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Bible Commentaries

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Exodus 12

 

 

Introduction

This long chapter consists of a number of closely-related paragraphs, all directly bearing upon the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage. These are: The Passover Proclaimed (Exodus 12:1-14); The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:15-20); Specific Instructions for the First Passover (Exodus 12:21-28); The Tenth Plague (Exodus 12:29,30); The Israelites Receive Permission to Go (Exodus 12:31-36); They Take the First Step of their Journey and Depart from Egypt (Exodus 12:37-42); and Special Instructions Regarding Non-Israelites and the Covenant (Exodus 12:43-51).

There are not two (or more) separate accounts of the Passover in this chapter, as affirmed by Dummelow.[1] These instructions concern the First Passover only and are not related in any way to "ceremonial keeping of the ordinance of the Passover in later times."[2] The Passover which appears in this chapter by the direct authority of Almighty God is not merely the adaptation of some previously-existing pagan rite celebrating "the birth of lambs, and probably a communion meal shared by the shepherd group and its deity."[3] The account given here is the original account of the Passover, and it is not an account of how the ordinance was observed at "a late period in Israel's development."[4] As a matter of fact, there are many things that distinguish this institution of the Passover from later changes that followed the adaptation of the ordinance to the Mosaic dispensation, an adaptation that was made, not by priests, but by God Himself. As for the perplexity of critical scholars as to where the offering of a lamb originated, let them read the Genesis account of the offerings submitted by Cain and Abel, where the words "sin lieth at the door" is a positive reference to the lamb as a sin offering. The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world was indeed typified by the Passover lamb in this chapter, but no less so than it was typified by the offering of Abel. The big deal in this chapter is not God's seizing upon some common pagan practice and converting it to sacred use, but that of expanding and continuing the marvelous figure of "The Lamb Slain from the Foundation of the World," a figure that began within the shadow of the gates of Eden. The incorporation of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (as in this chapter - Exodus 12) and the Dedication of the First-born (in Exodus 13) into a single, unified celebration of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt is historical. "The contiguous location for the laws for the three rites is simply due to the fact that all three commemorate the Exodus."[5] Concerning all the complex and self-contradictory allegations of critical scholars seeking some intelligent support for their denial of the Word of God, we may summarize them all in the words of Fields: "Such ideas lack any proof at all, and certainly do not agree with Biblical information about the passover origin."[6]


Verses 1-3

THE DELIVERANCE OF ISRAEL

"And Jehovah spake unto Moses and Aaron, in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak 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 their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household."

"And Jehovah spake unto Moses and Aaron, in the land of Egypt ..." The plain meaning of this is that the instructions here given were not ceremonially developed at some later age, but that they were revealed by God and tied to the events about to take place, not, long afterward in Canaan, but in Egypt, and at a time actually before the events memorialized. Like so many other things in this inspired record, this too was fulfilled in the fact that Jesus Christ our Lord instituted the Lord's Supper, commemorating his death and looking forward to his resurrection, before either event! The meaning here also includes the affirmation that neither Moses nor Aaron at any time, either here or afterward, ever initiated regulations and legislation from themselves, but that they delivered God's Word on all that they established. "The whole system, religious, political, and ecclesiastical, was received by Divine Revelation, commanded by God, and merely established by the two brothers."[7]

"This month ... beginning of months ... the first month of the year ..." According to Exodus 13:4, this was the month Abib. This was the name of that month used by Israel until after the Babylonian captivity, but following the exile, it was called Nisan, as until the present time. The significance of this is that if the post-exilic priesthood had had anything to do with placing these verses in Exodus, they would never have used this word Abib. Of course, the critics know this, so they call on the ever-ready "redactor" and assign it to R! As we have often noted, every appeal to a redactor is a confession of the failure and bankruptcy of the alleged sources. After the captivity, the Jews calculated the and the ecclesiastical years separately, "The first month of each year, sacred or being the seventh month of the other."[8]

"In the tenth day of this month ... take every man a lamb ..." it is a matter of extreme interest that the plural "lambs" is generally not used in Biblical references to the Passover, despite the fact of there having been literally thousands and thousands of them. Full agreement with Fields is felt in his comment that, "This was no accident, but was God's way of indicating that there was only ONE true passover lamb in HIS mind. That lamb is Christ!"[9] We have not found even an attempted explanation of why the lamb was taken on the tenth day, four days before its slaughter, but here also we may be able to understand it from the antitype. Christ entered Jerusalem on Sunday, four days before his crucifixion, and patiently waited Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday until his crucifixion on Thursday. There really is no other explanation of this phenomenal verse available.

Note also, in this, that each head of a household took the lamb and killed it at the appointed time, as did all who participated. Like nearly everything else in this chapter, it is impossible to identify this with the doings of priests in later centuries. If this narrative had originated in any such fashion, they would have had all the lambs brought together at one place, and the priests would have done the killing. Moses wrote the account here, and it is the account of the First Passover.


Verses 4-6

"And if the household be too little for a lamb, then shall he and his neighbor next to his house take one according to the number of the souls; according to every man's eating ye shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old: ye shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats; and ye shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at even."

"According to every man's eating, ye shall make your count ..." This means merely that each householder was to take into account the amount given members of his household would eat. The very young, the aged, or other conditions were to be considered.

"Your lamb shall be without blemish ..." This, in addition to being a proper qualification for any sacred use, was also typical of the perfection and sinlessness of the Son of God, the Christ.

"A male a year old ..." Here too the Christ is typified. It was specifically foretold that the Seed of Woman should crush the serpent's head, but it was equally true that the Messiah would be a man, "a He-Man," (Revelation 12:13), his masculinity being specifically stressed by the sacred writers. A male (lamb) a year old would be in the prime of life, at the zenith of its strength, just as Christ was crucified at about age 33, the very pinnacle of earthly strength and maturity. There were also other qualities of a lamb which provided a suitable prefiguration of Christ. One, revealed later in Isaiah 53:7 (See Acts 8:32f), was the wonder of a lamb's patient and noiseless submission to death. It appears to have been the genius of the Jewish nation that instinctively preferred the lamb to the kid goat for these sacrifices, despite the acceptability of either.

"The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it ..." Only the heads of households actually did the killing, but, in the aggregate, they represented all Israel. In this too, one sees the responsibility of all Israel, indeed of all people, in the crucifixion of Christ. It was the sins of ALL OF US which crucified him. As the song says, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?"

"Congregation ..." Here and in Exodus 12:3, a moment earlier, one finds the very first use of the term "congregation" for the chosen people, a term later used for the New Israel of God's church.

One may only be astonished at the assertion that, "The post-exilic celebration of the Passover is again in the writer's mind, as he pictures the heads of households all gathered in a single place for the slaying."[10] There are two impossibilities in such a comment.

  1. There's not a word in the Bible about all those heads of households coming together at any one place, an event not even hinted at in this place, and withal impossible anyway.

  2. Furthermore, there is nothing at all post-exilic about such a dreamed up "picture." Priests were absolutely in charge in post-exilic times and long prior to those times. This is only one sample of the worthless and illogical "arguments" employed by critical enemies of the Bible.

"Kill it at even ..." "Literally, `between the two evenings.'"[11] There are two interpretations of this: (1) between 3:00 p.m. and sundown, and (2) between sundown and dark. We believe that the correct interpretation is (1), basing it upon the fact that Christ suffered death at the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.), as noted in Matthew 27:46. That every householder, and not the priests, would be the ones killing the lamb was God's original intention, and thus the whole business of a priesthood adopted later was not fully in keeping with the plan of God - these facts are fully set forth in Exodus. And, when the people insisted that "someone else" do the priestly service that had been originally designed for all Israel, God accommodated to it as he later did in the cases of both the monarchy and the building of the temple. It was that change in God's plan, due to human failure, that resulted in the acceptance of the second interpretation.

When the lambs were sacrificed in the temple, by a continual succession of offerers, it became impossible to complete the sacrifices in the short time originally allowed. Of necessity the work of killing the victims was commenced pretty early in the afternoon, and continued until after sunset. The interpretation was then altered to bring it in line with the altered practice.[12]


Verses 7-11

"And they shall take of the blood, and put it on the two side-posts and upon the lintel, upon the houses wherein they shall eat. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roast with fire; its head with its legs and with the inwards thereof And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; but that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. And 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 Jehovah's passover."

"They shall take of the blood ..." Note that in this sprinkling of the blood there was no altar, no priest, nor anything else that suggested the ceremonialism and priestcraft of post-exilic times. Esses, a former Jewish Rabbi, now a believer in Christ, noted that:

"As they were obedient to put the blood on the side-posts and the lintel above the door, they were making the sign of the cross. And when the Lord saw the sign of the cross in blood, he would pass over them and spare the first-born of their houses."[13]

It is a gross error, of course, to find any such thing in this blood sprinkling that suggests or approves of that which is commonly understood as "making the sign of the cross." Nevertheless, the Lord Jesus Christ is in every line of this marvelous Passover narrative. Just as the blood of that Passover was sprinkled upon the side-posts and lintels of the doors, all who draw near to God in Christ today must do so with their "hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience" (Hebrews 10:22), the blood of Christ our Passover being the cleansing agent in view there.

"Roast with fire ..." The instruction to "roast" (not boil) the lamb has provoked many speculations. Why roast? That it expedited the cooking of it in one piece, that it could be more easily done in this manner, that it was a simpler and quicker process, and that a special sanctity was supposed to attach to that which "passed through the fire," are just a few of the reasons men have supposed lay behind this instruction. We cannot find much fault with the opinion of Justin Martyr, who like the former Rabbi (mentioned above), found the cross of Christ in it. He said that for roasting the lamb, two wooden stakes were used, one passing from end to end length-wise through the animal, and the other an upright thrust through the center and attached to the cross-member, thus forming a cross.[14] Whether or not this was actually the custom, we have no way of knowing, but one thing is certain: Christ was indeed in the ceremony of the passover. Especially note that this roasting of the Passover was not at all like the priestly method inaugurated in Deuteronomy 16:7, where one finds a demand to BOIL the meat!

"Unleavened bread ..." This was not originated in some prior pagan custom and adopted into God's system here, but it was part and parcel of that original Passover. To begin with, the very HASTE of the people, as they were "thrust out" by the Egyptians allowed no time to prepare and use leaven. That, not some pagan notion, is the historical fact behind the unleavened bread.

"Eat not of it raw ..." Such was forbidden, perhaps because of its pagan association. The worship of Dionysus and Bacchus was celebrated by eating raw meat.[15]

"With bitter herbs ..." Nettles, chicory, wild lettuce and endives are among the "bitter herbs" supposed to have been used, and used by the Jews for this ceremony until today. The meaning of this also is reflected in the reality of the Lord's Table, where the prospect is retrospective to the sufferings and death of Our Lord, and prospective to the coming of his glorious Second Advent. Just so, in that Passover, the bitter herbs were retrospective to the bitter slavery and hardships of Israel in Egypt, and prospective to their trials and hardships as they struggled to reach the Promised Land.

"Ye shall eat it in haste ..." Fully clothed, hats, shoes, the outer cloak girded in place, and even a walking staff! "Ready to go." That was what this meant. As a boy, this writer attended a church where they took the Lord's Supper standing up (no hats, however), a tradition that was sustained for centuries in the Christian religion. In fact, the cathedrals of Europe, even today, have no pews. The people stood up to worship God, or knelt. Martin Luther is credited with saying, "Let the Pope stand up to take the Holy Communion, like any other stinking sinner!"[16] Jamieson declared that until this day, "The Modern Samaritans go up to Mount Gerizim and keep the Passover still, with these ceremonies."[17]

"Neither shall ye break a bone thereof ..." (Exodus 12:46) We comment on this here, because it is implied here in the fact that head, legs, and all of the animal, even the entrails, were to be roasted in one piece. If that does not mean "don't break a bone of it," it doesn't mean anything! The critics who want to find a separate source and a variable account in the passage later on in the chapter where this was specified have simply failed to read the passage here. Oh yes, Christ again shines like the Daystar in this type of our true Passover. Not a bone of Christ was broken, despite the fact of a unit of the Roman army having been dispatched with orders to break his legs. And, just as they ate that first Passover "in haste," Israel was in a hurry for the true Passover to die, and the purpose of Pilate's order to "break his legs" was that of HASTENING his death (which had already occurred). See John 19:31-33.

"It is Jehovah's passover ..." It is an error, therefore, to view this as the Passover of a group of priests of later ages, who were trying to rewrite history as a support of changes they desired to make. God was the author, not only of the first Passover recounted here, but of the far greater and more wonderful Passover, Jesus Christ our Lord.


Verses 12-14

"For I will go through the land of Egypt in that night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am Jehovah. And the blood shall be to you a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and there shall no plague be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and ye shall keep it a feast to Jehovah: throughout your generations ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever."

"I will pass through (Exodus 12:12) ... I will pass over (Exodus 12:13) ..." "The passing THROUGH was in judgment; the passing OVER was in mercy."[18]

"Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments ..." This has a limited application to what God had already done during the previous visitations of his wrath, but the thing in view here is the devastating series of judgments that fell upon that final and fatal night when the first-born both of man and of beast from the greatest to the lowest in all the land of Egypt died in agony at the midnight hour! How was this a judgment (or a plurality of judgments) against all the gods of Egypt? There were all kinds of animal "deities" in Egypt, and when these alleged "gods" were unable to protect either themselves or their offspring from death, the status of their "godhead" perished! The sacred bulls, frogs, cows, serpents, beetles, whatever, all died in sufficient numbers to remove the whole animal kingdom from any further consideration as being "gods." Even the pagan god Pharaoh, whose first-born was "heir apparent" to the throne and the darling not merely of the royal family but of all Egypt, was not spared. The judgment of God fell upon the palace as upon the hovel or the kennel.


Verses 15-20

"Seven 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 And in the first day there shall be to you a holy convocation, and in the seventh day a holy convocation; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done by you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day throughout your generations by an ordinance forever. In 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. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses, for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a sojourner, or one that is born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread."

It is true that these instructions regarding the holy convocations at the beginning and at the end of the passover week were applicable to later times after Israel had entered into the land of Canaan, but no such fact negates the truth that these instructions came along with and accompanied that very first Passover. In a very similar way, Jesus Christ gave very specific teaching regarding the Lord's Supper in John 6:56ff, at a time long before it was possible for his disciples to do what he commanded there. The instructions here were, in time, faithfully carried out, but in the context of that first Passover, they would indeed eat the unleavened bread, but the holy convocations would have to wait.

"Leaven ..." This, by reason of God's instructions here, was made to be a symbol of corruption, sin, wickedness, and impurity. Paul gave the spiritual application of it in 1 Corinthians 5:7, and Jesus mentioned it in Matthew 16:6-12. The only instance in which leaven might not have been intended to convey this meaning is that in the parable of the leaven hidden in three measures of meal (Matthew 13:33), and even there, if the true meaning is the final and total corruption of God's church by the forces of evil, it would still retain the unfavorable denotation. In our interpretation of that we found no way to accept the premise of the final corruption of the whole church (Matthew 16:18), and therefore construed a favorable meaning of leaven there.

"For in this selfsame day I have brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt ..." This sentence is the principal problem associated with the interpretation of this entire passage. In God's reference here to the exodus as an event already accomplished, past perfect tense, the critical scholars especially find proof (allegedly) that these instructions were not part of God's original rules for the Passover, but that they were later added to accommodate changed conditions. Even conservative scholars are inclined, generally, to admit the weight of this argument. Keil said, "Moses did not receive instructions concerning this seven days' feast until after the exodus."[19] Fields mentioned the possibility that "God did not relay instructions concerning this feast until after the departure was underway."[20] However, Fields mentioned "another interpretation" as possible, saying:.

"God said, `I have brought you out,' (a completed action) before he had actually brought them out, because the predicted act was as good as done in his determined plans. Numerous Bible prophecies are spoken of as completed acts.[21]

To us, this appears to be absolutely the correct understanding of the place. We have already pointed out that the instructions at this point for what could not be done until later is exactly paralleled in the instructions about the Lord's Supper before his death occurred. Jamieson also observed this and declared that:

"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 designed to commemorate."[22]

We are amused at the boldness by which critical scholars misinterpret this place as if they had never even heard of the prophetic tense, one of the outstanding features of Holy Scripture, and which without doubt appears also in Exodus 12:17.


Verses 21-28

"Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you lambs according to your families, and kill the passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side-posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. For Jehovah will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood that is on the lintel and the two side-posts, Jehovah will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons forever. And it shall come to pass that when ye are come to the land which Jehovah will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? that ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of Jehovah'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 And the children of Israel went and did so; as Jehovah had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they."

"Take a bunch of hyssop ..." There is some uncertainty about this, but most current commentators accept the definition making it, "a species of marjoram which grows wild. It has leafy stalks which make it suitable for sprinkling."[23] However, it seems more likely that it is a name for "the caper plant." "It is in view of this latter identification that the modern Arabic name for the caper plant is Asuf or Asaf, almost the same as the Hebrew [~'ezowb], the word here rendered hyssop."[24] This plant, used as a sprinkler for blood is mentioned in connection with a number of O.T. rites.

"Jehovah will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses ... "The destroyer is the personified power of Yahweh Himself manifesting itself as destruction."[25] There is no problem that God's agent appears to be mentioned here and that God Himself is represented as slaying the first-born in other passages. One, even God, is said to do what his agent does upon his orders. Keil identified the "agent" here as "The Angel of Jehovah."[26] It is a sinful human error to suppose that the actions attributed to God in the O.T. "are untenable in the light of our Lord's attitude,"[27] because the Second Advent of Christ will also be an occasion of judgment, punishment, and destruction, at which time, "All the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him" (Revelation 1:7).

"Blood that is in the basin ..." As often in all languages a given word has more than one meaning; and here the word rendered "basin" also has the meaning of "threshold," but the translators, from the context, chose the proper rendition. One does not put blood "in a threshold." That has not kept some of the critics, however, from building up a fanciful tale about the Passover having originally been a pagan threshold rite, from which superstition it is still customary to carry brides over the threshold, etc., etc![28]

"Then Moses called all the elders of Israel ..." In view of the dimensions of such a task, it has been supposed that, "These directions were given earlier than that day, so that there was plenty of time for the elders to communicate the commands received to all Israel."[29] Such could easily have been true. After all, the Israelites had known for the better part of a whole year that their departure from Egypt was sure and impending. Only such a period of preparation could have imparted the information and discipline required when the moment for their leaving Egypt finally came.


Verse 29-30

PLAGUE X

"And it came to pass at midnight, that Jehovah smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the first-born of cattle. And 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."

Here, dramatically stated, came the execution of the Tenth Plague upon Egypt. The fact of everyone rising up in the middle of the night should be taken as an indication that death followed some kind of violent and painful visitation with the result that the cries of the victims aroused the households. Had this not been the case, the dead would have been discovered, not that night, but the next morning.

Several quibbles concerning these verses are:

  1. "The captive that was in the dungeon" is used in Exodus 12:29, whereas, "the maid-servant that is behind the mill" is used in the parallel place in Exodus 11:5; but those with knowledge of those times tell us that many of the maid-servants who ground the corn and performed other menial tasks in Egypt were also captives in their dungeons.

  2. There was not a house where there was not one dead. The quibbler wants to know about those houses were there were not any first-born! Such quibbles disappear in the light of the usage in all languages in which major proportions of anything are commonly referred to by the word "all." See my commentary on Matthew (at Matthew 3:5,6) for a discussion of the Biblical use of hyperbole, and also other N.T. examples of it.

This tenth and final plague accomplished all that God had said concerning it. Pharaoh did indeed at last let the people go. he even sent for Moses and Aaron whom he had vowed never to see again, apparently joining with his servants and officers in hastening the departure of the children of Israel.

"There was a great cry in Egypt ..." This must be understood as typical of the Final Judgment, as indicated in Revelation 6:14ff. When God shall at last execute the sentence of death upon Adam and Eve in the person of their total posterity, what an occasion of remorse and terror shall it be? When evil men, men of exactly the same attitude that appears in the Pharaoh of Exodus, when such men who profess not even to know God, who suppose that they shall never be punished no matter what they do, who in their atheism consider themselves as the highest thing in all creation - when such men shall suddenly be summoned with all mankind to the bar of Eternal Judgment, it will indeed be a time of universal fear and mourning. Both in Matthew and in Revelation, such thoughts are stressed: "Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and with great glory" (Matthew 24:30). See the special O.T. report on the terrors of that day in my Commentary on Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Haggai, pp. 141-144.


Verses 31-36

"And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve Jehovah, as ye have said, Take both your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, to send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We are all dead men. And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they asked of the Egyptians, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and Jehovah gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked, And they despoiled the Egyptians."

The fact of Pharaoh having previously vowed not to see Moses again is not at all inconsistent with what is written here. The stubborn Pharaoh, following the death of his first-born, SIMPLY CHANGED HIS MIND, deciding to follow the will of many of his subordinates who had long wanted to get rid of the Israelites. Some critics, however, find "another source,"[30] but it would be difficult indeed to find a poorer excuse for such a finding than appears here. It is not another source which appears, but a development in the story.

At last, Israel was free! The great drama of the Chosen People which had begun more than four centuries earlier with the call of Abraham was now ready to unfold on a much larger stage of action, but all of the details of God's wonderful promises to this people were in place. The promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were now to be fulfilled by the transfer of Israel into the land of Canaan, despite the fact that a forty-year interval in the wilderness of wanderings still confronted them. They had indeed become a mighty people, and there were already signs that such expressions as "the sands of the seashore," and "the stars of heaven" were indeed appropriate metaphors for the numbers of Abraham's "seed."

Note how carefully the sacred writer included the fulfillment of God's Word to Abraham that Israel would depart from the land of their affliction with "great substance." We have no way of knowing exactly HOW MUCH property they took with them, but it must have been a phenomenal amount. Not only did they have all of their flocks and herds, but they also were enriched by the jewels and raiment given to them by the Egyptians. Esses declared that the gold alone would be worth between fifteen and twenty million dollars today.[31] The truly significant thing about this, however, is that God had foretold this very thing to Abraham nearly half a millennium earlier! There is no intelligent understanding of these remarkable writings as a patch-work collection of prior documents. The synchronization, the mysterious correspondence of all these wonders that more than one thousand years afterward were re-enacted and fulfilled in the deeds and teachings of the Great Passover, and the overwhelming evidence of truth carried in every line of the holy record - these things, and many others, place the Bible utterly above any possibility of human origin. The words of this glorious chapter still speak to millions of believers in Christ all over the world!


Verses 37-42

"And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, besides children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. And they baked unleavened cakes of 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 victuals. Now the time that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of Jehovah went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed unto Jehovah: for bringing them out from the land of Egypt' this is that night of Jehovah, to be much observed of all the children of Israel throughout their generations."

"From Rameses to Succoth ..." The exact location of these places is uncertain, and it is merely a weariness to explore the conflicting views of scholars on where, or how far, these places were.

"Six hundred thousand ... men ..." The bold denial of this number by men who really know nothing about it is characteristic of some writings. "That such a figure has no basis in fact is clear from almost every point of view."[32] The author of that denial then went on to prove his point by asserting that: (1) such a large number could not have lived in Egypt; (2) they could not have survived in the desert, and (3) they could not have found enough room in Canaan! Millions of people today live in each one of those areas! Besides that, God fed the Israelites in the wilderness; and their clothes did not wear out! Such denials are merely amusing to believers. An even more renowned scholar said that, "This 600,000 is not an excessive number for the population of Goshen, nor does it exceed a reasonable estimate of the increase of the Israelites."[33]

In this connection, we also include the questions raised by Huey: "If only a few thousand people were involved in the Exodus, (1) Why were the Egyptians afraid of them? (2) Why were they subjected to slavery to reduce their numbers? (3) Why were the Moabites terrified of them?"[34] To these questions it is possible to add others. If the numbers of the Exodus given here are not correct, how were the Israelites able to subjugate thirty-two kingdoms of Canaan? How is it that the "fear" of the Israelites had spread all over the world of that era? See Joshua 2:9. In view of all the facts, we must reject the speculations based upon imaginative guesses that challenge the Biblical account. The Bible is far more trustworthy than the speculators.

"Four hundred and thirty years ..." here again, the denials of the critics rise in a shrill chorus, but there is nothing wrong with this figure. True it was rounded off to "four hundred" in the promise to Abraham, and Stephen did the same thing in Acts 7. So what? This type of variation is common and ordinary. The only trumped up evidence ever raised against the figure is in the Septuagint (LXX) account of it where the number is reduced to 215 years, but the verse where that is found is an interpolation without any authority whatever. It is false on the face of it. The actual basis for critical denials here is founded on what they call the "impossibility" of it. But, if it did not happen as the Bible says, then what did happen? Before us is the only trustworthy account of the events mentioned, and we find it entirely satisfactory to accept the only record there is. That the events here indeed seem "impossible" is freely admitted. What of it? All things are possible with God, and we are surely dealing with God and His actions in these chapters!

"And a mixed multitude went up also with them ..." Who were these? They might have been other slave peoples of the Egyptians who saw their opportunity and took it. They could have been many of the Egyptians who had become converted to the God of Israel. No real information is given concerning them. Would that mixed multitude turn against the Lord and cause Israel to sin? We appreciate the comment concerning this mixed multitude by a former Jewish Rabbi:

"As a former Jewish Rabbi, I have the temptation to say, "Yes, it was the mixed multitude that caused Israel to sin in Exodus." But that's not the way it really happened. The mixed multitude were the staunchest believers. They were the ones who truly believed in the Lord, because they knew what it was like to be unsaved, and now they knew what it was like to be saved."

"But the people of Israel were coasting along on their knowledge that they were the chosen people, God's favorite, and they did not have to do anything to deserve His favor."

"You have chosen us above all people, God," they were thinking, "So now we can do anything we want to and get away with it."[35]

Whether or not such a view is fully correct concerning Israel, it is certainly the case with many Christians who lose their enthusiasm for the truth, who slip back into the careless and sinful ways of the world and neglect the plainest and most urgent duties of the Christian life.


Verses 43-51

"And Jehovah said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover; there shall no foreigner eat thereof; but every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat thereof. In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth aught of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to Jehovah, 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; but no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. One law shall be to him that is home-born, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. Thus did all the children of Israel; as Jehovah commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. And it came to pass the selfsame day, that Jehovah did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts."

The deliverance of Israel was at that point achieved. This chapter is the pivot upon which the entire O.T. turns. This record reveals the deliverance of both the Old Israel and the New Israel, which is the church of Christ. And before the narrative is completed the typical nature of the deliverance of Israel will appear in such bold and impressive events that it must be held impossible to miss their significance.

"Neither shall ye break a bone thereof ..." See under Exodus 12:11, above, where this was discussed out of sequence.

The rules by which non-Israelites would be permitted to join in the Passover were important in showing that, "it was never God's intention that only Jews should receive salvation." The great promise to Abraham himself was given in order that "in him ... all the peoples of the earth" might be blessed, and a token of that fulfillment is here in this great mixed multitude that went out of Egypt. In time, the Jews forgot or ignored this purpose altogether.

Before leaving this marvelous chapter, we shall rehearse some of the things in it that are typical of the Lord Jesus Christ, and most of which things, are specifically declared in this chapter.

CHRIST; OUR PASSOVER

There was no salvation for Israel except through the blood of the Passover. There is no salvation for any person apart from the blood of Christ.

The lamb was typical of Christ as follows:

It was innocent.

The innocent suffered for the guilty.

It was submissive and uncomplaining in death.

Not a bone of it was broken.

The lamb was offered from the foundation of the world (Abel's offering).

God purposed to send Christ "before the world" was.

It was in "eating" the Passover that people were rescued from death.

It is in eating Christ (John 6:56) that all people are saved.

The lamb was kept up four days before it was killed. Christ was in Jerusalem four days before the crucifixion.

The lamb was a male in the prime of life without spot or blemish, in short, perfect. So exactly was Jesus Christ.

Both the lamb and the Lord Jesus Christ suffered death "between the two evens," (3:00 p.m.).

Both suffered death on the 14th of Abib (Nisan).

The great ordinances commemorating the two deliverances, namely, the Lord's Supper, and the Jewish Passover, were both instituted and set up before the great events they were designed to commemorate.

There were of course marked differences between the passover and the Lord's Supper, but these resemblances are impressive. As we continue Exodus, we shall observe many other things that are typical of Jesus Christ and the Deliverance which he has brought to all people.

 


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Exodus 12:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/exodus-12.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.


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Sunday, September 24th, 2017
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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