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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.

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.

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.

Commentary for Exodus 13

The first-born sanctified to God The remembrance of the passover commanded. (1-10) The firstlings of beasts set apart. (11-16) Joseph's bones carried with the Israelites, They come to Etham. (17-20) God guideth the Israelites by a pillar of cloud fire. (21,22)1-10 In remembrance of the destruction of the first-born of Egypt, both of man and of beast, and the deliverance of the Israelites out of bondage, the first-born males of the Israelites were set apart to the Lord. By this was set before them, that their lives were preserved through the ransom of the atonement, which in due time was to be made for sin. They were also to consider their lives, thus ransomed from death, as now to be consecrated to the service of God. The parents were not to look upon themselves as having any right in their first-born, till they solemnly presented them to God, and allowed his title to them. That which is, by special mercy, spared to us, should be applied to God's honour; at least, some grateful acknowledgment, in works of piety and charity, should be made. The remembrance of their coming out of Egypt must be kept up every year. The day of Christ's resurrection is to be remembered, for in it we were raised up with Christ out of death's house of bondage. The Scripture tells us not expressly what day of the year Christ rose, but it states particularly what day of the week it was; as the more valuable deliverance, it should be remembered weekly. The Israelites must keep the feast of unleavened bread. Under the gospel, we must not only remember Christ, but observe his holy supper. Do this in remembrance of him. Also care must be taken to teach children the knowledge of God. Here is an old law for catechising. It is of great use to acquaint children betimes with the histories of the Bible. And those who have God's law in their heart should have it in their mouth, and often speak of it, to affect themselves, and to teach others.

11-16 The firstlings of beast not used in sacrifice, were to be changed for others so used, or they were to be destroyed. Our souls are forfeited to God's justice, and unless ransomed by the sacrifice of Christ, will certainly perish. These institutions would continually remind them of their duty, to love and serve the Lord. In like manner, baptism and the Lord's supper, if explained and attended to, would remind us, and give us occasion to remind one another of our profession and duty.

17-20 There were two ways from Egypt to Canaan. One was only a few days' journey; the other was much further about, through the wilderness, and that was the way in which God chose to lead his people Israel. The Egyptians were to be drowned in the Red sea; the Israelites were to be humbled and proved in the wilderness. God's way is the right way, though it seems about. If we think he leads not his people the nearest way, yet we may be sure he leads them the best way, and so it will appear when we come to our journey's end. The Philistines were powerful enemies; it was needful that the Israelites should be prepared for the wars of Canaan, by passing through the difficulties of the wilderness. Thus God proportions his people's trials to their strength, #1Co 10:13|. They went up in good order. They went up in five in a rank, some; in five bands, so others, which it seems rather to their faith and hope, that God would bring them to Canaan, in expectation of which they carried these bones with them while in the desert.

21,22 The Lord went before them in a pillar, or appearance of the Divine Majesty. Christ was with the church in the wilderness, #1Co 10:9|. Those whom God brings into a wilderness, he will not leave nor lose there, but will take care to lead them through it. It was great satisfaction to Moses and the pious Israelites, to be sure that they were under Divine guidance. Those who make the glory of God their end, and the word of God their rule, the Spirit of God the guide of their affections, and the providence of God the guide of their affairs, may be sure that the Lord goes before them, though they cannot see it with their eyes: we must now live by faith. When Israel marched, this pillar went before, and pointed out the place of encampment, as Divine Wisdom saw fit. It sheltered by day from the heat, and gave light by night. The Bible is a light to our feet, a lantern to our paths, with which the Saviour's love has provided us. It testifies of Christ. It is to us like the pillar to the Israelites. Listen to that voice which cries, I am the Light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of life, #Joh 8:12|. Jesus Christ alone, as shown in the Bible, and as the Holy Spirit, in answer to prayer, recommends him to the soul, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, #Joh 14:6|.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Exodus 13

  • Dewey J
    Randy, we must come to grip with and understand the firstborn from both the old and new testaments. John 1:1 says, " in the beginning was the Word-Jesus- and the Word-Jesus- was with God and the Word-Jesus-was God ". Col. 1:15-Jesus- " Who is the imagine of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. Col. 1:18 says, "And he-Jesus-is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead that in all things he might have the preeminence ". Emphasize the firstborn from the dead this gives all Christians great faith that we all also shall rise from the dead by the power of Jehovah through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Old testament firstborn lead us to the New testament resurrection of Jesus Christ as the firstborn or the first to rise from the dead never to die again. God bless us all and in the Understanding of his Word. Glory be to Jehovah in the highest through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen!
  • Diamond
    you got to use your blessing
  • Hey great article about the firstborn. I 'm sincerely serious here I still am having trouble correlating Jesus as the firstborn His calling And the use of the firstborn in the old testament. I know there is an exciting truth I am missing here. Please have mercy on me and send me an email Further explaining this truth. The Jehovah 's, i.e. YAHWEH 's witnesses, say that Jesus is the firstborn from the Father, therefore He is 2nd in command, I know the Father and the Son come from eternity past Hebrews 1 1 3 and Col.1 15 19. I understand that as firstborn it means more than born first. Please help me in this dilemma, so I can better proclaim His name. Thank you very much. Sincerely R.J.Rance
  • Pewee Miller
    The key knowledge of this scripture is "Remember this day " That is what we as human should always do, when God deliver us form any situation, we need to remember. As we go along with our daily activities, we need to take God along with us.
  • Sade Roberson
    yes the trusting God is key . When Moses led the people out of Egypt him and the people of Israel had to do nothing but walk by faith. Glory in what the Lord had in store and as the Lord bless me to read today and finally see what this scripture was saying Thank you Lord God of Israel for this revelation and as i go threw my walk of faith in Christ at the bless age of 14 let us all pray I faith and love in Christ and Christ alone never fails !!!!
  • Jerry Mofokeng
    I want to discuss the redemption of first born. The principle here is simple enough. God killed the first born of Egypt but he spared those of Israel. since the first born of Israel were spared they now belong the Lord.

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Bible Trivia

How did God lead Moses and his people through the desert?
  • A map
  • A pillar of cloud
  • A herd of animals
  • A star in the night