Exodus 13

Consecration of the Firstborn

1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
2 "1Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me."
3 Moses said to the people, "2Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for 3by a powerful hand the LORD brought you out from this place. 4And nothing leavened shall be eaten.
4 "On this day in the 5month of Abib, you are about to go forth.
5 "It shall be when the LORD 6brings you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, which 7He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, 8that you shall observe this rite in this month.
6 "For 9seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD.
7 "Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and 10nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders.
8 "11You shall tell your son on that day, saying, 'It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.'
9 "And 12it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead *, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with 13a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt.
10 "Therefore, you shall 14keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.
11 "Now when 15the LORD brings you to the land of the Canaanite, as 16He swore to you and to your fathers, and gives it to you,
12 17you shall devote to the LORD the first offspring of every womb, and the first offspring of every beast that you own; the males belong to the LORD.
13 "But 18every first offspring of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and 19every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.
14 "20And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What is this?' then you shall say to him, '21With a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery.
15 'It came about, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the 22LORD killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore *, I sacrifice to the LORD the males, the first offspring of every womb, but every firstborn of my sons I redeem.'
16 "So 23it shall serve as a sign on your hand and as phylacteries on your forehead *, for with a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt."

God Leads the People

17 Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, "24The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt."
18 Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red * Sea; and the sons of Israel went up 25in martial array from the land of Egypt.
19 Moses took 26the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, "God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you."
20 Then they set out from 27Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness.
21 28The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.
22 He 29did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before 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 29

  • 1. Ex 13:12, 13, 15; Exodus 22:29; Leviticus 27:26; Numbers 3:13; Numbers 8:16; Numbers 18:15; Deuteronomy 15:19; Luke 2:23
  • 2. Exodus 12:42; Deuteronomy 16:3
  • 3. Exodus 3:20; Exodus 6:1
  • 4. Exodus 12:19
  • 5. Exodus 12:2; Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:1
  • 6. Exodus 3:8, 17; Joshua 24:11
  • 7. Exodus 6:8
  • 8. Exodus 12:25
  • 9. Exodus 12:15-20
  • 10. Exodus 12:19
  • 11. Exodus 10:2; Exodus 12:26; Exodus 13:14; Psalms 44:1
  • 12. Exodus 12:14; Exodus 13:16; Numbers 15:39; Deuteronomy 6:8; Deuteronomy 11:18
  • 13. Exodus 13:3
  • 14. Exodus 12:24, 25; Exodus 13:5
  • 15. Exodus 13:5
  • 16. Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:8; Genesis 28:15; Psalms 105:42-45
  • 17. Exodus 13:1, 2; Exodus 22:29; Exodus 34:19; Leviticus 27:26; Numbers 18:15; Ezekiel 44:30; Luke 2:23
  • 18. Exodus 34:20; Numbers 18:15
  • 19. Numbers 3:46
  • 20. Exodus 10:2; Exodus 12:26, 27; Exodus 13:8; Deuteronomy 6:20; Joshua 4:6, 21
  • 21. Exodus 13:3, 9
  • 22. Exodus 12:29
  • 23. Exodus 13:9; Deuteronomy 6:8
  • 24. Exodus 14:11, 12; Numbers 14:1-4; Deuteronomy 17:16
  • 25. Joshua 1:14; Joshua 4:12, 13
  • 26. Genesis 50:24, 25; Joshua 24:32; Acts 7:15, 16
  • 27. Exodus 12:37; Numbers 33:6
  • 28. Exodus 14:19, 24; Exodus 33:9, 10; Numbers 9:15; Numbers 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:33; Nehemiah 9:12; Psalms 78:14; Psalms 99:7; Psalms 105:39; Isaiah 4:5; 1 Corinthians 10:1
  • 29. Nehemiah 9:19

Footnotes 24

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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