The Cup at Passover

Sunset tonight marks the start of Passover.  I think all Christians should understand this feast and maybe even participate in one as Christ was Jewish and He did not die to start a new religion.  He is the Passover Lamb for all of mankind, Jew and Gentile a like.  It is nice to learn a little something about why the last supper went down the way it did and to help fill the voids on what were common elements that were left out.

Over at My Jewish Learning, there are several articles about Passover and how it is observed, but the portion below always stands out to me:

Another special part of the seder is the extra cup of wine left on the table for Elijah. The suspense and excitement engendered by sending a child to open the door for the prophet who will be a harbinger of messianic times is almost electric. The chanting of the song Dayenu (“it would have been enough”), a joyous recognition of God’s numerous gifts to us in the course of the Exodus, is another highlight. Every Jew will have his or her own special memories of a past family seder, but it is unquestionably among the greatest of our yearly rituals

Now from

Cup of Elijah

1) There is an open question in the Talmud whether we are obligated to have four or five cups on the night of Passover. Since the issue was never resolved, we pour a fifth cup, but do not drink it.

After heralding the coming of the Messiah, one of Elijah’s tasks will be to resolve all hitherto unanswered halachic questions. Thus this fifth cup whose status is in doubt is dubbed “Elijah’s Cup,” in anticipation of the insight he will shed on the matter.

2) The four cups correspond to the four “expressions of redemption” promised by G‑d: “I will take you out from the suffering of Egypt, and I will deliver you from their bondage; I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you to Myself as a nation…”3 The fifth cup corresponds to the fifth expression of redemption which comes in the following verse: “I will bring you to the Land…” This expression, however, is an allusion to the future messianic redemption which will be announced by Elijah. This is also why we do not drink, “enjoy,” the fifth cup — as we have not yet experienced this redemption.

The timing of the pouring of the “Cup of Elijah” is also apropos, right before we start reading the Hallel, whose focus is on the future redemption (see Why do we divide the Hallel into two at the Passover seder?). After commemorating the very first redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt we express our hope and firm belief in the coming of the Moshiach who will usher in the new and final redemption very very soon.

If we hold that Jesus and his disciples followed the traditional Passover meal in Jewish fashion, I believe that the cup that Jesus used in his new communion feast was this fifth cup.  Now there is no way to know for sure, but I wanted to share this little bit about the Cup of Elijah and its meaning as Passover begins.


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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Religion

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