Exodus 12
Benson Commentary
And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
Exodus 12:1-2. The Lord spake unto Moses — Or had spoken before what is related in the foregoing chapter, if not also before the three days’ darkness: but the mention of it was put off to this place, that the history of the plagues might not be interrupted. This month shall be to you the beginning of months — That is, the first and principal month of the year. It was called Abib, (Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:15,) which signifies an ear of corn, because then the corn was eared. It answers nearly to our March. Before this time, the Jews, like most other nations, began their year about the autumnal equinox, in the month Tisri, answering to our September, after their harvest and vintage. But in commemoration of this, their signal deliverance out of Egypt, their computation, at least as to their feasts and sacred things, was from the month Abib. And therefore, what was before their first month, now became their seventh. The beginning of their civil year, however, appears still to have been reckoned as before. We may suppose that while Moses was bringing the ten plagues upon the Egyptians, he was directing the Israelites to prepare for their departure at an hour’s warning. Probably he had, by degrees, brought them near together from their dispersions, for they are here called the congregation of Israel; and to them, as a congregation, orders are here sent.

This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
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:
Exodus 12:3. In the tenth day of this month — It was necessary they should now begin to prepare the passover four days before, because otherwise it would have been difficult to get ready so many lambs in Egypt, especially as they were to depart in haste; besides, this being the first instance of the celebration of the ordinance, they would require more time to prepare for a ceremony entirely new. But in future ages they did not begin the preparation till the thirteenth, the day before the passover. They shall take every man a lamb — The Hebrew word signifies a lamb, or kid, (Deuteronomy 14:4,) as is evident from Exodus 12:5; for they might take either for this sacrifice: but commonly they made choice of a lamb.

And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour 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.
Exodus 12:4. If the household be too little — The Hebrew doctors tell us, that there were not to be fewer than ten persons, nor more than twenty, to the eating of one lamb. And at this sacred repast, men, women, and children, masters and servants, if circumcised, were entertained.

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
Exodus 12:5. Your lamb shall be without blemish — Shall be perfect, as the Hebrew is, that is, in all its parts. This was a qualification indispensably requisite in all sacrifices: Leviticus 22:20-24. Even the heathen, in the worship of their false gods, were particular in this circumstance. A male — Because the males were accounted more excellent, and their flesh better than that of females. Of the first year — Under a year old, not above: for the lamb, as also a kid and calf, was fit for sacrifice at eight days old, but not before, Exodus 22:30. And the same law was observed in the daily sacrifice, Exodus 29:38. They were not to be offered before the eighth day, “because,” says Bochart, “till then they have hardly attained to the perfection of animal life, and are not sufficiently purified.” He adds, “they were not to be offered after the first year, because then they begin to feel the heat of libidinous appetite, and consequently are not fit emblems of purity and innocence.”

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.
Exodus 12:6. Ye shall keep it up — Keep it apart from the rest of the flock. The whole assembly, shall kill it — That is, any man of the whole assembly might kill it. For slaying the passover was not appropriated to the priests.

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.
Exodus 12:7. They shall take of the blood — Which was to be sprinkled before the flesh was eaten. Strike it on the two side-posts, and the upper door- post — These were to be sprinkled by dipping a bunch of hyssop into the blood, Exodus 12:22; but not the threshold, lest any one should tread upon the blood, which would have been profane.

And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
Exodus 12:8-9. Eat it not raw — Nor half dressed; but roast with fire — Not only because it might be sooner roasted than boiled, and they were in haste to be gone; but because it was thus the better type of him who endured the fierceness of divine wrath for us, Lamentations 1:13. Unleavened bread — Partly to remind them of their hardships in Egypt, unleavened bread being more heavy and unsavoury; and partly to commemorate their hasty deliverance, which did not allow them time to leaven it, Exodus 12:39;

Deuteronomy 16:3. But as the original word for unleavened signifies pure, unmixed, uncorrupted, leaven being a kind of corruption, the use of unleavened bread, no doubt, was enjoined to show them the necessity of sincerity and uprightness: to which quality of leaven the apostle alludes, Galatians 5:2, and 1 Corinthians 5:8. With bitter herbs — To remind them of their Egyptian bondage, which made their lives bitter to them.

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.
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.
Exodus 12:10-11. With your loins girded — In a travelling posture, prepared for a journey, which is also the import of the three following particulars. Ye shall eat it in haste — As men expecting every moment to begin their journey. Now all these ceremonies were to accompany the feast, that it might be a more lively commemoration of their signal deliverance out of Egypt. It is the Lord’s passover — A sacrifice in honour of Jehovah, who passed over, or spared the Israelites, when he smote the Egyptians. It was not, however, strictly a sacrifice, not being offered upon the altar, but a religious ceremony, acknowledging God’s goodness to them, not only in preserving them from, but in delivering them by, the plagues inflicted on the Egyptians. Let nothing of it remain until the morning — God would have them to depend on him for their daily bread. That which remaineth ye shall burn with fire — To prevent its corruption, and the profane abuse of it.

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.
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.
Exodus 12:12. Dreadful work was to be made this night in Egypt: all the firstborn of man and beast were this night to be slain, and judgment to be executed upon all the gods of Egypt — Their idol-gods. The images made of metal were, probably, melted, those of wood consumed, and those of stone broken to pieces. To this Isaiah 19:1, and Jeremiah 43:13, have been thought to allude. It may also signify, that God destroyed their sacred animals.

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.
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.
Exodus 12:14-20. This shall be to you for a memorial — It was to be annually observed as a feast to the Lord in their generations, to which the feast of unleavened bread was annexed. A holy convocation — Such solemn festivals were called convocations, because the people were then assembled by sound of trumpet to attend the rites and ordinances of divine worship. The first day was to be a holy convocation, because of the feast of the passover; and the seventh, as being that day, after their exit out of Egypt, when Pharaoh and his host were drowned in the Red sea. A stranger — A proselyte, Heathen were not concerned in the passover.

It must be here observed, that the whole of this ordinance of the passover was typical.

(1,) The paschal lamb was typical. Christ is our passover, 1 Corinthians 5:7. 1st, It was to be a lamb, and Christ is the Lamb of God, John 1:29. 2d, It was to be a male of the first year; in its prime. Christ offered up himself in the midst of his days. It denotes the strength and sufficiency of the Lord Jesus, on whom our help was laid. 3d, It was to be without blemish, signifying the purity of the Lord Jesus, a lamb without spot, 1 Peter 1:19. 4th, It was to be set apart four days before, denoting the designation of the Lord Jesus to be a Saviour, both in the purpose and promise of God. It is observable, that as Christ was crucified at the passover, so he solemnly entered into Jerusalem four days before, the very day that the paschal lamb was set apart. 5th, It was to be slain and roasted with fire, representing the exquisite sufferings of the Lord Jesus, even unto death, the death of the cross. 6th, It was to be killed by the whole congregation between the two evenings, that is, between three o’clock and six. Christ suffered in the latter end of the world, (Hebrews 9:26,) by the hand of the Jews, the whole multitude of them, Luke 23. 18. 7th, Not a bone of it must be broken, (Exodus 12:46,) which is expressly said to be fulfilled in Christ, John 19:33; John 19:36.

(2,) The sprinkling of the blood was typical. 1st, It was not enough that the blood of the Lamb was shed, but it must be sprinkled, denoting the application of the merit of Christ’s death to our souls, by the Holy Ghost, through faith. 2d, It was to be sprinkled upon the door-posts, signifying the open profession we are to make of faith in Christ, and obedience to him. The mark of the beast may be received in the forehead, or in the right hand, but the seal of the Lamb is always in the forehead, Revelation 7:3. 3d, The blood thus sprinkled was a means of the preservation of the Israelites from the destroying angel. If the blood of Christ be sprinkled upon our consciences, it will be our protection from the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and the damnation of hell.

(3,) The solemn eating of the lamb was typical of our gospel duty to Christ. 1st, The paschal lamb was killed not to be looked upon only, but to be fed upon; so we must by faith make Christ ours, as we do that which we eat, and we must receive spiritual strength and nourishment from him, as from our food, and have delight in him, as we have in eating and drinking when we are hungry or thirsty. 2d, It was to be all eaten: those that, by faith, feed upon Christ, must feed upon a whole Christ. They must take Christ and his yoke, Christ and his cross, as well as Christ and his crown. 3d, It was to be eaten with bitter herbs, in remembrance of the bitterness of their bondage in Egypt; we must feed upon Christ with brokenness of heart, in remembrance of sin. 4th, It was to be eaten in a departing posture, Exodus 12:11; when we feed upon Christ by faith, we must sit loose to the world and all things in it.

(4,) The feast of unleavened bread was typical of the Christian life, 1

Corinthians Exodus 5:7-8. Having received Christ Jesus the Lord, 1st, We must keep a feast, in holy joy, continually delighting ourselves in Christ Jesus; for if true believers have not a continual feast, it is their own fault. 2d, It must be a feast of unleavened bread, kept in charity, without the leaven of malice, and in sincerity, without the leaven of hypocrisy. All the old leaven must be put far from us, with the utmost caution, if we would keep the feast of a holy life to the honour of Christ. 3d, It was to be an ordinance for ever. As long as we live we must continue feeding upon Christ, and rejoicing in him always, with thankful mention of the great things he has done for us.

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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.
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.
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.
Exodus 12:22. Out of the door of his house — Of that house wherein he ate the passover: until the morning — That is, till toward the morning, when they would be called for to march out of Egypt; for they went forth very early in the morning. This command was peculiar to the first passover.

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.
Exodus 12:23. The destroyer — The destroying angel: whether this was a good or an evil angel, we have not light to determine.

And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.
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.
And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
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.
Exodus 12:27. The people bowed the head and worshipped — They hereby signified their submission to this institution as a law, and their thankfulness for it as a privilege.

And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.
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.
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 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.
Exodus 12:31-32. Rise up, and get you forth — Pharaoh had told Moses he should see his face no more, but now he sent for him; those will seek God in their distress, who before had set him at defiance. Such a fright he was now in that he gave orders by night for their discharge, fearing lest, if he delayed, he himself should fall next. And that he sent them out, not as men hated (as the pagan historians have represented this matter) but as men feared, is plain by his request to them. Bless me also — Let me have your prayers, that I may not be plagued for what is past when you are gone.

Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.
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.
Exodus 12:33. The Egyptians were urgent — They were willing to make all concessions, so they would but be gone; ransoming their lives, not only by prayers, but by their most precious things. For they said, We be all dead men — When death comes into our houses it is seasonable for us to think of our own mortality.

And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.
Exodus 12:34. The people took their dough — Perhaps the Hebrew word here used had better be rendered flour, as it is 2 Samuel 13:8; for if they had time to make it into paste, it seems they would also have had time to leaven it. Their kneading-troughs — The word thus rendered is translated store, Deuteronomy 28:5; Deuteronomy 28:17. And as kneading-troughs are not things which travellers are wont to carry with them, it seems more natural to understand it of their flour, grain, or dough.

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:
And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.
And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.
Exodus 12:37. About six hundred thousand men — The word means strong and able men fit for wars, besides women and children, which we cannot suppose to make less than twelve hundred thousand more. What a vast increase was this to arise from seventy souls, in little more than two hundred years!

And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.
Exodus 12:38-39. And a mixed multitude went up with them — Some perhaps willing to leave their country, because it was laid waste by the plagues. But probably the greatest part was but a rude, unthinking mob, that followed they knew not why. It is likely, when they understood that the children of Israel were to continue forty years in the wilderness, they quitted them, and returned to Egypt again. And flocks and herds, even very much cattle — This is taken notice of, because it was long ere Pharaoh would give them leave to remove their effects, which were chiefly cattle. Thrust out — By importunate entreaties.

And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.
Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.
Exodus 12:40. Who dwelt in Egypt — Or sojourned. We must observe, that it is not said, The sojourning of the children of Israel in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years; but the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt — That is, the sojourning of the Israelitish nation, from the time that Abraham left his native country to sojourn in Canaan, to the release of his posterity, who were long sojourners in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. Therefore, the Samaritan copy hath it, Who dwelt in the land of Canaan and in Egypt. So the Vatican edition of the LXX. It was just four hundred and thirty years from the promise made to Abraham (as the apostle explains it, Galatians 3:17) at his first coming into Canaan, during all which time the Hebrews were sojourners in a land that was not theirs, either Canaan or Egypt. So long the promise God made to Abraham lay dormant and unfulfilled, but now it revived, and things began to work toward the accomplishment of it. The first day of the march of Abraham’s seed toward Canaan was four hundred and thirty years (it should seem, to a day) from the promise made to Abraham, Genesis 12:2, “I will make of thee a great nation.” What reason have we then to admire the exact accomplishment of God’s promise! Notwithstanding the various revolutions and changes of all worldly affairs that must necessarily have happened in the space of four hundred and thirty years, yet God’s promise stands sure amidst them all. Yes, God’s word will stand fast for ever and ever! Heaven and earth may pass away, but his word cannot pass away.

And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.
It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.
Exodus 12:42. This first passover night was a night of the Lord, much to be observed; but the last passover night, in which Christ was betrayed, was a night of the Lord, much more to be observed, when a yoke heavier than that of Egypt was broken from off our necks, and a land better than that of Canaan set before us. That was a temporal deliverance, to be celebrated in their generations; this an eternal redemption, to be celebrated world without end!

And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof:
But every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof.
A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof.
Exodus 12:45; Exodus 12:48. A hired servant — Unless he submit to be circumcised. All the congregation of Israel must keep it — Though it was observed in families apart, yet it is looked upon as the act of the whole congregation. And so the New Testament passover, the Lord’s supper, ought not to be neglected by any that are capable of celebrating it. No stranger that was uncircumcised might eat of it. Neither may any now approach the Lord’s supper who have not first submitted to baptism; nor shall any partake of the benefit of Christ’s sacrifice, who are not first circumcised in heart. Any stranger that was circumcised might eat of the passover, even servants. Here is an indication of favour to the poor Gentiles, that the stranger, if circumcised, stands upon the same level with the home-born Israelite; one law for both. This was a mortification to the Jews, and taught them that it was their dedication to God, not their descent from Abraham, that entitled them to their privileges.

In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.
All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.
And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.
Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.
And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.
Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bible Hub
Exodus 11
Top of Page
Top of Page