A timely reminder in time for Passover

Passover and Some Common Misconceptions

© by Menashe Dovid

grosseramaThe blood, welts, cuts and drizzling spit from his hair and beard, just how graphic can it get? Up until recently pretty ghastly when one considers the many films on the subject but Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’ eclipses them all! Where could such a spectacle have come from? Perhaps what may be seen in at least most Roman Catholic Churches, for sure….yes! Such high emotion, theatrical license and drama serves a very useful purpose in the guilt laden trip agenda set by Christian theology imposed over the masses for just less than two thousand years.

A typology as invented by the New Testament (especially the book of Hebrews) has set a whole agenda of having folks believe that the whole sacrificial system as outlined in the Torah is fulfilled to a tee in Yeshua and/ or Jesus.

The Torah fulfilled to the smallest detail in Yeshua and/ or Jesus even extends to things Jewish outside of the New Testament further on in time to include the post Jesus Rabbinical teaching aids of the Passover Seder. Messianics are quick to point out that Jews unwittingly fail to see the major significance of the pierced holes and stripes of the Matzos, a ‘trinity’ of three Matzos used in the Seder and why the middle Matzo ‘Jesus’ is broken and hidden only to be ‘resurrected’, to be found later! The irony for most Jews not ‘in the know’ but according to many who believe Jews without Jesus are ‘spiritually blind’… there is no lamb Jesus, no sacrifice ‘crucifixion’, only a burnt egg and a shank bone on the Seder plate! Who would have known that all of this is tied up to a historical event 3500 years ago and traditional rabbinic visual aids of the Seder Plate, wine and now modern day machine baked Matzos providing the holes and the stripes!

An error on the part of messianics who are strictly ‘Karaite’ or those who use arbitrarily ‘rabbinical Judaism’, is the failure of the messianics to understand what the Passover Sacrifice was all about. Ad infinitum will they insist that that the sacrifice of the Passover was a substitutionary sacrifice for atonement of sins!

The lamb in the context of the Passover story was a god (amongst many) for the Egyptians. Indeed some of the ten plagues were with respect to the other idols of the Egyptians (frogs, river Nile, wild animals for example). Tellingly, the lamb, a sign of fertility, was killed in the middle of the month of Nisan (Aries in the zodiac corresponds to the time of Nisan and has the sign of the sheep) and the blood of the lamb placed on the door lintels of the Israelites’ dwellings. A biblical proof that the lamb was a god of the Egyptians is by consideration of Exodus 8 which concerns Moshe’s request of pharaoh to allow a sacrifice in the desert. Considering verse 22:

ram god

Granite statue of Amun in the from of a ram protecting Taharqa, British Museum.

22 And Moses said: ‘It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God; lo, if we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not stone us? Exodus 8

A question may be asked if the sacrifice (lamb/ sheep) was an abomination to the Israelites or the Egyptians. The answer to the rhetorical question asked by Moshe causes us to consider what would the basis be for the Egyptians to stone the Israelites, if not for Israelites sacrificing the god of the Egyptians?

The spiritual force of this Egyptian lamb god, in the middle of the month of Nisan (Aries in the zodiac) was supposed to be at its most potent then! The Israelites brazenly chose to go out of Egypt, painting their lintels with lamb blood and eating their lamb sacrifice, something never done before with respect to sacrifices of animals!

In contradistinction, the actions and thoughts behind the actions of the Israelites with respect to (but not only) slaying of the Passover lamb, where saving actions and thoughts by virtue of the Israelites choosing the G-d of Israel over the lamb god of the Egyptians! The Passover Lamb was a sacrifice to show ones’ allegiance to the G-d of Israel!

Obedience to the word of G-d is more valuable to G-d than sacrifice [1 Sam 15:22, Jer 7:23 & Amos 5:25]. And where one does need to bring a sacrifice for sin as commanded in the Torah, a primary prerequisite is teshuva or in the not so accurate English term repentance. Judaism considers the prerequisite teshuva or repentance to achieve atonement and not the idea of a penal human substitutionary atonement which the Jewish scriptures clearly teach against [Ezekiel 20:20, 21, Deut 12:31].

Without teshuva any sacrifice for sin is worthless otherwise! With the prerequisites of teshuva in place and obedience to the word of G-d being preferable than sacrifice, the sacrificial sacrifice[1] aspect of Torah is placed in its proper context. Without the sacrificial sacrifice aspect of Torah in its proper context, Christianity makes sacrifice for atonement alone the sole basis of its religion without any reference to a personal effort to get closer to G-d.

However, with Passover we are talking about something altogether different. Passover is a sacrifice of allegiance not a sacrifice of atonement.

Human Sacrifice

Given a wider understanding of what sacrifice achieves and what it does not, one may already conclude in the case of Passover, that the Passover sacrifice draws us closer to G-d and each other by virtue of eating the sacrifice. Here also in the Passover sacrifice a vehicle is provided to express mans’ desire to forsake idols, enslavement and choose G-d exclusively.

Understanding the context of sacrifices and the wider understanding of what sacrifice achieves and what it does not helps us to understand the dangers of other non-Israelite and/ or Christian ideas, with respect to sacrifices. A danger being that of idolatry by worship of created things instead of the creator by making the sacrifice and ‘the blood’ the sole object of worship. The Jewish scriptures clearly teach against the idea of a substitutionary atonement and instead, stress the importance of an individual’s and a nation’s responsibility for sin and taking appropriate action.

20 The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them. 21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. 22 None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live. 23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked (?), declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? Ezek 18:20-22

human sacIn contradistinction, Christianity makes belief in Jesus doing all the work for the sinner on the cross the sole basis for its religion. The reality and truth is that nobody ‘takes it’ for anyone with respect to sin, rather each and everyone is responsible for their sins and teshuvah (as evidenced by subsequent righteous things they have done) is what brings life NOT some inherent magical power in death, blood, flower and incense etc.[2].

The major foundational component of atonement that is missing from Christianity is how Teshuvah (repentance) is initiated at least by the death and/ or suffering of someone else or even a nation. Suffering of someone else or a nation to initiate Teshuvah is never vicarious or substitutionary, however! Teshuvah of the Kings of nations, as with case of Isaiah[3] for example, is elicited by virtue of the Kings witnessing the death and/ or suffering of the servant nation Israel. Therefore, in God’s plan, Israel’s sufferings have been to the benefit of the other nations at least in part to an acknowledgment by the nations that Israel has been the true servant of God all along!

Animal sacrifice has always been permitted and post Sinai only under extremely limited and controlled circumstances as to time, place[4] and intention as detailed by the Torah. Certain sacrifices are brought purely for the purpose of communing with God and becoming closer to Him. Others are brought for the purpose of expressing thanks, love, or gratitude to God. Others are used to cleanse a person of ritual impurity (which does not necessarily have anything to do with sin). And yes, some sacrifices are brought for purposes of atonement. The messianic era does have sacrifices if Jer 33:15-18 is considered.

So what about human sacrifice?

1 Thus says the LORD: The heaven is My Throne, and the earth is My Footstool, where is the house that you may build unto Me? And where is the place that may be My resting-place? 2 For all These things has My hand made, and so all These things Came to be, says the LORD, But on this man will I look, even on Him That is poor and of a Contrite Spirit, and Trembleth at My word. 3 He That Kills an ox is as if he slew a man, he That Sacrifices a lamb, as if he broke a dog’s neck, he That Offers a meal-Offering, as if he Offered swine’s blood, he That makes a memorial-Offering of frankincense, as if he blessed an idol; according as they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations;

Isaiah 66 is talking primarily about sacrifices without repentance and chapter 66 resonates with the opening chapter 1 of Isaiah.

You shall no longer bring vain meal-offerings, it is smoke of abomination to Me; New Moons and Sabbaths, calling convocations, I cannot [bear] iniquity with assembly. (Isaiah 1:13)

Without proper and sincere repentance it is as if one has killed a man, offered swine’s blood and blesses an idol (see verse 3) all of which have always have been and always will be unacceptable at any time or place!

[1] Korban (קרבן) in Hebrew has its root in the concept of ‘to draw near’ to an unfathomable G-d.

[2] Flour to atone (Lev 5;12-15), Incense to atone (Num 17:11-13), Charity (Prov 10:2, 11:4, 16:6, 21:3, Hos 6:6, Dan 4:27), Silver (Ex 30:15), Repentance (Lev 26:40-42, Ezek 18:21-32), Jewelry (Num 31:50), Righteousness and Charity (Dan 4:24, 9:18), Post Temple period without blood and Jesus (Isaiah 27:9, 40:1, Ezek 33:11-16).

[3] “Kings shall shut their mouths at him. For what was not told them, they shall see. And what they did not hear, they shall observe. ‘Who would have believed our report? Upon whom has the arm of the L-rd been revealed?’ He arose before him like a sucker, like a root out of dry ground. He had no visage and no majesty. ‘We saw him, and there was no appearance that we should find him pleasing. He was despised and shunned by men, a man of sufferings and familiar with sickness; like one who hides his face from us. He was despised, and we held him of no account.’” (Isaiah 52:15b-53:3)

[4] Speak to Aaron and to his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say to them: This is the thing the Lord has commanded, saying: Any man of the House of Israel, who slaughters an ox, a lamb, or a goat inside the camp, or who slaughters outside the camp, but does not bring it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting to offer up as a sacrifice to the Lord before the Mishkan of the Lord, this [act] shall be counted for that man as blood he has shed blood, and that man shall be cut off from among his people; in order that the children of Israel should bring their offerings which they slaughter on the open field, and bring them to the Lord, to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, to the kohen, and slaughter them as peace offerings to the Lord. (Lev 17:2-5)

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