Passover And Easter: What Do They Have In Common? (john 1.29-31 )

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Passover-doorpostJesus is portrayed in the Gospel of John as the Passover Lamb. You may recall in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (Ex.12), in order for the angel of death to pass over the homes of believing Israelites families, the families needed to put a special sign on their doorposts – the blood of a lamb. The gospel of John pictures Jesus as the ultimate Lamb of God who not only symbolically covered the sins of Israelite households, but he actually took away the sin of the entire world (vs. 29).

A short side trip into church history will make it more interesting for us. In many predominantly Christian, countries, the festival of Easter was called by a different name. It was called the “Christian Passover.” Why? It’s simple. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ – the judgment of God passed over the sinner’s heads, just as it passed over the heads of the Israelites in their exodus from ancient Egypt. You see, all early Christians celebrated a festival that later came to be known as Easter. However, it used to be called Pascha (Easter in Syriac/Aramaic) or Peisach (Passover in Hebrew).  Christian and Jewish leaders eventually worked to create and establish a clear separation between what became Christianity and Judaism. This process in spite of the popular opinion, took centuries and did not take place in the early second century as commonly thought.Ressurection Jewish Jesus

Some Christians believed that Pascha (Christian Passover) had to be commemorated on the same date as the Jewish Passover while other Christians believed that Pascha should be celebrated on a different day than the Jewish Passover. The latter view won and the first view was eventually declared heretical.

Usually, Christians who held to the first view looked at Pascha as the day of Jesus’ sacrificial death. Others though believed that this holiday was meant instead to signify his resurrection. All of this is to say that while anti-Judaism in the early church did contribute to the date separation between Jewish and Christian Passovers, it was not the main factor. There were several other important considerations. Anti-Judaism, though present, was not the driving force behind the creation of a separate Christian identity and culture in the early centuries.

Important note: In the future posts we will discuss in detail the use of the technical term the “Passover of the Jews ” in this Gospel. It will be shown that the reason John’ keeps saying Passover of the Jews, is not to explain to Gentiles that it was a Jewish holiday, but to highlight which one of the various Israelite Passovers Jesus actually observed (most notably, Passover of the Jews vs. Passover of Samaritans).

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© By Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, Ph.D.

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  1. Luis Cortes

    When is the Samaritans’ passover? Is it in the bible?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      You can look it up on Google (dates) :-). It is in the Bible of course.

  2. ken

    Shalom Dr Eli, thanks so much for your good works, i am an Africa Jew and i will like to learn more about the tallit

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Ken, I am sure that you can find a lot about “tallit” on the way. Go ahead and try google it up. Blessings, Dr. Eli

  3. sinopoli

    Easter my brother/friend was a pagan practice of celebrating the rebirth if the fertility of the earth in the spring of the growing season. Historically, Easter was the God-Worship of the sex goddess Ishtar, also known as Ashtoreth. AbbaYAH condemended the nation of Israel for this form of worship (I Kings 11:5,33 & II Kings 23:13). However, the government set up this form of unity for peaceful worldly means and these customs are still practiced today, but, must be exposed and the devil will not like it. Can UU really stand for the Truth? Do not worry….just pick up UUr cross and try it. Hang in there. Because all the lies are going to be exposed and there is no place to hide….Praise Yah’s Way! HalleluYAH!!!

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      In most European languages, the word for Easter comes from the Hebrew Pesach.We can see the connection easily in French Pâques, Italian Pasqua, Spanish Pascua, Dutch Pasen, Danish Påske or Russian Paskha, for example. All of these words refer to the Jewish feast of Passover, which was the setting for the Easter events recounted in the Christian Gospels. Why is it, then, that the English word for this feast is so different? Where does the word Easter come from?

      The most popular theory is reflected in the entry for Easter in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary: the Old English word eastre came “apparently from Eostre, a goddess associated with spring.” The basis for this theory is found in a work written in AD 725 by Saint Bede, an English monk and historian. According to Bede, April was called Eosturmonath (“Easter-month”) because in pagan times the month was dedicated to Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. When Christian beliefs spread throughout England, says Bede, Easter-month lent its name to the new April festival. Another theory is that Eostre was simply the Anglo-Saxon word for spring festivals. Linguists trace this word to roots thousands of years old meaning “shine” and “dawn.” Spring is a season of lengthening days and increased light. It would make sense for early peoples to give their spring festivals a name that celebrated the rising sun. (http://www.noslangues-ourlanguages.gc.ca/bien-well/fra-eng/vocabulaire-vocabulary/mot-word-eng.html)

  4. Maureen Harrison

    It saddens me to see how Passover has been quashed in ‘christian’understanding as if to avoid its Jewish origin. God SET TIMES for certain events to take place. One of them is marked by the Passover and Deliverance of his chosen people out of slavery in Egypt. This event was marked each year thereafter.
    While the temple remained they could offer the sacrifices as God had specified morning and evening.At times the practise lapsed.Lambs wereoffered 9am noon and 3pm. This was the Day on which the Messiah was crucified. Those times are marked. Jesus The Lamb of God was nailed to the cross at 9am. At noon the sun was darkened and at 3pm He gave up his spirit. They placed him in the grave by sundown… 3 nights and three days brings us to 6pm Saturday evening when the first day of the new Jewish week began. Jesus rose during those night hours. The details are
    so particularly given aligning the departure from Egypt the moment of deliverance.
    The Lamb of God who Takes away the sin of the world. Born near the House of Bread, Bethlehem, Visited immediately by shepherds whose job was to check the new born lambs for perfection that they be perfect for temple sacrifice. So they are sent to check The Lamb of God. Lambs are born in spring at the time of Passover! These events all concur.
    The narative is already written throughout the Torah. When Jesus comes to fulfil each part in fine detail.We have no doubt as to God’s plan and purpose in snding His Son.
    The Resurrection sealed the plan.
    The word Easter is a misnoma.
    As also the directive to eat fish on Friday rather than a Shabbat meal!
    I undestand the Jews were forced to speak Greek. The saying was They would rather eat pork than speak Greek. Just other ways of quashing everything Jewish..along with the calendar and ignoring New moons.

  5. Kingsley Fulbrook

    Thank you Dr Eli for raising this interesting subject of the relationship of the Jewish and Christian Passovers. It’s interesting that the word can refer both to the Festival and to the sacrificial lamb, as Paul/Saul wrote: ‘Christ our Passover/Pasch is sacrificed.’ Also interesting that the synoptic Gospels seem to use a different calendar to date the Passover than John’s Gospel does: there were it seems different calendars in use at that time by the Temple priesthood, the Essenes, and the Samaritans.
    St Bede thought the English word for the Christian Passover derived from the pagan goddess Eostre: however he was almost certainly wrong there! As a catholic deacon I prefer to refer to the Paschal feast to keep in continuity with Pesach.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Kingsley,

      I agree with you Easter had probably nothing to do with Eshtar (the godess) therefore it has no pagan origins as many believe. Here is a worthwhile link on the subject – http://www.noslangues-ourlanguages.gc.ca/bien-well/fra-eng/vocabulaire-vocabulary/mot-word-eng.html

  6. Phillip De Lange

    I have always been fascinated by the Jewish verses Christian celebration of passover. Your explanation cuts to the heart and I cannot wait for the final product. Thank you and to all others who contribute to this very important subject.

    Phillip

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thanks, Phillip, welcome to the study group! Look forward thinking together with you. Dr. Eli

  7. Marianna

    Thank you for today’s lesson the Passover. What a joy to learn the early Christions observed a “Christian Passover”. I wish we still did. Then others could have their bunnies, chicks and easter eggs. It really bothers me that is the main focus of easter and that Jesus, the cross and the ressurection are left as just an asside.

  8. Eugenia

    Shalom,

    Its real important to understand the meaning, because the old testament is the new testament concealed, and the new testament is the old testament revealed, I do not want to call its easter festivity, what can I relate a bunny with Yehsua, eggs with the Lam of YHWH, and all Yehsua said is the truth, I personally think that the Torah is a instruction for us, as gentiles who accepted the Son of God as our saviour, redeemer, and we can celebrate it as He YHWH instructed,

    Thank you,

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Eugenia, thank you for your comment. Dr. Eli

      1. steve

        Shalom Dr Eli,
        Here in Aruba (Caribbean) we speak Papiamento (mixture of many languages including Judaeo-Espanol)! We use the word “Pasco” for easter(resurection) very close to Pascha! I counted like 80 words that is similar in papiamento and Judaeo Espanol! Blessings Steve

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          This is very interesting. We keep getting these kinds of comments! It seems like calling Easter Easter not Pascha is a minority use. This puts an interesting twist on the whole talk about its supposedly pagan origins connecting with the goddess Ishtar cult.

  9. Kristine Holland

    Do you not think that Yahweh wants the Jews to keep this celebration alive because he forever wants them to be ready to obey, to be alert and know they may one day need to do this again.
    Also, is it not an annual reminder at that point in celestial time when the ‘Pharoah’ of this world likewise is reminded that Yahweh is ALL powerful and blesses His people/s.
    If you conceptually overlay the Jewish and Christian ‘passover’ events they become one in your mind, earth’s time and ‘Pharoah’s defeat; and thus synchronise into one harmonious message to become the central connection between two great faith traditions. Concentric circles of peace resonating outwards….

  10. Andrew More

    Having just celebrated a Passover Seder last night with my home congregation where I serve, I can honestly say that to fully appreciate the significance of what Jesus said and did in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, a deeper understanding and appreciation for Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread adds tremendously to our own observance of Maundy Thursday (and Holy Communion in general).

    Scripture is very clear that the reason Jesus was in Jerusalem was to observe the Passover (Matt. 26:17-20; Mark 14:12-17; Luke 22:7-14; John 13:1). Passover was one of three Jewish pilgrimage festivals in Jesus day where Jews travelled from all around Judah, Galilee, and all across the region to Jerusalem. The city would have swelled to several times its normal size, huge crowds of people all converging on the city to observe and celebrate Passover. The context for this gives extra significance to events like Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his overturning the tables outside the Temple, and the crowds’ mob mentality as they shift from saying “Hosanna” to “crucify him!”

    Jesus instructs his disciples to prepare a room where they can share the meal of the Festival of Unleavened Bread (Seder) together. During the course of the meal, Jesus talks about how this will be the last time he will share this very special meal with them. He identifies Judas as his betrayer by pointing him out as the one who was dipping his bread (matzah) into the bowl with him (maror?).

    At significant points in the Seder, Jesus reinterprets the words that are used during the meal in light of himself – for he is the Passover lamb. Jesus takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and shares it with his disciples (Motzi Matzah?). After supper, he takes the wine, blesses it, and gives it for all to drink (3rd Cup – Cup of Redemption?). But to these traditional rites of the Seder, Jesus adds the powerful and life changing words, “this is my body”, “this is my blood” and instructs his disciples about the new covenant and the forgiveness of sins.

    The Last Supper emerges from this evening where Jesus prepares his disciples, not only for his upcoming arrest and execution, but also for the new life which follows the resurrection, revealing Jesus as God’s Son and Messiah.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Andrew, I agree, but do keep in mind that the Passover Seder as we know it today has gone through centuries of transformation and it remains to be shown that Jesus’ Passover Seder was similar to the one we now often cerebrate in our churches.

  11. LM Holmes

    Dear Dr. Lizorkin-Eyzenberg,
    This may be a bit out of your line, but I wonder whether you have any thoughts on why Paul would have told the Gentile converts, who were converting from traditional polytheism to Paul’s brand of reformed Judaism, that they should not be observing any holidays at all? (Galatians 4.8-11) Interesting that subsequent Christian congregations have all ignored that advice.
    I am a Greek scholar with no particular axe to grind, just trying to understand.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Dr. Holmes, after taking almost three weeks to think about your question. I feel that I have to say that I am not sure. If (and that needs to be first checked fully) we are reading Paul’s commands to Galatian Gentile Christians correctly, it is possible that Paul’s universal Judaism as you call it was in his mind formed more in terms of the universal God more so that universal or universalized Judaism in the center and God being part of it.

      Moreover, we don’t really know what Paul would have said today. I think this may be more significant than my first point. In our modern 21 century Christian settings. There are, as you well know, great differences between then and now that are in fact relevant to Paul’s points.

      For example, Christians that celebrate “Jewish” holidays today celebrate them with a very clear Christ-centered message. Christ in the Passover kind of thing. They want to see Jesus. They want to see him clearer and Jewish costumes of Passover among other fests is a great way to do so. Now… back then Jewish holiday celebrations and they were, probably, conducted by non-Christian Jews did not at all serve the same purpose (St. John Chrysostom speaks in his sermons about Christians that in large numbers go to Jewish celebrations in the synagogues so much so that his own congregation of Gentile Christians was near empty around Jewish holidays!). This is 4th century already, but the problem persists 🙂 ) Perhaps, this is a beginning of finding an good answer (if one can be found) to your question.

  12. ruth hirt

    In my homecountry, Philippines, our dialects, which are almost countless, particularly my dialect, term the Passion week as Pascua. The national language does not.
    At this juncture, however we believers in general may term it, the essence of the Season falls into the same significance, heretical to one or not. Your explanation here is clear and lucid, the application of redemption which firstly demonstrated during the exodus is without any doubt HaSHEM’s Foretaste for mankind of the great eternal salvation completed and perfected by Jesus Christ. The personal decision of an individual to take, accept this divine offer determines his eternal destiny.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thanks, Ruth.

  13. Kristine Holland

    Informative and insightful. Appreciation from Australia. I will attend the Good Friday service in peaceful resolve where the holiness of the people sings unto heaven…. with timbrels, choir and brass instruments in harmonious worship

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      May you have a peaceful and meaningful Passover/Easter! Make sure you are on my weekly teaching list! It will be well worth your while. Blessings, Dr. Eli

  14. Lilja Aðalsteinsdóttir

    Hi Eli its pleasantly surprising to me that páskar meaning passover in Iceladic are so similar to Pascha I have always though the word didn´t sound very Icelandic and to day I have learned the word originates from Syriac & Aramaic fascinating
    thank you

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Lilja, writting from Iceland??!!!! WOW!!! Thanks for your comment, make sure that you are on my weekly teaching email list. We look forward to having you in our study group. Blessings and peace, Dr. Eli

  15. […] Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were […]

  16. Kathleen Oden

    I am so surprised to see people referring to holy days as “holidays.” Easter is a man-made pagen holiday. God only created holy days. I think that is why most of the world follows Easter and Christmas. There is nothing holy about how people act on these days.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Here is a rough etymology of the word holiday. Hope this will help.

      The word holiday derived from the notion of “Holy Day”, and gradually evolved to its current form.The word holiday comes from the Old English word hāligdæg. The word originally referred only to special religious days. In modern use, it means any special day of rest or relaxation, as opposed to normal days away from work or school.

      1. Eric Rodríguez

        BS”D

        Shalom!
        Kathleen’s words are right; We don’t be afraid of changing the Status quo; it’s necessary to announce that there is a world set before our eyes for not seing the truth!

  17. Eric Rodríguez

    BS”D

    Is very important to take in account that Yehoshua’ didn’t established a new day, date or celebration! He, in that moment, followed the Essenian calendar/date for celebrating the Seder and mantaining the subjection to the Hebrew Community at all (although the difference they all were ovel all, jews!!), because on (or during) commemorations, he would/Should be die, this is obvious! Who understood that a new date/celebratio began, didn’t understand anything. Untill where I know, Easter is a Pagan term in/from ancient germanic people (after Eostre/Ostara) so, is not correct to use it in relation to Pesach; there is only One Pesach, such as exists One God!! If Pascha פסחא means The commemoration of the resurrection or death of Messiah, is not a correct/Perfect term. Pascha only must be the aramaic word for Pesach (Passover) !!!

    1. Eric Rodríguez

      BS”D
      addenda: This is a part of which I said about Easter: (Jacob Grimm wrote):
      We Germans to this day call April ostermonat, and ôstarmânoth is found as early as Eginhart (temp. Car. Mag.). The great christian festival, which usually falls in April or the end of March, bears in the oldest of OHG remains the name ôstarâ … it is mostly found in the plural, because two days … were kept at Easter. This Ostarâ, like the [Anglo-Saxon] Eástre, must in heathen religion have denoted a higher being, whose worship was so firmly rooted, that the christian teachers tolerated the name, and applied it to one of their own grandest anniversaries.(Teutonic Mythology: Translated from the Fourth Edition with Notes and Appendix Vol. I. London: George Bell and Sons.)

  18. Jerry Christensen

    It’s also interesting to place the Easter/Passover discussion along side of discussion of the akidah (Abraham’s aborted sacrifice of Isaac). If I’m not mistaken, tradition holds that the Holy of Holies rested on the very rock that Abraham was preparing to sacrifice Isaac on. It says that Abraham bound Isaac. Given Abraham’s age, Isaac would have to be a submissive participant. When touring the old city of Jerusalem, I was amazed by the proximity of all the holy sites (traditional, but not necessarily real). So, the angel stays Abraham’s hand preventing Isaac’s sacrifice. Off in the distance, Abraham hears the bleating of a sheep. Curiosity begs – was the location of that sheep (that God would provide – Jehovah Jireh) on the site that would later become Golgotha? Jesus was a submissive participant. A sacrifice that God would provide.

    I am blessed each year to be a guest at my Jewish friend’s passover seder. I understand that the formalization of the passover seder was just beginning to be developed at the time of Jesus. I’ve wondered what similarities there were with today’s seder and the “last supper” Jesus led.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      The Scripture is full of connections like the one you are suggesting. However, in seeking to determine, we must be very careful not to take something that “will preach” for something that is inherent in the text or in the story.

  19. Natalia Aída Lucila Zambrano Barnes

    Very interesting theese articles about the New Testament and its relationship with the Tanak.I learned to love jewish people by knowing Jeshua in my evangelical church.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Natalia, we are glad to have you as a part of our study group.

  20. Benjamin Cook

    I checked the aramaic word for passover, it is pascha not easter.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Of course. Its the same holiday that eventually was transformed beyond recognition and became what is known today as Easter.

  21. Mary Yeh

    I enjoy your presentation with accuracy. It seems Christianity has been hellbent to separate roots from the Jewish Feasts setup by God Himself. The Dark Powers in the heavenlies to kill everything of Truth and Light, the warfare that is bloody would destroy God’s choice of people, Land, and Feasts!

    Hardly any Christians talk about the Feasts that I know. Only ones who really really want to know what Jesus is all about and not superficially what religion teaches. Those ones are few and far between.

    Passover is a clear picture of Jesus as the Lamb for us to stay clear of the judgment upon the world (Egypt with the firstborn which is nothing but Adam) by the Angel of Death. Adam was the firstborn for the world that progressively runs further and further away from God as revealed in Genesis. Jesus is now the New Adam! Personally, I am separating under the Blood of this designated Lamb to eat and cover my doorposts daily!

    I remember when I was 10 years old reading the World Book Encyclopedia, an article on Easter. It exposed how purely pagan things are mixed up with the Passover and the Resurrection of Christ Jesus celebrating Easter! It shook my faith to realize the manmade lies mixed in the dough of making the unleavened bread, Jesus. A little leaven spoils the whole lump! Though raised Roman Catholic, I am now only marked as a Christ-man, no denomination, but only as “the disciples also were divinely called first in Antioch Christians.” Acts 11:26 (From Young’s Literal Translation).

    Your explanations clear the air of the mixture and how it was brought in by Christianity not staying true with God’s silver thread of salvation for the Jews and lastly, the Gentiles. Keep digging out the truth from centuries of misleadings by those who have not been faithful to God’s Word. I love your language definitions, revealing what the words really mean in all those different languages (Hebrew,Syriac/Aramaic). I am adding to my memory bank of words as my own. I am looking more to this Passover that Jesus actually observed, especially this new subject of versus the Passover of Samaritans. I believe this is waking up the reality of the meaning of John to us from it’s Jewish meanings.

  22. Steven Kahne

    Dr. Eli,
    Is it also true that the day of Jesus’ resurrection (the Christian Pascha) as celebrated on the first day of the week after the Sabbath after Pesach (Lev 23:9,15), is known as the Feast of First Fruits? Therefore, Jesus’ was the first fruits of more to come later as Paul testified in I Cor 15:20,23. I would be interested in your thoughts on this.

    1. frederick ellis

      I really appreciate your exposition on the topic of easter as a christian i wonder here we got the word easter from i knew the significances of passover to my christian faith and belief, but i always struggled as how the word “Pascha”(Easter came about. Syriac/Aramic translation thank you very much.

      1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

        Frederick, shalom! You are most welcome. Thank you for your comment.

      2. Robert Mesnard

        I appreciate your article and its timeliness as well as our edification. As to the origin of the word “Easter”, I believe it comes from the birthday celebration of the goddess Ishtar. Christians turned that into a Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. It would be more appropriate to refer to it as Resurrection Day than Easter, but the tradition would be hard to break.

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          Robert, shalom. Thanks for your comment. As I mentioned in many many countries Easter is refered to as Christian Passover. Your suggestion of Ressurection Day is a very good ulternative. Make sure that you are on my weekly teaching list. It will be well worth your time. Blessings, Dr. Eli