Then the LORD said to Moses,
"Dedicate to me all the firstborn sons of Israel and every firstborn male animal. They are mine."
So Moses said to the people, "This is a day to remember forever -- the day you left Egypt, the place of your slavery. For the LORD has brought you out by his mighty power. (Remember, you are not to use any yeast.)
This day in early spring a will be the anniversary of your exodus.
You must celebrate this day when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites, and Jebusites. This is the land he swore to give your ancestors -- a land flowing with milk and honey.
For seven days you will eat only bread without yeast. Then on the seventh day, you will celebrate a great feast to the LORD.
Eat only bread without yeast during those seven days. In fact, there must be no yeast in your homes or anywhere within the borders of your land during this time.
"During these festival days each year, you must explain to your children why you are celebrating. Say to them, 'This is a celebration of what the LORD did for us when we left Egypt.'
This annual festival will be a visible reminder to you, like a mark branded on your hands or your forehead. Let it remind you always to keep the LORD's instructions in your minds and on your lips. After all, it was the LORD who rescued you from Egypt with great power.
"So celebrate this festival at the appointed time each year.
And remember these instructions when the LORD brings you into the land he swore to give your ancestors long ago, the land where the Canaanites are now living.
All firstborn sons and firstborn male animals must be presented to the LORD.
A firstborn male donkey may be redeemed from the LORD by presenting a lamb in its place. But if you decide not to make the exchange, the donkey must be killed by breaking its neck. However, you must redeem every firstborn son.
"And in the future, your children will ask you, 'What does all this mean?' Then you will tell them, 'With mighty power the LORD brought us out of Egypt from our slavery.
Pharaoh refused to let us go, so the LORD killed all the firstborn males throughout the land of Egypt, both people and animals. That is why we now offer all the firstborn males to the LORD -- except that the firstborn sons are always redeemed.'
Again I say, this ceremony will be like a mark branded on your hands or your forehead. It is a visible reminder that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt with great power."
When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them on the road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest way from Egypt to the Promised Land. God said, "If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt."
So God led them along a route through the wilderness toward the Red Sea, b and the Israelites left Egypt like a marching army.
Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear that they would take his bones with them when God led them out of Egypt -- as he was sure God would.
Leaving Succoth, they camped at Etham on the edge of the wilderness.
The LORD guided them by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. That way they could travel whether it was day or night.
And the LORD did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from their sight.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)