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EXODUS 12

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Passover Lamb The Passover Instituted The Festivals of Passover and Unleavened Bread The Passover The Passover
12:1-13 12:1-20 12:1-13 12:1-11 12:1-14
Feast of Unleavened Bread 12:12-14
12:14-20 12:14-20 The Festival of Unleavened Bread The Festival of Unleavened Bread
12:15-20 12:15-20
The First Passover Injunctions Relating to the Passover
12:21-22 12:21-28 12:21-27 12:21-27a 12:21-28
A Memorial of Redemption
12:23-27
12:27b-28
12:28 12:28
The Tenth Plague: Death of the Firstborn Israel's Departure from Egypt The Death of the Firstborn The Tenth Plague: Death of the Firstborn
12:29-32 12:29-30 12:29-32 12:29-32 12:29-34
The Exodus
Exodus of Israel 12:31-36
12:33-34 12:33-36 12:33-36 The Egyptians Plundered
12:35-36 12:35-36
The Israelites Leave Egypt Israel's Departure
12:37-39 12:37-39 12:37-39 12:37-39 12:37-42
12:40-41 12:40-42 12:40-42 12:40-42
Ordination of the Passover
12:42 Passover Regulations Regulations About Passover Ordinances for the Passover
12:43-49 12:43-49 12:43-49 12:43-51 12:43-46
12:47-51
12:50-51 12:50-51 12:50-51

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator. Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Third paragraph
  4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

  1. It is possible that these spring festivals (nomadic herdsmen rite, see NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 642; see IVP Bible Background Commentary, p. 84 and Jerome Bible Commentary, p. 52) predate the exodus, but, like circumcision, they now have new meanings attached to an ancient custom.

  2. The Passover is a spring event (at the time of a full moon), corresponding to our March - April. The Babylonian calendar called it Nisan (Num. 2:1), while the Canaanite calendar called it Abib (Num. 13:4). See SPECIAL TOPIC: ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN CALENDARS.
    The guidelines for this domestic feast are found in
    1. Exod. 12:1-28,43-49
    2. Exod. 13:3-10
    3. Exod. 23:15
    4. Lev. 23:5-8
    5. Num. 28:16-25
    6. Deut. 16:1-8
    When these are compared, it seems a later author/editor combined guidelines from the Egypt experience and life in Canaan.
    As for who wrote this, I fully hold to
    1. the Mosaic authorship (Exodus - Deuteronomy)
    2. earlier oral traditions (Genesis)
    3. later editors
    See SPECIAL TOPIC: MOSAIC AUTHORSHIP OF THE PENTATEUCH. I would also like to highly recommend a new book on the nature of ANE oral literary societies by John H. Walton and D. Brent Sandy, The Lost World of Scripture. The ultimate author of the Bible is the Spirit of God!

  3. The Babylonians celebrated the new year in the spring, while the Canaanites had a fall new year celebration. Jews today celebrate the Passover in the spring and the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) in the fall.

  4. The VERB "Passover" means
    1. "to limp" (BDB 820 II, 1 Kgs. 18:21)
    2. "to be lame" (BDB 820 II, 2 Sam. 4:4)
    but here it seems to convey the idea of "leaping over" (BDB 820, KB 947, Qal PERFECT, cf. Exod. 12:13,23,27) or "spare" (cf. Isa. 31:5).

  5. It is possible to see Passover as a paradigm for Jesus' sacrifice.
    1. Jesus is the Lamb of God (cf. John 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:19)
    2. the Lord's Supper is in the context of the Passover meal
    3. as the exodus brought deliverance from Egypt, Jesus brings deliverance to the world (see SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH'S ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN)
    4. as the lamb had no bones broken (cf. Exod. 12:46), so too, Jesus (cf. John 19:33)
    The NT presents Jesus as
    1. the new Moses (i.e., law-giver, i.e., Matthew 5-7)
    2. the new Passover (i.e., deliverance/salvation) for all the world (cf. Mark 10:45; 2 Cor. 5:21)
    3. the new life-giving manna (John 6)
    4. Passover Lamb (cf. 1 Cor. 5:7)
    5. the new and better High Priest and sacrifice (Hebrews)
    The book of Hebrews states clearly the superiority of the Messiah over Moses and the NT over the OT.

  6. Josephus discusses this event and annual memorial in Antiq. 3.10.5 and 3.15.1.

  7. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE PASSOVER.

BRIEF OUTLINE OF THE PASSAGE

  1. YHWH's instructions about the Passover, Exod. 12:1-14.

  2. YHWH's instructions about the unleavened bread, Exod. 12:15-20.

  3. Moses' instructions to the people, Exod. 12:21-27 (their response, 12:28).

  4. Historical narrative of the events that night, Exod. 12:29-42.

  5. YHWH's instructions about foreigners, Exod. 12:43-49.

  6. Summary, Exod. 12:50-51.

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 12:1-13
1Now the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2"This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. 3Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, 'On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers' households, a lamb for each household. 4Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. 5Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. 7Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. 10And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire. 11Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste - it is the Lord's Passover. 12For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments - I am the Lord. 13The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

12:2 "it is to be the first month of the year to you" This is the month Nisan (March - April, cf. Lev. 23:5,24-25). See SPECIAL TOPIC: ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN CALENDARS.

12:3 "the congregation of Israel" There are several words and phrases that denote the assembled/gathered people of God.

  1. Exod. 12:1,6,47 - "the congregation of Israel" (BDB 417 II)
  2. Exod. 12:6 - "the whole assembly" (BDB 874), see SPECIAL TOPIC: CHURCH (ekklesia)
  3. Exod. 12:16 (twice) - "a holy assembly" (BDB 896 plus ADJECTIVE BDB 872)
  4. Exod. 12:41 - "all the hosts of the Lord" (BDB 481 CONSTRUCT BDB 838; see SPECIAL TOPIC: Lord OF HOSTS)
  5. Exod 12:31,35,37,42,50,51 - "the sons of Israel" (BDB 119 CONSTRUCT BDB 975)

▣ "on the tenth" The Egyptians divided their months into three tenths.

12:4 "if the household is too small" God always makes provision for the poor (see SPECIAL TOPIC: SACRIFICES IN MESOPOTAMIA AND ISRAEL AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE). Later Judaism stipulated that ten adults could use one lamb (BDB 961).

12:5 "an unblemished" This is not a reference to color but to the health and physical characteristics of the breed (cf. Exod. 29:1; Lev. 1:3,10; 3:1,6,9; 4:3,23,28,32, etc.). One must give God the best they have. See SPECIAL TOPIC: BLAMELESS, INNOCENT, GUILTLESS, WITHOUT REPROACH.

▣ "a year old" The rabbis say the Hebrew means that it was to have been born within a year, not an exact age.

12:6 "You shall keep it" This word "keep" (BDB 1038, cf. Exod. 16:23; Num. 19:9) basically means "to guard," "to watch." Each family must choose a healthy lamb or goat and carefully feed it and watch over it for a period of time (i.e., the tenth of the month until the fourteenth).

▣ "at twilight" This is literally "the space between the two evenings" (BDB 107 and BDB 787, cf. Exod. 16:12; 29:39,41; 30:8; Lev. 23:5; Num. 9:3,5,11,35; 28:4,8). Some say this refers to late afternoon (Talmud), while others say it refers to the time between sunset and the appearance of the first star (Samaritans). Remember, twilight is the beginning of a new Jewish day (i.e., Gen. 1:5,8, etc.). see SPECIAL TOPIC: DAY (yom).

12:7 "take some of the blood" At this time there were no priests. This was a family affair. It demanded a faith response (cf. Heb. 11:28). Each household had to act on God's word through Moses.
The blood was later the part of the animal that represented life. Life belongs to God (cf. Lev. 17:11,14).

▣ "two doorposts. . .lintel" This relates to the ANE belief that the threshold was sacred (cf. Gen. 4:7; Deut. 6:9; 11:20). Our modern custom of carrying a bride over the threshold is an example of this superstition.
It is not by accident that the later mezuzahs (Hebrew for "doorpost," cf. Deut. 6:9; 11:20) were placed on the right side doorpost. YHWH delivered them by His word but they had to obey and place the blood on the doorposts and lintel. YHWH's people must continue to obey His word!

▣ "lintel" This (BDB 1054) refers to either the top board or a small window above the door.

12:8 "They shall eat the flesh" This shows that it was not a sin offering.

▣ "roasted" This was an ancient method of cooking, somewhat like barbequing outside. The whole point is the rapid cooking; no time for normal preparations.
See note about the range of meaning involved in "boiled" (BDB 143) in F. F. Bruce's, Answers to Questions, pp. 211-212. It can mean (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 433-435)

  1. cook (cf. Deut. 16:7)
  2. bake (cf. 2 Sam. 13:8)
  3. boil with water (cf. Exod. 12:9)
  4. roast with fire (cf. 2 Chr. 35:13)
Here, "with water," denotes a prohibition to boiling (#3).

▣ "unleavened bread" The unleavened bread and the roasting show the time factor of haste. Leaven is not always a symbol of sin (see SPECIAL TOPIC: LEAVEN).

▣ "bitter herbs" The rabbis believe they are symbolic of the bitter suffering of the Hebrews while in slavery (cf. Exod. 1:14; Deut. 16:3). The term (BDB 601) is used in this sense in Lam. 3:19.

12:11 This verse emphasizes their readiness for travel. Sandals were not usually worn in the house.

▣ "it is the Lord's Passover" This meal was prepared and eaten in haste because the Egyptians would soon drive out Israel from their land. The Lord's last plague is so devastating against

  1. Egyptian families
  2. Egyptian gods (cf. Exod. 12:12)
  3. Egyptian society
YHWH will see the blood on the door and His agent of death (cf. Exod. 4:24; 2 Sam. 24:16-17; 2 Kgs. 19:35) will spare that home.

▣ "the Lord's Passover" This sacrificial domestic feast goes by several names.

  1. Exod. 12:11,27; Lev. 23:5; Num. 28:16, "the Lord's Passover," emphasizing His sparing or protecting the blood-smeared homes
  2. Exod. 12:27, "a Passover sacrifice to the Lord," which focuses on the lamb being dedicated to the Lord.
  3. Exod. 34:25, "the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover," which uses the term as a title for the feast itself
For a definition of "Passover," see SPECIAL TOPIC: THE PASSOVER.

12:12 "For I will" Notice the number of the PERSONAL SINGULAR PRONOUNS in Exod. 12:12-13. \ YHWH Himself will act. The idols of Egypt cannot act (i.e., in protection).

▣ "all the firstborn" This was a selective judgment. Remember that the Egyptians had been killing all of the Hebrew male children for years! Also, Pharaoh's son was considered to be a god (i.e., son of the sun god, Ra), just like his father. We know that Rameses II's first son did not succeed him. See SPECIAL TOPIC: FIRSTBORN.

The combining of Passover and Unleavened Bread may have occurred because both deal with "firsts."
  1. Passover is related to firstborn of humans and cattle (usually in spring, cf. Exod. 13:1-16).
  2. Unleavened Bread is related to the offering of first fruits, probably of the barley harvest (first grain ready for harvest in the spring).

▣ "man and beast" This shows the corporality of a man and his property (cf. Jos. 7:24-25). It could also be another way of showing YHWH's control over Egyptian gods (cf. Num. 33:4).

▣ "against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment" Each plague dealt with an Egyptian deity. The firstborn dealt with the concept that Pharaoh is the son of Ra, the sun god. This was also the claim of his firstborn son.

▣ "I am the Lord" See notes at Exod. 3:14-16.
Notice in this verse that Israel's Deity is YHWH, while the Egyptian gods are called elohim (i.e., "gods"). See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY, C. and D.

12:13 "The blood shall be a sign for you" It was a sign of their faith and obedience, not so much a sign for the Death Angel's (i.e., YHWH's agent) information.
There are several "signs" (BDB 16) in the OT.

  1. a sign (or mark) for Cain's protection - Gen. 4:15
  2. a rainbow for no more floods - Gen. 9:12-17
  3. the blood on the door - Exod. 12:13
  4. the Sabbath - Exod. 31:12-17; Ezek. 20:12,20
  5. plate made from the censers of Korah - Num. 16:36-40
  6. phylacteries and frontlets - Deut. 6:8; 11:18
  7. the stones taken from the midst of the Jordan - Jos. 4:6
  8. certain words spoken by Philistines to Jonathan - 1 Sam. 14:10
  9. agricultural crops over three seasons - 2 Kgs. 19:29-34; Isa. 37:30
  10. movement of shadow on the stairs - 2 Kgs. 20:8-11; Isa. 38:5-8
  11. birth of a son to Ahaz - Isa. 7:11,14
  12. an altar in Egypt - Isa. 19:19-22
  13. YHWH made known to the nations - Isa. 66:18-19 (cf. Isa. 11:10,11-16; 19:22)
  14. mark on forehead of faithful followers in Jerusalem - Ezek. 9:4 (cf. Rev. 7:3; 14:1)
See NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 1224-1228, "Sign and Symbol: Theology of."

▣ "I see" This is anthropomorphic language describing YHWH as if He were a physical person instead of the eternal Spirit. See SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD DESCRIBED AS HUMAN.

▣ "no plague will befall you" The clear distinction between Israel and Egypt continues (see full note at Exod. 8:22).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 12:14-20
14'Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. 15Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16On the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you. 17You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance. 18In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land. 20You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.'"

12:14 "this day will be a memorial to you" Israel must remember what YHWH did for them (cf. Exod. 13:9). They must teach their children every year about these events and their significance (cf. Deut. 4:9,10; 6:7,20-25; 11:19: 12:26; 31:13; 32:46).
The rabbis later said the annual event involved only the Passover meal but not putting blood on the door.

▣ "a permanent ordinance" The word "permanent" is 'olam (BDB 761, cf. Exod. 12:17; Lev. 3:17; 7:36; Num. 10:8); see SPECIAL TOPIC: FOREVER ('olam). It must be interpreted in light of its context, both Pentateuch and canon (cf. Acts 15; Galatians 3; Hebrews).
For "ordinance" (BDB 349) see SPECIAL TOPIC: TERMS FOR GOD'S REVELATION.
This was a one-time historical/theological event but it had truth and consequences for all generations who would be under the Mosaic Covenant. God's acts reveal God's character. See SPECIAL TOPIC: CHARACTERISTICS OF ISRAEL'S GOD (OT).

12:15-20 This strophe seems to be a later editorial addition combining the Feast of Passover with the sevenday Feast of Unleavened Bread.

12:15 "Seven days" This is a uniquely ANE division of time (cf. Gen. 2:1-2), which probably relates to the phases of the moon.

▣ "leaven" Leaven has several purposes in the OT.

  1. symbol of haste
  2. symbol of sin
  3. symbol of permeation
  4. a part of regular sacrifices
See SPECIAL TOPIC: LEAVEN.

▣ "that person shall be cut off from Israel" This idiom (NIDOTTE, vol. 2, pp. 729-731) can refer to

  1. death (cf. Exod. 31:14; Lev. 20:2; 23:30)
  2. no descendants
  3. excommunication from the community (cf. Exod. 12:19)

12:16 "a holy assembly" A "holy assembly" (BDB 896) was a way of referring to a regular festival of Israel (cf. Leviticus 23) and not a Sabbath. Israel used festivals for theological and educational purposes. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE FEASTS OF ISRAEL.
For "holy" (BDB 872) see SPECIAL TOPIC: HOLY.

▣ "no work at all shall be done on them, except. . ." Notice the practical provision for food preparation.
The cessation of work denotes the sacredness of the day, as it does the weekly Sabbath (cf. Exod. 20:9- 10; 31:14-15; Jer. 17:22; also the fast day of Lev. 16:29 (i.e., Day of Atonement).

12:17 "the Feast of Unleavened Bread" Note how an agricultural feast is used for an event memorial (cf. Deut. 16:1-8). See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE FEASTS OF ISRAEL.

▣ "your hosts" The term "hosts" (BDB 838) has a military connotation (cf. Exod. 7:4; 12:41). Israel will organize herself by tribes and will travel in military order.

▣ "generations" It is difficult to know how long a generation was thought to last. NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 931, lists several different ways.

  1. Gen 15:16 - about one hundred years
  2. Num. 1:1-25:18 - about forty years
  3. modern scholars (because of the different texts given for the Israelite's time in Egypt) suggest twenty-five years

12:19 This shows God's concern for the Gentiles being included and also for the purity of Israel's rituals. See SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH'S ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 12:21-22
21Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. 22You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.

12:21 "elders" This refers to the older male leaders of the tribes. See SPECIAL TOPIC: ELDER.

▣ "Go and take. . .and slay" These are three IMPERATIVES. These instructions were not suggestions but the very means of deliverance.

  1. go (lit. "draw out") - BDB 604, KB 645, Qal IMPERATIVE
  2. take - BDB 542, KB 534, Qal IMPERATIVE
  3. slay - BDB 1006, KB 1458, Qal IMPERATIVE

▣ "the Passover lamb" This term (BDB 820) has several connotations. Here it denotes the lamb or goat for each family or group of families.

12:22 "hyssop" This (BDB 23) was a small, common, bushy desert plant with hairy leaves (cf. 1 Kgs. 4:33). See UBS, Fauna and Flora of the Bible, pp. 129-130.
The book Manners and Customs of the Bible, by James M. Freeman (p. 223) notes that hyssop was connected to the concept of purification and was even eaten for this purpose.

▣ "in the basin" This same word (BDB 706 I) can mean "threshold" (BDB 706 II, cf. the LXX and the Vulgate). If this is the intended meaning, it would refer to the worn place at the door as the receptacle for the blood. F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions (p. 8), suggests that the "threshold" is implied because then the four parts of the door would be covered (i.e., lintel, both sides and bottom, i.e., threshold).
This book by F. F. Bruce has have been so valuable to me. I highly recommend it to Bible students.

▣ "none of you shall go outside the door of his house" The blood was a sign to YHWH's angel. It was a symbol of protection and care for the faithful Israelites. There was danger in the Egyptian streets that night. God's judgment apparently could affect more than just the firstborn.
The Passover is a home feast, performed by family members and focused in a local residence (possibly with neighbors).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 12:23-27
23For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. 24And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. 25When you enter the land which the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. 26And when your children say to you, 'What does this rite mean to you?' 27you shall say, 'It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.'" And the people bowed low and worshiped.

12:23 "the Lord will pass over. . .the destroyer" There is a distinction between these two here, but not always (cf. Exod. 4:24). For more information on the "destroying angel," see Gen. 19:15; 2 Sam. 24:15-17; 2 Kgs. 19:35; 1 Chr. 21:15; 1 Cor. 10:10; Heb. 11:28. YHWH, not a separate evil entity, controls death. There is no grim reaper!
YHWH's special angel also appears in Exod. 14:19; 23:20-23. Apparently this angelic servant can function as

  1. destroyer (Exod. 12:23; 33:2; 1 Chr. 21:12)
  2. protector and guide (Exod. 14:19; 23:20,22,23; Num. 20:16; Ps. 78:14)
  3. punisher (Exod. 23:21; 32:34; Ps. 78:49; Isa. 63:10)
  4. sign of YHWH's personal presence (cf. Exod. 33:14-16; Deut. 4:37; Isa. 63:9)
This special angel leaves because of Israel's unfaithfulness in Exod. 33:14-16.
Sometimes destruction is caused by a group of angels (cf. Ps. 78:49; Ezek. 9:1-8).

12:24,26 This educational emphasis is similar to Deut. 4:9; 6:7-9,20-25; 11:29; 32:46. Parental training of the children about religious matters was/is crucial (cf. Ps. 78:5-6).

12:25 "the land which the Lord will give you" This is a reference to Gen. 15:12-21 and refers to the land of Canaan. The initial promise of YHWH to Abraham (cf. Gen. 12:1-3) involved

  1. a seed (male child)
  2. a land (homeland)
The OT focuses on the land, while the NT focuses on the "seed."

12:27 "it is a Passover sacrifice" This shows that Lev. 17:11 has some connection! The term (BDB 820) can refer to the sacrifice or to the feast.

▣ "but spared our homes" See note at Exod. 8:22.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 12:28
28Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.

12:28 This is a crucial theological comment. Obedience is crucial. See SPECIAL TOPIC: KEEP.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 12:29-32
29Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. 30Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead. 31Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, "Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the Lord, as you have said. 32Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also."

12:30 "there was a great cry in Egypt" This was predicted in Exod. 11:6. It is meant to parallel the great cry of pain the Hebrews exclaimed when their male children were killed by Pharaoh's order (cf. Exod. 1:22).

12:31-32 Pharaoh gives Moses and Aaron six commands (i.e., IMPERATIVES), which is surprising in light of Exod. 10:28.

  1. rise up - BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal IMPERATIVE
  2. get out - BDB 422, KB 425, Qal IMPERATIVE
  3. go - BDB 229, KB 246, Qal IMPERATIVE
  4. worship (lit. "serve") - BDB 712, KB 773, Qal IMPERATIVE
  5. take - BDB 542, KB 534, Qal IMPERATIVE
  6. go - same as #3

12:32 "and bless me also" This cryptic phrase seems to be

  1. an acknowledgment of YHWH's supreme power and reality
  2. sarcastic in the sense of "leave me and Egypt alone" (i.e., by your leaving)
  3. he had asked this earlier (cf. Exod. 8:8,28); maybe he thought they would only be gone three days (cf. Exod. 3:18; 5:3; 7:16; 8:27). In Exod. 14:5 Pharaoh first realized the Israelites were leaving permanently.
  4. either Pharaoh asking Moses to remove any additional plagues or curses (cf. Exod. 8:8,28; 9:28) or it is his growing belief and respect for YHWH

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 12:33-34
33The Egyptians urged the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, "We will all be dead." 34So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders.

12:33 Egypt's actions (i.e., driving them out and giving them treasure) were motivated by fear! Exodus 12:36 attributes their actions to YHWH. He affected the people's minds, as He did Pharaoh's.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 12:35-36
35Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; 36and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

12:35 "they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing" This is a fulfillment of Exod. 3:21-22 and 11:2. They would use these items to build the Tabernacle (Exodus 25-31). It is possibly referred to in Gen. 15:14 (but this text could refer to livestock).
Clothing (BDB 971) is included in the list of valuable things (silver, gold). In the ANE there were several ways to store wealth/value.

  1. food stores
  2. weights of precious metals
  3. clothing, often bejeweled and made with gold, silver trim or thread
  4. precious stones (i.e., rare and beautiful, cf. Exod. 28:17-20), but these are not mentioned here

12:36 "they let them have their request" The King James Version has "lent" (one possible meaning), but the Hebrew term in this context means "give" (BDB 981, KB 1371, Hiphil IMPERFECT with waw). Context determines word meaning.

▣ "they plundered the Egyptians" This is a military term (BDB 664, KB 717, Piel IMPERFECT with waw) for the spoils of war (cf. Exod. 3:22)!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 12:37-39
37Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children. 38A mixed multitude also went up with them, along with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock. 39They baked the dough which they had brought out of Egypt into cakes of unleavened bread. For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.

12:37 "Rameses to Succoth" These geographical locations are uncertain. Rameses (BDB 947, cf. Exod. 1:11) was the favorite delta capital of Rameses II and his sons. It was near Goshen in the eastern delta.
Succoth (BDB 697, cf. Exod. 13:20) means "cattle sheds" (cf. Gen. 33:17) or "booths."
See SPECIAL TOPIC: ROUTE OF THE EXODUS.

▣ "about six hundred thousand men" This same number is mentioned in Exod. 38:26 and Num. 11:21. When women and children are added the number swells to 2 to 3 million. This number is so large that scholars have looked for ways to reduce it (see F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions, p. 9). One possible way is the term "thousands." It can mean "clan" or "tribe" (cf. Jdgs. 6:15; 1 Sam. 10:19; Micah 5:2); see SPECIAL TOPIC: THOUSAND (eleph).

▣ "men" This Hebrew word for males (BDB 149) denotes men of strength and vitality (i.e., men of fighting age, cf. 1 Sam. 16:18; 1 Chr. 12:8,28; 2 Chr. 13:3). Note its usage simply as men of the age of vigorous activity in Exod. 10:11.

12:38 "A mixed multitude also went up with them" This group is the source of the trouble in Num. 11:4.
They were possibly made up of

  1. Egyptian spouses
  2. other Semitic slaves
  3. Egyptian undesirables
  4. converted Egyptians (cf. Exod. 9:20-21)

12:39 "they were driven out of Egypt" This VERB (BDB 176, KB 204) occurs only twice in the Pual stem, here and in Job 30:5.
The Piel occurs in YHWH's predictions in Exod. 6:1 and 11:1. They were driven out because of the plagues of YHWH. The Egyptians are no longer fearful of their numbers, but of their God!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 12:40-41
40Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. 41And at the end of four hundred and thirty years, to the very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.

12:40-41 These are summary verses.

12:41 "four hundred and thirty years" There are several different ways to look at this number.

  1. Gen. 15:13 says it was "four hundred years" and in Gen. 15:16 it says "the fourth generation"
  2. Acts 7:6 repeats Gen. 15:13
  3. Gal. 3:7 agrees with Exod. 12:41
  4. the rabbis say it goes from the birth of Isaac to the exodus
  5. the LXX says from Israel's sojourn in Egypt and Canaan
  6. Calvin says it is just a round number
See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE DATE OF THE EXODUS
A new book by John H. Walton and D. Brent Sandy, The Lost World of Scripture, describes how oral cultures of the ANE passed on their literary traditions and information. It has been very helpful to me in understanding some of the divergent details (i.e., here numbers) recorded in different books of the Bible. I recommend it to you!
Also, one of my favorite authors, F. F. Bruce, has a good brief discussion in Answers to Questions, pp. 169-170.

▣ "to the very day" This serves to emphasize

  1. the exact fulfillment of prophecy
  2. precise dating of the event (cf. Exod. 12:51)
  3. idiomatic way to verify a past act/event (cf. Gen. 7:11,13; 17:23,26; Exod. 12:51; 19:1; Deut. 32:48; Jos. 5:11)
See SPECIAL TOPIC: DAY (yom).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 12:42
42It is a night to be observed for the Lord for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the Lord, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.

12:42 God's word is to be obeyed and perpetuated. It is not to be altered (cf. Exod. 12:28,50; Deut. 4:2; 12:32).

There is a word play between

  1. YHWH watching - BDB 1037
  2. Israel watching (i.e., "observing") annually from this day forward - BDB 1037
The same root (BDB 1036) denotes a
  1. guarding
  2. watching
  3. observing
Here it probably denotes a vigil. God acted; Israel watched and awaited the time to depart in haste.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 12:43-49
43The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the ordinance of the Passover: no foreigner is to eat of it; 44but every man's slave purchased with money, after you have circumcised him, then he may eat of it. 45A sojourner or a hired servant shall not eat of it. 46It is to be eaten in a single house; you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house, nor are you to break any bone of it. 47All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this. 48But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. 49The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you."

12:44-45 This is a technical list of three types of non-covenant people.

  1. purchased slaves
  2. free resident aliens
  3. free foreign hired help

12:44 "but every man's slave purchased with money" Owning a slave was not prohibited (cf. Lev. 22:11; 25:44-45). Slavery was a common experience in the ANE, both

  1. by birth
  2. by purchase
  3. by war
See Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel, vol. 1, pp. 80-90.

▣ "circumcised" This (BDB 557 II and Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel, vol. 1, pp. 46-48) goes back to God's command to Abraham (cf. Gen. 17:9-14). It is described in Lev. 12:3.
Circumcision (BDB 557 II) was not an uncommon rite in the ANE. All of the surrounding people circumcised their children at puberty except possibly the Assyrians, Babylonians, Hivites, or Horites of central Palestine and the Philistines (Aegean people) who invaded the southern coast of Palestine in the 1200's B.C. (cf. Jer. 9:25-26). However, circumcision had a religious purpose for the Israelites. It was always an outer sign of an inner faith (cf. Deut. 10:16; Jer. 4:4; 9:26; Rom. 2:28-29; Col. 2:11-13).

12:46-48 This lists the guidelines for who/how the Passover is to be observed.

  1. eaten in a single house
  2. do not bring any of the flesh of the sacrifice outside the house
  3. do not break any of its bones (cf. Num. 9:12)
  4. it is for everyone who is circumcised of the congregation of Israel (native and sojourners)

12:49 "The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you" Israel's laws were to be for all people. They were to be fair and they were to be of a religious nature and focus (cf. Lev. 24:22; Num. 9:14; 15:15,16,29). For "law" (BDB 435) see SPECIAL TOPIC: TERMS FOR GOD'S REVELATION.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 12:50-51
50Then all the sons of Israel did so; they did just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51And on that same day the Lord brought the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. What is the major truth or symbol of the Passover?
  2. What does the lamb represent?
  3. Why was the Passover joined to the Feast of the Unleavened Bread?
  4. Is leaven here a symbol of sin?
  5. What was the purpose or significance of the death of the firstborn?
  6. What is the origin of the seven-day week?
  7. Who is the destroyer? Is he an evil angel?
  8. Why do scholars try to reduce the number of people involved in the exodus?
  9. Why is there such a problem with "430 years" in Exod. 12:41?
  10. What is the significance of Exod. 12:49?

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