History, Origin and Meaning of
Easter, Passover and Resurrection Day

History of Easter History of Passover Resurrection Day

History of Easter

Easter - Origin and Meaning

Old English eastre ; of Germanic origin and related to German Ostern and east; perhaps from Eastre, the name of a goddess associated with spring.

Origin Of Easter


Origin of Easter - A Christian Commemoration

The origin of Easter, a holiday associated with the observance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is actually based on an ancient pagan celebration. Christians recognize this day as commemorating the culminating event of their faith, but like so many other "Christian" holidays, Easter has become commercialized and mixed with non-christian traditions like the Easter Bunny, Easter parades and hunting for Easter eggs. How did this happen?

Origin of Easter - Its Pagan Roots

The origin of Easter dates back to ancient times, not long after the global Flood recorded in Genesis 6:9 of the Bible. Nimrod, a grandson of Noah, had turned from following his grandfather's God and had become a tyrannical ruler. According to the biblical record, as king, Nimrod created Babel, Ninevah, Asshur, Calla and other cities, all known for lifestyles that promoted unspeakable evil and perversion. When Nimrod died, his wife, Queen Semiramis, deified him as the Sun-god, or Life Giver. Later he would become known as Baal, and those who followed the religion Semiramis created in his name would be called Baal worshippers. They became associated with idolatry, demon worship, human sacrifice and other practices regarded as evil.

The origin of Easter involves the birth of Semiramis' illegitimate son, Tammuz. Somehow, Semiramis convinced the people that Tammuz was actually Nimrod reborn. Since people had been looking for the promised savior since the beginning of mankind (see Genesis 3:15), they were persuaded by Semiramis to believe that Tammuz was that savior, even that he had been supernaturally conceived. Before long, in addition to worshiping Tammuz (or Nimrod reborn), the people also worshiped Semiramis herself as the goddess of fertility. In other cultures, she has been called Ishtar, Ashtur and yes, Easter.

The origin of Easter goes back to the springtime ritual instituted by Semiramis following the death of Tammuz, who, according to tradition, was killed by a wild boar. Legend has it that through the power of his mother's tears, Tammuz was "resurrected" in the form of the new vegetation that appeared on the earth.

According to the Bible, it was in the city of Babel that the people created a tower in order to defy God. Up until that time, all the people on the earth spoke one language. The building of the tower led God, as recorded in Genesis 11:7, to confuse their tongues to keep them from being further unified in their false beliefs. As the people moved into other lands, many of them took their pagan practices with them.

Contemporary traditions such as the Easter Bunny and the Easter egg can also be traced back to the practices established by Semiramis. Because of their prolific nature, rabbits have long been associated with fertility and its goddess, Ishtar. Ancient Babylonians believed in a fable about an egg that fell into the Euphrates River from heaven and from which Queen Astarte (another name for Ishtar or Semiramis) was "hatched."

Origin of Easter - Resurrection Day for Christians

For Christians, the origin of Easter is simply the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ about 2,000 years ago. According to the Gospel accounts, Jesus Christ, the true Messiah promised in the Old Testament, was crucified and resurrected at the time of the Jewish Passover. Since that awesome event took place, those who believe Christ is their Messiah have honored that day and often celebrated it with the traditional Passover. As the Gospel of Christ spread throughout non-jewish nations, among people who did not have a history of celebrating the Passover, the pagan rites of Easter gradually became assimilated into what the Christian church called "Resurrection Day." Compromising the commandments of God with the comfort of the world is as old as the nation of Israel itself. Actually, American history teaches us that Easter was dismissed as a pagan holiday by the nation's founding Puritans and did not begin to be widely observed until just after the Civil War. Those interested in a Christian view of American history and the gradual compromise of America's Biblical foundations may wish to read books such as The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel.

History of Passover

Passover Meaning

from pass over ‘pass without touching’, with reference to the exemption of the Israelites from the death of their firstborn (Exod. 12).

Passover: History


The holiday of Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) is perhaps one of the most central to Jewish life and history. More widely observed than any other holiday, Passover celebrates the biblical account of the Israelites’ redemption and escape from 400 years of Egyptian slavery. Holiday rituals include a dramatic retelling of the Exodus story and many unique food traditions. We come together with friends and family to celebrate the great lessons of the story: the blessing of freedom and the reminder that since we were once slaves and were freed, it is our responsibility to work for freedom for all people, everywhere.

The word “Passover” is derived from the Hebrew word pasach, which means "passed over,” referring to the 10th plague that killed the Egyptian firstborn, but miraculously “passed over” the houses of the Israelites (more on that below).

The Passover Story

Found in the Torah, the Passover story tells of the Israelites’ slavery, deliverance, and escape (“the Exodus”) from Egypt.

The story begins with Joseph, son of Jacob, who was sold into slavery by his brothers and arrived in Egypt as a poor, powerless servant. Joseph’s wisdom and ability to interpret dreams soon brought him power and status, though, and he became the Egyptian king’s trusted advisor. His entire family joined him in Egypt, as did many of the rest of the Israelites. There they prospered and multiplied for many generations.

But a new king (“pharaoh”) came to power in Egypt – one who did not remember how helpful Joseph had been. The Israelites’ numbers had greatly increased over many years, and the new Pharaoh was suspicious of them, fearing they would someday rise up against him. So he treated them harshly, forcing them to work as slaves in terrible conditions. Nevertheless, the Israelites survived and continued to multiply.

Dismayed by their fortitude, Pharaoh took harsher action, declaring that all sons born to Israelite women should be killed at birth. The courageous Israelite midwives, Shifrah and Puah, defied this decree, but the infant boys were still in great danger.

When an Israelite woman, Yocheved, had a baby boy, she feared for his life. She placed him in a basket and set him floating in the Nile River, near where people came to bathe. As Yocheved’s daughter, Miriam, watched from a distance, Pharaoh’s daughter came to the river and found the baby in the basket. She took him, named him Moses (“drawn from the water”), and raised him as her own.

Growing up in the palace, Moses knew very little of the life he might have led. As he grew, however, he became aware of the plight of his people. One day, seeing an Egyptian taskmaster beating an Israelite slave, Moses killed the taskmaster.

Realizing what he had done, Moses fled to the land of Midian, where he married a Midianite woman, Tzipporah, and became a shepherd.

Tending his flock one day, Moses came upon an amazing sight – a bush that was burning, but not consumed. God spoke to Moses there, telling him that Moses and his brother, Aaron, would free the Israelites from slavery. Moses was unsure anyone would listen to him, but God promised support and powerful signs, so Moses left Midian and returned to Egypt.

Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and demanded Pharaoh free the Jews (“Let my people go,” Moses tells Pharaoh in Exodus 5:1). But Pharaoh, skeptical that Moses spoke on behalf of God, refused. In retaliation, Pharaoh forced the Israelites to work even harder and beat them mercilessly.

God then told Moses that, as proof of God’s power, the Egyptians would suffer a series of plagues until Pharaoh agreed to let the Jews go:

  1. Turning the water of the Nile to blood
  2. Frogs
  3. Lice
  4. Wild beasts
  5. Cattle disease
  6. Boils
  7. Hail
  8. Locusts
  9. Darkness
  10. Slaying of the Egyptian firstborn

During the last plague, God killed the firstborn of each Egyptian family, but “passed over” (thus “Passover”) the houses of the Israelites (who had marked their doors with lamb’s blood), leaving their children unharmed. With this plague Pharaoh finally relented, and let the Israelites go. They hurriedly packed and left Egypt, without enough time for their bread rise (hence the holiday’s prohibition on eating leavened, or risen, grain products, and the custom of eating matzah, unleavened bread).

Pharaoh immediately regretted his decision, and his army chased the Israelites to the Red (actually “Reed”) Sea. With the sea ahead of them, and Pharaoh’s army closing in behind, the Jews appeared to be doomed. At that very moment, though, God told Moses to stretch his staff over the sea, and, in perhaps the greatest miracle in all of Jewish tradition, the waters parted, allowing the Jews to cross on dry land.

Just as they reached the far shore of the sea, the waters closed, drowning Pharaoh and his soldiers. Moses, Miriam, and all the Israelites sang songs of praise to God for their deliverance, including Mi Chamochah, which appears in our modern liturgy, and the Israelites began their journey in the desert.

History of the Celebration

The Torah commands us to observe Passover for seven days. Many Jews in North America and in Israel follow this injunction, but some outside Israel celebrate for eight days. The additional day was added to Passover and other holidays around 700-600 B.C.E. to guard against a possible error because elaborate networks of mountaintop bonfires were used to signal holidays’ beginnings. Although today’s dependable calendar allows us to know when holidays start and end. the eight-day celebration remains ingrained in law and practice for some Jews outside Israel.

Celebrated in various ways throughout history, Passover incorporates remnants of ancient spring harvest festivals. When the Temple existed, the holiday was one of three major festivals that required pilgrimages to Jerusalem to bring sacrifices. After the destruction of the Second Temple, Passover became a more communal, home-centered holiday, with the Haggadah and the seder as we know them mostly finalized around 500-600 C.E.

Resurrection Day

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

In Christian theology, the death and resurrection of Jesus are the most important events, a foundation of the Christian faith, and commemorated by Passover. His resurrection is the guarantee that all the Christian dead will be resurrected at Christ's second coming.

Biblical References to The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

1 Corinthians 15 New International Version (NIV)

The Resurrection of Christ

  1. Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.
  2. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
  3. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
  4. that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
  5. and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.
  6. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
  7. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,
  8. and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
  9. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
  10. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
  11. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

  1. But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
  2. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
  3. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
  4. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.
  5. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.
  6. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
  7. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.
  8. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
  9. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
  10. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.
  11. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
  12. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
  13. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.
  14. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
  15. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
  16. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.
  17. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
  18. Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?
  19. And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour?
  20. I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  21. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink,
    for tomorrow we die.”
  22. Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
  23. Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God — I say this to your shame.

The Resurrection Body

  1. But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?”
  2. How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
  3. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.
  4. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
  5. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.
  6. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.
  7. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
  8. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;
  9. it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
  10. it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
  11. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
  12. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.
  13. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven.
  14. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven.
  15. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we[g] bear the image of the heavenly man.
  16. I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
  17. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed —
  18. in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
  19. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
  20. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
  21. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
  22. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
  23. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
  24. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Luke 20:36 - and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.

John 11:25 - Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;

Acts 2:31 - Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay.

Acts 24:15 - and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

Romans 1:4 - and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:21 - For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.

1 Peter 1:3 - [ Praise to God for a Living Hope ] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Revelation 20:5 - (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.

Revelation 20:6 - Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

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