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Why a Lamb was Chosen for Passover? Exodus 12:1-14 by Dr. Terry Harman

Updated: May 27


Introduction

The Passover holiday is one of the most significant events in Jewish history and tradition. It celebrates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt, as recounted in the Book of Exodus. One of the central rituals of Passover is the slaughtering of a lamb or goat, which is then roasted and eaten by the participants. While this tradition holds great meaning for Jews, it would have been deeply offensive to the ancient Egyptians, who held the ram and its deity, Amun, in high esteem.


The Egyptian Ram god

In ancient Egypt, the ram was a sacred animal and was closely associated with the god Amun. Amun was considered the king of the gods and was worshiped throughout Egypt, particularly in the city of Thebes. Amun-Ra was often depicted as a human figure with a ram's head or wearing a crown with ram horns. Rams were seen as symbols of strength, fertility, and virility and were commonly depicted in Egyptian art and architecture. They were also used in temple rituals and were often sacrificed as offerings to the gods. Passover takes place during the early spring during the Hebrew calendar month of Nissan as prescribed in Exodus. At the time of the first Passover in Egypt the constellation of Aires, the Ram or make sheep would have been prominent!


Ram-god Worship Misguided

One source that discusses the Egyptian worship of the ram god is the Torah portion of Va'eira, which recounts the story of the Ten Plagues and the Exodus from Egypt. In Exodus 8:22, Moses warns Pharaoh that if he does not release the Israelites, "I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth." Chabad.org notes that this phrase "that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth" is a clear message to Pharaoh and the Egyptians that their worship of the ram-god was misguided and that the God of Israel was the only true God.


The Israelites' sacrifice of a lamb at Passover would have been a direct challenge to the power and authority of the Egyptian religious establishment. The slaughter of an animal that was closely associated with Amun would have been seen as a blasphemous act, a direct affront to the power of the ram god and his ability to protect his followers.


The use of the lamb's blood to mark the doors of the Israelites during the final plague, in

which the firstborn sons of Egypt were killed, would have been particularly offensive to the Egyptians. The ram was viewed as a symbol of divine protection and power, and the use of its blood to protect the Israelites would have been seen as a direct challenge to the power of Amun and his ability to protect his followers.


Despite the potential offense it may have caused, the slaughtering of the lamb at Passover was an important symbol of redemption and freedom for the Israelites. The sacrifice of the lamb represented the blood of the sacrificial animal that was smeared on the doorposts of the Israelites, signaling to the Angel of Death to "pass over" their homes and spare their firstborn sons. This allowed the Israelites to escape the final plague and ultimately gain their freedom from Egyptian slavery.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the slaughtering of a lamb at Passover held deep religious significance for the Israelites but would have been deeply offensive to the ancient Egyptians. The lamb was a sacred animal associated with the powerful god Amun, and its use in the Passover story challenged the power and authority of the Egyptian religious establishment. Despite this, the symbolism of the lamb and its blood played a crucial role in the liberation of the Israelites and the foundation of Jewish tradition and history.




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Guest
May 02, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Excellent

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Guest
Apr 11, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

.

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JP
JP
Mar 19, 2023

It makes it so much more explicit

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Replying to

Thank you. This week I will write about “time” equals freedom.

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