EXODUS ch. 11 – 12

 

Chapter 11

1 Then the LORD told Moses, “One more plague will I bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. After that he will let you depart. In fact, he will not merely let you go; he will drive you away. 2 Instruct your people that every man is to ask his neighbor, and every woman her neighbor, for silver and gold articles and for clothing.” 3 The LORD indeed made the Egyptians well-disposed toward the people; Moses himself was very highly regarded by Pharaoh’s servants and the people in the land of Egypt. 4

Moses then said, “Thus says the LORD: At midnight I will go forth through Egypt. 5 Every first-born in this land shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh on the throne to the first-born of the slave-girl at the handmill, as well as all the first-born of the animals. 6 Then there shall be loud wailing throughout the land of Egypt, such as has never been, nor will ever be again. 7 8 All these servants of yours shall then come down to me, and prostrate before me, they shall beg me, ‘Leave us, you and all your followers!’ Only then will I depart.”

With that he left Pharaoh’s presence in hot anger. 9 The LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh refuses to listen to you that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” 10 Thus, although Moses and Aaron performed these various wonders in Pharaoh’s presence, the LORD made Pharaoh obstinate, and he would not let the Israelites leave his land.

Chapter 12

1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. 4 If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it. 5 The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. 6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight. 7

They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. 8 That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 It shall not be eaten raw or boiled, but roasted whole, with its head and shanks and inner organs. 10 None of it must be kept beyond the next morning; whatever is left over in the morning shall be burned up. 11

“This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. It is the Passover of the LORD. 12 For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every first– born of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt– I, the LORD! 13 But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you. 14 “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution. 15

 

For seven days you must eat unleavened bread. From the very first day you shall have your houses clear of all leaven. Whoever eats leavened bread from the first day to the seventh shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a sacred assembly, and likewise on the seventh. On these days you shall not do any sort of work, except to prepare the food that everyone needs. 17 “Keep, then, this custom of the unleavened bread. Since it was on this very day that I brought your ranks out of the land of Egypt, you must celebrate this day throughout your generations as a perpetual institution. 18 From the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the evening of the twenty-first day of this month you shall eat unleavened bread. 19 For seven days no leaven may be found in your houses. Anyone, be he a resident alien or a native, who eats leavened food shall be cut off from the community of Israel. 20 Nothing leavened may you eat; wherever you dwell you may eat only unleavened bread.” 21

Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and procure lambs for your families, and slaughter them as Passover victims. 22 Then take a bunch of hyssop, and dipping it in the blood that is in the basin, sprinkle the lintel and the two doorposts with this blood. But none of you shall go outdoors until morning. 23 For the LORD will go by, striking down the Egyptians. Seeing the blood on the lintel and the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over that door and not let the destroyer come into your houses to strike you down. 24

“You shall observe this as a perpetual ordinance for yourselves and your descendants. 25 Thus, you must also observe this rite when you have entered the land which the LORD will give you as he promised. 26 When your children ask you, ‘What does this rite of yours mean?’ 27 you shall reply, ‘This is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians, he spared our houses.'” Then the people bowed down in worship, 28 and the Israelites went and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron. 29

At midnight the LORD slew every first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh on the throne to the first-born of the prisoner in the dungeon, as well as all the first-born of the animals. 30 Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians; and there was loud wailing throughout Egypt, for there was not a house without its dead. 31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Leave my people at once, you and the Israelites with you! Go and worship the LORD as you said. 32 Take your flocks, too, and your herds, as you demanded, and be gone; and you will be doing me a favor.” 33

The Egyptians likewise urged the people on, to hasten their departure from the land; they thought that otherwise they would all die. 34 The people, therefore, took their dough before it was leavened, in their kneading bowls wrapped in their cloaks on their shoulders. 35 The Israelites did as Moses had commanded: they asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The LORD indeed had made the Egyptians so well-disposed toward the people that they let them have whatever they asked for. Thus did they despoil the Egyptians. 37

The Israelites set out from Rameses for Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, not counting the children. 38 A crowd of mixed ancestry also went up with them, besides their livestock, very numerous flocks and herds. 39 Since the dough they had brought out of Egypt was not leavened, they baked it into unleavened loaves. They had been rushed out of Egypt and had no opportunity even to prepare food for the journey. 40

The time the Israelites had stayed in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. 41 At the end of four hundred and thirty years, all the hosts of the LORD left the land of Egypt on this very date. 42 This was a night of vigil for the LORD, as he led them out of the land of Egypt; so on this same night all the Israelites must keep a vigil for the LORD throughout their generations. 43

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover. No foreigner may partake of it. 44 However, any slave who has been bought for money may partake of it, provided you have first circumcised him. 45 But no transient alien or hired servant may partake of it. 46 It must be eaten in one and the same house; you may not take any of its flesh outside the house. You shall not break any of its bones. 47 The whole community of Israel must keep this feast. 48 If any aliens living among you wish to celebrate the Passover of the LORD, all the males among them must first be circumcised, and then they may join in its observance just like the natives. But no man who is uncircumcised may partake of it. 49

The law shall be the same for the resident alien as for the native.” 50 All the Israelites did just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 On that same day the LORD brought the Israelites out of Egypt company by company.

 

 

 

 

VIDEO  NOTES

This talk is by Linda Webster.

These were not times that expected compassionate leadership.

Ex. 11:2

Instruct your people that every man is to ask his neighbor, and every woman her neighbor, for silver and gold articles and for clothing.”

 

Fretheim: “Hence the gifts must be genuine; even more, Moses in particular was highly regarded by every Egyptian but one, Pharaoh.”

Ex. 11:8

All these servants of yours shall then come down to me, and prostrate before me, they shall beg me, ‘Leave us, you and all your followers!’

One might have thought Pharaoh would have learned from the first 9 plagues.

Ex. 11:1

Then the LORD told Moses, “One more plague will I bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. After that he will let you depart. In fact, he will not merely let you go; he will drive you away.

10 represents “fullness”

Earlier prophecies are fulfilled.  The Egyptians will give you gold and silver and clothing.  But Israelites aren’t sure.

Advertising “Rule of Seven”: it takes seven (or more) messages to move a consumer to action

RCIA: process of accepting new practices, new traditions.  Deepening one’s belief.  And repeating them until they have a home.

After 9 plagues Pharaoh’s people and servants have gotten the picture, but Pharaoh has not.

Ex 11:4-5

Moses then said, “Thus says the LORD: At midnight I will go forth through Egypt. 5 Every first-born in this land shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh on the throne to the first-born of the slave-girl at the handmill, as well as all the first-born of the animals.

 

Ex. 11:7

But among the Israelites and their animals not even a dog shall growl, so that you may know how the LORD distinguishes between the Egyptians and the Israelites.

 

Death of the first-born animals had implications for those who believed the animals represented various divinities or sacrificed first-born animals to the gods.  This threat was serious.  The God of Moses was sacrificing the first-born animals to himself – far more powerful than Pharaoh.

 

Ex. 12:1

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year.  

 

The people must take an active part in their own deliverance.

Ex. 12:14

14 “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.

Ex. 12:17

… you must celebrate this day throughout your generations as a perpetual institution.

Ex. 12:15

Whoever eats leavened bread from the first day to the seventh shall be cut off from Israel.

Ex12:19

Anyone, be he a resident alien or a native, who eats leavened food shall be cut off from the community of Israel

 

Repetition is an important learning and story-telling device. Phrases included.

 

Spring rite of unleavened bread in Egypt and elsewhere – each spring “out with the old leaven”.

Also – sacrifice a lamb

Ex. 12:3-6

Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. 4 If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it. 5 The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. 6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.

 

More than just Israelites left.  They could not eat the Passover without circumcision.

Ex. 12:43

No foreigner may partake of it.

Ex 12:48

If any aliens living among you wish to celebrate the Passover of the LORD, all the males among them must first be circumcised, and then they may join in its observance just like the natives. But no man who is uncircumcised may partake of it

 

 

 

Ex. 12:50

All the Israelites did just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron.

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES

Chapters 11, 12

Propp, p. 373, sees two traditions – Priestly and Elohist, brought together in this chapter.  2 sections which deal with picking a lamb etc.

Propp. p. 383: The commandment to celebrate Passover, along with the details of how, are explicitly given “in the land of Egypt”.  Not on Sinai, not on the plains of Moab.

This month – Abib / Nisan becomes the beginning of the calendar year.  Connection to vernal equinox / spring harvest.  Similar to our church year beginning with the first Sunday of Advent.  A month begins with the new moon.  They had a ‘lunar-solar’ calendar.  Primarily the moon, but with adjustments to it for agricultural realities.  The Babylonians were experts with a calendar and the Jewish calendar today owes a lot to them.  HOWEVER – others, perhaps the Canaanites, had a calendar based on agriculture which began in the fall.  Rosh HaShanah is in the fall (new year).  Propp speculates that there was NOT a concept of a year but of equinox to equinox, half-years.

The later ritual, a family centered one, is projected back to the originating event.

Fretheim p. 133: liturgy shapes literature (and more).  Chapters 12 – 15 (if not 1 to 15) are a cultic celebration described as a historical event.  “It might be noted that integrating later material into the story of an earlier period is not a deception.  It indicates the fundamental nature of the Passover liturgy.  In and through this ritual every generation of Israelites was the recipient of God’s exodus-shaped redemption.  In every era, Israel confessed: God delivered us.”  Eucharist does the same for us.

Propp p. 384: Creation established days and the week – but not the month.  He argues that here, as a first act of a new people and as the final act of creation God creates a new calendar with a new month.  With all of the above (days, months, years) there is also an underlying dual understanding of when days ran – morning to morning or night to night.  P favored morning to morning. (Propp, 391)

Passover, in Hebrew, is “pesach”.  Making its way through Latin we end up talking about our “Paschal Mystery” – how the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross provides for our rescue, our redemption.  Propp suggests that it more means “protection” than pass-over.

Fretheim p. 138: “Unlike its function in a nomadic rite, the blood has no apotropaic role, having properties in and of itself that would automatically provide protection from an evil.  What is important is the word, the promise associated with the sign, not the sign in and of itself (12:13).  The blood is a sign ‘for you’ (i.e. Israel), not for God!  That is, it is a sign of the divine promise: God commits himself to pass over the blood-marked houses.  Israel can rely on God’s being faithful to this commitment.  A sign from the sphere of creation becomes a vehicle for Israel’s redemption.”   Blood = life, blood = protection

 

Fretheim p. 139: “It is the question of how the salvific effect of a past event can be appropriated or realized in every new present.  Liturgy, by being structured into the very story of the past redemptive event, provides the answer.  The saving power of the original event is made available ever anew to the community by God’s redeeming activity within the context of worship.  This understanding of Passover has been integral to both Jewish and Cristian traditions.  …  God brought us out of Egypt.”

The concerns related to eating the lamb were fundamentally to make sure that it was entirely consumed and none left over.  A sacred meal is to be eaten in a sacred way, at a sacred time, in a sacred place.   Propp p. 440: “Unleavened cakes symbolize purity, and their analogue, roasted meat, is passed through fire, the ultimate purifier that sends sacrifices to heaven.”  (leavened bread mixes the leaven in with the flour, the alternative was to boil meat – perhaps the more common way to cook it in that region of the world back then).

If one violates certain commands from God they are “cut off”.  Cast outside the community.  If not restored their name and offspring die out.

Note the OT theme of danger in the night (Jacob, Moses / son, firstborn here).  The threshold of the house, the boundary line, is marked with the blood.  (The folk custom of carrying a new bride through the door lest she stumble and bring about a marriage/lifetime of bad luck.)

In the opinion of many scholars several festivals have been combined – a spring harvest festival that focused on the lamb (from a shepherding and nomadic tradition)  and another festival of unleavened bread (from a farming and settled tradition).  Propp (p. 428) disagrees and spends about 40 pages of the commentary on the issue.

According to Propp p. 361 the same four consonants in Hebrew make the words for “unleavened bread” and for “Commandments”  hmst.    Basis for the modern Matzah.  It is these sort of connections that the rabbinic tradition plays with as it explores and explains the text.

Propp p. 456:

“What was the purpose of dedicating children, particularly firstborn boys , to the LORD, whether by ordination, redemption or sacrifice?  Originally, we may assume, the rite was supposed to ensure fertility.  Thus, in Gen. 22:15-18, God promises Abraham numerous descendants in reward for his willingness to slaughter Isaac.  In 1 Sam. 2:20-21, Hannah is granted five more children after surrendering Samuel to the LORD as a hierodule.  Levenson, moreover, draws our attention to stories in which a beloved son is lost to a father, only to be replaced or restored (Abel, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job’s children, Jesus, etc.); these reflect the same ideology.  But overall, the Bible insists that the firstborn are inherently the LORD’s.  There is no special reward for giving god what is God’s, only punishment for withholding.”

 

Regarding death of firstborn.  Plague that killed?  Fretheim p. 141: “God’s authority over the Egyptian people rather than Pharaoh’s.  The firstborn are dedicated the LORD rather than to Egypt’s gods (see 12:12).  Given Pharaoh’s attempt to claim Israel’s children, this constitutes God’s counterclaim…”

Only about the year 1,000AD did the church require the bread for the Eucharist to be unleavened – accepting that the Last Supper was a Passover supper.  Jews combined two previous festivals (one Passover with lamb, other of unleavened bread) into one.

Sacrifice, blood, death and life, night and dark.

 

 

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