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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 13

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-16

CHAPTER 13:1-16 The Sanctification of the Firstborn

1. The separation commanded (Exodus 13:1-2 )

2. Remember this day: the memorial (Exodus 13:3-10 )

3. The separation of the firstborn (Exodus 13:11-16 )

The firstborn had been delivered in a special manner in Egypt and because Jehovah had delivered them they were to be sanctified unto Him. There is an inseparable connection between redemption and holiness. What the Lord has redeemed He claims for Himself. Here we have a definition of sanctification; it is separation unto God. But let us notice that salvation out of the house of bondage is the foundation of all. The same order is more fully revealed in the New Testament. In Romans 3-5:11 we read of our salvation corresponding to the type in Exodus 12:0 and that is followed by the exhortation to holiness, separation unto God (chapter 6). We are saved unto holiness. The blood of atonement has sanctified us unto God. The more we realize this great redemption by blood, the more we shall yield ourselves and our members unto God.

Upon Exodus 13:9 and Exodus 13:16 as well as Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ; Deuteronomy 11:13-21 the Hebrews have built their ordinance of the phylacteries. They use leather strips with Scripture verses contained in a small box. These they put at certain times when they pray upon their hand and forehead. Thus they try to fulfill these words literally. It is only an outward ceremony and corresponds to certain usages in ritualistic Christendom. They were to retain those commandments in their hearts and practise them as well. The ass is especially mentioned. Why? It is an unclean animal and used here to show that unredeemed man is on the same level with the ass and must either be redeemed or die.

Verses 17-22

6. Redemption by Power

CHAPTER 13:17-22 From Succoth to Etham

1. God’s leading (Exodus 13:17-18 )

2. Joseph’s bones carried away (Exodus 13:19 )

3. The pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:20-22 )

Jehovah now begins to lead His redeemed people forward. God chose their way for them, as He chooses the way for us. He was with His people, therefore He led them in His way. If His people are in His way He is with them and all is well. If we are not in His way He cannot be with us in the fullness of His power. What grace and tenderness is revealed in the fact that the Lord did not permit them to go through the land of the Philistines! They had to learn lessons in God’s way, which they could never have learned in the shorter way through the land of the Philistines (Deuteronomy 8:2-4 ). He wanted them to escape trials and other experiences which might discourage them. Nor were they fitted for the warfare which would have resulted from the journey through the country of the Philistines. He would not suffer to have them tried above that they were able to bear. He deals thus with all His people. “But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 ).

It was Moses who took the bones of Joseph with him. They must have rested in a magnificent sarcophagus known to Moses. Joseph’s request was not forgotten. It may have been the word which Israel remembered in the house of bondage; they did not lose sight of the fact that redemption had been promised and that Joseph had looked forward to it (Genesis 50:25 ). “And as the people bore his honored ashes through the desert, these being dead spoke of by-gone times, they linked the past and the present together, they deepened the national consciousness that Israel was a favored people, called to no common destiny, sustained by no common promises, pressing toward no common goal” (Bishop G.A. Chadwick).

The pillar of cloud and of fire was the outward sign of Jehovah’s presence with His people. By day and by night He guarded and led His people. The Keeper of Israel does not sleep nor slumber. He journeys along with them. It was but one pillar and Jehovah was present in it (chapter 14:24). The glory of the Lord appeared in that cloud (16:10; 40:34; Numbers 9:15 ). That glory cloud filled Solomon’s temple and was seen retreating and returning to heaven (Ezekiel 11:22-25 ). It will be seen again when the King comes back from heaven’s glory and His glory will be established over Jerusalem (Isaiah 4:0 ). The sign of the Son of Man may be the Shekinah cloud.

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Exodus 13". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/exodus-13.html. 1913-1922.
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