וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר 13:1
Exod. 13:1 And the Lord spoke to Moses saying,
קַדֶּשׁ־לִי כָל־בְּכֹור פֶּטֶר כָּל־רֶחֶם בִּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּאָדָם וּבַבְּהֵמָה לִי הוּא 13:2
Exod. 13:2 “Sanctify to Me every first born male opening any womb among the children of Israel, among human or among beast; it is Mine.”
וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־הָעָם זָכֹור אֶת־הַיֹּום הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר יְצָאתֶם מִמִּצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים כִּי בְּחֹזֶק יָד 13:3
הֹוצִיא יְהֹוָה אֶתְכֶם מִזֶּה וְלֹא יֵאָכֵל חָמֵץ
Exod. 13:3 And Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you came out of Egypt, from the house of bondage, for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from the same. So leaven shall not be eaten.”
The first part of this verse emphasizes commandment 5 (Exod. 12:14). The two instances of the pronoun you in this verse and the one in the next verse are plural, indicating to me that Moses is addressing each individual.
הַיֹּום אַתֶּם יֹצְאִים בְּחֹדֶשׁ הָאָבִיב 13:4
Exod. 13:4 “The day you were coming out was in the month of Aviv.”
וְהָיָה כִי־יְבִיאֲךָ יְהוָה אֶל־אֶרֶץ הַכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַחִתִּי וְהָאֱמֹרִי וְהַחִוִּי וְהַיְבוּסִי אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לַאֲבֹתֶיךָ לָתֶת 13:5
לָךְ אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ וְעָבַדְתָּ אֶת־הָעֲבֹדָה הַזֹּאת בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה
Exod. 13:5 “And it shall be when the Lord will bring you to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Hivite and the Jebusite that He swore to your fathers to give to you, a land gushing milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month.”
This is a repetition of the command given in Exod. 12:25. The next verse repeats most of the command given in Exod. 12:15 and 12:16. In addition, the three pronouns you and the one your in this verse are singular, indicating to me that Moses is addressing the people as a whole. The one you in the next verse is also singular, as are the three yours in v. 13:7.
שִׁבְעַת יָמִים תֹּאכַל מַצֹּת וּבַיֹּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי חַג לַיהוָה 13:6
Exod. 13:6 “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; and in the seventh day, a feast to the Lord.”
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 your leaven shall not be seen; your leaven shall not even 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. More >>
וְהִגַּדְתָּ לְבִנְךָ בַּיֹּום הַהוּא לֵאמֹר בַּעֲבוּר זֶה עָשָׂה יְהוָה לִי בְּצֵאתִי מִמִּצְרָיִם 13:8
Exod. 13:8 “And you shall declare to your son in that day saying, ‘It is because the Lord did this for me with my coming out of Egypt.’”
And this verse repeats the commandment in Exod. 12:27, except that it is more personalized here. Each of us (who has a son)-- generations, centuries, and millennia later -- are to think of ourselves as having been brought out of Egypt with our ancestors. And we are to tell the story every year.
וְהָיָה לְךָ לְאֹות עַל־יָדְךָ וּלְזִכָּרֹון בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ לְמַעַן תִּהְיֶה תֹּורַת יְהוָה בְּפִיךָ כִּי בְּיָד חֲזָקָה הֹוצִאֲךָ 13:9
Exod. 13:9 “And it shall be for you for a sign on your hand and for a memorial between your eyes so that the Torah of the Lord shall be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt.”
This verse forms one of those on which the practice of putting on philactories is based. The derivation of the practice is the result of a figurative interpretation of this verse, not a literal one. Look at it this way: We are not told in this verse to put a sign on our hand or a memorial between our eyes. We are told that it shall be a sign on our hand, etc. To my simple mind, this is not intended as a physical command. It is intended to remind us that we must work, think, and speak of the Lord and His miracles on taking us out of Egypt. As I see it, this verse refers to the hand, eyes, and mouth. In other words, do, see/think, speak! Moreover, the second-person pronouns in this verse are all singular, so as far as I am concerned Moses is addressing the whole of the people, not individuals.
I’ll have more to say about the implication of this verse (and v. 13:16) when we get to Deut. 6:8.
וְשָׁמַרְתָּ אֶת־הַחֻקָּה הַזֹּאת לְמֹועֲדָהּ מִיָּמִים יָמִימָה 13:10
Exod. 13:10 “So you shall keep this ordinance in the appointed time from year to year.”
As I see it, this verse refers to the celebration of Passover and all it entails. The reference is to a single ordinance, apparently the one expressed in vss. 13:8 and 13:9, but it certainly entails the entire group of commands dealing with Passover. Again, the one instance of you in this verse is singular, as are all the second-person pronouns in the next four verses.
וְהָיָה כִּי־יְבִאֲךָ יְהוָה אֶל־אֶרֶץ הַכְּנַעֲנִי כַּאֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לְךָ וְלַאֲבֹתֶיךָ וּנְתָנָהּ לָךְ 13:11
Exod. 13:11 “And it shall be, when the Lord will bring you to the land of the Canaanite as He swore to you and to your fathers and give it to you,
וְהַעֲבַרְתָּ כָל־פֶּטֶר־רֶחֶם לַיהֹוָה וְכָל־פֶּטֶר שֶׁגֶר בְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה לְךָ הַזְּכָרִים לַיהוָה 13:12
Exod. 13:12 that you shall dedicate for the Lord any opening the womb. So every firstling of beast that will be yours of the males shall be for the Lord.”
וְכָל־פֶּטֶר חֲמֹר תִּפְדֶּה בְשֶׂה וְאִם־לֹא תִפְדֶּה וַעֲרַפְתֹּו וְכֹל בְּכֹור אָדָם בְּבָנֶיךָ תִּפְדֶּה 13:13
Exod. 13:13 “And every firstling of an ass you shall redeem with a lamb. But if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And every first born of a human among your sons you shall redeem.”
The command to break the neck of the ass firstling colt is presumed by commentators to prevent the owner gaining from his use of the animal without having redeemed it. The firstling of the ass itself cannot be offered, as it is an unclean animal. Redeeming the first born male of a human is fulfilled in the pidyon haben ceremony thirty-one days after an infant’s birth. [Return to Exod. 22:28]
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. More >>
וַיְהִי כִּי־הִקְשָׁה פַרְעֹה לְשַׁלְּחֵנוּ וַיַּהֲרֹג יְהֹוָה כָּל־בְּכֹור בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבְּכֹר אָדָם וְעַד־בְּכֹור בְּהֵמָה 13:15
עַל־כֵּן אֲנִי זֹבֵחַ לַיהוָה כָּל־פֶּטֶר רֶחֶם הַזְּכָרִים וְכָל־בְּכֹור בָּנַי אֶפְדֶּה
Exod. 13:15 ‘And it happened, when Pharoah was too stubborn to let us go, that the Lord slew every first born in the land of Egypt, from the first born of a human as well as the first born of a beast. Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all opening the womb that are males, but all the first born sons of mine I can redeem.’ [Return to Mica. 6:7]
A question regarding the meaning of this verse: The redemption ritual that was derived from this verse is called the pidyon ha-ben. Every first born male, when thirty-one days old, takes part in the ritual. But what does the phrase all opening the womb mean? Does every infant open the womb, or only the child born first? Suppose the first born is a female. Does a subsequent male fetus also open the womb? Apparently not! The phrase was interpreted by the rabbis to mean only the first born opens the womb. So if the male is the second child born of his mother, the ritual is not required for him. Even if the mother miscarried or had an abortion at an earlier time (after forty days of pregnancy) before the male child is born, the ritual is also not required.
וְהָיָה לְאֹות עַל־יָדְכָה וּלְטֹוטָפֹת בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ כִּי בְּחֹזֶק יָד הֹוצִיאָנוּ יְהוָה מִמִּצְרָיִם 13:16
Exod. 13:16 ‘And it shall be for a sign on your hand and for frontlets between your eyes, for by strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.’
See my remarks pertaining to v. 13:9. This verse differs from that one for the simple reason that in the earlier verse Moses is speaking to the children of Israel standing before him. Here a parent or future parent is speaking to his/her children. He or she is telling them the reason for the dedication of the first born. Notice the difference in the wording. In v. 13:9 the mouth is mentioned; here it is omitted. I’m guessing the child is not yet prepared to speak of the Lord’s miracles or to tell the story him or herself. But he can do and think.
[Return to Deut. 6:8]
וַיְהִי בְּשַׁלַּח פַּרְעֹה אֶת־הָעָם וְלֹא־נָחָם אֱלֹהִים דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ פְּלִשְׁתִּים כִּי קָרֹוב הוּא כִּי אָמַר אֱלֹהִים 13:17
פֶּן־יִנָּחֵם הָעָם בִּרְאֹתָם מִלְחָמָה וְשָׁבוּ מִצְרָיְמָה
Exod. 13:17 ‘And it happened with Pharoah letting the people go that God did not lead them through the land of the Philistines, although it was near, for God said, “Lest the people would be sorry upon their seeing war and return to Egypt.’
וַיַּסֵּב אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָעָם דֶּרֶךְ הַמִּדְבָּר יַם־סוּף וַחֲמֻשִׁים עָלוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם 13:18
Exod. 13:18 ‘So God turned the people about through the wilderness of the Reed Sea, though the children of Israel came up armed from the land of Egypt.’
Another explanatory revelation! The people were able to fight in the wilderness; they were armed when they left Egypt.
וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת־עַצְמֹות יֹוסֵף עִמֹּו כִּי הַשְׁבֵּעַ הִשְׁבִּיעַ אֶת־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר פָּקֹד יִפְקֹד אֱלֹהִים 13:19
אֶתְכֶם וְהַעֲלִיתֶם אֶת־עַצְמֹתַי מִזֶּה אִתְּכֶם
Exod. 13:19 ‘And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had expressly charged the children of Israel saying, ‘God will surely remember you. Then you shall carry my body with you away from here.’”
The words Joseph spoke were not precisely these (see Gene. 50:25). When a sentence or phrase spoken by another is recalled in the bible, the Hebrew words are seldom identical, though they usually have a closely similar meaning. This is true in just about every occasion in which such citations appear.
This verse also inspired me to question the change in wording from that in Gene. 50:25. Then I took another look at Gene. 50:24. And there the words spoken by Joseph are the same as those here: “... surely God will remember you, and He will bring you up from this land ....” I had missed this time and time again. After pondering it for a while, I realized that Joseph would probably not have used these words if the Israelites were still prosperous and favored in the land. He was telling his brothers (to whom he was speaking in Gene. 50:24 and 25) to have hope in the future. I clearly now understand that the people were already enslaved when Joseph died. His prophecy would come true in less than 400 years.
This realization led me to speculate on the new Pharoah who had not “acknowledged” Joseph, the celebrated hero of a period only about thirty years prior to this. I reached one of two possible conclusions: Either he was an anti-Semite of the worst kind, or, likely being the next-oldest son of the previous Pharoah, he blamed the Israelites for his older brother’s death.
וַיִּסְעוּ מִסֻּכֹּת וַיַּחֲנוּ בְאֵתָם בִּקְצֵה הַמִּדְבָּר 13:20
Exod. 13:20 And they set forth from Succoth and encamped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness.
וַיהוָה הֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵיהֶם יוֹמָם בְּעַמּוּד עָנָן לַנְחֹתָם הַדֶּרֶך וְלַיְלָה בְּעַמּוּד אֵשׁ לְהָאִיר לָהֶם לָלֶכֶת יוֹמָם 13:21
Exod. 13:21 And the Lord would be going before them by day in a pillar of cloud to show them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give light to them to go by day and by night.
לֹא יָמִישׁ עַמּוּד הֶעָנָן יוֹמָם וְעַמּוּד הָאֵש לָיְלָה לִפְנֵי הָעָם 13:22
Exod. 13:22 The pillar of cloud by day would not depart, nor the pillar of fire by night, before the people.
What is the meaning of these words? In the previous verse we’re told that the pillars of cloud and fire went before the children of Israel to guide them. In this verse it seems we are told the opposite. Obviously something is wrong with our perception of one or the other of these verses. In my opinion, the meaning of this verse needs to be clarified. I must first say that many bible translators have taken the liberty to distort their translations to clear up the conflict. I read translations in the popular bibles that say something like “Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night [left its place] in front of the people.” The Hebrew for the first word in the brackets is not a perfect tense verb, it is imperfect (future, in this case future perfect), and the two remaining words are not in the Hebrew. Nevertheless, the mistranslation does leave the meaning clear. The two clouds would not abandon the people.
Torah Commandments in this Chapter:
18. You shall sanctify every first born male to the Lord. V. 13:2
19. No leaven shall be eaten during Passover. V. 13:3
20. Leaven shall not be seen throughout Israel during Passover. V. 13:7
21. You shall tell the story of Passover every year. V. 13:8
22. Every male firstling of an animal shall be for the Lord. V. 13:11, 13:12
23. You shall redeem the firstling of an ass with a lamb. V. 13:13
24. If you do not redeem it, you shall break its neck. V. 13:13
25. You shall redeem the first born male of the children of Israel. V. 13:13
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