Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. the Lord spake unto Moses--rather, "had spoken unto
Moses and Aaron"; for it is evident that the communication here
described must have been made to them on or before the tenth of the
2. this month shall be unto you the beginning of months--the
first not only in order but in estimation. It had formerly been the
seventh according to the reckoning of the civil year, which began in
September, and continued unchanged, but it was thenceforth to stand
first in the national religious year which began in March, April.
3. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel--The recent
events had prepared the Israelitish people for a crisis in their
affairs, and they seem to have yielded implicit obedience at this time
to Moses. It is observable that, amid all the hurry and bustle of such
a departure, their serious attention was to be given to a solemn act of
a lamb for an house--a kid might be taken
The service was to be a domestic one, for the deliverance was to be
from an evil threatened to every house in Egypt.
4. if the household be too little for the lamb, &c.--It appears
from JOSEPHUS that ten persons were required to
make up the proper paschal communion.
every man according to his eating--It is said that the quantity
eaten of the paschal lamb, by each individual, was about the size of an
5. lamb . . . without blemish--The smallest deformity
or defect made a lamb unfit for sacrifice--a type of Christ
a male of the first year--Christ in the prime of life.
6. keep it up until the fourteenth day, &c.--Being selected from
the rest of the flock, it was to be separated four days before
sacrifice; and for the same length of time was Christ under examination
and His spotless innocence declared before the world.
kill it in the evening--that is, the interval between the sun's
beginning to decline, and sunset, corresponding to our three o'clock in
7. take of the blood, and strike it on the two side-posts,
&c.--as a sign of safety to those within. The posts must be considered
of tents, in which the Israelites generally lived, though some might be
in houses. Though the Israelites were sinners as well as the Egyptians,
God was pleased to accept the substitution of a lamb--the blood of
which, being seen sprinkled on the doorposts, procured them
mercy. It was to be on the sideposts and upper doorposts, where it
might be looked to, not on the threshold, where it might be
trodden under foot. This was an emblem of the blood of sprinkling
(Heb 12:24; 10:29).
8. roast with fire--for the sake of expedition; and this
difference was always observed between the cooking of the paschal lamb
and the other offerings
unleavened bread--also for the sake of despatch
but as a kind of corruption
there seems to have been a typical meaning under it
bitter herbs--literally, "bitters"--to remind the Israelites of
their affliction in Egypt, and morally of the trials to which God's
people are subject on account of sin.
9. Eat not of it raw--that is, with any blood remaining; a
caveat against conformity to idolatrous practices. It was to be roasted
whole, not a bone to be broken, and this pointed to Christ
10. let nothing of it remain until the morning--which might be
applied in a superstitious manner, or allowed to putrefy, which in a
hot climate would speedily have ensued; and which was not becoming in
what had been offered to God.
RITE OF THE
11. thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your
feet--as prepared for a journey. The first was done by the skirts
of the loose outer cloth being drawn up and fastened in the girdle, so
as to leave the leg and knee free for motion. As to the other, the
Orientals never wear shoes indoors, and the ancient Egyptians, as
appears from the monuments, did not usually wear either shoes or
sandals. These injunctions seem to have applied chiefly to the first
celebration of the rite.
it is the Lord's passover--called by this name from the
blood-marked dwellings of the Israelites being passed over
figuratively by the destroying angel.
12. smite . . . gods of Egypt--perhaps used here for
princes and grandees. But, according to Jewish tradition, the idols of
Egypt were all on that night broken in pieces (see
14. for a memorial, &c.--The close analogy traceable in all
points between the Jewish and Christian passovers is seen also in the
circumstance that both festivals were instituted before the events they
were to commemorate had transpired.
15. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread, &c.--This was to
commemorate another circumstance in the departure of the Israelites,
who were urged to leave so hurriedly that their dough was unleavened
and they had to eat unleavened cakes
The greatest care was always taken by the Jews to free their houses
from leaven--the owner searching every corner of his dwelling with a
lighted candle. A figurative allusion to this is made
The exclusion of leaven for seven days would not be attended with
inconvenience in the East, where the usual leaven is dough kept till it
becomes sour, and it is kept from one day to another for the purpose of
preserving leaven in readiness. Thus even were there none in all the
country, it could be got within twenty-four hours
that soul shall be cut off--excommunicated from the community
and privileges of the chosen people.
16. there shall be an holy convocation--literally,
calling of the people, which was done by sound of trumpets
a sacred assembly--for these days were to be regarded as
Sabbaths--excepting only that meat might be cooked on them
17. ye shall observe, &c.--The seven days of this feast were to
commence the day after the passover. It was a distinct festival
following that feast; but although this feast was instituted like the
passover before the departure, the observance of it did not take
place till after.
19. stranger--No foreigner could partake of the passover, unless
circumcised; the "stranger" specified as admissible to the privilege
must, therefore, be considered a Gentile proselyte.
21-25. Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, &c.--Here
are given special directions for the observance.
22. hyssop--a small red moss [HASSELQUIST];
the caper-plant [ROYLE]. It was used in the
sprinkling, being well adapted for such purposes, as it grows in
bushes--putting out plenty of suckers from a single root. And it is
remarkable that it was ordained in the arrangements of an all-wise
Providence that the Roman soldiers should undesignedly, on their part,
make use of this symbolical plant to Christ when, as our Passover, He
was sacrificed for us
none . . . shall go out at the door of his house until the
morning--This regulation was peculiar to the first celebration, and
intended, as some think, to prevent any suspicion attaching to them of
being agents in the impending destruction of the Egyptians; there is an
allusion to it
26. when your children shall say, . . . What mean ye by
this service--Independently of some observances which were not
afterwards repeated, the usages practised at this yearly commemorative
feast were so peculiar that the curiosity of the young would be
stimulated, and thus parents had an excellent opportunity, which they
were enjoined to embrace, for instructing each rising generation in the
origin and leading facts of the national faith.
27, 28. the people bowed the head, and worshipped--All the
preceding directions were communicated through the elders, and the
Israelites, being deeply solemnized by the influence of past and
prospective events, gave prompt and faithful obedience.
29. at midnight the Lord smote all the first-born in the land of
Egypt--At the moment when the Israelites were observing the newly
instituted feast in the singular manner described, the threatened
calamity overtook the Egyptians. It is more easy to imagine than
describe the confusion and terror of that people suddenly roused from
sleep and enveloped in darkness--none could assist their neighbors when
the groans of the dying and the wild shrieks of mourners were heard
everywhere around. The hope of every family was destroyed at a stroke.
This judgment, terrible though it was, evinced the equity of divine
retribution. For eighty years the Egyptians had caused the male
children of the Israelites to be cast into the river
and now all their own first-born fell under the stroke of the
destroying angel. They were made, in the justice of God, to feel
something of what they had made His people feel. Many a time have the
hands of sinners made the snares in which they have themselves been
entangled, and fallen into the pit which they have dug for the
"Verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth"
30. there was not a house where there was not one dead--Perhaps
this statement is not to be taken absolutely. The Scriptures frequently
use the words "all," "none," in a comparative sense--and so in this
case. There would be many a house in which there would be no child,
and many in which the first-born might be already dead. What is to be
understood is, that almost every house in Egypt had a death in it.
31. called for Moses and Aaron--a striking fulfilment of the
words of Moses
and showing that they were spoken under divine suggestion.
32. also take your flocks, &c.--All the terms the king had
formerly insisted on were now departed from; his pride had been
effectually humbled. Appalling judgments in such rapid succession
showed plainly that the hand of God was against him. His own family
bereavement had so crushed him to the earth that he not only showed
impatience to rid his kingdom of such formidable neighbors, but even
begged an interest in their prayers.
34. people took . . . their kneading-troughs--Having
lived so long in Egypt, they must have been in the habit of using the
utensils common in that country. The Egyptian kneading-trough was a
bowl of wicker or rush work, and it admitted of being hastily wrapped
up with the dough in it and slung over the shoulder in their
hykes or loose upper garments.
35. children of Israel borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of
silver--When the Orientals go to their sacred festivals, they
always put on their best jewels. The Israelites themselves
thought they were only going three days' journey to hold a feast unto
the Lord, and in these circumstances it would be easy for them to
borrow what was necessary for a sacred festival. But
borrow conveys a wrong meaning. The word rendered borrow
signifies properly to ask, demand, require. The Israelites had
been kept in great poverty, having received little or no wages. They
now insisted on full remuneration for all their labor, and it was paid
in light and valuable articles adapted for convenient carriage.
36. the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the
Egyptians--Such a dread of them was inspired into the universal
minds of the Egyptians, that whatever they asked was readily given.
spoiled the Egyptians--The accumulated earnings of many years
being paid them at this moment, the Israelites were suddenly enriched,
according to the promise made to Abraham
and they left the country like a victorious army laden with spoil
37. The children of Israel journeyed from Rameses--now generally
identified with the ancient Heroopolis, and fixed at the modern
Abu-Keisheid. This position agrees with the statement that the
scene of the miraculous judgments against Pharaoh was "in the field of
[Ps 78:12, 43].
And it is probable that, in expectation of their departure, which the
king on one pretext or another delayed, the Israelites had been
assembled there as a general rendezvous. In journeying from Rameses to
Palestine, there was a choice of two routes--the one along the shores
of the Mediterranean to El-Arish, the other more circuitous round the
head of the Red Sea and the desert of Sinai. The latter Moses was
directed to take
to Succoth--that is, booths, probably nothing more than a place
of temporary encampment. The Hebrew word signifies a covering or
shelter formed by the boughs of trees; and hence, in memory of this
lodgment, the Israelites kept the feast of tabernacles yearly in this
six hundred thousand . . . men--It appears from
that the enumeration is of men above twenty years of age. Assuming,
what is now ascertained by statistical tables, that the number of males
above that age is as nearly as possible the half of the total number of
males, the whole male population of Israel, on this computation, would
amount to 1,200,000; and adding an equal number for women and children,
the aggregate number of Israelites who left Egypt would be
38. a mixed multitude went with them--literally, "a great
rabble" (see also
slaves, persons in the lowest grades of society, partly natives and
partly foreigners, bound close to them as companions in misery, and
gladly availing themselves of the opportunity to escape in the crowd.
40. the sojourning of the children of Israel . . . four
hundred and thirty years--The Septuagint renders it thus:
"The sojourning of the children and of their fathers, which they
sojourned in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt." These
additions are important, for the period of sojourn in Egypt did not
exceed two hundred fifteen years; but if we reckon from the time that
Abraham entered Canaan and the promise was made in which the sojourn of
his posterity in Egypt was announced, this makes up the time to four
hundred thirty years.
41. even the selfsame day--implying an exact and literal
fulfilment of the predicted period.
49. One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the
stranger--This regulation displays the liberal spirit of the Hebrew
institutions. Any foreigner might obtain admission to the privileges of
the nation on complying with their sacred ordinances. In the Mosaic
equally as in the Christian dispensation, privilege and duty were