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Home > Holidays > Passover's Guide to Passover
Cast of Characters
Cleaning for Passover
The Haggadah
Passover Foods
The Seder
The Seder Plate
The Story

Passover: Cast of Characters

The size of the story depends on how far back you want to go. We'll pick it up where "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" ends.

Pharaoh: Ruler of Egypt who oppresses the Jews with slave labor. The Pharaoh of the Passover story is different than the king who appointed Joseph his second in command, as the verse says, "And a new king got up over Egypt who did not know Joseph (Exodus 1:8)."

Concerned that the Jews are multiplying too quickly, Pharaoh decrees that all Jewish male babies be thrown into the Nile River. His two leading midwives, however, disobey this order. Jewish commentaries argue whether these two midwives are Jewish; one commentary says they're Moses's sister and mother.

Later, when approached by Moses and Aaron requesting a reprieve for the Jews, Pharaoh refuses to let them go. When God begins punishing Pharaoh and the Egyptians with plagues, Pharaoh gives in, but reaffirms his stubborn position when each plague ends.

Moses: Appointed by God to lead the Jews out of Egypt.

Moses survives Pharaoh's decree against male babies with help from several women. His mother, Yocheved, hides him at first, then places him in a basket and sends it down the river, where Pharaoh's daughter finds it. Moses's sister, Miriam, follows the basket from afar, and offers to Pharaoh's daughter to call "a Hebrew nurse"-Yocheved-to nurse him. Moses is therefore with his birth mother until he passes the age of nursing, when Pharaoh's daughter takes him back.

How Moses gets from point B to point C, however, is unclear from the text. Contrary to the film "The Prince of Egypt," the Torah makes no mention of Moses' adolescent years growing up in the royal Egyptian palace. Rather, it skips immediately to when Moses acts on behalf of a fellow Hebrew, killing an Egyptian who was beating a Jewish man.

God later appears to Moses in the form of a burning bush, and tells Moses to go before Pharaoh and bring the Jewish people out of Egypt. Moses balks at first, claiming that he's not a good speaker. God says don't worry, I'll take care of it.

Aaron: Moses's brother, eventually becomes high priest. God sends Aaron with Moses to Pharaoh to act as Moses's spokesman.

God: Appears to Moses in a bush. Brings the plagues upon the Egyptians. Splits the Red Sea. Is there anything he/she/it can't do? (Don't start with that 'make a stone he can't destroy' stuff.)

Jethro: Moses' father-in-law. Hears of a shepherd who came to his daughters' aid at the well, and tells them to invite this man to their home. Later gives his daughter, Zipporah, to Moses in marriage.

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