Passover story or the story of Pesach dates back to the time of Moses, somewhere between the 19th and the 17th century BC. The festival is a commemoration of the freedom of the Hebrews from the tyranny and oppression of the Pharaohs of Egypt. This is, in fact, the biggest festival observed by the Jewish and the Samaritan community all over the world, the detailed account of which is found in the Holy Book of the Jews or the Hebrew Bible (The Book of Exodus). Through the following lines, we will help you explore the story of Passover in detail.
Passover Holiday Story
The story of Pesach starts with Joseph of Israel, who was one of the 12 sons of Jacob and Rachel. Due to sibling rivalry, one day, his brothers faked his death in front of their father and sold him to some traders who were on their way to the land of Egypt. Joseph, however, had a rare gift of interpreting dreams and this power brought him in favor of the then reigning Pharaoh of Egypt. At the age of 30, he became the Viceroy of the land and a personal favorite of the Pharaoh. To save his family from the effects of a devastating famine, Joseph called his entire family to Egypt. There he provided them with food to eat, apart from all the other comforts of life.
Gradually, over a period of time, the children of Israel started multiplied in the land of Egypt and began to play important roles in the cultural, political and economic life of the country. This naturally evoked the envy of the locals, who began to feel that their rights and privileges were being tempered with, by the foreigners. This fear led them to repress and dominate the Israelites, by way of enslaving them. They were forced to construct monuments and roads, build cities, work in the queries and carve stones. By this time, the old Pharaoh had died and Egypt was taken over by a new ruler, infamous for his tyranny and dictatorship.
Despite all the regulations and restrictions imposed on them, the Israelites continued to multiply. Finally, the Pharaoh made a decree that all the male newborns of the Hebrew mothers be killed and be thrown into the river Nile. Only the daughters were permitted to live. By passing this judgment, the Pharaoh not only hoped to decrease the Hebrew influence, but also tried to eliminate the danger, which according to the prophecy made by his astrologers, threatened his own life. According to this prophecy, he was to be killed by the newborn of an Israeli, who would later become the leader of the entire Hebrew community.
The leader was to be no other than Moses, the great grandson of Jacob and the third son of Amram and Yocheved. He also had a brother named Aaron and a daughter called Miriam. To save him from the awful decree of the Pharoah, his mother had placed him in a small basket and hid it amongst the reeds along the edges of the river Nile. When the Pharaoh’s daughter came to bathe in Nile, she discovered the baby and decided to raise him as her own. She called the baby Moses, meaning ‘drawn from water’. She even hired a nurse for the baby, who was no one but Yocheved herself. As the baby grew, Yocheved told him his true identity and about his Jewish heritage.
As time passed by and as Moses grew older, he began to feel more and more drawn towards the sufferings of his fellow Hebrews, which became even worse with the passing time. When he was 80, he received a special message from the Lord of the Israelites, who told him to go and free His people from the oppression of the Pharaohs. So, acting on the orders, Moses and his brother Aaron entered the royal palace to deliver the message. However, the ruler refused to heed the message and let the Hebrews go free. This incurred the wraths of the Lord, who punished him and his people with ten plagues.
The first among the plagues was the turning of the waters of Nile into blood. This was followed by the second plague, which covered the entire land with frogs. The third plague involved the crawling of lice from dust, to envelop the whole of Egypt. However, even after this, the Pharaoh remained adamant and refused to release the children of Israel. Gradually, the plagues worsened, with the fourth one bringing hordes of wild animals roving all over Egypt and destroying any life and property that came in the way. Then, God sent the fifth one - a deadly epidemic that killed most of the domestic animals. This was followed by the sixth one, where boils burst upon man and animals all over Egypt.
In the seventh plague, a violent hailstorm prevailed and killed everything that was outside and not sheltered. Slowly, the Pharaoh started to relent, but insisted that the Jewish women and children remain in Egypt, along with their possessions. This was, however, unacceptable to Moses and so, God sent the eighth plague wherein, swarms of locusts devoured anything that was green and fresh. The ninth plague was a blanket of darkness that enveloped the whole of Egypt, except for an area called Goshen, where the Hebrews resided. Finally, when all the Egyptian firstborns started dying, including the first born of the Pharaoh, he agreed to follow the Lord’s orders and release the people. This was on the 15th day of Nissan, exactly at midnight.
The Jews left in a hurry. All they had to eat were some unleavened bread called matza and roasted paschal lamb. As the sun rose on the morning of the fifteenth, the entire Jewish community arose to leave Egypt once and for all. Soon after that, the Pharaoh started to regret his decision and sent his troops in the pursuit of his former slaves. He reached them near the banks of the Red Sea. However, Moses was determined and led his men forward till he came to the very borders of the vast sea. At this point, the Lord spoke to him and told him to raise his shaft and stretch his hand over the sea and divide it. As he did so, a strong east wind began to blow and divided the waters of the entire sea in two halves.
The Israelites then marched forward until they reached the other side of the river safely. However, when the Egyptians tried to follow them, the water of the Red Sea closed around and drowned the entire army of the Pharaoh. This way, God saved the children of Israel from the Egyptians and helped them to establish a new and independent nation. In the years that followed, the 14th day of Nissan came to be celebrated as the first day of the Passover holiday. It was meant to commemorate the freedom of the Jews from slavery and also remember what their ancestors had to go through, to gain independence for them.