As we approach the end of Passover this weekend, we think further on the meaning and direction of this glorious festival. Yes, it is about freedom, of course. But it’s not just about freedom. We looked last week at the idea that Passover leads to Shavuot, to the revelation at Mt. Sinai. We count the days on this journey from redemption to revelation, as if to say we were freed from the yoke of Egypt to take on the yoke of God.
But we learn something new this week. The very last reading from the sacred text on the eighth day of Passover tells us a great deal about the ultimate trajectory of this holiday. The haftarah reading for the eighth day is from Isaiah 10:32-12:6, which is copied below from chabad.org for you to read. It is here where Jews see hope for the messianic age, where all peoples will come together at the mountain in service to the one God. Christians see in this text a premonition of Jesus.
The key idea in this text is that God is the source of our salvation – in the past, in the present, and in the future. Yes, this is our freedom from Egypt (in Hebrew, “narrowness”), but it is so much more. It is also our freedom from meaninglessness through living life as guided by God’s truth. Indeed it is even more than that. It is freedom from death, as we learn from the lovely song at our Seder table, Had Gadya, in which the Holy One smote the angel of death. But there is a hope even greater than that – it is that God is the source of salvation for all, and through eternity.
This very day he will halt Nov; he will shake his hands against the mountain of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.
Behold, the Master, the L-rd of Hosts, shall lop the bough with terror and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled.
And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Levanon shall fall by a mighty one.
And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stem of Yishai, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
And the spirit of G‑d shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of G‑d.
And his delight shall be in the fear of G‑d; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither decide after the hearing of his ears.
But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
And the cow and the bear shall feed, their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the viper’s nest.
They shall not hurt nor destroy all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of G‑d, as the waters cover the sea.
And in that day it shall be, that the root of Yishai, that stands for a banner of the peoples, to it shall the nations seek; and his resting place shall be glorious.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that G‑d shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, that shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, from Patros, and from Kush, and from ‘Elam, and from Shin‘ar, and from Hamat, and from the islands of the sea.
And he shall set up a banner for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel; and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.
But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the sea, they shall spoil the children of the east together; they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab, and the children of Ammon shall obey them.
And G‑d shall utterly destroy the tongue of the sea of Egypt; and with his scorching wind he shall shake his handover the river, and shall smite it in seven streams, and make men go over dry shod.
And there shall be a highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; as there was for Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.
And in that day you will say: I offer thanks to You, O G‑d, that You were wrathful with me; Your anger is turned away, and You do comfort me.
Behold, G‑d is my salvation, I will trust, and not be afraid ; for G‑d is my strength and my song, He also is become my salvation.
With joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation.
And in that day shall you say: Praise G‑d, call upon His name, declare His doings among the people, make mention that His name is exalted.
Sing to G‑d, for He has done great things; this is known in all the earth.
Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion; for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.