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12. The Passover

And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

3Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: 4And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. 5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. 7And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. 10And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.

11And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’S passover. 12For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. 13And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. 14And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. 15Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. 16And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. 17And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.

18In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. 19Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. 20Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.

21Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. 22And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. 24And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. 25And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. 26And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? 27That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. 28And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

29And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. 30And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

31And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said. 32Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. 33And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. 34And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. 35And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: 36And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.

37And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. 38And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. 39And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.

40Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. 41And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. 42It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.

43And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: 44But every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. 45A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. 46In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof. 47All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. 49One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. 50Thus did all the children of Israel; as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. 51And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.

1. And the Lord spake. Although the institution of the Passover in some degree appertains to the Fourth Commandment, where the Sabbath and Feast-days will be treated of; yet, in so far as it was a solemn symbol308308     Memorial. — Fr. of their redemption, whereby the people professed their obligation to God their deliverer, and in a manner devoted themselves to His dominion, I have not hesitated to insert it here as a supplement of the First Commandment. The observation of the day itself will again recur in its proper place; it will only be suitable to observe here, that God enjoined this ceremony in order that He might wholly bind the people under obligation to Himself alone, and that from it the Israelites might learn that they should never turn away from Him, by whose kindness and hand they were redeemed. For by these means He had purchased them to Himself as His peculiar people; and, therefore, whenever He reproves them for declining from His pure worship, He complains that they were forgetful of this great favor, the memory of which ought to have been sufficient to retain them. In effect, then, the celebration of the Passover taught the Israelites that it was not lawful for them to have regard to any other God besides their Redeemer; and also that it was just and right for them to consecrate themselves to His service, since He had restored them from death to life; and thus, as in a glass or picture, He represented to their eyes His grace; and desired that they should on every succeeding year recognize what they had formerly experienced, lest it should ever depart from their memory. First, let us define what the Passover (Pascha) is;309309    This paragraph not in French. I use its trite and ordinary name. In its etymology there is no difficulty, except that the passage (transitus) of God, is equivalent to His leaping over, (transilitio) whereby it came to pass that the houses of the Israelites remained untouched; for Isaiah,310310     Isaiah 31:5 C.’s own translation of the words rendered in our A. V., “passing over he will preserve it,” i.e., Jerusalem, is “transiliens servabit;” that of Bishop Lowth is “leaping forward, and rescuing her.” In his note on the passage, he expresses the opinion that the action described by the word פסח, in this chapter, is the “springing forward” of Jehovah the protector, to defend his people from the destroying angel. speaking of the second redemption, unquestionably alludes to this place, when he says, I will leap over Jerusalem. The reason, then, for this expression being used is, that God’s vengeance passed over the Israelites, so as to leave them uninjured. With respect to the twofold mention by Moses of a passing-over, observe that the same word is not used in both places; but Pesah 311311     פסח and עבר in verses 13 and 12. It is observable that C. now properly translates פסח, transilire, in his own comment; though, when commenting on it before, he had only used parts of the word transire, which expresses no more than עבר. — W refers to the chosen people, and Abar to the Egyptians; as if he had said, my vengeance shall pass through the midst of your enemies, and shall everywhere destroy them; but you I will pass over untouched. Since, then, God was willing to spare His Israel, He awakened the minds of the faithful to the hope of this salvation, by the interposition of a sign;312312     “Symbolum.” — Lat. “Signe ou Sacrement.” — Fr. whilst He instituted a perpetual memorial of His grace, that the Passover might every year renew the recollection of their deliverance. For the first Passover was celebrated in the very presence of the thing itself, to be a pledge to strengthen their terrified minds; but the annual repetition was a sacrifice of thanksgiving, whereby their posterity might be reminded that they were God’s rightful and peculiar dependents (clientes). Yet both the original institution and the perpetual law had a higher reference; for God did not once redeem His ancient people, that they might remain safely and quietly in the land, but He wished to bring them onward even to the inheritance of eternal life, wherefore the Passover was no less than Circumcision a sign of spiritual grace; and so it has an analogy and resemblance to the Holy Supper, because it both contained the same promises, which Christ now seals to us in that, and also taught that God could only be propitiated towards His people by the expiation of blood. In sum, it was the sign of the future redemption as well as of that which was past. For this reason Paul writes, that “Christ our Passover is slain,” (1 Corinthians 5:7;) which would be unsuitable, if the ancients had only been reminded in it of their temporal benefit. Yet let us first establish this, that the observation of the Passover was commanded by God in the Law, that He might demand the gratitude of His people and devote to Himself those who were redeemed by His power and grace. I now descend to particulars. God commands the Israelites to begin the year with the month in which they had come out of Egypt, as if it had been the day of their birth, since that exodus was in fact a kind of new birth;313313     “Une facon de faire renaistre;” a means of bringing about the new birth of the Church. — Fr. for, whereas they had been buried in Egypt, the liberty given them by God was the beginning of a new life and the rising of a new light. For though their adoption had gone before, yet, since in the mean time it had almost vanished from the hearts of many, it was necessary that they should be in a manner re-begotten, that they might begin to acknowledge more certainly that God was their Father. Wherefore He says in Hosea,

“I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no God but me,” (Hosea 12:9, and Hosea 13:4;)

because He had then especially acquired them to Himself as His peculiar people; and He speaks even more clearly a little before,

“when Israel was a child, then I loved him,
and called my son out of Egypt.” (Hosea 11:1.)

Now, although it was common to the race of Abraham with other nations to begin the year with the month of March; yet in this respect the reason for it was different, for it was only to the elect people that their resurrection was annually put before their eyes. But, up to that time, the Hebrews themselves had begun their year with the month of September, which is called in Chaldee Tisri, and in which many suppose that the world was created; because immediately on its creation the earth produced ripe fruits, so that its fecundity was in perfection. And still there remains among the Jews a twofold manner of dating and counting their years; for, in all matters which relate to the common business of life, they retain the old and natural computation, so that the first month is the beginning of Autumn; but, in religious matters and festivals, they follow the injunctions of Moses; and this is the legal year, beginning nearly with our month of March,314314     There is a considerable abbreviation of this passage in the French. yet not precisely, because we have not their ancient embolisms; for, since twelve circuits of the moon would not equal the sun’s course, they were obliged to make an intercalation, lest, in progress of years, an absurd and enormous diversity should arise. Thence it happens that the month Nisan, in which they celebrated the Passover, begins among the Jews sometimes earlier, and sometimes later, according as the intercalation retards it.

3. Speak ye unto all. A question is asked on this passage, why, when one Lamb alone was offered in sacrifice for the reconciliation of the Church, and God was propitiated by the blood of one Christ alone, He should have commanded a lamb to be slain in every house, as if there were to be a special sacrifice for every one apart? The reply is easy; because, although all were protected from destruction by the same blood, and the general rite united them altogether into fellowship in the same expiation, yet still it was not unreasonable that, by that special application, so to speak, God would have every family separately reminded, so as to feel the grace more peculiarly conferred on itself. Thus now-a-days we have all the same baptism, whereby we are ingrafted in common into the body of Christ; yet His baptism is conferred on every individual, that they may more surely acknowledge that they are partakers in the adoption, and therefore members of the Church. God, then, in commanding them to slay a lamb in every house, did not wish to draw away the people to different grounds of hope, but only to shew them in a familiar way, that all houses were under obligation to Him, and that not only the salvation of the whole people ought to be confessed to come from Him, but that His singular blessing ought to shine forth in every family. The cause of his desiring the neighbors to be added if the number of people in one house were not, sufficient to eat the Passover, was that nothing might be left of it; and this amongst others appears to have been the chief reason why the whole lamb was to be consumed, viz., lest they should mix this sacred feast with their daily food, and also lest its dignity should be diminished by appearing in the form of tainted meat. Perhaps, too, God provided this, lest any superstition should creep in from the preservation of the remnants; and therefore commanded the very bones to be burnt.

5. Your lamb shall be without blemish. We shall see elsewhere, that in all their sacrifices prescribed by the Law they were diligently to beware, lest there should be any spot or fault in them; and by this the people were reminded, that the expiation was not legitimate, unless it possessed the utmost perfection, such as is never to be found in men. It is not to be wondered, therefore, that God should now require the Passover to be of one year old, and without blemish, that the Israelites might know that in order to propitiate God, a more excellent price was required than could be discovered in the whole human race; and since such excellency could much less exist in a beast, the celestial perfection and purity of Christ was shewn forth by this visible perfection of the lamb, or kid. It was with reference to this also that; they were commanded to keep it up separate from the rest; of the flock, from the tenth until the fourteenth day of the month. As to God’s will, that the side-posts and lintel should be sprinkled with blood, by this sign He plainly taught them, that the sacrifice would profit none but those who were stained and marked with Christ’s blood; for this sprinkling was equivalent to their bearing each one the mark: of His blood upon their forehead. And, in effect, Christ, by the outpouring of His blood, has not delivered all, but only the faithful, who sanctify themselves with it. That internal sprinkling indeed holds the first place, which Peter teaches us to be effected by the power of the Spirit, (1 Peter 1:2;) yet by this external sign the Israelites were instructed that they could not be protected from God’s wrath, except by holding up against it the shield of the blood. And this corresponds with the lesson learnt above, that the same universal sacrifice was offered particularly in every house, in order that thus its peculiar instruction might affect them more seriously, when generally it would have been uninteresting and ineffectual. I prefer to be ignorant as to why He required the flesh to be roasted and not boiled, rather than to invent such unfounded subtleties, as that Christ was, in a manner, roasted on the Cross. A nearer approach to the truth appears to me to be, that God desired thus to mark their haste, because, when their implements were all packed up, the meat would be more easily roasted on a spit than cooked in the pot. And this also is the tendency of the precept respecting the manner of eating it, in which three things are to be observed, the unleavened bread, the sauce of bitter herbs, and the girded loins, together with the rest of the costume of travelers. Undoubtedly God commanded the bread to be made without leaven on account of their sudden departure, because He would snatch his people out of Egypt, as it were, in a moment; and, therefore, they baked unleavened loaves out of flour hurriedly kneaded.315315     “N’ayant pas logsir d’avoir du pain ordinaire;” not having time to make ordinary bread — Fr. It was required that the remembrance of this should be renewed every year, in order that their posterity might know that their deliverance was afforded them from above, since their fathers hastily took flight without having made any preparation for their journey; for any greater preparation would have thrown some shade upon the divine grace, which shone forth more brightly on account of their want of food. God would have them content with bitter herbs, because hasty travelers, and especially in an enemy’s country, are satisfied without delicacies, and whatever sauce they meet with is very grateful to their taste, nor does its bitterness seem offensive to them, as it does in seasons of abundance and ease. Possibly too they were reminded of their former condition; for under so dire and bitter a tyranny nothing could be sweet or pleasant. But their haste was still more plainly represented by their eating the lamb hurriedly with their shoes on their feet, and their loins girded, and leaning on their staves. Men pass from their suppers to bed and to repose; and therefore the ancients used both to take off their shoes and to lie down to it; but the people’s necessity inverts this order, since they were compelled to fly immediately from their supper. And hence the reason is subjoined, “it is the Lord’s passover;” since they escaped in safety amidst the confusion, and when the sword of God was raging. We must, however, bear in mind what we have already said, that the use of this sacrament was twofold, both to exercise the people in the recollection of their past deliverance, and to nourish in them the hope of future redemption; and therefore the passover not only reminded them of what God had already done for His people, but also of what they were hereafter to expect from Him. Consequently there is no doubt that the Israelites ought to have learnt from this rite that they were redeemed from the tyranny of Egypt on these terms, viz, that a much more excellent salvation still awaited them. But this spiritual mystery was more clearly laid open by the coming of Christ; and therefore Paul, accommodating this, ancient figure to us, commands us, because

“Christ our passover is sacrificed for us,” to “keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice, and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
(1 Corinthians 5:7, 8.)

God therefore formerly wished the houses, in which the Passover was celebrated, to be free from all corruption; and far more does it become us now to take care of this, lest the sacrifice wherewith Christ has redeemed us from eternal death, should be polluted by any leaven of wickedness. To the same effect316316     “Nous avons aussi a prendre instruction touchant les herbes ameres, et equipages des voyageurs,” etc.; we must also receive instruction from the bitter herbs, and their equipment as travelers. Fr. is what follows, warning us lest we should be devoted to the attractions of the world, and lest our course should be delayed by the enticements of pleasure; but that we are pilgrims on earth, and should be ever girt and ready to make haste; and that although the cross of Christ be bitter, yet we should not refuse to taste it.

12. For I will pass through the land. This refers to the first passover, the night in which they were to be delivered from Egypt; and God expressly declares that He will be the judge against the false gods, because it then especially appeared how utterly unable they were to help, and how vain and fallacious was their service. The absurd commentary of some of the Rabbins317317     C. found in S. M. that Onkelos and the Rabbis said the Egyptian idols were laid prostrate. — W. is tame and far-fetched, that the idols should be cast down, because by the single miracle of their redemption, all superstitions were magnificently overturned, and whatsoever men believed about idols was condemned as folly and delusion. God therefore affirms, that he would not only conquer the nation itself, but its very gods. Perhaps Isaiah alludes to this passage when he says,

“Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt; and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence,” (Isaiah 19:1;)

for wherever He has appeared as the Savior of His people, He has asserted His glory in opposition to all impious and corrupt religions.

14. And this day shall be unto you. This is spoken of its annual celebration, which was as well a monument of their exodus as a symbol of their future deliverance. As to its being called a rite, or ordinance for ever, (edictum soeculi,) I admit that by this expression perpetuity is meant, but only such as would exist until the renovation of the Church; and the same explanation will apply to circumcision, as well as to the whole ceremonial of the Law; for although by Christ’s coming it was abolished as concerns its use, yet did it only then attain its true solidity; and therefore the difference between ourselves and the ancient people detracts nothing from this perpetual statute; just in the same way as the new Covenant does not destroy the old in substance, but only in form. A little further on, where he says, “save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you,” verse 18; the meaning is, that they must cease from every work, except the preparation of their day’s food; and this exception is expressly made, that they may not permit themselves to violate their sacred festivals by other business.


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