Passover Seder: The Order And The Meaning

Passover Seder: The Order And The Meaning

Passover is the festival of Redemption. It is a testament of Jesus' (Yeshua's) death on the cross as our Passover Lamb.

It's a reminder that His Blood, painted on the doorpost of our lives, is what causes eternal death to pass over us. It is "a day for us to remember and celebrate as a festival to Adonai; from generation to generation... by a perpetual regulation" (Exodus 12:14b).

The Passover Seder is one way we can do this. In this article, you will learn what the Seder is and how it is celebrated and hopefully by the end, you will be just as excited as many of us are about the coming Holiday!

The Passover symbols highlight an amazing and fascinating sign of God's supernatural hand of Power which He exerted for His people and and gives us hope that He will continue to save and deliver us.

Is it a tradition to say, “In every generation let each man look on himself as though he himself came forth out of Egypt.” And indeed, spiritually speaking, we ALL have been called forth out of our own Egypt of sin and bondage. So if the Son frees you, you will really be free! (John 8:36)

Seder means "set order", in Hebrew. It is just that– a set of fifteen symbolic steps that take you on a journey through the Exodus of Israel. These proceedings are contained in what is called a haggadah, a collective book that guides all participants of the feast through the prayers, actions, and songs of Pesach.

In preparation for this holy day, the home must be cleansed from all leaven, as found in Exodus 12:15. All food and drink containing leavening agents (known as chametz) is removed, and a deep house cleaning begins.

Clothes are washed, all rooms thoroughly cleaned, and kitchen cookware and utensils are scrubbed. Before the steps of Seder begin, a table is set with four cups (Arba Kosot) of red wine or grape juice, the Seder plate, a small bowl of salt water, and a matzah tash (a linen bag containing three pieces of unleavened bread).

The four cups represent Exodus 6:6–7, where four different designations of their deliverance are utilized: "I will bring you out … deliver you … redeem you … and will take you to Me for a people," etc. (Ex. R. 6:4).

Other symbolic interpretations for the four cups are that they correspond to the four cups of Pharaoh referenced in Genesis, ch. 40, or to the four ancient kingdoms which oppressed Israel and for which God compensates Israel with four cups of consolation.

At the Passover Last Supper, Jesus (Yeshua) raised the cup before the meal (Luke 22:17–18), and the cup after the meal (the Cup of Redemption), and He said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20).

This covenant was promised to us by God. He said He would make a new covenant with His people (Jeremiah 32:38–40). Paul tells us that the cup represents the blood of Messiah (1 Corinthians 10:16). The Hallel Psalms sung during the Cup of Hallel were probably sung by the disciples after dinner.

Then, fresh and bright, the home welcomes the warmth of candlelight as the mother of the family lights the Passover (Pesach) candles*. The Seder now begins. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Kiddish -The Prayer of Sanctification (Kiddish) is offered up and the first of the four cups, the Cup of Sanctification, is taken (Exodus 6:6).

Step 2: Ur' Chatz - Then, using a bowl, pitcher of water, and a towel, the family performs a ceremonial hand washing.

Step 3: Karpas - The karpas, or green vegetable of the Seder plate, is then dipped in the salt water and eaten.

Step 4: Yachatz - Out of the tash, of the three matzot, the Afikomen (middle matzah) is removed from the linen bag and broken. The smaller half is returned to the tash, and the larger is used in a little game for the children.

Once wrapped in a linen cloth, the leader hides it somewhere in the house while little ones close their eyes. In a later step of the Seder a hunt begins. The first to find the piece gets a sweet reward.

Step 5: Maggid - Following the example found in Exodus 12: 26-27, Maggid begins with the ma nishtana (The Four Questions). The youngest member of the family asks the leader of the Seder:

"Why do we eat only unleavened bread on this night when all other nights we eat leavened bread?"

"Why do we eat only bitter herbs on this night when all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables?"

"Why do we dip our vegetables twice on this night when we do not dip our vegetables even once on all other nights?"

"Why do we eat our meals reclining, when on all other nights we eat our meals sitting?"

The leader will then respond by reading Exodus 12. At the end, the second cup of Pesach (Passover) is blessed and taken.

Step 6: Rachtzah - A second hand washing is done as a blessing is prayed.

Step 7: Motzi - A second blessing is spoken over the matzah

Step 8: Matzah - The family eats the matzah in a reclined position.

Step 9: Marror - The bitter herbs are blessed and then eaten.

Step 10: Koreich - Bitter herbs are eaten with matzah, according to the commandment of Exodus 12:8.

Step 11: Shulchan Orech - The family will then eat the main Passover meal.

Step 12: Tzafun - After the meal, the children search for the hidden afikomen and give it to the leader for their sweet reward.

Step 13: Barech - The leader breaks the afikomen and it is eaten. Then the family blesses and drinks the third cup of wine, and recites the Birkat HaMazon blessing to close the meal.

Step 14: Hallel - The family sings songs of praise to Elohim, and drinks the last cup.

Step 15: Nirtzah - This last step is a time of storytelling and praise, followed by the exclamation "Next year in Jerusalem!"

Now let's dive into detail of what each element means. The traditional Seder plate is made up of one zeroa, a lamb shank bone; karpas, a green vegetable-- usually parsley; maror, bitter herbs; and charoset, a mashed mixture of honey, nuts, and fruit such as apples or raisins, matzah (unleavened bread), and the beitzah (egg).

The word used today for the lamb “shank bone,” zeroa, symbolically reminds us of not only the Passover lamb but also as evidence of God’s “outstretched arm” that He delivered us from Egypt (Exodus 6:6).

The same word in Hebrew (zeroa) is used in Isaiah 53 which is a key part of Messianic prophecy: “Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm (zeroa) of the LORD been revealed?”

The Beitzah is there only as tradition and is not a biblical command to have. The reason for the presence of the egg has several explanations. One of which discusses the destruction of the Temple and the eating of the egg representing a commemoration of grieving the destruction.

There are those that believe this to be a pagan tradition brought back from the captivity in Babylon as they worshiped Istar and even had a gate of Ishtar and she is at times depicted with eggs on her body.

As believers we know that we are now the Temple and so this tradition is up to an individual whether to use in the Seder or not. Remember, we can make our own traditions in this holiday.

The green color of the karpas represents life. To the believer, it represents our Life given by Jesus' (Yeshua's) sacrifice. But before they are eaten, they are dipped into salt water, to represent and remind us that the lives of the Israelite slaves were bitter and immersed in tears, just as ours were before we were found by Him and washed.

By us dipping the greenery, we are also being reminded that a life without Jesus'  (Yeshua's) redemption is a life submerged in tears. Could this also be a sign of the immersion that we do after we come to know Him?

Some also use vinegar. They are not mentioned in the New Testament Passover Last Supper, but greens were likely part of festive meals during that period as they are today.

John 13:26 says "He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it.’ And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon” (KJV).

Even though this is often translated unleavened bread that was dipped, it could also be the karpas.

The reason this may be is because after the first cup, the Seder commences with bitter herbs dipped into a salt water or vinegar sop (karpas).

Lastly, the charoset is a tasty traditional addition that represents mortar for building used by the Israelite slaves to make bricks for Pharaoh. It is typically eaten with matzah.

Matzot is typically kept in a bag with three compartments, one for each matzah. This is the bread that was made and eaten in haste, right before Israel's redemption.

Matzot is prepared without leaven, the biblical example of sin. It is also pierced and striped. In Jesus' (Yeshua's) words, it is His Body. Sinless, striped, and pierced for us. This is exactly how a Matzah looks.

We pray that this Seder article has given you new insight and meaning to Passover whether you have been participating for years or if you are new to the Holiday.

Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor. 5:8)

Click Here To Download Our
Beginner's Guide To Passover 
(A Step-by-Step-Guide)


Our founder Tom Bradford provides a wonderful demonstration of how to celebrate a Passover Seder here at our local fellowship Seed of Abraham Fellowship in Merritt Island, Florida.  Enjoy!

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