Concordance Module #1

The Name and Meaning of the Passover Holiday

Concordance Module #1

The First Passover / W. Margetson

1. Instructions

  • Welcome to the "Using a Concordance" interactive learning module, Unit #1: פסח.
  • לגרסה של מודול זה בעברית, לחצו כאן.‏
  • To navigate, press the "Previous" and "Next" buttons at the bottom of this pane.
  • If this pane is preventing you from using the concordance in the background, press the "−" in the top right corner of the pane to minimize it. To open it again, press the "+".

2. Benefits of Using a Concordance

  • A Biblical concordance is the greatest and most indispensable tool ever invented for studying Tanakh.
  • While it can be used simply for finding the location of a particular verse, its primary purpose is to facilitate the analysis and comparison of the various verses in which a word appears.
  • This enables one to arrive at a better and more precise definition of a word and/or to appreciate the full range of its possible meanings.

3. Purpose of this Lesson

  • The following exercises will explore particular words related to the story of Pesach and the Exodus narratives and allow us to see the importance of using a concordance.
  • They will also enable us to see how the greatly enhanced access and utility of the e-concordance and One-Click Concordance can transform the experience of learning Torah.
  • In a subsequent module, we will also learn about the history of how concordances developed.

4. חג הפסח and חג המצות

  • Let's start by looking at the various appearances of the word פֶּסַח. Type פסח in the input box in the concordance. [If AlHaTorah's concordance is not displaying in the main pane click here.]
  • A dropdown menu will list various options for the combination of these three letters, including nouns, verbs, and adjectives.
  • Let's select the noun form.

5. חג הפסח and חג המצות

  • Examine the various verses which speak about celebrating פֶּסַח.
  • To what do they refer? Are they speaking of a week long holiday or one of a shorter duration?
  • To view any verse in fuller context, click on the full chapter-verse link next to it. This will open a pop-up showing the entire chapter.
  • For further discussion of this issue, see Pesach and Chag HaMatzot.

6. Multiple Meanings of the Verb פסח

  • Why are the sacrifice and holiday called Pesach? What does the root פסח mean?
  • For the first verse (Shemot 12:11) in the Concordance list, click on the "מקראות גדולות" link to go to the Mikraot Gedolot.
  • This verse states that the sacrifice is called פסח but it does not tell us why. See R. D"Z Hoffmann's commentary which notes that the answer will be found in the subsequent verses.
  • Scroll down in the Mikraot Gedolot to Shemot 12:13 to find the reason for the name.

7. "וּפָסַחְתִּי עֲלֵכֶם"

  • In Shemot 12:13, we see an explanation of the holiday's name in the phrase "וּפָסַחְתִּי עֲלֵכֶם". What does this verb mean?
  • Click on the word "וּפָסַחְתִּי" to view the verb's entry in the One-Click Concordance.
  • The first three occurrences of the verb are in our chapter and their meaning is the very subject of our question. Thus, they will be less helpful for our inquiry.
  • So let's scroll down in the concordance to look at the other occurrences in Tanakh. Can any of these verses shed light on our issue?

8. Other Occurrences in Tanakh

  • When we are unsure of the definition of a word, we can glean clues from its context.
  • What words form the context of the verb "פָּסֹחַ" in Yeshayahu 31:5 (#7 in the concordance), and what meaning of the verb might they support?
  • Can such a meaning be sustained also in our verses in Shemot 12 or in the two verses in Melakhim I 18?
  • Conversely, what meaning of the verb might we derive from "פֹּסְחִים" in the verse in Melakhim I 18:21?
  • Can this definition be an appropriate fit also in all of the other verses?

9. Concordance and Commentators: Rashi

  • Let's now see how our commentators understand the verb פסח.
  • To return to the Mikraot Gedolot on Shemot 12:13 click the x in the corner of the concordance pop-up.
  • Let's read Rashi's comments there.
  • What options does Rashi offer for the meaning of "וּפָסַחְתִּי"?
  • What basis does he provide for them?

10. Concordance and Commentators: Ibn Ezra

  • Scroll down to Shemot 12:27 (or click on this link) to see how Ibn Ezra understands the word פסח in his second commentary.
  • Which option does he seem to favor?
  • Afterwards, return to the Mikraot Gedolot on Shemot 12:13 to compare several more sources.

11. Concordance and Commentators: Mekhilta

  • Use the gear icon in the middle of the top red bar to select which commentaries to display.
  • Check "Midreshei Halakhah" so that the Mekhilta will now appear, and then click outside the dialog overlay to return to the Mikraot Gedolot. How many opinions can be found in the Mekhilta regarding this issue?
  • What do you think forms the foundation of the dispute between R. Yoshiyah and R. Yonatan?
  • For English translation, press the E button at the top of the Mekhilta.

12. Concordance and Commentators: HaKetav VeHaKabbalah

  • Use the gear button again (or press the "Show Additional Commentaries" button at the bottom of the verse) to display the commentary of HaKetav VeHaKabbalah.
  • Whose side does R. Mecklenburg support? What is his main motivation?
  • For more information about these commentators, press the i buttons next to their names.

13. Broader Implications

  • What was Pesach all about?
  • Was it simply Hashem punishing the Egyptians and passing over the houses of the Children of Israel?
  • Or did Hashem send an indiscriminate plague (virus?) which would have killed also the Israelites if not for a special display of Divine mercy?
  • Were the Children of Israel deserving of special Divine protection? For more, see: Religious Identity in Egypt.

14. Additional Reading

15. Further Options