Exodus 12:2

2 "This month is to be the first month of the year for you.

Exodus 12:2 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 12:2

This month shall be unto you the beginning of months
Not only the first, as after expressed, but the chief and principal of them, now famous for their coming out of Egypt in it, and would be more so for the sufferings and death of the Messiah, and redemption by him from sin, Satan, and the world, law, hell, and death, for he suffered at the time of the passover. This month was called Abib, ( Exodus 13:4 ) ( 23:15 ) , which signifies an ear of corn, and at this time we find that the barley was in ear, ( Exodus 9:31 ) which clearly shows in what month the above things were transacted; afterwards it was called Nisan, which seems to be the Chaldean name for it, ( Nehemiah 2:1 ) ( Esther 3:7 ) : it shall be the first month of the year to you; which before was the seventh; while the Israelites were in Egypt they observed the same beginning of the year and course of months as the Egyptians, as Josephus F26 intimates; and with the Egyptians, the month Thot was the first month, which answered to Tisri with the Jews, and both to our September, or a part of it, so that the beginning of the year was then in the autumnal equinox, at which season it is thought the world was created; but now to the Israelites it was changed unto the vernal equinox, for this month of Abib or Nisan answers to part of our March and part of April; though indeed both beginnings of the year were observed by them, the one on ecclesiastic, the other on civil accounts; or, as Josephus F1 expresses it, the month of Nisan was the beginning with respect to things divine, but in buying and selling, and such like things, the ancient order was observed; and so the Targum of Jonathan here paraphrases it,

``from hence ye shall begin to reckon the feasts, the times, and the revolutions.''
Indeed the Jews had four beginnings of the year according to their Misnah F2; the first of Nisan (or March) was the beginning of the year for kings and for festivals; the first of Elul (or August) for the tithing of cattle; the first of Tisri (or September) for the sabbatical years, jubilees, and planting of trees and herbs; and the first of Shebet (or January) for the tithing the fruit of trees.

F26 Antiqu. l. 1. c. 3. sect. 3.
F1 Antiqu. l. 1. c. 3. sect. 3.
F2 Misn. Roshhashanah, c. 1. sect. 1.

Exodus 12:2 In-Context

1 God said to Moses and Aaron while still in Egypt,
2 "This month is to be the first month of the year for you.
3 Address the whole community of Israel; tell them that on the tenth of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one lamb to a house.
4 If the family is too small for a lamb, then share it with a close neighbor, depending on the number of persons involved. Be mindful of how much each person will eat.
5 Your lamb must be a healthy male, one year old; you can select it from either the sheep or the goats.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.