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Why the Doorposts?

by Tim O'Hearn

And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. Ö 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. (Ex 12:6-8, 11-13)

This was Godís instruction to the Jewish people in Egypt before the plague on the firstborn. This was the institution of Pesach (Passover, which begins April 7 in 2012). God gave them several very explicit instructions. He told them how to cook the meat (roasted, not boiled). He told them how to eat the meat (all of it, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, dressed for a journey). He even told them to put some of the blood on the doorposts and lintels or their houses, where it could be seen by God. But why the doorposts? Does God have to come through the door? Or can he, like Santa Claus, come down the chimney or maybe through the windows? Surely there was a specific reason for the blood being on the door posts.

Actually, the door of a house, and particularly the doorposts, had a very specific meaning in Jewish life. As the principal entrance to a house certain things happened at the door.

This particular pesach was not the only time that blood was associated with the posts of the door. The law of jubilee allowed all who had sold themselves into servitude go free in a certain year. However, God realized that some people would not want to be freed. Some would be happy with their circumstances, and he allowed for that.

And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever. (Ex 21:5-6)

In the case of pesach the people were set free by blood on the doorpost. In the case of the slave, people were bound forever by blood in the same position.

Speaking of the words of the law, God specified, ďAnd thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates.Ē (Deut 11:20) This may not have required blood, as did the other instances, but it may show more perfectly the reason for the choice of the doorposts. At the entrance to every observant Jewish home a mezuzah containing certain passages is attached to the door (at least the principal doors, and sometimes interior doors). The common practice is to kiss the fingers and touch them to the scroll each time one goes through the door. When done properly this stands as a reminder that as one goes out into the world, or returns from the world, Godís law is to govern life. The doorway is the passage from one room or one world to another.

On a more spiritual plane, the doorway represents our passage from this world to the world to come. It is our passage to freedom in God, or slavery to sin. As we walk in this life, and as we pass to the one to come, we should always keep Godís word before us. In freedom or in slavery, we will be set free to be with the one without whom we are incomplete. He will meet us at the doorpost.