The Context – The verses in plain English
God visits the final plagues – including the slaying of all first-born Egyptians – upon the Israelites’
captors. Pharaoh finally relents, commanding the Jews to leave his kingdom.
The Israelites receive instruction from God about commemorating their Egyptian exodus and redemption
by anyone from slavery. They are commanded to offer a lamb in sacrifice, and to eat its meat,
sharing it with neighbors if they cannot finish it themselves. The sacrifice may by anyone
who has been circumcised, whether an Israelite, a slave or a stranger.
Finally, God tells the Israelites they must also spend seven days eating unleavened bread, as a reminder of the bread they took with them during their hasty departure from Egypt.
For Discussion – What it means for advocate
1) Today, we no longer make ritual sacrifices as part of our religious observance. What are some ways we do sacrifice during holidays and regularly throughout the year? What is the value of these sacrifices? How can sacrifice be an effective tool in our personal, communal and political lives?
2) God is explicit in his instruction that the Israelites’ offering should not be wasted. Why might the injunction to share have warranted so much emphasis? What are the practical and symbolic advantages of sharing food and other resources? How does sharing impact – or not – our ability to make significant inroads on difficult social problems?
3) The Passover sacrifice may be offered by Jews and strangers alike; God decrees that they are not to be treated differently under the law. What type of imperative does this establish for us in regards to our interactions with immigrants here at home and foreign communities abroad?
4) How does eating unleavened bread, or matzo, trigger our compassion for poverty-stricken people across the globe? Is eating matzo purely a symbolic gesture, or are there ways we can channel that symbolism into effective and meaningful action?
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