Hints of the Passover

Sidebar to: Wilderness Wanderings

Many scholars believe the origins of the Passover sacrifice can be found in the Bedouin customs surrounding Rabi’ah, which is in the spring, when the herds are taken out into the mountains for seasonal pasturage. The ritual includes the sacrifice of a goat or lamb, as does the Passover feast (Exodus 12:3–10).

Perhaps the most striking similarity is the Bedouin practice of draining the goat’s blood and smearing it on their camels and on their children’s foreheads, as protection. In the Exodus account the Israelites were commanded to smear the blood of the sacrificial lamb on their lintels and doorposts to protect their households from the tenth plague: the death of the firstborn (Exodus 12:7, 13).

Even matzah, the unleavened bread eaten at Passover (Exodus 12:17), has a parallel in Bedouin life. This flat bread, called libeh, is cooked two or three times a day. The dough is made simply of flour, water and salt, and it is baked (without leavening) over the coals of an open fire.

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