Passover. The term comes from the last and most devastating of the plagues that Moses called down upon the Egyptians. Pass-Over. Literally, death in the form of G*d passed over the first born sons of the Jewish slaves. See this link: Windsor - Jewish Life
Some archaeologists now theorize that these deaths of the Egyptians can be explained by studying the lakes that killed some 1800 people in Africa. http://www.semp.us/securitas/2005nov-dec.html
These archaeologists theorize that the high born sons of nobles and the Pharaoh were always placed in the honored positions near the earth when they went to sleep. And that night was no different in schedule for them. The difference for the Jewish babies was that everyone stayed up to celebrate the passing over by G*d in the form of the Angel of Death. So the babies were in the arms of the adults and nowhere near the earth. They did not breathe in the fumes. Here is a link to the website for the Naked Archaeologist so check the episode yourself:
The Naked Archaeologist
Shot on location in Israel, Egypt and Greece, The Naked Archaeologist airs on ... like the Biblical slaughter of Israel's firstborn sons and the murder of ...www.visiontv.ca/Media/Releases/Naked_Archaeologist%20.html - 14k
Me? I have no idea one way or the other about this theory but it is interesting to me because this year death has been very much a toxic presence in my family. Those we never expected to die are dead in less than 3 months and those we figured would go on a long time have now been in the hospital 2x for various scary sounding procedures. Pulmonary embolism, coronary heart disease, cancer. 2007 is a very leaky year. Folks I have known well for years are gone, folks I wanted very much to get to know better are gone, folks who made a place a home are just gone. And here comes Passover on its annual ambit to remind me that life is not a guarantee. Every day is a gift. And every gift is what you make of it. Use your gifts wisely.