Exodus 12:3

3 Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household.

Exodus 12:3 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 12:3

Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel
That is, to the elders of the people, and heads of families; unless we can suppose that they had been gradually gathered, and were now gathered together in a body by the direction of Moses, by whom they were assured that their departure was at hand; and the rather it may be thought that so it was, since the following order concerned the whole and every individual: saying, in the tenth [day] of this month;
the month Abib or Nisan, which shows that this direction must be given before that day, and so very probably on the first of the month, as before observed: they shall take to them every man a lamb;
not every individual person, but every master of a family, or head of an house, as follows: according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house;
if large enough to eat up a whole lamb, otherwise they were to do as next directed: the Targum of Jonathan suggests, that this direction of taking a lamb to them on the tenth day of the month was only for this time, and not for following ages; and so the Jewish doctors F3 commonly understand it as being peculiar to the passover in Egypt, and not in later times; for they F4 say,

``what difference is there between the passover in Egypt, and the passover in later ages? the passover in Egypt was taken within the tenth day, and was obliged to sprinkling with a bunch of hyssop upon the lintel, and upon the two side posts, and was eaten with haste in one night, but the passover in later ages was kept all the seven days.''
The ground and reason of this special direction for taking up a lamb on the tenth day was, that they might have a lamb ready; and that through the multiplicity of business, and the hurry they would be in at their departure, they might not forget it, and neglect it; and that they might have time enough to examine whether it had all the prerequisites and qualifications that were necessary; and that while they had it in view, they might be led to meditate upon, and talk of, expect and firmly believe their deliverance; yea, that their faith might be directed to a far greater deliverance by the Messiah, which this was only typical of, ( Hebrews 11:28 ) but some of these reasons would hold good in later times, and it seems by some circumstances that this rule was attended to.

F3 Ben Gersom in loc. Maimon. Korban Pesach. c. 10. sect. 15.
F4 Misn. Pesach. c. 9. sect. 5.

Exodus 12:3 In-Context

1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt:
2 This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you.
3 Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household.
4 If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it.
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.