The Passover Ritual Prescribed.* 1The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: 2* This month will stand at the head of your calendar; you will reckon it the first month of the year.a 3Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every family must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. 4If a household is too small for a lamb, it along with its nearest neighbor will procure one, and apportion the lamb’s cost* in proportion to the number of persons, according to what each household consumes. 5Your lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. 6You will keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole community of Israel assembled, it will be slaughtered during the evening twilight. 7They will take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8They will consume its meat that same night, eating it roasted with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9Do not eat any of it raw or even boiled in water, but roasted, with its head and shanks and inner organs. 10You must not keep any of it beyond the morning; whatever is left over in the morning must be burned up.
11This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you will eat it in a hurry. It is the LORD’s Passover. 12For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every firstborn in the land, human being and beast alike, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD!b 13But for you the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thereby, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you.c
14This day will be a day of remembrance for you, which your future generations will celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD; you will celebrate it as a statute forever. 15For seven days you must eat unleavened bread. From the very first day you will have your houses clear of all leaven. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day to the seventh will be cut off* from Israel. 16On the first day you will hold a sacred assembly, and likewise on the seventh. On these days no sort of work shall be done, except to prepare the food that everyone needs. 17Keep, then, the custom of the unleavened bread,d since it was on this very day that I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. You must observe this day throughout your generations as a statute forever. 18From the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the evening of the twenty-first day of this month you will eat unleavened bread. 19For seven days no leaven may be found in your houses; for anyone, a resident alien or a native, who eats leavened food will be cut off from the community of Israel. 20You shall eat nothing leavened; wherever you dwell you may eat only unleavened bread.
Promulgation of the Passover. 21Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and procure lambs for your families, and slaughter the Passover victims. 22e Then take a bunch of hyssop,* and dipping it in the blood that is in the basin, apply some of this blood to the lintel and the two doorposts. And none of you shall go outdoors until morning. 23For when the LORD goes by to strike down the Egyptians, seeing the blood on the lintel and the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over that door and not let the destroyer come into your houses to strike you down.
24“You will keep this practice forever as a statute for yourselves and your descendants. 25Thus, when you have entered the land which the LORD will give you as he promised, you must observe this rite. 26f When your children ask you, ‘What does this rite of yours mean?’ 27you will reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice for the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians, he delivered our houses.’”
Then the people knelt and bowed down, 28and the Israelites went and did exactly as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron.
Death of the Firstborn. 29g And so at midnight the LORD struck down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh sitting on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner in the dungeon, as well as all the firstborn of the animals. 30Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians; and there was loud wailing throughout Egypt, for there was not a house without its dead.
Permission to Depart. 31During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Leave my people at once, you and the Israelites! Go and serve the LORD as you said. 32Take your flocks, too, and your herds, as you said, and go; and bless me, too!”*
33The Egyptians, in a hurry to send them away from the land, urged the people on, for they said, “All of us will die!” 34The people, therefore, took their dough before it was leavened, in their kneading bowls wrapped in their cloaks on their shoulders. 35h And the Israelites did as Moses had commanded: they asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36Indeed the LORD had made the Egyptians so well-disposed toward the people that they let them have whatever they asked for. And so they despoiled the Egyptians.
Departure from Egypt. 37The Israelites set out from Ramesesi for Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, not counting the children. 38A crowd of mixed ancestry* also went up with them, with livestock in great abundance, both flocks and herds. 39The dough they had brought out of Egypt they baked into unleavened loaves. It was not leavened, because they had been driven out of Egypt and could not wait. They did not even prepare food for the journey.
40The time the Israelites had stayed in Egypt* was four hundred and thirty years.j 41At the end of four hundred and thirty years, on this very date, all the armies of the LORD left the land of Egypt. 42This was a night of vigil for the LORD, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt; so on this night all Israelites must keep a vigil for the LORD throughout their generations.
Law of the Passover. 43The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: This is the Passover statute. No foreigner may eat of it. 44However, every slave bought for money you will circumcise; then he may eat of it. 45But no tenant or hired worker may eat of it. 46It must be eaten in one house; you may not take any of its meat outside the house.k You shall not break any of its bones.* 47The whole community of Israel must celebrate this feast. 48If any alienl residing among you would celebrate the Passover for the LORD, all his males must be circumcised, and then he may join in its celebration just like the natives. But no one who is uncircumcised may eat of it. 49There will be one law* for the native and for the alien residing among you.
50All the Israelites did exactly as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51On that same day the LORD brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt company by company.
* [12:1–20] This section, which interrupts the narrative of the exodus, contains later legislation concerning the celebration of Passover.
* [12:2] As if to affirm victory over Pharaoh and sovereignty over the Israelites, the Lord proclaims a new calendar for Israel. This month: Abib, the month of “ripe grain.” Cf. 13:4; 23:15; 34:18; Dt 16:1. It occurred near the vernal equinox, March–April. Later it was known by the Babylonian name of Nisan. Cf. Neh 2:1; Est 3:7.
* [12:4] The lamb’s cost: some render the Hebrew, “reckon for the lamb the number of persons required to eat it.” Cf. v. 10.
* [12:15] Cut off: a common Priestly term, not easily reduced to a simple English equivalent, since its usage appears to involve a number of associated punishments, some or all of which may come into play in any instance of the term’s use. These included the excommunication of the offender from the Israelite community, the premature death of the offender, the eventual eradication of the offender’s posterity, and finally the loss by the offender of all ancestral holdings.
* [12:22] Hyssop: a plant with many small woody branches that was convenient for a sprinkling rite.
* [12:32] Bless me, too: in a final and humiliating admission of defeat, once again Pharaoh asks Moses to intercede for him (cf. 8:24). However, Pharaoh may be speaking sarcastically.
* [12:38] Mixed ancestry: not simply descendants of Jacob; cf. Nm 11:4; Lv 24:10–11.
* [12:40] In Egypt: according to the Septuagint and the Samaritan Pentateuch “in Canaan and Egypt,” thus reckoning from the time of Abraham. Cf. Gal 3:17.
* [12:46] You shall not break any of its bones: the application of these words to Jesus on the cross (Jn 19:36) sees the Paschal lamb as a prophetic type of Christ, sacrificed to free men and women from the bondage of sin. Cf. also 1 Cor 5:7; 1 Pt 1:19.
* [12:49] One law: the first appearance of the word torah, traditionally translated as “law,” though it can have the broader meaning of “teaching” or “instruction.” Elsewhere, too, it is said that the “alien” is to be accorded the same treatment as the Israelite (e.g., Lv 19:34).
a. [12:2–20] Lv 23:5–8; Nm 9:2–5; 28:16–25; Dt 16:1–8.
f. [12:26–27] Ex 13:8, 14–15; Dt 6:20–25.
g. [12:29–30] Ex 11:4–6; Nm 33:4; Ps 78:51; 105:36; 136:10; Wis 18:10–16.
h. [12:35–36] Ex 3:21–22; 11:2–3; Ps 105:37–38.
j. [12:40] Gn 15:13; Acts 7:6; Gal 3:17.