Exodus 12:15
Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
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(15) Seven days.—The division of time into periods of seven days each was unknown to the more ancient Egyptians, but is thought to have existed in Babylonia as early as B.C. 2000. That it was recognised in the family of Abraham appears from Genesis 29:27. According to some, God established the division by an express command to our first parents in Paradise that they should keep the seventh day holy (see Genesis 2:3); but this is greatly questioned by others, who regard Genesis 2:3 as anticipatory, and think the Sabbath was not instituted until the giving of the manna (Exodus 16:23). However this may have been, it is generally allowed that the Israelites had not observed the seventh day in Egypt. where, indeed, they were held to labour continually. and that the Sabbath as an actual observance dates from the Exodus. The injunction here given, if it belongs to the time of the tenth plague, would be the first preliminary note of warning with respect to the Sabbath, raising an expectation of it, and preparing the way for it, leading up to the subsequent revelations in the wilderness of Sin and at Sinai.

Ye shall put away leaven out of your houses.—There was to be no compromise, nothing resembling half measures. Leaven, taken as typical of corruption, was to be wholly put away, not allowed by any householder to lurk anywhere within his house—a solemn warning that we are to make no compromise with sin.

That soul shall be cut off from Israel.—See the Note on Genesis 17:14.

12:1-20 The Lord makes all things new to those whom he delivers from the bondage of Satan, and takes to himself to be his people. The time when he does this is to them the beginning of a new life. God appointed that, on the night wherein they were to go out of Egypt, each family should kill a lamb, or that two or three families, if small, should kill one lamb. This lamb was to be eaten in the manner here directed, and the blood to be sprinkled on the door-posts, to mark the houses of the Israelites from those of the Egyptians. The angel of the Lord, when destroying the first-born of the Egyptians, would pass over the houses marked by the blood of the lamb: hence the name of this holy feast or ordinance. The passover was to be kept every year, both as a remembrance of Israel's preservation and deliverance out of Egypt, and as a remarkable type of Christ. Their safety and deliverance were not a reward of their own righteousness, but the gift of mercy. Of this they were reminded, and by this ordinance they were taught, that all blessings came to them through the shedding and sprinkling of blood. Observe, 1. The paschal lamb was typical. Christ is our passover, 1Co 5:7. Christ is the Lamb of God, Joh 1:29; often in the Revelation he is called the Lamb. It was to be in its prime; Christ offered up himself in the midst of his days, not when a babe at Bethlehem. It was to be without blemish; the Lord Jesus was a Lamb without spot: the judge who condemned Christ declared him innocent. It was to be set apart four days before, denoting the marking out of the Lord Jesus to be a Saviour, both in the purpose and in the promise. It was to be slain, and roasted with fire, denoting the painful sufferings of the Lord Jesus, even unto death, the death of the cross. The wrath of God is as fire, and Christ was made a curse for us. Not a bone of it must be broken, which was fulfilled in Christ, Joh 19:33, denoting the unbroken strength of the Lord Jesus. 2. The sprinkling of the blood was typical. The blood of the lamb must be sprinkled, denoting the applying of the merits of Christ's death to our souls; we must receive the atonement, Ro 5:11. Faith is the bunch of hyssop, by which we apply the promises, and the benefits of the blood of Christ laid up in them, to ourselves. It was to be sprinkled on the door-posts, denoting the open profession we are to make of faith in Christ. It was not to be sprinkled upon the threshold; which cautions us to take heed of trampling under foot the blood of the covenant. It is precious blood, and must be precious to us. The blood, thus sprinkled, was a means of preserving the Israelites from the destroying angel, who had nothing to do where the blood was. The blood of Christ is the believer's protection from the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and the damnation of hell, Ro 8:1. 3. The solemn eating of the lamb was typical of our gospel duty to Christ. The paschal lamb was not to be looked upon only, but to be fed upon. So we must by faith make Christ our own; and we must receive spiritual strength and nourishment from him, as from our food, see Joh 6:53,55. It was all to be eaten; those who by faith feed upon Christ, must feed upon a whole Christ; they must take Christ and his yoke, Christ and his cross, as well as Christ and his crown. It was to be eaten at once, not put by till morning. To-day Christ is offered, and is to be accepted while it is called to-day, before we sleep the sleep of death. It was to be eaten with bitter herbs, in remembrance of the bitterness of their bondage in Egypt; we must feed upon Christ with sorrow and brokenness of heart, in remembrance of sin. Christ will be sweet to us, if sin be bitter. It was to be eaten standing, with their staves in their hands, as being ready to depart. When we feed upon Christ by faith, we must forsake the rule and the dominion of sin; sit loose to the world, and every thing in it; forsake all for Christ, and reckon it no bad bargain, Heb 13:13,14. 4. The feast of unleavened bread was typical of the Christian life, 1Co 5:7,8. Having received Christ Jesus the Lord, we must continually delight ourselves in Christ Jesus. No manner of work must be done, that is, no care admitted and indulged, which does not agree with, or would lessen this holy joy. The Jews were very strict as to the passover, so that no leaven should be found in their houses. It must be a feast kept in charity, without the leaven of malice; and in sincerity, without the leaven of hypocrisy. It was by an ordinance for ever; so long as we live we must continue feeding upon Christ, rejoicing in him always, with thankful mention of the great things he has done for us.Cut off - The penalty inflicted on those who transgressed the command may be accounted for on the ground that it was an act of rebellion; but additional light is thrown upon it by the typical meaning assigned to leaven by our Lord, Matthew 16:6. Ex 12:15-51. Unleavened Bread.

15. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread, &c.—This was to commemorate another circumstance in the departure of the Israelites, who were urged to leave so hurriedly that their dough was unleavened (Ex 12:39), and they had to eat unleavened cakes (De 16:3). The greatest care was always taken by the Jews to free their houses from leaven—the owner searching every corner of his dwelling with a lighted candle. A figurative allusion to this is made (1Co 5:7). The exclusion of leaven for seven days would not be attended with inconvenience in the East, where the usual leaven is dough kept till it becomes sour, and it is kept from one day to another for the purpose of preserving leaven in readiness. Thus even were there none in all the country, it could be got within twenty-four hours [Harmer].

that soul shall be cut off—excommunicated from the community and privileges of the chosen people.

Seven days, besides and after the day of eating the passover, which was a distinct feast, and no part of the feast of unleavened bread,

shall ye eat unleavened bread, to remind them of their departure out of Egypt, which was so sudden that they had not leisure to leaven their dough. See Poole on "Exodus 12:8".

That soul shall be cut off, either by excommunication, or by death to be inflicted by the magistrate, and, in case of his neglect, by God himself. Nor let any one think that this was too severe a punishment for what may seem no great offence. For this was indeed a very great crime, being a manifest contempt of God, and a rebellion against God’s authority and express command, which surely deserves as severe a punishment as is inflicted upon rebels against their prince, especially considering that the Israelites were the people and subjects of God in a peculiar manner. It was also a tacit renunciation of their religion, and of the covenant of God with them, and of their interest both in that past deliverance out of Egypt, and in the future deliverance by the Messias. See Poole on "Genesis 17:14.

Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread,.... From the evening of the fourteenth day to the evening of the twenty first; and this was a distinct festival from what was properly called the feast of the passover, and does not respect the first passover in Egypt; for though the passover lamb was eaten with unleavened bread, and the Israelites ate no other, not only for seven days, but for thirty days following; yet this was not only by the divine command, but through necessity, they having no other bread to eat; but in later times they were commanded to keep a feast for seven days, in which they were not to eat leavened bread, in commemoration of their hasty departure out of Egypt, not having time to leaven the dough in their troughs, and of their distress and want of savoury bread:

even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses; out of their dwelling houses, which were to be diligently searched for that purpose, and every hole and crevice in them; and not only their lower rooms, their dining rooms and parlours, but their upper rooms and bedchambers; because it was possible a man might sometimes go into them with a piece of bread in his hand, and drop or leave some of it behind him: yea, synagogues and schools were to be searched, since children might carry thither leavened breads (i): and this search was to be made by the light of a lamp or candle, not by the light of the moon, if in the night; nor by the light of the sun, if in the day, but by the light of a lamp or candle, and not by the light of a torch, or of a lump of fat, or grease, or oil, but by a lamp or candle of wax (k): and this search was to be made at the beginning of the night of the fourteenth of Nisan; yea, it is said that leavened bread was forbidden from the seventh hour of the day, that is, one o'clock in the afternoon and upwards, which is the middle of the day (l): the account of the Misnic doctors is (m),"R. Meir says, that they may eat leaven the whole fifth hour, i.e. eleven o'clock in the morning, and burn it the beginning of the sixth, or twelve o'clock; R. Judah says, they may eat it all the fourth hour, or tenth o'clock, and suspend it the whole fifth hour, and burn it the beginning of the sixth:"

for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day; from the first of the seven days to the last of them, beginning at the night at the fourteenth, and ending at the night of the twenty first:

that soul shall be cut off from Israel; either from the commonwealth of Israel, and be disfranchised, and not accounted as an Israelite; or from the Israelitish church state, and have no communion in it, or partake of the ordinances at it; or if it is to be understood of cutting off by death, it is either by the hand of the civil magistrate, or by the immediate hand of God; and is sometimes by the Jews interpreted of a man dying either without children, or before he is fifty years of age, and some even understand it of destruction of soul and body, or of eternal damnation.

(i) Lebush, par. 1. No. 433. sect. 1. 3. 10. Schulcan Aruch, par. 1. No. 433. sect. 3. 10. (k) Lebush & Schulcan ib. sect. 1.((l) Lebush & Schulcan No. 431. sect. 1.((m) Misn. Pesach c. 1. sect. 4.

Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
15. Seven days] from the 15th to the 21st of the first month.

unleavened cakes] See on v. 8. So vv. 17, 18, 20 (on v. 39, see note).

even] rather, surely: cf. in the Heb. Exodus 31:13, Leviticus 23:27; Leviticus 23:39, Numbers 1:49.

put away] Heb. make to cease. The later Hebrews were very punctilious in carrying out this injunction; and even before the Passover (which was also eaten with unleavened cakes, v. 8), the house was elaborately searched with candles in order to discover and remove any ‘leaven’ (i.e. fermented dough, or certain articles made of fermented grain: see EB. iii. 2753) that might be in it (Pesâḥim i.–iii.). See an illustration of the search for leaven, from a drawing of 1725, in the Jewish Encyclopaedia, ix. 548; or, on a smaller scale, in Oesterley and Box, The Religion and Worship of the Synagogue (1907), p. 210.

leaven] Heb. se’ôr,—in practice (see Leaven in EB.; cf. i. 604), a piece of sour (i.e. fermented) dough, reserved for the purpose from the previous day’s baking.

Leaven was regarded as produced by corruption (cf. on Exodus 23:18 a, and Plut. Quaest. Rom. 109 ‘Now leaven is itself the offspring of corruption, and corrupts the lump (φύραμα) with which it is mixed’); and so in the NT. it becomes a figure of corrupt teaching or practice, Matthew 16:6 (= Mark 8:15 = Luke 12:1), 11: St Paul twice quotes the saying, ‘A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump’ (1 Corinthians 5:6, Galatians 5:9), with reference to moral corruption: and in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, with evident reference to the injunction here, bids Christians ‘clear away the old leaven,’ and ‘keep the feast’ of their Passover, Christ (i.e. live the Christian life), with the ‘unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.’

that soul shall be cut off from Israel] a formula, with slight variations (as he or that man for that soul; and from his father’s kin or from the congregation for from Israel), very common in P: v. 19, Genesis 17:14, Exodus 30:37-38; Exodus 31:14, Leviticus 7:20-21; Leviticus 7:25; Leviticus 7:27; Leviticus 17:4; Leviticus 17:9; Leviticus 18:29; Leviticus 19:8; Leviticus 20:17-18; Leviticus 22:3; Leviticus 23:29, Numbers 9:13; Numbers 15:30-31; Numbers 19:13; Numbers 19:20† (cf. with the first person, I will cut off …, Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 20:3; Leviticus 20:5-6†; I will destroy …, Leviticus 23:30†). The offence for which this is the penalty is usually neglect of some ceremonial observance, and only occasionally a moral offence, or idolatry. The punishment intended is not death by the civil power (which would be out of the question in many of the cases in which ‘cutting off’ is prescribed, and which is moreover denoted regularly by the formula, ‘shall be put to death’), but excommunication (cf. Ezra 10:8), combined with a threat of divine interposition to root out the evil-doer, as is clear from the variants in which the first person is used (Di. on Genesis 17:14).

Verse 15. - Seven days. There is no indication that the week of seven days was admitted by the ancient Egyptians, or even known to them. Apparently, the nation which first adopted it was that of the Babylonians. Abraham may have brought it with him from "Ur of the Chaldees;" and from him it may have passed to Jacob, and so to Moses. That the week was known in the family of Abraham before the giving of the law, appears from Genesis 29:27, 28. Unleavened bread is typical of purity of heart, leaven being an emblem of corruption (Matthew 16:6-12; 1 Corinthians 5:7). "Leaven," says Plutarch, "comes from corruption, and corrupts the dough with which it is mixed; and every fermentation seems to be a putrefaction." The primary command to celebrate the first passover with unleavened instead of leavened bread (ver. 8), must be attributed wholly to this symbolism. But the permanent institution of a "feast of unleavened bread," to last a week, had a double bearing. Partly, it was designed to deepen and intensify the conviction that corruption and impurity disqualify for religions service; but it was also partly intended as a commemoration of the fact, that in their hasty flight from Egypt the bread which they took with them was unleavened (ver. 340, and that they were forced to subsist on this for several days. (Compare the double meaning of the "bitter herbs, noticed in the comment on verse 8, ad fin.) The requirement to "put away leaven out of their houses" is probably intended to teach, that for family worship to he acceptable, the entire household must be pure, and that to effect this result the head of the household must, so far as he can, eject the leaven of sin from his establishment. Whosoever eateth... shall be out off from Israel. Expelled, i.e, from the congregation, or excommunicated. If a man wilfully transgresses any plain precept of God, even though it be a positive one, he should he severed from the Church, until he confess his fault, and repent, and do penance for it. Such was the ', godly discipline" of the primitive Church; and it were well if the Churches of these modern times had more of it. Exodus 12:15Judging from the words "I brought out" in Exodus 12:17, Moses did not receive instructions respecting the seven days' feast of Mazzoth till after the exodus from Egypt; but on account of its internal and substantial connection with the Passover, it is placed here in immediate association with the institution of the paschal meal. "Seven days shall he eat unleavened bread, only (אך) on the first day (i.e., not later than the first day) he shall cause to cease (i.e., put away) leaven out of your houses." The first day was the 15th of the month (cf. Leviticus 23:6; Numbers 28:17). On the other hand, when בּראשׁון is thus defined in Exodus 12:18, "on the 14th day of the month at even," this may be accounted for from the close connection between the feast of Mazzoth and the feast of Passover, inasmuch as unleavened bread was to be eaten with the paschal lamb, so that the leaven had to be cleared away before this meal. The significance of this feast was in the eating of the mazzoth, i.e., of pure unleavened bread (see Exodus 12:8). As bread, which is the principal means of preserving life, might easily be regarded as the symbol of life itself, so far as the latter is set forth in the means employed for its own maintenance and invigoration, so the mazzoth, or unleavened loaves, were symbolical of the new life, as cleansed from the leaven of a sinful nature. But if the eating of mazzoth was to shadow forth the new life into which Israel was transferred, any one who ate leavened bread at the feast would renounce this new life, and was therefore to be cut off from Israel, i.e., "from the congregation of Israel" (Exodus 12:19).
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