Ex 12:1-10. The Passover
1. the Lord spake unto Moses—rather,
"had spoken unto Moses and Aaron"; for it is evident that the
communication here described must have been made to them on or before
the tenth of the month.
2. this month shall be unto you the beginning of
months—the first not only in order but in estimation. It had
formerly been the seventh according to the reckoning of the civil year,
which began in September, and continued unchanged, but it was
thenceforth to stand first in the national religious year which began
in March, April.
3. Speak ye unto all the congregation of
Israel—The recent events had prepared the Israelitish people
for a crisis in their affairs, and they seem to have yielded implicit
obedience at this time to Moses. It is observable that, amid all the
hurry and bustle of such a departure, their serious attention was to be
given to a solemn act of religion.
a lamb for an house—a kid might be
12:5). The service was to be
a domestic one, for the deliverance was to be from an evil threatened
to every house in Egypt.
4. if the household be too little for the
lamb, &c.—It appears from Josephus that ten persons were required to make up
the proper paschal communion.
every man according to his eating—It
is said that the quantity eaten of the paschal lamb, by each
individual, was about the size of an olive.
5. lamb … without blemish—The
smallest deformity or defect made a lamb unfit for sacrifice—a
type of Christ (Heb 7:26; 1Pe 1:19).
a male of the first year—Christ in the
prime of life.
6. keep it up until the fourteenth day,
&c.—Being selected from the rest of the flock, it was to be
separated four days before sacrifice; and for the same length of time
was Christ under examination and His spotless innocence declared before
kill it in the evening—that is, the
interval between the sun's beginning to decline, and sunset,
corresponding to our three o'clock in the afternoon.
7. take of the blood, and strike it on the two
side-posts, &c.—as a sign of safety to those within. The
posts must be considered of tents, in which the Israelites generally
lived, though some might be in houses. Though the Israelites were
sinners as well as the Egyptians, God was pleased to accept the
substitution of a lamb—the blood of which, being seen
sprinkled on the doorposts, procured them mercy. It was to be on
the sideposts and upper doorposts, where it might be looked to,
not on the threshold, where it might be trodden under foot. This was an
emblem of the blood of sprinkling (Heb 12:24; 10:29).
8. roast with fire—for the sake of
expedition; and this difference was always observed between the cooking
of the paschal lamb and the other offerings (2Ch 35:13).
unleavened bread—also for the sake of
16:3), but as a kind of
corruption (Lu 12:1)
there seems to have been a typical meaning under it (1Co 5:8).
"bitters"—to remind the Israelites of their affliction in Egypt,
and morally of the trials to which God's people are subject on account
9. Eat not of it raw—that is, with any
blood remaining; a caveat against conformity to idolatrous practices.
It was to be roasted whole, not a bone to be broken, and this pointed
to Christ (Joh 19:36).
10. let nothing of it remain until the
morning—which might be applied in a superstitious manner, or
allowed to putrefy, which in a hot climate would speedily have ensued;
and which was not becoming in what had been offered to God.
Ex 12:11-14. The Rite of the
11. thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded,
your shoes on your feet—as prepared for a journey. The first
was done by the skirts of the loose outer cloth being drawn up and
fastened in the girdle, so as to leave the leg and knee free for
motion. As to the other, the Orientals never wear shoes indoors, and
the ancient Egyptians, as appears from the monuments, did not usually
wear either shoes or sandals. These injunctions seem to have applied
chiefly to the first celebration of the rite.
it is the Lord's passover—called by
this name from the blood-marked dwellings of the Israelites being
passed over figuratively by the destroying angel.
12. smite … gods of Egypt—perhaps
used here for princes and grandees. But, according to Jewish tradition,
the idols of Egypt were all on that night broken in pieces (see Nu 33:4;
14. for a memorial, &c.—The close
analogy traceable in all points between the Jewish and Christian
passovers is seen also in the circumstance that both festivals were
instituted before the events they were to commemorate had
Ex 12:15-51. Unleavened
15. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread,
&c.—This was to commemorate another circumstance in the
departure of the Israelites, who were urged to leave so hurriedly that
their dough was unleavened (Ex 12:39),
and they had to eat unleavened cakes (De 16:3). The greatest care was always taken by
the Jews to free their houses from leaven—the owner searching
every corner of his dwelling with a lighted candle. A figurative
allusion to this is made (1Co 5:7). The
exclusion of leaven for seven days would not be attended with
inconvenience in the East, where the usual leaven is dough kept till it
becomes sour, and it is kept from one day to another for the purpose of
preserving leaven in readiness. Thus even were there none in all the
country, it could be got within twenty-four hours [Harmer].
that soul shall be cut
off—excommunicated from the community and privileges of the
16. there shall be an holy
convocation—literally, calling of the people, which
was done by sound of trumpets (Nu 10:2), a sacred assembly—for these days
were to be regarded as Sabbaths—excepting only that meat might be
cooked on them (Ex 16:23).
17. ye shall observe, &c.—The seven
days of this feast were to commence the day after the passover. It was
a distinct festival following that feast; but although this feast was
instituted like the passover before the departure, the
observance of it did not take place till after.
19. stranger—No foreigner could partake
of the passover, unless circumcised; the "stranger" specified as
admissible to the privilege must, therefore, be considered a Gentile
21-25. Then Moses called for all the elders of
Israel, &c.—Here are given special directions for the
22. hyssop—a small red moss [Hasselquist]; the caper-plant [Royle]. It was used in the sprinkling, being well
adapted for such purposes, as it grows in bushes—putting out
plenty of suckers from a single root. And it is remarkable that it was
ordained in the arrangements of an all-wise Providence that the Roman
soldiers should undesignedly, on their part, make use of this
symbolical plant to Christ when, as our Passover, He was sacrificed for
none … shall go out at the door of his
house until the morning—This regulation was peculiar to the
first celebration, and intended, as some think, to prevent any
suspicion attaching to them of being agents in the impending
destruction of the Egyptians; there is an allusion to it (Isa 26:20).
26. when your children shall say, … What
mean ye by this service—Independently of some observances
which were not afterwards repeated, the usages practised at this yearly
commemorative feast were so peculiar that the curiosity of the young
would be stimulated, and thus parents had an excellent opportunity,
which they were enjoined to embrace, for instructing each rising
generation in the origin and leading facts of the national faith.
27, 28. the people bowed the head, and
worshipped—All the preceding directions were communicated
through the elders, and the Israelites, being deeply solemnized by the
influence of past and prospective events, gave prompt and faithful
29. at midnight the Lord smote all the first-born
in the land of Egypt—At the moment when the Israelites were
observing the newly instituted feast in the singular manner described,
the threatened calamity overtook the Egyptians. It is more easy to
imagine than describe the confusion and terror of that people suddenly
roused from sleep and enveloped in darkness—none could assist
their neighbors when the groans of the dying and the wild shrieks of
mourners were heard everywhere around. The hope of every family was
destroyed at a stroke. This judgment, terrible though it was, evinced
the equity of divine retribution. For eighty years the Egyptians had
caused the male children of the Israelites to be cast into the river
1:16], and now all their own
first-born fell under the stroke of the destroying angel. They were
made, in the justice of God, to feel something of what they had made
His people feel. Many a time have the hands of sinners made the snares
in which they have themselves been entangled, and fallen into the pit
which they have dug for the righteous [Pr 28:10]. "Verily there is a God that judgeth in
the earth" [Ps 58:11].
30. there was not a house where there was not one
dead—Perhaps this statement is not to be taken absolutely.
The Scriptures frequently use the words "all," "none," in a comparative
sense—and so in this case. There would be many a house in which
there would be no child, and many in which the first-born might be
already dead. What is to be understood is, that almost every house in
Egypt had a death in it.
31. called for Moses and Aaron—a
striking fulfilment of the words of Moses (Ex 11:8), and showing that they were spoken
under divine suggestion.
32. also take your flocks, &c.—All
the terms the king had formerly insisted on were now departed from; his
pride had been effectually humbled. Appalling judgments in such rapid
succession showed plainly that the hand of God was against him. His own
family bereavement had so crushed him to the earth that he not only
showed impatience to rid his kingdom of such formidable neighbors, but
even begged an interest in their prayers.
34. people took … their
kneading-troughs—Having lived so long in Egypt, they must
have been in the habit of using the utensils common in that country.
The Egyptian kneading-trough was a bowl of wicker or rush work, and it
admitted of being hastily wrapped up with the dough in it and slung
over the shoulder in their hykes or loose upper garments.
35. children of Israel borrowed of the Egyptians
jewels of silver—When the Orientals go to their sacred
festivals, they always put on their best jewels. The Israelites
themselves thought they were only going three days' journey to hold a
feast unto the Lord, and in these circumstances it would be easy for
them to borrow what was necessary for a sacred festival. But
borrow conveys a wrong meaning. The word rendered borrow
signifies properly to ask, demand, require. The Israelites had
been kept in great poverty, having received little or no wages. They
now insisted on full remuneration for all their labor, and it was paid
in light and valuable articles adapted for convenient carriage.
36. the Lord gave the people favour in the sight
of the Egyptians—Such a dread of them was inspired into the
universal minds of the Egyptians, that whatever they asked was readily
spoiled the Egyptians—The accumulated
earnings of many years being paid them at this moment, the Israelites
were suddenly enriched, according to the promise made to Abraham (Ge 15:14), and they left the country like a
victorious army laden with spoil (Ps 105:37; Eze 39:10).
37. The children of Israel journeyed from
Rameses—now generally identified with the ancient Heroopolis,
and fixed at the modern Abu-Keisheid. This position agrees with
the statement that the scene of the miraculous judgments against
Pharaoh was "in the field of Zoan" [Ps 78:12, 43]. And it is probable that, in
expectation of their departure, which the king on one pretext or
another delayed, the Israelites had been assembled there as a general
rendezvous. In journeying from Rameses to Palestine, there was a choice
of two routes—the one along the shores of the Mediterranean to
El-Arish, the other more circuitous round the head of the Red Sea and
the desert of Sinai. The latter Moses was directed to take (Ex 13:17).
to Succoth—that is, booths, probably
nothing more than a place of temporary encampment. The Hebrew word
signifies a covering or shelter formed by the boughs of trees; and
hence, in memory of this lodgment, the Israelites kept the feast of
tabernacles yearly in this manner.
six hundred thousand … men—It
appears from Nu 1:3 that
the enumeration is of men above twenty years of age. Assuming, what is
now ascertained by statistical tables, that the number of males above
that age is as nearly as possible the half of the total number of
males, the whole male population of Israel, on this computation, would
amount to 1,200,000; and adding an equal number for women and children,
the aggregate number of Israelites who left Egypt would be
38. a mixed multitude went with
them—literally, "a great rabble" (see also Nu 11:4; De
29:11); slaves, persons in
the lowest grades of society, partly natives and partly foreigners,
bound close to them as companions in misery, and gladly availing
themselves of the opportunity to escape in the crowd. (Compare Zec 8:23).
40. the sojourning of the children of Israel
… four hundred and thirty years—The Septuagint
renders it thus: "The sojourning of the children and of their fathers,
which they sojourned in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt."
These additions are important, for the period of sojourn in Egypt did
not exceed two hundred fifteen years; but if we reckon from the time
that Abraham entered Canaan and the promise was made in which the
sojourn of his posterity in Egypt was announced, this makes up the time
to four hundred thirty years.
41. even the selfsame day—implying an
exact and literal fulfilment of the predicted period.
49. One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and
unto the stranger—This regulation displays the liberal spirit
of the Hebrew institutions. Any foreigner might obtain admission to the
privileges of the nation on complying with their sacred ordinances. In
the Mosaic equally as in the Christian dispensation, privilege and duty
were inseparably conjoined.