The Passover story starts around 1440 BCE. in Canaan, an Ancient civilization in Israel facing extreme famine at the time. In Canaan lived Joseph, the son of Jacob, founder of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, who became close to the Pharaoh of Egypt who welcomed Joseph’s family to settle down in Egypt.
The Israelites and Egyptians lived in harmony for many years until the Egyptians saw the Israelites become more prominent in numbers. The Egyptians saw this as a threat, and once Joseph and his brothers died, the Pharaoh demanded the Israelites enslavement and for every Israelites firstborn son to drown in the Nile.
The Pharaoh’s daughter saved and adopted one of the Jewish babies meant to drown in the Nile, giving him the name Moses. When he grew up, he discovered the truth of his past and people and escaped to the Sinai Peninsula. He spent many years there living as a Shepherd until God came to him with the command to return to Egypt and lead his people back to the Promised Land.
Moses followed God’s command and headed to Egypt, where he approached the Pharaoh to tell him God’s request to let his people go. Moses warned the Pharaoh that he and his people would face God’s wrath as he will cast ten plagues if he refused. The first plague would turn the river to blood, then frogs, bugs, hoarding of wild animals, all the cattle will die, boils will cause extreme pain and agony, hail, locust, three days of darkness, and finally the death of every firstborn son.
God told Moses to tell his people that to be safe from the final plague, they must slaughter their favorite lamb and wipe the blood on the door frame of their home. They must then cook and eat the lamb’s meat so that when God sends the angel of death, the Jewish homes will be safe.
After the tenth plague ravished Egypt, the Pharaoh gave the Israelites their freedom. The Pharaoh gave Moses just enough time to lead his people out of Egypt but not before the Pharaoh changed his heart and ordered his army to retrieve the Israelites. The army caught up to them at the Red Sea, where Moses parted the water, giving his people enough time to escape while the Egyptian soldiers drowned behind them. Moses led his people on an exodus through the desert to get to their ancestral home in Canaan. Passover celebrates the Israelites’ incredible journey of redemption. Shalom Lamm keeps in touch with his faith by preparing his house for Passover on the 15th day of the Hebrew month in Nisan by removing all leavened foods and eating matzo, a bread similar to the Israelites would have had as they fled Egypt. On the first and second days of Passover, he participates in Sedar, a massive feast in which someone tells the story, and rituals occur to commemorate his ancestors through their enslavement and escape journey.