The Origin of the Pascal [or Easter] Lamb. Artist: Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld. Engraver: unknown. Source: Die Bibel in Bildern, Plate 49. Click on image to enlarge it.

And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD'S passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. [Exodus 2: 12-14; King James Bible.]

This subject has particular religious functions as double prefiguration, first as the origin of the Jewish Passover and second as the Passover’s Christian function as a type, or divinely intended prefiguration of the Crucifixion and Easter. Interestingly, Schnorr emphasizes only the Judaic meaning. In contrast, John Ruskin commissioned Dante Gabriel Rossetti to paint a watercolor entitled The Passover in the Holy Family: Gathering Bitter Herbs (1855-56. 16 x 17 inches. Courtesy of Tate Britain, London), for which the artist wrote the following poem:

Here meet together the prefiguring day
     And day prefigured. 'Eating, thou shalt stand,
    Feet shod, loins girt, thy road-staff in thine hand,
With blood-stained door and lintel,' — did God say
By Moses' mouth in ages passed away.
     And now, where this poor household doth comprise
     At Paschal-Feast two kindred families, —
Lo! the slain lamb confronts the Lamb to slay.

The pyre is piled. What agony's crown attained,
     What shadow of death the Boy's fair brow subdues
Who holds that blood wherewith the porch is stained
     By Zachary the priest? John binds the shoes
     He deemed himself not worthy to unloose;
And Mary culls the bitter herbs ordained.

*The scene is in the house-porch, where Christ holds a bowl of blood from which Zacharias is sprinkling the posts and lintel. Joseph has brought the lamb and Elisabeth lights the pyre. The shoes which John fastens and the bitter herbs which Mary is gathering form part of the ritual. [DGR's note]

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Die Bibel in Bildern [Picture Bible] von Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld. Leipzig: Georg Wigands, 1860. Hathi Digital Trust Library online version of a copy in the Columbia University Library. Web. 25 June 2016. — George P. Landow.

Last modified 28 June 2016