Exodus 12

The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread

1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt,
2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.
3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb[a] for his family, one for each household.
4 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.
5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.
6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.
7 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.
8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.
9 Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs.
10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it.
11 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.
12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD.
13 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.
14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD—a lasting ordinance.
15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel.
16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.
17 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.
18 In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day.
19 For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel.
20 Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.”
21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb.
22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning.
23 When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants.
25 When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony.
26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’
27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’ ” Then the people bowed down and worshiped.
28 The Israelites did just what the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron.
29 At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well.
30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

The Exodus

31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested.
32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”
33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!”
34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing.
35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing.
36 The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.
37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children.
38 Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.
39 With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.
40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt[b] was 430 years.
41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD’s divisions left Egypt.
42 Because the LORD kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the LORD for the generations to come.

Passover Restrictions

43 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover meal: “No foreigner may eat it.
44 Any slave you have bought may eat it after you have circumcised him,
45 but a temporary resident or a hired worker may not eat it.
46 “It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones.
47 The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.
48 “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the LORD’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it.
49 The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.”
50 All the Israelites did just what the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron.
51 And on that very day the LORD brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.

Exodus 12 Commentary

Chapter 12

The beginning of the year changed, The passover instituted. (1-20) The people instructed how to observe the passover. (21-28) The death of the first-born of the Egyptians The Israelites urged to leave the land of Egypt. (29-36) The Israelites' first journey to Succoth. (37-42) Ordinance respecting the passover. (43-51)

Verses 1-20 The Lord makes all things new to those whom he delivers from the bondage of Satan, and takes to himself to be his people. The time when he does this is to them the beginning of a new life. God appointed that, on the night wherein they were to go out of Egypt, each family should kill a lamb, or that two or three families, if small, should kill one lamb. This lamb was to be eaten in the manner here directed, and the blood to be sprinkled on the door-posts, to mark the houses of the Israelites from those of the Egyptians. The angel of the Lord, when destroying the first-born of the Egyptians, would pass over the houses marked by the blood of the lamb: hence the name of this holy feast or ordinance. The passover was to be kept every year, both as a remembrance of Israel's preservation and deliverance out of Egypt, and as a remarkable type of Christ. Their safety and deliverance were not a reward of their own righteousness, but the gift of mercy. Of this they were reminded, and by this ordinance they were taught, that all blessings came to them through the shedding and sprinkling of blood. Observe, 1. The paschal lamb was typical. Christ is our passover, #1Co. 5:7 |. Christ is the Lamb of God, ( John 1:29 ) ; often in the Revelation he is called the Lamb. It was to be in its prime; Christ offered up himself in the midst of his days, not when a babe at Bethlehem. It was to be without blemish; the Lord Jesus was a Lamb without spot: the judge who condemned Christ declared him innocent. It was to be set apart four days before, denoting the marking out of the Lord Jesus to be a Saviour, both in the purpose and in the promise. It was to be slain, and roasted with fire, denoting the painful sufferings of the Lord Jesus, even unto death, the death of the cross. The wrath of God is as fire, and Christ was made a curse for us. Not a bone of it must be broken, which was fulfilled in Christ, Joh. 19:33 , denoting the unbroken strength of the Lord Jesus. 2. The sprinkling of the blood was typical. The blood of the lamb must be sprinkled, denoting the applying of the merits of Christ's death to our souls; we must receive the atonement, ( Romans 5:11 ) . Faith is the bunch of hyssop, by which we apply the promises, and the benefits of the blood of Christ laid up in them, to ourselves. It was to be sprinkled on the door-posts, denoting the open profession we are to make of faith in Christ. It was not to be sprinkled upon the threshold; which cautions us to take heed of trampling under foot the blood of the covenant. It is precious blood, and must be precious to us. The blood, thus sprinkled, was a means of preserving the Israelites from the destroying angel, who had nothing to do where the blood was. The blood of Christ is the believer's protection from the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and the damnation of hell, ( Romans 8:1 ) . 3. The solemn eating of the lamb was typical of our gospel duty to Christ. The paschal lamb was not to be looked upon only, but to be fed upon. So we must by faith make Christ our own; and we must receive spiritual strength and nourishment from him, as from our food, see ( john 6:53 john 6:55 ) . It was all to be eaten; those who by faith feed upon Christ, must feed upon a whole Christ; they must take Christ and his yoke, Christ and his cross, as well as Christ and his crown. It was to be eaten at once, not put by till morning. To-day Christ is offered, and is to be accepted while it is called to-day, before we sleep the sleep of death. It was to be eaten with bitter herbs, in remembrance of the bitterness of their bondage in Egypt; we must feed upon Christ with sorrow and brokenness of heart, in remembrance of sin. Christ will be sweet to us, if sin be bitter. It was to be eaten standing, with their staves in their hands, as being ready to depart. When we feed upon Christ by faith, we must forsake the rule and the dominion of sin; sit loose to the world, and every thing in it; forsake all for Christ, and reckon it no bad bargain, ( hebrews 13:13 hebrews 13:14 ) . 4. The feast of unleavened bread was ( 1 Corinthians. 5:7 ) Christ Jesus the Lord, we must continually delight ourselves in Christ Jesus. No manner of work must be done, that is, no care admitted and indulged, which does not agree with, or would lessen this holy joy. The Jews were very strict as to the passover, so that no leaven should be found in their houses. It must be a feast kept in charity, without the leaven of malice; and in sincerity, without the leaven of hypocrisy. It was by an ordinance for ever; so long as we live we must continue feeding upon Christ, rejoicing in him always, with thankful mention of the great things he has done for us.

Verses 21-28 That night, when the first-born were to be destroyed, no Israelite must stir out of doors till called to march out of Egypt. Their safety was owing to the blood of sprinkling. If they put themselves from under the protection of that, it was at their peril. They must stay within, to wait for the salvation of the Lord; it is good to do so. In after-times they should carefully teach their children the meaning of this service. It is good for children to ask about the things of God; they that ask for the way will find it. The keeping of this solemnity every year was, 1. To look backward, that they might remember what great things God had done for them and their fathers. Old mercies, to ourselves, or to our fathers, must not be forgotten, that God may be praised, and our faith in him encouraged. 2. It was designed to look forward, as an earnest of the great sacrifice of the Lamb of God in the fulness of time. Christ our passover was sacrificed for us; his death was our life.

Verses 29-36 The Egyptians had been for three days and nights kept in anxiety and horror by the darkness; now their rest is broken by a far more terrible calamity. The plague struck their first-born, the joy and hope of their families. They had slain the Hebrews' children, now God slew theirs. It reached from the throne to the dungeon: prince and peasant stand upon the same level before God's judgments. The destroying angel entered every dwelling unmarked with blood, as the messenger of woe. He did his dreadful errand, leaving not a house in which there was not one dead. Imagine then the cry that rang through the land of Egypt, the long, loud shriek of agony that burst from every dwelling. It will be thus in that dreadful hour when the Son of man shall visit sinners with the last judgment. God's sons, his first-born, were now released. Men had better come to God's terms at first, for he will never come to theirs. Now Pharaoh's pride is abased, and he yields. God's word will stand; we get nothing by disputing, or delaying to submit. In this terror the Egyptians would purchase the favour and the speedy departure of Israel. Thus the Lord took care that their hard-earned wages should be paid, and the people provided for their journey.

Verses 37-42 The children of Israel set forward without delay. A mixed multitude went with them. Some, perhaps, willing to leave their country, laid waste by plagues; others, out of curiosity; perhaps a few out of love to them and their religion. But there were always those among the Israelites who were not Israelites. Thus there are still hypocrites in the church. This great event was 430 years from the promise made to Abraham: see ( Galatians 3:17 ) . So long the promise of a settlement was unfulfilled. But though God's promises are not performed quickly, they will be, in their season. This is that night of the Lord, that remarkable night, to be celebrated in all generations. The great things God does for his people, are to be not only a few days' wonder, but to be remembered throughout all ages; especially the work of our redemption by Christ. This first passover-night was a night of the Lord, much to be observed; but the last passover-night, in which Christ was betrayed and in which the first passover, with the rest of the Jewish ceremonies, was done away, was a night of the Lord, much more to be observed. Then a yoke, heavier than that of Egypt, was broken from off our necks, and a land, better than that of Canaan, set before us. It was a redemption to be celebrated in heaven, for ever and ever.

Verses 43-51 In times to come, all the congregation of Israel must keep the passover. All that share in God's mercies should join in thankful praises for them. The New Testament passover, the Lord's supper, ought not to be neglected by any. Strangers, if circumcised, might eat of the passover. Here is an early indication of favour to the gentiles. This taught the Jews that their being a nation favoured by God, entitled them to their privileges, not their descent from Abraham. Christ our passover ( 1 Corinthians. 5:7 1 Corinthians. 5:8 ) for our souls; without the shedding of it there is no remission; without the sprinkling of it there can be no salvation. Have we, by faith in him, sheltered our souls from deserved vengeance under the protection of his atoning blood? Do we keep close to him, constantly depending upon him? Do we so profess our faith in the Redeemer, and our obligations to him, that all who pass by may know to whom we belong? Do we stand prepared for his service, ready to walk in his ways, and to separate ourselves from his enemies? These are questions of vast importance to the soul; may the Lord direct our consciences honestly to answer them.

Cross References 85

  • 1. ver 18; Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:18; Exodus 40:2; Deuteronomy 16:1
  • 2. Mark 14:12; 1 Corinthians 5:7
  • 3. ver 21
  • 4. Exodus 29:1; Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 3:1; Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 22:18-21; 2Leviticus 3:12; Numbers 6:14; Numbers 15:8; Numbers 28:3; Deuteronomy 15:21; Deuteronomy 17:1; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:19
  • 5. ver 19; Leviticus 23:5; Nu 9:1-3,5,11; Joshua 5:10; 2 Chronicles 30:2
  • 6. Exodus 16:12; Deuteronomy 16:4,6
  • 7. ver 13,23; Ezekiel 9:6
  • 8. ver 10; Exodus 16:19; Exodus 23:18; Exodus 34:25; Leviticus 7:15; Numbers 9:12
  • 9. Deuteronomy 16:7; 2 Chronicles 35:13
  • 10. Numbers 9:11
  • 11. ver 19-20; Exodus 13:3; Deuteronomy 16:3-4; 1 Corinthians 5:8
  • 12. Ex 29:13,17,22; Leviticus 3:3
  • 13. S ver 8; Exodus 13:7; Exodus 29:34; Leviticus 22:30; Deuteronomy 16:4; Exodus 23:18; Exodus 34:25
  • 14. ver 33; Deuteronomy 16:3; Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 52:12
  • 15. ver 13,21,27,43; Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:2,4; Numbers 28:16; Deuteronomy 16:1; Joshua 5:10; 2 Kings 23:21,23; 2 Chronicles 30:1; Ezra 6:19; Isaiah 31:5; Ezekiel 45:21
  • 16. Exodus 11:4; Amos 5:17
  • 17. Isaiah 10:33; Isaiah 31:8; Isaiah 37:36
  • 18. ver 29; S Exodus 4:23; Exodus 13:15
  • 19. Exodus 15:11; Exodus 18:11; Numbers 33:4; 2 Chronicles 2:5; Psalms 95:3; Psalms 97:9; Psalms 135:5; Isaiah 19:1; Jeremiah 43:12; Jeremiah 44:8
  • 20. S Exodus 6:2
  • 21. S ver 11,23; Hebrews 11:28
  • 22. S Exodus 8:23
  • 23. Exodus 13:9; Exodus 23:14; Exodus 32:5
  • 24. ver 17,24; Exodus 13:5,10; Exodus 27:21; Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 10:9; Leviticus 16:29; Leviticus 17:7; Leviticus 23:14; Leviticus 24:3; Numbers 18:23; 2 Kings 23:21
  • 25. Exodus 13:6-7; Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:18; Leviticus 23:6; Numbers 28:17; Deuteronomy 16:3; 1 Corinthians 5:7
  • 26. S Genesis 17:14; Numbers 9:13
  • 27. Numbers 29:35
  • 28. Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:16; 2 Chronicles 8:13; 2 Chronicles 30:21; Ezra 6:22; Matthew 26:17; Luke 22:1; Acts 12:3
  • 29. ver 41; S Exodus 6:6,26; Exodus 13:3; Leviticus 19:36
  • 30. Leviticus 3:17
  • 31. S ver 2; Leviticus 23:5-8; Numbers 28:16-25
  • 32. S Genesis 17:14
  • 33. Numbers 9:14; Numbers 15:14; Numbers 35:15; Deuteronomy 1:16; Joshua 8:33
  • 34. Leviticus 3:17; Numbers 35:29; Ezekiel 6:6
  • 35. Exodus 13:6
  • 36. S ver 11; Mark 14:12-16
  • 37. Leviticus 14:4,6; Numbers 19:18; Psalms 51:7
  • 38. ver 7; Hebrews 11:28
  • 39. Isaiah 19:22
  • 40. S ver 7; Revelation 7:3
  • 41. S ver 13
  • 42. S Genesis 16:7; Isaiah 37:36; Jeremiah 6:26; Jeremiah 48:8; 1 Corinthians 10:10; Hebrews 11:28
  • 43. S ver 14
  • 44. S Genesis 15:14; Exodus 3:17
  • 45. Exodus 10:2; Exodus 13:8,14-15; Joshua 4:6
  • 46. S ver 11
  • 47. S Exodus 8:23
  • 48. S Genesis 24:26; Exodus 4:31
  • 49. ver 50
  • 50. S Exodus 11:4
  • 51. S Genesis 19:13
  • 52. S Exodus 4:23; Psalms 78:51
  • 53. S Exodus 9:6
  • 54. S Exodus 11:6
  • 55. S Exodus 8:8
  • 56. Exodus 10:9,26
  • 57. Genesis 27:34
  • 58. S ver 11
  • 59. S Exodus 6:1; 1 Samuel 6:6; Psalms 105:38
  • 60. S Genesis 20:3; S Exodus 8:19
  • 61. Exodus 8:3
  • 62. S Exodus 3:22
  • 63. S Genesis 24:53
  • 64. S Genesis 39:21
  • 65. S Exodus 3:22
  • 66. S Genesis 47:11
  • 67. Exodus 13:20; Numbers 33:3-5
  • 68. Genesis 12:2; Exodus 38:26; Numbers 1:46; Numbers 2:32; Numbers 11:13,21; Numbers 26:51
  • 69. Numbers 11:4; Joshua 8:35
  • 70. ver 31-33; Exodus 3:20; Exodus 6:1; Exodus 11:1
  • 71. Genesis 15:13; Acts 7:6; Galatians 3:17
  • 72. ver 17; S Exodus 6:26
  • 73. S Exodus 3:10
  • 74. Exodus 13:10; Leviticus 3:17; Numbers 9:3; Deuteronomy 16:1,6
  • 75. S ver 11
  • 76. ver 48; Numbers 9:14; Numbers 15:14; 2 Chronicles 6:32-33; Isaiah 14:1; Isaiah 56:3,6; Isaiah 60:10
  • 77. S Genesis 17:12-13
  • 78. Leviticus 22:10
  • 79. Numbers 9:12; Psalms 22:14; Psalms 34:20; Psalms 51:8; Proverbs 17:22; John 19:36*
  • 80. ver 49; Leviticus 19:18,34; Leviticus 24:22; Numbers 9:14; Numbers 10:32
  • 81. Ezekiel 44:7
  • 82. Leviticus 24:22; Nu 15:15-16,29; Deuteronomy 1:16; Galatians 3:28
  • 83. ver 28
  • 84. S Exodus 3:10; S Exodus 6:6
  • 85. ver 41; S Exodus 6:26

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. The Hebrew word can mean "lamb" or "kid" ; also in verse 4.
  • [b]. Masoretic Text; Samaritan Pentateuch and Septuagint "Egypt and Canaan"

Chapter Summary


This chapter begins with observing, that the month in which the above wonders were wrought in Egypt, and the following ordinance appointed to the Israelites, should hereafter be reckoned the first month in the year, Ex 12:1,2 on the tenth day of which a lamb here described was to be taken and kept till the fourteenth, and then slain, and its blood sprinkled on the posts of the houses of the Israelites, Ex 12:3-7, the manner of dressing and eating it is shown, Ex 12:8-11 and the reason of the institution of this ordinance being given, Ex 12:12-14, and an order to eat unleavened bread during seven days, in which the feast was to be kept, Ex 12:15-20, directions are also given for the immediate observance of it, and particularly about the sprinkling of the blood of the lamb, and the use of it, Ex 12:21-23, and this ordinance, which they were to instruct their children in, was to be kept by them in succeeding ages for ever, Ex 12:24-27 about the middle of the night it was first observed, all the firstborn in Egypt were slain, which made the Egyptians urgent upon the Israelites to depart in haste, Ex 12:28-33 and which they did with their unleavened dough, and with great riches they had borrowed of the Egyptians, Ex 12:34-36, the number of the children of Israel at the time of their departure, the mixed multitude and cattle that went with them, their baking their unleavened cakes, the time of their sojourning in Egypt, and of their coming out of it that night, which made it a remarkable one, are all particularly taken notice of, Ex 12:37-42, laws and rules are given concerning the persons that should partake of the passover, Ex 12:43-49 and the chapter is concluded with observing, that it was kept according to the command of God, and that it was on the same day it was first instituted and kept that Israel were brought out of Egypt, Ex 12:50,51.

Exodus 12 Commentaries

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