Passing Over Didn’t Start on Passover

Exodus 12:11-13. “In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is YHWH’s Pesach.  For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am YHWH.  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 no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.”

I wrote a 4 part series detailing the separate meanings of the word Pesach and the phrase “pass over”.   I’ll summarize it in this article, since it also needs to be mentioned in the context of the verse-by-verse breakdown.  

Pesach is the true name given to the evening meal that ushers in the week of Matzah.  

The phrase “pass over” is traditionally condensed to “Passover”, but is NOT (even a little) a correct translation of the Hebrew word Pesach.  Pass over comes from the word abar (Strongs H5674) which is the verb that describes the movement of YHWH as he moves over and through Egypt fulfilling his promise to strike the firstborn.  Pesach (Strongs 6453) refers to the protection from death YHWH offers those who have the seal of the Blood of the Lamb on their doors.  In Hebrew, these two words don’t share a single letter, and there is great value in discerning their differences, looking past the illusion of tradition.  

Abar isn’t thematically unrelated to Pesach; there are more than a few connections.   Here are ALL of the mentions of this word leading up to the night Pesach! 

Genesis 8:1, “But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind pass over the earth, and the waters subsided.”   This abar, the first usage, starts the pattern of a movement of YHWH that saves a hand-selected remnant out of humanity to begin a new creation.   The word for “wind” is ruach (Strongs H7307) the same word used to describe the Holy Spirit.   It’s the Sprit of the Ruach that guides and propels YHWH’s people forward towards the goal of His promises, as they pass over every barrier in their way.

Genesis 12:6, “Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh.  At that time the Canaanites were in the land.”  This next use of abar is when Abram follows YHWH’s lead, continuing that pattern.  A YHWH directed movement of a hand-selected people, with the eventual goal of a new creation.   From this point, Abram becomes known as an abari, translated into English “as a Hebrew” (Strongs 5680).   This becomes the term for those who YHWH hand-selects to continue this pattern of passing over and passing through.

Genesis 15:17, “When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed through between these pieces.”  Like the event on Pesach night, YHWH himself, passed through death, while Abram the Hebrew remained safe.

Genesis 18:3-5, “O master, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.”   Abram (now Abraham) meets with YHWH (in His rare human form) and has a meal reminiscent of the Last Supper in the Gospels.

Genesis 23:16, “Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, and passed over the money to conclude the sale.”   (Feel free to look up this verse in multiple translations–you’ll find endless variations.)   The premise remains the same, this is details the bill of sale, fairly negotiated, for the grave site that becomes the resting place for Sarah, Abraham, and traditionally the rest of the Patriarchs.   All of the “Seed of Abraham”, including those of us who are grafted in via THE Seed of Abraham, will live in this same land after the Greater Exodus concludes.  (The place they purchase is called Hebron, which is based on the Hebrew word bar (Strongs H1250), the linguistic root of abar).

In the story of Jacob and the freedom of his 12 sons, we have abar used exactly 12 times.  If you’ve never seen this event as a precursor to the Exodus from Egypt, read it again with fresh eyes.

Genesis 30:32“…let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats, and they shall be my wages.”

Genesis 31:21, “He fled with all that he had and arose and passed over the river, and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead.

Genesis 31:52, “This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, to do harm.

Genesis 32:10, “I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now I have become two camps.

Genesis 32:16, “These he handed over to his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass over ahead of me and put a space between drove and drove.”

Genesis 32:21, “So the present passed over ahead of him, and he himself stayed that night in the camp.

Genesis 32:22, “The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and passed over the ford of the Jabbok.”

Genesis 32:23, “He took them and sent them to pass over the stream, and everything else that he had.”

Genesis 32:31, “The sun rose upon him as he passed through Penuel, limping because of his hip.”

Genesis 33:3, “He himself passed over before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.”

Genesis 33:14, “Let my lord pass over ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.” 

We aren’t done yet…

Genesis 37:28, “Then Midianite traders passed through. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver.  They took Joseph to Egypt.”   Not all who pass through are Hebrews, but the phrase is always connected to the movement of YHWH.  Here, Joseph (the prophetic template for Messiah) is rescued from death and delivered from the grave!

 Genesis 41:46, “Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and passed through all the land of Egypt.”   What did Joseph do, as he did his version of abar?    Genesis 41:49, “Joseph stored up “seed” in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured.”   Using the language of the Abrahamic Covenant, Joseph gathered “seed” in Egypt, just as the Hebrew’s themselves would soon be gathered and uncountable.   “Seed” is the word bar (Strongs H1250), which is the root of the word abar!

 Genesis 47:20, “So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for all the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe on them. The land became Pharaoh’s.  As for the people, they passed over (from the land to the cities) from one end of Egypt to the other.”   Joseph, wielding power similar to the risen Yeshua, becomes the Landlord of all he surveys, creating an historical migration setting the stage for the incoming Hebrews who will reverse this pattern as they pass over out of the city, into The Land.

And finally… 

Genesis 50:2, “And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father.  So the physicians embalmed Israel.  Forty days were required for it, for that is how many are required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days. And when the days of weeping for him had passed over, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, please speak in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, ‘My father made me swear, saying, “I am about to die: in my tomb that I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there shall you bury me.” Now therefore, let me please go up and bury my father. Then I will return.’”   

This is the final use of abar before YHWH passes over Egypt on the night of Pesach.  It foreshadows the Exodus from Egypt and encapsulates the theme of abar perfectly: Israel, hand-selected by YHWH, is delivered from bondage and brought to The Promised Land, even after death!  The Abrahamic Promise is fulfilled when Israel is brought to Hebron (aka “gathered to his ancestors”).  Of course the phrase, “Then I will return” connects this event prophetically to the RETURN of the Savior.

Once you see the depth and consistency with how “pass over” is connected to “Passover” it’s hard to squabble with the traditional name of this important night.   However, I will.   YHWH called this set apart meal “Pesach” on purpose–highlighting His promise of PROTECTION from death.  Other than trust YHWH’s promise, the fulfilment of that promise is entirely up to Him.  The actual MOVEMENT (abar) from that starting point is up to us.   We embrace the promise made to Abraham on Pesach, but there is far more to living the life of a Hebrew than hanging out indoors.  Pesach is simply a moment in time, designed to embolden us for living by reconnecting us with the the truth of who we are, and to remind us of our destiny.  Pesach is the door, but there remains a WAY ahead.   The way of a Hebrew.


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