Contemporary English Version
Dedication of the First-Born
13 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Dedicate to me the first-born son of every family and the first-born males of your flocks and herds. These belong to me.”
The Festival of Thin Bread
3-4 Moses said to the people:
Remember this day in the month of Abib.[a] It is the day when the Lord’s mighty power rescued you from Egypt, where you were slaves. Do not eat anything made with yeast. 5 The Lord promised your ancestors that he would bring you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites, and Jebusites. It is a land rich with milk and honey.
Each year during the month of Abib, celebrate these events in the following way: 6 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast, and on the seventh day you are to celebrate a festival in honor of the Lord. 7 During those seven days, you must not eat anything made with yeast or even have yeast anywhere near your homes. 8 Then on the seventh day you must explain to your children that you do this because the Lord brought you out of Egypt.
9 This celebration will be like wearing a sign on your hand or on your forehead, because then you will pass on to others the teaching of the Lord, whose mighty power brought you out of Egypt. 10 Celebrate this festival each year at the same time.
11 The Lord will give you the land of the Canaanites, just as he promised you and your ancestors. 12 From then on, you must give him every first-born son from your families and every first-born male from your animals, because these belong to him. 13 You can save the life of a first-born donkey[b] by sacrificing a lamb; if you don’t, you must break the donkey’s neck. You must save every first-born son.
14 In the future your children will ask what this ceremony means. Explain it to them by saying, “The Lord used his mighty power to rescue us from slavery in Egypt. 15 The king[c] stubbornly refused to set us free, so the Lord killed the first-born male of every animal and the first-born son of every Egyptian family. This is why we sacrifice to the Lord every first-born male of every animal and save every first-born son.”
16 This ceremony will serve the same purpose as a sign on your hand or on your forehead to tell how the Lord’s mighty power rescued us from Egypt.
The Lord Leads His People
17 After the king[d] had finally let the people go, the Lord did not lead them through Philistine territory, though that was the shortest way. God had said, “If they are attacked, they may decide to return to Egypt.” 18 So he led them around through the desert and toward the Red Sea.[e]
The Israelites left Egypt, prepared for battle.
19 Moses had them take along the bones of Joseph, whose dying words had been, “God will come to your rescue, and when he does, be sure to take along my bones.”
20 The people of Israel left Succoth and camped at Etham at the border of Egypt near the desert. 21-22 During the day the Lord went ahead of his people in a thick cloud, and during the night he went ahead of them in a flaming fire. That way the Lord could lead them at all times, whether day or night.
The Israelites Cross the Red Sea
14 At Etham the Lord said to Moses:
2 Tell the people of Israel to turn back and camp across from Pi-Hahiroth near Baal-Zephon, between Migdol and the Red Sea.[f] 3 The king[g] will think they were afraid to cross the desert and that they are wandering around, trying to find another way to leave the country. 4 I will make the king stubborn again, and he will try to catch you. Then I will destroy him and his army. People everywhere will praise me for my victory, and the Egyptians will know that I really am the Lord.
The Israelites obeyed the Lord and camped where he told them.
5 When the king of Egypt heard that the Israelites had finally left, he and his officials changed their minds and said, “Look what we have done! We let them get away, and they will no longer be our slaves.”
6 The king got his war chariot and army ready. 7 He commanded his officers in charge of his six hundred best chariots and all his other chariots to start after the Israelites. 8 The Lord made the king so stubborn that he went after them, even though the Israelites proudly[h] went on their way. 9 But the king’s horses and chariots and soldiers caught up with them while they were camping by the Red Sea near Pi-Hahiroth and Baal-Zephon.
10 When the Israelites saw the king coming with his army, they were frightened and begged the Lord for help. 11 They also complained to Moses, “Wasn’t there enough room in Egypt to bury us? Is that why you brought us out here to die in the desert? Why did you bring us out of Egypt anyway? 12 While we were there, didn’t we tell you to leave us alone? We had rather be slaves in Egypt than die in this desert!”
13 But Moses answered, “Don’t be afraid! Be brave, and you will see the Lord save you today. These Egyptians will never bother you again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you won’t have to do a thing.”
15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you keep calling out to me for help? Tell the Israelites to move forward. 16 Then hold your walking stick over the sea. The water will open up and make a road where they can walk through on dry ground. 17 I will make the Egyptians so stubborn that they will go after you. Then I will be praised because of what happens to the king and his chariots and cavalry. 18 The Egyptians will know for sure that I am the Lord.”
19 All this time God’s angel had gone ahead of Israel’s army, but now he moved behind them. A large cloud had also gone ahead of them, 20 but now it moved between the Egyptians and the Israelites. The cloud gave light to the Israelites, but made it dark for the Egyptians, and during the night they could not come any closer.
21 Moses stretched his arm over the sea, and the Lord sent a strong east wind that blew all night until there was dry land where the water had been. The sea opened up, 22 and the Israelites walked through on dry land with a wall of water on each side.
23 The Egyptian chariots and cavalry went after them. 24 But before daylight the Lord looked down at the Egyptian army from the fiery cloud and made them panic. 25 Their chariot wheels got stuck,[i] and it was hard for them to move. So the Egyptians said to one another, “Let’s leave these people alone! The Lord is on their side and is fighting against us.”
26 The Lord told Moses, “Stretch your arm toward the sea—the water will cover the Egyptians and their cavalry and chariots.” 27 Moses stretched out his arm, and at daybreak the water rushed toward the Egyptians. They tried to run away, but the Lord drowned them in the sea. 28 The water came and covered the chariots, the cavalry, and the whole Egyptian army that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them was left alive. 29 But the sea had made a wall of water on each side of the Israelites; so they walked through on dry land.
30 On that day, when the Israelites saw the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the shore, they knew that the Lord had saved them. 31 Because of the mighty power he had used against the Egyptians, the Israelites worshiped him and trusted him and his servant Moses.
The Song of Moses
15 Moses and the Israelites sang this song in praise of the Lord:
I sing praises to the Lord
for his great victory!
He has thrown the horses
and their riders
into the sea.
2 The Lord is my strength,
the reason for my song,
because he has saved me.
I praise and honor the Lord—
he is my God
and the God
of my ancestors.
3 The Lord is his name,
and he is a warrior!
4 He threw the chariots and army
of Egypt’s king[j]
into the Red Sea,[k]
and he drowned the best
of the king’s officers.
5 They sank to the bottom
just like stones.
6 With the tremendous force
of your right arm, our Lord,
you crushed your enemies.
7 What a great victory was yours,
as you defeated everyone
who opposed you.
Your fiery anger wiped them out,
as though they were straw.
8 You were so furious
that the sea piled up
like a wall,
and the ocean depths
curdled like cheese.
9 Your enemies boasted
that they would
pursue and capture us,
divide up our possessions,
treat us as they wished,
then take out their swords
and kill us right there.
10 But when you got furious,
they sank like lead,
swallowed by ocean waves.
11 Our Lord, no other gods
compare with you—
Majestic and holy!
Fearsome and glorious!
12 When you signaled
with your right hand,
your enemies were swallowed
deep into the earth.
13 The people you rescued
were led by your powerful love
to your holy place.
14 Nations learned of this
Philistines shook with horror.
15 The leaders of Edom and of Moab
Everyone in Canaan fainted,
16 struck down by fear.
Our Lord, your powerful arm
kept them still as a rock
until the people you rescued
for your very own
had marched by.
17 You will let your people settle
on your chosen mountain,
where you built your home
and your temple.
18 Our Lord, you will rule forever!
The Song of Miriam
19 The Lord covered the royal Egyptian cavalry and chariots with the sea, after the Israelites had walked safely through on dry ground. 20 Miriam the sister of Aaron was a prophet. So she took her tambourine and led the other women out to play their tambourines and to dance. 21 Then she sang to them:
“Sing praises to the Lord
for his great victory!
He has thrown the horses
and their riders into the sea.”
Bitter Water at Marah
22 After the Israelites left the Red Sea,[l] Moses led them through the Shur Desert for three days, before finding water. 23 They did find water at Marah, but it was bitter, which is how that place got its name.[m] 24 The people complained and said, “Moses, what are we going to drink?”
25 Moses asked the Lord for help, and the Lord told him to throw a piece of wood into the water. Moses did so, and the water became fit to drink.
At Marah the Lord tested his people and also gave them some laws and teachings. 26 Then he said, “I am the Lord your God, and I cure your diseases. If you obey me by doing right and by following my laws and teachings, I won’t punish you with the diseases I sent on the Egyptians.”
27 Later the Israelites came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees. So they camped there.
- 13.3,4 Abib: Or Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-March to mid-April.
- 13.13 donkey: This was the only “unclean” animal that had to be saved; the first-born of all “clean” animals (sheep, goats, cattle) had to be sacrificed. Donkeys were important because they were the basic means of transportation.
- 13.15,17 The king: See the note at 1.11.
- 13.17 Philistine territory: The shortest land route from the Nile Delta to Canaan; it was the southern section of the major road that led to Megiddo and then on to Mesopotamia by way of Asia Minor.
- 13.18 Red Sea: Hebrew yam suph “Sea of Reeds,” one of the marshes or fresh water lakes, near the eastern part of the Nile Delta. This identification is based on Exodus 13.17—14.9, which lists the towns on the route of the Israelites before crossing the sea. In the Greek translation of the Scriptures made about 200 B.C., the “Sea of Reeds” was named “Red Sea.”
- 14.2 Red Sea: Hebrew hayyam “the Sea,” understood as yam suph, “Sea of Reeds” (see also the note at 13.18).
- 14.3 The king: See the note at 1.11.
- 14.8 proudly: Or “victoriously.”
- 14.25 stuck: The Samaritan Hebrew text and two ancient translations; Hebrew “came off.”
- 15.4 Egypt’s king: See the note at 1.11.
- 15.4,22 Red Sea: See the note at 13.18.
- 15.4,22 Red Sea: See the note at 13.18.
- 15.23 Marah. . . name: In Hebrew “Marah” means “bitter.”