THE CITIZENS OF GOD’S KINGDOM (WHICH IS OPEN TO ALL WHO WILL BELIEVE) MUST CELEBRATE GOD’S FAITHFULNESS ACCORDING TO HIS INSTRUCTIONS
God showed His remarkable faithfulness to His promise to His servant Abram regarding His elect people, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.” (15:13-14)
He gave explicit instructions how He wanted His people to memorialize and celebrate their deliverance from Egypt. This type of redemption is now celebrated by Christians every time they partake of the Lord’s Supper. We are thankful for our salvation on an individual basis; but we also come together corporately to celebrate the Lord’s faithfulness to His people as a unified body.
Douglas Stuart: This section of the story describes the very beginning of the exodus travel, from the primary departure city to the first stopping point. It tells the approximate number of nascent soldiers involved and indicates that, already, many people had become Israelites by faith choice rather than by birth. It was a full exodus with nothing left behind, and the main food of the traveling nation was, of necessity, unleavened bread. The exodus brought to an end 430 years of resident alien status for Israel in Egypt, the last eighty years or so being years of slavery. God paid special attention to his people that night, and in response his people of all future generations were expected to come to pay special attention to him on its anniversary.
John Mackay: This was the decisive first stage in their liberation. They leave Egypt geographically, but it is not till the Crossing of the Sea that they are completely prised from the grip of the Egyptians. Thereafter the problem is to remove Egyptian ways and thinking from them.
(:37-38) PROLOGUE – FAITHFUL TO DELIVER HIS PEOPLE
A. (:37) Beginning of the Exodus
“Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth,”
David Thompson: They met at a city known as Rameses and they traveled to a place known as Succoth some 30 plus miles away. If we say that the people could travel at 2-3 miles per hour, which is realistic, this would take about 12-15 hours to make this trip. Now probably most of the people were excited and were looking forward to moving to their new home land. Most of the people were probably expecting God to inform them about their next move. But what God does, as soon as they are out of the land, is inform them, don’t you ever forget, in all your generations, about the Passover. God says you need to be very careful to remember that the shed blood of the sacrificial Lamb is the thing that kept you from the death penalty. That shed blood is the reason you are alive and have a relationship with Me.
“about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children.”
Wiersbe: the total number of Jews must have been about 2 million.
This huge number of people would have presented significant logistical problems (of food, water, protection, etc.) as they traveled through a barren desert region. Supernatural resources and care on the part of the Lord were required.
B. (:38) Breakdown of the Entourage
1. Multitude of People – both Jews and non-Jews
“And a mixed multitude also went up with them,”
Wiersbe: Some of this crowd may have been Egyptians who had married Jews, contrary to God’s law; others were probably Egyptians who were frightened, impressed with Jehovah’s power (Ex. 9:20), and wanted to benefit from being with God’s chosen people. Perhaps they thought more judgments might fall on the land and they wanted to escape them.
Bruce Hurt: The presence of this mixed multitude was like “leaven” and as Paul warned in the NT “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” (1 Cor 5:6). These Gentiles were like leaven among the Israelites and spread like leaven becoming the source of unrest which led to the Israelites themselves beginning to grumble about manna among the Israelites as described in Numbers.
Cole: A mixed multitude. The Hebrew says ‘swarm’, from the same root as that used in 8:21 to describe the plague of gadflies. These people would either be the result of intermarriage, or else kindred Semitic groups who seized the opportunity to escape. Numbers 11:4 uses a different derogatory word to describe the same people. On various occasions in the Pentateuch (as in this instance from Numbers) this group is seen as the occasion of various sins within Israel. If they have no real roots in Israel’s religious traditions, this would not be surprising.
2. Multitude of Livestock
“along with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock.”
Douglas Stuart: The livestock had constituted the last “hostage” group in Pharaoh’s plan to keep the Israelites from leaving Egypt permanently, the last sticking point in the bargaining process that had played back and forth throughout the sequence of plagues (10:24–27). They are mentioned here, however, not merely because their presence among the departing Israelites indicated total victory over Pharaoh but as indication that the exodus constituted a complete emigration from Egypt of an entire people and their economic assets. The Israelites then made much use of their small and large cattle during the years in the wilderness, especially in connection with the sacrificial system (e.g., Exod 22:30; Lev and Num, passim).
I. (:39-42) FAITHFULNESS OF GOD TO DELIVER HIS PEOPLE MEMORIALIZED
A. (:39) Diet of Unleavened Bread – Urgency of Departure
“And they baked the dough which they had brought out of Egypt into cakes of unleavened bread. For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.”
B. (:40-41) Duration of the Bondage in Egypt
1. (:40) Marked by the Time Spent in Egypt
“Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt
was four hundred and thirty years.”
Walter Kaiser Jr.: Appropriately, now that the Exodus had begun, the narrator took a moment to reflect on the total Egyptian experience.
Currid: on the 400 versus 430 – The discrepancy between the two figures may easily be explained by the Genesis figure simply being a round number, or one that is the minimum figure, that is, at least 400 years. The number in the present verses would then be the specific figure for the length of the sojourn. The fact that 430 years is the specific figure is confirmed in Ex 12:41 where it says the Hebrews left Egypt, literally, ‘on this selfsame day’ (to the very day).
2. (:41) Marked by the Day of Deliverance
“And it came about at the end of four hundred and thirty years,
to the very day,
that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.”
Douglas Stuart: it would be a radical change for people acclimated to one place and culture for so many generations to leave suddenly for a journey to a place none of them had ever even laid eyes on. Thus the Israelite departure in faith for a land of promise serves as an analogy for the pilgrimage of all God’s saints from life in this world to their ultimate destination in the promised but as yet unexperienced next.
C. (:42) Dedication to This Memorial of God’s Faithfulness
“It is a night to be observed for the LORD for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the LORD, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.”
John Mackay: Verse 42 is a transitional verse, which plays on the word ‘keep vigil’ to explain why the Passover was celebrated at night. Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honour the Lord for the generations to come (12:42). The phrase behind ‘kept vigil’ is ‘a night of watch-keepings’ and is found only here. The Lord had kept guard over his people, and in thankful response they are to remember this ‘to honour the Lord’ (literally, ‘for the Lord’). The reciprocal nature of the covenant bond between the Lord and Israel is brought out by the repetition of the same phrase in respect of the actions of both.
Walter Kaiser Jr.: That night was to be observed by all future generations as a “Watchnight Service” (Cole, p. 113), for on that night the Lord “preserved” or “kept” the destroyer from touching them (v. 42). There is a clear play on the word samar (“watch,” “preserve,” “keep vigil”); as Yahweh watched over Israel that night, so Israel was to watch for Yahweh by keeping this feast perpetually (cf. v. 17).
II. (:43-49) FAITHFULNESS OF GOD TO DELIVER HIS PEOPLE CELEBRATED ACCORDING TO SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS
A. (:43-45) Instructions Regarding Participation – Who is Eligible?
1. (:43) No Foreigner
“And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron,
‘This is the ordinance of the Passover: no foreigner is to eat of it;’”
John Davis: This foreigner or stranger would be one who retained his status as a foreigner by remaining uncircumcised and perhaps by not participating in other covenant practices.
2. (:44) Circumcised Slaves
“but every man’s slave purchased with money,
after you have circumcised him, then he may eat of it.”
David Thompson: Now this O.T. mandate does raise a question about the female slave. What about the girls? How would a girl be connected to God if the mandate is circumcision? We must remember that in the O.T. economy, the female is always connected to the male. If a woman were married, she is connected to her husband. If a woman was not married, she was connected to her father. So if the “male” species made a decision that I am going to be circumcised so I can have a relationship with the God of Israel, it would affect the whole family.
Douglas Stuart: The main emphasis of this section is clearly circumcision. It is circumcision that constitutes the external demonstration of acceptance into the covenant community and therefore circumcision that qualifies one and one’s family to partake of the Passover meal.
3. (:45) No Sojourner or Hired Servant
“A sojourner or a hired servant shall not eat of it.”
Douglas Stuart: A “temporary resident” (tôšāb) would be excluded from the Passover because he or she would be someone without faith in Yahweh who was simply visiting or passing through or staying for a few days or weeks to help with some sort of project. A “hired worker” (śakı̂r) would be disqualified because he or she would be someone without faith in Yahweh who was merely doing some work on a household’s property and staying on the property temporarily while doing so. Neither term refers to a permanent employee or permanent resident.
B. (:46) Instructions Regarding Partaking
1. Keep it In a Single House
“It is to be eaten in a single house;”
2. Keep it Inside
“you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house,”
3. Keep it Intact
“nor are you to break any bone of it.”
David Thompson: Now this entire meal was to be eaten inside the house. It was to be eaten by the family at a family setting in the house. There are at least three reasons why:
Reason #1 – Because this best memorialized the fact that the final plague demanded that the family be inside the house, protected by the blood . All had to be in the house and protected by the blood.
Reason #2 – Because by eating this meal inside, it would certainly prevent unqualified people from eating it. No uncircumcised person was to eat and by eating this meal inside this could be regulated. No one could sneak into the house and partake in an unworthy manner.
Reason #3 – Furthermore, this was a sacred meal and you did not want pieces of food dropped outside for animals to eat.
Now this certainly teaches us some things about the sacredness of the Lord’s Supper. It is to be celebrated inside the house of God by the family of God at a corporate family gathering. No one was to have their own little private Passover feast any more than one is to have his own little private Lord’s Supper.
Douglas Stuart: The concern apparently stems rather from God’s desire that the lamb or goat kid adequately symbolize the body of Christ crucified (John 1:36) and, subsequently, the unity of the body of Christ in the sense of the church. Thus even the Old Testament covenant community was called to think of themselves as a unity, symbolized by a common meal that could not be divided except as portions of its flesh were eaten: the skeleton remained unified to indicate their unity, a present fact fully to be realized in the future by the work of the Savior on the cross. Further symbolizing this unity, the whole community must eat the Passover as a common meal shared by every true Israelite on the same evening.
Oswalt: Verses 46 and 47 underscore four other features that were evidently important enough to be stressed for the future Passover celebrations.
(1) While the Passover was to be celebrated by the whole community,
(2) it was to be celebrated in individual “houses,” that is, in the context of the extended family. Here is a statement of the importance of the family for theological education, as well as the Old Testament’s remarkable blend of the communal and the individual. It was to be a national celebration, but provision was made so that everyone was a participant; there were no spectators.
(3) Furthermore, the Passover lamb was not for mere eating, so that some could be saved for “leftovers” or could be sold or even given away to others; and
(4) no bone of the lamb could be broken. Perhaps the prohibition of breaking the bones (see the application to Jesus in John 19:36) relates to this same point. One could not divide up the carcass, cutting some off for later.
C. (:47-49) Instructions Regarding Participation
1. (:47) Entire Congregation of Israel
“All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this.”
2. (:48-49) Extended to Circumcised Strangers
a. (:48a) Native Status for Circumcised Strangers
“But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land.”
b. (:48b) Necessity of Circumcision
“But no uncircumcised person may eat of it.”
John Hannah: The several regulations for the Passover were apparently necessitated by the non-Israelites who joined the Exodus and had identified with the religion of the Hebrews. If a man did not identify with the covenant promises by the rite of circumcision he could not celebrate the Passover (12:44, 48-49). The feast was to be centered in the home and observed by the entire community (cf. vv. 3, 6, 19).
c. (:49) No Partiality
“The same law shall apply to the native
as to the stranger who sojourns among you.”
(:50-51) EPILOGUE – FAITHFUL TO DELIVER HIS PEOPLE
A. (:50) Response of Obedience
“Then all the sons of Israel did so;
they did just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron.”
B. (:51) Reminder of Deliverance
“And it came about on that same day that the LORD brought the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.”