Food in the Bible: Exodus 12:8-11

The nine plagues in Exodus 7-10 illustrate God’s power of creation as the one who created it. The plagues affect livestock and crops, but the point is always the same, to illustrate God’s sovereignty. So, I didn’t want to spend time on every plague involving food. Instead I want to concentrate on the final plague and the first Passover. This is the central feast for the Israelites, as well as modern day Jews. The Exodus event defines the identity of these people and continues to do so today.

They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it; your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord.

I won’t pretend to scholarly knowledge about the Passover. There are plenty other more qualified people to go further in depth on this ancient festival. I’ll just connect the dots I see.

The lamb is supposed to be roasted, not raw or boiled. I suppose eating it raw would actually be faster, but we all know that would be against the later commandments. There would be no preparation of the lamb (I suppose it was skinned). It was roasted with inner organs and everything intact. Everything had to be eaten that night.

The bread was supposed to be unleavened and cooked in the sun as they carried it on their backs. They were to eat with their traveling clothes on, staff in hand and sandals on their feet. All of the food for Passover is eaten in a hurry. This is the original fast food. Except this fast food served a purpose, escape from oppression. Our fast food seems only to lead us into oppression.

The bitter herbs symbolized the time in slavery. The food and the feast commemorating this event would itself by a reminder of that event. The sense of smell is said to be the most powerfully connected to memory. It’s appropriate that the roasting of lamb and the taste of bitter herbs then transports later generations, including modern Jews, to that foundational event for the people of God.

The Passover celebration happened the first full week of April, which happened to coincide with Holy Week. President Obama received a lot of attention because of his celebration of Passover with a seder meal at the White House. Let’s hope that it reminded him of that central message of liberation for the oppressed. Perhaps the meal was a reminder that we should live simply as we prepare for God’s liberation to uproot us and move us into the abundance of justice and resources that characterizes that kingdom.

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