Exod 13 notes


מַצֹּות יֵאָכֵל אֵת שִׁבְעַת הַיָּמִים וְלֹא־יֵרָאֶה לְךָ חָמֵץ וְלֹא־יֵרָאֶה לְךָ שְׂאֹר בְּכָל־גְּבֻלֶךָ  13:7

Exod. 13:7  “Unleavened bread shall be eaten the seven days, and no leavened thing of yours shall be seen; no leaven of yours shall be seen throughout your territory.”

This appears to be an expansion of the commandment given by the Lord in Exod. 12:19, adding that no leaven shall be seen throughout your territory.  Whether this interpretation is correct or not, we cannot be sure.  Moses may mean only what was stated there, but saying it differently.  However, it seems reasonable to consider it an expansion.  This variation of the commandment may be viewed as applying only to the land of Israel, however, as “throughout your territory” doesn’t carry much meaning if we are ourselves sojourners.

Aside from this, why does Moses refer to “your leaven?”  I believe the implication is that leaven needs only to be completely hidden from sight the day before Passover.  After Passover, it may be taken out and used again, as it remains ours.

There are other problems, strange but perhaps minor ones, with the Hebrew in this verse.  The first word, translated as unleavened bread, is plural, but the verb shall be eaten that follows it is singular in form, creating a mismatch in number.  Then the et appearing before the next words, the seven days, makes them the object of the passive verb shall be eaten.  The seven days should indeed not be eaten, in any case.  There should be no et in this verse; it contains no direct object.  Another strange and unexplained phenomenon!   In addition, the second Hebrew word for leaven is different from the first word.  Actually, the second word for leaven can be translated more accurately as sour dough.  Now sour dough could have been used as a leavening agent.  Mixed with dough it becomes a leavening seed and promotes fermentation.  So this could indeed be an expansion of the earlier commandment, but a logical one.                                                                                 [Back]




וְהָיָה כִּי־יִשְׁאָלְךָ בִנְךָ מָחָר לֵאמֹר מַה־זֹּאת וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו בְּחֹזֶק יָד הֹוצִיאָנוּ יְהוָה מִמִּצְרַיִם מִבֵּית  13:14


Exod. 13:14   “And it shall be in time to come when your son shall ask you saying, ‘Why is this,’ then you shall say to him, ‘With strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of bondage.’

Commentators seem to be uncertain as to the meaning of the question the son asks.  They consider it too simple a question (compare it to the question asked in Exod. 12:26).  I may be incorrect, but it seems obvious to me that in the two cases, this verse and Exod. 12:26, the sons are asking appropriate and similar questions.  In the earlier situation, the Passover service had just been mentioned in the preceding verse, so the son asked “What is this service to you?”  In this verse, an ass foal was being killed.  So the son was asking either why was the ass foal killed or why is the first born dedicated to the Lord.  I get the impression that the son must be observing the goings on and is curious.  Not simple!  Yet this son was assumed by the ancient sages as typical of the simple son of the four sons mentioned in the Passover Haggadah.  I think that the question is fully identified and clarified by the answer given in the next two verses, vss. 13:15 and 13:16, and it’s a mistake to assume its simplicity to mean the questioning son was simple minded.  By the way, the question asked in Exod. 12:26 is attributed to the wicked son by the ancient sages. 

Oddly enough, the question referred to in Exod. 12:26 is asked by sons and daughters (over generations), not by a single son as in this verse.  In telling how to answer the question in Exod. 12:27, Moses is speaking across all the generations.  In this verse he is speaking to each generation individually, and he continues telling what to answer the questioning son in vss. 13:15 and 13:16.                         [Back]