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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Exodus 12

Verses 1-2

EXODUS - CHAPTER TWELVE

Verses 1, 2:

"And the Lord spake..." lit. "Jehovah spake..." The law that was about to be established in Israel was from Jehovah. It did not originate with Moses and Aaron.

The importance of the ordinance here introduced in Israel is underscored by the fact that it changed Israel’s reckoning of time. It was to mark the beginning of the year for them. Prior to this, the Hebrew year began with the autumnal equinox, the month Tisri (October). But from this point on, the year was to begin with Abib (April).

Verses 3-10

Verses 3-10:

God gave precise instructions for this ceremony which was to become a perpetual ordinance in Israel. Each provision had symbolic meaning, which related to God’s plan of redemption.

"Lamb" seh, may refer to either a young sheep or a goat. In this case, it must be of the "first year."

"According to the house of their fathers," lit., "for a father’s house," or a family.

"Too little for a lamb," or "too few to eat the meal at a sitting." In this instance, the meal should be shared with a neighbor. The meal must be prepared with consideration for the number likely to eat. Sharing the Pascal meal illustrates the obligation of Christians to share with others the Gospel of Christ, Ac 1:8; Mt 5:15, 16.

"Without blemish," the lamb must not be lame, sick, marred in any way. The Law later expressly forbade any blemished animals for sacrifice, see Le 22:20-25. This provision typifies the Lamb of God, who is "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Heb 7:26), and who is the "lamb without blemish and without spot" (1Pe 1:19).

The lamb was to be penned up from the tenth day to the fourteenth, likely to give time to observe it carefully to determine that it had no blemish.

The "whole assembly," all Israel, was to partake of this rite.

The lamb was to be slain, its blood caught in a basin (v. 22), and then sprinkled on the "upper door post" (lintel) and the two side posts or door frames. Fig. A shows the significance of this provision. Lines drawn from where the blood was sprinkled form a cross. [figure in hardbound commentary]. This pictures the cross upon which the Lamb of God died for man’s redemption from sin.

The Hebrews commonly boiled the meat of sacrificial meals, 2Sa 2:14, 15. The Paschal meal was to be roasted, which was simpler and quicker than boiling. Since haste was essential, this was the best way to prepare the meat.

The Paschal meal was to be eaten with "bitter herbs" or vegetables, a picture of the bitterness of Israel’s servitude in Egypt.’ Jewish tradition says that chicory, endive, wild lettuce, and nettles were included in this.

The Paschal lamb was to be eaten in its entirety. This symbolizes the total Person of Christ our Passover, who was offered for sin, Isa 53:1-5. It also illustrates the unity of God’s people.

"Purtenances"quereb, denotes the intestines. Jewish tradition says the intestines were removed, washed and cleansed, then replaced to be roasted and eaten.

The Lamb was to be totally consumed the night of the Paschal feast. Nothing was to be left until the morning. This symbolizes the total Person of Christ who is the one Offering for sin.

Verses 11-13

Verses 11-13:

The people were to eat the Paschal meal fully clothed and ready for traveling. Their staff was to be in hand. They were to have their shoes on their feet. This was unusual, for shoes were normally not worn indoors.

Jehovah promised to "pass through" the Land of Egypt that night. When He saw the blood applied as instructed. He would "pass over" that house. But in that house where the blood was not applied, the firstborn would die.

This was a judgment upon Egypt and its gods. Many of these gods were represented by certain animals. A partial list of the animals and the gods to whom they were sacred: sheep to Kneph; goats to Khem; cows to Athor; cats to Pasht; dogs to Anubis; lions to Horus; crocodiles to Set; frogs to Heka. The Egyptians would consider the wholesale slaughter of animals as a blow to the gods they represented.

More importantly, Pharaoh was regarded as a deity, son of Ra. His firstborn son was his heir, and was regarded as a god. This would make his death the more significant, as a stroke of Jehovah against Egypt’s gods.

Verses 14-17

Verses 14-17:

The Passover was thus established to be an ordinance "forever" in all future generations of Israel. It was to be observed annually, at the stated time. It was a "memorial ordinance," a constant reminder to future generations of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt by the mighty power of Jehovah.

Additional conditions were added to this ordinance, for its future observance. It was to be the beginning of a week-long solemn festival. This week was to be a "holy convocation" or assembly.

All leaven was forbidden throughout Israel during this week. Any violation would result in immediate expulsion from the congregation.

Leaven typifies sin, throughout the Scriptures. This provision of the Paschal observance symbolizes the purity which should characterize those who are redeemed by our Passover, 1Co 5:7, 8.

Verses 18-20

Verses 18-20:

The prohibition regarding leaven included not only bread, but also leaven of any kind. The time included in this was one week, from the fourteenth day to the twenty-first day of Abib.

"Stranger" includes those who had become proselytes. Gentiles who accepted Israel’s God, embraced Israel’s law and worship, and thus became beneficiaries of Israel’s covenants. It is significant that God did not exclude Gentiles from the benefits of His gracious covenants, see Ge 12:3. There are many references in the Law to proselytes, see Ex 20:10; 23:13; Nu 35:15;

"Born in the land" refers to a native-born Israelite.

"Habitations" refers to the homes of the Israelites, in whatever country they dwelt. This includes Egypt, Palestine, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, or wherever their journeyings might take them. Orthodox Jews observe the Passover today, wherever they live.

Verses 21-28

Verse 21-28:

"Then 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. 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 at the door of his house until the morning. For 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. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons forever. And 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. 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 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. And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they."

Moses relayed Jehovah’s instructions regarding the Passover, to the elders of Israel. Two conditions are included in these instructions which are not in the record of God’s message to Moses. They are: (1) The use of hyssop to apply the lamb’s blood to the door; and (2) the provision that all the Israelites were to remain inside their houses on that night.

Moses is very precise in his demand that the significance of the Passover was to be communicated from one generation to the next. This shows the necessity of parental instruction to children, in order to perpetuate the true message of God. It is significant that Truth is only one generation away from perishing from the earth!

Verses 29-30

Verses 29, 30:

The tenth and final "stroke" or plague fell as Moses had prophesied. It came "at midnight." It reached from Pharaoh’s palace to the prisoner in the dungeon, and the "maidservant. . .behind the mill" (Ex 11:5). And it included the firstborn of even the "cattle," the domestic animals of the Egyptians.

This "stroke" awakened the Egyptians, and the entire land was filled with mourning. "There was not a house where there was not’ one dead" is a hyperbole. It obviously does not mean each and every house in Egypt, but only those in which there was a firstborn male child.

Verses 31-36

Verses 31-36:

The Passover "plague" accomplished what the other nine had not. That same night, Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron, and ordered them to leave Egypt, along with all Israel, and all their possessions. Thus was the Divine prophecy fulfilled.

The Egyptians were terrified. They insisted that Israel leave Egypt at once, before the entire land was destroyed, and all its people slain.

Israel’s departure from Egypt was exactly as God had promised. They "borrowed" everything they desired, and the Egyptians refused them nothing. Thus did Israel "spoil" Egypt. The land was devastated by the plagues. There was national mourning over the death of the firstborn. Then, the Israelites stripped the Egyptians of their valuables. It was a blow from which Egypt never fully recovered.

Verses 37-39

Verses 37-39:

The point of Israel’s departure was Rameses, one of the cities they had built, in the vicinity of Tanis. It is unlikely that the entire nation assembled there in one night or one day. It may be inferred that some few days were required for them all to gather. This was likely during the period of mourning by the Egyptians.

"Succoth" is literally "booths," and may not refer to a specific city, but to a temporary encampment.

A considerable number gathered to begin the exodus. There were six hundred thousand men who were twenty years old and upward, or of military age. Not included in this number were the women and children, nor the "mixed multitude" who accompanied Israel out of Egypt. Allowing one wife for each man, and one child for each family, the number likely exceeded 1,800,000 people, perhaps as many as three million!

Israel’s exodus from Egypt was a massive operation. It required a great deal of skill and planning.

The "mixed multitude" included non-Israelites who seized this opportunity to escape the tyranny of Pharaoh. It may have included those who were proselytes to Israel’s God. And it likely included those who were "along for the ride."

Israel had little time to prepare adequate food for their journey. They had to take what was readily available.

Verses 40-42

Verses 40-42:

For comments on the chronology in these verses, see "INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF EXODUS," in this volume.

The importance of this event is evident in the Divine provision that it was to be perpetually observed in Israel "in their generations." No future generation should be allowed to grow up not knowing its significance.

Verses 43-51

Verses 43-51:

Jehovah placed four certain restrictions upon the annual observance of the Passover. These included: (1) No foreigner could partake of the ordinance, unless he first became a proselyte and submit to circumcision; (2) the ordinance must be observed by family units, see verses 3-10; (3) no bone of the paschal lamb could be broken; (4) the restrictions were the same for native born Israelis as for Gentile proselytes.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Exodus 12". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/exodus-12.html. 1985.