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What’s a Kiddush Cup?

by Julia Glattfelt

Now that you have been convinced that the Torah is still in effect, you are probably being overwhelmed by many customs and terms that you never even considered before! I found myself asking, “What do I do now?” What traditions from the church where I grew up are based in truth, and which are not? What was Yeshua actually doing during the last supper when He declared the Renewed Covenant and distributed a cup of wine to his disciples? This may be a touchy subject for many of you, but, the answers to these questions may surprise you! What’s a Kiddush and what does a cup of wine have to do with it?

What does Kiddush mean?

According to the online dictionary, Kiddush is a ceremonial blessing pronounced over wine or bread. It may occur in a (Jewish) home or at a synagogue on a holy day (like the Sabbath). It comes from the Hebrew word ‘qiddush’ which means: sanctification.

A Kiddush is a Jewish prayer or blessing recited over a cup of wine immediately before the meal on the eve of the Sabbath or a major festival, acknowledging the sanctity of the day that is beginning. It is usually performed by the head of the household, but it may involve all family members. After the recitation, each person sips wine from the cup. In the Ashkenazi tradition, two loaves of bread on the table signify the manna gathered by the Israelites during their years of wandering in the wilderness. [Merriam online dictionary]

Hmmmm. Do you get a picture in your mind when you read this? It’s a special blessing before a major festival. It marks and sanctifies the day that is beginning. And don’t forget a day does not begin at midnight for Hebrews! It begins at sundown!

When we read the account of the day Yeshua was crucified, we see that it was a very long day. That day began in the evening.

1Co 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you—how the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took a loaf of bread,

1Co 11:24 gave thanks for it, and broke it in pieces, saying, “This is my body that is for you. Keep doing this in memory of me.”

1Co 11:25 He did the same with the cup after the supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. As often as you drink from it, keep doing this in memory of me.”

1Co 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink from this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

I know that you are all familiar with this! You probably could recite it in your sleep, but it is time to wake up and see what is really being done here! Yeshua was performing a Kiddush! He was sharing a covenant meal with his disciples. And he was teaching them a deeper meaning, even though they didn’t fully understand it at the time. He was sanctifying the day that was about to begin: The Passover!

Covenant Meal

The covenant meal is found throughout the Scriptures. It is not a new concept, and it isn’t something new that Yeshua made up on the spot the night he was betrayed. The covenant meal is a Hebraic principle found throughout Scripture, though not specifically mentioned. This special meal becomes the means for reconciliation between people and also between man and God.

The first covenant meal mentioned in scripture is shared between Abram and Melchizedek in Genesis 14. After Abram rescues Lot, the Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of YHVH. They shared a meal. Later Genesis 17 and 18 documents what happened following the Promises made to Abraham and Sarah. Immediately following the circumcision (sign of the covenant) Abraham provided a covenant meal for the three ‘strangers.’

Gen 18:6 Abraham hurried into the tent and told Sarah, “Quick! Take three measures of the best flour, knead it, and make some flat bread.”

Gen 18:7 Next, Abraham ran to the herd, found a choice and tender calf, and gave it to the young men, who went off in a hurry to prepare it.

Gen 18:8 Then he took curds, milk, and the calf that had been prepared, placed the food in front of them, and stood near them under the tree while they ate.

Jacob and Laban

Other incidents that describe covenant meals may be found. They include the Genesis 31 account of Jacob And Laban. Jacob got fed up with Laban (his father in law) and took his family and herds and left! When Laban caught up with them they were able to work things out. They set up an altar and a stone pillar and made a covenant they would never harm each other. Then, to solidify the reconciliation of the family, they shared a covenant meal!

Prodigal Son

In Luke 15: 11-31 we read the story of the prodigal son. What was the first thing the father did after he restored his son to the family? He killed the fatted calf and put on a banquet to celebrate his son’s return! It was another covenant meal of reconciliation! The prodigal son was totally restored to his father’s house, while the angry son who had stayed at home refused to partake of the covenant meal and did not receive the blessings.

Even today we see the vestiges of this customary covenant meal. Most marriages are followed by a meal with the families of the bride and groom. Sharing a meal solidifies bonds within a family and is often the catalyst for working out differences.

That is one of the reasons why I believe that the loss of the ‘family meal’ in our culture is so detrimental to healthy relationships. We are so busy that we eat ‘fast food’ and often ‘grab something’ on the run. No wonder Thanksgiving is so special! It is a rare thing to sit down to a meal together as a family. Maybe that is why YHVH’s special events are called Feasts!

The Upper Room

Yeshua shared a covenant meal with his disciples in the upper room. He even told them how to understand what the customary bread and wine sharing was meant to symbolize. It hadn’t changed from when Abram and Melchizedek shared that covenant meal back in Genesis. That event foreshadows the supper Yeshua held with his disciples on the night he was betrayed.

But, is it the ‘last’ supper? Were there any covenant meals to follow?

In John 21:12 Yeshua shares a meal with his disciples following his death and resurrection! He invites them to a breakfast of fish and bread on the shore of the Galilee. Why?

Recall that Peter had denied Yeshua before the crucifixion. He was back in his boat fishing! But, when the Messiah called to him he jumped out of his boat and swam to be with Him. It was a meal of reconciliation! Peter was restored to the ‘family’ as Yeshua made clear that he was forgiven for his denials before the execution. There he was commissioned to go and ‘feed the sheep.’ This was a meal of personal reconciliation between Peter and Yeshua. It was also to sanctify Peter’s instructions to bring the lost sheep into reconciliation with the Father.

Was the Last Supper a Passover Seder?

Let’s think about this a little. Traditionally the Passover meal has specific things that are done and said in order to commemorate the Exodus from Egypt. The 14th is the actual day that the lambs were taken to the Temple to be sacrificed, as the 14th is the actual day that the blood of the lambs was struck upon the door frames in Egypt to save the first-born from the plague YHVH sent to the Egyptians. The lamb’s blood over the doors to their dwellings allowed the plague of death to ‘pass over’ them.

The Passover Seder (meal) is held on the 15th of Nisan (Hebrew Calendar). In addition to the roasted lamb, a typical Seder meal includes special foods that are symbolic of the Exodus from Egypt. Since the 15th is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the meal includes matza and four cups of wine.

According to the King James Bible, the account of the last supper says that Yeshua took a loaf of bread and broke it. It was ‘artos’ (a raised loaf of bread) not unleavened bread! Therefore it was not the 15th and not a Passover Seder. It was however a covenant meal to usher in and sanctify what Yeshua was about to do! He renewed the original covenant YHVH had with his people. Yeshua became our Passover Lamb, on the 14th of Nisan! Right on time; to the very day, place and hour that was foretold since the beginning!!

What about the Cups at Passover?

Traditionally there are four cups used in the Passover meal. Each cup represents God’s promise to His people found in Exodus 6:6-7.

The Cup of Sanctification: I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

The Cup of Judgment: I will deliver you from their bondage.

The Cup of Redemption: I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm.

The Cup of Praise: Then I will take you for my people.

There is an additional cup poured at Passover Seders for Elijah. It is not shared, it is there waiting for Elijah to come to prepare the way for Yeshua’s second coming!

Where else do we see Cups in Scripture?

A cup of bitter water is offered to the adulterous bride. According to Scripture, when a bride was accused of adultery she was brought to the Temple and given a cup of bitter water (water mixed with the dust from the Temple). If she was guilty she would become very sick. Likewise, Moses gave bitter water to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai when they worshiped the golden calf. The idol was ground up and placed into a cup and they were forced to drink from it.

In the accounts of ‘bitter’ waters, it is usually in connection with sin, and most especially idolatry. Anything that gets between the Father and His people is serious. That’s why the 2nd and 7th commandments are ‘paired.’ Idolatry and Adultery are closely related.

Like most things in the scriptures, profound contrasts may be drawn when we look at the symbolism of cups. It could be a cup of good or evil. It may be a cup to establish a covenant, or the breaking of that covenant. It could be a righteous container or filled with abominations!

1Co 10:21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.

Yeshua’s Cup

In the garden of Gethsemane, Yeshua spoke of the cup.

Mat 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

He’d just confirmed the covenant with a cup ‘in his own blood’ with the disciples shortly before. And now he wants to abandon the cup? What cup? The Kiddush Cup, or the Cup of Bitter Waters for the adulterous bride?

When He became ‘sin’ for us, he also accepted that he must drink of the cup of bitter waters to satisfy the test of the adulterous bride.

How blessed are we that he drank it for us!

Other Cups in Scripture

It is beyond the scope of this article to elaborate on all the mentions of the word ‘cup’ in the scriptures. Perhaps this article will prompt you to do your own study.

Would it make you curious to recall that Moses gave Pharaoh a cup? Remember the cup that Joseph hid in the saddlebags when his brothers left Egypt? Isn’t the ‘woman’ of Revelation described with a golden cup? What about the cup of YHVH’s wrath? The cup of salvation! Didn’t Yeshua speak to the Pharisees about cleaning the outside of the cup while they neglected the inside?

We all love to watch the movies and read books about the search for the Holy Grail. It is supposedly the very cup that was used by Yeshua in the Upper Room when he renewed the Covenant with us. Do we need to find that cup, or do we need to understand what the cup represents?

Is the cup itself sanctified, or is it the blessing and covenant that is sanctified when we drink of that cup? What was he really saying? Was he establishing a ritual to satisfy our hankering for a ‘religion’ to follow? Or is it a covenant meal to re-confirm His covenant with the House of Israel?

One thing is for sure, he did tell us that every time we broke bread together and shared the Kiddush Cup we were doing it in remembrance of Him.

Does Psalm 23 describe a covenant meal?

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of YHVH forever.” The terms of this covenant meal with our ‘enemies’ is the promise of ‘goodness and mercy’ and it is ‘til death do us part.’ [see the article on Blood Covenants]

Could this be another covenant meal that celebrates reconciliation between ‘enemies?’ He is making a way to reconcile His children to each other. No longer enemies, but One New Man! That’s why the Hebraic symbol of the cup filled to overflowing is there. It is a symbol of joy! It is a covenant of reconciliation! Forever!

What does that have to do with the upper room and the last supper?

What is the Gospel?

What did Yeshua achieve by his death and resurrection? What is the gospel of the kingdom? I have come to understand that it is not just our salvation that is offered. That was always offered to those who called upon His name.

Instead, we need to understand that the covenant that was made with the House of Israel is restored! We are no longer ‘not a people’ ‘scattered’ among the nations. (see Hosea) We are now reconciled to YHVH and to each other! That’s the real gospel of the Kingdom! That the two houses (Judah and Israel) are no longer divided and may become One New Man. We may be unified in our faith! One YHVH. One people. One Faith. One Law. One Messiah.

We are seeing the restoration of all things begun by Yeshua when he took our punishment on the tree of Calvary. HalleluYah, we are being returned and re-gathered to Him!

Will you drink?

Are you ready to accept that restoration plan? Will you share the covenant meal with your brethren as a memorial of the renewed covenant? Do you recognize that Yeshua proclaimed and shed his own blood to restore YHVH’s covenant, and it has always been the plan of our Father? Are you eager to join with our brothers and sisters of Judah in the full knowledge and faith established from the beginning by YHVH? Are you ready to drink the Kiddush Cup? Are you preparing for a covenant meal (marriage supper of the Lamb) with Him?

I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the YHVH. (Psalm 116:13)

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev 3:20)

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4 thoughts on “What’s a Kiddush Cup?

  1. Perhaps the reason Yeshua took a (raised) loaf of bread was that He was the sin offering thus proclaiming the New Covenant, ( this is My body ) Him being the Lamb of God. It would make logical sense using a raised loaf. Even in Scripture ( Matthew 26:17-18), the Apostles asked, “where do you want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover”. And Yeshua said, ” I will eat the Passover with you”. After all, He set it in order, He did what He did. He took our sin upon Himself being the Passover Lamb.

  2. You wrote: “Therefore it was not the 15th and not a Passover Seder.”

    EXACTLY! I am so tired of Messianic groups claiming the last supper was a Seder! Further proof is found in John 13:29 “For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast . . .” They would NOT think THAT had they been eating the Passover.

    Also, later that night, there is further proof in verse John 18:28: “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they MIGHT EAT THE PASSOVER.”

    Not to mention, set times are SET! You can’t eat the Passover before the lamb is even sacrificed!!! Not to mention, if Yeshua had celebrated the Passover one night early he would have been changing the set time, breaking TORAH! And we know he did not!

    Good article, Julia!

  3. Our lives have changed and will never be the same since we began keeping Shabbat/Sabbath. Thanks for pointing out about the use of the cub in scripture. Shalom