter what foods you choose to enjoy during Passover, the important thing is to remember the meaning of the holiday and to celebrate your freedom.

Depending on the family, Passover meals can be pretty different from one household to another. However, there is one element that all menus will share: no hametz. Hametz refers to foods that are forbidden to eat during the holiday.

This includes leavened bread, pasta, rice, and beans. This is because these foods can cause fermentation, which is a symbol of sin and slavery. For this reason, Passover is sometimes called the Feast of Unleavened Bread, as Christians eat unleavened bread during this holiday.

When And How Is Passover Observed?

Passover, also known as Pesach, is a Jewish holiday celebrating the story of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt. It is observed for eight days, starting on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. For Ashkenazi Jews, this corresponds to the full moon in April; for Sephardic Jews, it corresponds to nightfall in Israel.

Passover begins on different dates each year because the Jewish calendar is based on moon cycles rather than solar cycles like the Gregorian calendar used by other cultures worldwide. The Passover Seder meal is held on the first two nights of Passover.

Why Is Passover Celebrated?

Passover is one of the important holidays for Jews and is celebrated for seven days. The first and seventh days are special days when nothing but matzo (unleavened bread) is eaten. On all other nights during the week, unleavened bread and bitter herbs are eaten with other foods.

On these nights, a special meal called the seder (pronounced say-der) is eaten as a family or with friends and neighbors. It’s also common practice to give children an extra gift on these nights—money or candy—known as “matzah gelt” (matzah money).

Christians celebrate Passover worldwide because it commemorates the Lord’s Supper with his disciples, which is believed to have occurred on the first night of Passover. Christians also believe that Christ was crucified on the day of Passover. As mentioned earlier, it’s the primary reminder for Jews of the Exodus from Egypt. For Christians, it’s a reminder of Christ’s death and resurrection as the Lamb of God.

people rejoicing between the parting of the sea and passover meaning in the bible

Closing Thoughts

Passover is a significant holiday for both Jews and Christians. It commemorates the Exodus from Egypt for Jews and the Last Supper and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for Christians. The holiday is observed for eight days and includes special meals, rituals, and giving gifts on certain nights to remember how all the firstborn Jewish babies were passed over.

No matter how you choose to celebrate Passover, the important thing is to remember the meaning of the holiday. Passover is all about freedom, both physical and spiritual. Whether you are Jewish or Christian, the story of Passover is one that everyone can learn from and appreciate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Spiritual Meaning Of The Passover?

The spiritual meaning of Passover involves the commemoration of the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt, symbolizing freedom, redemption, and the power of faith in God’s deliverance.

What Is The Significance Of The Passover To Jesus?

The significance of the Passover to Jesus is profound, as the Last Supper he shared with his disciples was a Passover Seder, where he established the Eucharist, symbolizing his sacrifice as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

What Happens During The Passover?

During Passover, Jews participate in the Seder meal, which includes reading the Haggadah, eating symbolic foods from the Seder Plate, and commemorating the Exodus from Egypt, highlighting themes of slavery, freedom, and faith.

What Did Jesus Say About The Passover?

Jesus, during the Last Supper, referred to the Passover when he took bread and wine, gave thanks, and shared them with his disciples, saying, “This is my body… This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” signifying a new covenant between God and humanity.

What Is The Deeper Meaning Of The Passover?

The deep meaning of Passover lies in its celebration of freedom from oppression, the faithfulness of God in delivering the Israelites, and the broader themes of liberation and redemption that resonate throughout human history.

Was Jesus Crucified On Passover?

Yes, according to the New Testament, Jesus was crucified on Passover, which aligns with the symbolic significance of his death as the ultimate sacrifice for sin, fulfilling the Passover’s symbolism of salvation and liberation.

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