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The Law of the Firstborn

13 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Give every firstborn male to me. Every firstborn male among the Israelites 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. The Lord with his great power brought you out of it. You must not eat bread made with yeast. Today, in the month of Abib, you are leaving Egypt. The Lord made a promise to your ancestors. The Lord promised to give you the land of these people: the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites. The Lord will lead you to this land where much food grows. There you must celebrate this feast during the first month of every year. For seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. 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. There must be no bread made with yeast anywhere in your land. On that day you should tell your son: ‘We are having this feast because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ This feast will help you remember. It will be like a mark on your hand. It will be like a reminder on your forehead. This feast will remind you to speak the Lord’s teachings. This is because the Lord used his great power to bring you out of Egypt. 10 So celebrate this feast every year at the right time.

11 “The Lord will take you into the land of the Canaanites. He promised to give this land to you and your ancestors. 12 Then you must give him every firstborn male. And every firstborn male animal must be given to the Lord. 13 Buy back every firstborn donkey by offering a lamb. If you don’t want to buy the donkey back, then break its neck. You must buy back from the Lord every firstborn of your sons.

14 “From now on your son will ask you: ‘What does this mean?’ You will answer, ‘With his great power, the Lord brought us out of Egypt. We were slaves in that land. 15 In Egypt the king was stubborn. He 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 to the Lord. And that is why I buy back each of my firstborn sons from the Lord.’ 16 This feast is like a mark on your hand. And it is like a reminder on your forehead. It will help you remember that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his great power.”

The Way Out of Egypt

17 The king sent the people out of Egypt. God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country. That road is the shortest way. But God said, “They might think they will have to fight. Then they might change their minds and go back to Egypt.” 18 So God led them through the desert toward the Red Sea. The Israelites were dressed for fighting when they left the land of Egypt.

19 Moses carried the bones of Joseph with him. Before Joseph died, he had made the sons of Israel promise to do this. He had said, “When God saves you, remember to carry my bones with you out of Egypt.”

20 The people of Israel left Succoth and camped at Etham. Etham was on the edge of the desert. 21 The Lord showed them the way. During the day he went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud. And during the night the Lord was in a pillar of fire to give them light. They could travel during the day or night. 22 The pillar of cloud was always with them during the day. And the pillar of fire was always with them at night.

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