|<< Ex 12|
Exodus 13-15 Listen
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.
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.
4 This day came ye out in the month Abib.
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.
6 Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the LORD.
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.
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.
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: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt.
10 Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year.
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,
12 That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD’S.
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.
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:
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 openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.
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.
Now you may think that the number one interest is to put some distance between the Hebrews and Egypt. That's not as important as establishing some ground rules for worship. So, after leaving Egypt, but before crossing the Red Sea, God establishes some principles of service to God. Two issues here: proper observance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the consecration of the firstborn. When you're in a hurry, there's no time for the bread to rise. The Hebrews would commemorate this exodus occasion throughout their history by eating unleavened bread for seven days immediately following the Passover Meal. See the difference between the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread by clicking here.
Notice verses 9 and 16 in this passage regarding the purpose of eating unleavened bread:
Exodus 13:9 And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORDS law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt.
Exodus 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.
Later, in Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (see notes), we see a similar reference to "a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes." Because of verse Deuteronomy 6:8 the observant Jews down through the centuries to today have worn a leather wallet (called a Tefillin) on the arm and head that contain these prayers.
The firstborn male from each Hebrew, human and animal, was to be consecrated before the Lord for service. Later on in Numbers 3 (see notes) we'll see that God has Moses substitute the whole Tribe of Levi in place of the firstborn for the purpose of this type of ceremonial service before the Lord. This Levite substitution as the firstborn of Israel was as a result of the blessing in Exodus 32:29 (see notes). At the exodus, this consecration gesture even affected the firstborn of their animals. These animals had to be sacrificed. Donkeys got a break; they're unclean; they had to have a sacrifice of a clean animal made in their place. According to verses 14-16, this consecration of the firstborn is to be a "token" of the fact that God spared the firstborn of Israel while slaying the firstborn of the Egyptians. All of these things were instituted to help Israel remember who they were and from whence they came. One more thing about the firstborn - verse 2 indicates that we're talking about those who are first out of the womb, not the firstborn of the father.
Incidentally, the month of Abib is the same as the month of Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew calendar year after the Exodus. "Abib" is actually a description of the month meaning, "young ear of barley or other grain." That was the month their crops began to bloom and corresponds to our March/April. The Old Testament uses "Abib" before the Babylonian captivity and "Nisan" afterward. For more information on the Hebrew calendar and festivals, click here.
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:
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 out of the land of Egypt.
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.
20 And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness.
Right up the coast of the Mediterranean Sea was a trade route that passed next to Canaan. You will recall that their famous ancestor Joseph had been carried into Egyptian captivity by that same route (see map of Joseph's route). As a matter of fact, the distance from Succoth to Hebron (in Canaan) was only two hundred miles or so. I don't know exactly how long it would take to move two million people with livestock and possessions two hundred miles, but it seems logical that you would take the shortest route. Not so! These Hebrews just aren't ready to face the current hostile inhabitants of Canaan. Therefore, verses 17-18 tell us that God brought them southeast (rather than northeast) right down to the shores of the Red Sea. Why? After they cross the Red Sea, God will shut the door behind them (when the waters close) so they will not be able to return to Egypt. Here's a sign they have no intentions of going back. They're carrying some pretty old bones with them in verse 19 - those of Joseph. That's a fulfillment of a promise made back in Genesis 50:25 (see notes), "And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence." After their Canaan conquest, they deposit those bones in a grave in Shechem (Joshua 24:32, see notes).
You will notice on the map (to the right) the point at which they probably crossed the Red Sea. Since that time the Red Sea has receded, and many maps today show only dry land at that point. Again, let me emphasize, God took them across the Red Sea and closed it behind them so that they could not return. The stay in the wilderness was planned by God for nation training - character building. Now, as for the length of the stay...that's different. Israel was in that wilderness for 40 years because they needed the extra training. That lengthening of time in the wilderness became necessary as a result of the rebellion in Numbers 14 (see notes).
But the real story is quite clear regarding why Israel went southeast instead of northeast. In actuality, they were not headed for Canaan at all - not yet. They are headed for Mount Horeb (aka Sinai) close to where Moses' father-in-law lived in Midian. That's the place where Moses saw the burning bush and heard God speak to him while he was watching Jethro's sheep. On that occasion, God had spoken to Moses in Exodus 3:12 (see notes) and said, "Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain." So, you see, it's not time to go to Canaan yet - need some Hebrew training first, and that training is to take place at Mount Horeb (aka Sinai) near Midian.
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:
22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
What's that big column of vapor in front of Israel? And look, it becomes a column of fire at night! That was the Hebrew compass. Just follow the pillar. As a matter of fact, the fiery pillar at night served as headlights for their journey. We commonly refer to this pillar as the "Shekinah Glory." (Refer to the article to the right of this page for details or click here to see it full screen.) Let's take note of something: God is leading them on their journey by this pillar, and it led them south, farther away from Canaan. So, they are moving farther away from their eventual destination as they follow God's lead, but they're not lost. Call them whatever else you want, but don't call them lost. God is leading these Hebrews into a place where they can be prepared to be victorious when they reach Canaan; they are headed for Mount Horeb (aka Sinai) near Midian. This is a great lesson for Believers today regarding God's will. Many times God has to train us before he can use us properly. God's timetable is not necessarily compatible with our own timetable - just like with the Hebrews. God knows best.
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.
3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.
4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.
5 And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?
6 And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him:
7 And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.
8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.
9 But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon.
10 And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.
11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?
12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.
13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
14 The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
15 And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:
16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:
20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.
21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,
25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.
26 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.
27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.
28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.
29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.
31 And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses.
The Hebrews still need a Pharaoh-type lesson on God's ability to provide. Here it is in verse 4, "...And I will harden Pharaohs heart..." Oh, no! Not again! Hasn't he had enough? According to verses 3-5, Pharaoh is probably thinking, "Silly Hebrews! Look at them already hemmed in by the wilderness and the sea!" Here he comes in hot pursuit followed by 600 chariots. This man means business. No big deal for the Hebrews, though, right? Look at verse 10, "...and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD." After all the miracles that had served to win their release, they're still afraid? Say it ain't so! Just look at verses 11-12 where the Hebrews turn loose on Moses and say, in essence, "Look what you've gotten us into!" They've already forgotten how miserable they were in Egypt. Now it's all Moses' fault. Then a miracle - the pillar (aka Shekinah Glory) moves from before them to behind them and posts between the armies of Pharaoh and the Hebrews. Moses tells them that this is the last time they'll see Egyptians. But wait! There's more! The Red Sea parts that night (using the rod of Moses as an instrument) providing dry land across. That's right; no boots needed here; the land is dry. Across the sea bed the Hebrews go.
The Egyptians? That's a different story. First of all, verse 19 tells us that the pillar of cloud/fire (Hebrew compass...and more) blocked the way between the Egyptians and the Hebrews to prevent their pursuit until after all of the Israelites had passed over the Red Sea. Then, as the Egyptians pursue the Hebrews across the dry Red Sea, their chariot wheels fall off (verse 25) and the sea closes in on them at the command of Moses; they all die. Why did this happen? Look at verse 31, "And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses." It was just another of God's ways of showing the Hebrews his ability to deliver. It also served as a demonstration (verse 16) that God was using Moses as his instrument of leadership.
1 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
2 The LORD is MY STRENGTH AND SONG, AND HE IS BECOME MY SALVATION: HE IS my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3 The LORD is A MAN OF WAR: THE LORD is his name.
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.
5 The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.
6 Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.
7 And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.
8 And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.
9 The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.
10 Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.
11 Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
12 Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.
13 Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.
14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.
15 Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away.
16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.
17 Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.
18 The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.
19 For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.
20 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.
21 And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
Sometimes you just gotta sing. That's right...everyone breaks out in song. Miriam (the sister of Moses and Aaron), with other women chime in to sing about God's provision. You know how country-music songs tell a story? Well, this is one of those story songs. We actually don't know who authored the song, but two verses of the song are particularly interesting: Exodus 15:14-15, "The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. Actually, the Hebrew word for "Palestina" is "Pelesheth" and identifies a territory on the south Mediterranean coast of Israel known as Philistia. These are the Philistines.
"Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away." According to the lyrics, they obviously don't think they are lost (going in the wrong direction...yeah, but not lost). Notice the mention of their destination (Palestina) along with the route they will take to get there (through Edom and then Moab). The song seems to reflect an anticipated journey to Mount Horeb (aka Sinai), then across the Jordan River, and then northward along the east side of the Jordan River before crossing back over the Jordan into Canaan.
It is worth noting here that this route to Canaan (the one depicted in the song) is the same route they followed in Genesis 50 (see notes) when Joseph took Jacob back to Canaan for burial. That route is about 75 miles farther than the direct route up the coast. By the way, that's the route they would eventually take back to Canaan...40 years later.
22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
23 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.
24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?
25 And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,
26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
27 And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.
Moses, we have a crisis! The people are thirsty and the water is nasty tasting. These folks have seen some incredible miracles surrounding their release from Egypt. They'll take this little water-supply problem in stride, right? Wrong! Look at Exodus 15:24, "And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?" Do you really think this rag-tag bunch of rebellious Hebrews are ready to conquer Canaan? Well, God provides miraculously using his servant Moses, and Moses marks this occasion in verse 25 with "a statute and an ordinance." That's a nice guarantee in verse 26, "And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee." Simple enough?
Incidentally, this crisis takes place at Marah. We find that this event isn't forgotten and is undoubtedly remembered as one of the top ten rebellions of Israel in Numbers 14:22 (see notes).
If you're interested in the whole forty-year trip from Egypt to Canaan, consult the table found in Numbers 33 (see notes).