Chapter 13

    • The Lord told Moses to dedicate every first male (both human and animal) to Him.

        • Like the Passover celebration, the practice of dedicating the firstborn memorialized what God did in the Passover event. Because He spared the firstborn, they now belonged to Him and must be redeemed. The annual sacrifice and eating of the lamb symbolized what God would do in providing a substitute in His Son, Jesus Christ; we who deserve death must be redeemed with a price, the life of the Son.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

    • Moses told the Israelites to always remember this day in the month of Abib (March-April by our calendars)- the day God delivered them from slavery. He told them when the Lord gives them the land that He swore to their fathers He would give (the land that belonged at that time to the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites, and Jebusites) they must perform the following ritual every year at this time:

      • Eat unleavened bread (bread with no yeast) for 7 days and celebrate a festival to the Lord on the 7th day.

      • All leavening must be removed from within the borders of their entire land.

      • Explain to your children on the 7th day celebration, why you are celebrating- because of what the Lord did for you left Egypt.

    • This festival will be a sign to you like a mark branded into your hand or forehead.

      • Guzik adds some interesting information in his commentary regarding this verse, “The Jews used this passage (along with Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21) to institute the practice the wearing of phylacteries – small boxes holding parchment with scriptures on them, held to the forehead or hand with leather straps…Later, Jesus condemned the abuse of the wearing of phylacteries among the Pharisees. They made their phylactery boxes large and ostentatious as a display of supposedly greater spirituality (Matthew 23:5)… In the end times there will be a Satanic imitation of this practice when the number of the Antichrist will be applied to either the hand or forehead of all who will take it (Revelation 13:16).”

Jews today still keep this tradition.
    • When the Lord brings you into the land that He swore to give to you and your fathers you are to do the following:

      • You must present every firstborn male (both human and animal) to the Lord.

      • You can buy back a donkey by giving a young goat or sheep in its place. If you don’t do this, you have to break the donkeys neck.

      • You must buy back every one of your firstborn sons.

        • Guzik explains, “The law of dedicating the firstborn to God (Exodus 13:1-2) was only to take effect when in the Promised Land. By then the need for a reminder of the work of deliverance from Egypt would be all the more necessary. If the firstborn was unacceptable to sacrifice (if it was an unclean animal or a human) a substitute was offered to redeem the firstborn from God. If the firstborn was an animal the substitute was a clean animal. If the firstborn was a human, the substitute was money.”

      • I also like what the HCSB commentary has to say about these verses, “Offering every firstborn male animal from their flocks required financial sacrifice on the part of the Israelites, yet the Lord required it. God is interested in more than his people’s material prosperity; He also wants them to develop their values, character, and spiritual life. As each succeeding generation of Israelites gave its firstborn males to God, they would in some way recreate the exodus event. They would be reminded of the seriousness of sin; whenever they ate the meat of the animal, they would be reminded of the sacrificial meal eaten by their forefathers on the night of the exodus. By sparing their own firstborn sons by through the death of a sacrificial animal, in obedience to the Lord’s command, they would experience the lifesaving grace of God in a deep and unforgettable way. Unlike the Canaanites, who gave their firstborn sons and daughters to their gods by killing them (Leviticus 18:21), the Israelites were to let their children live (Deuteronomy 18:10). They were to pay a redemption price for each child redeemed.”

    • In the future, when your sons ask you what all of this means, explain to them that the Lord rescued you from slavery to the Egyptians. Pharaoh wouldn’t let you go, so God killed every firstborn male in Egypt. We make these sacrifices to the Lord in remembrance of this.

The Route of the Exodus

    • When the Israelites left Egypt, God didn’t lead them along the most direct path along the main roads to the Promised Land because that route would have taken them through Philistine territory and God said that if they had to fight in battle at this point, they might change their minds and go back to Egypt.

      • Guzik adds, “The coastal route (the Via Maris, known as “the way of the sea”) was the shortest and most common way to go from Egypt to Canaan. Yet it was also the road where Egypt’s military outposts were. God knew the people of Israel were not ready to face this yet (lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt), so He led them a different way…It would have been easy for the Israelites to think that the Via Maris was the way to go; it had good, easy roads, the shortest distance, it was a trade route so food and water could be bought. But the dangers of the way were too great, though they could not see them. God anticipated dangers they could not see.”

Map credit: : The vast desert to the east of the bridge kept international trade routes in a narrow corridor near the Mediterranean Sea. The Via Maris, “the Way of the Sea”, (in aqua) runs parallel to the Mediterranean Sea near the coast. The Kings Highway (in red) runs along the crest of the mountains of Moab and Ammon on the east of the Jordan River and Dead Sea (known as the “Salt Sea” in biblical times). The Spice Route (purple) ran from the Arabian Peninsula through Petra, intersecting both the King’s Highway and the Via Maris, then on to the sea at the southern-most port at Gaza.
    • Instead, God lead the Israelites toward the Red Sea along a wilderness road. They left Succoth and camped at a place called Etham on the edge of the wilderness.

      • There is disagreement among scholars about the identification of some of the sites mentioned (13:20;14:2), so there is little consensus about the precise route the Israelites took.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

      • Guzik notes, “The Red Sea first mentioned here is not the huge expanse of the Red Sea (some 100 miles wide), but the western “finger” of the Red Sea that extends up unto the border areas of Egypt – the modern day Gulf of Suez.”

Map credit: Dr. Ralph Wilson. Wilson has a very informative article discussing some of the other theorized routes for the exodus at this link:
      • Wilson explains the logic behind this particular exodus route, “The traditional route crosses the “Reed Sea” at perhaps Lake Timsah or the Bitter Lakes, then down Sinai’s west coastlands, then east through the mountains and wadis to a southern Mount Sinai, perhaps Jebel Musa, then back up northeastward by Sinai’s east coast and desert to Kadesh-barnea. This route has the advantage that it:

  1. Steers clear of nearly all Egyptian presence.
  2. The Shur desert was also called the desert of Etham (Numbers 33:8), in the latitude of the east end of Wadi Tumilat. So, moving through that desert for three days (if the middle way of Seir is excluded) has to be southward along the west coast of Sinai.2
  3. The west coast of Sinai has a number of known watering places.

Of course, no one knows the route for sure. Very few of the stages of the journey outlined in Numbers 33 have been identified with any certainty, with the exception of Ezion Geber, Kadesh Barnea, and the plains of Moab.”

    • God led them during the day taking the form of a pillar of cloud and at night a pillar of fire to light their way.

      • Guzik quoting Cole, “According to Cole, the ancient Hebrew for pillar literally means “something standing.” It was probably more of what we would think of as a column than a pillar.”

      • Clarke adds, “This was the Shechinah or Divine dwelling place, and was the continual proof of the presence and protection of God.”

    • Moses brought Joseph’s bones out of Egypt with them because of the oath that the Israelites had sworn to Joseph.

      • Genesis 50:25-26 says specifically that Joseph was never buried. His coffin laid above ground for the four hundred or so years until it was taken back to Canaan. It was a silent witness all those years that Israel was going back to the Promised Land, just as God had promise. Now the promise was being fulfilled.” (Guzik)