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Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible Poole's Annotations
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Exodus 12". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ mpc/ exodus-12.html. 1685.
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Exodus 12". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
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EXODUS CHAPTER 12
The month wherein they went out of Egypt to be to them the first month of the year, Exodus 12:1,Exodus 12:2.
God enjoins them to choose a spotless lamb for the passover, Exodus 12:3.
How they were to eat the same, Exodus 12:4.
The description of the lamb, Exodus 12:5; the time of killing it, Exodus 12:6; the manner of sprinkling, Exodus 12:7; the time and method of eating it, Exodus 12:8-11.
God’s purpose to smite the first-born, Exodus 12:12.
The use of the blood upon the doors, Exodus 12:13.
Seven days of unleavened bread, and the manner of keeping it, Exodus 12:15.
Moses directeth the elders, both for their present and future safety, Exodus 12:21-24.
They instruct their children concerning it, Exodus 12:26,Exodus 12:27.
The first-born of all Egypt slain, Exodus 12:29.
A great cry, Exodus 12:30.
Pharaoh giveth Israel leave to go, Exodus 12:31.
The Egyptians thrust them out, Exodus 12:33.
Their hasty departure, Exodus 12:34.
They spoil the Egyptians, Exodus 12:35,Exodus 12:36.
Their number, Exodus 12:37.
Their baking unleavened bread, Exodus 12:39.
How long they dwelt in Egypt, Exodus 12:40.
The time of their deliverance, Exodus 12:41.
Who were to partake of the passover, Exodus 12:43-49.
The children of Israel did as the Lord commanded, Exodus 12:50.
The lord spake; had spoken, before the three days’ darkness, as may appear by comparing Exodus 12:3,Exodus 12:6 of this chapter with Exodus 11:4. And the mention of it was put off by him till this place, as well that he might not interrupt the history of all the plagues, as that he might give the whole institution of the passover together.
This month was the first month after the vernal equinox, called Abib, Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:1, and Nissan, Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7; containing part of our March, and part of April.
The beginning; Heb. the head; which, I conceive, notes not so much the order, which is more plainly mentioned in the following words, as the eminency of it, that it shall be accounted the chief and principal of all months; as the sabbath hath been called by some the queen of days. And justly must they prefer this month before the rest, whether they looked back to their prodigious deliverance from Egypt therein, or forward to their spiritual redemption by Christ, and to the acceptable year of the Lord, Luke 4:19; for in this very month our Lord Jesus suffered, John 18:28.
It shall be the first month: heretofore your first month for all affairs hath been Tisri, which in part answers to our September, and is the first month after the autumnal equinox; and so it shall be to you still as to civil affairs, as it appears from Exodus 23:16; Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 25:8-10; but as to sacred and ecclesiastical matters, this shall henceforth be your first month.
In the tenth day; partly, that they might have the lamb ready for the sacrifice, and might not be distracted about procuring it when they should be going to use it; partly, that by the frequent contemplation of the lamb, as a sign appointed by God, they might have their faith strengthened as to their approaching deliverance, and afterwards might have their minds quickened to the more serious consideration of that great deliverance out of Egypt, and of that more glorious deliverance from hell by Christ the true Passover, which should be offered for them; partly, to teach the church in all ages how necessary a thing preparation is to the solemn duties and exercises of religion; and partly, to signify that Christ should be first set apart, and separated to the ministry, which was done three or four prophetical days, i.e. years, before his death, and afterwards offered: most of which reasons being perpetual, it may seem this usage was so too, and not for the first passover only.
They shall take to them, into their houses, where the Jews tell us he was tied to the bed-post.
A lamb, or kid, Exodus 12:5, for the same word signifies both, though a lamb was commonly used, and a kid only in case of the want of a lamb; and the Chaldee and LXX. do almost constantly translate the Hebrew word lamb. And Christ is seldom or never typified by a kid, but generally by a lamb, as he is called John 1:29, partly for his innocency, meekness, patience, &c., but principally with respect to the paschal lamb, instead whereof he was in due time to be offered; whence he is called our Passover, 1 Corinthians 5:7.
A lamb was to be disposed of to every house or family, according to its quantity, or the number of persons in it, as the next verse explains it. The several families are called
the houses of their fathers, because they consist of those persons which come from one father or grandfather. The people were divided into tribes, the tribes were subdivided into families, and the families again into houses, which were like sprigs taken from the greater branches, and planted apart, and each of these had their several fathers, from whom they were denominated, as here they are.
Too little for the lamb, i.e. for the eating of the whole lamb at one meal, according to the rule, Exodus 12:8,Exodus 12:10; if the persons be so few that they cannot eat it up without gluttony.
Take it; or rather thus, word for word, And, or Then he (the master of that family) shall take also his neighbour next unto his house; he shall take him and his family into society with himself; they shall join together.
To the number of the souls, or persons, i.e. as the two families shall consist of more or fewer persons. I suppose the meaning is, that if his next neighbour’s family were of itself sufficient for the eating of the whole lamb, that he should pass over that to the next small family, which being joined with his might make up a fit number, which, as the Hebrew doctors tell us, was ten, besides women and children.
According to his eating, i.e. according to the proportion which he can or commonly doth eat. The meaning is this, The whole lamb being to be eaten at once, and a sufficient number being necessary to that end, and there being great variety in men’s stomachs and meals, they were to give allowance for that, and to take either more or fewer persons, as their stomachs were better or worse.
Without blemish; without any deformity or distemper of body. Heb. perfect. Of which see Leviticus 22:21, &c.; Deuteronomy 15:21; Deuteronomy 17:1. And this the very light of nature taught the heathens to observe in their sacrifices. This property was required both to typify Christ, a Lamb without spot or blemish, Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:19, and to instruct us that all our services to God must be as perfect as possibly may be.
A male, partly because that was better and more perfect than the female, whence a male is opposed to a corrupt thing, Malachi 1:14; and partly to typify the man Christ Jesus.
Of the first year, i.e. a year old, when it is in its rigour and perfection, and the fittest type of Christ. Most explain it thus, That it was not to be more than a year old, but it might be much less, seeing it might be offered to God any time after it was eight days old, Exodus 22:30; Leviticus 22:27. But though it was then fit to be offered to God, it was not very fit to be eaten by men. And the Hebrew phrase, the son of a year, seems to require a year’s age, as Saul is called the son of one year, 1 Samuel 13:1, when he had reigned one whole year. And it is remarkable, that he doth not say the son of this or that year, which might agree to one brought forth that year, though it was much younger than a year, but the son of a year, without any restrictive article.
Or from the goats; Heb. and from the goats: if you want a lamb, you shall take a kid of or from the goats. But the particle and is here well rendered or, as it is used Genesis 13:8; Exodus 21:17, compared with Matthew 15:4; Psalms 8:4, compared with Hebrews 2:6.
Ye shall keep it up; separate it from the rest of the flock, and keep it in a safe place; the reasons of which, Exodus 12:3.
The whole assembly; or rather, every assembly, to wit, every such society as meet together for eating of the lamb. And the assembly is said to kill it, because one person did it in their name, and by their appointment; in which manner, and upon which reason, the whole congregation is said to stone a man, Leviticus 24:14,Leviticus 24:16; Numbers 15:35; Deuteronomy 22:21. It is probable it was killed by the master of the family, who was a priest in his own family, &c.
In the evening; Heb. between the evenings, or the two evenings, i.e. between the beginning and end of the evening. The evening is one third part of the day, and one of the appointed and usual times of devotion, as appears from Psalms 55:17; Daniel 6:10; and it begun at their ninth or our third hour, as may be gathered from Acts 3:1; for then the sun began more sensibly to decline, whence that time is fitly called by the Jews the first evening, and that was the time of the evening sacrifice; the second evening was when the sun was setting or set. Between these it was to be killed. This had a respect both to the time of the world’s age when Christ came, which was its evening, or declining time, or end, Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20; and the time of the day in which Christ our Passover was killed, Matthew 27:46-50; Mark 15:25,Mark 15:33,Mark 15:34.
This was afterwards restrained to the priests, but at this time it was allowed to the masters of families, as their present circumstances required.
They shall strike it; with a bunch of hyssop, Exodus 12:22, as a badge of distinction between their houses and the Egyptians; not to direct the destroying angel where they were, who could as well discern the houses as the blood in the night, but to direct their thoughts to Christ, whose blood was hereby evidently typified, by whose merits and mediation they obtained this preservation and deliverance from Egypt, as well as their great deliverance from hell.
In that night, i.e. the night following the fourteenth, and beginning the fifteenth day. The lamb was killed upon the fourteenth day, in the evening or close thereof, but it was eaten upon the fifteenth day, to wit, in the beginning of it; whence the passover is said to be offered sometimes upon the fourteenth, and sometimes upon the fifteenth day, which may serve for the reconciliation of some seemingly contrary scriptures.
Roast with fire; partly for expedition, Exodus 12:11; and principally to be a type of the Lamb of God, Christ, and of the sharp and dreadful pains which he suffered, not only from men, but from God too, and from the fire of his sore displeasure against sinners, whose place and person Christ sustained in his sufferings.
Unleavened bread; partly, as a monument of their speedy departure out of Egypt, which gave them not time to leaven their bread, Exodus 12:34, which is the reason alleged for it, Deuteronomy 16:3; partly, to teach us how men should be qualified that come to the sacrament, they should be purged from error, and pride, and malice, and hypocrisy, which are called and compared to leaven, Matthew 16:6,Matthew 16:11; Luke 12:1; 1 Corinthians 5:8; and partly, to signify the singular purity of Christ from all kind of spiritual leaven.
And with bitter herbs; both to remind them of their hard service and bitter usage in Egypt, Exodus 1:14, from which God delivered them, Deuteronomy 16:3; and to prefigure the further crosses and troubles which they were to expect between their going out of Egypt and coming to Canaan. Or, with bitternesses, i.e. with great bitterness, or with grief of heart, that together with faith in God and in Christ, and hope and joy for their approaching deliverance, they might exercise bitter and hearty repentance for their idolatries, and other sinful practices whereof they were guilty in Egypt. And this instructs us as well as them of the absolute necessity of true and bitter repentance in all those that would profitably feed upon Christ our Passover.
Eat not of it raw, i.e. not thoroughly roasted, for such we also say is raw and so the Hebrew word נא is understood by the Jewish and other doctors. It signified that Christ should suffer, as well as save, to the uttermost, all that was done for our sins.
The purtenance; Heb. the inwards, which were to be taken and washed, and then to be roasted together with the rest. So do here except the fat, and caul, and kidneys which were reserved by God for himself, 2 Chronicles 35:12,2 Chronicles 35:4. But that exception was not made till after this time, and it seems not certain that that exception extended to the paschal lamb. These and the heads and legs are here mentioned, not to exclude other parts, but because they are not commonly roasted; but God would have the whole lamb roasted and eaten, to signify that we must have either nothing of Christ, or the whole Christ, and all his benefits, hist Spirit to sanctify and rule us, as well as his blood to save us.
That which either was not usually eaten, or was more than all of you could conveniently eat,
ye shall burn with fire; to prevent either,
1. The superstitious use of the relics of that lamb by the Israelites, who thereby had received a greater benefit than they did afterwards by the brazen serpent, which upon that account they worshipped; or,
2. The profane abuse of that which had been consecrated to God’s service. Compare Exodus 29:34.
Thus shall ye eat it, to wit, for this time, because their circumstances required it, that they being suddenly to take a great journey, might be in a traveller’s habit. But that these, and some other circumstances now enjoined and used, were only temporary, and not perpetual nor obligatory, sufficiently appears from the practice not only of the Jews in following ages, but also of Christ and of his apostles. And in like manner there are some institutions in the New Testament which did only oblige that age, and not all that follow them, as Acts 15:28,Acts 15:29.
With your loins girded, like travellers and persons undertaking some difficult service; for such used to gird up their garments, which in those parts were long and troublesome. See 2 Kings 4:29; 2 Kings 9:1; Luke 12:35.
Shoes on your feet; a badge,
1. Of their readiness for their journey, Isaiah 5:27; Acts 12:8.
2. Of their freedom; for slaves, such as the Israelites now were in Egypt, used to go barefooted.
3. Of joy, as on the contrary going barefoot was a badge of mourning, 2 Samuel 15:30. Your staff in your hand, like persons upon the point of departing, which was a very comfortable circumstance.
In haste; for so the word signifies, Deuteronomy 16:3; Isaiah 52:12. It is the Lord’s passover: this lamb, or your eating of it, is the Lord’s passover, i.e. it is a sign of God’s passing over you and your houses, when he comes to destroy the Egyptians on every side of you, Exodus 12:13,Exodus 12:23. It is a metonomy usual in sacramental speeches, as Genesis 17:10; Matthew 26:26-28.
I will execute judgment; either,
1. By exposing them to shame and contempt, as vain and impotent gods that could not save their worshippers. But that appeared before. Or,
2. By destroying those beasts which they worshipped; and it is not unlikely but those particular beasts, which were their chief idols, as Apis, Mnevis, &c., were first-born, and therefore perished in this plague. Or,
3. By over-throwing their idols, as he afterwards did Dagon. And so some Hebrew writer tells us, that this very night all their idols were broken and thrown down. And there are some footsteps hereof even in heathen authors; of whom some tell us that most of the temples of Egypt at one time fell down by an earthquake; and others affirm, that the Egyptian gods, for fear of one Typho, (by whom it is apparent they meant Moses,) did hide themselves for a season, &c.
A token, both to you, as he now said, a sign and a pledge to confirm your faith in the expectation of the promised deliverance; and to the angel, that he may know and pass over your houses, as the following words intimate. See Poole on "Exodus 12:7". This is spoken of God after the manner of men; the sense is, If I find that you keep the condition which I require, you may expect the privilege which I have promised you; otherwise not.
For a memorial, or monument, both of this deliverance from Egypt, and moreover of your redemption by Christ, of which that is a type, as even the ancient Jews understood it, who also noted that Israel was to be redeemed in the days of the Messias upon the same day on which they were delivered from Egypt, to wit, upon the fifteenth day of the month of Nisan. Upon which day our blessed Lord was crucified for the redemption of his people. You shall observe it for a solemn feast or festival time.
For ever, i.e. so long as your state and church continues, or till the coming of the Messias. This word doth not always signify eternity, but any long time, as Proverbs 29:14; Daniel 3:9, and oft elsewhere.
Seven days, besides and after the day of eating the passover, which was a distinct feast, and no part of the feast of unleavened bread,
shall ye eat unleavened bread, to remind them of their departure out of Egypt, which was so sudden that they had not leisure to leaven their dough. See Poole on "Exodus 12:8".
That soul shall be cut off, either by excommunication, or by death to be inflicted by the magistrate, and, in case of his neglect, by God himself. Nor let any one think that this was too severe a punishment for what may seem no great offence. For this was indeed a very great crime, being a manifest contempt of God, and a rebellion against God’s authority and express command, which surely deserves as severe a punishment as is inflicted upon rebels against their prince, especially considering that the Israelites were the people and subjects of God in a peculiar manner. It was also a tacit renunciation of their religion, and of the covenant of God with them, and of their interest both in that past deliverance out of Egypt, and in the future deliverance by the Messias. See Poole on "Genesis 17:14.
An holy convocation; a solemn day for the people to assemble together, and to attend upon the public worship and service of God in hearing his word, prayers, praises, and sacrifices.
And in the seventh day, because then Pharaoh and his host were drowned in the sea. As on the first day the first-born were killed; so their deliverance was begun on the first, and completed on the seventh day, and therefore those days deserved a special character of honour. And indeed that there were seven days between those two miracles, the Jews unanimously affirm, and it seems probable from the account of their journeys.
No manner of work, i.e. of servile work, Leviticus 23:7.
Save that which every man must eat: herein, as many think, these days were inferior to the sabbath, in which that was forbidden. But of this See Poole on "Exodus 16:23". See Poole on Exodus 35:3.
Your armies, so called, not from their military force or courage, but from their numbers, and the order and manner in which they came forth. See Exodus 13:18.
Until the one and twentieth day, inclusively. For otherwise they were obliged to eat unleavened bread eight days, viz. on the day of the passover, Exodus 12:8, and seven days after, which is strictly and properly called the feast of unleavened bread, because in them they were tied to that ceremony only, except the two days of a holy convocation.
A stranger, to wit, a proselyte; for strangers unconverted to the Jewish religion were not obliged nor admitted to the celebration of the passover or feast of unleavened bread. Though I see no inconvenience, if all strangers, though heathens, were forbidden to have or use any unleavened bread at that time, lest the Jews who conversed with them might be tempted to desire or partake of it with them.
In the land, to wit, of Canaan, which I have promised to you, and to which I am now leading you, which was so well known to all of them, that it was needless to express it in this place.
A bunch of hyssop; so the Hebrew word is rightly rendered, as appears from Hebrews 9:19.
The door of his house, i.e. of the house wherein he did eat the passover, which ofttimes was his neighbour’s house: see Exodus 12:4.
Until the morning; till the beginning of the morning after midnight, and after the slaughter of the Egyptians’ first-born; which may reconcile those scriptures that seem to contradict one another, while some affirm they went out of Egypt by night, and others by day, for they went out in the morning very early when it was yet dark, as it is expressed in a like case, John 20:1.
Will not suffer, Heb. not give him license or commission.
The destroyer, i.e. the destroying angel, which whether it were a good or bad angel is not agreed, nor is it necessary to determine.
This thing, viz. the substance of the thing, the passover and feast of unleavened bread, though not all the rites and ceremonies, whereof divers were peculiar to the first time.
To the land, viz. of Canaan, as Exodus 12:19. For in the wilderness they kept this feast but once, and that by God’s particular direction, Numbers 9:2.
Or, part of Divine worship. God expects this even from the Jewish children, and much more from Christian men, that they should inquire and understand what is said or done in the public worship or service of God, and therefore not to rest in dumb signs, whereof they neither inquire nor know the meaning, or in the service of God in a language which they understand not.
The passover was both a sacrifice, as it was offered to God, as it appears from Exodus 23:18; Exodus 34:25; Numbers 9:7,Numbers 9:13; Deuteronomy 16:2,Deuteronomy 16:5; and because there was in it the shedding and sprinkling of blood, wherein the essence of a sacrifice consists, 2 Chronicles 30:16; 2 Chronicles 35:11,2 Chronicles 35:13; and also a sacrament, as it was received and eaten by men. The people bowed the head, in token of their thankful acknowledgment of God’s favours, and of their cheerful submission to God’s command and ordinance. See 2 Chronicles 29:30.
They killed and did eat the paschal lamb in such manner as God prescribed.
At midnight; a great aggravation of the plague; for then darkness itself strikes men with horror, and makes any calamity more terrible; then they were. asleep and secure, and least expected such a stroke.
All the first-born, both of man and beast, whether male or female. Some extend it to all that were first-born; and so many persons might be killed in one house, as both father and mother, and several sons, which might be the first-born by several mothers, and sons’ sons or daughters, &c. Others confine it to the first-born child in the family. I conceive the heads of the family are not included, for these, though they might be the firstborn children of their parents’ families, yet were not, nor ever are called or accounted, the first-born of their own families, but the heads and roots of them: but for all the rest, I conceive they are all included, because all such were really first-born, and did first open their mother’s womb; and all such were to be set apart unto the Lord, instead of these first-born of the Egyptians now slain, Exodus 13:12,Exodus 13:15, and therefore are in both places to be understood in the same latitude.
Not a house, to wit, of those houses which had any first-born in them, for in divers families there might be no first-born. And such restrictions of the universal particles are frequently understood.
They were urgent, not by force, which they durst not now use, but by earnest and importunate entreaties, Exodus 11:8. This was the ground of that fable of the heathens mentioned in Tacitus, that the Jews were driven out of Egypt for their scabs; so they falsely and maliciously ascribed their own ulcers and scabs sent upon them by God to the Israelites.
Their kneading-troughs; or, as others rightly render it, their dough lumps, or food, or lumps of paste unleavened.
They borrowed of the Egyptians, either before this time, as they had opportunity, when their hearts were mollified by the foregoing plagues; or even at this time, when the Israelites might well take confidence to borrow, and the Egyptians would be willing to lend them, partly that they might gain their affections and prayers, and partly that they might more readily depart from them.
Jewels, wherewith they used to adorn themselves in the worship of their idols, and therefore supposed the Israelites might use them in the worship of their God. Or, vessels; of which see on Exodus 11:2.
The Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, i.e. inclined their hearts to do it willingly, and not only out of fear.
So that they lent unto him; Heb. and they lent them, to wit, the jewels or vessels mentioned Exodus 12:35.
They spoiled the Egyptians, to wit, of their ornaments.
Quest. Was not this unjustly done of the Israelites to borrow these jewels which they never paid again?
1. Because they did nothing in this matter but by God’s appointment, Exodus 11:1,Exodus 11:2; so that if there be any injustice, it must be in God, in whom there neither can be in any thing, nor is in this thing, the least blot or shadow of injustice, as well because he hath an unquestionable right in and power to dispose of all persons and things, as being the Maker, and Giver, and Lord of all; as because there was great and evident reason both why the Israelites should be recompensed for all their hard labours and sufferings, and why the Egyptians should be spoiled for their idolatry, luxury, and cruelty to the Israelites, and the great benefits which they had received from Joseph, and from the service of the Israelites.
2. Because the supreme Lord of all forbad them to restore what they borrowed, and gave them the entire right and sole propriety therein.
3. Because though there was a form and appearance of borrowing and lending, yet indeed the Israelites did not so much borrow as desire, as the Hebrew word rendered borrow Exodus 12:35 signifies; and the Egyptians did not reckon these thing; as lent, and to be restored, but as given, and never to be expected again; even as Pharaoh and his people rightly judged, that if the Israelites were once permitted to go out of the land with their whole families and estates, they would never return again, Exodus 14:5. And in truth the Egyptians did and might esteem it a good bargain to give these things to redeem their lives, and to engage the Israelites to a speedy departure, knowing that otherwise both their persons and all their estates were in extreme hazard.
4. Because, if these jewels were properly borrowed, yet the Egyptians, by their causeless and hostile pursuit after the Israelites with intent to destroy them, did fully discharge them from all obligations to restitution, and give them a right not only to keep these goods, but to take ally other which they could from the Egyptians, according to the known and approved laws of war.
Succoth; a place so called, either because there the Israelites first lodged in booths or tents, whereas before they dwelt in houses; or because there God first spread his cloud of fire over them for a covering. Psalms 105:39.
Six hundred thousand, to wit, grown and strong men, and fit for war, among whom there was none feeble or sick, Psalms 105:37. Thus the heathen writer Chaeremon, mentioned by Josephus, speaking of this matter, reckons up first two hundred and fifty thousand, and then three hundred and eighty thousand more.
That were men: the Hebrew word properly signifies strong and able men, fit to go on foot in battle-array; so decrepit or weak old men are not comprehended in this number.
Beside children, and women, whose presence and assistance is necessary to them. See Exodus 10:24. Some say the Hebrew word taph signifies their households or families, which consist principally of women and children.
A mixed multitude, consisting of Egyptians or other people, who went with them, either because they were their servants, or that by this means they might free themselves from the servitude which they endured under hard masters in Egypt; or because the glorious works which they had seen, had raised their esteem of God and of his people, and made them expect a share in the great felicities which they presumed would be conferred upon a people so highly honoured and beloved of such an almighty and all-sufficient God. And because their hearts were not sincere, nor their ends right, they soon repented of their choice, Numbers 11:4. Compare Zechariah 8:23.
It was not leavened; both because leaven was forbidden to them at that time, and because the great haste required gave them not time for leavening it.
They were thrust out of Egypt; not by force, but by importunate requests, as was observed on Exodus 12:33. Thus men are said to be driven to worship the sun, moon, &c., when they are persuaded to it, Deuteronomy 4:19.
It is plain that those years are to be computed from the first promise made to Abraham, Genesis 12:1,Genesis 12:2, to the giving of the law, from Galatians 3:17, where this is affirmed. And although it doth not plainly appear when that promise was made, because the Scripture mentions not Abraham’s age, neither when it was made, nor when Abraham came to Haran with his father, Genesis 11:31, but only when he went out of Haran, being seventy-five years old, Genesis 12:4; yet a good while after it was made, and, as it may seem more than probable, thirty years afterward, it is manifest there were only four hundred years of this time to come, Genesis 15:13. And many more years passed ere there was such a man as Israel or Jacob, and more ere there were any children of Israel, or of Jacob, and yet more ere they came into Egypt. How then can this be true which is here said?
Answ. 1. Some affirm that they were in Egypt four hundred and thirty years, which is sooner said than proved.
2. Some ancient Hebrew copies are said to have had more words than ours now have; for the LXX. and Samaritan interpreters after the words in Egypt, read, and in the land of Canaan. And some other copies after the word who, add, together with their fathers, or, and their fathers. And so rite difficulty vanisheth. And if it should be granted that there were some few such errors in our present copies in matters irately historical or chronological, which God might permit to be there for many wise and holy reasons, yet this is no prejudice to our faith, or to God’s providence, which hath been pleased to have so special a care of those texts which concern the essentials of faith and a good life, that all copies are agreed in them.
3. These four hundred and thirty years are not by the text confined to Egypt, but may be extended to any place where they were sojourners; and the Hebrew word asher is not to be rendered which, as relating to the time of their sojourning, but who, as belonging to the persons sojourning, as our translation well renders it; and the sense is, that they were sojourners, or, which is all one, strangers, or dwellers in a land that was not theirs, as it is said Genesis 15:13, for four hundred and thirty years. And the emphasis lies in the Hebrew word moshab, which is here fitly rendered sojourning; as toshab, coming from the same root, is commonly used for a sojourner, or one that lives in a place or land which is not his, as Leviticus 22:10; Leviticus 25:35,Leviticus 25:40; Numbers 35:15; Psalms 39:12. There is now but one difficulty remains, How the children of Israel can be said to be sojourners so long, seeing much of this time passed before they were born?
Answ. As Levi is said to pay tithes in Abraham, Hebrews 7:9, because he was in the loins of Abraham when Abraham paid tithes; with much more reason might the children of Israel be said to sojourn so long, because they sojourned a great part of it in their own persons, and the rest in the loins of their parents. And as ofttimes when the parents only are men- tioned, the children are included or intended, as Genesis 12:3, in thee, i.e. in thy seed; and Genesis 13:17, I will give it (the land) unto thee, i.e. to thy seed; and Jacob is said to be brought up again out of Egypt, Genesis 46:4, to wit, in his posterity; and David is oft put for his posterity, as 1 Kings 12:16; Ezekiel 34:23; Ezekiel 37:24,Ezekiel 37:25; why may not parents also be understood sometimes when the children only are mentioned? But we need not make suppositions, seeing we have examples; the persecution in Egypt, and deliverance out of it, which happened to the parents only, being attributed to their posterity, who neither felt the one, nor saw the other, Deuteronomy 26:5, &c. Compare Psalms 16:6; Judges 10:11,Judges 10:12. And the souls of the house of Jacob, (i.e. of the children of Israel, for by house it is evident he means only children,) which came with Jacob into Egypt, are said to be threescore and ten souls, Genesis 46:26,Genesis 46:27. In which number and title Jacob himself is confessedly included. And therefore upon the very same ground, under this title of the children of Israel, we must understand Israel himself, who being the chief author and subject of this sojourning in Egypt, it were unreasonable to exclude him from the number of those sojourners. And this phrase being once extended to their immediate parent, may by a parity of reason be extended to their great grandfather Abraham, as being the first author of that famous peregrination or sojourning, which being begun in Canaan, ended in Egypt. Add to this, that the word Israel, as it is put for the people or children of Israel, is elsewhere used for the whole church of God, as Romans 9:6, and therefore may well include Abraham as the father, and, under God, the founder of it. And the title of
the children of Israel might well be given to all that people, and to the family from which they descended, because they were now known by that name. And that this indeed was Moses’s meaning, which is here produced, may be further gathered from hence, that otherwise Moses had contradicted himself; for by the years of the lives of Jacob, and Levi, and Kohath, and Amram, and Moses himself, which he precisely sets down, it appears that the sojourning of the children of Israel, strictly so called, in Egypt, was not above two hundred and fifteen years. And it is absurd to think that so wise and learned a man, as all acknowledge Moses to have been, should commit so gross an error, especially seeing that generation could easily have confuted him.
If this be the right translation, the four hundred and thirty years mentioned Galatians 3:17 are to be taken in a latitude, for about or near so many years, as is very frequent in Scripture and other authors; else there wants one year of it, because the law was not given till about a year after their coming out of Egypt. Nor was it of any concernment to the apostle’s argument there, whether it wanted a year of that number or no, as here it is. But the words may be rendered here, as Genesis 7:12, in the body or strength of the day, i.e. when the day-light was full, and clear, and strong, when it was broad day-light, the Egyptians seeing and not being able to hinder them. If it be said they went out by night, Deuteronomy 16:1, that is true, in regard of their resolution, and preparation, and the beginning of their journey; but their actual marching forth was by day-light, or in the morning; nor could it be done sooner from the nature of the thing, and the time necessarily required for so great a work.
The selfsame day: this circumstance is noted to set forth the accurateness and infallibility of God’s foreknowledge, and the efficacy of his providence in accomplishing all his own counsels in his own appointed time.
This which here followeth is the law or appointment of God concerning the celebration of the passover.
No stranger, or, foreigner, who is so both by nation and religion; for if he were circumcised, he might eat of it, Exodus 12:44,Exodus 12:48.
When thou hast circumcised him; for the master had a power to circumcise such persons, Genesis 17:12. And though it is probable, that by their interest in them, and a diligent instruction of them, they made them willing to receive circumcision, yet it seems they had a power to compel them to it; but then circumcision was not to them a seal of God’s covenant, nor of their religion, for that must be matter of choice, but only a civil badge, or a note of that family or people into which they were politically incorporated.
Except he submit to circumcision, as Exodus 12:43. See Numbers 9:14.
Partly, because they were all obliged not to go out of the house till the morning, Exodus 12:22, and to leave none of it till that time, Exodus 12:10; partly, lest it should be either superstitiously or profanely abused; and partly, to signify that Christ and salvation are not to be had out of God’s house or church.
To take out and eat the marrow of it. This was required, partly to mind them of their hasty departure out of Egypt, wherein they had no leisure to break and empty the bones; and principally, that it might be an evident type of the Lord Jesus, in whom this was literally fulfilled, John 19:36. The bones were burnt with the other remainders of the lamb.