13 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “You must give me every male in Israel who is his mother’s first child. That means that every firstborn baby boy and every firstborn male animal will be mine.”
3 Moses said to the people, “Remember this day. You were slaves in Egypt, but on this day the Lord used his great power and made you free. You must not eat bread with yeast. 4 Today, in the month of Abib, you are leaving Egypt. 5 The Lord made a special promise to your ancestors. He promised to give you the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites, and Jebusites. After the Lord leads you to the land filled with many good things,[a] then you must remember this day. You must have a special day of worship on this day during the first month of every year.
6 “For seven days, you must eat only bread without yeast. On the seventh day there will be a great festival to show honor to the Lord. 7 So for seven days, you must not eat any bread made with yeast. There must be no bread with yeast any place in your land. 8 On this day you should tell your children, ‘We are having this festival because the Lord took me out of Egypt.’
9 “This festival will help you remember; it will be like a string tied on your hand. It will be like a sign before your eyes.[b] This festival will help you remember the Lord’s teachings. It will help you remember that the Lord used his great power to take you out of Egypt. 10 So remember this festival every year at the right time.
11 “The Lord will lead you into the land he promised to give you. The Canaanites live there now. But God promised your ancestors that he would give you this land. When that happens, 12 you must remember to give the Lord every firstborn boy. And every male animal that is the firstborn must also be given to the Lord. 13 Every firstborn donkey can be bought back. You can offer a lamb and keep the donkey. If you don’t want to buy back the donkey like this, then you must break its neck to kill it. But every firstborn baby boy[c] must be bought back from the Lord.
14 “In the future, your children will ask why you do this. They will say, ‘What does all this mean?’ And you will answer, ‘The Lord used his great power to save us from Egypt. We were slaves in that place, but he led us out and brought us here. 15 In Egypt, Pharaoh was stubborn and refused to let us leave. So the Lord killed every firstborn in all the land. (The Lord killed the firstborn males—animal and human.) That is why I give every firstborn male animal to the Lord, and that is why I buy back each of my firstborn sons from him.’ 16 This is like a string tied on your hand, like a sign in front of your eyes. It helps you remember that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his great power.”
The Trip Out of Egypt
17 Pharaoh made the people leave Egypt. God did not let the people take the road leading to the land of the Philistines. That road by the Mediterranean Sea is the shortest way, but God said, “If the people go that way they will have to fight. Then they might change their minds and go back to Egypt.” 18 So God led them another way through the desert by the Red Sea.[d] The Israelites were dressed for war when they left Egypt.
Joseph Goes Home
19 Moses carried the bones of Joseph with him. Before Joseph died, he made the Israelites promise to do this for him. He said, “When God saves you, remember to carry my bones with you out of Egypt.”
The Lord Leads His People
20 The Israelites left Succoth and camped at Etham. Etham was near the desert. 21 The Lord led the way. During the day, he used a tall cloud to lead the people. And during the night, he used a tall column of fire to lead the way. This fire gave them light so that they could also travel at night. 22 The cloud was always with them during the day, and the column of fire was always with them at night.
- Exodus 13:5 land … things Literally, “land flowing with milk and honey.”
- Exodus 13:9 string … eyes Literally, “a mark on your hands and a reminder between your eyes.” This might refer to the special things an Israelite ties to his arm and forehead to help him remember God’s laws for him. Also in verse 16.
- Exodus 13:13 baby boy Or “baby.”
- Exodus 13:18 Red Sea Or “Reed Sea.” Also in 14:2, 9, 16, 21, 30. See 1 Kings 9:26.