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Passover

Some scholars have questioned the etymological meaning of פֶּ֫סַח, H7175, and point to [[Assyrian]] where the word means to soothe or placate (i.e., the gods; cf. BDB s.v.). In Hebrew the verb can also mean to “limp,” “skip,” or “halt” (1 Kings 18:21). It has been therefore suggested that originally the festival was of different origin and had something to do with the pagan custom of “hopping” performed by professional mourners. Such a limping dance would be performed in token of mourning for the dying god in connection with the annual cycle (cf. T. H. Gaster, Passover [1949], 23ff.). This however, is mere speculation. Some speculative scholars suggest that the original rite was connected with the superstitious fear of evil spirits, pointing to the phrase לַ֤יְלָה שִׁמֻּרִ֛ים “a night of watching” (Exod 12:42) against the “destroyer” (12:23, מַשְׁחִ֔ית). It is therefore suggested that the festival was taken over by the Israelites from a pre-Yahwist cult of Kadesh and was originall