Tuesday of Holy Week Meditation

Tuesday’s Madrasha focuses on the Passover lamb of Exodus and Christ as the new Lamb of God. This is a common theme in Christian literature, but this early piece (again, these hymns are attributed to Ephrem) takes a unique approach. Rather than comparison, we have contrast.

Verse 1 ends with a proposed question, whether the two lambs are “similar or different,” but only a line earlier foreshadows the answer to the question by calling Christ the “Lamb of Truth.” This already suggests that the other lamb is somehow “un-,” or at best “less,” true.

Clarification comes in the second verse, as well as a lens through which to understand the comparison, taken from Pauline literature. The two lambs are related as mystery (or symbol) to truth, or as shadow to fulfillment. That is, the Passover Lamb was a symbol, and Christ is that which it was a symbol of; the Passover Lamb was a shadow, and Christ is the light casting the shadow.

This relationship can be seen by “comparing their victories,” as the second verse suggests. In the third verse this comparison is made: the Passover Lamb was an exit (an “exodus”), which was a defeat as much as it was a victory – it was a retreat. In Christ there is also an exit, not from a country or a tyrant, but from error (which means both sinfulness and falsehood). Rather than a national semi-victory in escaping from slavery in Egypt, there is, through Christ the Lamb of God who was slain, a liberation from sin offered to the whole human race.

(- Glory to the Son, the Lord of the Mysteries, who fulfilled all Mysteries through his crucifixion.)
* Lo, the passover lamb was killed in Egypt,
and on Zion, the Lamb of Truth was slain.
Let us look at both lambs, brethren,
and see whether they are similar or different.
* Balance and compare their victories:
that of the lamb of mystery and the Lamb of Truth,
and you will see the mystery as a shadow,
and the truth as the fulfillment.
* There was, from Egypt, through the Passover Lamb,
an exodus for the people, and not an entrance;
there was, in the Lamb of Truth, an exiting
for the people from error, and not an entrance.

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