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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Exodus 12



Verse 1

And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,

The Lord spake - rather, had spoken unto Moses and Aaron; for it is evident that the communication here described must have been made to them some time previous to the tenth of the month. Moses, writing the history of the events which preceded and accompanied the Exodus, seems to have inserted this parenthetical section, with all its minute details, because the express purpose of letting future generations of Israel know that the national institution of the Passover was not the legislative device of a subsequent period, but was enacted, with all its specialties, by divine authority before, and with reference to, the great catastrophe which led to the emancipation of the Hebrews.

Verse 2

This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

This month shall be unto you the beginning of months , [ ro'sh (Hebrew #7218)] - head, or chief; the first, not only in order, but in estimation. It had been formerly the seventh, according to the reckoning of the civil year, which began in September, and continued unchanged; but it was thenceforth to stand first in the ecclesiastical year of the Israelites, which began in March, April. The establishment of this new calendar was worthy of the wisdom and goodness of God, as it was calculated to inspire sentiments of thankfulness to Him by the presentation of first-fruits, and consequently to withdraw the minds of the people from the worship of the Egyptian deities, to which-especially the great luminaries-many of the Israelites had shown themselves exceedingly prone.

Verse 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, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:

Speak ye unto all the congregation. The Israelites in Egypt were an organized people, under leaders of their own race. [The whole body was divided into tribes; these into mishpaachowt (Hebrew #4940), properly part of a tribe (Deuteronomy 29:17; Judges 18:9; Judges 21:24), but frequently in the restricted sense of families; which again were subdivided into smaller sections, called beeyt (Hebrew #1004) 'aabowt (Hebrew #1), fathers' houses.] (See Gesenius for the Hebrew constructions.) This last phrase does not designate a household presided over by an individual father-for in that case the word [ 'aab (Hebrew #1)] father would have been in the singular (cf. Genesis 24:23; Genesis 31:30) - but it means ancestral houses (Numbers 1:2). Kurtz holds a different opinion, considering Beth-aboth the same as tribes. But a distinct term is used for tribes (Joshua 7:14). These divisions, which may be illustrated by a corresponding classification in Roman antiquities-namely, tribus, gens, familia, had each of them among the Israelites their own [ raa'shiym (Hebrew #7218)], chiefs, or heads (Exodus 6:14; Numbers 1:4). To these, as representatives of the people, the communications Moses was instructed to make were addressed in the first instance. The recent events had prepared the Israelite people for a crisis in their affairs, and, impressed with a profound belief in his divine commission, as attested by the extraordinary powers he possessed, they seem to have yielded implicit obedience at this time to Moses. It is observable that, amid all the hurry and bustle of such a departure, their serious attention was to be given to a solemn act of religion.

A lamb for an house. It appears from Exodus 12:5 that a kid might, in emergencies, be taken, though, as a general rule, a lamb was the species preferred. The service was to be a domestic one, because the deliverance was to be from an evil threatened to every house in Egypt, and every Israelite was to participate individually in the blessings of deliverance.

Verse 4

And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour 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 household be too little ... Since it was imperative that none of the paschal lamb should be left (Exodus 12:10), care was to be taken, by associating neighbouring families, that the party should be sufficiently large to ensure the entire consumption. Josephus states that, in later times, the normal rule required at least ten persons to constitute a proper paschal communion. But it is obvious, from the deflation given above of 'father's house, that it might comprise thirty or forty persons, for children of all ages were admissible as guests.

Moreover, while the lambs in Egypt were (and are) large, it must be borne in mind that "a male of the first year" would be an ample allowance on such an occasion, which was not a feast, but a religious solemnity, a very small portion-traditionally said to be about the size of an olive-being eaten by each individual.

Verse 5

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:

Your lamb shall be without blemish. The smallest deformity or defect made a lamb unfit for sacrifice. Physical perfection was required in all sacrifices, but especially in the paschal lamb, which was a type of Christ.

Verse 6

And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

Ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month. From Exodus 12:3 it appears that the selection of the lamb was to be made on the tenth day of the first month; so that it was to be kept four days as a destined victim. Kurtz ('History of the Old Covenant,' vol. 2:, p. 300), quoting Hofmann, assigns as a reason for this special arrangement, that 'the lamb had to be selected as many days before it was slain as there had been [ dowrowt (Hebrew #1755)] generations since Israel was brought to Egypt to grow into a nation. If the selection took place on the 10th, at about the same time of the day as that on which it was slain on the 14th, the interval would be, according to every mode of reckoning, four days. But if the time at which it was slain is to be regarded as denoting the beginning of the 15th, it might undoubtedly be said that it was killed on the fifth day after the selection was made; and, in fact, on any other supposition the harmony between the symbol and the thing signified would not be complete; because at the time of the exodus Israel had actually entered upon the fifth [ dowr (Hebrew #1755)] century of its sojourn in Egypt.' This explanation, though extremely ingenious and plausible, is rejected by many, both on philological and historical grounds (see the note at Exodus 12:40).

And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it. [ qaahaal (Hebrew #6951) signifies an assembly of the people. But as the paschal rite was to be solemnized in private houses, there was no necessity for a general convocation, and accordingly the word is to be taken here in a wide sense, as denoting a multitude, (cf. Jeremiah 31:8; Ezekiel 16:40, etc.)] Jewish commentators unanimously consider this as meaning that throughout the whole body of Israel victims would be slain in numbers sufficient to admit the participation of every individual.

In the evening , [ beeyn (Hebrew #996) haa`arbaayim (Hebrew #6153)] - between the evenings. [The Septuagint, pros hesperan (cf. Hebrew and Septuagint, ,41; Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:3; Numbers 9:5; Numbers 9:11; Deuteronomy 16:6; Joshua 5:10.)] In the early period of their history the Hebrews had no proper divisions of time, and accordingly periods of the day were indicated in a very loose and general manner, (Genesis 15:12; Genesis 43:16, etc.) 'Between the evenings' is a phrase of similar import, denoting the part of the day between the declining and the setting sun, or between noon and sunset. Since the slaughtering of the numerous victims required would of necessity occupy a considerable time, no particular hour was specified, further than that the operation should be performed 'between the evening.' But in order to be within the limits defined, it was necessary that it should be begun and completed between the commencement of the first and the termination of the second evening.

On the republication of the law the time was definitely fixed at sunset (Deuteronomy 16:6). But the Israelites did not consider themselves bound by that expression to wait until sunset; and hence, availing themselves of the latitude which the use of the general term, 'ereb (evening) afforded, they were accustomed to kill the paschal lamb an hour or two before that period (Lightfoot, 'Opp.,' vol. 1:, p. 128; 'Hor. Heb. in Marc,' 14:, 12). In later times a controversy arose in reference to the time thus marked. The Samaritans and Karaites considered it as the interval between sunset and darkness (Aben Ezra, hoc loco. 'Reland de Samar,' sec. 22, in 'Diss. Miscell.,'

t. 11; 'Trigland de Karaeis,' ). But the Pharisees and Rabbinists (Mishna, 'Pesach,' 5:, 3), who maintained that the first evening began after noon [deilee prooia, first evening], and the second with the sunset [deilee opsia], taught that the paschal lamb was to be killed in the interval between the ninth and eleventh hour, which, at the time of the equinox, corresponded to 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. (Calmet's 'Dictionary.') Josephus states ('Jewish War,' b. 6:, ch. 9:, sec. 3), that such was the practice of the Jews in the time of our Lord.

Verse 7

And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

They shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts ... This was intended to give a pledge of safety to the inmates of every house on which this sign of blood was visible. The posts must be considered of tents, in which the Israelites generally lived, though some were also in houses. [ beeyt (Hebrew #1004) is sometimes used in the sense of a moveable dwelling or tent (cf. Gen. ; 33:17 ).] It may be objected to the adoption of this meaning of the word here that the Israelites are described (Exodus 12:6) as in their ordinary dwellings during the Passover, and commingled to a certain extent with the Egyptians. But if we suppose that the large section of them to which Moses addressed himself were engaged in completing the fortified city of Rameses, the supposition that multitudes of them were in tents, while it is supported by the occasional use of the word, is more likely to be correct, than that 'the posts' refer to the special structure of their houses at the entrance.

Though the Israelites were sinners as well as the Egyptians, God was pleased to accept the substitution of a lamb-the blood of which being seen sprinkled on the entrance posts, procured them mercy. It was to be inscribed on the side posts and upper door posts, where it might be looked to-not on the threshold, where it might be trodden under foot, This was an emblem of the blood of sprinkling (Hebrews 12:24; Hebrews 12:29).

Verse 8

And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

They shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire. The reason of this was for the sake of expedition; and in memory of the first circumstances of the institution, this difference was always observed between the cooking of the paschal lamb and the other offerings (2 Chronicles 35:13).

Unleavened bread , [ matsowt (Hebrew #4682), plural, unfermented cakes; Septuagint, azuma.] They were thin, smooth, round biscuits-also for the sake of despatch (Deuteronomy 16:3); but, since leaven is an emblem of corruption (Luke 12:1), there seems to have been a typical meaning under it (1 Corinthians 5:8). At this first institution leaven was prohibited only for one day; but as the haste in which they left Egypt, carrying their unfermented dough along with them, necessitated their eating unleavened bread, probably until they had crossed the Red Sea, which, according to Jewish tradition, was on the seventh day after the Passover, hence, the commemorative feast was continued for seven days.

With bitter herbs , [ `al (Hebrew #5921) m

Verse 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.

Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water. The prohibition to eat it raw was a caveat against the idolatrous practices of the pagan, who ate their sacrifices with the blood remaining. Boiling, as tending to dissolve and disintegrate the meat, was strictly prohibited; and this was an additional reason for its being "roast with fire," which admitted of its being kept whole. Preservation of the victim, as an undivided whole, was designed to give prominence to the idea of unity-symbilizing the fellowship of those who partook of it, as united in communion with God and with each other (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:17). This was further verified in Christ, of whom "not a bone was broken."

Verse 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.

Ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning , [ `ad (Hebrew #5704) boqer (Hebrew #1242)] - until the dawn, day-break. The specified time, then, during which the passover was to be eaten was between sunset and day-break, comprising the four watches enumerated by our Lord (Mark 13:35) [ opse (Greek #3796), even, twilight; mesonuktion (Greek #3317), midnight; alektrofoonia, cock-crowing; and prooi (Greek #4404), morning, sunrise]. Not the smallest portion of the lamb was to be left, might be applied in a superstitious manner, or allowed to putrefy, which, in a hot climate, would speedily have ensued; and which was not becoming in what was offered to God.

Verse 11

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 the LORD's passover.

Thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded ... This description applies to people prepared for a journey. The girding of the loins was done by the skirts of the loose outer cloth being drawn up and fastened in the girdle, so as to leave the leg and knee free for motion. As to the shoes on their feet, the Orientals never wear shoes indoors; and the ancient Egyptians, as appears from the monuments, did not usually wear either shoes or sandals. The staff in hand was invariably carried by pedestrian travelers (Exodus 21:19; Genesis 32:10; Genesis 38:18; Numbers 13:23; Numbers 22:27; 1 Samuel 17:40; Mark 6:8). These injunctions seem to have applied chiefly to the first celebration of the rite. The modern Samaritans go up to Mount Gerizim, and keep the Passover still, with these ceremonies.

It is the Lord's Passover , [ pecach (Hebrew #6453), a passing over; Septuagint, pascha (Greek #3957)] - called by this name owing to the immunity of the Israelites from the figurative sword of the destroying angel.

Verse 12

For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.

I will pass through the land of Egypt this night , [ balay

Verse 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.

When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This strong anthropomorphic expression (cf. Genesis 9:16), which, of course, is not to be literally understood, as if the Divine Being possessed visual organs, or needed actually to behold an object, conveys an idea that the sign was an essential means of deliverance and security to the Israelites. It was not intended merely for the confirmation of their faith, but implied that the blood was symbolical of the atonement which the sacrifice of the paschal lamb had made, and from regard to whose typical efficacy they should be exempted from the judgment that was impending upon the Egyptians.

Verse 14

And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

This day shall be unto you for a memorial. 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 to commemorate had transpired. "This day" (see the note on "this night," Exodus 12:12), a "memorial," a season of national remembrance for their temporal deliverance from Egypt, and also for that greater redemption of which it was a type; because even Jewish writers came to understand and expect that Israel was to be redeemed, in the reign of Messiah, on the same day on which they were delivered from Egypt-namely, the fifteenth day of the month. On that day our Lord was crucified.

Ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever - i:e., observe it as a sacred festival. The phrase "an ordinance for ever" occurs repeatedly in the enactments of the Mosaic ritual (cf.; 28:43; 30:31: cf. Genesis 13:15; Genesis 17:13), and of course is to interpreted in a restricted sense (cf. Proverbs 29:14; Daniel 3:9), as meaning only that the observance was to be of permanent obligation so long as the Jewish polity should exist.

Verse 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.

Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread. For the probable reason of the extension of the feast over a week, see the note on "unleavened bread," Exodus 12:8. The Passover being a distinct feast, these seven days were to be reckoned from its celebration.

Even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses , [ 'ak (Hebrew #389) bayowm (Hebrew #3117) haari'shown (Hebrew #7223)] - wholly the first day; i:e., the very first day, on no other but the first day (Gesenius).

For whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day ... This was to commemorate another circumstance in the departure of the Israelites, who were urged to leave so hurriedly that their dough was unleavened (Exodus 12:39), and they had to eat unleavened cakes (Deuteronomy 16:3). The greatest care was always taken by the Jews to free their houses from leaven-the owner searching every corner of his dwelling with a lighted candle. A figurative allusion to this is made, 1 Corinthians 5:7. The exclusion of leaven for seven days would not be attended with inconvenience in the East, where the usual leaven is dough, kept until it becomes sour, and it is kept from one day to another for the purpose of preserving leaven in readiness. Thus, even were there none in all the country, it could be obtained within 24 hours (Harmer).

Cut off - excommunicated from the community and privileges of the chosen people.

Verse 16

And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.

Holy convocation - literally, calling of the people, which was done by sound of trumpet (Numbers 10:2), a sacred assembly-for these days were to be regarded as Sabbaths-excepting only that meat might be cooked on them (Exodus 16:23).

Verse 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 for ever.

Ye shall observe ... The seven days of this feast were to commence the day after the Passover. It was a distinct festival following that feast; but although this feast was instituted, like the Passover, before the departure, the observance of it did not take place until after.

For in this self-same day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt , [Septuagint, exaxoo teen dunamin humoon] - will I lead out your hosts.

Verse 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.

In the first month. It is worthy of notice, that in prescribing the formalities which in future times were to mark all feasts and offering, Moses indicates the reason for the observance, by naming the months by their numeral order (cf. Leviticus 23:5-6; Numbers 9:1; Numbers 28:16-17). Even respecting the first command to keep the Passover, this style is adopted (Corbaux on the 'Historical Origin of the Passover').

Verse 19

Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.

That soul shall be cut off - i:e., that person shall be excommunicated, or excluded from the privileges of Israel.

Stranger. No foreigner could partake of the Passover, unless circumcised. The "stranger" specified as admissible to the privilege must, therefore, be considered a Gentile proselyte [ geer (Hebrew #1616) is different from the word used in Exodus 12:45]. He was what divines describe as 'Judaeus factus, non natus,' (Buxtorf, Lex., Mede,' vol. 1:, 'Disc.' 3; Beausobre's 'In- trod.')

Or born in the land - i:e., an Hebrew whose birth occurred in Egypt.

Verse 20

Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verses 21-25

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.

Then Moses called ... Here are given special directions for the observance. The objection recently urged against the possibility of these instructions being conveyed to the whole multitude of Israel in the course of 12 hours is altogether groundless. These directions were not issued so late as the 14th day, because the lamb was to be selected on the 10th day. The directions were given earlier even than that day, so that there must have been plenty of time for the elders to communicate the commands received to their respective tribes.

Verse 22. Hyssop - a small red moss (Hasselquist); the caper plant (Royle). It was used in the sprinkling, being well adapted for such purposes, as it grows in bushes, putting out plenty of tendrils from a single root. And it is remarkable that it was ordained in the arrangements of an all-wise Providence that the Roman soldiers should, undesignedly on their part, make use of this symbolical plant to Christ, when, as our Passover, he was sacrificed for us.

None ... shall go out ... This regulation was peculiar to the first celebration, and intended, as some think, to prevent any suspicion attaching to Hebrews of being agents in the impending destruction of the Egyptians; there is an allusion to it, Isaiah 26:20.

Verse 25. When ye be come to the land ... ye shall keep this service. The ordinance of the Passover was instituted from the beginning with a prospective reference to its annual observance in the promised land.

Verse 26

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

When your children shall say. Independently of some observances which were not afterward repeated, the usages practiced at this yearly commemorative feast were so special that the curiosity of the young would be stimulated, and thus parents have an excellent opportunity, which they were enjoined to embrace, for instructing each rising generation in the origin and leading facts of the national faith.

Verse 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. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.

Ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover , [ zebach (Hebrew #2077) pecach (Hebrew #6453), opposed to minchaah (Hebrew #4503), a bloodless offering]. According to Bahr, it was a thank offering; but Hengstenberg has shown that it is a sin offering in the fullest and most proper sense, the basis and central point of all sin-offerings (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 11:28; Numbers 9:13). But De Wette, von Bohlen, and other Rationalistic writers, assert that this feast was originally a simple observance in honour of the first-born-a festival of nature, celebrating the sun's entry into the sign of Aries (ram); whence an animal of that species was sacrificed as symbolical of the increasing power of the solar rays; and that the religious element engrafted upon it, with the account of its origin here described, belongs to the legendary traditions of subsequent ages, which, being collected, were committed to writing, and ascribed by the compiler of this book to the Mosaic period.

Havernick has clearly shown that the process is uniformly the reverse: that 'in all national ordinances of worship the ethical element of the religion has been the first in order of time, and that nature worship in general is the form, imprint, or reflection of a higher original. But if among the Hebrews every feast, and their whole system of worship, are penetrated by such an ethical and deeply religious element, what justifies the supposition that there is so great an irregularity in the case of the Passover? Further, how shall we explain the circumstance, that all the laws laid down for this feast, after the first celebration of it, by no means point out its origin, but presuppose it as instituted and well established. Further still, there is an essentially new idea in the first Passover which does not appear again afterward, and, indeed, according to the appointments recorded in Exodus itself, ought not to appear again. The first Passover is a sacrifice presented to Yahweh as an atonement, in consequence of which His favour is displayed toward Israel, while everything that comes in hostile collision with the Theocracy-here represented by Egypt's first-born-falls a victim to His justice. This first sacrifice is also quite of a special kind: it is the streaking of blood upon the houses that here very particularly represents the atonement. This sacrifice has a meal conjoined with it, likewise of a special kind, and it is only this meal that remains, and is celebrated as a memorial-sign in future' (cf. Deuteronomy 16:3) ('Introduction to the Pentateuch').

People bowed the head. All the preceding directions were communicated through the elders, and the Israelites being deeply solemnized by the influence of past and prospective events, gave prompt and faithful obedience.

Verse 28

And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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 firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.

At midnight the Lord smote. Dr. Pye Smith ('Scrip. Test.,' vol. 1:, p. 571) rejects the idea that the Messiah [ Logos (Greek #3056)] was the agent of destruction in the land of Egypt. But the Chaldee Paraphrast on this passage has: 'And the Word of the Lord slew all the first-born.' Many orthodox writers hold this opinion, (Bull, 'Defens. Nic.,' lib. 1:) He was the same Being who appeared to Moses in the bush (Exodus 3:2), and indeed, as the whole of those special proceedings were pursued by Him for vindication of the divine character, and for advancing the scheme of grace, there is no more incongruity with His personal attributes in inflicting the previous plagues, than the terrible catastrophe which closed the series (cf. Revelation 19:13-15).

First-born of the captive that was in the dungeon , [ b

Verse 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; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

Not a house where ... not one dead. Perhaps this statement is not to be taken absolutely. The Scriptures frequently use the words "all," "none," in a comparative sense-and so in this case. There would be many a house in which there would be no child, and many in which the first-born might be already dead. What is to be understood is, that almost every house in Egypt had a death in it.

Verse 31

And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, 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.

Called for Moses and Aaron - a striking fulfillment of the words of Moses (Exodus 11:8), and showing that they were spoken under divine suggestion.

By night. The first-born were smitten at midnight; and as the Israelites were strictly prohibited from going out at the door until the morning, their first march must have been at some time in the early dawn (cf. Deuteronomy 16:6). It is quite evident that wherever Pharaoh's residence at the time was-whether Memphis, Zoan, or Rameses-Moses must have been in the immediate neighbourhood of the court, otherwise, neither the king's messengers could have so soon reached him, nor he have communicated the final instructions to the elders.

Verse 32

Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.

Also take your flocks ... All the terms the king had formerly insisted on were now departed from, his pride having been effectually humbled. Appalling judgments in such rapid succession showed plainly that the hand of God was against him. His own family bereavement had so crushed him to the earth, that he not only showed impatience to rid his kingdom of such formidable neighbours, but even begged an interest in their prayers.

Verse 33

And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 34

And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.

People took ... kneading troughs. Having lived so long in Egypt, they must have been in the habit of using the utensils common in that country. The Egyptian kneading trough was a bowl of wicker or rush work, and it admitted of being hastily wrapped up with the dough in it and slung over the shoulder in their hykes or loose upper garments. 'These hykes,' says Dr. Shaw, 'are of various dimensions: the usual size of them is six yards long (large enough to hold a great many wooden bowls): they serve for dress in the day, and for a covering at night' (Deuteronomy 24:13; Ruth 3:15).

Verse 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, and raiment:

Children of Israel ... borrowed. When the Orientals go to their sacred festivals they always put on their best jewels. The Israelites themselves thought they were only going three days' journey to hold a feast unto the Lord, and in these circumstances it would be easy for them to borrow what was necessary for a sacred festival. But "borrow" conveys a wrong meaning. The word [ shaa'al (Hebrew #7592)] rendered borrow signifies properly to ask, demand, require. The Israelites had been kept in great poverty, having received little or no wages. They now insisted on full remuneration for all their labour; and it was paid in light and valuable articles adapted for convenient carriage, [ k

Verse 36

And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.

The Lord gave the people favour. Such a dread of them was inspired into the universal minds of the Egyptians, that whatever they asked was readily given. Our version has "lent." But the Hebrew word must be taken here in the same acceptation in which it was used by Hannah in her vow, where the idea of restoration is completely excluded (1 Samuel 1:28).

Spoiled the Egyptians. That people were so panic-stricken that they handed over their wealth to the Israelites without counting it. The accumulated earnings of many years being paid them at this moment, the Israelites were suddenly enriched, according to the promise made to Abraham (Genesis 15:14), and they left the country like a victorious army laden with spoil (Psalms 105:37; Ezekiel 39:10). But the prophecy that the Israelites should come out with great substance was fulfilled in a higher sense than their being loaded with material riches at their departure. They had gradually exchanged a nomadic for an agricultural or settled life; and having lived under the influence of Egyptian civilization, as well as been employed in various departments of manual labour, they carried away with them a knowledge and practical skill in many of the useful and liberal arts, which was ere long turned to good account in the elaborate construction of the tabernacle.

Verse 37

And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.

The children of Israel journeyed from Rameses. This city, which is now generally identified with Heroopolis (cf. Genesis 47:11 with Septuagint, Genesis 46:28-29), was an important place in the land of Goshen, situated in the middle part of the valley of the ancient canal, between the Pelusiac arm of the Nile and the northwestern extremity of the Bitter Lakes, at a spot now occupied by the ruins of Abu-Keisheid (Robinson's 'Bib. Research.,' vol. 1:, p. 79; Hengstenberg's 'Egypt and Books of Moses,' pp. 47-55). This position agrees with the statement, that the scene of the miraculous judgments against Pharaoh was "in the field of Zoan." And it is probable that, in expectation of their departure, which the king on one pretext or another had delayed, this city had been selected as a general rendezvous, the more especially as a very large body of the delayed, this city had been selected as a general rendezvous, the more especially as a very large body of the Hebrew people had been engaged on the fortifications.

Pharaoh had probably gone there to inspect the progress of the works, and Moses and Aaron, and many of the Hebrew chiefs, were also in the immediate neighbourhood. It was the headquarters of that portion of the people who were levied into the service of government; and hence, probably, it is said "the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses" - for the leaders and an immense multitude did set out from that place. But large parties of Hebrews having been appointed also to labour in different districts of the country, it is clear that Rameses could not be the common starting-point of all; and we must therefore suppose that, as full premonition had been given of the expected departure, and all necessary arrangements must have been made by so consummate a leader as Moses for a simultaneous movement when the order should be given, detachments of Israelites, repairing from different quarters, would place themselves at various points along the destined route, and thus be considerably in advance of the main body when the general exodus began. This must have been the case also with that numerous section of them who still pursued their pastoral occupations, and who would be tending their immense flocks at a distance on the borders of the desert.

It is a groundless objection to say that this vast multitude, so widely dispersed, and so encumbered with old and young, and cattle, were summoned to march at a moment's notice. They had been fully apprised of their approaching release, immediately on the return of Moses to Egypt (Exodus 4:29-31). Every successive plague awakened brighter hopes, and they were led, in prospect of the last awful judgment, to make active preparations for the journey (Exodus 11:2). So that, so far from being taken by surprise, the entire Hebrew population were in the attitude of eager expectation for the signal to depart.

Nor is there any reason for assuming that, on their departure, they were placed rank and file, and obliged, like a disciplined army, to pursue a continuous line of march in one dense column, of say fifty abreast. That is not the way in which caravans travel in the East; and that the Israelites did not deviate from the customary style, but were divided into large organized bodies, the twelve tribes being under their respective heads, probably separated at considerable distances from each other, and spreading over a large range of country, may be inferred from the circumstance, that in six passages (Exodus 12:39-51) it is stated directly or by implication, that it was not from Rameses but "the land of Egypt" they departed, and they marched out in various "hosts" to Succoth - i:e., booths; probably nothing more than a place of temporary encampment, as the Hebrew word signifies a covering or shelter. But it might have been, as Poole suggests, a military or caravan station; and as Robinson says that the distance from Rameses to the head of the Red Sea was thirty miles, Succoth might be half-way - i:e., fifteen miles due east (the first day's march) - and it was through a cultivated country, along the valley of the canal. Osburn identifies Succoth with Xois, the ancient capital of the Delta, in the center of the Delta.

About six hundred thousand on foot that were men, besides children - literally, 'six hundred thousand on foot, the strong men, beside children.' [ 'elep (Hebrew #505) admits of various significations: for, besides denoting in the plural oxen (Psalms 8:8; Proverbs 14:4), and kine (Deuteronomy 7:13; Deuteronomy 28:4), it is sometimes rendered a family (Judges 6:15; 1 Samuel 10:19; 1 Samuel 19:23; Micah 5:1 : cf. Exodus 20:6; Numbers 1:16); and some writers maintain that the words should be interpreted in this sense here (Rosenmuller's 'Schol.') - namely, 'six hundred families on foot.'] But the latter clause, "beside children," who, if families were meant, must have been included in the previous term, is fatal to this explanation.

The assertion in the text relative to the numbers of [ hag

Verse 38

And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.

And a mixed multitude went up also with them , [ `eereb (Hebrew #6154) rab (Hebrew #7227)] - a great mixture or rabble (see Numbers 11:4; Deuteronomy 29:11), slaves in the lowest grades of society, partly natives and captives obtained by foreign conquests, bound to the Israelites by companionship in misery, or convinced by recent judgments of the supremacy of Yahweh, and all gladly availing themselves of the opportunity to escape in the crowd (Zechariah 8:23). And flocks and herds, even very much cattle. Beasts of this description, especially when existing in large numbers, cannot be collected and marched without considerable time and care. But in the case of the Israelites, a previous notice of several days had been given; and besides, as the greater part of their flocks and herds was kept at distant pastures in the wilderness, where numbers of the people were engaged as shepherds in tending them, these would be all considerably in advance of the main body of the people.

Verse 39

And they baked unleavened cakes of the 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 victual.

They baked unleavened cakes of the dough ... Since they were commanded on the night of the Passover to eat unleavened bread (Exodus 12:8), and early on the following morning were summoned to depart, they had no time to procure leaven-

Because they were thrust out ... The urgency shown to get rid of them was exhibited, it is most probable, only in the capital, or in the place where Pharaoh's court was residing at the time. No doubt, it is stated, "The children of Israel journeyed from Rameses" - which may be taken either as the name of a city or of a district (Genesis 47:11); and this may be the meaning of the phrase, 'the dough which they brought out of Egypt.' Although the whole body of the Israelites were prepared 'for a sudden journey, they seem to have been kept in ignorance of the precise moment for starting; and as no movement could be undertaken without the royal permission, it seems clear that those who were in the immediate neighbourhood of Pharaoh were the parties on whom the forcible expulsion chiefly fell. The objection founded on the alleged impossibility of the exodus being effected by so vast a body as the Israelites in the course of one night, is altogether groundless, for the whole plan of deliverance, including even some of its details, was described to Moses at the time of his appointment to his divine legation.

Neither had they prepared for themselves any victual. De Wette maintains that this statement is a direct contradiction to Exodus 12:6, where it is recorded that the Israelites got notice to make ready the Passover on the evening before. Admitted; but they had at the same time been strictly enjoined to leave nothing of it until the morning (Exodus 12:10). He says further, that as they had received a pre-intimation of their departure, they might and ought to have laid in a stock of provisions for a journey. They might, indeed, have unduly procrastinated, as human nature is prone to do even in the most urgent circumstances. But they had not been informed that they were to march that night, and therefore could not make the necessary preparation.

Verse 40

Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.

Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt , [ uwmowshab (Hebrew #4186) b

Verse 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 went out from the land of Egypt.

At the end of the four hundred ... years, even the self-same day ... The date is repeated by the historian in order to show that the intimation made to Abraham (Genesis 15:13-16) was realized, and that the time of deliverance corresponded with the most minute exactness to the prophetic announcement.

Verse 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 of all the children of Israel in their generations.

It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord ... This memorable night of the exodus occurred on the 14th-15th day of the moon, close to the vernal equinox - i:e., either at the end of March or beginning of April. The repetition of the remark in another form in the latter clause of the verse, respecting the impressive and solemn character of that night's transactions, shows the importance of the memorial festival. The initiatory rite of circumcision was indispensable; but that observance being complied with, all Israelites, independently of differences in rank, wealth, or outward estate, were entitled to equal and full participation in the privileges and blessings of the covenant.

Verse 43-44

And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof:

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 45

A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof.

A foreigner , [ towshaab (Hebrew #8453)] - a stranger living in another country without the rights of citizenship (see the note at Exodus 12:19).

Verse 46

In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.

In one house shall it be eaten: thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad ... (see the note at Exodus 12:10.) The great object of these minor regulations was to observe that full communion of the guests with one another and with God which association at one table and in the celebration of a sacred festival implied.

Neither shall ye break a bone thereof - cf. John 19:36.

Verse 47

All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 48

And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, 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: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.

And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover ... [The primary signification of pecach (Hebrew #6453) is a passing over, an immunity from punishment (see the note at Exodus 12:27). Hence, the word was applied to denote the paschal lamb (Exodus 12:21) immolated in the typical sacrifice of passing over; and then, by an easy transition, it was employed to designate the paschal supper, at which the lamb was eaten with a variety of special accompaniments and rites.]

Verse 49

One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.

One law shall be to him that is home-born, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. This regulation displays the liberal spirit of the Hebrew institutions. Any foreigner might obtain admission to the privileges of the nation on complying with their sacred ordinances. In the Mosaic, equally as the Christian dispensation, privilege and duty were inseparably conjoined.

Verse 50

Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 51

And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies. The Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies , [ `al (Hebrew #5921) tsib'otaam (Hebrew #6635)] - in consolidated organized bodies. [ tsaabaa' (Hebrew #6633) does not necessarily suggest the idea of war, and though it sometimes signifies an army, yet it is a regularly arranged band of men. In this passage it denotes the tribes and families of Israel ranged under their respective chiefs, and separated, it might be, at considerable distances from each other, as coming from different cities and districts of the land.]

The exodus, in Bunsen's view, instead of being a marvelous work of divine power, was merely an insurrection of the Hebrews in concert with the Bedouins of the adjoining desert, in a time of Egypt's weakness, in which Moses and his fellow-conspirators had quietly made preparations in the peninsula to ensure the success of their vast undertaking ('Egypt's Place,' vol. 2:, p. 266). But everyone who acknowledges the historical character of this narrative must believe, from the series of appalling phenomena that paved the way for it, that it was, as the historian piously remarks, the doing of the Lord. The population of Egypt never exceeded 8,000,000; and if 2,000,000 quitted Egypt at the time of the exodus, the loss of such a multitude of labourers and artisans must have dealt a severe blow to the material prosperity of that country. 'Not only were the fields of the Delta entirely void of produce, the fruits having been destroyed by the locusts and the hail, but the cities were without inhabitants. The withdrawal of more than two million of inhabitants, with all their possessions, must have been a misfortune irremediable to Egypt. The exodus was an event to tell upon the subsequent history of Egypt, and to leave its destructive traces on the yet imperished coeval records of her monuments, if it was an actual occurrence. Such traces certainly exist; but it is almost needless to say that they are of necessity altogether of a negative character' (Osburn's 'Mon. Hist.,' vol 2:, pp. 598-601; also 'The Exodus,' The traces thereof discoverable on the monuments of Egypt, by the same writer, 'Jour. Sac. Lit.,' No.

xxii., July, 1860, pp. 257-268.)

The main circumstances of the exodus, but disguised and confused to conceal the national disgrace, are related by the Egyptian historian, Manetho, whose narrative, as well as the shorter account by Choeremon, has been preserved by Josephus ('Contra Apionem,' b. 1:, 26,27,32; see also Corbaux's disentanglement of the errors and confusion in Manetho's narrative, in the Historical Introduction to Heath's 'Hieratic Papyri,' pp. 30-32). The exodus was typical of a future and greater deliverance; for as ancient Israel was a type of the Christian Church, so the rescue of that people from the house of bondage adumbrated the spiritual deliverance obtained for Christians from the effects of sin. Nay, further, the exodus, with the series of miracles that preceded and followed it, was in order to the manifestation in the fullness of time of a future Redeemer; the one liberation was effected to prepare the way for the other (Pye Smith's 'Scrip. Test.,' vol. 1: p. 369).

Further still, our blessed Lord carried from dire necessity to Egypt in early childhood, found an asylum in that very region which afforded a cradle to the Hebrew race; and hence, the prophetic saying was applied to Him, "Out of Egypt have I called my Son" - because the Christ is in the highest sense the promised seed; 'because He is the Head and Antitype of God's collective First-born; and because He alone realized in all their fullness the exalted characteristics which Israel as a nation was commissioned to exhibit and diffuse (Hardwick, 'Christ and other Masters,' vol 1:, p. 131).


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Exodus 12:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

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