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Jewish festivals and customs



In Judaism, the Sabbath was the seventh day of the week. It was a Rest day on which no work should be done. The Observance of the Sabbath was one of the ten commandments, which God has given the Israelites through Moses.


Passover was celebrated as a commemoration of Israel's deliverance from slavery in Egypt by God. On this occasion, the families sacrificed a lamb on the eve of the festival. At the begin-ning of the celebration, the story of the Exo-dus was told, which is handed down in the Bible in the second book of Moses (Exodus). The foods at the Passover meal all recalled a de-tail of what happened at that time.

The Israelites lived as strangers in Egypt for many years until Pharaoh Ramses II made them slaves. When Israel cried out to their God for salvation, God sent his servant Moses to free his people from slavery. However, since Pha-raoh refused to obey God's voice and let Israel go, God sent nine different plagues upon the Egyptians.

When Ramses II still prevented the Israelites from leaving, God announced that he would kill every firstborn of man and beast in all of Egypt. Before that, God instructed his people through Moses what they should do to be spared. To this end, every Israeli elite family should slaughter a male, one-year-old young animal of sheep or goat without defects in the evening and smear its blood on the doorposts of their houses. The lamb should then be roasted and eaten together in its entirety. That same night the so-called Angel of Death performed the prophesied judgment on all the firstborn of the Egyptians, while passing by the houses marked with blood. After this plague, Pharaoh finally gave in and let Israel go.


(Feast of Unleavened Bread)

The Feast of Unleavened Bread served as a re-minder of the time when the people of Israel went through the desert. Just as the Israelites had only unleavened bread when they left Egypt, since they had no time to bake bread from leaven, so the Jews also ateen in this festival week only unleavened bread.



(Week or Pentecost festival)

The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost was consi-dered the second largest annual festival of the Jews. The end of the wheat harvest was celebrated. It began 50 days after giving the first harvested fruit and is a thank for God's blessing on the harvest. It later became the commemoration of the proclamation of God's law on Mount Sinai by Moses.



(Feast of Tabernacles)

The Feast of Tabernacles was the final harvest festival of the year at the time of the autumn grape harvest. It was celebrated with a pil-grimage to Jerusalem. the people lived in small tabernacles during this festival week. This is probably how people originally lived in the vineyards at the time of the grape harvest. Later, this festival commemorated God's devo-tion to the people of Israel during the time of the wandering in the desert.



Yom Kipur

(Day of Atonement)

The Day of Atonement is one of the most important Jewish holidays. Nobody should work on him, because the whole people con-fessed his sins to God and asked for forgive-ness. Only on this day did the chief priest enter the holy of holies in the temple and sprinkle the altar with the blood of a sacrificial ani-mal as atonement for the guilt. In addition, a he-goat (scapegoat) was symbolically laden with the sins of Israel and sent into the desert to carry away the guilt. The Day of Atonement was celebrated five days before the Feast of Tabernacles.




The festival of Purim was intended to comme-morate the salvation of the people of Israel by Queen Esther (see Book of Esther).

Rosh Hashanah

(New Year festival)

The New Year festival commemorated the crea-tion of the world by God.




(Festival of Lights)

On this day the Jews celebrated the victory of Judas Maccabeus over Syrian occupying forces and the rededication of the Temple in 165 BC. According to a Jewish legend, a small residue of oil found in the Temple was sufficient for the sustenance of all Jews during this period. Each day another light is lit from an eight-armed candlestick. An extra light is used to light the others.


All of the festivals mentioned above also had a prophetic meaning related to Jesus, the Mes-siah (Saviour) peomised by God:


Passover-> Christ as the sacrificial lamb

for the sins of the world

Yom Kippur-> The crucifixion of Christ

for reconciliation with God

Shavuot-> Receiving the disciples of Jesus

the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

and begin their mission

Rosh Hashanah-> Christ as the life-giving bread from heaven

Sukkot-> preview of the

Eternal Life with God


Hanukah-> Christ as that

true light of the world

Purim-> Christ as victor

about the enemies of God




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