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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 12

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-10

The Ordinances Concerning the Passover

v. 1. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,

v. 2. This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. This was the first and fundamental law for the congregation of Jehovah. Up to that time the children of Israel had reckoned their year in a different manner, even as they begin their civil year in the fall to this day. By God's order their church-year was to begin with the month of which He was then speaking, and all their church festivals were reckoned according to this new division of time.

v. 3. 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 (or kid), according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house. From this time the children of Israel were considered the congregation of Jehovah. Every housefather was to take, to separate from the flock, a lamb or a kid. The practise was afterward narrowed to include lambs only.

v. 4. And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor 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. If the number of members in anyone household, including the children and the servants, was so small as to make their disposing of an entire lamb improbable, then two small families having about the same number of souls might unite. Custom afterwards fixed the number of participants at the meal at about ten to twelve, but the fundamental unit was the family.

v. 5. Your lamb shall be without blemish, sound in body and limb, a male of the first year, literally, a son of a year, one born the previous year; ye shall take it from the sheep or from the goats; the choice at that time was immaterial.

v. 6. And ye shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, separated from the rest of the flock, in order to keep it from contamination and infection; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel, all the housefathers as household priests and representatives of the children of Israel, shall kill it in the evening, literally, "between the two evenings," at twilight. Custom later fixed the time at between three in the afternoon and sundown.

v. 7. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side-posts and on the upper doorpost of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. The blood of the animal was drawn, kept from coagulating by constant stirring, and then applied to the door-posts by sprinkling or painting.

v. 8. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Those were the three dishes expressly commanded by God, the bitter herbs being a salad of wild lettuce, endive, and other vegetables with which the roast meat apparently was garnished.

v. 9. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs and with the purtenance thereof, whole, not cut in pieces, no bone broken, and the entrails in place, although, of course, cleaned. The animal, as a whole, represented the unity of Israel.

v. 10. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. Down to the very last morsel the meat should, if possible, be eaten, that which remained in spite of all the efforts of the assembled household being consigned to the fire. The instructions were purposely exact and detailed, in order that there might be no misunderstanding.

Verses 11-20

The Precept Pertaining to Unleavened Bread

v. 11. And thus shall ye eat it: with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, literally, "shod on your feet," and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste, in hasty flight, as such that were about to flee, in readiness for speedy flight. It is the Lord's Passover. These instructions concerned the celebration in Egypt and were afterward dropped as unessential. Only the name for the festival, the Passover of the Lord, was not changed, a perpetual reminder of the miracle which the Lord performed in delivering His people.

v. 12. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this 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 judgment. I am the Lord. As the avenging, almighty Judge the Lord intended to traverse the entire land of Egypt, to strike down all the first-born, to punish the princes with the common people, and thus to expose all the Egyptian idols as helpless delusions.

v. 13. And 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. Thus the Lord Himself explained the meaning of the Passover. Wherever there was a sign of blood, as He had commanded, there He would pass by, or over, and the blow would not strike the inmates of a house thus designated to work destruction in their midst. The slaughter would come upon the land of the Egyptians only.

v. 14. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, the evening of the fourteenth day of Abib; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations, a festival of commemoration from one generation to the next; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever. It was to be celebrated as the festival of Israel's redemption and of its being set aside as the people of God's covenant.

v. 15. 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. This is the solemn ordinance relating to the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was thus from the beginning connected with the Festival of Passover. The exact period of the seven days is later fixed by many further ordinances.

v. 16. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, a solemn festival assembly, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you, another service of worship; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. That was the only labor which was permitted, that connected with the preparation of foods, according to the necessities of the day, the ordinance thus being less strict than that concerning the Sabbath. Cf Leviticus 23:7.

v. 17. And 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 forever. While the Passover commemorated the dreadful night of judgment and deliverance, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so closely connected with it, reminded the children of Israel of the Exodus itself, of the chief circumstances connected with the departure of their armies out of Egypt.

v. 18. 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.

v. 19. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses; that was the order which was to apply for the future, when they would have reached the Land of Promise ; for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, in any solid food, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger or born in the land. The naturalized, that is, the circumcised foreigner was obliged to submit to the ordinance in just the same manner as the native Israelite.

v. 20. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread. The ordinance was certainly not lacking in clearness and emphasis, for it was the intention of the Lord to symbolize the entire consecration of His people, as based upon their redemption.

Verses 21-28

The People Accept the Ordinances

v. 21. Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said unto them, as the representatives of the children of Israel who transmitted the will of God to them, Draw out, select, take out from the flock, and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the Passover; for the name of the festival was applied to the lamb or kid as the chief sacrifice.

v. 22. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, a plant to which cleansing properties were ascribed, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, which was caught when the animal was slaughtered, and strike the lintel and the two side-posts with the blood that is in the basin, thus applying the blood as a paint. And none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning, as a measure of safety, for they were protected only inside the house, behind the blood of sacrifice.

v. 23. 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. With the blood on their door, destruction would not strike them, not because the blood in itself had such extraordinary powers, but because it was the type of the perfect, holy blood of propitiation, that of Christ.

v. 24. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons forever. This precept concerning the Passover in its essential features was to be a fixed rule in their midst in their new home, an observance to be transmitted from generation to generation.

v. 25. 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.

v. 26. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?

v. 27. 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. Note that religious observances should not be performed in a mechanical manner, but with a proper understanding of their origin and their meaning. And the people bowed the head and worshiped. They accepted the words of the Lord in grateful adoration.

v. 28. And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. This section is of more than usual interest to us Christians, because the Passover Iamb is a type of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Christ was a true man, born of the Virgin Mary. But He was, at the same time, holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. He is the Lamb which was sacrificed for the deliverance of all mankind. The blood of Jesus Christ protects us against wrath, against death and destruction; it reconciles us with God, it makes us members of His Church. This Lamb we should eat, we should receive Christ into our hearts as our Redeemer, therefore also purge out the old leaven, and be His own in sincerity and truth. Thus we obtain strength for our pathway through the wilderness of this world to the true Canaan above.

Verses 29-36

The Slaughter of the First-Born and the Exodus.

v. 29. And 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 first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon, and all the first-born of cattle. It was a supernatural visitation, a divine punishment which was here meted out, in spite of all the attempts to explain the facts in a natural way. The very fact that the firstborn only was stricken in every case, from the highest to the lowest, shows that it could not have been a mere accident of the Egyptian pest, nor would it have struck both man and beast all in the same night.

v. 30. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, there was lamenting from one end of the country to the other; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. God's punishment spared none.

v. 31. And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, the matter would not even wait for the coming of the morning, 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. It was now not a mere permission, but a royal mandate, which showed signs of extreme excitement. The children of Israel were to have free hand to act as they thought best, to worship the Lord as they had indicated.

v. 32. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. All the former conditions were forgotten, and his terror reduced Pharaoh to the state where he begged to be left the blessing of Jehovah as a guarantee against further plagues.

v. 33. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste, they almost resorted to violence in hurrying the departure of the children of Israel ; for they said, We be all dead men. That is often the effect when God visits His enemies with such a terrible destruction, that even the survivors are filled with a dread and panic which sees nothing but death on all sides.

v. 34. And the people (the children of Israel ) took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. "They had already put enough unleavened dough for seven days into the baking pans, and carried these on their shoulders, wrapped up in their outer garments, or rather in wrapping-cloths, such as might be used for mantles or wallets. " (Lange. )

v. 35. And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver and jewels of gold, costly vessels and jewelry, and raiment;

v. 36. and the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. The children of Israel simply demanded, and the Egyptians readily gave what was asked, glad, apparently, that they could give, if only it would mean the removal of the strangers out of their midst. And they spoiled the Egyptians, they took along all these treasures as rich plunder and as a well earned compensation, as a blessing of God.

Verses 37-39

The Journey to Succoth

v. 37. And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses, the neighborhood of the city or the district where they had been living in Egypt, to Succoth, on the edge of the wilderness toward the east, where the Suez Canal now passes through, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children, the Hebrew word including all of those that did not travel on foot, but on beasts of burden or in wagons. The entire number of the people may well have exceeded two million souls.

v. 38. And a mixed multitude went up also with them, a company of people that were not Israelites, a mixture of various peoples, chiefly adventurers of a low type, Numbers 11:4, a medley, a great rabble; and flocks and herds, even very much cattle.

v. 39. And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; these unleavened cakes were the only provision they had, for their deliverance came upon them much more quickly than they had looked for; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual. Thus they celebrated, for the first time, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And so the name of the Lord was magnified by this great deliverance, which remained a source of inspiration to the Hebrew poets for many hundreds of years, even as we Christians sing the praises of the eternal redemption which was gained for us by Christ.

Verses 40-51

Further Precepts Concerning the Passover

v. 40. Now the sojourning of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years, four long or ten short generations as they were then reckoned.

v. 41. And 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, the great armies that were to wage His wars, went out from the land of Egypt. The departure of them all took place on the same day, on the fifteenth of Abib, the day after the Passover Festival.

v. 42. It 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, year after year, of all the children of Israel in their generations.

v. 43. And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the Passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof. The statute of the Lord confined participation strictly to the members of the children of Israel.

v. 44. But every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, whereby he became a member of the Jewish nation and church, then shall he eat thereof.

v. 45. A foreigner, a non-Israelite merely living in the country, and an hired servant, one merely engaged for a while, shall not eat thereof.

v. 46. 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. The idea of the communion and of the union was to be maintained, and the fact that no bone was broken pointed forward to Christ, John 19:36.

v. 47. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it, shall do and observe what God had here instituted.

v. 48. And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised and thus be received into the Jewish Church, 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; the privilege was limited to such as had accepted the Jewish doctrines, that believed in the God of the Jews.

v. 49. One law shall be to him that is home-born, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.

v. 50. Thus did all the children of Israel; as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they; that became the custom among them in after-years, Numbers 9:5; Joshua 5:10.

v. 51. And it came to pass the selfsame day, this fifteenth day of Abib, that the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies. Herewith ends the story of the Exodus proper, and the story of the events following is next taken up. The people were now separated unto the Lord, to be unto Him a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This is true also of the New Testament Church until the end of time, as Peter shows, 1 Peter 2:9.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Exodus 12". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/exodus-12.html. 1921-23.
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