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Exodus Chapter 12
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The Passover Described
12:1 God said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt:
12:2 This month shall be the head month to you. It shall be the first month of the year.
12:3 Speak to the entire community of Israel, saying: On the tenth of this month, every man must take a lamb for each extended family, a lamb for each household.
12:4 If the household is too small for a lamb, then he and a close neighbor can obtain a [lamb together], as long as it is for specifically designated individuals. Individuals shall be designated for a lamb according to how much each one will eat.
12:5 You must have a flawless young animal, a one-year-old male. You can take it from the sheep or from the goats.
12:6 Hold it in safekeeping until the fourteenth day of this month.

The entire community of Israel shall then slaughter [their sacrifices] in the afternoon.

12:7 They must take the blood and place it on the two doorposts and on the beam above the door of the houses in which they will eat [the sacrifice].
12:8 Eat the [sacrificial] meat during the night, roasted over fire. Eat it with matzah and bitter herbs.
12:9 Do not eat it raw or cooked in water, but only roasted over fire, including its head, its legs, and its internal organs.
12:10 Do not leave any of it over until morning. Anything that is left over until morning must be burned in fire.
12:11 You must eat it with your waist belted, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand, and you must eat it in haste. It is the Passover (Pesach) offering to God.
12:12 I will pass through Egypt on that night, and I will kill every first-born in Egypt, man and beast. I will perform acts of judgment against all the gods of Egypt. I [alone] am God.
12:13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are staying. I will see the blood and pass you by (pasach). There will not be any deadly plague among you when I strike Egypt.
12:14 This day must be one that you will remember. You must keep it as a festival to God for all generations. It is a law for all time that you must celebrate it.
12:15 Eat matzahs for seven days. By the first day, you must have your homes cleared of all leaven. Whoever eats leaven from the first day until the seventh day will have his soul cut off from Israel.
12:16 The first day shall be a sacred holiday, and the seventh day shall [also] be a sacred holiday. No work may be done on these [days]. The only [work] that you may do is that which is needed so that everyone will be able to eat.
12:17 Be careful regarding the matzahs, for on this very day I will have brought your masses out of Egypt. You must carefully keep this day for all generations; it is a law for all times.
12:18 From the 14th day of the first month in the evening, until the night of the 21st day of the month, you must eat [only] matzahs.
12:19 During [these] seven days, no leaven may be found in your homes. If someone eats anything leavened his soul shall be cut off from the community of Israel. [This is true] whether he is a proselyte or a person born into the nation.
12:20 You must not eat anything leavened. In all the areas where you live, eat matzahs.

Passover Preparations
12:21 Moses summoned the elders of Israel, and said to them, 'Gather [the people] and get yourselves sheep for your families, so that you will be able to slaughter the Passover sacrifice.
12:22 'You will then have to take a bunch of hyssop and dip it into the blood that [will be placed] in a basin. Touch the beam over the door and the two doorposts with some of the blood in the basin. Not a single one of you may go out the door of his house until morning.
12:23 'God will then pass through to strike Egypt. When he sees the blood over the door and on the two doorposts, God will pass over that door, and not let the force of destruction enter your houses to strike.
12:24 'You must keep this ritual as a law, for you and your children forever.
12:25 When you come to the land that God will give you, as He promised, you must [also] keep this service.
12:26 Your children may [then] ask you, 'What is this service to you?'
12:27 You must answer, 'It is the Passover service to God. He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians, sparing our homes.'

The people bent their heads and prostrated themselves.

12:28 The Israelites went and did as God had instructed Moses and Aaron. They did it exactly.

The Final Plague
12:29 It was midnight. God killed every first-born in Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh, sitting on his throne, to the first-born of the prisoner in the dungeon, as well as every first-born animal.
12:30 Pharaoh stayed up that night, along with all his officials and all the rest of Egypt. There was a great outcry, since there was no house where there were no dead.
12:31 [Pharaoh] sent for Moses and Aaron during the night. 'Get moving!' he said. 'Get out from among my people - you and the Israelites! Go! Worship God just as you demanded!
12:32 Take your sheep and cattle, just as you said! Go! Bless me too!'
12:33 The Egyptians were also urging the people to hurry and leave the land. 'We are all dead men!' they were saying.
12:34 The people took their dough before it could rise. Their leftover dough was wrapped in their robes [and placed] on their shoulders.
12:35 The Israelites [also] did as Moses had said. They requested silver and gold articles and clothing from the Egyptians.
12:36 God made the Egyptians respect the people, and they granted their request. [The Israelites] thus drained Egypt of its wealth.

The Exodus
12:37 The Israelites traveled from Rameses toward Sukkoth. There were about 600,000 adult males on foot, besides the children.
12:38 A great mixture [of nationalities] left with them. There were [also] sheep and cattle, a huge amount of livestock.
12:39 [The Israelites] baked the dough that they had brought out of Egypt into unleavened (matzah) cakes, since it had not risen. They had been driven out of Egypt and could not delay, and they had not prepared any other provisions.
12:40 The lifestyle that the Israelites endured in Egypt had thus lasted 430 years.
12:41 At the end of the 430 years, all of God's armies left Egypt in broad daylight.
12:42 There was a night of vigil for God, [preparing] to bring them out of Egypt. This night remains for the Israelites a vigil to God for all generations.

Passover Laws
12:43 God said to Moses and Aaron, 'This is the law of the Passover sacrifice:

'No outsider may eat it.

12:44 If a man buys a slave for cash and circumcises him, then [the slave] can eat it.
12:45 [But if a gentile is] a temporary resident or a hired hand, he may not eat [the Passover sacrifice].
12:46 'It must be eaten by a single group. Do not bring any of its meat out of the group. Do not break any of its bones.
12:47 'The entire community of Israel must keep [this ritual].
12:48 When a proselyte joins you and wants to offer the Passover sacrifice to God, every male [in his household] must be circumcised. He may then join in the observance, and be like a native-born [Israelite]. But no uncircumcised man may eat [the sacrifice].
12:49 The same law shall apply both for the native-born [Israelite] and for the proselyte who joins you.'
12:50 All the Israelites did as God had instructed Moses and Aaron. They did it exactly.

Leaving Egypt
12:51 On that very day, God took the Israelites out of Egypt in organized groups.



Commentary:

This month...
  Nissan. This occurs in March and April.

first month of the year
  This is seen as a commandment to maintain a calendar (Rosh HaShanah 18a; Sanhedrin 11a; Sefer HaMitzvoth; Positive Commandment 193). The calendar is lunar in nature, with an occasional leap-month added to keep it in conformity with the solar year.

tenth of this month
  This was only required for the first Passover in Egypt, but not subsequently (Pesachim 96a; Rashi).

lamb
  The Hebrew word seh here can denote any young of the small ruminants, and can thus refer either to a lamb or to a kid, as we seen in Exodus 12:5.

extended family
  See Exodus 6:14, Numbers 1:2, 17:17 (Mekhilta; Pesachim 96a; Rashi; Hirsch).

designated individuals
  That is, those who will partake in a specific lamb must be designated beforehand (Pesachim 81a).

in the afternoon
  (Pesachim 61a; Rashi). Literally, 'between the evenings.'

take the blood...
  This was done only for the first Passover in Egypt. In subsequent years, the blood would be placed on the altar, just like the blood of other sacrifices ( Tosefta, Pesachim 8).

matzah
  Unleavened bread. Even though the Passover sacrifice is not offered now that the Temple does not exist, matzah is still eaten on the Seder night.

bitter herbs
  These are also still eaten at the Seder. The bitter herb can consist of horseradish, romaine lettuce, endives, palm ivy (?) or succory (?) (Pesachim 39a).

including...
  (Rashi). Or, 'with its head on its knees' (Ralbag; Kedushath Levi). (cf. Mekhilta; Pesachim 74a; Yerushalmi, Pesachim 7:1).

You must eat it...
  This was true only on that first Passover (Mekhilta; Pesachim 96a).

Passover
  See Exodus 12:13.

you must have your homes cleared...
  This is a commandment to remove leaven (chametz) before the Passover, and it is the reason that we search for leaven the night before (Pesachim 5a; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Positive Commandment 156).

have his soul cut off...
  See note on Genesis 17:14.

The only work...
  Work on festivals is forbidden, just as on the Sabbath, but it is permitted to make a fire, to cook and to carry, since these acts are needed to prepare food.

in the evening
  From here we see that festivals begin in the evening and end at sunset (Ralbag).

person born into the nation
  Literally, 'a native born in the land.'

elders of Israel
  See note on Exodus 3:16.

Gather the people
  (Radak, Sherashim; cf. Judges 4:6). Or, 'go forth' (Hirsch); 'Remove [idolatry]' (Targum Yonathan; Mekhilta); or, 'Lead or buy sheep' (Rashi).

hyssop
  (Septuagint; Bertenoro, Rabbi Yitzchak ben Malkhi-tzedek, on Shevi'ith 8:1). Ezov in Hebrew, cognate to the English. This is a form of wild middle eastern marjoram (marjorna syriaca or origanum maru). It is a low plant, a little over a foot high, with blue blossoms. The Mishnah describes it as having woody lower parts, with branches growing sideways, containing at least three buds on top (Parah 11:8,9). Although it grew wild, it was also cultivated as a spice (Maasroth 3:9). It is an aromatic spice with deodorizing properties (Ibn Ezra). Some authorities identify the ezov with the caper plant (caparis spinosa), or with wild thyme or oregano (Rambam on Shevi'ith 8:1, Nega'im 14:6; Me'Am Loez; cf. Shabbath 109b; Arukh).

force of destruction
  Mash'chith in Hebrew, literally 'the destroyer.' Targum Yonathan translates it, 'angels of destruction.' See 1 Samuel 13:17, 2 Samuel 24:16, Jeremiah 51:25.

leftover dough
  (Targum; Mekhilta; Rashi). Or, 'masses of dough' (Radak, Sherashim); or 'kneading pans' (Saadia Gaon; Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; Septuagint).

as Moses had said
  See Exodus 11:2, 3:22.

Rameses
  See Genesis 47:11. This is distinct from Ra'amses mentioned in Exodus 1:11.

Sukkoth
  Cf. Exodus 13:20, Numbers 33:5. Some say that this is the Egyptian Tjek or Sekhut (see note on Exodus 1:11), capital of the Nome Heroopolites, and site of the village of Naville, Josephus identifies it with Letopolis, which was rebuilt as Babel when Cambyses laid Egypt waste (Antiquities 2:15:1). This is apparently the same as Fostat or Cairo (cf. Strabo 17:807).

According to Talmudic tradition, Sukkoth was 120 (Rashi; Ba'aley Tosafoth) or 130 (Targum Yonathan; Lekach Tov) Hebrew miles from Rameses. This is 102 or 110 miles. If it is assumed that Rameses was identical with Heliopolos, then this would set Sukkoth along the Gulf of Suez or in the northern Sinai Peninsula. If Rameses is Pelusium, it could be in approximately the same area. In general, this is a three day journey (see note on Genesis 30:36).

600,000 adult males
  Over 20 years old, see Exodus 38:26, Numbers 1:46, 11:21, 26:51.

on foot
  (Targum Yonathan; Radak, Sherashim;Septuagint). Or, 'able-bodied men' (Midrash HaGadol; Josephus 2:15:1). See Numbers 11:21, Judges 20:2, 1 Samuel 4:10, 15:4, Jeremiah 12:5, etc.

besides the children
  In all, some three million people participated in the Exodus (Targum Yonathan).

A great mixture...
  See Numbers 11:4. Also see Nehemiah 13:3, Jeremiah 25:20, 50:37. This group numbered well over a million (Targum Yonathan; Mekhilta).

lifestyle
  (Hirsch; cf. Mekhilta; Megilla 9a). Since the 400 years (Genesis 15:13) were counted from Isaac's birth, and Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old (Genesis 21:5), the 430 years had to have begun when Abraham was 70 years old. Abraham was 75 years old when he left Charan (Genesis 12:4), so this was five years earlier. Some say that this is counted from the time of the Covenant Between Halves (Genesis 15:13), which occurred before Abraham left Charan (see Mekhilta; Seder Olam; Gra ad loc.; Rashi). Others say that Abraham began his life of wandering as a foreigner when he was 70 years old, and his lifestyle endured for 430 years (cf. Gra loc. cit.; Rambam). Others state that Canaan was under Egyptian domination, and therefore the Israelites and their ancestors had been under Egyptian domination for 430 years (cf. Torah Sh'lemah 421).

If we assume that 400 years elapsed between Isaac's birth and the Exodus, then, since Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born (Genesis 25:26), and Jacob was 130 when he came to Egypt (Genesis 47:9), the total number of years the Israelites were in Egypt was actually 210 (Seder Olam; Pirkey Rabbi Eliezer 48).

Josephus, however, states that the Israelites were in Egypt for a total of 215 years (Antiquities 2:15:2; cf. Septuagint; Pirkey Rabbi Eliezer 48). According to this, the 430 years were counted from the time that Abraham was 75 years old, when he left Charan. The 400 years would then have begun when Isaac was five years old.

in broad daylight
  Or, 'on that very day'; cf. Genesis 7:13.

single group
  (Mekhilta; Saadia; Rashi). Literally, 'in one house.'





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