New English Translation
14 [a] “In the future,[b] when your son asks you[c] ‘What is this?’[d] you are to tell him, ‘With a mighty hand[e] the Lord brought us out from Egypt, from the land of slavery.[f] 15 When Pharaoh stubbornly refused[g] to release us, the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of people to the firstborn of animals.[h] That is why I am sacrificing[i] to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb, but all my firstborn sons I redeem.’ 16 It will be for a sign on your hand and for frontlets[j] on your forehead, for with a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”[k]Read full chapter
- Exodus 13:14 sn As with v. 8, the Law now requires that the children be instructed on the meaning of this observance. It is a memorial of the deliverance from bondage and the killing of the firstborn in Egypt.
- Exodus 13:14 tn Heb “tomorrow.”
- Exodus 13:14 tn Heb “and it will be when your son will ask you.”
- Exodus 13:14 tn The question is cryptic; it simply says, “What is this?” but certainly refers to the custom just mentioned. It asks, “What does this mean?” or “Why do we do this?”
- Exodus 13:14 tn The expression is “with strength of hand,” making “hand” the genitive of specification. In translation “strength” becomes the modifier, because “hand” specifies where the strength was. But of course the whole expression is anthropomorphic for the power of God.
- Exodus 13:14 tn Heb “house of slaves.”
- Exodus 13:15 tn Heb “dealt hardly in letting us go” or “made it hard to let us go” (see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 110). The verb is the simple Hiphil perfect הִקְשָׁה (hiqshah, “he made hard”); the infinitive construct לְשַׁלְּחֵנוּ (leshallekhenu, “to release us”) could be taken epexegetically, meaning “he made releasing us hard.” But the infinitive more likely gives the purpose or the result after the verb “hardened himself.” The verb is figurative for “be stubborn” or “stubbornly refuse.”
- Exodus 13:15 tn The text uses “man” and “beast.”
- Exodus 13:15 tn The form is the active participle.
- Exodus 13:16 tn The word is טוֹטָפֹת (totafot, “frontlets”). The etymology is uncertain, but the word denotes a sign or an object placed on the forehead (see m. Shabbat 6:1). The Gemara interprets it as a band that goes from ear to ear. In the Targum to 2 Sam 1:10 it is an armlet worn by Saul (see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 110). These bands may have resembled the Egyptian practice of wearing as amulets “forms of words written on folds of papyrus tightly rolled up and sewn in linen” (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:384).
- Exodus 13:16 sn The pattern of the passage now emerges more clearly; it concerns the grateful debt of the redeemed. In the first part eating the unleavened bread recalls the night of deliverance in Egypt, and it calls for purity. In the second part the dedication of the firstborn was an acknowledgment of the deliverance of the firstborn from bondage. They were to remember the deliverance and choose purity; they were to remember the deliverance and choose dedication. The NT will also say, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price, therefore, glorify God” (1 Cor 6:20). Here too the truths of God’s great redemption must be learned well and retained well from generation to generation.