Deuteronomy 16:1
Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.
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Deuteronomy 16:1-8. THE PASSOVER. (See on Exodus 12)

(1) The month Abib was so called from the “ears of corn” which appeared in it.

By night.—Pharaoh’s permission was given on the night of the death of the first-born, though Israel did not actually depart until the next day (Numbers 33:3-4).

(2) Of the flock, and of the herd.—The Passover victim itself must be either lamb or kid. (See on Deuteronomy 14:4, and comp. Exodus 12:5.) But there were special sacrifices of bullocks appointed for the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which followed the Passover. (See Numbers 28:19.)

(6) At even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou comest forth from Egypt.—The word “season” here is ambiguous in the English. Does it mean the time of year, or the time of day? The Hebrew word, which usually denotes a commemorative time, might seem to point to the hour of sunset as the time when the march actually began. If so, it was the evening of the fifteenth day of the month (See Numbers 33:3). But the word is also used generally of the time of year (Exodus 23:15; Numbers 9:2, &c.); and as the Passover was to be kept on the fourteenth, not the fifteenth day, the time actually commemorated is the time of the slaying of the lamb which saved Israel from the destroyer, rather than the time of the actual march. It is noticeable that, while the Passover commemorated the deliverance by the slain lamb in Egypt, the Feast of Tabernacles commemorated the encampment at Succoth, the first resting-place of the delivered nation after the exodus had actually begun.

(8) A solemn assembly.—Literally, as in the Margin, a restraint—i.e., a day when work was forbidden. The word is applied to the eighth day of the feast of tabernacles in Leviticus 23:36, and Numbers 29:35, and does not occur elsewhere in the Pentateuch.

Deuteronomy 16:1. As a further preservative against idolatry, Moses proceeds to inculcate upon them a strict regard to the most exact observance of the three great annual festivals, appointed by their law to be celebrated at the stated place of national worship, these being designed for this very end, to keep the people steady to the profession and practice of the religion of the one true God. The first of these feasts was the passover, with that of unleavened bread; comprehending the sacrifice of the paschal lamb, with other sacrifices and oblations prescribed for each day of that whole week during which it was to continue. Of which see on Exodus 12:13. Observe the month of Abib — Or of new fruits, which answers to part of our March and April, and was, by a special order from God, made the beginning of their year, in remembrance of their deliverance out of Egypt. By night — In the night Pharaoh was forced to give them leave to depart, and accordingly they made preparation for their departure, and in the morning they perfected the work.

16:1-17 The laws for the three yearly feasts are here repeated; that of the Passover, that of the Pentecost, that of Tabernacles; and the general law concerning the people's attendance. Never should a believer forget his low estate of guilt and misery, his deliverance, and the price it cost the Redeemer; that gratitude and joy in the Lord may be mingled with sorrow for sin, and patience under the tribulations in his way to the kingdom of heaven. They must rejoice in their receivings from God, and in their returns of service and sacrifice to him; our duty must be our delight, as well as our enjoyment. If those who were under the law must rejoice before God, much more we that are under the grace of the gospel; which makes it our duty to rejoice evermore, to rejoice in the Lord always. When we rejoice in God ourselves, we should do what we can to assist others also to rejoice in him, by comforting the mourners, and supplying those who are in want. All who make God their joy, may rejoice in hope, for He is faithful that has promised.The cardinal point on which the whole of the prescriptions in this chapter turn, is evidently the same as has been so often insisted on in the previous chapters, namely, the concentration of the religious services of the people round one common sanctuary. The prohibition against observing the great Feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and tabernacle, the three annual epochs in the sacred year of the Jew, at home and in private, is reiterated in a variety of words no less than six times in the first sixteen verses of this chapter Deuteronomy 16:2, Deuteronomy 16:6-7, Deuteronomy 16:11, Deuteronomy 16:15-16. Hence, it is easy to see why nothing is here said of the other holy days.

The Feast of Passover Exodus 12:1-27; Numbers 9:1-14; Leviticus 23:1-8. A re-enforcement of this ordinance was the more necessary because its observance had clearly been intermitted for thirty-nine years (see Joshua 6:10). One Passover only had been kept in the wilderness, that recorded in Numbers 9, where see the notes.


De 16:1-22. The Feast of the Passover.

1. Observe the month of Abib—or first-fruits. It comprehended the latter part of our March and the beginning of April. Green ears of the barley, which were then full, were offered as first-fruits, on the second day of the passover.

for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee out of Egypt by night—This statement is apparently at variance with the prohibition (Ex 12:22) as well as with the recorded fact that their departure took place in the morning (Ex 13:3; Nu 33:3). But it is susceptible of easy reconciliation. Pharaoh's permission, the first step of emancipation, was extorted during the night, the preparations for departure commenced, the rendezvous at Rameses made, and the march entered on in the morning.Their feast of the passover to be kept, Deu 16:1-7, and to eat unleavened bread, Deu 16:8. The seven weeks and their feasts, Deu 16:9-12. The feast of tabernacles to be observed by them, and their family, seven days, Deu 16:13-15. All the males to appear before the Lord three times a year, and at these three feasts, Deu 16:16,17. Judges and officers are appointed, Deu 16:18-20, and are prohibited to set up idolatry, Deu 6:21,22.

Object. They came out of Egypt by day, and in the morning, as appears from Exodus 12:22 13:3 Numbers 33:3.

Answ. They are said to be brought out by night, because in the night Pharaoh was forced to give them leave to depart, and accordingly they made preparation for their departure, and in the morning they perfected the work.

Observe the month of Abib,.... Sometimes called Nisan; it answered to part, of our March, and part of April; it was an observable month, to be taken notice of; it was called Abib, from the corn then appearing in ear, and beginning to ripen, and all things being in their verdure; the Septuagint calls it the month of new fruit; it was appointed the first of the months for ecclesiastic things, and was the month in which the Israelites went out of Egypt, and the first passover was kept in it, and therefore deserving of regard; see Exodus 12:2.

for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night; for though they did not set out until morning, when it was day light, and are said to come out in the day, yet it was in the night the Lord did wonders for them, as Onkelos paraphrases this clause; that he smote all the firstborn in Egypt, and passed over the houses of the Israelites, the door posts being sprinkled with the blood of the passover lamb slain that night, and therefore was a night much to be observed; and it was in the night Pharaoh arose and gave them leave to go; and from that time they were no more under his power, and from thence may be reckoned their coming out of bondage; see Exodus 12:12.

Observe the month of {a} Abib, and keep the passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.

(a) Read Ex 13:4.

1.Observe] As of the Sabbath, Deuteronomy 16:12.

month of Abib] Abib = young ears of corn (Exodus 9:31; Leviticus 2:14) and the month fell in our March–April. So E and J (Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:18). The name, belonging to the early agricultural calendar, was replaced after the Exile by the name Nisan of the later priestly calendar, in which it was the first month (P, Exodus 12:1 f. etc.).

and keep] Lit. make or perform; see Deuteronomy 5:15.

passover] Heb. pésaḥ, so named according to P, Exodus 12:13; Exodus 12:23; Exodus 12:27, because God passed over (pasaḥ) the Hebrews’ houses when He smote the Egyptian first-born on the eve of the Exodus. Other etymologies suggested are:—(1) from the passage into the New Year (Reuss), but the Passover month did not become the first of Israel’s year till after the Exile; (2) from pasaḥ to limp (1 Kings 18:26) as if of some sacred dance connected with threshold-rites; (3) from its expiatory value; cp. Ass. pasahu, to placate the deity (Zimmern in Schrader’s KAT3[137], 610 n.). Since the Passover was celebrated at night others (4) connect its origin with the phases of the moon. Whatever that origin may have been, the feast (as we have seen) was observed by Israel earlier than the Exodus and was possibly the same as the spring sacrifice of firstlings or other tribute from the flocks, common throughout the Semitic world. But its association with the Exodus was undoubtedly early and has ever since constituted its chief, if not its only, significance. The history and the meaning of the Passover have been so exhaustively treated in this series, Driver, Exod. Appendix I., that it is unnecessary to discuss the subject further here.

[137] Die Keilinschriften und das AIte Testament, 3rd edition (1903), by H. Zimmern and H. Winckler.

1–8. The Passover (with Maṣṣôth)

To be kept in Abib—for in that month Israel was brought out of Egypt—by the sacrifice of a victim from herd or flock at the One Altar (Deuteronomy 16:1 f.). For seven days unleavened bread shall be eaten—Israel’s food in the haste of quitting Egypt,—and no leaven shall be found in their borders, nor any of the Passover flesh after the first evening (Deuteronomy 16:3 f.). The Passover shall be boiled and eaten, the people returning next morning to their tents (Deuteronomy 16:5-7); for six days Israel shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh hold a convocation and do no work (Deuteronomy 16:8).—The integrity of the passage has been questioned (Steuern., Stȧrk, Berth., Marti) and with reason. For not only do Deuteronomy 16:3 f. on Maṣṣôth break the connection of Deuteronomy 16:1 f. with 5–7 on the Passover, while Deuteronomy 16:8 also on Maṣṣôth reflects the style of P; but Deuteronomy 16:7, fixing the Feast for one day after which the people are to return home, is difficult to harmonise with the seven days of Deuteronomy 16:3 f. and Deuteronomy 16:8. Two explanations are possible;—(1) D’s law originally consisted of Deuteronomy 16:1 f., Deuteronomy 16:5-7, and dealt only with the Passover; and the vv. on Maṣṣôth are from an editor. But there is no reason why the original code of D should ignore Maṣṣôth—for which certainly E has a law, Exodus 23:15 a, and (Steuern. notwithstanding) J also, Exodus 34:18 a—unless Maṣṣôth, a purely agricultural feast, had become too closely associated with the cults of the Baalim. (2) More probably we have here a compilation of two laws of D, originally separate, one on Passover and one on Maṣṣôth. In either case the combination of Passover and Maṣṣôth, which was not original and is not accepted even by H in Leviticus 23 (Leviticus 23:5; Leviticus 23:9 ff.; Leviticus 23:6-8 are added by P), took place between the date of the original code of D and that of the final composition of the Book of Deuteronomy.

Verses 1, 2. - The month of Abib (cf. Exodus 41:2; 23. 15). The time is referred to as a date well known to the people. Keep the passover; make (עַשִׂיתָ) or prepare the passover. This injunction refers primarily to the preparation of the Paschal lamb for a festal meal (Numbers 9:5); but here it is used in a wider sense as referring to the whole Paschal observance, which lasted for seven days. Hence the mention of sheep (צאֹן) and oxen (בְקָר) in ver. 2, and the reference to the eating of unleavened bread for seven days "therewith," i.e. with the Passover. The animal for the Paschal supper was expressly prescribed to be a yearling of the sheep or of the goats (שֶׂה), and this was to be consumed at one meal; but on the other days of the festival the flesh of other animals offered in sacrifice might be eaten. The term "Passover" here, accordingly, embraces the whole of the festive meals connected with the Passover proper - what the rabbins call chagigah (Maimon., in 'Kor-ban Pesach,' c. 10. § 12; cf. 2 Chronicles 35:7, etc.). Deuteronomy 16:1Israel was to make ready the Passover to the Lord in the earing month (see at Exodus 12:2). The precise day is supposed to be known from Exodus 12, as in Exodus 23:15. פּסח עשׂה (to prepare the Passover), which is used primarily to denote the preparation of the paschal lamb for a festal meal, is employed here in a wider signification viz., "to keep the Passover." At this feast they were to slay sheep and oxen to the Lord for a Passover, at the place, etc. In Deuteronomy 16:2, as in Deuteronomy 16:1, the word "Passover" is employed in a broader sense, and includes not only the paschal lamb, but the paschal sacrifices generally, which the Rabbins embrace under the common name of chagiga; not the burnt-offerings and sin-offerings, however, prescribed in Numbers 28:19-26, but all the sacrifices that were slain at the feast of the Passover (i.e., during the seven days of the Mazzoth, which are included under the name of pascha) for the purpose of holding sacrificial meals. This is evident from the expression "of the flock and the herd;" as it was expressly laid down, that only a שׂה, i.e., a yearling animal of the sheep or goats, was to be slain for the paschal meal on the fourteenth of the month in the evening, and an ox was never slaughtered in the place of the lamb. But if any doubt could exist upon this point, it would be completely set aside by Deuteronomy 16:3 : "Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it: seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith." As the word "therewith" cannot possibly refer to anything else than the "Passover" in Deuteronomy 16:2, it is distinctly stated that the slaughtering and eating of the Passover was to last seven days, whereas the Passover lamb was to be slain and consumed in the evening of the fourteenth Abib (Exodus 12:10). Moses called the unleavened bread "the bread of affliction," because the Israelites had to leave Egypt in anxious flight (Exodus 12:11) and were therefore unable to leaven the dough (Exodus 12:39), for the purpose of reminding the congregation of the oppression endured in Egypt, and to stir them up to gratitude towards the Lord their deliverer, that they might remember that day as long as they lived. (On the meaning of the Mazzothy, see at Exodus 12:8 and Exodus 12:15.) - On account of the importance of the unleavened bread as a symbolical shadowing forth of the significance of the Passover, as the feast of the renewal and sanctification of the life of Israel, Moses repeats in Deuteronomy 16:4 two of the points in the law of the feast: first of all the one laid down in Exodus 13:7, that no leaven was to be seen in the land during the seven days; and secondly, the one in Exodus 23:18 and Exodus 34:25, that none of the flesh of the paschal lamb was to be left till the next morning, in order that all corruption might be kept at a distance from the paschal food. Leaven, for example, sets the dough in fermentation, from which putrefaction ensues; and in the East, if flesh is kept, it very quickly decomposes. He then once more fixes the time and place for keeping the Passover (the former according to Exodus 12:6 and Leviticus 23:5, etc.), and adds in Deuteronomy 16:7 the express regulation, that not only the slaughtering and sacrificing, but the roasting (see at Exodus 12:9) and eating of the paschal lamb were to take place at the sanctuary, and that the next morning they could turn and go back home. This rule contains a new feature, which Moses prescribes with reference to the keeping of the Passover in the land of Canaan, and by which he modifies the instructions for the first Passover in Egypt, to suit the altered circumstances. In Egypt, when Israel was not yet raised into the nation of Jehovah, and had as yet no sanctuary and no common altar, the different houses necessarily served as altars. But when this necessity was at an end, the slaying and eating of the Passover in the different houses were to cease, and they were both to take place at the sanctuary before the Lord, as was the case with the feast of Passover at Sinai (Numbers 9:1-5). Thus the smearing of the door-posts with the blood was tacitly abolished, since the blood was to be sprinkled upon the altar as sacrificial blood, as it had already been at Sinai. - The expression "to thy tents," for going "home," points to the time when Israel was till dwelling in tents, and had not as yet secured any fixed abodes and houses in Canaan, although this expression was retained at a still later time (e.g., 1 Samuel 13:2; 2 Samuel 19:9, etc.). The going home in the morning after the paschal meal, is not to be understood as signifying a return to their homes in the different towns of the land, but simply, as even Riehm admits, to their homes or lodgings at the place of the sanctuary. How very far Moses was from intending to release the Israelites from the duty of keeping the feast for seven days, is evident from the fact that in Deuteronomy 16:8 he once more enforces the observance of the seven days' feast. The two clauses, "six days thou shalt eat mazzoth," and "on the seventh day shall be azereth (Eng. Ver. 'a solemn assembly') to the Lord thy God," are not placed in antithesis to each other, so as to imply (in contradiction to Deuteronomy 16:3 and Deuteronomy 16:4; Exodus 12:18-19; Exodus 13:6-7; Leviticus 23:6; Numbers 28:17) that the feast of Mazzoth was to last only six days instead of seven; but the seventh day is brought into especial prominence as the azereth of the feast (see at Leviticus 23:36), simply because, in addition to the eating of mazzoth, there was to be an entire abstinence from work, and this particular feature might easily have fallen into neglect at the close of the feast. But just as the eating of mazzoth for seven days is not abolished by the first clause, so the suspension of work on the first day is not abolished by the second clause, any more than in Exodus 13:6 the first day is represented as a working day by the fact that the seventh day is called "a feast to Jehovah."
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