Exodus 13 - Outline of Exodus (Book Notes menu page)
13:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
13:2 Sanctify
{HB=qadash, set apart, dedicate} unto me all the firstborn,
{first} openeth the womb among the children of Israel,
[both] of man and of beast: it [is] mine.
[The sanctification of the first-born will be discussed following v.11-16.]
13:3 And Moses said unto the people,
Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage;
for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this [place]:
there shall no leavened bread be eaten.
13:4 This day came ye out in the month Abib
{usually corresponds with April, Ex 12:2}.
13:5 And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites,
and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites,
which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey,
that thou shalt keep this service in this month.
13:6 Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread,
and in the seventh day [shall be] a feast to the LORD.
13:7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days;
and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee,
neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters.
13:8 And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying,
[This is done] because of that [which] the LORD did unto me
when I came forth out of Egypt.
13:9 And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand,
and for a memorial between thine eyes,
that the LORD'S law may be in thy mouth:
{cp. Deu 6:6-8}
for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt.
13:10 Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread was discussed at length in the previous chapter (Ex 12:14-21).
Why is this instruction repeated here, in the context of the command to 'sanctify the first-born'?
The repetition...
  • Emphasized the importance of remembering that it was the LORD who delivered them.
  • Emphasized the need to remain cleansed from all corrupting influences (as symbolized by leaven).
  • Established this feast as a remembrance in perpetuity, not to be neglected after their deliverance was complete (v.5).
  • Established this feast as a tool for teaching subsequent generations concerning the LORD's deliverance (v.8, v.14,15; 12:26,27).
  • Emphasized the link between the deliverance of the nation and the death of the first-born.
13:11 And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites,
as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee,
13:12 That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that
{first} openeth the matrix {ie., womb},
and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males [shall be] the LORD'S.
13:13 And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb;
and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck:
and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem
{ie., ransom, Num 18:15,16}.
13:14 And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What [is] this?
that thou shalt say unto him,
By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage:
13:15 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go,
that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt,
both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast:
therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that
{first} openeth the matrix {ie., womb}, being males;
but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.
13:16 And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes:
for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.
Sanctify unto Me all the first-born... (v.2) -
  • The first born of clean animals were to be offered to the LORD upon the altar (v.12)
  • The first born of unclean animals (eg., an ass) were to be sanctified {ie., set apart as belonging to the LORD} by means of a substitutionary sacrifice of clean animals (v.13).
  • The first born of men were already sanctified {set apart} for God, because He had purchased them at the first Passover (Num 3:13). Therefore, payment of a token 'ransom' was required in acknowledgment (Num 18:15,16).
  • The ultimate sacrifice, the true Passover Lamb, by whom men are truly sanctified, was Himself set apart for God's purpose, in compliance with these instructions.
    cp. Luk 2:21-24 (which quotes Ex 13:12, Num 8:17, and Lev 12:6-8)
    Jesus was the first-born of Mary, and the only-begotten of the Father (Luk 1:30-35; Joh 1:14).
    As the Holy Son of God, He had no need for a sacrifice. Mary and Joseph would have made a token payment in silver, for Jesus was already sanctified as a first-born man-child (Num 18:15,16).
    The sacrifice mentioned in the context of Jesus' birth, was for the post-partum purification of Mary. That sacrifice, like all prior sacrifices, looked forward to His one sacrifice for sins forever. At His resurrection, He became the "first begotten" from among the dead (Rev 1:5).
the firstling of an ass... the firstborn of man...-
"Man is unclean and must be redeemed.
Unredeemed, his value equals an ass with a broken neck.
Redeemed, he is worth as much as the blood of the Lamb." [CHM]
it shall be for a token... and for frontlets between thine eyes...- cp. v.9; Deu 6:7-9
Again, there is opportunity and responsibility for teaching the next generation.
The intent is that the truths, taught by the Feast of Unleavened Bread and by the Sanctification of the First-Born, are to be continually on the hearts and tongues of God's people.
"...the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt."
13:17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go,
that God led them not [through] the way of the land of the Philistines, although that [was] near;
for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:
13:18 But God led the people about, [through] the way of the wilderness of the Red sea:
and the children of Israel went up harnessed
{ie., orderly} out of the land of Egypt.
13:19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him:
for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying,
God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.
{Gen 50:24-26}
Joseph's bones - When Joseph died, he was buried as a national hero in Egypt.
By now, Egypt had forgotten him (Ex 1:8). No one protests the removal of his bones.
But his bones bore testimony to the faithfulness of God, who would not forget His promises.
God purposely led the people on a long route to Canaan, although there was a shorter route available (v.17,18).
He chose the longer path to teach them...
  • Who He is (ie., absolutely faithful and true, all sufficient...).
  • what they were (ie., flesh, characterized by weakness, unbelief and rebellion).
  • They would not be ready for battle, until they walked by faith, in humble dependence upon Him. cp. Psa 103:14; Deu 8:2-5
13:20 And they took their journey from Succoth,
and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness.
13:21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way;
and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:
13:22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day,
nor the pillar of fire by night, [from] before the people.
From the perspective of the people, the way was unknown, uncertain and full of dangers.
But the LORD had guaranteed their destination (Ex 3:17; 6:6-8).
He, knowing the best way, and anticipating their difficulties and limitations (v.17,18),
would lead them. He was going with them. cp. Ex 33:14,15; Psa 23:4; Isa 43:1-3

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