Learn Hebrew

Hebrew for Christians
Maggid - Telling the Story of Passover

Maggid -

Telling the Story of Passover

Download Seder Guide


And it shall come to pass that your child will ask you, "What do you mean by this service?"
And you shall tell him: "With a mighty hand, God took us out of Egypt..."

We cannot eat the Seder meal until the story of Passover is told with joy and gratitude. The Maggid section of the Passover Seder is when we read from our Haggadahs about yetziat mitzraim - the Exodus from Egypt.

This part of the seder is composed of the following sections:

  1. The Four Questions
  2. We were slaves...
  3. The Four Sons
  4. The Story retold
  5. The Second Cup

The Four Questions

Fleeing Egypt

To help get the story going, a young child is usually asked to recite (or to sing) the "Four Questions" about this special evening. The child first recites the opening question regarding the purpose of the Passover Seder:

Mah nishtanah

Mah nishtanah ha-lailah hazeh mikol ha-leilot?

Why is this night different from all other nights?

He or she then continues with the Four Questions:

Shebekhol haleilot

She-b'khol ha-leilot anu okhlin chameytz u-matzah.
Ha-lailah hazeh kulo matzah?

Why is it that on all other nights during the year we eat either bread or matzah, but on this night we eat only matzah?

A:  Matzah reminds us that when the Jews left Egypt, they had no time to bake their bread, but took raw dough and baked it (in the desert son) into crackers.

Shebekhol haleilot

She-b'khol ha-leilot anu okhlin she'ar y'rakot.
Ha-lailah hazeh maror?

Why is it that on all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs,
but on this night we eat only bitter herbs?

A:  Maror reminds us of the bitter and cruel way the Pharaoh treated the Jewish people as slaves in Egypt.

Shebekhol haleilot

She-b'khol ha-leilot ein anu matbilin afilu pa'am echat.
Ha-lailah hazeh she'tei fe'amim?

Why is it that on all other nights we do not dip our herbs even once,
but on this night we dip them twice?

A:  We dip bitter herbs into Charoset to remind us of the bitterness of our slavery. The chopped apples and nuts look like clay used to make bricks for Pharaoah's buildings. We did parsely in salt water to remember the tears of our captivity.

Shebekhol haleilot

She-b'khol ha-leilot anu okh'lin bein yosh'vin u'vein misubin.
Ha-lailah hazeh kulanu mesubin?

Why is it that on all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining, but
on this night we eat in a reclining position?

A:  We lean on our pillows to remind us that we are now free and no longer live as slaves.

The Response: Avadim Hayinu

The Seder Leader and everyone present replies with the Avadim Hayinu, a combination of Deut 6:21 and Deut 4:34:

Avadim Hayinu

Avadim hayinu le-pharaoh b'mitzraim. vai-yotzieinu Adonai Eloheinu misham b'yad chazakah u'vizeroah netuyah.

We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. But the LORD our God brought us out from there by a mighty and outstetched arm.

B'Chol dor vador - Making Passover your own

The sages teach: b'chol dor vador - in each and every generation an individual should look upon him or herself as if he or she (personally) had left Egypt. It's not enough to recall, in some abstract sense, the deliverance of the Jewish people in ancient Egypt, but each Jew is responsible to personally view Passover as a time to commemorate their own personal deliverance from the bondage of Pharaoh. Therefore, the seder leader will call each of us to recite the following in unison:

B’Chol dor vador

v'ilu lo hotzi, hakadosh barukh hu, et-avoteinu mi-mitzraim,
harei anu u'vaneinu uv'nei vaneinu, m'shubadim hayinu le-pharaoh b'mitzraim.

Had the Holy One, blessed be He, not taken out our forefathers from Egypt,
then we, our children, and our children's children would still be enslaved to Pharaoah in Egypt.


Barukh Ha-Makom, barukh hu!
Barukh she-natan Torah le-'amo Yisrael!
Barukh hu!

Blessed in the Omnipresent, blessed be He!
Blessed is He who gave the Torah to His people Israel
Blessed be He!

A midrash states that at the time of the great Exodus, only a remnant of 1/5th were actually saved -- while the others died in the maka (plague) of darkness, having fallen so low that they could not believe in the redemption or even want to be redeemed!

As Messianic Jews, we too must recall that the salvation obtained by Seh Elohim hagadol - the great Lamb of God - is not something abstract, but is intensely personal, and were it not for His personal love and sacrifice for us, we likewise would still be enslaved to the "greater Pharaoh" (satan), the god of this world who blinds the eyes of those who do not believe (2 Cor. 4:4).

The Parable of the Four Sons

The story of the Four Sons is also read at the Passover seder. Each of the four sons symbolizes a different type of Jew and their relationship with the Torah.

4 Sons

keneged arba'ah vanim dib'rah torah.
Echad chakham; v'echad rasha', v'echad tam,
v'echad she'eino yodea lish'ol.

The Torah speaks of four kinds of sons.
One is wise; and one is wicked; one is simple-minded,
and one doesn't know what to ask.

Four Sons - who are you?
  1. The wise son (chakham) inquires about why the Jews practice the customs of Passover. The seder leader describes this son as wise, since he wants to know more about the traditions of his people. The seder is for him!
  2. The wicked son (rasha') wants no part of the Passover traditions and asks why the Jewish people - other than him - practice the customs of Passover. The seder leader responds by describing this son as wicked, since he thinks Passover customs are meant to be observed by other Jews, but not him. He's a hypocrite.
  3. The simple son (tam) is somewhat bewildered by the Passover Seder and its rituals. The seder leader responds by admonishing him about God's favor toward the Jews during the time of their slavery in Egypt and why it is important to remember God's salvation with gratitude.
  4. The son who does not know enough to ask (she'eilo yodea lishol) is simply told about the Passover story in accordance with the biblical command: "And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying: it is because of that which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt" (Exodus 13:8). Sadly, most secular Jews today are like this son.

The story of the Four Sons is intended to commend the wise son and to encourage us to remember the Jewish roots of our faith. We must study Torah and respect the Jewish way of life, for if we neglect this we have failed in our responsibility to our heritage. The wise son understands the importance of his heritage and sees it as a means of preserving the knowledge of the LORD God of Israel for posterity.

Go and Learn - The Story of our Slavery

Most Haggadahs will begin the story of our slavery in Egypt by reading from Deut 26:5-8 (from parashat Ki Tisa) which is used a summary statement:

Deut 26:5-8 (BHS)

A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. Then we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders.

The seder leader may then (depending on the haggadah selected for use with the seder) go into elaborate detail regarding yetziat Mitzraim - the Exodus from Egypt, beginning with the story of how the Jewish people became slaves in Egypt and their miraculous salvation by the LORD, culminating in the enumeration of the Ten Plagues:

Retell the Story of the Exodus here...

  1. The Birth of Moses (Exod. 1:1-2:10)
  2. Moses in Midian (Exod. 2:11-4:17)
  3. Moses Returns to Egypt (Exod. 4:18-6:12)
  4. The 10 Plagues (Exod. 6:28-11:10) - see following for extra narrative
  5. The Blood of the Lambs and the LORD's Passover (Exod. 12:1-30)
  6. The Exodus from Egypt (Exod. 12:31-13:16)
  7. Crossing the Sea (Exod. 13:17-15:21)
  8. From the Sea to Mount Sinai (Exod. 15:22-18-27)

The Ten Plagues - Eser haMakot

First we will spill three drops of wine (from our second cup onto a plate) and say:

3 drops
Dam va’eish v’timerot ‘ashan

Dam va'eish v'timerot 'ashan.

Blood and fire and thick smoke...


eilu eser makot she-heivi hakadosh baruckh hu
al ha-mitzrim b'mitzraim. v'eilu hen:

These are the ten plagues that the Holy One, blessed be He, sent
upon the Egyptians in Egypt. And they are:

As the Haggadah is read, we also spill a drop of wine at the mention of each maka (plague), since the suffering of the Egyptians lessens our joy:






Dam; blood. Ex 7:14-25



Tzefardea; frogs; Ex 7:26-8:11



Kinim; lice; Ex 8:12-15


Arov; swarms of flies, beetles; Ex 8:16-28



Dever; sickness (on cattle); Ex 9:1-7



Shechim; blisters; boils; Ex 9:8-12



Barad; hail (mixed with fire); Ex 9:13-35



Arbeh; locusts; Ex 10:1-20



Choshekh; darkness; Ex 10:21-29



Makat bechorot; death of the firstborn;
Ex 11:1-12:36

Spilled Drop

Note: We do not drink the Second Cup of wine at this time.

After this, we usually sing some verses of the ancient Hebrew song Dayenu ("it would have been enough for us"):

    Song Lyrics

The Hebrew lyrics mean that if He (God) had only brought us out of Egypt it would have been enough.  The second verse adds that if He had only given us Shabbat, it would have been enough; the third if He had only given us the Torah, it would have been sufficient.  The song goes on and on recounting how the LORD has blessed His people Israel.  Here is a transliterated excerpt from the song:

    Ilu hotzi, hotzianu
    Hotzianu miMitzrayim (2x)

    Dai, dai, yenu (3x)
    Dayenu dayenu.

    Ilu natan natan lanu
    Natan lanu et haShabbat (2x)


    Ilu natan natan lanu
    Natan lanu et haTorah (2x)

The Second Cup (Deliverance)

Before we partake of the Second Cup (kos sheini), we must first be sure to explain to everyone present the meaning of the three main elements of the Seder: the Passover Lamb (korban Pesach), the matzah, and the maror.

  1. Korban Pesach - The sacrifice of the Passover lamb originally commemorated the passing over of those Jews who put their trust in the LORD God of Israel by applying the shed blood of the paschal lamb to their doorposts. Followers of Yeshua the Mashiach believe that He is the true Seh Elohim, the Lamb of God who provides everlasting redemption from slavery - not to Ahavah and Egypt, but to Satan and sin. His sacrifice on the cross is the blood that truly causes the wrath of God to pass over us. (For non-Messianic Jews, the shank bone is used to represent korban Pesach that was offered at the Temple that was destroyed after Yeshua came.)

    The Haggadah clearly tells us how the blood of a lamb, placed on the doorposts of every Hebrew dwelling, caused the Angel of Death to "pass over" them. Unlike Rabbinical Judaism, it was not gemillut chasadim (good deeds) which Isaiah called  "filthy rags" in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6), but only the blood of the lamb.

    At this time, the Seder Leader lifts up the shank bone from the Seder plate, and we all recite John the Baptist's words:
John 1:29

Hinnei seh ha'elohim hanosei et-chatat ha'olam.

Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

On the Seder Plate, the shank bone of the lamb is left untouched, because korban Pesach is no longer sacrificed. But we understand that the death of our Messiah perfectly and eternally satisfied the need for sacrifice to become acceptable to God. In the shedding of His blood we obtain remission of sin, and by means of his death are we given life.

  1. Matzah - The unleavened bread remembers that when the Jews fled Egypt, they had no time to bake their bread. For Messianic Jews, the matzah represents the purity of the body of Yeshua as God's sacrifice. We note the stripes and piercings of the bread of affliction, remembering how Yeshua gave Himself for us.
  2. Maror - The bitter herbs remembers the life of slavery and how bitter our lives were before the LORD delivered us from bondage. For Messianic Jews, the maror represents the bitterness of our life before we were reborn by the Mashiach.

After discussing the main elements of the Passover Seder, we drink the second cup of wine (the "Cup of Deliverance") and say:

Kos Sheini
Blessing over the Second Cup

Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
borei peri hagafen.

"Blessed art Thou, LORD our God, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine."

This second cup commemorates the loving deliverance of the LORD from our bondage in Egypt (and of our personal bondage to the evil one, represented by Pharaoh). If God had not rescued the Jews from bondage, then the evil one would have prevented the coming of the Messiah Jesus as the Savior of Israel (chas v'shalom!). We give heartfelt thanks to God for His saving acts and glorious power as we drink.

<< Return


Hebrew for Christians
Copyright © John J. Parsons
All rights reserved.