The Second Book of Moses, Called Exodus

Chapter 12

The beginning of the year is changed, 1, 2. The passover is instituted, 3-10. The import of the rite of the passover, 11-14. Unleavened bread, etc., 15-28. The firstborn are slain, 29, 30. The Israelites are driven out of the land, 31-36. They come to Succoth, 37-40. The time of their sojourning, 41, 42. The ordinance of the passover, 43-51.

1 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 "This month shall be to you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, 'On the tenth day of this month they shall each take for themselves a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for a house. 4 And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the souls, each according to his eating you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You shall take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. 7 And they shall take some of the blood and strike it on the two side-posts and on the upper door-post of the houses in which they shall eat it. 8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roasted with fire. With unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not any eat of it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted with fire, its head with its legs and with its entrails. 10 And you shall let nothing of it remain until the morning. And that which remains of it until the morning you shall burn with fire. 11 And thus you shall eat it: with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD'S passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am the LORD. 13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where you 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.

14 'And this day shall be to you for a memorial, and you shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. Even the first day you shall put away leaven out of your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. 16 And on the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation to you. No manner of work shall be done in them, except that which every man must eat. That only may be done by you. 17 And you shall observe the feast of unleavened bread, for on this same day I have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore, you shall observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever. 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses. For whoever eats that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger, or born in the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened. In all your habitations you shall eat unleavened bread.'"

21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Draw out and take a lamb, according to your families, and kill the passover. 22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side-posts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians. And when he sees the blood upon the lintel and on the two side-posts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.

24 "And you shall observe this thing for an ordinance to you and to your sons forever. 25 And it shall come to pass, when you have come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he has promised, that you shall keep this service. 26 And it shall come to pass, when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?' 27 You 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 worshiped. 28 And the children of Israel went away and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron. And they did so.

29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the first-born of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the first-born of cattle. 30 And Pharaoh rose in the night—he, 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. 31 And he called for Moses and Aaron by night and said, "Arise, and depart from among my people, both you and the children of Israel, and go, serve the LORD as you have said. 32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also."

33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people so that they might send them out of the land in haste, for they said, "We are all dead men." 34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.

35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses. And they asked the Egyptians for jewels of silver, jewels of gold, and clothing. 36 And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians so that they let them have such things as they requested. And they plundered the Egyptians.

37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot who were men, besides children. 38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them, and also flocks and herds, even very many cattle. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought from Egypt, for it was not leavened because they were driven from Egypt and could not delay, neither had they prepared for themselves any food.

40 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass, at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the same day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD departed from the land of Egypt.

42 It is a night to be much observed to the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt. This is that night of the LORD to be observed by all the children of Israel in their generations.

43 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the ordinance of the passover: no stranger shall eat of it, 44 But every man's servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he shall eat of it. 45 A foreigner and a hired servant shall not eat of it. 46 In one house it shall be eaten. You shall not carry anything of the flesh abroad out of the house, neither shall you break a bone of it. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger sojourns with you and wishes to 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 who is born in the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49 One law shall be to him who is home-born and to the stranger who sojourns among you."

50 Thus all the children of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron. And they did so. 51 And it came to pass the same day, that the LORD brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Exodus, Chapter 12[➚]


[v.1] - These ordinances make up a major event to be celebrated throughout Israel from this time on forever. This event is known as the Passover and it is one of the best types and shadows of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God (John 1:29).

[v.3-4] - Matthew Henry intimates that this part of the ordinance shows how suitable it was for families to gather in worship, and therefore, make this feast more solemn. Family religion, or piety, should be a pillar of every home, built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 28:16; 1 Corinthians 3:11).

[v.3] - From Robert Hawker's Commentary: "Four days before the Lamb was to be killed in the passover, he was to be separated and set apart for this service, from the 10th day of the month until the 14th. Now it is worthy of remark, that Jesus came into Jerusalem four days before His crucifixion."

[v.4] - Reference, 1st Corinthians 10:3-4.

[v.5-6] - These verses give two points concerning the lamb: 1) it is to be a particular lamb, and 2) all families of the Israelites were to kill their lamb on the same day in the evening. God required that this lamb be without blemish. This is the requirement of every sacrifice required by God. This is very much a pointer to Christ, for He was without blemish and knew no sin (2nd Corinthians 5:21). Only a blemish-free lamb would be worthy to be offered as a sacrifice to God. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was and is the only One able to be, "a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1st Peter 1:19). Paul instructs us in Romans 12:1 that we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. No man is truly worthy to offer such devotion to God; however, Christ, the lamb without blemish, offered Himself so that we may be sanctified (Hebrews 10:10) and made holy and be able to approach and be acceptable to the God of the universe. God demands holiness in His people, for He said, "You shall be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy" (Leviticus 19:2).

[v.7] - Once the lamb has been killed, the Israelites were to mark the door of their houses with some of the blood of the lamb. This particular part of the Passover ceremony bears great significance in that it represents the grace given through the blood of the Lamb, which is Christ. The message to the Israelites here concerning the blood is this: those who are marked by the blood of the lamb will be saved from the wrath of God. So, those who marked their door with the blood would receive favor before God, or receive His grace to pass them over in carrying out the judgment upon Egypt—hence the term, passover, used in verse 11—and those who did not mark their door with the blood, faced God's wrath in the judgment. In this we are to see parallel with the ministry of Jesus Christ. He came to the world, free of blemish (i.e., He was sinless) and offered Himself a sacrifice for God's people. By the spilling of the precious blood of Christ, Christians are redeemed (1st Peter 1:18-19) and escape the wrath of God in judgment. To put it another way, when Christ died on the cross, His blood was shed, and some of that blood was put as a mark on the hearts of His people so that God would pass over them in judgment. It is by grace through faith that we are saved from God's wrath (Ephesians 2:8). This was made possible only by the shedding of Christ's blood.

[v.8] - The lamb was to be prepared with bitter herbs to put in remembrance the bitterness of being in bondage to the Egyptians. Likewise, when Christians put on Christ, they should have in remembrance the bitterness of their sins.

[v.10] - Nothing was to remain of the lamb, for it was to be wholly consumed, whether by man or by fire. When Christians are drawn to Christ by the Father, they are to consume Him wholly so that there is no room for anything else, for a single sin mars the whole soul.

[v.14-20] - These verses outline the ordinance of the feast of unleavened bread. The symbolism behind the feast is this: since the Israelites were to receive no leaven for these seven days, they were to keep themselves from corruption. Leaven is defined as, a mass of sour dough, which, mixed with a larger quantity of dough or paste, produces fermentation in it and renders it light. Another definition would be, anything which makes a general change in the mass. It generally means something which corrupts or depraves that with which it is mixed. The Israelites were to observe this feast perpetually on an annual basis to be reminded of the corruption of sin and the necessity to be rid of it. Christians are to observe the main idea behind this feast. Jesus warned his disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and of Herod (Matthew 16:6, Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1), which represent hypocrisy and spite. Paul said that, "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" (1st Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9), which is to say that a little sin will corrupt an entire soul. This point was made by John Bunyan in his allegorical work, The Pilgrim's Progress, when the character, Interpreter, said, "One leak will sink a ship: and one sin will destroy a sinner." In 1st Corinthians 5:7-8, Paul gives further instruction concerning the leaven by saying, "Therefore cleanse out the old leaven, so that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." This shows us that even Christians are to take heed to the message behind the feast of unleavened bread.

[v.24] - Matthew Henry offers good reason for the continual remembrance of God's works by saying, "Old mercies to ourselves, or to our fathers, must not be forgotten, but be had in everlasting remembrance, that God may be praised, our faith in him encouraged, and our hearts enlarged in his service."

[v.35-36] - Matthew Henry has a very interesting way to describe this situation with the Egyptians. He uses the word "hire," to describe what the Egyptians did to the Israelites, as if the Egyptians "hired" the Israelites to leave Egypt, or paid them to leave.

[v.40] - Reference, Genesis 15:13; Acts 7:6; Galatians 3:17.

[v.46] - "neither shall you break a bone of it" - Reference, Numbers 9:12; Psalm 34:20; John 19:33, 36.