Chapter 12

  1. Instructions for the Passover

    • While the Israelites were still in Egypt, the Lord gave the following instructions to Moses and Aaron:

      • From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you.

        • “The coming deliverance from Egypt was such a significant act that God told the children of Israel to remake their calendar. The new year would now start with the month of their redemption from Egypt. It was a dramatic way of saying that everything was to change.” (Guzik)

      • “This is the first occurrence in the Pentateuch of what was to become a technical term, describing Israel in its religious sense…and which underlies the New Testament use of ekklesia, ‘church’.” (Cole)

      • “This month was the month Abib (13:4, 23:15, 34:18, Deuteronomy 16:1; later called by the Babylonian name, Nisan, Nehemiah 2:1, Esther 3:7), which falls within the months of March and April. Many cultures held festivals about this time of the year, celebrating the renewal of plant life. Israel’s festival celebrated the historic event in which God defeated death and rescued His people from bondage in Egypt.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

In this image, Babylonian (postexilic) month names are in bold CAPS and Hebrew month names are in (parentheses).
        • “The Exodus marked the first month of ancient Israel’s annual calendar (Exodus 12:2)…Ancient Israel marked the beginning of each month at the new moon, which occurs every 29.5 days, resulting in a 354-day annual calendar, 11 day shorter than the solar year; thus the months in Israel’s calendar do not align with modern (Gregorian) months. In later Judaism, and extra month, called ‘Second Adar,’ was an intercalary ‘leap month,’ inserted seven times every nineteen years to realign the calendar with the solar year. Such intercalation of a month occurs in many lunar calendars. In our modern solar calendar, intercalation is unnecessary because the months are not tied to the lunar cycle…” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

      • Tell all of Israel that on the 10th day of this first month, each family must choose a one year old young lamb or goat with no defect to sacrifice. If the family is too small to eat it all, they can share with another family. Keep this chosen animal until the 14th,, taking special care of it, then all communities should come together and slaughter their animal at twilight.

        • “In this way, the lamb became part of the family. By the time it was sacrificed on the fourteenth it was both cherished and mourned. God wanted the sacrifice of something precious.” (Guzik)

      • “Passover was a domestic and family festival, and thus shows its early origin. It has here no temple, no meeting-tent, no altar and no priest: but representation, if not substitution, is clearly implied.” (Cole)

      • Why at twilight? “Christ came in the evening of the world; in the ‘last hour’ (1 John 2:11); when all lay buried in darkness; in the eventide of our sin and death.” (Trapp)

    • Then, they must smear some of the animal’s blood on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where the animal is eaten. That night, they must roast the meat over a fire and eat it with bitter salad greens and bread without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or boiled. The whole thing must be roasted over the fire (internal organs included) and none must be left over the next morning. If there are any leftovers they must be burned.

        • “The idea behind eating it all was that you had to take it all then, and not store up some of the rescue for later. It was for right then, right now, and you had to receive all of it without thinking you could take a bit then and come back to it later if you pleased. We take all of Jesus, not just the parts that please us.” (Guzik)

      • The meal must be eaten quickly, they must be fully dressed, wearing their sandals, and carrying their walking sticks. The Lord said that on the night He would pass through Egypt, killing all the first born males in Egypt. This was judgment against the gods of Egypt. The blood on the Israelites doorposts served as a marker, so that the Lord would pass over their houses and their first born males would be spared.

        • Guzik says this about the Passover:

        • The Passover was the Lord’s in the sense that He provided it:

· As a rescue, to deliver Israel from the plague of the firstborn.

· As an institution, to remember God’s rescue and deliverance for Israel through every generation.

· As a powerful drama, acting out the perfect sacrifice and rescue Jesus would later provide.

        • By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul made it perfectly clear: For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). John the Baptist drew on a similar image when he said of Jesus, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29) It seems that Jesus was actually crucified on Passover (John 19:14). We see Jesus in the Passover.

· Jesus lived with and became bonded to the human family before He was sacrificed for them.

· The sacrifice of Jesus has to be appropriate to each home, not simply on a national or community basis.

· Jesus the Passover Lamb was spotless – perfectly so, not stained by any sin, any moral or spiritual imperfection.

· It was only the blood of Jesus, His actual poured-out life that atoned for sin.

· In His death Jesus was touched with fire, the fire of God’s judgment and wrath.

· In His death Jesus received the bitter cup of God’s judgment.

· The work of Jesus has to be received fully, with none left in reserve.

· The Passover work of Jesus for His people is the dawn and prelude to their freedom.

      • Then the Lord told the Israelites, “This day is to be a memorial for you and you must celebrate it each year, for all of your generations as a permanent law forever.
    • For seven days, the bread you eat cannot contain any yeast. The first day, you must remove all the yeast from your houses, and anyone who eats anything with yeast in it will be cut off from all of Israel. An assembly must be held on the first and last days and no one can do any work other than preparing food to eat. You are to celebrate this as the Festival of Unleavened Bread from the evening of the 14th day of the month until the evening of the 21st day to remind you that this is the day that I brought you out of Egypt. This is a permanent law that must be observed throughout your generations.
      • “For the first Passover, the unleavened bread was a practical necessity – they left Egypt in such a hurry there was no time to allow for the dough to rise. After the first Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread was a testimony throughout your generations…Leaven was also a picture of sin and corruption, because of the way a little leaven influences a whole lump of dough, and also because of the way leaven “puffs up” the lump – even as pride and sin makes us “puffed up.” (Guzik)
    • Moses called together all the elders of Israel and told them all to go select their Passover lamb, take a cluster of hyssop dipped in the lambs blood, and brush their doorposts with it. He also told them not to go outside until morning, that when the Lord saw the blood on their doorposts, He would prevent the destroyer to coming in and killing their firstborn. He then told them that this was a permanent command for them and their descendants that must be kept even when they had entered the land that God had promised them, so that when their children asked why they keep this ritual, they would tell them about how God had struck the Egyptians, but spared the Israelites. The people obeyed.
      • “Hyssop is a small bush with stiff, compact branches that can serve as a brush.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)
      • Their are a lot of non-Jewish Christian religious groups believe we must continue to keep these annual festivals. I grew up in one. I won’t speak for all, but the majority believe that anyone who doesn’t keep these festivals is not a part of God’s “one true church.” In light of these passages, it is certainly easy to see why they would believe this. However, the Bible doesn’t end in the Old Testament. We have the Testament that describes a New Covenant that we as Christians are now under. Let me state clearly: while I believe that the New Testament leaves no question as to whether or not we must keep these festivals, I also firmly believe that we should not judge each other. If this particular issue is one that troubles you, or if you would like to see an in depth explanation on this topic, I recommend this article from Grace Communion International, “What Scripture Says About the Annual Festivals.” I have found that this particular organization is excellent at putting things into a context that individuals that come from Messianic type religious backgrounds (such as myself) need in order to obtain a fully satisfying explanation.
        • For those that don’t share the interest in an in depth explanation, I’ll share a few notable quotes from the article above:
              1. “There is only one festival that the Lord commanded Christians to observe. ‘Do this in remembrance of me,’ He said at his last meal (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24). He told his disciples to commemorate His suffering and death by sharing bread and wine.
              2. “The festivals were instituted by God himself, but so were the sacrifices and the tabernacle. The festivals are ‘feasts of the Lord,’ but the tabernacle and sacrifices were also ‘of the Lord.’ The festivals were commanded forever, but so were some of the sacrifices and so was circumcision. None of these are requirements for Christians today. The new covenant is significantly different from the old; worship requirements have been greatly transformed. The festivals are not signs or proofs of true Christianity and are not a basis for judging whether someone is in the faith.”
              3. Colossians 2:16 says, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.” First, we should note the connecting word “therefore” — it links verse 16 with the previous verses. Because Christ has circumcised us spiritually, forgiven us and given us new life, for that reason we should not allow anyone to judge us regarding various rituals.”

2. The Exodus

    • The Lord did just as He had said, and at midnight, He struck down all the firstborn sons of Egypt. Pharaoh and his officials woke up and the sound of wailing could be heard all through the land of Egypt because their wasn’t one house where someone had not died.
      • “This plague was directed against two significant Egyptian gods. First, Osiris was the Egyptian god thought to be the giver of life. Second, this was against the supposed deity of Pharaoh himself, because his own household was touched (the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne).” (Guzik)


    • Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron in the middle of the night and said, “Get out! Take all the Israelites and your flocks and herds and go worship like you have asked, but bless me when you leave.”

      • “Pharaoh didn’t simply allow Israel to leave; now he commanded them to go. This was just what the Lord told Moses would happen: When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out of here altogether (Exodus 11:1)” (Guzik)

      • Why did Pharaoh ask Moses to bless him? Guzik answers, “This shows that now, Pharaoh knew who the Lord was, the God who was greater than Pharaoh and whom Pharaoh must seek for blessing. Pharaoh only came to this knowledge through being broken.”

    • All the Egyptians rushed the Israelites to leave because they were afraid that they were all going to die. So the Israelites hurriedly gathered their things, grabbing bowls of dough that hadn’t had the yeast added yet. They did as Moses had instructed and asked the Egyptians for gold and silver jewelry and the Egyptians gave them everything they asked for.

    • The Israelites traveled from Rameses to Succoth. There were about 600,000 soldiers and their families.

      • “Assembling together at Succoth, about 600,000 men (besides children or women) left Egypt. The count of six hundred thousand men makes for a total population of perhaps two million that left Egypt for the Promised Land.” (Guzik)

        • Many skeptics say that the number of people that left Egypt adds to the fantastical nature of the story of the Exodus and point out issues that such a number creates. We’ll look at a couple.

              1. Over 2 million people would raise logistical problems. The NLT Illustrated Study Bible lists these as: “ (1) The area of encampment would be 400 sq.mi.; (2) A column of people 1,000 across would would be nearly a mile wide and would take 20 hours to pass a single point; (3) As best we know, there were no other armies nearly so large in the ancient Near East at that time.”

            • Here are some explanations proposed as noted in the NLT Illustrated Study Bible:

                    1. The number might be symbolic, communicating not an actual number but the fact that God had blessed Israel. While this use of a number may seem strange to us, it would be acceptable in the ancient world.

                    2. The Hebrew word for “thousand” (‘elep) might have been confused with the word for “troop” (‘allup). If so, the original would have read “600 troops of fighting men.” With a troop size of approximately 100 men, the total population would be greatly reduced.

                    3. Despite logistical difficulties, it is possible that there were in fact 2.5 million Israelites.

              • Personally, I ascribe to this belief. As Kaiser notes, “All attempts to explain elep (‘thousand’) as ‘clan’ or ‘tribe’ in this context fail to meet the test of inconsistency in other contexts.”

              1. There is no way the Israelite population could have grown to this number in the amount of time they had been in Egypt.

          • HCSB commentary addresses this topic well, “First, Exodus 1:7 states that, ‘the Israelites were fruitful, increased rapidly, multiplied and became extremely numerous so that the land was filled with them.’ Furthermore, 1:9-12 suggests that the Israelites’ dramatic population increase was the primary factor in Egypt’s decision to oppress them. The Bible clearly affirms that the Israelites experienced explosive growth in population once they arrived in Egypt. Second, the evidence in both the OT and NT suggests that 215 years elapsed between Jacob’s entry into Egypt and the exodus. It is mathematically possible for Jacob’s 12 sons to have produced a nation with a population of more than 600,000 males in slightly more than two centuries. […] For 8,600 Kohathite males to have been alive at the time of the exodus (Numbers 3:28) would have required each family to produce an average of seven sons… While such families might be considered unusual, the numbers are consistent with the claims of Exodus 1. It is worth noting that many individuals in the Bible were said to have produced more than seven sons…”

          • Also, as per verse 38, not all that went with them were Israelites. Verse 38 states that “a mixed multitude went with them.” Some versions translate it as an “ethnically diverse crowd,” the NIV says “many other people.” The Bible doesn’t state what actual number of people that left were Israelites.

    • Many non-Israelites also went with them.

      • “Some of these people later became disafected and led the Israelites into complaining about their difficulties (Numbers 11:4). We are never told their motivation for joining the Israelites. Perhaps some had come to faith in the Lord as a result of the plagues. Others probably saw it as an opportunity for a better life elsewhere.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

    • The Israelites lived in Egypt and in Canaan for 430 years, then they left Egypt. The Lord led them out of Egypt on the last day of this 430 years and the Israelites and their descendants are to commemorate this night every year.

      • “Apparently the Exodus from Egypt began on the same calendar day as the 430th anniversary of Israel’s time in Egypt. It’s remarkable evidence that God often fulfills promises on anniversaries of prior or prophesied events.” (Guzik)

** There is a discrepancy here between most of our Bibles and the Greek Septuagint and the Samaritan Pentateuch. Exodus 12:40 in our Bibles reads, “The time the Israelites lived in Egypt was 430 years.” The Septuagint and Pentateuch, however, read “And the sojourning of the children of Israel, while they sojourned in the land of Egypt and the land of Chanaan, four hundred and thirty years.” For this reason, most people will state that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt for 430 years. This is not true. The Israelites were strangers in a foreign land for 430 years (in Egypt and in Canaan), but they were only slaves from the time that the new Pharaoh (after the one that knew Joseph) enslaved them. Nathan Hoffman has a fabulous 12 minute video explaining this that I highly recommend to everyone:

  1. Passover Instruction

    • Then the Lord gave Moses and Aaron further instructions for the festival of Passover: foreigners can’t eat it, but if you have bought a slave and they have been circumcised, they can eat it. Temporary residents and hired workers can’t eat it. It must be eaten inside the house and none of its bones can be broken. All of Israel must celebrate it. If a foreigner who lives with you wants to celebrate it, then his family must be circumcised.

      • “None of the bones of the Passover lamb were to be broken. This looked forward to Jesus, the ultimate Passover Lamb, who had not one bone broken even in His crucifixion (Psalm 22:17 and John 19:31-36).” (Guzik)

    • “These additional instructions for the observance of Passover relate primarily to outsiders and foreigners. Perhaps the presence of non-Israelites in the community prompted these instructions. The key factor was whether or not the person was willing to become fully identified with Israel and with the Lord by submitting to circumcision.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

    • The Israelites obeyed and the Lord brought them out of Egypt like an army.