The biblical holiday of Passover commemorates the exodus of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. It is one of the three major festivals along with Shavuot (Feast of Weeks or Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles).
Additional names of Passover include the Feast of Unleavened Bread or Chag HaMatzot (חג המצות) in Hebrew and Festival of Freedom or Chag HaCherut (חג החירות) in Hebrew.
The name Passover is taken from Exodus 12:13 where it says:
"Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt." (Exodus 12:13)
Just as the blood on the doorposts protected the Israelites and caused the angel of death to “pass over” their houses, in the same way, Christians refer to Jesus as the passover lamb, as they believe that his blood protects people from the curse of sin and death. (1 Corinthians 5:7)
Let’s look closer and learn some Hebrew words from these Bible verses.
Question #1 - What is the Hebrew word for Passover and what does it mean?
The Hebrew word pasach (פסח) in Exodus 12:13 literally means “pass over,” and the name of the holiday in Hebrew is called “pesach” (פסח). Both words are spelled using the same three Hebrew letters. Pasach is the verb form meaning to “pass over” and pesach is the name of the holiday in Hebrew.
Question #2 - What is the Hebrew word for plague and what is the connection to today's pandemic?
The 10th and final plague that the Lord sent upon the Egyptians was the striking or death of the firstborn. The Hebrew word for this plague in Exodus 12:13 was “negef” (נגף). These three Hebrew root letters also form the word for virus or nagif (נגיף) in Hebrew. In addition, the Hebrew word for pandemic is taken from the same root and is called megaifa (מגפה).
Question #3 - What other context or phrase is the word “negef” (plague) used in reference to a name for Jesus?
"For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: 'Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.'” (Romans 9:32-33)
It's interesting that the same Hebrew word for plague in the Book of Exodus is the same word that is used as the “stumbling stone” for something that prevents from believing. The Hebrew word even means “stone” and negef is “plague” but when combined together, it is translated in English as “stumbling stone.”
To all our friends around the world and readers of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and The Jerusalem Post, we wish you a Happy Passover.
Note: Now that you have this little primer on Hebrew words there is no need for you to take notes on the video, but please watch the video to hear the correct pronunciation of the Hebrew words. With enough practice you could be speaking Hebrew like an Israeli native.
Joseph Magen is co-founder and managing editor of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. He has more than 20 years of experience in high-tech, software development and the Israeli venture capital industry. He lives in the Judean Hills outside of Jerusalem with his wife and five young children.