Elijah’s Mention in the Celebration of Passover

National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series: Theology

In the celebration of the Festival or Feast of Passover in the Old Testament, the mention of “Elijah” is connected to a specific ritual or tradition associated with the Passover Seder meal, particularly during the closing moments of the meal. The tradition is rooted in the hope and anticipation of the coming of the Messiah.

During the Passover Seder, a special cup of wine called the Cup of Elijah” or “Elijah’s Cup” is placed on the table. Towards the end of the Seder, it is customary for a participant, often a child, to open the door of the house to symbolically welcome the prophet Elijah, who is believed to be the precursor to the arrival of the Messiah.

This tradition of the Cup of Elijah and the expectation of Elijah’s arrival is based on a prophecy found in the book of Malachi in the Old Testament. Malachi 4:5-6 states:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

The mention of Elijah in the Passover celebration signifies the hope for the ultimate redemption and the fulfillment of God’s promises. It represents the expectation of the coming of the Messiah who will bring deliverance, restoration, and reconciliation. The Cup of Elijah serves as a symbolic reminder that redemption is yet to come and that the story of the Exodus from Egypt is intimately connected to future redemption and salvation.