Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

13. Consecration of the Firstborn

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.

3And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten. 4This day came ye out in the month Abib.

5And it shall be when the Lord shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month. 6Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the Lord. 7Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters.

8And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. 9And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord’S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out of Egypt. 10Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year.

11And it shall be when the Lord shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee, 12That thou shalt set apart unto the Lord all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the Lord’S. 13And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.

14And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the Lord brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: 15And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the Lord slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem. 16And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt.

17And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: 18But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. 19And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.

20And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. 21And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

4. This day came ye out. He compares the day of their coming out with the whole time of their sojourning in the land of Canaan; as if he had said that they were redeemed not to enjoy a mere transient joy, but that they might be mindful of their blessing throughout all ages. He proceeds to eulogize the extent and the fertility of the land again, principally for two reasons. The first is, lest after such glorious victories pride should possess their minds, and in the abundance of their good things their eyes should be closed by fatness;the second, that by the very multitude of their possessions they might be the more incited to the duty of gratitude, and to the service of God. For it might be that the conquerors of so many nations, and the lords of so rich and extensive a territory would wax wanton, so as to be less devoted to God’s service, unless they had been reminded that they owed it to God alone that they had conquered so many peoples, and had obtained dominion over them. But Moses shews them that, in proportion to God’s goodness to them, so would they be the more inexcusable, if they did not earnestly labor to testify heir gratitude. With this object he repeats the names of the nations, by the destruction of which they were to become inheritors of the land; and then adds, “a land flowing with milk and honey,” in order to arouse them still more and more to piety by the great profusion of the blessings which would be ever before their eyes. Those are entirely mistaken who suppose that the month Abib 322322     אביב C. has copied the Hebrew in his text, writing it Abib, as a proper name; but in the V. it is translated “mensis novarum frugum,” and in S.M., “mensis maturescentis frugis.” The name for July is אב, which exists in Chaldee as a general name for the fleshy fruit of trees. David Levi says, in his Lingua Sacra, that one of their Rabbis had observed that Ab or Av is not to be found in Scripture, and that all the names of the Jewish months, as Sivan, Nisan, etc., are not Hebrew but Chaldee; for which reason we do not meet with them but in the books of Zechariah, Daniel, Ezra, and Esther, which were written during the captivity; and in these four books mention is made of seven of the months, but in the Jerusalem Targum of Esther they all follow regularly. This is also the opinion of Aben-Ezra; but adds, “we find three of the months named in Hebrew, viz., Zif, in 1 Kings 6:1; Bul, in same chapter, verse 38, and Ethanira in 8:2; which plainly shews that they had names for all the months in Hebrew; but during the captivity they adopted those of their masters.”W. is the same as Ab, which corresponds with our July. For it is evident that the Israelites came out of Egypt in the month Nisan, about the vernal equinox; of which circumstance, the keeping of Easter, handed down by tradition from our forefathers, is an unquestionable proof. Now, since the Hebrews borrowed from the Chaldeans all the names of their months, which were in use two thousand years after, it would be absurd in this place to regard Abib as a proper name, especially when, in Scripture, we nowhere find the months designated by proper names. Since, then, reason demonstrates that this word is applied appellatively, we must inquire why it is applied to March or the beginning of April. Those who translate A bib “ripening fruits,” have no ground for it, since the word simply means “anything which grows;” hence it is applied to the stalks of corn; and because in those warm climates the corn rises to its height about the vernal equinox, from this fact, Nisan is called the month of stalks. It is also a probable conjecture, (as we have already said,) that the beginning of the year was changed, in order that the nativity of the Church might receive more distinction; as if the world were then renewed. The opinion of some that Noah came out of the ark in the same month, so that the temperature of spring might receive him in his new birth, as well as the other animals, I leave undecided as I have done on Genesis 8. But if this opinion be accepted, there will be an anticipation (prolepsis) in the name of the months; and in this there will be an absurdity, because it was useful for the people to be accustomed to the rites of the Law. But I do not enter into controversy about uncertainties.


VIEWNAME is study