Passover or Pesach is a major, biblically derived Jewish holiday. Jews celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation by God from slavery in ancient Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses.
The English term "Passover" is first known to be recorded in the English language in William Tyndale's translation of the Bible, later appearing in the King James Version as well. It is a literal translation of the Hebrew term.
Passover is a spring festival which during the existence of the Temple in Jerusalem was connected to the offering of the "first-fruits of the barley", barley being the first grain to ripen and to be harvested in the Land of Israel.
The Levites were also the first fruits. The firstborn of a family was to be the priest of that family or clan. The Levites were the firstborn of a nation and were to be priests to that nation while Israel was to be a priest to all nations.
The Passover ritual, prior to Deuteronomy, is widely thought to have its origins in an apotropaic rite, unrelated to the Exodus, to ensure the protection of a family home, a rite conducted wholly within a clan.
Even the Canaanite agricultural festival of spring was a ceremony of Unleavened Bread, connected with the barley harvest.
The biblical regulations for the observance of the festival require that all leavening be disposed of before the beginning of the 15th of Nisan but these symbols within the feasts and festivals like leaven are a metaphor for deeper meanings.
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