|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:4-14 The feast of the Passover was to continue seven days; not idle days, spent in sport, as many that are called Christians spend their holy-days. Offerings were made to the Lord at his altar; and the people were taught to employ their time in prayer, and praise, and godly meditation. The sheaf of first-fruits was typical of the Lord Jesus, who is risen from the dead as the First-fruits of them that slept. Our Lord Jesus rose from the dead on the very day that the first-fruits were offered. We are taught by this law to honour the Lord with our substance, and with the first-fruits of all our increase, Pr 3:9. They were not to eat of their new corn, till God's part was offered to him out of it; and we must always begin with God: begin every day with him, begin every meal with him, begin every affair and business with him; seek first the kingdom of God.
Verse 5. - In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's passover. The month of Nisan was made the first month of the religious year in consequence of the original Passover having taken place in it (Exodus 12:2). On the occasion of the first, or Egyptian, Passover, all heads of a family, either singly or two or three heads of families in conjunction, provided themselves with a lamb or a kid on the 10th day of Nisan, killed it in the evening of the 14th, and, taking a bunch of hyssop, dipped it in the blood and struck the lintel and two side posts of the doors of their houses with the blood. They then roasted the animal whole for eating, added to it unleavened bread, and garnished it with bitter herbs. They made themselves ready to eat it by dressing themselves for a journey, "with their loins girded, their shoes on their feet, and their staff in their hands" (Exodus 12:11), and thus they ate it in haste, in a standing position. The meaning of the ceremony is explained by what was taking place at the same time. On the same night, after the blood had been sprinkled upon the lintel and side posts, God slew the firstborn of all who had not exhibited this symbol of their having been brought into covenant with himself, and the Israelites set off hurriedly on their departure from Egypt. It was commanded that the day should be kept hereafter in like manner as a memorial, and that the following seven days should be kept as a Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:14, 15). This command is here concisely repeated, as it is again repeated in Deuteronomy 16:1-8. One very considerable change was, however, necessarily made in the method of its observance. Originally, each head of a household or combination of households sacrificed the lamb himself, and sprinkled the blood upon the doorposts and lintel. But after the establishment of the Aaronic priesthood and the withdrawal of the priestly authority previously vested in each head of a house (chapters 8, 9), and after the stringent prohibition of sacrificing elsewhere than in the court of the tabernacle had been issued (chapter 17), this could not continue. Accordingly, we find in the Book of Deuteronomy the direct injunction, "Thou mayest not sacrifice the Passover within any of thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee: but at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his Name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the Passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 16:5, 6). A result from this rule was that every male Israelite had to present himself at Jerusalem, and there slay his lamb on the day of the Passover, which in the time of Nero, brought between two and three million pilgrims to Jerusalem each year. The crowd of pilgrims took their way to the temple, and were admitted into the court in three divisions. There they slew each man his lamb, while the priests offered the blood on the altar, and the Levites sang the Hallel (Psalm 113-118). Then they bore away the lambs, roasted them whole on a spit of pomegranate wood, taking care that no bone should be broken, and prepared the Paschal supper. At the supper, as well as at the sacrifice, a change of manner was introduced. "As the guests gathered round the Paschal table, they came no longer, as at the first celebration, with their loins girded, with shoes on their feet, and a staff in their hands; that is, as travelers waiting to take their departure. On the contrary, they were arrayed in their best festive garments, joyous and at rest, as became the children of a king. To express this idea, the rabbis also insisted that the Paschal supper, or at least part of it, must be eaten in that recumbent position with which we are familiar from the New Testament. 'For,' say they, 'they use this leaning posture, as free men do, in memorial of their freedom.' And again, 'Because it is the manner of slaves to eat standing, therefore now they eat sitting and leaning, in order to show that they have been delivered from bondage into freedom.' And finally, 'No, not the poorest in Israel may eat till he has sat down, leaning.' But though it was deemed desirable to sit leaning during the whole Paschal supper, it was only absolutely enjoined while partaking of the bread and the wine" (Edersheim, 'Temple Service'). The essentials of the Paschal feast were the Paschal lamb, the unleavened bread, and the bitter herbs (Exodus 12:8). To these were afterwards added a dish formed from an animal sacrificed on the Passover day, a composition of dates and other dried fruits, and four cups of red wine mixed with water, the last of which came to be regarded as essential as that which had been commanded in the Law. The Rabbi Gamaliel is reported by the Mishna to have said, "Whoever fails to explain three things in the Passover fails to fulfill his duty. These are the Paschal lamb, the unleavened bread, and the bitter herbs. The Paschal lamb means that God passed over the houses of our fathers in Egypt, which were sprinkled with blood; the unleavened bread, that our fathers were hurried out of Egypt; the bitter herbs, that the Egyptians made the lives of our fathers in Egypt bitter" (Pes. 10:15). The wine was regarded so necessary an adjunct, that it is ordered that every householder must provide himself with four cups, even if he had to sell or pawn his coat, or hire himself out for a servant, or receive money from the poor's box, in order to do so (Pes. 1). The supper began with drinking the first cup of wine, before which a grace, or thanksgiving, of the following character was said: - "Blessed art thou, Jehovah our God, who hast created the fruit of the vine! Blessed art thou, Jehovah our God, King of the universe, who hast chosen us from among all people, and exalted us from among all languages, and sanctified us with thy commandments! And thou hast given us, in love, the solemn days for joy, and the festivals and appointed seasons for gladness, and this, the day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the season of our freedom, a holy convocation, the memorial of our departure from Egypt. For us hast thou chosen; and us hast thou sanctified from among all nations, and thy holy festivals with joy and with gladness hast thou caused us to inherit. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who sanctifiest Israel and the appointed seasons! Blessed art thou, Lord, King of the universe, who hast preserved us alive, and sustained us, and brought us to this season" (Edersheim, 'Temple Service'). After drinking the first cup, there followed a general washing of hands, after which the company ate some of the bitter herbs. Then the second cup was filled, and in order to carry out the injunction of Exodus 12:26, 27, the youngest member of the company inquired, "What mean ye by this service?" And the president of the feast replied, "It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses." At the same time, he explained the purport of the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs, and called upon the company to give thanks for what God had wrought for them and for their fathers, ending with Psalm 113, 114, sung by all present. The second cup was then drunk, and after second washing of hands, the unleavened bread was broken, and thanks again given, after which the pieces of bread, the bitter herbs, the other sacrificial dish (if any), and the Paschal lamb were partaken of in turn. The third cup was then filled, thanks were again given, and the cup was drunk. This cup had the name of the "cup of blessing," owing to the blessing said over it, and it was succeeded after an interval by the fourth cup, when Psalm 115-118 (which, with Psalm 113, 114, made up the Hallel) were sung, followed by a prayer of thanksgiving.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
In the fourteenth day of the first month,.... The month Nisan, the same with Abib, the month in which the children of Israel came out of Egypt, for which reason it was made the first month in the year, answering to part of our March and part of April; and for the same reason was the passover kept at this time, as follows:
at even is the Lord's passover; that is, that was the time for the keeping the passover, even "between the two evenings", as it may be rendered; from the sixth hour and onward, as Jarchi, trial is, after noon or twelve o'clock the middle of the day, as Gersom, when the sun began to decline; See Gill on Exodus 12:6.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Le 23:5-8. The Passover.
5. the Lord's passover—(See Ex 12:2, 14, 18). The institution of the passover was intended to be a perpetual memorial of the circumstances attending the redemption of the Israelites, while it had a typical reference to a greater redemption to be effected for God's spiritual people. On the first and last days of this feast, the people were forbidden to work [Le 23:7, 8]; but while on the Sabbath they were not to do any work, on feast days they were permitted to dress meat—and hence the prohibition is restricted to "no servile work." At the same time, those two days were devoted to "holy convocation"—special seasons of social devotion. In addition to the ordinary sacrifices of every day, there were to be "offerings by fire" on the altar (see Nu 28:19), while unleavened bread was to be eaten in families all the seven days (see 1Co 5:8).
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