Passover - the event that commemorates GOD's deliverance of the Children of Israel from the land of Egypt, represents one of the most important seasons in Israelite culture. It has also become widely accepted as a sacred festival of those that practice Judaism. While many groups have adopted historical events to identify with their religious culture, we should always refer back to the origin of the season to truly understand the magnitude of its significance. Passover by origin is the commemoration for millions of Israelites and their descendants which represents their deliverance from the land of Egypt. This is also expressed by the introductory verse of the Ten Commandments “I am the LORD thy GOD who brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt out of the house of bondage.”
For those who have read the scriptural account of the “Exodus” from Egypt the text describes how GOD delivered a specific people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, from the prophesied captivity in Egypt. Those people, the Children of Israel, were classified by national identity through seed and blood and not by religious affiliation. When the basis of that national identity is clearly articulated then is the true meaning of the Passover tradition fully understood. This realization is not intended to discourage any who choose to take part in the celebration because GOD teaches us to embrace all those who have the desire to keep HIS way. However, the celebration in its modern form should not disenfranchise those who have the purest connection to the celebration. Unfortunately in many instances it does.
While many writers denote "those who practice Judaism commemorate the time where the Israelites were taken out of Egypt," the global understanding is that Passover is a religious holiday, which is not completely accurate. Many forget that Passover is actually a national recognition by those descendants of the Israelite heritage. The question then becomes how do you properly make the separation between those that have a blood line connection to the holy observation and those who have adopted it as a religious practice - without offending either.
Some historians date the origin of Judaism back to approximately 1800BC the time of Abraham, while others identify the Israelites departure from Babylon under the Persian Empire back in 500s BC as the beginnings of Judaism as a religion. In better understanding Judaism as a religion we should first discuss the etymology of the term Jew.
The term Jew has gone through a variety of phases which originate back to the term of Judaite, or Yehudite. After the separation of the Northern and Southern kingdoms of Israel, the Southern kingdom comprised of the tribes of Yehudah or Judah, Benyamin or Benjamin and some of the tribe of Levi became know as the kingdom of Judah. Scriptural text denotes this change in the biblical books of Esther and Daniel where those of the captivity became known as “Jews” as per many translations. However the term “Jew” by this definition would only describe one of the 12 tribes of Israel, perhaps two and part of the third. This term would not accurately describe the entire nation of Israel and should not be used to do so.
On the other hand when the term “Jew” is used referring to the selection of a religious identity, this becomes a choice based on a variety of factors. Judaism, as a religion, replicates the heritage that is associated with the Torah that GOD gave to the children of Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, after HE delivered them from bondage in Egypt. This great deliverance, as described earlier, is the very essence of Passover. Therefore, in order to be sure we include all of the descendants of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, we must ensure that all 12 tribes are properly represented and clearly identified.
So as many around the world prepare to celebrate Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, during this week long festival, we seek to express the true meaning and significance of this commemoration. Whether one is celebrating Passover as a matter of national observance or religious practice, it is imperative to disclose the true essence of Passover so it can be kept in its purest form how it was introduced by GOD.