Passover Reflections: The Lamb (ii)

The Pesach Lamb


We have already spent some time discussing the lamb from Aqedah story from Genesis 22 – the first time the word “lamb” occurs in the Torah. This time we will discuss a lamb in chapter twelve of the Book of Shemot (Exodus), which details the story of the Exodus from Egypt.  Like the Akedah, Exodus holds a unique place in God’s plan for Israel, as well as His plan for the whole of humanity. Reading this chapter from the beginning, we again find a lamb: the lamb that was to be slain on the eve of the Exodus had to be separated out four days beforehand.


On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb… Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year… Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.[1]


Doubtless, this passage is one of the most central in the Torah for all who believe in God’s Word. It is here that we find for the first time the image of the sacrificial lamb as a basis for salvation. The slain lamb in Exodus, with whose blood the doorposts were stained, was the symbol, the promise and the basis for Israel’s salvation from Egypt. The Lamb looking as though it had been slain,[2] from the book of Revelation, is the symbol, promise, and basis for the salvation brought to the whole earth. Everything that happened to Jesus during the time of Pesach two thousand years ago was the full, literal manifestation of the same scenario God gave us in the Book of Exodus.


In my last post I mentioned that this Passover I decided to give my readers a gift of a script for a Pesach play that I wrote some time ago. I hoped you would download and read it (you can download it from my website:, however I would like to add a few words about it. The events (fictional, of course) the play describes take place in Egypt right before the Exodus. The main character is a Hebrew boy called Avi who has a favorite pet lamb, which is his constant companion and favorite play-mate. When the Lord gives the order through Moses to separate out a lamb for the sacrifice, Avi’s family settles their choice on that lamb, possibly because he was the very best, or perhaps because he was just the only one there was. The evening before the Exodus, Avi’s parents go to catch the lamb to slay it, and the crying boy chases after them, all the time asking, “Why? Why him? He is so good, so white, so clean and pure!” His parents answer, “This is the reason we are choosing him; because he is spotless, he is the one that must be used for the sacrifice. Later you’ll understand why we could not act otherwise and the reason that he needs to die.” That night when, ready to leave Egypt, all the family members including the tearful boy sit at the table sharing the first ever Passover seder in the history of Israel, suddenly there is complete silence. Then, first from one, then from another house we hear horrified shrieks and wails. The boy, utterly frightened, is held close by his parents and when he looks up into their faces, inquisitively waiting for an explanation, his mother explains, “Now do you understand why your lamb had to die? On this night the angel of death is striking all the firstborn sons of Egypt. You are our firstborn, and if not for the blood of the lamb on our doorposts, you would have died too. With his death, he gave you life.” With tears in his eyes, the shaken Avi gives thanks to God for His provision of salvation.


I have related this scene to help us understand how everything that happened to Jesus fulfilled the scenario laid out by God during the time of the Exodus. At one point in the play, the boy’s parents seem cruel and inhumane in the eyes of their son, but they were simply following God’s instructions, saving his life by the blood of the sacrificial lamb. The crucifixion of Jesus seemed  also cruel and inhumane, but through it God’s plan for salvation was accomplished through the shed blood of the ‘sacrificial Lamb’.


The silent sufferer

So, God will provide Himself a lamb in His son – this is the theme that flows through the Akedah. The sacrificial lamb as a basis for salvation is the image given in Exodus.  There are also several places in Torah where this word occurs in a very literal sense and has no special additional spiritual connotations. The third time we find a significant mention of a lamb in the Tanach is in the well-known fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, which long ago became a stumbling stone between Christians and Jewish people – the former reading it as a prophecy of the atoning death of the Messiah, while the latter assert that Isaiah is prophetically describing the suffering of the people of Israel. In the seventh verse of this chapter we read: He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. Here we begin to hear a third motif, without which the Biblical image of the lamb is incomplete: humbly and silently, the lamb carries the sufferings laid on him for the sake of others. The substitutionary suffering of the meek and humble lamb is the third motif connected with this image that we find in the Tanach.


Now in a deeper and more meaningful way, we can comprehend the exclamation of John the Baptist in the beginning of John’s Gospel – the exclamation we began our quest with. In the words: ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,’ all three of God’s mysteries which we have examined are fused into a united whole:  The Lamb of God means that this is the Son (Gen. 22) and that His substitutionary suffering (Is. 53) will become the basis for salvation (Ex. 12). All that the Lord spoke to Israel during their history has found fulfillment in the substitutionary suffering and death of the lamb (you can read mote about the Lamb in  Tanach (Old Testament) in my book If you are  Son of God...)




[1] Ex. 12:3-7

[2] Rev. 5:6

About the author

Julia BlumJulia is a teacher and an author of several books on biblical topics. She teaches two biblical courses at the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, “Discovering the Hebrew Bible” and “Jewish Background of the New Testament”, and writes Hebrew insights for these courses.

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  1. Rozanna Combrinck

    My darling Julia I have been soooooooo blessed by the play you wrote! It thrilled my soul! Thankyou so much and may you and your ministry be blessed.

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you, Rozanna, I am so happy to hear that!

  2. Lynn

    Julia, I’ve learned so much from all of your lessons and look forward to reading your post each week! One thing I’d like to point out is God’s amazing timing! In Exodus12 it says the lamb is to be selected on the 10th day of the 1st month and it’s to be examined until the 14th day. In John 12:1,12 we see Jesus having dinner in Bethany 6 days before the Passover and in verse 12 it says “the next day” he made his Triumphal entry into Jerusalem. So he made this Triumphal entry on the 10th day of the first month….the day the perfect lamb was to be selected! He presented himself for inspection for the next 4 days and became our Passover Lamb on the 14th day! God’s timing is perfect down to almost the minute!!

    1. Julia Blum

      You are right, Lynn, these parallels are amazing. In fact, in my next post (still Passover Reflections) I will be writing about it : Jesus entering Jerusalem. Stay tuned! 🙂