Hebrew PESACH, Greek PASCHA, a passing over, a name given to the festival established and to the victim offered in commemoration of he coming forth out of Egypt, Exodus 12:1-51; because the night before their departure, the destroying angel, who slew the firstborn of the Egyptians, passed over the houses of the Hebrews without entering them, they being marked with the blood of the lamb, which for this reason was called he Passover, Mark 14:12,14 1 Corinthians 5:7, or the paschal lamb.
The month of the exodus from Egypt, called Abib by Moses, and afterwards named Nisan, was ordained to be thereafter the first month of the sacred or ecclesiastical year. On the fourteenth day of this month, between the two evenings, (See EVENING,) they were to kill the paschal lamb, and to abstain from leavened bread. The day following, being the fifteenth, reckoned from six o’clock of the preceding evening, was the grand feast of the Passover, which continues seven days, usually called "the days of unleavened bread," or "the Passover," Luke 22:1; but only the first and the seventh day were peculiarly solemn, Leviticus 23:5-8 Numbers 28:16,17 Matthew 26:17. They were days of rest, and were called Sabbaths by the Jews. The slain lamb was to be without defect, a male, and of that year. If no lamb could be found, they might take a kid. They killed a lamb or a kid in each family; but if any family was not large enough to eat the lamb, they might associate another small family with them. The Passover was to be slain and eaten only at Jerusalem, though the remainder of the festival might be observed in any place. The lamb was to be roasted entire, and eaten the same night, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs; not a bone of it was to be broken; and all that was not eaten was to be consumed by fire, Exodus 12:1-51 John 19:36. If any one was unable to keep the Passover at the time appointed, he was to observe it on the second month; he that willfully neglected it, forfeited the covenant favor of God; while on the other hand resident foreigners were admitted to partake of it, Numbers 9:6-14 2 Chronicles 30:1-27. The direction to eat the Passover in the posture and with the equipments of travelers seems to have been observed only on the first Passover. Besides the private family festival, there were public and national sacrifices offered on each of the seven days of unleavened bread, Numbers 28:19. On the second day also the first fruits of the barley harvest were offered in the temple, Leviticus 23:10.
Jewish writers give us full descriptions of the Passover feast, from which we gather a few particulars. Those who were to partake having performed the required purification and being assembled at the table, the master of the feast took a cup of unfermented wine, and blessed God for the fruit of the vine, of which all ten drank. This was followed by a washing of hands. The paschal lamb was then brought in, with unleavened cakes, bitter herbs, and a sauce or fruit-paste. The master of the feast then blessed God for the fruits of the earth, and gave the explanations prescribed in Exodus 12:26,27, specifying each particular. After a second cup, with a second washing of hands, an unleavened cake was broken and distributed, and a blessing pronounced upon the Giver of Bread. When all had eaten sufficiently of the food before them, a third cup of thanksgiving, for deliverance from Egypt and for the gift of the law, was blessed and drunk, Matthew 26:27 1 Corinthians 10:16; this was called "the cup of blessing." The repast was usually closed by a fourth cup and psalms of praise, Psalms 136:1-26 145:10 Matthew 26:30.
Our Savior partook of the Passover for the last time, with his disciples, on the evening with which the day of his crucifixion commenced, Matthew 26:17 Mark 14:12 Luke 22:7. The following day, commencing with the sunset three hours after his death, was the Jewish Sabbath, and was also observed as "a Passover," John 13:29 18:28 19:14,31. Compare Matthew 27:62.
This sacred festival was both commemorative and typical in its nature and design; the deliverance which it commemorated was a type of the great salvation it foretold. The Savior identified himself with the paschal lamb as its great Antitype, in substituting the Lord’s supper for the Passover. "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us," 1 Corinthians 5:7; and as we compare the innocent lamb slain in Egypt with the infinite lamb of God, the contrast teaches us how infinite is the perdition which He alone can cause to "pass over" us, and how essential it is to be under the shelter of his sprinkled blood, before the night of judgment and ruin overtakes us.
The modern Jews also continue to observe the Passover. With those who live in Palestine the feast continues a week; but the Jews out of Palestine extend it to eight days, according to an ancient custom, by which the Sanhedrin sent two men to observe the first appearance of the new moon, who immediately gave notice of it to the chief of the council. For fear of error, they dept two days of the festival.
As to the Christian Passover, the Lord’s supper, it was instituted by Christ when, at the last Passover supper he ate with his apostles, he gave them a symbol of his body to eat, and a symbol of his blood to drink, under the form of bread and wine; prefiguring that he should give up his body to the Jews and to death. The paschal lamb, which the Jews killed, tore to pieces, and ate, and whose blood preserved them from the destroying angel, was a type, and figure of our Savior’s death and passion, and of his blood shed for the salvation of the world.
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.
Rand, W. W. "Entry for 'PASSOVER'". "American Tract Society Bible Dictionary".