Passover vs. Easter
“Passover vs. Easter” deals with an important subject that is not well-understood by many Christians.
What is the difference between Passover and Easter and does the difference matter to Yahweh?
- The Hebrew word that’s translated as Passover is Pesach.
- Passover commemorates the Children of Israel’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt.
- Passover (Pesach) is one of the three pilgrimage festivals (Shalosh Regalim) during which the Jewish people historically made a pilgrimage to the the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem. The other two pilgrimage festivals are Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Tabernacles).
Passover Instituted—Exodus 12: 1-13:
Now Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire. Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is Yahweh’s Passover. For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am Yahweh. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.’”
Feast of Unleavened Bread—Exodus 12: 14-22:
“‘Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to Yahweh; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you. You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land. You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.’” Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.”
A Memorial of Redemption—Exodus 12: 23-32:
“For Yahweh will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, Yahweh will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. When you enter the land which Yahweh will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to Yahweh who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’” And the people bowed low and worshiped. Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as Yahweh had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. Now it came about at midnight that Yahweh struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead. Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, “Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship Yahweh, as you have said. “Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also.”
The Last Supper was a Passover Celebration:
The Last Supper is the last meal Yeshua had with His disciples prior to His arrest and crucifixion. It is described in three of the four New Testament Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. From Luke’s gospel:
- Yeshua explains that He will suffer and that this meal will be His last until he finishes His work—Luke 22:15-16.
- Symbolism—“When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, ‘Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.’ And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!’ And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing.” (Luke 22: 14-23).
- Who is the greatest?—“And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors’. But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.’” (Luke 22: 24-27)
- The Kingdom of Heaven—“You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22: 28-30).
The Date for Passover According to Yahweh—Numbers 9: 1-14:
Thus Yahweh spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, “Now, let the sons of Israel observe the Passover at its appointed time. On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall observe it at its appointed time; you shall observe it according to all its statutes and according to all its ordinances.” So Moses told the sons of Israel to observe the Passover. They observed the Passover in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, in the wilderness of Sinai; according to all that Yahweh had commanded Moses, so the sons of Israel did. But there were some men who were unclean because of the dead person, so that they could not observe Passover on that day; so they came before Moses and Aaron on that day. Those men said to him, “Though we are unclean because of the dead person, why are we restrained from presenting the offering of Yahweh at its appointed time among the sons of Israel?” Moses therefore said to them, “Wait, and I will listen to what Yahweh will command concerning you.” Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If any one of you or of your generations becomes unclean because of a dead person, or is on a distant journey, he may, however, observe the Passover to Yahweh. In the second month on the fourteenth day at twilight, they shall observe it; they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break a bone of it; according to all the statute of the Passover they shall observe it. But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and yet neglects to observe the Passover, that person shall then be cut off from his people, for he did not present the offering of Yahweh at its appointed time. That man will bear his sin. If an alien sojourns among you and observes the Passover to Yahweh, according to the statute of the Passover and according to its ordinance, so he shall do; you shall have one statute, both for the alien and for the native of the land.’” (Numbers 9: 1-14)
Constantine’s Letter to the Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.); His Antipathy for the Jewish People; and His decision to change the date of Passover and to call it Easter:
Constantine Augustus, to the churches.
(1) The great grace of God’s power has constantly been increasing, as is evident in the general prosperity of the empire. I therefore decided to make it my aim above all else that one faith, sincere love, and unvarying devotion to Almighty God be maintained among the most blessed assemblies of the catholic church.
(2) But I perceived that this could only be established firmly and permanently when all of the bishops, or at least the greatest part, were convened in the same place for a council where they could discuss every point of our most holy religion. So we assembled as many as possible, and I myself was also present as one of you; for I will not deny what I especially rejoice in, that I am your fellow-servant. All points were then minutely investigated, until a decision was brought to light which was found acceptable to him who is the inspector of all things, and brought a unified agreement, leaving nothing which could cause dissension or controversy in matters of faith.
(3) At the council we also considered the issue of our holiest day, Easter, and it was determined by common consent that everyone, everywhere should celebrate it on one and the same day. For what can be more appropriate, or what more solemn, than that this feast from which we have received the hope of immortality, should be kept by all without variation, using the same order and a clear arrangement? And in the first place, it seemed very unworthy for us to keep this most sacred feast following the custom of the Jews, a people who have soiled their hands in a most terrible outrage, and have thus polluted their souls, and are now deservedly blind. Since we have cast aside their way of calculating the date of the festival, we can ensure that future generations can celebrate this observance at the more accurate time which we have kept from the first day of the passion until the present time.
(4) Therefore have nothing in common with that most hostile people, the Jews. We have received another way from the Savior. In our holy religion we have set before us a course which is both valid and accurate. Let us unanimously pursue this. Let us, most honored brothers, withdraw ourselves from that detestable association.
(5) It is truly most absurd for them to boast that we are incapable of rightly observing these things without their instruction. On what subject are they competent to form a correct judgment, who, after that murder of their Lord lost their senses, and are led not by any rational motive, but by an uncontrollable impulsiveness to wherever their innate fury may drive them? This is why even in this matter they do not perceive the truth, so that they constantly err in the utmost degree, and will celebrate the Feast of Passover a second time in the same year instead of making a suitable correction.
(6) Why then should we follow the example of those who are acknowledged to be infected with serious error? Surely we should never allow Easter to be kept twice in one and the same year! But even if these considerations were not laid before you, you should still be careful, both by diligence and prayer, that your pure souls should have nothing in common, or even seem to do so, with the customs of men so utterly depraved.
(7) This should also be considered: In a matter so important and of such religious significance, the slightest disagreement is most irreverent.
(8) For our Savior left us only one day to be observed in remembrance of our deliverance, that is the day of his most holy passion. He also wished his catholic church to be one; the members of which are still cared for by one Spirit, that is by the will of God, however much they may be scattered in various places.
(9) Let the good sense consistent with your sacred character consider how grievous and inappropriate it is, that on the same days some should be observing fasts, while others are celebrating feasts; and after the days of Easter some should celebrate festivities and enjoyments, while others submit to appointed fastings. For this reason Divine Providence directed that we put into effect an appropriate correction and establish uniformity of practice, as I suppose you are all aware.
(10) So first, it was desirable to change the situation so that we have nothing in common with that nation of father-killers who slew their Lord. Second, the order which is observed by all the churches of the western, southern, and northern parts, and by some also in the eastern is quite suitable. Therefore, at the current time, we all thought it was proper that you, intelligent as you are, would also cheerfully accept what is observed with such general unanimity of sentiment in the city of Rome, throughout Italy, Africa, all Egypt, Spain, France, Britain, Libya, the whole of Greece, and the dioceses of Asia, Pontus, and Cilicia. I pledged myself that this solution would satisfy you after you carefully examined it, especially as I considered that not only are the majority of congregations located in the places just mentioned, but also that we all have a most sacred obligation, to unite in desiring whatever common sense seems to demand, and what has no association with the perjury of the Jews.
(11) But to sum up matters briefly, it was determined by common consent that the most holy festival of Easter should be solemnized on one and the same day; for it is not at all decent that there should be in such a sacred serious matter any difference. It is quite commendable to adopt this option which has nothing to do with any strange errors, nor deviates from what is right.
(12) Since these things are consistent, gladly receive this heavenly and truly divine command. For whatever is done in the sacred assemblies of the bishops can be traced to Divine will. Therefore, once you have demonstrated the things which have been prescribed to all our beloved brothers, it would be good for you to make public the above written statements and to accept the reasoning which has proved itself to be sound, and to establish this observance of the most holy day. In this way, when I arrive to check on your condition, which I have desired earnestly for some time, I will be able to celebrate the sacred festival with you on one and the same day, and will rejoice with you for all things, as I see that through our efforts divine power is frustrating Satan’s cruelty, and that your faith, peace, and unity are flourishing everywhere.
May God preserve you, beloved brothers.
Source: NPNF vol. 2, p. 14-16, adapted by AJW. Other translations in Eusebius (NPNF vol. 1, p. 524-5) and Theodoret (NPNF vol. 3, p. 47-8).
Easter and Ishtar—the Babylonian and Assyrian Fertility Goddess:
The name “Easter” comes from the name of the Babylonian and Assyrian fertility goddess Ishtar. This is what the Encyclopedia Britannica says about Ishtar, “…the chief goddess of Babylonia and Assyria, the counterpart of the Phoenician Astarte (q.v.) The earliest written form of the name is Ash-dar, an Accadian rendering of the older Sumerian Innîni, ‘Lady of Heaven.’ Ishtar was the Semitic deity identified with the Sumerian Venus. For this reason Asdar, Ishtar, is undoubtedly the same deity as the south Arabian Athtar, god of the planet Venus. At all events it is now generally recognized that the name is Semitic in its origin. Where the name originated is likewise uncertain, but the indications point to Erech, where we find the worship of a great Sumerian mother-goddess having no association with a male counterpart flourishing in the oldest period of Babylonian history. She appears under various names, among which are Nanâ, Innanna, Ninâ and annuit. As early as the days of Khammurabi we find these various names which represented originally different goddesses, though all manifest as the chief trait the life-giving power united in Ishtar. Even when the older names are employed it is always the great mother-goddess who is meant. Ishtar is the one goddess in the pantheon who retains her independent position despite and throughout all changes that the Babylonian-Assyrian religion undergoes.” (14th edition, vol. 12, p. 707)
Since Astarte is the same principal goddess, let’s see what is said about her under this name, “A Semitic goddess whose name appears in the Bible as Ashtoreth. She is everywhere the great female principle answering to the Baal of the Canaanites and Phoenicians and to the Dagon of the Philistines. She had temples at Sidon and at Tyre (whence her worship was transplanted to Carthage), and the Philistines probably venerated her at Ascalon (1 Sam. Xxxi. 10). Solomon built a high-place for her at Jerusalem which lasted until the days of King Josiah (I. Kings xi. 5; II. Kings xxiii. 13), and the extent of her cult among the Israelites is proved as much by the numerous biblical references as by the frequent representations of the deity turned up on Palestinian soil. The Moabites formed a compound deity, Ashtar-Chemosh and the absence of the feminine termination occurs similarly in the Babylonian and Assyrian prototype Ishtar. The old South Arabian phonetic equivalent ‘Athtar’ is, however, a male deity. Another compound, properly of mixed sex, appears in the Aramaean Atargatis (‘At[t]ar-‘athe), worn down to Derketo, who is specifically associated with sacred pools and fish (Ascalon, Hierapolis-Mabog).
“As the great nature-goddess, the attributes of fertility and reproduction are characteristically hers, as also the accompanying immorality which originally, perhaps, was often nothing more than primitive magic. As patroness of the hunt, later identification with Artemis was inevitable. Hence the consequent fusion with Aphrodite, Artemis, Diana, Juno and Venus, and the action and reaction of one upon the other in myth and legend. Her star was the planet Venus, and classical writers give her the epithet Caelestis and Urania. Robertson Smith argues that Astarte was originally a sheep-goddess, and the points to the interesting use of ‘Astartes of the flocks’ (Deut. Vii. 13) to denote the offspring. To nomads, Astarte may well have been a sheep-goddess, but this, if her earliest, was not her only type, as it clear from the sacred fish of Atargatis, the doves of Ascalon (and of the Phoenician sanctuary of Eryx), and the gazelle or antelope of the goddess of love (associated with the Arabian Athtar). (Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th Edition, Vol. 2, pp. 570-571)
Ishtar was also known as the pagan “Lady or Queen of Heaven.” Yahweh told Jeremiah, “Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods in order to spite Me. Do they spite Me?” declares Yahweh. “Is it not themselves they spite, to their own shame?” Jeremiah 7: 17-19.
Alexander Hislop has this to say, “The hot cross buns of Good Friday, and the dyed eggs of Pasch or Easter Sunday, figured in the Chaldean rites just as they do now. The ‘buns,’ known too by that identical name, were used in the worship of the queen of heaven, the goddess Easter, as early as the days of Cecrops, the founder of Athens—that is, 1500 years before the Christian era. ‘One species of sacred bred,’ says Bryant, ‘which used to be offered to the gods, was of great antiquity, and called Boun.’ Diogenes Laertius, speaking of this offering being made by Empedocles, describes the chief ingredients of which it was composed, saying, ‘He offered one of the sacred cakes called Boun, which was made of fine flour and honey’.” (The Two Babylons, pp. 107-108)
You Decide: Passover or Easter? Which of the two do you think is from Yahweh and does it matter?
Here’s a hint: “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20: 2-6)
You may want to examine these websites for more information:
There is One Elohim. His Name is Yahweh. We are not Him.
Question: If believers know that Easter is a fertility celebration for the goddess Ishtar, why do they celebrate it rather than Passover?
Question: If believers don’t know the facts about Easter, why?
Bottom line: The difference between Passover and Easter is enormous and it matters to Yahweh. He ordained Passover, but Easter is a pagan celebration. Those are the facts.
Yahweh commanded us to distinguish between the holy and the profane in Ezekiel 22: 26. Like oil and water, they do not mix.
Keep these facts in mind as you decide who you will follow.
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