Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure


During Passover, the “Haggadah” is used as a guide through the Seder meal. Haggadah means “Telling” and it helps the community tell the story of how it came to be.

I am gathering props to try to recreate a tableau of a first century Seder. Here are some of the things I am hoping to use:

20120317-102546 PM.jpg

Doing this project has made me wonder how Jesus and his disciples carried out the traditions. I think the first Haggdah was written around 150 years after Jesus’ earthly life, but I suppose that most of the traditions outlined in the Haggadah would have been common to most Passover Celebrations.

There are two elements of the Seder that may have captured the imagination of the disciples, if the Seder they took part in followed these traditions.

In the Seder there are three Matzoh crackers. At one point the middle one is broken, wrapped in a bag or napkin and hidden. By the end of the meal it is returned to the table and shared out.

Also, on the table there is the “Cup of Elijah”. Elijah is invited into the proceedings. Here is a quote of explanation from AskMoses.com:

On the night when we celebrate our redemption from Egypt, we also express our absolute belief in the coming of the Messiah, the one who will lead us out of this exile and take us all back to our land. We are so confident of our imminent redemption, that we actually pour a cup for Elijah, the prophet who will come to announce the arrival of the Messiah.

As we know, Jesus took the symbols of the Seder and transformed them.

The remaining matzoh he claimed as his “body, broken for you”. Until today I had not realised that it was traditional to wrap, hide and return the cracker to the gathered company and share it.

Elijah had been associated with the old covenant, the sign of which was circumcision. The Cup of Elijah he claimed was “my blood” as a new covenant.

I imagine that, despite their experiences of the preceding few years, it would have been something of a shock for the disciples to see the conclusion of the familiar traditional meal so reinterpreted.

Powerful imagery.


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8 thoughts on “Telling

  1. I love learning about these traditions from you and getting a refresher course in many passages of the bible. So am I understanding correctly, that the Last Supper was a Seder meal or celebration. Learning about it in Catholic school, the Last Supper was celebrated for the end in itself, the last gathering of Jesus and his disciples, any more symbolism was absent from my lessons. I haven’t practiced much historical curiosity in learning about the parallel celebrations between Christianity and Judaism. I really enjoy reading your writings about this.

    • Hi Laurie, yes Jesus wanted to share the Passover before he would suffer. The whole account in the bible makes more sense when you consider it part of the Passover.
      Then Jesus becomes the Passover lamb, the broken matzoh and his blood saves the people from “death”, as did that of the Passover lamb.
      Thanks for the comment here.

  2. This was really interesting.

  3. Very apropo considering that in a few short weeks we (my family and all Jews) will be sitting down to our Passover seder. A very interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

    • I only went to a Seder once when I was at school. I studied Judaism and our teacher was great and arranged for us to go to a local Jewish Seder. But it was a large event. I think the family/group event would be great (if long?).

      Do you have a whole meal, or do you eat the symbolic foods only? The real Seder plate I have would just be enough for a taste of each item.

      I think that it’s important for Jesus’ Jewishness to be taken into account as his life makes more sense to me that way.

      Thanks so much for commenting.

      • We do the real seder. . . .it goes for hours and it is wonderful! The symbolic foods are all tasted, but in the middle of the seder we have a huge meal, also with lots of meaning. There is singing and story-telling. It is wonderful, but not for the faint of heart. Maybe some day you will get to go to a seder in someone’s home and get the full effect. (If so be prepared; they go for a very long time!)

    • Yes I should put it on my “bucket list”.
      Glad you get a big meal too!

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