Jews Will Celebrate Passover Monday Evening
On this upcoming Monday night, those of us that follow the Jewish tradition will commemorate the Biblical legend of the Exodus with the celebration of Passover.
On that night, Jewish adherents will gather in homes and synagogues all over the globe to have grand a feast and retell the legend of how the Israelite children were brought out of bondage from Egypt. On the next seven days, celebrants will not eat anything made with leaven (yeasts) because the Israelites were in a hurry to get out of Egypt that they did not have time to let their bread rise.
According to the Hebrew calendar, the holiday always fall on Nisan 15, which can fall between late March to mid-April depending on the first cycle of the moon after Spring arrives. Let us also take notice that a day on the Hebrew calendar starts at evening which is by prescription from the first chapter of Genesis in which “the evening and the morning were the first day.”
As the story goes, the children of Israel were slaves in Egypt for 430 years until G-d sent a deliverer named Moses to go down to Egypt-land to “tell old Pharaoh to let my people go.” Pharaoh would not let the people go and G-d sent ten gruesome plagues on the Egyptians until Pharaoh capitulated. However, Pharaoh decided to chase after the Israelites with his army to bring them back into captivity but him and his army were drowned in the “Red Sea” (more accurate translations say the “Sea of Reeds”). Because of epic details like those, the Exodus story is one of the most inspiring stories of literature.
In matter of fact, the Exodus story inspired many of the Afro American slaves in the South. Many of them saw parallels between their bondage and the bondage of the legendary Israelites. Afro Americans even adopted terminology to emphasized the similarities. The North was considered the “Promised Land” and famed Underground conductor Harriet Tubman was even nicknamed “Black Moses.” It was only fitting that Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant on the day right before Passover, April 9. Remarkably, April 9 will be the day right before Passover this year as well.
Like many of the stories in the Bible, there is not much evidence to prove that the Exodus story was an actual historical event. Modern archaeology has not yet given any substantial proof to confirm that there was a major migration of Semitic peoples from Egypt. There is also little to no evidence that there was some catastrophic event that would had resulted from the ten plagues. The numbers for the Israelite population that the Bible gives also cannot be reasonably accepted.
Moreover, the dating of the Exodus is very ambiguous and cannot be precisely pinpointed. There is also the issue that such an event is not directly recorded in any of the records of ancient Egypt. However, there are some suggestions that the Ipuwer Papyrus may allude to it but that is scant as well. The most possible conclusion is the whole Exodus story is just a glorified remake of some obscure event in the deep past. The historian Carol Wilson states, “Presumably, an original Exodus story lies hidden somewhere inside all the later revisions and alterations, but centuries of transmission have long obscured its presence and its substance; accuracy and date are now difficult to determine.”
Although, the Exodus story is most likely an ancient legend, celebrating Passover helps me to appreciate my freedom. Therefore as I celebrate this grand Festival of Freedom and think upon the beautiful imagery of Israelites escaping from slavery in Egypt, I remember the struggle of my own slave ancestors that received their freedom on a Passover many years ago.
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