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Passover , and Passover , Passover or Pasha called ( in Hebrew פֶּסַח pésach , pésach ? / i ; AramaicAudio file / audio sample פַּסְחָא pas'cha ; ( Septuagint and NT :) Greek πάσχα Paskha , German , passing below ' ), one of the most important festivals of Judaism . The festival commemorates the exodus from Egypt (Exodus), i.e. the liberation of the Israelites from slavery , about which the book of Moses tells in the Tanakh . The retelling ( Haggadah ) of this event connects every new generation of Jews with their central experience of liberation.

Passover is celebrated by Jews in the week from 15th to 22nd, in Israel until the 21st of Nisan . It is a family festival with various rites that begins with the Seder evening on Nisan 14th and is accompanied by a week-long consumption of matzo , which is why it is also called the “Festival of Unleavened Bread”.

During the time of the second Jerusalem Temple , i.e. between about 530 BC and 70 AD, Passover was one of the three Israelite pilgrimage festivals , along with Shavuot (the festival of weeks) and Sukkot (the festival of tabernacles) , on which the believers made pilgrimages to the Temple Mount .

Seder table with Haggadah books


The Hebrew word פסח pessach is derived from a verbal stem with the meaning “ push up / against / back” or “bounce”. In Ex 12.13  EU it describes the “passing”, “leaving out” or “skipping” of Jewish houses during YHWH's judgment on the Egyptian male firstborn on the night of the departure. The Hebrews were spared because they marked their doors with a protective symbol ( Ex 12.27  EU ).

The most common name forms used by non-Jews or Christians in German are Passa ( Luther Bible , Protestant liturgy), Pascha (pronounced as Pas'cha, Loccumer guidelines , standard translation , Catholic liturgy). The revised standard translation from 2016 uses the spelling Passover in the Old Testament .

Pascha is a loan word from the Greek in the Vulgate . Most European languages ​​use words derived from the Latin pascha to designate the Christian Easter festival (see there).

Biblical justification

Sacrifice of the lamb during the plagues (1880), Andelsbuch parish church (Vorarlberg)

The Passover is used in Ex 12.1–20  EU as God's command between the announcement ( Ex 11.5–10  EU ) and execution ( Ex 12.29–51  EU ) of the last of the ten plagues . Some later provisions are supplemented by Ex 12.43–49  EU .

In the biblical context, this festival ends Israel's bondage: When the Egyptians refuse to let the Hebrews go, God announces the killing of the firstborn of man and beast after nine unsuccessful plagues. In order to be spared, every Israelite family should slaughter a male, one-year-old flawless young animal of sheep or goat in the evening, smear the doorposts with its blood, and then roast it and eat it all together. The angel of death would pass the houses marked in this way on the same night ( pāsaḥ ) while he was carrying out God's punitive action against Egypt. Pharaoh then urges the Israelites to leave the country, for which they are prepared according to God's instructions.

In addition to the slaughter and consumption of the passport animals , the chapter also establishes the date of the festival, hyssop for painting the doors, the sweeping of all leavened dough, the seven-day meal of matzo, the girdled, clothed watch of the night out and meetings on the first and last day of the festival. Ex 13.1–16  EU supplements the sacrifice (animal) or the consecration (human) of the male firstborn and the narrative remembrance of the night of departure as an answer to a son's question about the origin and meaning of Passover.

Regulations from the later royal times in Dtn 16.1–8  EU required Passover as a central cult festival and forbade house slaughter. Cattle could also be chosen as sacrificial animals; they had to be cooked on the same evening and eaten completely. The seven-day meal of matzo should be accompanied by the return of all leaven from Israel during the festival week, "so that you may remember the day you left Egypt all your life" (v. 3). The seventh day of the festival should be celebrated as a day of rest with a gathering.

Num 9.1–14  EU repeats the Passover rules of Ex 12  EU and adds: Anyone who is prevented from participating for any reason - for example a long journey or a cultic impurity - may celebrate Passover in the following month (on the 14th Iyyar) ( Pesach schei : "second Passover", also called "little Passover"). The second Passover only lasts one day; the ban on leaven does not apply. Nevertheless, on this day, too, among other things, Eaten matzos.

Jos 5: 10–12  EU describes a Passover of the second desert generation during the transition to settling down in Canaan . With this, God finally passed the "Egyptian shame" on from the Israelites; from that feast on, manna was no longer necessary as a wonderful food in the desert.

Origin and change


The old festival calendars of the Torah ( Ex 23.14–17  EU ; 34.18–23 EU ) name only the Matzenfest as one of three regular pilgrimage festivals that are not yet precisely dated. The note Num 33.3  EU only mentions the Passover before leaving Egypt; also Num 9.1 to 14  EU does not mention the Matze hard. Only Lev 23.4-8  EU called Passover matzo and fixed side by side and defines the framework of the Days Festival. This is why Old Testament research often assumes that the animal and bread rites were originally separate and of different origins.

Leonhard Rost declared the slaughter of animals for painting the doors ( Ex 12.21–23 EU ) as a nomadic protective rite  to keep desert demons out of the dwelling. Similar family rites , only practiced on special occasions, are known among non-sedentary Arab tribes ( ragah and dabiha sacrifices ). The unleavened bread is traced back to a peasant festival of the winter grain harvest, during which old seeds used for acidification were separated from new grain and only unleavened bread was eaten until the first new flour was acidified. The connection to the ordination of the first birth in Ex 13  EU is regarded as secondary.

Both customs were probably only connected with each other after the state was founded and the first temple was built and acquired a new meaning: Ex 12.39  EU explains that baking and eating unleavened bread is due to the lack of time before setting out. The blood stroking serves to commemorate the salvation before God's judgment (v. 27 EU ), the common consumption of the animal as a strengthening for departure (v. 10 EU ) The Old Testament scholar Werner H. Schmidt explains:

“Accordingly, the Passover was initially not a sacrifice, nor was it a firstborn sacrifice…; the Passover neither wanted to establish fellowship with the deity nor to make atonement for it. [...] Through the - probably subsequent - connection of both cult acts, the Passover was transformed into a pilgrimage festival that was celebrated at the shrine. "

Central temple and pilgrimage festival

The relocation of the family festival to the central temple festival shows Dtn 16,2.5ff  EU . V.7 against Ex 12.9  EU demands cooking, not roasting, of the sacrificial animal, which confirms the originally domestic festive character. According to 2 Kings 23.21f  EU , King Josiah followed these rediscovered commandments of Deuteronomy and celebrated a Passover as a state festival at the temple, which he also used to abolish remaining foreign cults.

In the Babylonian exile (586-539 BC), Passover was again celebrated and set as a family festival. The detailed Passover provisions ( Ex 12.1–14 EU ), which were editorially inserted into the narrative thread of the extract story,  date from this time . The also exilic note Ez 45,21ff EU confirms  the date on Nisan 14, which meant the night of the full moon , but also the Deuteronomic view that Passover is to be celebrated at the central shrine. Extra-biblical sources from the Egyptian colony Elephantine and a letter from King Darius II from 419 BC. BC confirm the fixed date and duration for the Persian period.

After the rebuilding of the temple (from 539 BC) the priests slaughtered the pass animals - cattle were also allowed again - the festival pilgrims roasted and then consumed them in the temple forecourt ( 2 Chr 30.1–5  EU ; 35.13f EU ; Esr 6,19f  EU ). The Samaritans retained this division of labor after their separation from the temple cult on Mount Garizim . This also meant that animal blood had to be painted on private door posts.

However, the transformation to the central temple festival was apparently not able to assert itself uninterrupted in Israel: under Roman rule only the slaughter at the temple was carried out; the festival pilgrims took their part, fried it and then ate it in their homes with starters, wine and singing - a pre-form of the Seder process that was later determined. In this form, Passover was the main festival of Judaism at the time of Jesus of Nazareth .

Extra-biblical Passover texts

The jubilee book was created around 150 BC. As a theological treatise that paraphrases Torah texts in order to bind the Israelites to their traditions against the influence of Hellenism . Chapter 49 explains the Passover: On the night of the exodus, the Israelites would have praised their God, while evil forces sent by him brought disaster to the Egyptians. In the pre-state period, Passover was celebrated in a tent, but after the temple was built in the temple forecourt. Every male Jew aged 20 and over must celebrate it annually on the set date, namely “from the third part of the day to the third part of the night”. The Passover lamb was offered to God at the temple in order to save all Israel from punishment and plagues for another year. - According to chapters 17.15 and 18.3.18f, the near sacrifice of Isaac took place on a 14th Nisan. Thus, according to Philip R. Davies, the Passover blood is not accorded an atoning effect, but Isaac's salvation through an animal sacrifice points in advance to the coming salvation of all firstborn Israelites through the Passover sacrifice.

The temple scroll among the Dead Sea Scrolls confirms the minimum age of 20 years for Passover pilgrims and slaughter by priests. In a calendar fragment, the Passover date is always set on a Tuesday after the solar year of 364 days; the aim was to avoid the conflict between the moving date and a sabbath .

Rabbinic Judaism

Kiddush mug

After the destruction of the second temple, the slaughter of passport animals ended with the victims. Since then, Passover has been celebrated purely as a house festival.

The treatise Psachim in the Mishnah collected and expanded all Passover regulations that were based on Scripture and were practiced before 70 (Chapters I – IX). Accordingly, the Levites supervised the cultic purity of the temple goers and sang hymns of praise (III, 11). Not they, but believing men from the people carried out the slaughter in the temple forecourt of the priests (V, 5). These caught the blood of the pessary animals in order to sprinkle it on the foot and not the sides of the altar (V, 8).

The last chapter deals with the Seder in order to legitimize this domestic celebration as part of the Biblical Torah in continuity with the previous Passover rite. Until it gets dark you shouldn't eat anything, then - like the Greeks and Romans - eat your meal lying down. This is also essential for the bedridden poor (X, 1). The celebration should begin with the blessing of the house father over the first cup of wine, which then goes around and is emptied by everyone (X, 2). Then the starter made of herbs and fruit puree is served, followed by the main meal with the roasted lamb (X, 3), with a second wine cup (X, 4). The head of the house tells the extract story according to Dtn 26.5–11  EU and interprets the meal components: The lamb shows “that God passed the houses of our fathers”, the matzos “because they were redeemed”, the bitter herbs “because they Egyptians embittered ”. Every participant of the festival should look like a liberated Israelite at that time and therefore glorify God by singing the psalm (X, 5). This first common hallel is followed by a prayer of thanksgiving, the second cup is drunk and the main meal is taken. This is followed by the third, and after the second Hallel, the fourth wine goblet.

This Seder procedure, which is still valid today, was refined more and more until the 10th century and its details were laid down in writing.


According to the biblical institution, the festival falls in the Jewish spring month and according to the Jewish calendar begins on the eve of the 15th Nisan as the seder evening . This is the so-called erev pessach or preparation day , on which the festival is prepared.

The following table lists the dates of Passover in the Gregorian calendar for the next few years. The day change in the Jewish calendar at sunset differs from the day change in the Christian calendar at midnight. Therefore, when converting, the beginning of the Passover festival is given as the date of the day following the Seder evening in the Gregorian calendar .

The date of the Passover festival can be calculated using the Gaussian Passover formula .

Every feast day begins the evening before, because in the Jewish calendar the day lasts from the evening before to the evening of the day - not from midnight to midnight.

Jewish year Gregorian date
5781 March 28, 2021 to
April 4, 2021
5782 April 16-23, 2022
5783 April 6-13, 2023
5784 April 23-30, 2024
5785 April 13-20, 2025

As Chol HaMoed ( Hebrew חול המועד) denotes the "between" holidays of Passover (and Sukkot ). These days mix up the characteristics of oneחול "Chol" (days of the week) and oneמועד "Moed" (feast day). On the Passover festival, Chol HaMoed consists of the second to sixth holidays (third to sixth in the diaspora).

Course and meaning

In Mea Shearim dishes is boiled and thus for Passover gekaschert .

The Passover festival lasts seven days, in the Diaspora for Orthodox Jews eight days. During this time, according to God's command ( Ex 12.20  EU ), noחָמֵץ Chametz , German `` leavened '', can be consumed while still being in the house. In the rabbinical tradition, this was extended to all foods that came into contact with leaven in any way. They may not be used on Passover to prepare or serve food, or even to feed cattle. Any of the five types of grain, wheat , rye , barley , oats , spelled (spelled) that has come into contact with water for at least 18 minutes, as well as any food and drink made from or containing one of these types of grain, is considered to be sour.


To prepare for the festival, all acidified foods are therefore consumed, given away or sold the week before, and the rest are removed in a large house cleaning. The house is cleaned down to the last crumb. Chametz, which was forgotten and discovered later, may no longer be used and is therefore thrown away. Found (given or similar) Chametz can also be sold and bought back at the end of the Passover (the material possession does not necessarily have to change). Glass dishes are watered for three days, the water being changed every 24 hours. Iron utensils (pots, cutlery) are boiled and thus buried in accordance with regulations . Many households have cutlery and crockery just for Passover. All kitchen accessories made of other materials, such as wood, porcelain, earthenware, plastic, etc. will be locked away during the festival. At the end of this house cleaning, every corner of the apartment is ritually searched for remaining Chametz in the light of a candle .

This is to remind us of the biblical tradition, after the Israelites had to move so quickly from Egypt that the acidification and Gärenlassen the loaves as a travel food there was no time ( Ex 12,34  EU ). That is why only unleavened bread ( mazza ) is eaten during the eight feast days . The matzos are thin, crispy flatbreads made only from flour and water without yeast . The total production time from mixing the dough to baking must not exceed 18 minutes so that the dough does not acidify under any circumstances. The matzos form the religious-historical background of the wafers used as hosts in the Catholic Eucharist , but they are much smaller.

The seder evening

The Seder plate

Every festival day begins the evening before, because in the Jewish calendar the day lasts from the evening before to the evening of the day - not from midnight to midnight. The beginning of the evening is denoted by the word (Hebrew ערב evening) Erev. The actual Passover begins with an evening service in the synagogue , which is followed by the great family feast: the seder ("order"). It begins with Shehechejanu's blessing . Certain dishes with symbolic meaning are eaten together according to a precisely defined process. In the meantime, the Seder leader reads out the relevant Bible passage and explanations from the Passover liturgy ( Haggadah ), which explains the meaning of the food. The youngest member of the table asks four questions, the Ma Nishtana . After the symbolic food has been consumed, the actual feast follows. A total of four cups of wine are drunk at certain intervals , which symbolize God's promises : He wanted to bring the children of Israel out of Ex 6.6f  EU , save, redeem and accept them as their own people. A fifth cup has been available in some traditions since the Middle Ages (but not in the rite according to the current standard editions of the Haggadah) for the prophet Elijah , who is expected to announce the coming of the Messiah. In the liberal faith, a cup of water is also provided for Mirjam , the sister of Moses. During the seder, the family sings mainly songs of praise and thanksgiving, traditionally the conclusion is Chad gadja .

Passover Haggadah by Jakob Michael May Segal 1731 Frankfurt am Main

Passover is - even more than many other Jewish festivals - a family festival with which the relatives place themselves in the original traditions of their people, remember them and reaffirm them for themselves. Everyone should feel as if they had moved out of Egypt themselves and were telling their children about it. This memory is intended to preserve the identity and cohesion of Judaism, even in all its dispersion and persecution.


Until the destruction of the temple, the 16th Nisan of Passover still had a special meaning. The Omer was offered. It was the first sheaf of new grain. The Omer sheaf was cut with great effort and brought together with a burnt offering ( Lev 23.12  EU ). Only then was it allowed to enjoy the new harvest. Lev 23.11  EU determined the "day after the Sabbath" for the date of the Omer offering . The Boethuseans, Sadducees and Karaites understood the Sabbath as a day of the week. Therefore, they always celebrated the Omer offering on a Sunday. But the Pharisees' view has prevailed. They regarded the Sabbath in the sense of Lev 23:11 as the first day of the festival of Passover. Therefore, the Omer offering always took place on the 16th of Nisan. According to Dtn 16.9f  EU , a count of seven weeks begins with the offering of the omers . Because of the destruction of the temple, only the formal counting of the days is practiced, which since Talmudic times have also been considered a time of mourning because of the murder of Rabbi Akiba's students . This is only interrupted by Lag BaOmer on the 33rd day, which is celebrated as a happy day. The Shavuot festival falls on the fiftieth day .


On the last holiday of Passover deceased family member is with the Yizkor -Gebet thought. The living pray for the dead. Those who pray should reflect on the fragility and nothingness of man. They promise to donate to charity and Torah training in sections of the prayer . The aim of prayer is that God should benevolently remember the souls of the deceased relatives. This prayer is said not only on the last day of Passover, but also on Yom Kippur , Shavuot and Shmini Azeret . Only those who have lost one or both parents take part in the actual Jiskor. H. those whose parents are still alive leave the synagogue or prayer room during this prayer and then return.

Meaning in Christianity

New Testament

The last supper as the Passover meal on Seder evening

According to the New Testament, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem took place in a Passover week; According to the Synoptics , the day of Jesus' death was on a day of preparation for the Feast of Passover ( Mk 15.6-42  EU ) and according to the Gospel of John Jesus died on Nisan 14 (see Quartodecimans ) at the same time as the Passover lambs were slaughtered in the temple ( John 19:14 -24  EU ). In early Christianity, Jesus' death is related to Israel's hope for liberation as a counter-image Passover lamb. His resurrection is understood as an affirmation of this hope and its expansion to all peoples is expected.

According to Joachim Jeremias, the early Christian Lord's Supper takes up elements of the Jewish Seder meal such as domestic celebrations, interpretive words for food, thanksgiving prayer, and blessing cups ( Mk 14.12-25  EU ). This also includes the Christological image of the Easter lamb , which recalls the Passover sacrifices slaughtered at the temple up to 70 AD. For Paul of Tarsus , Christ was slaughtered as “our pas-cha” so that all clinging to the “old leaven” of the internal Christian power struggles would be superfluous ( 1 Cor 5,7  EU ).

Christianity history

In the old church there was a long argument about the date of Easter (see Easter dispute and Quartodecimans ). After all, the Sunday after the first full moon in spring was set as Easter Sunday. This was to distinguish Easter from the Jewish Passover date.

However, the traditional Easter liturgy makes the reference to the Jewish Passover clear: During the Easter Vigil , a text from the Book of Exodus is always read out on the exodus of the Israelites. The entry of the priest or pastor with the Easter candle is reminiscent of the pillar of fire when the Israelites moved out. The Exsultet , the great Easter praise after moving in, describes the meaning of the Passover night for Christianity: Based on the Exodus from Egypt, reference is made to the resurrection of Christ , who was slaughtered as “the true lamb, whose blood sanctifies the doors of the believers and that People save from death and destruction. ”According to the beliefs of the early Church, it will also be on a Passover night when Christ returns in glory. In the Latin and Armenian Churches , unleavened bread is used as a wafer during the Eucharist . This led to the so-called Azyma dispute with the Orthodox Church , which only considers bread made from sourdough to be permissible.

See also


  • Adalbert Böning: Passover - the festival of liberation. “From bondage to freedom!”. The feast of Passover in the Bible, Talmud, celebration and story. Padligur, Hagen 1996, ISBN 3-922957-44-7 ( Contributions to the Promotion of Christian-Jewish Dialogue 15).
  • Baruch M. Bokser: The Origins of the Seder. The Passover Rite and Early Rabbinic Judaism. University of California Press, Berkeley CA et al. 1984, ISBN 0-520-05006-1 (Reprinted edition. Jewish Theological Seminar Press, New York NY 2002, ISBN 0-87334-087-6 ).
  • Paul F. Bradshaw, Lawrence A. Hoffman: Passover and Easter. Origin and History to Modern Times. Reprint edition. University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame IN 2002, ISBN 0-268-03859-7 ( Two liturgical Traditions 5).
  • Marianne Monson-Burton: Celebrating Passover. A Guide to Understanding the Jewish Feast for Latter-Day Saints. Horizon Publ. & Distributi, Bountiful UT 2004, ISBN 0-88290-759-X .
  • Rainer Schmitt: Exodus and Passover. Their connection in the Old Testament. 2nd revised edition. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht et al., Göttingen 1997 et al., ISBN 3-525-53350-0 .
  • JB Segal: Hebrew Passover. From the Earliest Times to AD 70. Oxford University Press, London 1963 ( London Oriental Series 12, ISSN  0076-0625 ).
  • Michael Shire : The Passover Haggadah. 2nd Edition. Jüdische Verlags-Anstalt, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-934658-82-2 .
  • Easter and Passover. In: World and Environment of the Bible , issue 40 (2/2006).

Web links

Wiktionary: Passover  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Passover  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Jewish calendar - Jewish year, Jewish holidays and memorial days: Passover. In: Central Council of Jews in Germany, accessed on April 6, 2018 .
  2. Otto: Pascha. In: Manfred Görg (Ed.): New Bible Lexicon. Volume 3: O - Z. Benziger, Düsseldorf et al. 2001, ISBN 3-545-23076-7 , Sp. 77
  3. ^ Leonhard Rost : Josias Passa. In: Leonhard Rost: Studies on the Old Testament. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart et al. 1974, ISBN 3-17-001479-X , pp. 87–93 ( Contributions to the science of the Old and New Testament 101 = series 6, item 1).
  4. Martin Rösel:  Pesach I . In: Theological Real Encyclopedia (TRE). Volume 26, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1996, ISBN 3-11-015155-3 , p. 233.
  5. Werner H. Schmidt: Old Testament Faith in its History (= Neukirchener Studienbücher 6). 4th revised edition. Neukirchener Verlag, Neukirchen-Vluyn 1982, ISBN 3-7887-0655-4 , p. 127ff.
  6. Wolfgang Zwickel : The temple cult in Canaan and Israel. Studies on the cult history of Palestine from the Middle Bronze Age to the fall of Judas. Mohr / Siebeck, Tübingen 1994, ISBN 3-16-146218-1 , p. 336 ( research on the Old Testament 10), (at the same time: Kiel, Univ., Habil.-Schr., 1993).
  7. ^ Philip R. Davies: Passover and the dating of the Aqedah. In: The Journal of Jewish Studies. 30, 1979, ISSN  0022-2097 , pp. 59-67, here p. 64.
  8. ^ Franz Schnider:  Pesach II: Judentum . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie (TRE). Volume 26, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1996, ISBN 3-11-015155-3 , p. 37.
  9. Tract Pesachim (Passover): Chapter I. In: Retrieved December 28, 2018 (English, translated by Michael L. Rodkinson, Talmud Society, Boston 1918 / Online Scan 2002 New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud).
  10. ^ Franz Schnider:  Pesach II. Judaism . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie (TRE). Volume 26, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1996, ISBN 3-11-015155-3 , pp. 238-239.
  11. Passover. In: Archived from the original on November 5, 2003 ; accessed on April 6, 2018 .
  12. ^ Passover I. In: Time and Date AS, accessed April 6, 2018 .
  13. Alexandra Föderl-Schmid: Why this Arab owns almost all of Israel's food. In: . March 28, 2018, accessed April 6, 2018 .
  14. a b c Festivals and Holidays III . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie (TRE). Volume 11, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1983, ISBN 3-11-008577-1 , pp. 109-110.
  15. Joachim Jeremias : The Last Supper of Jesus. 3rd completely revised edition. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1960.