Monday, January 2, 2012

Exodus 12:1-13 The LORD's Passover

"The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt,
'This month is to be for you the first month,
the first month of your year.

Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month
each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.
If any household is too small for a whole lamb,
they must share one with their nearest neighbor,
having taken into account the number of people there are.
You are to determine the amount of lamb needed
in accordance with what each person will eat.

The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect,
and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.
Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month,
when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.

Then they are to take some of the blood
and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes
of the houses where they eat the lambs.
That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire,
along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.

Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water,
but roast it over the fire -- head, legs and inner parts.
Do not leave any of it till morning;
if some is left till morning, you must burn it.
This is how you are to eat it:
with your cloak tucked into your belt,
your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand.
Eat it in haste; it is the LORD's Passover.

On that same night I will pass through Egypt
and I will strike down every firstborn -- both men and animals --
and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt.
I am the LORD.
The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are;
and when I see the blood, I will pass over you.
No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.' "

Exodus 12:1-13 (NIV)
Some observations:
  • The LORD is setting up a new calendar for the Hebrews.  This month would be the first one of their calendar year.  This deliverance from Egypt would be so significant that it demanded a fresh way of looking at the year.
  • On the tenth of the month, a lamb would be selected in accordance with what each person would eat.  Households could share with their nearest neighbor if they were too small to need a whole lamb for themselves.  Why the nearest neighbor?  Probably because this would not be a night where they should be out and about any more than necessary while the LORD was bringing judgment upon Egypt.  [I was also impressed with the careful use of resources -- no wasted animals.  This reminds me of One who instructed His disciples to gather up the unused portions of bread after he had fed the crowds.]
  • These lambs (which could be from the sheep or the goats) would be cared for from the tenth until the fourteenth of the month.  I do not know if this is the main reason, but the time span gave additional time for Pharaoh or other Egyptians to turn to God before God's judgment fell.
  • The lamb was to be without defect.  [I Peter 1:19 calls Jesus Christ a lamb without defect as well.  These lambs were symbolic of the sinless One who gave His life for a ransom for sinners.]
  • The Israelites were to take some of the blood from the lamb and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where the lamb was being eaten.  This blood is not some magic substance applied to ward off evil, but a solemn reminder that their freedom was not purchased without the sacrifice of a life.
  • The meat was to be roasted and eaten with bitter herbs (a symbol of their suffering in Egypt).  Bread made without yeast could be quickly prepared, as the meal was eaten in haste.  The people were to be basically ready to run at a moment's notice, since their cloaks were tucked up and sandals secured on their feet and staff in hand.
  • God would pass through Egypt that same night, striking down the firstborn of Egypt and demonstrating the inability of any of the 'gods' of Egypt to deliver them.  Each of the plagues had already shown that these 'gods' could offer no help in times of need.  Now, however, the losses were about as severe as could be, as each family lost its firstborn son.  [I suppose if a family had a grandfather who had been the firstborn and the father was also a firstborn, and had a son, all three might drop dead in one household, which would be a truly horrifying and devastating event for that family.]
  • The blood applied to the doorframes would be a sign for the Israelites [I suppose as they observed later that all who had the blood applied had been spared, while those who did not had suffered the loss of the firstborn son.]  The LORD would pass over the homes marked by the blood, hence the term, 'Passover'.  No destructive plague would touch these homes.
  • A former Pharaoh had been responsible for the death of many of the newborn sons of Israel, when he had ordered them to be thrown into the Nile River.  The present Pharaoh had threatened to kill Moses if he appeared before him again.  In the previous post, I had discussed how God had promised to bless those who blessed Israel and curse those who cursed them.  I also said that it seemed that God would bring upon Israel's enemies the very same evil which they had planned for Israel.  Here is another example of that same type of judgment, as the firstborn of Egypt will die in a final plague.

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