Passover from the Bible to the Temples

The focus is on the paschal offering.

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When the Second Temple was completed in 515 BCE, the entire biblical ritual of Passover was restored. Priests and Levites slaughtered the paschal offerings for the returning Jews of the Babylonian captivity. The new community "kept the festival of Matzot seven days with joy, for God had made them joyful…" (Ezra 6:22). The historian Josephus records contemporary Passover celebrations in which he estimates that the participants who gathered in Jerusalem to perform the sacrifice in the year 65 CE were "not less than three million" (Josephus, Wars, 2:280). The Talmud (Pesachim 64b) similarly records:

King Agrippa once wished to take a census of the hosts of Israel. He said to the high priest, "Cast your eyes on the Passover offerings." He took a kidney from each, and 600,000 pairs of kidneys were found there, twice as many as those who departed from Egypt, excluding those who were unclean and those who were on a distant journey, and there was not a single paschal lamb for which more than ten people had not registered; and they called it: "The Passover of the dense throngs."

With the destruction of the Temple, the offering of the paschal came to an end.

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Rabbi Ronald H. Isaacs

Rabbi Ronald H. Isaacs is the spiritual leader of Temple Sholom in Bridgewater, New Jersey. He has served as the publications committee chairperson of the Rabbinical Assembly.