Seder in Seattle 2

Yesterday, I started this series here: Seder and Show in Seattle. But, how did the seder start, what is a seder and why was it important enough that in all the tumult of Jesus of Nazareth’s last days, it became The Last Supper?

Jews are the first global People. They have been citizen’s of the world for thousands of years, sometimes because of capture and force, sometimes to avoid that, sometimes for curiosity and a better life. Even in ancient times, Jews and Jewish scholars lived far from Israel as well as within its borders. Some stayed in large communities in Turkey //Damascus, Syria (Assyrians), Babylon (Iraq), Persia (Iran) and Rome for thousands of years.

Especially since the last, forced, great Diaspora, Jews went every direction – to Ethiopia and the Mediterranean coast of North Africa (especially Morocco) in Africa; to India, the jungles of Burma, to China and to Japan (more on that one another time) in Asia; to Spain (via Morocco) (and from Spain to England and Holland) and to Russia, Poland and Germany via the Caucasus and Romania and Czechoslovakia in Europe; from Spain to the New World – Columbus’ Jewish navigator was the only one to stay there as representative of Ferdinand and Isabella, and to start the colony — and Dutch Jews were also prevalent and ancient Hebraic script is on petroglyphs in America’s Southwest. Jews came to Australia only when the Europeans came a few hundred years ago.

So, what happened in Egypt which becomes the source of the Passover experience?

When the Old Testament Joseph was “sold” by his brothers to the “Egyptians”, it was likely to the group of people known now to history as the Hyksos, a military group which ruled but were not native, either. Joseph’s mastery worked great advances and protection from famine, and when the Israelites (like all the other tribes nearby who were starving in the famines that did come), came to Egypt, it was to a vastly superior civilization.

After the famine, they returned to their homes in present-day Palestine / Israel. The rule changed in Egypt, and pharaohs rose ‘who knew not Joseph’ who had saved their lives and civilization and so, for grandeur, the “Egyptians” of that time, marauded and took slaves to build the grand edifices to themselves which we know as the pyramids.

There is current science which looks at the pyramids not as mausoleums (although part of them was used as that, but rather as giant, sophisticated, gravity-fed water pumps, to bring water to the narrow band of the shores of the Nile which produced all of Egypt’s food.

These Egyptians were harsh and unforgiving task-masters and a large percentage of the Jews died as slaves as the work was inhumanely imposed. Moses arose from his privileged position as an adopted Prince of Egypt and with the Lord’s help and guidance freed his People. It is the Exodus from slavery in Egypt which Jews remember and give thanks for at Passover, as if each person in each generation was given back Freedom by the Lord.

More, tomorrow.

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