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The Law of the Firstborn

13 Then the Lord said to Moses, “·Give [Consecrate; Set apart] every firstborn male to me. ·Every firstborn male [L Whoever is first to open the womb] among the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] belongs to me, whether human or animal.”

Moses said to the people, “Remember this day, the day you left Egypt. ·You were slaves in that land [L …the house of slavery/bondage/service], but the Lord with his ·great power [L strong hand] brought you out of it. You must not eat ·bread made with yeast [unleavened bread]. Today, in the month of Abib [C the first month of the year, March–April; 12:18], you are ·leaving Egypt [L coming out]. The Lord will ·lead [or bring] you to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites, and Jebusites [C various peoples who lived in the Promised Land]. This is the land he promised your ancestors he would give you [Gen. 12:1–3], a ·fertile land [L a land flowing with milk and honey; 3:8]. There you must ·celebrate this feast during the first month of every year [L keep this observance in this month]. For seven days you must eat ·bread made without yeast [unleavened bread], and on the seventh day there will be a feast to honor the Lord. So for seven days you must not eat any ·bread made with yeast [unleavened bread]. There must be no ·bread made with yeast [unleavened bread and no leaven will be] anywhere ·in your land [L within your borders]. On that day you should tell your ·son [child]: ‘·We are having this feast [L It is] because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ This feast will help you remember, like a ·mark [sign] on your hand or a reminder ·on your forehead [L between your eyes]. This feast will remind you to speak the Lord’s ·teachings [law; instructions], because the Lord used his ·great power [L strong hand] to bring you out of Egypt. 10 ·So celebrate this feast every year at the right time [L You must observe/keep/guard this statute/ordinance/requirement as an appointed time for all time].

11 “And when the Lord ·takes [brings] you into the land of the Canaanites, the land he promised to give you and your ancestors [Gen. 12:1–3], 12 you must ·give him [L turn over to the Lord] ·every firstborn male [L all that first opens the womb]. Also every firstborn male animal must be given to the Lord. 13 ·Buy back [Redeem; Ransom] every firstborn donkey by offering a lamb. But if you don’t want to ·buy the donkey back [redeem/ransom it], then break its neck. You must ·buy back from the Lord [redeem; ransom] every firstborn of your sons.

14 “·From now on [In the future; L Tomorrow] when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you will answer, ‘With his ·great power [strong hand], the Lord brought us out from Egypt, ·the land where we were slaves [L from the house of bondage]. 15 ·The king of Egypt [L Pharaoh] was stubborn and refused to let us leave. But the Lord killed every firstborn male in Egypt, both human and animal. That is why I sacrifice ·every firstborn male animal [L every male that first opens the womb] to the Lord, and that is why I ·buy back [redeem; ransom] each of my firstborn sons from the Lord.’ 16 This feast is like a ·mark [sign] on your hand and a ·reminder [phylactery; C later a leather box containing Scripture worn on arm and forehead, though here perhaps figurative] ·on your forehead [L between your eyes] to help you remember that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his ·great power [L mighty hand].”

The Way Out of Egypt

17 When ·the king [L Pharaoh] ·sent the people out of Egypt [L let the people go], God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was the shortest way. God said, “If they ·have to fight [L see battle], they might change their minds and go back to Egypt.” 18 So God led them through the ·desert [wilderness] toward the ·Red [or Reed; 10:19] Sea. The Israelites were ·dressed for fighting [prepared for battle] when they left the land of Egypt.

19 Moses carried the bones of Joseph with him, because before Joseph died, he had made the ·Israelites [L sons of Israel; C here Joseph’s brothers, the sons of Israel (Jacob)] promise to do this [Gen. 50:22–26]. He had said, “When God ·saves [shows concern toward; visits] you, remember to carry my bones with you out of Egypt.”

20 The Israelites left Succoth and camped at Etham [C its exact location is undetermined], on the edge of the ·desert [wilderness]. 21 The Lord showed them the way; during the day he went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud, and during the night he was in a pillar of fire to give them light. In this way they could travel during the day or night. 22 The pillar of cloud ·was always with [L never withdrew from] them during the day, and the pillar of fire ·was always with [L never withdrew from] them at night.