Exodus 12



                                    THE INSTITUTION OF THE PASSOVER


In the interval allowed by God, according to the precedent of former announced

plagues, between the warning concerning the first-born and the execution, Moses

received instructions for the institution of a new religious rite, founded possibly upon

some previous national usage, but so reshaped, recast, and remodeled as to have an

entirely new and fresh character. In all Eastern nations, the coming in of spring was

observed as a merry and festive time, with offerings, processions, and songs of

rejoicings. When the date of the vernal equinox was known, it was naturally made

the starting-point for these festivities.  Early flowers and fruits, the fresh ears of the

most forward kinds of grain, or the grain itself extracted from the ears, were presented

as thank-offerings in the temples; hymns were sung, and acknowledgments made of

God’s goodness. Such a festival was celebrated each year in Egypt; and it is so

consonant to man’s natural feelings, that, if the family of Jacob did not bring the

observance with them from Palestine, they are likely to have adopted it, when they

became to some extent agriculturists (Deuteronomy 11:10) under the Pharaohs.

God, being about to smite with death the first-born in each Egyptian house,

required the Israelites to save themselves by means of a sacrifice. Each Israelite

householder was to select a lamb (or a kid) on the tenth day of the current month

(v. 3), and to keep it separate from the flock until the fourteenth day at even, when

he was to kill it, to dip some hyssop in the blood (v. 22) and to strike with the hyssop

on the two posts and lintel of his doorway (v. 7), so leaving the mark of the blood

on it. He was then the same night to roast the lamb whole, and eat it with unleavened

bread and bitter herbs (vs. 8-10). He was to have his dress close girt about him, his

sandals on his feet, and his staff in his hand; to be prepared, that is, for a journey.

If he did all this, God, when He went through the land to smite and destroy, would

“pass over” the house upon which there was the blood, and spare all that dwelt in it.

Otherwise the plague would be upon them to destroy them (vs. 11, 13). Such were

the directions given for immediate observance, and such was the Passover proper.

The lamb itself was primarily the Pesach (v. 11), the “pass,” which secured safety.

From this the name spread to the entire festival.  Having, by the directions recorded

in vs. 3-13 instituted the festival, God proceeded, in vs. 14-20, to require its

continued celebration year after year, and to give additional rules as to the mode

of its annual observance.


Ø      The festival was to last seven days.


Ø      No leavened bread was to be eaten during that space, and leaven was

            even to be put away altogether out of all houses.


On the first day of the seven and on the last, there was to be “a holy

            convocation” or gathering for worship.


Ø      No work not strictly necessary was to be done on these days.


Other directions were given at a later date.


Ø      Besides the Paschal lamb, with which the festival commenced, and which

            was to be a domestic rite, public sacrifices were appointed for each day of

            the seven — to consist of two young bullocks, one ram, seven lambs, and

            one goat, with appropriate “meat-offerings” (Numbers 28:19-24).


Ø      On the second day of the feast, “the morrow after the sabbath,” the first-

            fruits of the harvest were to be presented in the shape of a ripe sheaf (of

            barley) which was to be a wave-offering, and to be accompanied by the

            sacrifice of a lamb with meat and drink offerings (Leviticus 23:10-14). By

            this regulation the festival was made to embody the old spring feast, and to

            have thus a double aspect.


1“And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt

saying,”  And the LORD spake - According to the Biblical record, neither Moses

nor Aaron introduced any legislation of their own, either at this time or later. The

whole system, religious, political, and ecclesiastical, was received by Divine Revelation,

commanded by God, and merely established by the agency of the two brothers.

In the land of Egypt saying - The introduction of these words seems to show that

we have here a separate document on the subject of the Passover, written

independently of what has preceded, some time after the exodus, and placed here

without alteration, when Moses gathered together his various writings into a single



2 “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be

the first month of the year to you.”  This month shall be unto you the

beginning of months. The Israelite year would seem to have hitherto commenced

with the autumnal equinox (Exodus 23:16), or at any rate with the month Tisri

(or Ethanim), which corresponded to our October. Henceforth two reckonings

were employed, one for sacred, the other for civil purposes, the first month of

each year, sacred or civil, being the seventh month of the other. Abib, “the

month of ears” — our April, nearly — became now the first month of the

ecclesiastical year, while Tisri became its seventh or sabbatical month. It is

remarkable that neither the Egyptians nor the Babylonians agreed with the

original Israelite practice, the Egyptians commencing their year with Thoth,

or July; and the Babylonians and Assyrians theirs with Nisannu, or April.



    The Advantages of an Ecclesiastical Calendar (vs. 1-2)


With their new position as an independent nation, and their new privileges

as God’s redeemed people (ch. 6:6), the Israelites received the gift

of a new ecclesiastical calendar. Their civil calendar remaining as before,

their civil year commencing with Tisri, about the time of the autumnal

equinox, and consisting of twelve months of alternately twenty-nine and

thirty days, they were now commanded to adopt a new departure for their

sacred year, and to reckon its commencement from Abib or Nisan, which

began about the time of the vernal equinox, or March 21. This was

advantageous to them in several ways.




CARES. The commencement of a civil year naturally brings with it various

civil and worldly cares, which occupy the mind, demand the attention, and

distract the thoughts. The worldly position has to be reviewed, accounts

made up, stock taken, debts claimed and paid, subscriptions renewed or

discontinued, agents communicated with, orders given, arrangements made

in some instances for the whole of the coming twelvemonth; and the result

is, that the mind of most men is then so occupied, not to say harassed, that

it cannot turn itself with any vigor or freshness to the contemplation of

things heavenly and spiritual. Of great value then, and importance, is it that

religion should have a separate time to itself for a review of the spiritual

position, for the taking of stock in a religious sense, the balancing of the

account with heaven, the forming of plans for the spiritual life beforehand,

since that life has as much need to be carefully provided for as the worldly

life. The opening of a year being the natural time for such a review, the

new arrangement made naturally suggested it, and provided a quiet time

for it.





Everyone recognizes the importance of a new beginning. A religion

naturally strikes its key-note at the commencement of its round of services.

As the coming of Christ into the world is the very essence of Christianity,

the ecclesiastical year of Christendom commences with Advent. Thus

Christians are taught that the foundation-stone of their religion, the root

out of which it all springs, is the Incarnation. For Judaism the key-note

was deliverance from Egypt, and covenant relationship with God as His

people by means of sacrifice. Deliverance from Egypt was redemption from

servitude, and the commencement of a free national life. Sacrifice was the

appointed means of keeping up and renewing the covenant relationship

begun in circumcision. In the Passover these two thoughts were blended

together, and Israel had to meditate on both. The one thought was

necessary to call forth that loving trust in the favor and goodness of God,

which lies at the root of all acceptable service; the other was needed to

give ease to the conscience, to reassure the trembling sinner, and remove

his sense of a guilt that separated him from God, and made his circumcision

unavailing. The prominence given to these ideas by the position of the

Paschal Festival, impressed them upon the minds of the Israelites as

fundamental and vital truths.




RESPECT FOR IT. In all times and countries the suspicion occurs to

some, that religion is but a form of statecraft, a politic invention of

governors to render government more easy. Anything that marks the

coordinate authority of Church and State in their separate spheres, and

especially the independence of the Church, is valuable, as an obstacle to

Erastianism (a doctrine that the state is superior to the church in ecclesiastical

matters) and an indication of the Church’s inherent right to regulate

Church affairs. An ecclesiastical calendar distinct from the civil calendar is

no doubt a little matter; but it implies an important principle, and is perhaps

not without some influence over the general tone of thought and feeling in

a country.



The Beginning of a New Era (vs. 1-2)





ü      It was then only that the history of the nation as the people of God

began. Before they had been told of God’s favor towards them;

they now knew it. “Now we believe, not because of thy saying, for

we have heard Him ourselves” (John 4:42).


ü      God’s final deliverance begins a new era for His people.

“Behold! I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)


ü      This has its correlative type in Christian experience now. The true life of

the servant of God dates from the hour of his deliverance from the

bondage of sin. “If any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creature:

old things are passed away: behold all things are become new.”

(II Corinthians 5:17) 


Ø      Before Israel lay the experience of God’s care

and love, Sinai, the giving of the law, etc.


Ø      Before us lies the deepening knowledge of His love,

Ø      and of His will, the priestly service, etc.




ü      The remembrance of God’s grace makes the soul the dwelling-place

of humbleness and trust.

ü      It is joy and strength for service.

ü      It is consecration; in the brightness of that unmerited grace the life is

claimed for God; the ear is opened, the heart is touched and changed;

we forget things that are behind, and reach forth to things that are

before.  (Philippians 3:13-14)




The Beginning of Months (v. 2)


The exodus from Egypt was the birthday of the nation of Israel. In

commemoration of this great event, the day from which the (religious) year

began was changed. The month Abib was thenceforth to be “the beginning

of months.” The civil year continued to begin with Tisri (ch. 23:16).



EXISTENCE. The day when salvation comes to a man’s house (Luke

19:9; Acts 16:34) is the true “beginning of days” to him.  (To me it

was July 18, 1955 – I remember because it was my father’s birthday –

CY – 2017)


ü      It is the commencement of a new life. “Born again” (John 3:3);

“passed from death into life’ (John 5:24); “a new creature”

(II Corinthians 5:17). “The years we spent before we turned to the Lord

are not worth counting; the best that can happen to them is to be buried

out of sight” (Dr. J. M. Gibson).


ü      It is the day of separation from the world. Some think that up to this

time the Israelites had used the Egyptian calendar, which began about the

time of the summer solstice. “From this time, however, all connection with

Egypt was to be broken off, and the commencement of the sacred year was

to commemorate the time when Jehovah led them forth to liberty and

independence” (Geikie).


ü      It is the day which begins the journey to heaven. Redemption is the

beginning of the new life: it is, however, but the beginning. The wilderness

journey follows it. Conversion is not a resting-place, but a starting-point. It

begins, but does not complete, salvation.



so immaterial a thing as time, God has inscribed a memorial of His three

greatest works.


ü      Creation. He has built into the structure of the week an imperishable

record of the six days’ work.


ü      The Exodus. The order of the year in Israel was made to testify to the

deliverance from Egypt.


ü      The Christian redemption. The advent of Christ has founded an era. The

bitterest enemy of the Gospel is compelled to do it, at least, the involuntary

homage of dating his years from the Lord’s advent. By his use of the

Christian calendar, the infidel testifies unwittingly to the power of the

religion which he seeks to overthrow.



DISTINCT. One indication of this, even in the polity of Israel, is seen in

the fact that the sacred year began in one month, and the civil in another.


3 “Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this

month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their

fathers, a lamb for an house:”  Speak ye unto all the congregation. Under the

existing circumstances Moses could only venture to summon the elders of Israel to

a meeting. He necessarily left it to them to signify his wishes to the people.

(See v. 21.) A lamb. The Hebrew word is one of much wider meaning

than our “lamb.” It is applicable to both sheep and goats, and to either

animal without limit of age, In the present case the age was fixed at a year

by subsequent enactment (v. 5); but the offerer was left free with respect

to the species. It is curious that, such being the case, the lamb alone

should, so far as appears, ever have been offered. According to the house

of their fathers. Literally, “for a father’s house,” i.e. for a family.


4 “And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor

next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls;

every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.”

If the household be too little for the lamb i.e., “too few to

consume it at a sitting.” Usage in course of time fixed the minimum number

at ten. (Josephus Bell. Jud. 6:9, § 3.) The whole family, men, women and

children participated. The lamb was generally slain between the ninth hour

(3 p.m.) and the eleventh (5 p.m.). Let him and his neighbour take it

according to the number of the souls. If there were a household of only

five, which could not possibly consume the lamb, any large neighboring

family was to send five or six of its number, to make up the deficiency.

Every man according to his eating, etc. It is difficult to see what sense

our translators intended. The real direction is that, in providing a proper

number of guests, consideration should be had of the amount which they

would be likely to eat. Children and the very aged were not to be reckoned

as if they were men in the vigor of life. Translate — “Each man according

to his eating shall ye count towards the lamb.”


5 “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it

out from the sheep, or from the goats:” Your lamb shall be without blemish.   

Natural piety would teach that “the blind, the lame, and the sick” should not be

selected for sacrifice (Malachi 1:8). The Law afterwards expressly forbade any

blemished animals “blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or

scurvy, or scabbed” — to be offered for any of the stated sacrifices, though they might

be given as free-will offerings (Leviticus 22:20-25). The absence of blemish was

especially important in a victim which was to typify One “holy, harmless, undefiled,

separate from sinners.” (Hebrews 7:26) –  a male” - As standing in place of and

redeeming the first-born of the males in each family -  “of the  first year:” - Perhaps

as then more approaching to the ideal of perfect innocence. The requirement was not

a usual one.  ye shall take it out from the sheep or from the goats - Theodoret says

the proviso was made for the relief of the poorer class of persons; but practically it

seems not to have taken effect. When people were poor, their richer neighbors

supplied them with lambs (Kalisch). 


6 “And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month:

and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in

the evening.”  Ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day. The interval of

four days (see v. 3) was probably intended to give ample time for the

thorough inspection of the lamb, and for obtaining another, if any defect

was discovered. The precept is not observed by the modern Jews; and the

later Targum (which belongs to the sixth century after Christ) teaches that

it was only intended to apply to the first institution; but the text of Exodus

is wholly against this. The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel

shall kill it. One of the main peculiarities of the Paschal sacrifice was this

— that the head of each family was entitled — in the early times was

required to offer the sacrifice for himself. In it no one intervened between

the individual and God. Thus it was recognized that the whole nation was a

nation of priests, as are Christians also, according to John (Revelation 1:6) and

Peter (I Peter 2:5). The intervention of Levites at a late date (II Chronicles 30:17;

35:5-6) was contrary to the original institution. In the evening. Literally,

“between the two evenings.” This phrase has been explained in two ways. Some

regard the first evening as commencing when the sun begins visibly to decline

from the zenith, i.e. about two or three o’clock; and the second as following the

sunset. Others say, that the sunset introduces the first evening, and that the

second begins when the twilight ends, which they consider to have been

“an hour and twenty minutes later” (Ebn Ezra, quoted by Kalisch). The use

of the phrase in ch. 16:12, and the command in Deuteronomy 16:6 —

“Thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun,”

seem to be decisive in favor of the second explanation. The first arose out

of the later practice. When the lambs were sacrificed in the temple by a

continual succession of offerers, it became impossible to complete the

sacrifices in the short time originally allowed. Of necessity the work of

killing the victims was commenced pretty early in the afternoon, and

continued till after sunset. The interpretation of the direction was then

altered, to bring it into accord with the altered practice.




   The Passover Lamb a Prophetic Picture of Christ and His Salvation (vs. 3-6




ü      The families of Israel, the household of faith. There is no other bulwark

against the visitation of the angel of death, and it shields these only.


ü      Those who feed upon Him. Saving faith must be a real, appropriating

faith. Mere assent to a form of words avails nothing, neither can a mere

intellectual conviction of the truth of Christianity or apprehension of the

plan of salvation; it must be the soul’s food.


  • THE CHARACTER OF THE SACRIFICE. A lamb without blemish;

gentleness and blamelessness. He who dies for us is accepted, because He is

faultless. The sin-bearer must be sinless. This is redemption’s great central

mystery. But though the eternal reason of it may not be understood, THE


changes us lies in this, that Christ died not for sins of His own, but solely

for ours. “He bore our sins, in His own body on the tree.” (I Peter 2:24)




ü      The lamb kept for four days within the house foretold that God’s

accepted sacrifice should come forth from the homes of Israel. The four

days may symbolize the nearly four years of our Lord’s ministry.


ü      The day and hour of the Saviour’s death (v. 6).


ü      His death was to be Israel’s act; “the whole assembly” were to slay it.


Ø      Our sins nailed Him to the tree. He was slain by our iniquities.

Ø      Israel’s act in the murder of the holy and just one was the expression

of the sin which is in us all. None are free from this awful blood

guiltiness, save the repentant and pardoned.


7 “And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts

and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.”

And they shall take of the blood - The blood, which, according to Hebrew ideas,

“is the life,”(Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 17:11,14) and so the very essence of the

sacrifice, was always regarded as the special symbol of that expiation and atonement,

with a view to which sacrifice was instituted. As by the Paschal sacrifice atonement

was made for the house, which was therefore to escape unscathed, the sign of

atonement was to be conspicuously placed upon it -  and strike it on the two side

posts and on the upper door post of the  houses - The “striking” was to be by

means of a bunch of hyssop dipped in the blood (v. 22) – The selection of the doorway

as the part of the house to receive the stains of blood is probably to be connected with

the idea that the secondary agency producing death, whatever it was, would enter by

the door — and if the door showed the house to have been atoned for, would not enter.

The upper door-post. The word used is elsewhere translated “lintel” (ch. 12:22-23);

but it seems properly to mean the latticed window which was commonly placed over

a doorway in Egyptian houses, and which is often represented in the facades of tombs.

It is derived from a root signifying “to look out.”


8 “And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and

unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.”

Roast with fire. The meat of sacrificial meals was commonly

boiled by the Hebrews (I Samuel 2:14-15). The command to roast the

Paschal lamb is accounted for:


1. By its being a simpler and quicker process than boiling;

2. By a special sanctity being regarded as attaching to fire;

3. By the difficulty of cooking the animal whole unless it were roasted.


Justin Martyr’s statement that for roasting two wooden spits were

required, placed at right angles the one to the other, and thus extending the

victim on a cross, will seem to many a better ground for the direction than

any of these. And unleavened bread. See below, v. 18. With bitter

herbs. Literally, “with bitternesses.” That herbs, or vegetables of some

kind, are intended, there is no reasonable doubt. The Mishna enumerates

endive, chicory, wild lettuce, and nettles among the herbs that might be

eaten.  Undoubtedly they were a disagreeable accompaniment, and represented

at once the bitterness of the Egyptian bondage (ch. 1:14) and the need of

self-denial, if we would feed on Christ.


9 “Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire;

his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.”  The injunction

appears to moderns superfluous; but an ὠμοφαγίαomophagia -  or eating

of the raw flesh of victims sacrificed, seems to have been practiced by several

heathen nations in ancient times, more especially in the worship of Dionysus

or Bacchus. Its head with its legs. The lamb was to be roasted whole — according

to some, as a symbol of the unity of Israel, and especially of the political unit

which they were to become so soon as they quitted Egypt; but, as we learn

from John (John 19:36), still more to prefigure the unbroken body of Him whom

the lamb especially represented, the true propitiation and atonement and deliverer

of His people from the  destroyer, our Lord Jesus Christ.  “and with the

purtenance thereof” - Rather, “the intestines thereof.”  The Jewish commentators

say that the intestines were first taken out, washed, and cleansed, after which they

were replaced, and the lamb roasted in a sort of oven


10“And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which

remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire”  Ye shall let nothing

of it remain till the morning. The whole of the flesh was to be consumed by the

guests, and at one sitting, lest there should be any even accidental profanation of

the food by man or animal, if part were put away.. The English Church, acting

on the same principle of careful reverence, declines to allow any reservation of the

Eucharistic elements, requiring the whole of the consecrated bread and

wine to be consumed by the Priest and communicants in the Church

immediately after the service. That which remaineth i.e., the bones,

and any small fragments of the flesh necessarily adhering to them. Ye shall

burn with fire. Thus only could its complete disappearance, and seeming

annihilation be secured. It does not appear that this burning was viewed as

a sacrificial act. 


 11 “And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and

your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’s Passover”.

With your loins girded, etc. Completely prepared, i.e., to start on your journey —

with the loose wrapper (beged), ordinarily worn, collected together and fastened by

a girdle about the waist; with sandals on the feet, which were not commonly worn

in houses; and with walking sticks in the hand. There were some Jews who regarded

these directions as of perpetual obligation; but the general view was that they applied

to the first occasion only, when alone they would have answered any useful

purpose. You shall eat it in haste. As not knowing at what moment you

may be summoned to start on your journey, and as having to see to the

burning of the bones after the flesh was eaten, which would take some

time. It is the Lord’s Passover. Very emphatic words! This is no common meal,”

they seem to say, “it is not even an ordinary sacrificial repast. The lamb is Jehovah’s!.

 It is His pass-sign — the mark of His protection, the precious means of your

 preservation from death. As such view it; and though ye eat it in haste, EAT IT




If One Died for All then All Died (vs. 3-11)


Pharaoh’s heart was still hardened. The crowning judgment needs no

intermediary; Jehovah will reveal His own right arm. (ch. 11:4).

“Who shall live when God doeth this?” (Numbers 24:23)  He who obeying

His word shelters himself beneath His shadow. See:




ü      A carefully selected victim. V. 5, deliberately set apart four days



Ø      Pure within;

Ø      innocence typified by inexperience,

Ø      “the first year.”

Ø      Pure without,

Ø      “no blemish.”


ü      A carefully conducted purification. The partaker of the sacrificial feast

must endeavour after a purity resembling that of the victim. Leaven, evil,

must be purged out that he may offer and receive worthily.




ü      A sarifice to save from death, 5:6-7. Notice


Ø      Obedience ensured safety. The judgment was to go forth against the

first-born; but the lamb slain — his blood duly sprinkled — would be

accepted as a substitute. Obedience was all that was demanded.


Ø      The meaning of the command. Few types are arbitrary; almost always

some ground of relation is between them and the thing typified, even though

we may not see it. Here the pure lamb represents the offerer as he ought to

be; it says in his name “I would be pure; I would dedicate myself wholly to

thy service; accept me, not for what I am but for what Thou canst make

me. Take this lamb for me; make me as this lamb!” Obedience saves, but

that which is commanded shadows forth the final result to be achieved by



ü      Sustenance to nerve for duty. The Lamb not merely to be killed but



Ø      The people saved from the destroyer are to be released also from the

oppressor; to commence at once the life of liberty. Strength needed for the

march. That which saves is that which supports, if the lamb represents the

offerer as he ought to be, feeding upon the lamb will represent feeding by

faith upon the ideal thus figured. To become righteous we must hunger and

thirst after righteousness, Matthew 5:6. Dedication is the starting-point,

but the road is persistent obedience, and they only can walk that road who

feed upon the ideal first set before them (Philippians 3:12-14).


  • CHRIST OUR PASSOVER. The type leads naturally to the great



ü       Our sacrific


Ø      Pure, perfect. Slain for us. By faith accepting his work, peace with

God; shelter from the avenging angel. This is what we mean by

substitution — Christ died for me. Notice however:


Ø      Accepting this sacrifice we must still regard it as representative.

Pleading its efficacy, we not merely mean “Forgive me for Christ’s

sake,” but also, “I would be like Christ, I would give myself up wholly

to Thy will even as He has done — Accept me in Him, make me like

Him!” The doctrine of substitution is only explained by this underlying doctrine of identity, it could not otherwise be a doctrine of salvation.


ü      Our sustenance. We too, saved in Christ, have to march on along the

road which leads from slavery to freedom. To do this we must feed upon

our ideal, “inwardly digest” it. ("Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you."  - John 6:53)  What we ought to be; what we hope to be;

WHAT CHRIST IS!   Our great advantage over the Jew is that our ideal

is realized in a person. To feed upon it is to feed upon Christ. To attain it is to be like Christ, to be one with Him.


  • APPLICATION:  Christ died for us. True, but Christ dying for us implies that

we also die with Him. Dedication of a substitute is not enough unless self is

dedicated in the substitute. Very well wishing to be happy, and the hope of

many is little more than this. God, however, means us to be holy, and there

is no easy road to holiness. Accept the ideal, accept Christ out and out, we

shall find Him more than an ideal: He will strengthen and sustain us till we

attain it. Forget what the ideal is; forget what dedication means; we may

yet find that it is possible for those who are saved from bondage to perish

in the wilderness.


12 “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite

all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against

all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.

For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night” - God now proceeds to

give the reason for the institution of the new ceremony, and to explain the new

term pesach. “I have commanded this rite,” He says, “because I am about to

go through the whole land of Egypt as a destroyer, executing judgment; I am

about to smite and kill every one of the firstborn both of man and beast. I shall

enter into every house, and slay the first-born in it, unless I see upon the house

the token of THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB! In that case I shall pass over the

house, and you will escape the plague.”  It would clear the sense if the opening

words of v. 12 were translated — “For I shall go through,” instead of

“pass through.” The word translated “pass through” has no connection at all

with that rendered “pass over.  Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment.

These words are exegetical of the word “beast,” which immediately precedes. Animal

worship was an important part of the religion of the Egyptians. At four great cities,

Memphis, Heliopolis, Hermonthis, a sort of suburb of Thebes, and Momemphis in

the Western Delta, animals were maintained, which were viewed as actual

incarnations of deity — the Apis Bull at Memphis, a bull called Mnevis at

Heliopolis, one termed Bacis or Pacts at Hermonthis, and at Momemphis a

White Cow. If any of these were at the time animals that had “opened the

womb,” death must have fallen upon them. Thus would judgment have

been executed, literally, upon Egyptian “gods.” But, besides these, the

whole country was filled with sacred animals, regarded as emblematic of

certain particular deities, and as belonging to them. Sheep were sacred to

Kneph, goats to Khem, cows to Athor, cats to Pasht, dogs and jackals to

Anubis, lions to Horus, crocodiles to Set and Sabak, hippopotami to

Taouris, cynocephalous apes to Thoth, frogs to Heka. A sudden mortality

among the sacred animals would be felt by the Egyptians as a blow struck

against the gods to whom they belonged, and as a judgment upon them. It

is scarcely necessary to understand literally the expression “all the gods,”

and to defend it by the assertion that “not a single deity of Egypt but was

represented by some beast.” Such an assertion cannot be proved; and is

probably not correct. It has often been remarked, and is generally allowed,

that Scripture uses universal expressions, where most, or even many, of a

class are meant. I am the Lord. Rather as in ch. 6:8, “Against all

the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment, I, Jehovah.”


13 “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are:

and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be

upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.  The blood was not

to be a token to the Israelites, but to God for them. Translate— “and the blood

shall be as a token for you upon the houses that  you are there.”  It shall distinguish

the houses in which you dwell from the others.  “I will pass over you” -  This is the

emphatic clause. God would pass by, or over the house on which the blood was, spare

it, slay none of its inmates; and from this action of His, the lamb itself, and the feast

whereof it was the principal part, were to be termed the Passover.” 



Christ is His People’s Salvation and Strength (vs. 7-13)




ü      They took the blood and struck it on the door posts and the lintel. We

must appropriate Christ’s atonement. We must say by faith, “He died for

me.” (Galatians 2:20)


ü      They passed within the blood-stained portals. Christ’s blood must stand

between us and condemnation, between us and sin. Our safety lies in

setting that between our soul and them. The realizing of Christ’s death

for our sins is, salvation.



upon Christ. (John 6)  While Egypt was slumbering Israel was feasting.

While the world is busy with its dreams we must feast upon the joy of eternity, and, comprehending with all saints the infinite love of Christ, be filled with all

the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:18-19)  “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son

of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.”  (John 6:53)




ü      With unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The old leaven of malice and

wickedness must be put away, and the feasting on Christ’s love must be

accompanied with repentance and self denial. There may be now and again a momentary glimpse of Christ’s love where sin is not parted

with, but there can be no communion, no enduring vision WITH SIN!


ü      Christ must be taken as God has set Him before us, in the simplicity of

the Gospel, with nothing of man’s invention, addition, or diminution.

The Gospel remedy avails only when taken in the Gospel way (vs. 9-10).


ü      He must be partaken of in the union of love. The Passover is a social, a

family feast. Those who refuse to seek church-fellowship are despising

God’s arrangements for their own salvation, and proving themselves

DEVOID OF the spirit which, loving Him that begat, loveth Him also that is begotten of him.


ü      He must be partaken of with the pilgrim spirit and preparedness (v.11). They who will be saved by Jesus must take up their cross and follow



vs. 14-20. — Hitherto the directions given have had reference, primarily

and mainly, if not wholly, to the first celebration of the Passover on the

night preceding the Exodus. Now, it is announced,


(1) That the observance is to be an annual one; and

(2) That it is to he accompanied with certain additional features in the

future. These are

   (a) the eating of unleavened bread for seven days after the killing of

   the Passover;

   (b) the putting away of leaven out of the houses;

   (c)the holding of meetings for worship on the first day and the last; and

   (d) the observance on these days of a sabbatical rest.


14 “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it

a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a

feast by an ordinance for ever.” This day shall be to you for a memorial.

Annual festivals, in commemoration of events believed to have happened, were

common in the religion of Egypt, and probably not wholly strange to the religious

ideas of the Hebrews. (See the “Introduction” to this chapter.) They were now

required to make the 14th of Abib such a day, and to observe it continually

year after year “throughout their generations.” There is commendable

faithfulness in the obedience still rendered to the command at the present

day; and it must be confessed that the strong expression — throughout

your generations and as an ordinance for ever — excuse to a great

extent the reluctance of the Jews to accept Christianity. They have already,

however, considerably varied from the terms of the original appointment.

May they not one day see that the Passover will still be truly kept by participation

in the Easter Eucharist, wherein Christians feed upon “the Lamb slain from the

foundation of the world”(Revelation 13:8) — the antitype, of which

the Paschal lamb was the type — Jesus Christ, the true sustenance of souls — the

center and source of all real unity — the one “perfect and sufficient sacrifice, and

oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world”? – Jesus said, Except ye

eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you”

(John 6:53)  The Church requires an Easter communion of all her members,

proclaims that on that day, Christ our passover being slain, we are to keep the

feast; and thus, so far as in her lies, maintains the festival as “an ordinance for

ever,” to be observed through all her generations.



The Passover Feast the Type of the Christian life (vs. 14-20)




ü      It is unending, deepening joy. Other joys fade, this brightens.

ü      It is a growing appropriation of the Lamb of God. Our union with Him

grows ever closer, fuller. Is this our experience? A nominal Christianity will never save us. Are we feeding on Jesus? Are we in Him and He in us?





ü      There was present safety from the destroyer.

ü      On the morrow there was to be the passing out from amidst the broken

bonds of Egypt to the promised inheritance. The feast pointed backward,

the types onward. We have forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, and

the expectation of His coming the second time without sin unto salvation.

(Hebrews 9:28)  Faith, and love, and hope the threefold glory of Christ’s people.


  • IT IS A LIFE OF HOLINESS. From the beginning to the end of the

feast the old leaven was not to be found in the dwellings of Israel. The soul

that turns back to sin is cut off (vs. 15, 18-20). What was a mere

accompaniment in the type, is a fruit of life IN CHRIST!



family feast. It began and it closed with an assembly of the whole

congregation. There are separate churches still, as there were families then.

But the union of all believers must be recognized and rejoiced in.





                                                            (v. 14)


It was expressly declared that the Passover was instituted to be observed as a feast “by

an ordinance for ever.” (v. 14) - Jews are justified in remaining Jews, if they cannot

otherwise continue to celebrate it. But they can. The Passover is continued in the

Eucharist.   Hence Paul’s words at Easter time — “Christ, our Passover, is crucified

for us; therefore let us keep the feast (I Corinthians 5:7-8).




FORESHADOWED. The reality underlying both being the Lord’s death

upon the cross as a propitiation for the sins of man, this death was set forth

in anticipation by the Paschal sacrifice; it is now “shown forth” after the

event, in the Eucharist, “until Christ come” (I Corinthians 11:26). The bread

and wine represent the humanity of Christ as truly as the Paschal lamb

represented it. The Eucharistic ceremony is “a perpetual memory (ἀνάμνησις

an-am’-nay-sis;  - recollection; remembrance) of His precious death,” and

in some respects a more lively setting forth of that central event of history

than ever was the Paschal ceremony.




      bondage is the bondage of sin. This is the Egypt from which man requires

      to be delivered. The death of Christ, which the Eucharist shews forth,” is the

      one and only remedy for sin, the one and only means whereby it becomes

      possible for man to shake off the grievous yoke from his shoulders, and

      become free. (“Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” –

      (John 8:32) - By His meritorious sacrifice the guilt of sin is removed; by His          

      assisting grace, given most abundantly through the Eucharist, the power of sin

      is destroyed, and its taint gradually purged out of our nature.




            The very name of Eucharist, which became the usual name of the Holy

            Communion as early as the second century, indicates how essential a

            feature of it thanksgiving was felt to be. “We praise thee, we bless thee, we

            worship thee, we glorify thee, we give thee thanks for thy great glory, O

            Lord God” — this is the general key-note of Eucharistic services. And

            naturally. For, if the Jew had much to thank God for, the Christian has

            more. Redemption, justification, assisting grace, sanctification, union

            with Christ — clear and distinct promise of everlasting life — are his,

            and crowd upon his mind in connection with this sacrament.



      SACRIFICE. In the Passover, as generally in sacrifices, the victim was first

            offered on behalf of the sacrificers — in this case the household, and then

            the flesh of the victim furnished a solemn sacrificial meal to the members of

            the household. In the Eucharist, where the true victim is Christ Himself,

            whose sacrifice upon the cross is alone propitiatory, a commemoration of

            the death of Christ is made, and then there follows a feast of the most

            sacred kind. Whatever benefits may have flowed from participation in the

            Paschal festival are far exceeded by those attached to the “Supper of the

            Lord.” The Jew felt himself by participation in the Passover festival

            incorporated anew into the community of Israel; the Christian, by worthy

            participation in the Eucharist, is engrafted anew into Christ.


15  “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye

shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened

bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off

from Israel.”  Seven days. There is no indication that the week of seven days

was admitted by the ancient Egyptians, or even known to them.

Apparently, the nation which first adopted it was that of the Babylonians.

Abraham may have brought it with him from “Ur of the Chaldees;” and

from him it may have passed to Jacob, and so to Moses. That the week

was known in the family of Abraham before the giving of the law, appears

from Genesis 29:27-28. Unleavened bread is typical of purity of

heart, leaven being an emblem of corruption (Matthew 16:6-12; I Corinthians 5:7).

“Leaven,” says Plutarch, “comes from corruption, and corrupts the dough with

which it is mixed; and every fermentation seems to be a putrefaction.” The primary

command to celebrate the first passover with unleavened instead of leavened bread

(v. 8), must be attributed wholly to this symbolism. But the permanent institution

of a “feast of unleavened bread,” to last a week, had a double bearing. Partly, it was

designed to deepen and intensify the conviction that corruption and

impurity disqualify for religions service; but it was also partly intended as a

commemoration of the fact, that in their hasty flight from Egypt the bread

which they took with them was unleavened (ver. 34), and that they were

forced to subsist on this for several days. (Compare the double meaning of

the “bitter herbs, noticed in the comment on verse 8, ad fin.)

The requirement to “put away leaven out of their houses” is probably intended

to teach, that for family worship to be acceptable, the entire household must be pure,

and that to effect this result the head of the household must, so far as he can, eject

the leaven of sin from his establishment. Whosoever eateth… shall be out off from

Israel. Expelled, i.e, from the congregation, or excommunicated. If a man willfully

transgresses any plain precept of God, even though it be a positive one, he should

be severed from the Church, until he confess his fault, and repent, and do penance

for it. Such was the “godly discipline” of the primitive Church; and it were well if

the Churches of these modern times had more of it. 


16 “And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the

seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner

of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat,

that only may be done of you.”  On the first day there shall be an holy

convocation. After the Paschal meal on the evening of the 14th of Abib, there

was to be a solemn assembly of the people on the next day for religions worship.

The name “convocation;” applied to these gatherings, seems to show that

originally the people were summoned to such meetings, as they still are by

the muezzin from the minarets of mosques in Mahommedan countries, and

by bells from the steeples of churches in Christian ones. And on the

seventh day. On the 22nd of Abib — the seventh day after the first holy

convocation on the 15th (see Leviticus 23:4-8). Only two of the Jewish

festivals were of this duration — the feast of unleavened bread, and the

feast of tabernacles (ibid. vs. 39-42). The Christian Church has adopted the

usage for Christmas, Easter, Ascension, and Whitsuntide, where the last

day of the week is known technically as “the octave.” No manner of work

shall be done in them. Festival-days were in all countries days of abstention

from the ordinary business of life, which could not conveniently be carried on

conjointly with attendance at the services, meetings, processions, etc., wherein

the festival consisted. But absolute cessation from all work was nowhere strictly

commanded except among the Hebrews, where it appears  to have been connected

with the belief in God’s absolute rest after the six days of creation. The command

here given was solemnly repeated in the law (Leviticus 23:6- 8)



17 “And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day

have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt:  therefore shall ye observe

this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.” In this self-same day.

The 15th of Abib — the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. Have I brought

your hosts out. This expression seems to prove that we have in the injunctions of

vs. 14-20, not the exact words of the revelation on the subject made by God to

Moses before the institution of the Passover, but a re-casting of the words after

the exodus had taken place. Otherwise, the expression must have been, “I

will bring your hosts out.” As an ordinance for ever. Easter eve, the day

on which Satan was despoiled by the preaching of Jesus to the spirits in

prison (I Peter 3:19), and on which the Church first realizes its

deliverance from the bondage of sin by the Atonement of Good Friday, is

the Christian continuance of the first day of unleavened bread, and so

answers to this text, as Good Friday to the similar command in v. 14.


 18 “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall

eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.” 

In the first month. The word “month” seems to have

accidentally dropped out of the Hebrew text. In the evening. The Hebrew

day commenced with the evening (Genesis 1:5); but the evening here

intended is that at the close of the 14th of Abib, which began the 15th.

Similarly, the evening of the 21st is here that which commenced the 22nd.


19 “Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever

eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation

of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.” -  This is not a mere

“vain repetition” of v.15. It adds an important extension of the punitive clause — that

soul shall be cut off from Israel — from Israelites proper to proselytes. We are thus

reminded, at the very time when Israel is about to become a nation and to enter upon its

inheritance of exclusive privileges, that no exclusion of the Gentiles by reason of race

or descent was ever contemplated by God, either at the giving of the Law, or at any

other time. In Abraham all the families of them were to be blessed (Genesis 12:3).

It was always open to any Gentiles to join themselves to Israel by becoming

“proselytes of justice,” adopting circumcision and the general observance of the law,

and joining the Israelite community. The whole law is full of references to persons

of this class (chps. 20:10; 23:12; Leviticus 16:29; 17:10; 18:26; 20:2; 24:16;

Numbers 35:15; Deuteronomy 5:14; 16:11-14; 24:17, 19; 27:19; 29:11). It must

have been largely recruited in the times immediately  following the exodus from the

“mixed multitude” which accompanied the Israelites out of Egypt  (ch. 12:38), and

from the Kenites who joined them in the wilderness (Numbers 10:29-31; Judges 1:16).

born in the landi.e., an Israelite by birth — “the land” is, no doubt, Canaan,

which is regarded as the true “Land of Israel” from the time when it was assigned

by God to the posterity of Abraham (Genesis 15:18).


20 Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat

unleavened bread.”  Here again there is no repetition, but an extension. “Ye shall

eat nothing leavened,” not only no leavened bread (v. 15), but no leavened cake

of any kind. And in all  your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread,” i.e.,

wherever ye dwell, whether in Egypt, or in the wilderness, or in Palestine, or in

Babylonia, or in Media, this law shall be observed. So the Jews observe it

everywhere to this day, though they no longer sacrifice the Paschal lamb.

(? – CY – 2017)





  • AS A COMMEMORATIVE RITE. Instituted with reference to the

            tenth plague, and as a means by which the first-born of the Israelites might

            be saved from destruction, but accompanied by ceremonies which were

            connected with the prospective departure of the whole nation out of Egypt,

            the Passover feast, as established “by an ordinance for ever,” commemorated

            two distinct and different things.


ü      The passing over of the houses of the Israelites by Jehovah, when he

                        went through the land in the character of “destroyer” (v. 23), to smite

                        the first-born; and


ü      The hurried departure of the nation out of Egypt in the night, with

      bread for their journey, which they had not had time to leaven (v. 34).

      It was thus intended to remind them of two great mercies; the lesser

      one being the escape of their first-born from sudden death, and the

      greater one the deliverance of the whole people from the bondage and       

      affliction of Egypt, with the consequence of such deliverance, the  

      establishment of them as a nation under the direct government of God,

      (a theocracy) and under laws which were communicated to them by

      God, Himself at Sinai. Man is so apt to forget the benefits which God       

      confers upon him, that it has been found necessary, or at least desirable,

      in almost all countries, to establish, by authority, days of commemoration,

      when national deliverances, national triumphs, national recoveries, shall     

      be brought prominently before the mind of the nation, and pressed upon

      its attention. The Passover must be regarded as one of the most effective   

      of such commemorative ceremonies. It has continued to be celebrated for  

      above three thousand years. It brings vividly to the recollection of the

      Jew that night of trepidation and excitement, when the lamb was first        

      killed, the blood dashed upon the doorposts, and the sequel waited for —

      that night, when “about midnight” was heard “a great cry,” and in

      every house the Egyptians bewailed one dead — that night, in which,

      after the cry, a murmur arose, and the Egyptians became “urgent”

                        (v. 33), and insisted that the Israelites should quit the land forthwith. It

                        has all the political advantage of a great national celebration; and it

                        exalts the political idea by uniting it with religious enthusiasm.



  • AS A FEAST OF THANKSGIVING. The sacrifices of the Paschal

            week, with the exception of the Paschal lamb and the daily goat, must be

            viewed as thank-offerings. They consisted of fourteen bullocks, seven

            rams, and forty-nine lambs of the first year, provided by. the priests, and

            offered to God in the name of the nation. They were burnt on the altar as

            holocausts, accompanied by meat-offerings of flour mingled with oil. At

            the same time individuals offered their own private thank-offerings. So far,

            the special object of the thanksgiving was the great deliverance, with which

            might be conjoined, in thought, God’s further mercies in the history of the

            nation. On the second day of the feast, however, another subject of

            thankfulness was introduced. The season of the year was that in which the

            earliest grain ripened in Palestine; according to a conjecture already made,

            it was the time when the return of spring had been long celebrated among

            the Semites by a traditional observance. As “each return of the Passover

            festival was intended to remind the Israelites of their national regeneration”

            (Kalisch), it was thought appropriate to bring the festival into connection

            with the regeneration of nature, and the return of vernal vegetation. On the

            second day, therefore, a sheaf of the first ripe barley was offered as the

            first-fruits of the coming harvest, and thanks were rendered to God for His

            bounty in once more bringing to perfection the fruits of the earth. During

            the remainder of the week, both subjects occupied the thoughts of the

            worshippers, who passed the time in innocent festivities, as songs, music,

            and dancing.


  • AS A SYMBOLICAL CEREMONY. We have not to guess at the

            symbolical meaning of the Passover, as of so much that is contained in the

            Jewish law. Scripture distinctly declares it. “Christ, our Passover, is slain,

            says St. Paul; “therefore let us keep the feast.” (I Corinthians 5:7) -Christ,

            who was prefigured and foreshown in every sacrifice, was symbolized

            especially by the Paschal victim. He was “the Lamb of God’ (John 1:29),

            “without spot or blemish” (I Peter 1:19), “holy, harmless, undefiled”        

            (Hebrews 7:26); offered to keep off “the destroyer,” saving us by His blood

            from death (Acts 20:28); slain that we might feed upon His flesh (John

            6:51). The Paschal lamb, when prepared for sacrifice, presented, as Justin

            Martyr informs us, a lively image of the Saviour upon “the accursed tree,”

            being extended on a cross formed of two wooden spits, one longitudinal,

            and one transverse, placed at right angles each to the other. “Not a bone of

            it was to be broken,” that it might the better typify Him whom God

            preserved from this indignity (Psalm 34:20; John 19:33). It was to

            be consumed entirely, as Christ is to be taken entire into the heart of the

            faithful (Galatians 4:19). Scripture also distinctly declares the symbolical

            meaning of the unleavened bread. “Let us keep the feast,” says Paul, “not

            with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread

            of sincerity and truth.” (I Corinthians 5:8) - He who would feed on Christ

            must first put away from him all corruption and impurity, eject all leaven

            out of the house wherein his spirit dwells, make himself fit to sit down at

            that heavenly banquet, by getting rid of all those “evil things which come

            from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:23). There may be some doubt,           

            however, as to the symbolism of the “bitter herbs,” which Scripture leaves            

            unexplained. The exegesis, that the bitter herbs symbolized the sufferings of

            the Israelites in Egypt, if taken as exhausting the meaning, is unsatisfactory.

            The memory of past sufferings inflicted by others is not a necessary           

            accompaniment of present festal joy, though it may enhance that joy by

            contrast. The “bitterness” should be something that is always

            requisite before the soul can find in Christ rest, peace, and enjoyment —

            something that must ever accompany that rest, peace, and enjoyment, and,

            so long as we are in the flesh, remain inseparable from it. Two things of

            this kind suggest themselves — repentance and self-denial. The bitter herbs

            may perhaps symbolize both, pointing on the one hand to the important

            truth, that real repentance is a continuous act, never ceasing, while we live

            below, and on the other to the necessity of men’s “taking up their cross

            daily,” (Luke 9:23) and striving towards perfectness through suffering.





Having received the Divine directions as to the new rite, if not with all the fullness

ultimately given them, yet with sufficient fullness for the immediate purpose, Moses

proceeded to communicate the Divine Will to the people under his protection.

Having already aroused the jealousy and hatred of Pharaoh, he could not summon

a general assembly of the people, but he ventured to call a meeting of the elders,

or heads of principal families, and through them communicated the orders which

he had received to the entire nation. We find, in the directions which he gave, two

small points which are not comprised in the record of God’s words to him:


Ø      The designation of the “hyssop,” as the instrument, by which the blood

            was to be placed on the side-posts and lintel (v. 22); and,


Ø      The injunction not to quit the house “until the morning.”  These points

            may have been contained in the original directions, though omitted from

            the record for brevity; or they may have been added by Moses of his own

            authority. On the other hand, several very main points of the original

            directions are not repeated in the injunctions given to the elders, though

            there can be no doubt that they were communicated.


21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them,

Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill

the passover.”  Draw out i.e., “Withdraw from the flock.” (See v. 3.)

A lamb. The word used is generic, and would not exclude the offering of a goat.


22 “And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is

in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the

blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door

of his house until the morning.”  A bunch of hyssop. The hyssop was regarded

as having purging or purifying qualities, and was used in the cleansing of the

leper (Leviticus 14:4), and of the leprous house (ibid. vs. 51-52), and also

formed an element in the “water of separation” (Numbers 19:6). It was

a species of plant which grew on walls, and was generally low and

insignificant (I Kings 4:33), yet which could furnish a stick or stalk of

some length (John 19:29). It must also have been a common plant in

Egypt, the wilderness, and Palestine. Two suggestions are made with

respect to it. One, that it was a species of marjoram (Origanum

Aegyptiacum, or O. Syriacum ) common in both Egypt and Syria; the other

that it was the caper plant (Capparis spinosa), which abounds especially in

the Desert. (Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 21.) It is in favor of this

latter identification, that the modern Arabic name for the caper plant is asaf

or asuf, which excellently represents the Hebrew ezob, the word uniformly

rendered in our version by “hyssop” The blood that is in the basin. The

Septuagint and Vulgate render — “that is on the threshold.Saph — the

word translated “basin” has the double meaning. None of you shall go out.

Moses may well have given this advice on his own authority, without any

Divine command. (See introductory paragraph.) He would feel that beyond

the protection of the blood of the lamb, there was no assurance of safety.



No Safety for Man Beyond the Limits Protected


the Lamb’s Atoning Blood (v. 22)


No Israelite was to pass beyond the door of his house until the morning, lest he

should be destroyed by the destroyer. Within the precincts, protected by the blood

of the lamb, he was safe. Let Christians beware of stepping beyond the limits

whereto the atoning blood extends. Those step beyond the limits:



      been made for us, we feel We have had moments of assurance that            

      atonement and forgiveness are ours. We have had an impression that

      we were safe. At once the Evil One begins to whisper to our hearts

      that there is no longer any need of our walking warily, of our being

      afraid to put ourselves in temptation’s way, of our flying all contact

      with evil; and we are too apt to listen to his suggestions, to regard the        

      danger of falling from grace as past, and to allow ourselves a liberty in       

      which there is too often awful peril. We draw near the confines of sin,       

      confident that we shall sin no more; and lo! we are entangled in the           

      meshes. And why? Because we have gone beyond the limits protected

       by the atoning blood. We have opened the door and stepped out. We

      have turned our backs upon the redeeming marks and put them behind

      us. We have been over-trustful in our own strength.



                        SPIRITUAL ATTAINMENTS AND PRIVILEGES. “Pride goeth

                        before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) - Pride was the great temptation of the                             

                        Jew, who felt himself one of God’s peculiar people, to whom pertained                             

                        “the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of

                        the law, and the service of God, and the promises” (Romans 9:4).

                        And pride often tempts the Christian, who has realized the work of

                        Christ on his behalf, and the greatness of the salvation wrought for him.                            

                        But pride is one of the deadly sins, and at once severs the soul from

                        Christ. The blood of the covenant does not extend its protection over

                        the paths which are trodden by the foot of pride. He who enters on

                        them has wandered beyond the door which bears the redemption

                        marks, and is open to the assaults of the destroyer.



                        GOOD WORKS, AS THOUGH THEY HAD ALREADY

ATTAINED. Though we cannot, by anything that we can do, merit our

own salvation, or redeem ourselves or others (Psalm 49:7), yet God will

                        have us “work while it is day,” (John 9:4) and be “careful to maintain                            

                        good works” - (Titus 3:8). Idleness, apathy, sloth, are contrary to His

                        will and His word; and the man who indulges in them has strayed

                        beyond the prescribed limits and in danger of losing the needful                                         

                        protection. Well for him if he discovers his mistake in time to

                        return, and , “do again the first works” (Revelation 2:5), and so

                        regain the lost shelter! It is needless to say that the atoning blood can

                        avail none who


o       reject the atonement; or,

o       despise it, by giving it no thought; or,

o       trample it under foot by leading an immoral and

      ungodly life. These are as far removed from its

      protection as were the Egyptians.


23 “For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when

He seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the

LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to

come in unto your houses to smite you.” Compare verses 12-13 which are

closely followed. The only important difference is, the new expression,

“The Lord will not suffer the destroyer to come in,” which has generally

been regarded as implying, that the actual agent in the killing of the first-born

was a “destroying angel.”  But it is to be noted that elsewhere Jehovah Himself

is everywhere spoken of as the sole agent; and that in the present passage the

word used has the meaning of “destruction” no less than that of “destroyer.”


24 “And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy

sons for ever.”  To thee and to thy children. The change from the plural to the

singular is curious, Perhaps, we are to understand that Moses insisted on

the perpetuity of the ordinance to each of the elders severally.


25 “And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the

LORD will give you, according as He hath promised, that ye shall

keep this service.”  See above, ch. 3:8-17; 6:4; and compare Genesis 17:8;

28:4, etc.


26 “And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you,

What mean ye by this service?”    Apparently, Moses adds these injunctions by

his own sole authority. He assumes that curiosity will be aroused by the strange

and peculiar features of the Paschal ceremony, and that each generation in

succession will wish to know its meaning and origin. It is the parents

duty to pass this information on.  (It has always been God’s design that children

learn this way – Deuteronomy 6:6-9 – CY – 2010) Careful instruction in the true

nature and value of ceremonial observances is thus of the highest importance; and

parents should not wait till their children “ask the meaning” of public worship,

salvation, baptism, the Lord’s supper, etc., before enlightening them on the true

nature and value of each. Men’s private views are various, and may be mistaken,

but the Scriptures cannot but be true; and a knowledge of what is contained in

the Bible with respect to each Christian rite or ceremony will be an excellent basis

for the formation of a sound and healthy opinion on the subject when, in the course

of time, the different views of different sections of believers come to be known. 

Jesus said, “Suffer little children and forbid them not, to come unto me: 

for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14; see also Matthew 18:3-6)


27 “That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s passover, who

passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he

smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people

bowed the head and worshipped.”  It is the sacrifice. It was offered in the

holy place (Deuteronomy 16:5-6 ); the blood of it was sprinkled upon the altar,

and the fat was burnt (II Chronicles 30:16; 35:11). Compare also ch. 23:18;

Numbers 9:7; Deuteronomy 16:2. The people bowed the head and worshipped.

Rather, “and made obeisance.” Compare ch. 4:31. By “the people”

seems to be meant “the elders of the people.” (See v. 21.)



The Obligation of Men to Teach the True Meaning of Rites


     Ceremonies to Their Children (vs. 26-27)


The rites and ceremonies of a religion are liable to be misunderstood in two



1. They may be regarded as unimportant, trifling, nay, even as superstitious

— a weight and an encumbrance on true vital religion. Or,


2. They may be assigned more importance than is their due; considered to

be that in which religion mainly consists, believed to have an inherent

power and efficacy which is far from belonging to them. Men are prone to

extremes; and most persons are naturally inclined either unduly to exalt, or

unduly to depreciate religious ceremonies. Of the two evils, undue

depreciation would seem to be the worse, for the following reason:




ü      It tends to make them of little service to men when they actually take part

in them, since they neither prepare themselves properly beforehand, so

as to derive from them the benefit they might, nor enter into them with much heart at the time of their occurrence, nor help their effect by

devout meditation upon them afterwards.


ü      It causes an infrequent participation in the ceremonies by the

depreciators, who, expecting but little benefit in the future, and being

conscious of but little benefit in the past, allow small obstacles to

prevent their attendance at services which they do not value.


ü      In extreme cases, it produces either complete abstention from, or

sometimes actual abrogation of the rite, whereby advantages are forfeited

on the part of whole sections of believers which would otherwise have

been enjoyed by them.


  • UNDUE EXALTATION OF CEREMONIES has the advantage of at

any rate retaining them in use, so that their benefit is not wholly lost. It

often, however, greatly lessens the benefit:


ü      by exaggerated and superstitious views of its nature, and


ü      by the attribution of the benefit to the mere formal participation in the

rite irrespective of the participator’s preparation, attention, and

devoutness at the time. Further, it is apt to produce such a reliance on the ceremonies as is unfavorable to practical efforts at improving the moral character and making advances towards Christian perfection. Careful instruction in the true nature and value of ceremonial observances is thus of the highest importance; and parents should perhaps scarcely wait till their children “ask the meaning” of public worship, baptism confirmation, the Lord’s supper, etc., before enlightening them on the

true nature and value of each. In so doing, it will always be of use to set forth the historical origin of each usage, to show when and how it arose, and to draw attention to what Scripture says on the subject. Men’s private views are various, and may be mistaken, but the Scriptures cannot but be true; and a knowledge of what is contained in the Bible with respect to each Christian rite or ceremony will be an excellent basis for the formation of a sound and healthy opinion on the subject when, in the course of time, the different views of different sections of believers come to be known.




“What Mean Ye by This Service?”(vs. 26-27)


Apply to the Lord’s Supper.


  • A QUESTION TO BE PUT BY THE COMMUNICANT TO HIMSELF. Qualification for the Lord’s table includes “knowledge to discern the Lord’s body” (I Corinthians 11:29), as well as “faith to feed upon Him.”





ü      The children are presumed to be spectators of the ordinance. It is well

that children should be present during the administration of the sacraments.


Ø      It awakens their interest.

Ø      It leads them to inquire.


ü      The ordinance is fitted to attract attention. An external interest attaches

to it. It appeals to the senses. The symbolic acts and movements prompt to



ü      It furnishes an excellent opportunity for imparting instruction. Children

will attend to an explanation of the sacraments, who will pay little attention

to a book or a sermon. The symbolism of the ordinance aids instruction;

makes it vivid and impressive.



ABLE TO ANSWER TO HIS CHILDREN. It is a sad matter when a

parent is incapable of sitting down, and instructing his children in the

meaning of the sacramental symbol. It betrays something worse than

ignorance; not improbably, a total want of spiritual religion.




Jew had to answer to his child“It is the sacrifice, of the Lord’s

passover,” etc. (v. 27). The Christian has to answer, “It is the memorial

of our Lord’s death, in atonement for our sins.” He has to tell:


ü      How we were in guilt and danger.

ü      How, for the love wherewith He loved us, Christ gave Himself up to the

death for our redemption.

ü      How, for His sake, we are forgiven and accepted.

ü      How the ungodly world has still God’s wrath resting upon it. It is

wonderful to reflect how simply, yet how perfectly, God has provided

for the handing down of a testimony to these great truths in the

ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. The pulpit may fail to preach the doctrine of atonement; Rationalistic and Unitarian teachers may deny

it; but as often as the Lord’s Supper is observed, on the model of the New Testament, the truth is anew proclaimed in unmistakable symbols. To give a child a satisfactory explanation of the Lord’s Supper, embodying the words of institution, would be almost of necessity, to preach a sermon on the atonement.




The Children’s Question in Canaan (vs. 26-27)


  • IT WAS A QUESTION TO BE EXPECTED. The service was one to

provoke curiosity. It was not some daily action of the household, of which

the children learned the meaning and purpose almost unconsciously. The

grinding of the corn, the kneading of the dough, in a very short time

explained themselves. But when as the beginning of the year drew round, it

brought with it these special observances, the slaying and eating of the

lamb and the seven days of unleavened bread, there was everything to

make a child ask, “What is this being done for?” God makes one thing to

fit into another. He institutes services of such a kind, with such elements of

novelty and impressiveness in them, that the children make it easier for

them to be instructed IN THE THINGS THAT BELONG UNTO HIS

WILL!   And what was true concerning this Passover service, is also true,

more or less, concerning ALL THAT IS REVEALED IN SCRIPTURES!

The great facts of DIVINE REVELATION are such as to provoke curiosity, even in a child’s mind. If it be true that the Scriptures are given to guide us

all the way through life, then what is more reasonable to expect than that

God will have placed much in them to stir up attention and inquiry from

those who are just at the beginning of life?



advantage was to be taken of childish curiosity. Inquisitive children are

often reckoned a nuisance, and told to be quiet; yet such a policy as this,

though it may save trouble in the present, may lead to a great deal more

trouble in the future. A stupid child who never asks questions, is to be

reckoned an object of pity and a source of peril. God has always in mind

how to make each generation better instructed than the one going before;

more obedient to Him, and more serviceable for His purposes. (In America,

traditionally, in this Land of Milk and Honey, it has been the aim of parents

for their children to be better off economically than their generation.  Normally,

this is the case but think how sad to provide for your children in this world,

and neglect to teach them and prepare them for the next!  CY – 2017)  The

temptation of the grown people in Israel was to undervalue what was

going on in the minds of their children. Remember how Mary and Joseph

suffered through their want of forethought on this point. The God who

watches human beings all the way from the cradle to the grave knows well

how children, even very little children, have their own thoughts about

things; and He wanted the people to give them every encouragement and

information. One question wisely answered leads to the asking of other

questions. Thus, by the continuance of an inquiring mood in the mind, and

thus only, is profitable information to be given. Information is not to be

poured into the mind as into a bucket; it must be taken as food, with

appetite, and digestive and assimilating power. Thus if the question were

not asked, if, while the Passover preparations were being made, a child

stood by in stolid unconcern, or ran away heedlessly to play, such conduct

would fill a wise parent with solicitude. He would look upon it as being

even more serious than a failure of physical health. He would do all he

could by timely suggestions to bring the question forth. Ingenuity and

patience may do much to bring curiosity into action, and if the question

were not asked it would have to be assumed. The narrative of the Passover

was a most important one for every Israelite child to hear and remember;

and if only the narrative was begun, it might soon excite the requisite and

much desired interest.




God, indeed, directs how it is to be answered; but of course, it is not meant

that there was to be a formal, parrot-like confinement to these words.

What, for instance, could be more gratifying to the children, who in after

times asked this question, than to begin by pointing out to them, how God

Himself expected them to ask this question? Then the words He had

directed Moses to provide for an answer, might be repeated. But it would

have been a poor spiritless answer, unpleasing to God, and profitless to the

children, if it had stopped with the bare utterance of the words “It is the

sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover who passed over the houses of the

children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and delivered

our houses.” (v. 27)  There was room for much to be said, that would very peculiarly impress the mind of a thoughtful child. He might be reminded that whereas, now, little children were born in the freedom of Canaan, some among their forefathers had been born in the bondage of Egypt. It might be told him

of Pharaoh who had threatened the men* children with destruction. In

particular, the story of the infant Moses might be told. So now, in those

parts of the world where the idols are abolished, and former idolaters are

gathered round the throne of grace for Christian worship, an opportunity is

given for explaining to the children, in how much better a state, and with

how much better surroundings they are brought up. “What mean ye by this

service?’ was a question which could be answered in form, and yet with

such absence of heart, as utterly to chill and thwart the eager inquirer.

Whereas, if it were only answered with evident care, with amplitude of

detail, with loving desire to interest and satisfy, then the child thus

favored, would be laid under great obligations to be thankful in feeling,

and devoted in service. A question of this sort gave great opportunity.

Happy those who could seize the opportunity at once, and use it to the full,

“talking of them when sitting in the house, and when walking by the way,

and when they lie down to go to sleep at night, and when thou risest up!

(Deuteronomy 6:7)





OWN FEELINGS WITH RESPECT TO IT. It was a question which helped to guard against formality. A little child may render a great service, without

knowing it, even to a grown man. God can send the little ones, to test, to rebuke, to warn, to stir out of lethargy. “What mean ye by this service?” How is the

Israelite of the grown generation to answer this question? He may tell the

child what the service is intended for, the historical facts out of which it

arose, and the Divine appointments concerning it; but after all, this is no

real answer to the question. It may be an answer to satisfy the inquiring

child, and yet leave the person who has to give it, with a barbed arrow in

his memory and conscience. Notice the precise terms of the question. What

mean ye by this service? How should the child ask in any other terms? It

looks and sees the parents doing something new and strange; and to them

it naturally looks for explanation and guidance. The question is not simply,

“Why is this thing being done?’ but “Why are you doing it, and what do

you mean by it?” It became only too possible in the lapse of ages, to go

through this service in a cold, mechanical, utterly unprofitable way. Not so,

we may be sure, was it observed the first time in Egypt, on the night of

deliverance. Then all was excitement, novelty, and overflowing emotion.

Be it ours, in considering all outward and visible acts in connection with

religion, all symbolic and commemorative institutions, to ask ourselves in

great closeness and candor of personal self-application, “What mean WE

by this service?’ Do we mean anything at all, and if so, what is it that we

mean? To answer this is not easy: it is not meant to be easy. Perhaps one

great reason why there are such marked and unabated differences of

opinion with respect to Baptism and the Lord’s Supper is, that we have

never sufficiently considered the question, “What mean ye by these

services?’ It is hard work to be quit of mere superstition, mere clinging to

outward observances as matters of custom, tradition, and respectability. It

is very certain that to this question of the children, put in all its particular

emphasis, only too many fathers in Israel would have been forced to reply,

“We do this thing because our fathers did it.” Remember that forms are, in


value is as containing, protecting and expressing what we have to present.

That which pleased Jehovah and profited Israel was not the outward Passover service, but the intelligence, the perceptions, the gratitude, the aspirations,



28 “And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had

commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.”  So did they. The long series

of miracles wrought by Moses and Aaron had so impressed the people, that they

yielded an undoubting and ready obedience.



The Passover (vs. 1-28)


God’s last and overwhelming blow was about to be struck at Egypt. In

anticipation of that blow, and in immediate connection with the exodus,

God gave directions for the observance of a Passover.



details of the ritual, see the verses of the chapter in exposition.


ü      The design of the Passover was to make plain to Israel the ground on

which its salvation was bestowed — the ground, viz., of ATONEMENT!

The more recent plagues had fallen on Egypt alone. The children of Israel

were saved from them. But though the salvation was obvious, the way of

salvation had not yet been indicated. But now that the last and heaviest

plague is about to fall, not only will Israel be saved from it, but the ground

on which (the whole) salvation is bestowed WILL BE MADE PLAIN!


ü      The connection of the Passover with the exodus. In this relation it is to

be viewed more especially as a purificatory sacrifice. Such a sacrifice was

peculiarly appropriate on the night of leaving Egypt, and one would

probably have been appointed, even had no such special reason existed for

it as the judgment on the first-born.


ü      The connection of the Passover with the judgment on the first-born.

Israel was God’s Son, His firstborn (ch.10:22), and is in turn

represented by his first-born; and so with Egypt. Because Pharaoh would

not let Israel (God’s first-born) go, God had declared His purpose of

smiting “all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast”

(v. 12); the punishment in this case, as frequently in God’s Providence

(compare Isaiah 30:16), taking a form analogous to the sin it is designed to

chastise. “The first-born represented the family, so that judgment of the

first-born stood for judgment upon all, and redemption of the first-born

stood for the redemption of all” (Dr. Gibson). Accordingly, not the

firstborn merely, but the entire household, as represented in him, was

redeemed by the blood of the Passover, and joined in the subsequent feast

upon the lamb (v. 8). Note, there was a peculiar fitness in the Passover

being instituted at this particular crisis.


Ø      The death of the firstborn was a judgment pure and simple; not,

 like the hail, locusts, etc., an admonitory plague.


Ø      It gave a heightened and impressive character to the salvation that

redemption by blood, redemption by power, and the emergence of the

people from slavery into distinct existence as a people of God, were

 thus seen going hand in hand. The analogy with the Christian

redemption is obvious.


ü      The teaching of the Passover. It taught the people


Ø      that naturally they were as justly exposed to wrath as the people of

Egypt. “Whether viewed in their individual or in their collective capacity,

they were themselves of Egypt — collectively, a part of the nation,

without any separate and independent existence of their own, vassals of

the enemy, and inhabitants of the doomed territory — individually, also,

partakers of the guilt and corruption of Egypt” (Fairbairn). “If the test

had been one of character, it is quite certain that the line would not

have been run so as to range all Egypt on the one side, and all Israel

on the other. No one can suppose that all the real worth and excellence

were on the side of the latter, and all the meanness and wickedness on

the side of the former. In fact, the children of Israel had shared only

too deeply in the sins of Egypt, and, accordingly, if they are to be saved,

it must be on some other ground than their own merits” (Gibson).


Ø      That the medium of their salvation — the ground on which it was

bestowed — was BLOOD OF ATONEMENT!   It is vain to deny that

the Passover victim was truly a propitiatory sacrifice. The use made of

its blood is proof sufficient of that. The lamb died in room of the

first-born. Sprinkled on the door-posts and lintels, its blood sheltered

the inmates of the dwelling from the stroke of the destroyer (vs. 21-24).

“A sinless victim, the household might, as it were, hide behind it, and

escape the just punishment of their sins” (Kohler in Geikie). The

Passover thus emphatically taught the necessity of atonement for the

covering of GUILT!   No thoughtful Israelite but must have deeply

realized the truth, “Without shedding of blood is no remission”

(Hebrews 9:22).


Ø      The solidarity of the nation. The observance of the Passover was to be

an act, not of individuals, but of households and groups of households,

and in a wider sense, of the nation as a whole. The Israelites were thus

taught to feel their unity as BEFORE GOD — their oneness in guilt

as in redemption.


o        In guilt. Each was involved in guilt and doom, not only

through his own sins, but through the sins of the nation

of which he formed a part (compare Isaiah 6:5;

Matthew 23:35).


o        In redemption. This was beautifully symbolized in the eating

of the lamb. The lamb was to be roasted entire, and placed on

the table undivided (v. 9). “By avoiding the breaking of the

bones (v. 46), the animal was preserved in complete integrity,

undisturbed and entire (Psalm 34:20)… There was no other

reason for this than that all who took part in this one animal,

i.e. all who ate of it, should look upon themselves as one

whole, one community, like those who eat the New Testament

Passover, the body of Christ (I Corinthians 5:7), of whom the

apostle says (ibid. ch. 10:17), ‘We being many are one bread,

and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.’”



Ø      It pointed to an atonement in the future. For, manifestly, there lay in

the blood of the lamb no real virtue to take away sin. It declared the

necessity of atonement, but could not adequately provide it. The life

of a beast was no proper substitute for the life of a first-born son.

(“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should

take away sin.”  Hebrews 10:4)  The Passover, therefore, from its

very nature, is to be viewed as a type. It pointed on to CHRIST

 in whom all the types of sacrifices find complete fulfillment.


Ø      The various features of the ritual were symbolic. The unleavened bread

was indicative of haste (Deuteronomy 16:3); the bitter herbs of the

affliction of Egypt, etc. These circumstances, like the blamelessness of

the victim, the sprinkling of the blood, etc., had also spiritual

significance. See below, Homily on vers. 21-29. It is to be remarked,

in general, that “the earthly relations then existing, and the operations

of God in connection with them, were framed on purpose to represent

and foreshadow corresponding but immensely superior ones, connected

with the work and kingdom of Christ.” (Fairbairn.)



GENERATIONS (vs. 14, 24-28). In this respect, the Passover is to be



ü      As an historical witness to the reality of the events of the exodus. See below;

also Homily on Deuteronomy 16:1-9. (This website) The Passover, like the

Lord’s Supper, was an institution which, in the nature of things, could not

have been set up later than the event professedly commemorated.


ü      As a perpetuation of the original sacrifice. The blood of the lambs was

year by year presented to God. This marked that the true sacrifice had not

yet been offered (Hebrews 10:1-3). Now that Christ has died, and has

“put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 1:1; 9:26; 10:12), there

is no room for further sacrifice, and the Lord’s Supper is to be regarded as

simply a commemorative ordinance and means of grace. The doctrine of

the mass has no foundation in true scriptural analogy.


ü      As a means of grace. It was a feast, collecting the Israelites in great

numbers at the sanctuary, and reviving in their minds the memory of the

great deliverance, in which had been laid the foundation of their national

existence. The lamb, slain on their behalf, roasted with fire, and set on the

table before their eyes, to be handled and eaten by them, in solemn

observance of a Divine command, gave them a vivid sense of the reality of

the facts they were commemorating. The Lord’s Supper, in like manner, is

a powerful means of impressing mind and heart, an act of communion on

the part of Christian believers, and a true source of nourishment (through

spiritual participation in Christ) to the soul.


ü      The observance of the Passover was connected with oral instruction

(vs. 26-27). This was a further guarantee for the handing down of a

faithful, ungarbled tradition of the meaning of the ceremony; added to the

interest of the service; took advantage of a favorable opportunity to

impress the minds of the young; and helped to keep alive in all classes of

the community a vivid remembrance of GOD’S MIGHTY WORKS!



ordinance for this feast was probably given at Succoth, on the day

succeeding the exodus (see v. 17, and ch.13:5-8). It is inserted here on

account of its internal connection with the Passover. It is to be viewed:


ü      As a memorial of the haste with which the Israelites left Egypt. The

Israelites had evidently intended to leaven their dough on the night of the

exodus, but were prevented by the haste (v. 34). “For thou camest out of

the land in haste” (Deuteronomy 16:3). This is the historical groundwork

of the institution.


ü      As a symbol of spiritual truth.


Ø      The feast lasted seven days, a complete circle of time.

Ø      It was rounded off at the beginning and end by an holy convocation.

This marked it as a sacred period.

Ø      Sacrifices were offered during its course (Numbers 28:16-25;

Deuteronomy 16:2).

Ø      The bread eaten was to be unleavened. So strict was the injunction on

this point that the Israelite found eating leaven during these seven days

was to be “cut off,” i.e., excommunicated. The general idea of the feast

was, therefore, to represent what redeemed life in its entirety ought to

be — a life purged from the leaven of “malice and wickedness,” and

devoted to God’s service in “sincerity and truth” (I Corinthians 5:8).

“The exodus formed the groundwork of the feast, because it was by

this that Israel had been introduced into a new vital element” (Keil).

The “walk in newness of life” follows on redemption. We may apply

the precept about “cutting off from Israel to the exclusion of

immoral and impure members from the Church.



The Institution of the Passover (vs. 1-28)


Moses has now done with requesting and threatening Pharaoh. He leaves

Pharaoh to the terrible smiting hand of Jehovah, and turns, when it is quite

time to turn, to his own people. He who would not listen had to be left for

those who would listen. It is now manifest that Moses is to be profitably

occupied with matters which cannot any longer be delayed. It was needful

to give warning concerning the death of the first-born to the Israelites quite

as much as to Pharaoh. For some time they had been the passive, the

scarcely conscious objects of Divine mercy and power. Painfully conscious

they were of the physical hardships which Pharaoh inflicted on them, but

they had little or no thought of deprivations and hindrances with respect to

higher things. God had been leading them forward by a way they knew not,

and now the hour has come for them to know the way and walk in it with

understanding, choice, circumspection, and diligence. All at once, from

being passive spectators in the background, they came forward to be prime

actors in the very front; and God is here telling them through Moses what

to do, and how they are to do it. More is to be done than simply wait for

God’s coming at midnight: that coming has to be made ready for with great

solemnity and minuteness of preparation.




CONNECTION WITH HIM. They are to be delivered, only as they are

willing to be delivered. They are to signify their willing regard to conform

with the will of God. The matter is made almost a personal one; if not

brought before every Israelite, it is brought before every head of a

household. Hitherto the immunities of the people during the course of the

plagues had been secured in a mere external way. The protection belonged

to a certain territory, and the Israelites had to exert no attention, take no

trouble, in order to secure the protection. God kept the flies, the hail, and

the darkness out of Goshen without requiring any mark upon the

habitations and property of His people. But now, as the last visitation from

God draws nigh, they have to take a part, and a very decided part, in

making their exemption effectual. Jehovah comes, treating all who are in

Egypt as belonging fully to Egypt, and it is for the Israelites to show by

some significant act the deep difference which separates between them and

the Egyptians. There had been, up to this time, certain differences between

the Egyptian and the Israelite which did not depend upon the Israelite’s

choice. The Egyptian was master, and the Israelite slave; assuredly the

Israelite had not chosen that. An Egyptian might soon lose all trace of his

personal ancestry, but every Israelite could trace his ancestry back to

Jacob, to Isaac, to Abraham; and this was a matter he had not chosen. The

Egyptian belonged to a nation which had been smitten with nine plagues,

but from the later and severer of these the Israelite dwelling in Goshen had

been free; yet this freedom had been secured without making it to depend

on the Israelite’s own action. But now, as the day of redemption draws

near, Jehovah reminds every Israelite that underneath all the differences

which, in carrying out His purposes, He may make to exist among men,

there is a common humanity. Before Him who comes smiting at midnight

there is neither Israelite nor Egyptian, bond nor free; everything depends

on the sprinkled blood; and the sprinkled blood depends on whether the

Israelite has put it on his door of his own accord. If, that night, the Israelite

did not of his own accord make a difference between himself and the

Egyptian, then no natural distinction or past immunity was of the slightest

avail. Even already it is being shown that circumcision availeth nothing, but

a new creature. Israel can only be truly Israel as he is Israel inwardly. The

mark upon the door without must come from the perfect heart and willing

mind within. The only great abiding differences between man and man are

such as we, fully considering our position, concur in making of our own

free will! True it is that we cannot establish and complete these differences

in our own strength; but it is very certain that God will not do this —

indeed, by the very limitations of the thing to be done, He cannot — except

as we willingly and with alacrity (brisk and cheerful readiness) give Him



  • In these instructions for the Passover, GOD BRINGS THE


EXERCISE. In Hebrews 11:28 we are told that by faith Moses kept

the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest He that destroyed the firstborn

should touch them. And this faith extended from Moses to every head

of a household in Israel. The whole instructions imply a trustful, disciplined

spirit, on the part of those receiving them. Up to this time nothing had been

required of them except to stand still and wait while God dealt with

Pharaoh. They are left on one side, treated as helpless captives, whom it is

vain to ask for what they cannot give. But now they are asked for

something, and they have not only to render it willingly, but with the

obedience of faith (Romans 16:26). They are asked to slay a number of

lambs, the number being determined according to a settled proportion.

When the lambs are slain, the blood is to be sprinkled on the doors of each

Israelite dwelling, and the flesh, prepared in a peculiar and exact way, is to

be eaten by the inhabitants. Well, what should all this have to do with the

protection of Israel? How should it advance the captives towards

deliverance? If God had told them to get ready swords and spears, and

discipline themselves for battle there would have been something

intelligible in such instructions, something according to the schemes of

human wisdom. But God does not deliver as men would deliver. It pleased

Him, in the fullness of time and by the foolishness of a slain lamb and

sprinkled blood to save Israel. And yet it was not the slain lamb and

sprinkled blood that saved by themselves. Moses and Aaron might have

slain so many lambs and sprinkled their blood, and yet there would have

been no efficacy in them. Their efficacy as protectors was not a natural

efficacy. The efficacy lay in this: that the lambs were slain and the blood

sprinkled in THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH!   The thing done and the spirit

in which it is done — truth and faith go together in RESISTLESS POWER!

There must be truth; faith by itself does nothing; for a man may believe a lie

and then where is he? There must be faith; truth by itself does nothing; just

as food does nothing unless a man takes it into his stomach. Of course it was

quite possible for a skeptical Israelite to say, “What can there be in this

sprinkled blood?” — and the very fact that such a question was possible

shows how God was shutting His people up to pure faith. He asks them

to act simply on the word of Moses. That word was now to be a sufficient

reason for their conduct. Moses had done enough to show from whom he

came. It is interesting to notice how faith stands here, asked for, the first thing,

by Moses, even as it was afterwards by Jesus. As the Israelites believed

because Moses spoke, so we must believe because JESUS SPEAKS!  Jesus

speaks truth because it is true; but we must receive it and believe it, not

because in our natural reason we can see it as true, but because of the

ascertained and well-accredited character of Him who speaks it. And we

must show our faith by our works, as these Israelites did. It was not

required of them to understand how this sprinkled blood operated. They

acted as believing that it would operate, and the indisputable fact is that

they were saved. It is a great deal more important to have a thing done,

than to be able to understand all the ins and outs by which it is done. A

man does not refuse to wind up his watch, because he cannot understand

its intricate mechanism. His purposes are served, if he understands enough

to turn the key. (I remember as a kid listening to the words of the song

which said “Prayer is the key to heaven, but Faith unlocks the door!”

CY – 2017)  And so our purposes are served, if we have enough

practical faith in Jesus to gain actual salvation through Him. Exactly how

Jesus saves, is a question which we may ask again and again, and vainly

ask. Let us not, in asking it, waste time and risk ETERNITY  when by the

prompt and full obedience of faith, we may know in our experience, that

however obscure the process may be, the result itself is a real and abiding



  • Looking back on this Passover lamb in the light of the finished work





ü      The lamb was taken so as to bind families and neighbors together.

This reminds us of Him, who gathers round Himself, in every place, those

who form the true family, the new family; joined together not after the

temporary, dissolving order of nature, but after the abiding, ever-consolidating

order of grace. Wheresoever two or three are gathered together in the name of

Jesus, there the true Lamb of God is present (Matthew 18:20) in all

those relations of which the Passover lamb gave but a foreshadowing. The

true families are made by the coalescence of those who, living in one

neighborhood, have:


Ø      one Lord,

Ø      one faith,

Ø      one baptism,

Ø      one God and Father of all.


ü      The Passover lamb was without blemish. Consider what is said in this

respect of Jesus (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22; 23:4, 14;

John 19:4-6; II Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 4:13; Colossians 1:19;

Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter. 2:22).


ü      It was a male of the first year. So Jesus was taken in the freshness and

strength of His manhood (Luke 3:23).


ü      The flesh of the lamb was eaten in the company for which it had been

slain. It is only when we bear in mind the first Passover in Egypt, that we

reach the significance of all that was said and done on the night when Jesus

sat down for the last Passover feast with His disciples. Jesus took the bread

and said: “Take, eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22;

Luke 22:19; I Corinthians 11:24)  There was to be no more killing of

the lamb; the bread, easily made and easily portioned out, took its place.

But still the Lord had to say “this is my body.” A body had to be thought

of as eaten, and not mere bread. Really, when we look into the matter, we

find that the sprinkling of the blood was only part of the protection; the

eating was protective also. Assuredly the sprinkling by itself would have

counted for nothing, if the eating had been omitted. When the blood was

sprinkled, it illustrated faith in Him who comes between God and the sinner.

When the flesh was eaten, it illustrated faith in him whose life becomes our

life. Being unblemished, he makes us unblemished, and being acceptable to

God, he makes us acceptable also.


  • We observe that even before the event to be commemorated was


MEMORIAL OBSERVANCE. Thus another indication is given to us, as

to the completeness and order with which His plans were laid. (Those plans

were solidified with Christ before the world began!  Revelation 13:8; 17:8 –

CY – 2017)  Directions are given for the present need, and along with them

are combined directions by which the record of this great liberating event may

be transmitted to the remotest generations. Henceforth, the beginning of the

year is to date from the month of these dealings with the first-born. Then

there was also the appointment of the feast of unleavened bread. So

crushing was the blow of Jehovah, and so suddenly the consequent action

of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, that the Israelites were hurried out of the

land with their dough before it was leavened. Here then in this domestic

operation of preparing the daily bread was an opportunity given of setting

forth once a year the complete separation which God had effected between

the Israelites and the Egyptians. When for seven days no leaven was put in

the bread, the great fact to be called up was this: that the Egyptians had

hastened the Israelites out of the land. This memorial act called up at once

the great change which God had produced, and in a comparatively short

time. But a little while before and the Egyptians were spoiling the

Israelites, demanding from them bricks without straw; now the Israelites

are spoiling the Egyptians, getting gold and silver and raiment from them in

profusion, and with the utmost good-will.




DEPARTURE. Jehovah was coming to open the prison-doors and strike

off the fetters; and He would have the captives ready to march on the

instant. He is the God who makes all things to work together for good to

them who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)  To him who

is truly and devoutly obeying God, nothing comes but he is able to meet it.

The obedient is never taken at a disadvantage; he is never defrauded of a great

opportunity. The children of Israel were to eat the lamb in full readiness for

the journey; even though it might plausibly be said that it was a making

ready before the time. The lesson is, obey God in everything where as here

the terms of His requirement are plain to the understanding and imperative

to the conscience. Reasons are not for you, who know only in part, but for

Him to whom the darkness and the light are both alike. (Psalm 139:12)




Israel and the Sacrifice for Sin (vs. 21-28)


  • CHRIST SLAIN BY US. The lamb’s blood was not only shed for them,

but also by them. The crucifying of Jesus by the Jews, the revelation of

what lies in every unrenewed heart. “They shall look upon him whom they

have pierced.”  (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:37)




ü      Appropriating faith. It was the blood applied with their own hands to the

door of the dwelling that saved those within. It is not enough that the

blood be shed. Is it upon our gates? Have we set it by faith between us and



ü      It must be applied as God directs us. It was sprinkled on the lintel and

doorposts — not within, but without. It is not enough that we believe. We

must make open profession of our faith.


ü      We must abide within until the day dawn and salvation come. To put

that blood (which should be between us and the world) behind us, no

longer to hide within it but to forget it, is to renounce salvation. Are we

without or within the blood-stained gateway? We are saved if we hold the

beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.  (Hebrews 3:14)



shed blood stands between US and DEATH!   The awe and joy of redeemed

Israel is a faint emblem of the awe and joy which we shall feel, who shall see

the judgment of sin but only from afar.




ü      Perpetual remembrance (v. 23). We must, in the ordinance of Christ’s

own appointment, SHOW HIS DEATH TILL HE COME! 

(I Corinthians 11:26)


ü      The handing down of the knowledge of salvation (vs. 26-27). Christians

should glory in the story of the Cross.






At last the time had come for the dealing of the final blow. Nine plagues had been sent,

nine inflictions endured, and no serious effect had been produced. Once or twice

Pharaoh had wavered, had made profession of submitting himself, had even

acknowledged his sin. But each time he had relapsed into obstinacy. Now at length

the fiat had gone forth for that last plague which had been announced from the first

(ch.  4:23).  Pharaoh’s own son, his firstborn, the heir to his throne, was smitten with

death, in common with all the other male Egyptians who had “opened the womb.”

What the effect on the king would have been, had he alone suffered, we cannot

certainly say.  As it was, the whole population of the country, nobles, tradesmen,

peasants, suffered with him; and the feeling aroused was so intense that the popular

movement left him no choice. The Egyptians everywhere “rose up in the night” (v. 30),

and raised “a great cry,” and insisted that the Israelites should depart at once (v.33).

Each man feared for himself, and felt his life insecure, so long as a single Israelite

remained in the land.  By only affecting all the firstborn and no others, and no

Israelites, as well as its announcement, plainly showed this to be “miraculous”.


29 “And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the

firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat

on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the

dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.”  At midnight. As prophesied by

Moses (ch. 11:4). The day had not been fixed, and this uncertainty must have

added to the horror of the situation. The first-born of Pharaoh. We have no

proof that the eldest son of Menephthah died before his father, unless we take

this passage as proving it. He left a son, called Seti-Menephthah, or Seti II,

who either succeeded him, or reigned after a short interval, during which

the throne was held by Ammonmes, a usurper. The first-born of the

captive who was in the dungeon. This phrase takes the place of another

expression, viz. “the first-born of the maid-servant that is behind the mill”

(ch.11:5). In both cases, the general meaning is, “all, from the

highest to the lowest.” This is perhaps the whole that is in the writer’s

thought; but it is also true that captives in dungeons were in some cases

employed in turning hand-mills (Judges 16:21). And all the first-born

of cattle. Rather, “of beasts.” There is no limitation of the plague to

domesticated animals.  (Only an Omniscient God could know and

perform this!  (CY – 2017)



Christ our Passover (vs. 21-29)


The Passover was an eminent type of Christ. It was probably to it the

Baptist referred when he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh

away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Paul gives a decisive utterance on

the question in the words: “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us

(I Corinthians 5:7).





ü      In both you have the death of a blameless victim.


Ø      The lamb, physically blameless (v. 5);

Ø      Christ, morally faultless. A SINFUL WORLD needs A SINLESS SAVIOUR!   It has one in Christ.


Proofs of this sinlessness:


Ø      Christ asserts his own freedom from sin (John 8:29-46; 14:30).

Ø      In no part of his conduct does He betray the least consciousness of

guilt. Yet it is admitted that Jesus possessed the finest moral insight of any man who has ever lived.

Ø      His apostles, one and all, believed him to be sinless (II Corinthians

5:21; Hebrews 4:15; I Peter. 2:22; I John 3:5).

Ø      His enemies could find no fault in him (Matthew 26:60; 27:23-24).

Ø      The very traitor confessed the innocence of Christ (ibid.  v. 4).

Ø      The delineation of his character in the gospels avers His moral blamelessness.


ü      In both, the design is to secure redemption from a dreadful evil. In the

one case, from the wrath of God revealed against Egypt in the smiting of

its first-born. In the other, from the yet more terrible wrath of God

revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Romans

1:18). “Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (I Thessalonians 1:10). “Saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:9).


ü      In both, the principle of the deliverance is that of vicarious sacrifice.

The lamb was substituted for the first-born. It protected the house, on

whose door-posts the blood was sprinkled, from the stroke of the avenger.

The substitutionary character of the death of Christ is, in like manner,

affirmed in innumerable Scriptures. Jesus “died for the ungodly”

(Romans 5:6). He “suffered for sins, the just for the unjust” (I Peter 3:18).

He gave “His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).

His blood is a propitiation (Romans 3:25).


ü      In both, there was need for an act of personal, appropriating faith.

“The people bowed the head, and worshipped. And the children of Israel

went away, and did as the Lord had commanded" (vs. 27-28). “Through

faith (they) kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood,” etc.

(Hebrews 11:28). Their faith showed itself in sprinkling the blood on

their door-posts and lintels, and in sheltering themselves under it. Nothing

short of this would have availed to save them. So it is not knowledge about



Ø      but faith in Him;

Ø      personal application to His blood, and

Ø      trust in it as the means of salvation,


which secures our safety. Faith is the bunch of hyssop.


ü      In both, the slain lamb becomes the food of the new life. There was, on

the part of the Israelites, a sacrificial feast upon the flesh of the lamb. This

denoted, indeed, peace and fellowship with God, but it was also an act of

nourishment. Similarly, under the Gospel, the new life is nourished by

feeding upon Christ. We make Him ours by inward appropriation and

assimilation, and so are spiritually nourished for all holy service (See

John 6). Minor typical features might be insisted upon:


Ø      male of the first year,

Ø      roast with fire,

Ø      not a bone broken,

Ø      unleavened bread,

Ø      bitter herbs of contrition, etc.,


but the above are the broad and outstanding ones.



belongs to the nature of a type that it should be surpassed by the antitype.

The type is taken from a lower sphere than the thing which it represents.

So completely, in the case of the Passover, does the reality rise above the

type, that when we begin to reflect on it the sense of likeness is all but

swallowed up in the sense of disproportion. How great:


ü      The contrast in the redemptions. The redemption from Egypt, though

spiritual elements were involved in it, was primarily a redemption from the

power of Pharaoh, and from a temporal judgment about to fall on Egypt.

Underlying it, there was the need for a yet GREATER REDEMPTION  a

redemption from the curse of a broken law, and from the tyranny of sin and



Ø      spiritual,

Ø      temporal, and

Ø      eternal.


It is this higher redemption which Christ has achieved, altering, through His death,


Ø      the whole relation of God to man, and

Ø      of (believing)man to God.


ü      The contrast in the victims. That, an irrational lamb; this, THE

ETERNAL SON OF GOD in human nature, the Lord’s own Christ.


ü      The contrast in THE EFFICACY OF THE BLOOD!   The blood of the

Passover lamb had no inherent virtue to take away sin. Whatever virtue it possessed arose from God’s appointment, or from its typical relation to the sacrifice of Christ. Its imperfection as a sacrifice was seen:


Ø      In the multitude of the victims.

Ø      In the repetition of the service (Hebrews 10:1-3).


But what the flowing of the blood of millions of lambs, year by year slain in

atonement for sin could not achieve, Christ has achieved once for all by the

offering up of HIS HOLY BODY AND SOUL!  The dignity of His person,

the greatness of His love, His holy will, the spirit of perfect self-sacrifice in

which He, Himself sinless, offered Himself up to bear the curse of sin for the

unholy, confers upon his oblation an EXHAUSTLESS MERITORIOSNESS! Its worth and sufficiency are INFINITE! (Hebrews 10:10-15; I Peter. 1:19;

I John 2:2).


ü      The contrast in the specific blessings obtained. The difference in these

springs from the contrast in the redemptions. Israel obtained:


Ø      Escape from judgment.

Ø      Outward liberty.

Ø      Guidance, care, and instruction in the desert.

Ø      Ultimately, an earthly inheritance.


We receive, through Christ,


Ø      Pardon of all sins.

Ø      A complete justifying righteousness, carrying with it THE TITLE

Ø      Renewal and sanctification by the Spirit.

Ø      Every needed temporal and spiritual blessing in life.


o        Heaven at the close,

o        with triumph over death,

o        the hope of a resurrection, and

o        of final perfecting in glory.


30 “And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all

the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not

a house where there was not one dead.”  And Pharaoh rose up in the night,

and all his servants. This general disturbance differentiates the present

visitations from that which came upon the host of Sennacherib (II Kings 19:35).

Then, the calamity came with such silence and secrecy, that the deaths were not

suspected until men rose to go about their various tasks in the morning Now,

every household seems to have been aroused from its sleep in the night.

We must suppose sharp and painful illness, terminating after a few hours in death.

The disaster itself may have been one from which Egypt often suffers in the

spring of the year (Kalisch); but its attacking all the firstborn and no others,

and no Israelites, as well as its announcement, plainly showed it to be

miraculous. There was a great cry. See the comment on ch.11:6.

For there was not a house where there was not one dead. This is

perhaps a slight hyperbole. There would be many families in which there

was no son; and some houses might contain no male who had opened the

womb. It is always to be borne in mind, that the language of Scripture —

especially where exciting and tragical events are narrated — is poetical, or

at the least highly rhetorical.



The Death of the First-Born (vs. 29-30)


From the death of the first-born we may learn:



            punishment will overtake the wicked sooner or later was the conviction of

            heathendom no less than of the Jewish and Christian worlds. Horace says

            — “Judgment may halt, but yet it rarely fails to overtake the guilty one at

            last.” Tibullus — “Wretch, though at first thy sin no judgment meet,

            vengeance will come at length with silent feet.” But the greater heaviness

            of the punishment that is long deferred does not appear to have attracted

            their notice. Yet experience might have taught it them. Who has not seen

            the long triumphant career of a thoroughly bad man, crowned with success

            for years, seeming to turn all he touched to gold, “flourishing,” as the

            Psalmist has it, “like a green bay tree,” (Psalm 37:35) yet ending in

            calamities and misfortunes so striking, and so heaped one upon another, as

            to draw general attention?  Th Scripture is full of examples. How long God’s        

            Spirit strove with men in the antediluvian world, as they proceeded from one

            wickedness to another, heaping up to themselves wrath against the day of

            wrath, till the flood came and swept away the ungodly! For what a

            prolonged term of years must the long-suffering of God have borne with

            the cities of the plain, as they more and more corrupted themselves, till in

            all Sodom there were not ten godly men left! And then, how signal the

            punishment! (Reader – check out arkdiscovery.com – CY – 2010) - Again,

            what an instance is Ahab of the operation of the law!  Flourishing in every way,

            in spite of his numerous sins — his idolatries, cruelties, selfishness, meanness,       

            hatred of God’s servants — victorious over Benhadad, supported by all the

            forces of Jehoshaphat, encouraged by his successes to undertake an aggressive      

            war against Syria — and then struck down in a moment, slain by an arrow shot

            at a venture (I Kings 22:34) — his blood licked up by dogs — his wife and           

            seventy sons murdered! (Oh, Reader – ponder this teaching of Scripture –

            “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and

            some men they follow after.  Likewise also the good works of some are

            manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.” –

            (I Timothy 5:24-25).  The Pharaohs and the Egyptians had now worked their        

            wicked will on Israel for a century or more, since the king arose “who knew not

            Joseph”all this time they had been treasuring up to themselves wrath

            (Romans 2:5) — and now it had fallen upon them in full force. Let

            sinners beware of trying the forbearance and long-suffering of God too far

            — let them tremble when all goes well with them, and no punishment

            comes. Let them be assured that the account of their offences is strictly

            kept, and that for each they will have to suffer. Delay does but mean

            accumulation. However long suspended, the bolt will fall at last, and it will

            be proportioned in its severity to the length of the delay, and the amount of

            the wrath stored up.



            was night — it was the hour of repose, of peace, silence, tranquility. All

            had gone to rest unsuspectingly. No one anticipated evil. Each said to

            himself, as he lay down, “To-morrow shall be as this day, and much more

            abundant,” (Isaiah 56:12) - when suddenly, without warning, there was death     

            everywhere.  Fathers saw the light of their eyes snatched from them —

            mothers beheld their darlings struggling in the agonies of dissolution. A shrill,       

            prolonged cry sounded throughout the land. So the flood came upon man

            unawares (Luke 17:27) – “and knew not until the flood came and took them

            all away” -  Matthew 24:38-39) — and a sudden destruction overthrew the

            cities of the plain (Luke 17: 28, 29) — and Ahab found himself mortally

            wounded when he was thinking of nothing but victory — and in the height of

            his pride Herod Agrippa was seized with a fearful malady  “and eaten of

            worms” – (Acts 12:23) — and Uzziah’s leprosy smote him in a moment

            (II Chronicles 26:19) - and in the night of his feast was Belshazzar slain.

            (Daniel 5:30).  Wicked men are for the most part thinking of nothing less

            when the judgments of God fall upon them. They have said to their soul —

            “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat,        

            drink, and be merry,” when the dread sentence goes forth — “Thou fool,

            this night thy soul shall be required of thee.” (Luke 12:19-20) - God’s    

            judgments often come in the night. We know not what a day, nor what a night     

            may bring forth. Let us commend our souls to God when we lie down to rest.



      ALL CONDITIONS OF MEN. “Pale death smites equally the poor

            man’s hut and the king’s palace,” says a heathen moralist. And so it is

            with all God’s judgments. He is no respecter of persons. “Without respect of

            persons He judgeth according to every man’s work” (I Peter 1:17).

            Greatness furnishes no security against Him. His messengers can enter the

            palace, elude the sentinels, pass the locked doors, make their way into the

            secret chamber, smite the monarch, sleeping or waking, with disease, or

            death, or frenzy. Nor can obscurity escape Him; “All things are naked and

            open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13) - The      

            lowest dungeon, the most wretched garret, the obscurest cellars are within his

            ken, their inmates known, the moral condition of each and all of them

            noted. His judgments find men out as easily in the darkest haunts of vice,

            or the most wretched abodes of poverty, as in royal mansions. And as

            greatness will not prevent Him from chastising, so neither will meanness

            The “woman behind the mill,” the “captive in the dungeon” are His

            creatures and His servants, no less than the great, and must be either His

            true servants, or rebels against His authority. If they are the-latter, their

            obscurity and insignificance will not save them from His judgments, any

            more than the great man’s greatness will save him. Vice must not look for

            impunity because it is low-placed, and hides itself in a corner.




                                                            (vs. 31-36)


The first action seems to have been taken by Pharaoh. The “cry” of the people had no

doubt been heard in the palace, and he was aware that the blow had not fallen on

himself alone, and may have anticipated what the people’s feelings would be; but he

did not wait for any direct pressure to be put upon him before yielding. He sent his

chief officers (ch. 11:8) while it was still night (ch.12:31), to inform Moses and Aaron,

not only that they might, but that they must take their departure immediately, with all

the people, and added that they might take with them their flocks and herds. The

surrender was thus complete; and it was accompanied by a request which we should

scarcely have expected.  Pharaoh craved at the hands of the two brothers a blessing!

We are not told how his request was received; but that it should have been made is a

striking indication of how his pride was humbled. The overture from Pharaoh was

followed rapidly by a popular movement, which was universal and irresistible. The

Egyptians “rose up” everywhere, and “were urgent upon the people,” to “send

them out of the land in haste” (v. 33); and to expedite their departure readily

supplied them at their request with gold and silver and raiment (v. 35), thus

voluntarily spoiling themselves for the benefit of the foreigners. The Israelites, long

previously prepared for the moment which had now arrived, made their final

arrangements, and before the day was over a lengthy column was set in motion, and

proceeded from Rameses, which seems to have been a suburb of Tunis (Brugsch,

Hist. of Egypt, vol. 2. pp. 96-99), to an unknown place called Succoth, which must

have lain towards the southeast, and was probably not very remote from the capital.


31 “And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up,

and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children

of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said.” Pharaoh thus retracted

the prohibition of  ch.10:24, and“gave the sacrifices and burnt-offerings” which

Moses had required (ib. v. 25).  And he called for Moses and Aaron.

Kalisch understands this as a summons to the King’s presence

 (Commentary, p. 130), and even supposes that the two brothers complied,

notwithstanding what Moses had said (ch.10:29). But perhaps no more is meant

than at Pharaoh’s instance Moses and Aaron were summoned to an interview

with some of the Court officials (see ch. 11:8). As ye have said. Literally,

“according to your words.” The reference is to such passages as ch. 8:1, 20; 9:1,13.




The Death of the First-Born (vs. 29-31)


On this see Exodus 11:4-7. Observe here:



REPRESENTATION. Hitherto, the plagues had fallen on the Egyptians

indiscriminately. Now, a change is made to the principle of representation.

Egypt, Israel also, is represented in its first-born. When a death-penalty

was to be inflicted, the lines had to be drawn more sharp and clear. We are

reminded that this principle of representation holds a vitally important

place in God’s moral government. The illustrations which more

immediately affect ourselves are, first, the representation of the race in

Adam, and second, its representation in Christ (Romans 5:12-21).

Hence it is not altogether fanciful to trace a relation to Christ even in this

judgment on the first-born.


ü      Christ is the great first-born of the race. We catch some glimpse of this

by looking at the matter from the side of Israel. Israel, as God’s son, His

first-born, is admitted to have been a type of Christ (Matthew 2:15).

Much more were the first-born in Israel — the special representatives of

this peculiar feature in the calling of the nation — types of Christ. They

resembled Him in that they bore the guilt of the rest of the people. But

Christ, as the Son of man, sustained a relation to more than Israel. He is,

we may say, the great First-born of HUMAN RACE!   Egypt as well as Israel was represented in Him.


ü      The death of Christ is not only God’s great means of saving the world,

but it is God’s great judgment upon the sin of the world. It is indeed the

one, because it is the other. There is thus in the death of Christ, both the

Israel side and the Egypt side. There is some shadow of vicarious

endurance of penalty — of the one suffering for, and bearing the guilt of,

the many — even in the destruction of Egypt’s first-born.


ü      The death of Christ, which brings salvation to the believing, is the

earnest of FINAL DOOM to the unbelieving portion of the race. This also is exhibited in principle in the history of the exodus. In strictness,

the firstborn were viewed as having died, both in Israel and Egypt. The Egyptian first-born died in person; the Israelitish first-born in the substituted Lamb.  The death of a first-born in person could typify judgment in the room, or in the name, of others; but the first-born being himself one of the guilty, his death could not (even in type) properly redeem. Hence the substitution of the lamb, which held forth in

prophecy the coming of the true and sinless first-born, whose death

would redeem. But Christ’s death, to the unbelieving part of mankind — the wilfully and obstinately unbelieving — is a prophecy, not of salvation, but of judgment. God’s judgment on sin in the person of Christ, the first-born, is the earnest of the doom which will descend on all who refuse

Him as a Saviour. And this was the meaning of the death of the first-

born in Egypt. That death did not redeem, but forewarned Egypt of yet worse doom in store for it if it continued in its sins. The first-born endured, passed under, God’s judgment, for the sin of the nation; and so has Christ passed under, endured God’s judgment, for the sin even of

the unbelieving. Egypt, not less than Israel, was represented in Him;

but to the one (Egypt as representative of hostility to the kingdom

of God) His death MEANS DOOM;  to the other (Israel as representative of the people of God) it MEANS SALVATION!



HOLD ON ISRAEL. It was the consummating blow. Imagination fails in

the attempt to realize it. As we write, accounts come to hand of the terrific

storm of Oct. 14 (1881), attended by a lamentable loss of life on the

Berwickshire coast of Scotland. The storm was sudden, and preluded by an

awful and ominous darkness. Compare  with remarks on ninth plague the

following: — “I noticed a black-looking cloud over by the school, which

shortly spread over all the sky out by the Head. Sea, sky and ground all

seemed to be turning one universal grey-blue tint, and a horrible sort of

stillness fell over everything.. The women were all gathering at their doors,

feeling that something awful was coming. No fewer than 200 fishermen

and others are believed to have perished, the village of Eyemouth alone

losing 129. So connected by intermarriage is the population of the villages

and hamlets, that there is scarcely a family in any of them which is not

called to mourn its dead. The scenes are heart-rending. Business in every

shape and form is paralyzed.” An image this, and yet how faint, of the cry

that went up in Egypt that night, when in every house there was found one

dead. Yet no stroke less severe would have served the purpose, and this

one is to be studied in view of the fact that it did prove effectual for its end.



ü      It was a death-stroke. Death has a singular power in subduing and

melting the heart. It is the most powerful solvent God can apply to a

rebellious nature. It is sometimes tried when gentler means have failed.

God removes your idol. He lays your dear one in the dust. You have

resisted milder influences, will you yield to this? Your heart is for the

moment bowed and broken, will the repentance prove lasting, or will it be,

like Pharaoh’s, only for a time?


ü      It is a death-grip upon the soul which is needed to make sin relax its

hold upon it. “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of

hell got hold upon me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul” (Psalm

116:3-4). God comes in the preaching of His law, and lays His hand, a hand carrying death in it, upon the soul of the trembling transgressor, who then for the first time realizes the fatal and unspeakably awful position in which he has placed himself by sin. It is a death-sentence which is written in his conscience.


ü      That which completes the liberation of the soul is a view of the meaning

of the death of Christ. Terror alone will not melt the heart. There is needed to effect this the influence of love. And where is love to be seen

in such wonderful manifestation as at the Cross of Christ? What see

we there? The first-born of the race expiring in awful agony under the judgment of God for our sins. Is not this a spectacle to melt the heart? It

is powerful enough, if earnestly contemplated, to make the Pharaoh that

is within us all relinquish his grip upon the captive spirit. What read we

of the prospective conversion of Israel? — “They shall look on Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son; and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born  (Zechariah 12:10). See again, Acts 2:36-37, “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts, and said.....Men

and brethren, WHAT SHALL WE DO?” Compare Revelation 1:7.

The Cross inspires mourning:


Ø      By the spectacle it presents of holy suffering.

Ø      By the recollection of WHO it is that there suffers.

Ø      By the thought that it is our own sins which are the cause of this


Ø      By the thought that it is the judgment of God in the infliction

of the curse of sin which the Holy one is thus enduring.

Ø      By the conviction of sin, and the dread of Divine justice, thus


Ø      Above all, by the infinite love shown in this gift of the Son,

and in the

Ø      Son’s willingness to endure this awful agony and shame for our salvation.


32 “Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone;

and bless me also.” Also take your flocks and your herds. Pharaoh thus

retracted the prohibition of ch. 10:24, and “gave the sacrifices and

burnt-offerings” which Moses had required (ibid. v. 25). Bless me also.

Pharaoh was probably accustomed to receive blessings from his own

priests, and had thus been led to value them. His desire for a blessing from

Moses and Aaron, ere they departed, probably sprang from a conviction —

based on the miracles which he had witnessed — that their intercession

would avail more with God than that of his own hierarchy.  (And is it not

a characteristic of the worldly man to practice sin, and yet expect a blessing?

CY – 2017)



Pharaoh’s Prayer (v. 32)


It has come then to this, that Pharaoh is glad to beg a blessing from the man

whom at first he had so contemptuously spurned. “And bless me also.”




WITH THAT OF THE GODLY. He may be, often is, even when he

refuses to acknowledge it, secretly conscious of the superior happiness of

the good man. There come times, however, when severe affliction, the

sense of a gnawing inward dissatisfaction, or special contact of some kind

with a man of genuine piety, extorts the confession from him. He owns that

the good man has a standing in the Divine favor; enjoys an invisible

Divine protection; and is the possessor of a peace, happiness, and inward

support, to which his own wretched life is utterly A STRANGER!



SHARE IN THE GOOD OF GOD’S PEOPLE. He envies them. He feels

in his heart that he is wretched and miserable beside them, and that it

would be happiness to be like them. He says with Balaam, “Let me die the

death of the righteous, and: let my last end be like his” (Numbers 23:10).




this, though but a little before, he has been persecuting them. He feels that

the good man has power with God.





33 “And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might

send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead

men.” (a very logical deduction – CY – 2010)  The Egyptians were urgent

upon the people. The Egyptians feared that, if any further delay took place,

the God of the Hebrews might not be content with slaying all the first-born,

but might punish with death the whole nation, or at any rate all the males.

It is easy to see how their desire to get rid of the Israelites would expedite

matters, and enable all to set out upon the journey on the same day.  (Also it

would explain their willingness to give them “jewels of silver, and jewels of gold”

in v. 35 below – CY – 2017)


34 “And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their

kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their

shoulders.” The people took their dough. They probably regarded dough

as more convenient for a journey than flour, and so made their flour into

dough before starting; but they had no time to add leaven. Their

kneading-troughs. This rendering is correct, both here and in the two

other places where the word occurs (ch.  8:3, and Deuteronomy 28:5).

Kneading-troughs would be a necessity in the desert, and, if like

those of the modern Arabs, which are merely small wooden bowls, would

be light and portable. The dough and kneading-troughs, with perhaps other

necessaries, were carried, as the Arabs still carry many small objects,

bound up in their clothes (i.e., in the beged or ample shawl) upon their



35 “And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and

they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and

raiment:” The children of Israel did according to the word of Moses.

See ch. 11:2. They borrowed. On this mistranslation, see the comment upon

ch. 3:22. It is plain that the gold and silver articles and the raiment, were

free-will gifts, which the Egyptians never expected to see again, and which

the Hebrews asked and took, but in no sense “borrowed.” Hengstenberg and

Kurtz have shown clearly that the primary meaning of the words translated

“borrowed” and “lent,” is “asked” and “granted,” and that the sense of

“borrowing” and “lending” is only to be assigned them when it is required by

the context.


36 “And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians,

so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they

spoiled the Egyptians.”  So that they lent unto them such things as they

required.  Rather, “So that they granted them what they asked.” They spoiled the

Egyptians. See the comment on ch. 3:22, ad fin. The result was that the Israelites

went forth, not as slaves, but as conquerors, decked with the jewels of the Egyptians,

as though they had conquered and despoiled them.




       Israel’s Going Forth from Egypt a Pattern to Oppressed Churches

(vs. 31-36)


Churches are sometimes enslaved and oppressed by the civil power. In

unsuspecting confidence they have accepted the State’s protection, and

entered into certain relations with it, supposed to be mutually

advantageous. But, as time has gone on, the terms of the original

arrangement have been disregarded; the civil power has made

encroachments; has narrowed the Church’s liberties, has behaved

oppressively towards it, has reduced it to actual slavery. A time comes at

last when the bondage is felt to be intolerable; and the Church demands its

liberty and claims to go out from under the yoke of the oppressor. Under such

circumstances the following analogies are noticeable: