Exodus 13

Consecration of the Firstborn

1 The LORD said to Moses,
2 “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.”
3 Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the LORD brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast.
4 Today, in the month of Aviv, you are leaving.
5 When the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites—the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey—you are to observe this ceremony in this month:
6 For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the LORD.
7 Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders.
8 On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’
9 This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the LORD is to be on your lips. For the LORD brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand.
10 You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.
11 “After the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you, as he promised on oath to you and your ancestors,
12 you are to give over to the LORD the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the LORD.
13 Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons.
14 “In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
15 When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed the firstborn of both people and animals in Egypt. This is why I sacrifice to the LORD the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.’
16 And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the LORD brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”

Crossing the Sea

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”
18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.[a] The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.
19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”[b]
20 After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert.
21 By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.
22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

Exodus 13 Commentary

Chapter 13

The first-born sanctified to God The remembrance of the passover commanded. (1-10) The firstlings of beasts set apart. (11-16) Joseph's bones carried with the Israelites, They come to Etham. (17-20) God guideth the Israelites by a pillar of cloud fire. (21,22)

Verses 1-10 In remembrance of the destruction of the first-born of Egypt, both of man and of beast, and the deliverance of the Israelites out of bondage, the first-born males of the Israelites were set apart to the Lord. By this was set before them, that their lives were preserved through the ransom of the atonement, which in due time was to be made for sin. They were also to consider their lives, thus ransomed from death, as now to be consecrated to the service of God. The parents were not to look upon themselves as having any right in their first-born, till they solemnly presented them to God, and allowed his title to them. That which is, by special mercy, spared to us, should be applied to God's honour; at least, some grateful acknowledgment, in works of piety and charity, should be made. The remembrance of their coming out of Egypt must be kept up every year. The day of Christ's resurrection is to be remembered, for in it we were raised up with Christ out of death's house of bondage. The Scripture tells us not expressly what day of the year Christ rose, but it states particularly what day of the week it was; as the more valuable deliverance, it should be remembered weekly. The Israelites must keep the feast of unleavened bread. Under the gospel, we must not only remember Christ, but observe his holy supper. Do this in remembrance of him. Also care must be taken to teach children the knowledge of God. Here is an old law for catechising. It is of great use to acquaint children betimes with the histories of the Bible. And those who have God's law in their heart should have it in their mouth, and often speak of it, to affect themselves, and to teach others.

Verses 11-16 The firstlings of beast not used in sacrifice, were to be changed for others so used, or they were to be destroyed. Our souls are forfeited to God's justice, and unless ransomed by the sacrifice of Christ, will certainly perish. These institutions would continually remind them of their duty, to love and serve the Lord. In like manner, baptism and the Lord's supper, if explained and attended to, would remind us, and give us occasion to remind one another of our profession and duty.

Verses 17-20 There were two ways from Egypt to Canaan. One was only a few days' journey; the other was much further about, through the wilderness, and that was the way in which God chose to lead his people Israel. The Egyptians were to be drowned in the Red sea; the Israelites were to be humbled and proved in the wilderness. God's way is the right way, though it seems about. If we think he leads not his people the nearest way, yet we may be sure he leads them the best way, and so it will appear when we come to our journey's end. The Philistines were powerful enemies; it was needful that the Israelites should be prepared for the wars of Canaan, by passing through the difficulties of the wilderness. Thus God proportions his people's trials to their strength, 1Co. 10:13 . They went up in good order. They went up in five in a rank, some; in five bands, so others, which it seems rather to their faith and hope, that God would bring them to Canaan, in expectation of which they carried these bones with them while in the desert.

Verses 21-22 The Lord went before them in a pillar, or appearance of the Divine Majesty. Christ was with the church in the ( 1 Corinthians. 10:13 ) he will not leave nor lose there, but will take care to lead them through it. It was great satisfaction to Moses and the pious Israelites, to be sure that they were under Divine guidance. Those who make the glory of God their end, and the word of God their rule, the Spirit of God the guide of their affections, and the providence of God the guide of their affairs, may be sure that the Lord goes before them, though they cannot see it with their eyes: we must now live by faith. When Israel marched, this pillar went before, and pointed out the place of encampment, as Divine Wisdom saw fit. It sheltered by day from the heat, and gave light by night. The Bible is a light to our feet, a lantern to our paths, with which the Saviour's love has provided us. It testifies of Christ. It is to us like the pillar to the Israelites. Listen to that voice which cries, I am the Light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of life, ( John 8:12 ) . Jesus Christ alone, as shown in the Bible, and as the Holy Spirit, in answer to prayer, recommends him to the soul, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, ( John 14:6 ) .

Cross References 38

  • 1. ver 12,13,15; Exodus 22:29; Exodus 34:20; Leviticus 27:26; Numbers 3:13; Numbers 8:17; Numbers 18:15; Deuteronomy 15:19; Nehemiah 10:36; Luke 2:23*
  • 2. ver 14; Exodus 7:4; Leviticus 26:13; Numbers 1:1; Numbers 9:1; Numbers 22:5; Numbers 26:4; Deuteronomy 4:45; Deuteronomy 5:6; Psalms 81:10; Psalms 114:1
  • 3. S Exodus 3:20; Exodus 6:1
  • 4. S Exodus 12:8; Exodus 12:19
  • 5. S Exodus 12:2
  • 6. ver 11
  • 7. S Exodus 3:8
  • 8. S Exodus 3:8
  • 9. Exodus 12:25-26
  • 10. S Exodus 12:15-20
  • 11. ver 14; S Exodus 10:2; Psalms 78:5-6
  • 12. Isaiah 44:5
  • 13. ver 16; Deuteronomy 6:8; Deuteronomy 11:18; Proverbs 3:3; Matthew 23:5
  • 14. S Exodus 3:20
  • 15. S Exodus 12:14; Exodus 12:24-25
  • 16. Psalms 75:2; Psalms 102:13
  • 17. S ver 5
  • 18. S Genesis 22:16; Deuteronomy 1:8
  • 19. S Genesis 12:7; S Genesis 17:19; Psalms 105:42-45
  • 20. S Genesis 4:4; Leviticus 27:26; Numbers 3:13; Numbers 18:15,17; Luke 2:23*
  • 21. ver 15; Leviticus 27:11
  • 22. Exodus 34:20; Isaiah 66:3
  • 23. Numbers 3:46-47
  • 24. Numbers 18:15
  • 25. S Exodus 10:2; Exodus 12:26-27; Deuteronomy 6:20
  • 26. Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 7:8; Deuteronomy 28:68; ver 3,9
  • 27. S ver 2; Exodus 12:29
  • 28. S ver 9
  • 29. Exodus 14:11; Numbers 14:1-4; Deuteronomy 17:16; Hosea 11:5
  • 30. Exodus 15:22; Psalms 136:16; Ezekiel 20:10
  • 31. Joshua 1:14; Joshua 4:13
  • 32. Joshua 24:32; Acts 7:16; Hebrews 11:22
  • 33. S Genesis 47:29-30; Genesis 50:24-25
  • 34. S Exodus 12:37
  • 35. Numbers 33:6
  • 36. Exodus 32:1; Exodus 33:14; Deuteronomy 2:7; Deuteronomy 31:8; Judges 4:14; Judges 5:4; Psalms 68:7; Psalms 77:20; Jeremiah 2:2; Habakkuk 3:13
  • 37. Exodus 14:19,24; Exodus 24:16; Exodus 33:9-10; Exodus 34:5; Exodus 40:38; Numbers 9:16; Numbers 12:5; Numbers 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:33; Nehemiah 9:12,19; Psalms 78:14; Psalms 99:7; Psalms 105:39; Isaiah 4:5; 1 Corinthians 10:1
  • 38. Nehemiah 9:19

Footnotes 2

Chapter Summary


This chapter begins with an order to sanctify or set apart the firstborn of man and beast to the Lord, Ex 13:1,2 and the people of Israel are charged to keep the feast of unleavened bread in its season, from year to year, when they came into the land of Canaan, the reason of which they were to acquaint their children with, Ex 13:3-10 and they are also directed, when come into the land of Canaan, to set apart every firstling of a beast unto the Lord, and particularly the firstling of an ass was to be redeemed with a lamb, or its neck to be broke, and all the firstborn of men were to be redeemed also, Ex 13:11-13, and when their children inquired the reason of it, they were to be told it was on account of the Lord's slaying the firstborn of men and beast among the Egyptians, when Pharaoh would not let Israel go, and of saving the firstborn of his people, Ex 13:14-16, and it is observed, that when the children of Israel went out of Egypt, they were not led by the nearest way, the way of the land of the Philistines, but a round about way, the way of the wilderness of the Red sea, when they took the bones of Joseph with them, as he had adjured them to do, Ex 13:17-19, and the chapter is concluded with an account of their journeying from Succoth to Etham, the Lord going before them in a pillar of cloud by day, and in a pillar of fire by night, Ex 13:20-22.

Exodus 13 Commentaries

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