Parashat Pesach (Passover)
Maftir: Numbers 28:16-25
Haftarah: Joshua 5:2-6:1, 6:27
In this week’s special reading for Passover, we read once again of God’s instructions to Moses regarding the children of Israel dipping hyssop in the blood of the Passover sacrificial lamb and marking the doorpost of their homes. This action was for them to make a physical sign so that the destroyer, the angle of death, would “pass over” their homes while smiting the Egyptians with the death of their first-borns.
We then read:
“And you shall keep this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. When you enter the land which the LORD will give you, as He has promised, you shall keep this rite. And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ then you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD because He passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’” And the people bowed low and worshiped. Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.”
As I write this commentary, I am amazed by the distinct privilege I have to follow this powerful command that God gave to Moses, Aaron and the children of Israel thousands years ago; I get to observe the Passover in the Land that He promised them, and to tell my children that same story. This is indeed an amazing sign of God’s everlasting covenant with Israel!
In our Haftara, we read of circumcision, which — like the blood of the Passover lamb — is also a sign of the covenant God made with the children of Israel:
At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.” So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt. For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised. For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, that is, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the LORD, to whom the LORD had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. So their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way. Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they recovered. Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.
While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they celebrated the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. Then on the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and roasted grain. And the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.
I believe that there is an amazing connection between circumcision and Passover, which we still see today. In Joshua we read:
Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of Egypt from you.”
While there are different interpretations of the meaning of this verse, I personally believe that the shame here is because Israel did not circumcise their sons, and in failing to do so, they were no different from the Egyptians.
I would even take it further and say that both circumcision and the blood of the Passover lamb are great signs of the covenant between God and all humankind — not just between God and the Jewish people. Why? In Messiah Yeshua, our Passover lamb who was slain for both Jews and Gentiles, we also receive the circumcision of the heart. So while God commanded physical circumcision for the children of Israel as an eternal sign of His covenant, He has given all people the opportunity for our hearts to be circumcised. While the most well-known mention of this is in Romans 2:29, the prophet Jeremiah actually mentions this concept centuries before the apostle Paul (Rav Sha’ul):
Circumcise yourselves to ADONAI and remove the foreskins of your heart, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Else My wrath will break out like fire and blaze, with no one to quench it,because of your evil deeds!
This is only made possible by the sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua, our Passover Lamb! As Israel remembers the Passover, may we all see the amazing connection between circumcision and Passover, and may we all enter the eternal spiritual covenant with our God.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Passover,
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