Exodus 12:2
This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
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(2) The beginning of months.—Hitherto the Hebrews had commenced the year with Tisri, at or near the autumnal equinox. (See Exodus 23:16.) In thus doing, they followed neither the Egyptian nor the Babylonian custom. The Egyptians began the year in June, with the first rise of the Nile; the Babylonians in Nisannu, at the vernal equinox. It was this month which was now made, by God’s command, the first month of the Hebrew year; but as yet it had not the name Nisan: it was called Abib (Exodus 13:4), the month of “greenness.” Henceforth the Hebrews had two years, a civil and a sacred one (Joseph., Ant. Jud., i. 3, § 3). The civil year began with Tisri, in the autumn, at the close of the harvest; the sacred year began with Abib (called afterwards Nisan), six months earlier. It followed that the first civil was the seventh sacred month, and vice versa.

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.This month - Abib Exodus 13:4. It was called "Nisan" by the later Hebrews, and nearly corresponds to our April. The Israelites are directed to take Abib henceforth as the beginning of the year; the year previously began with the month Tisri, when the harvest was gathered in; see Exodus 23:16. The injunction touching Abib or Nisan referred only to religious rites; in other affairs they retained the old arrangement, even in the beginning of the Sabbatic year; see Leviticus 25:9. 2. this month shall be unto you the beginning of months—the first not only in order but in estimation. It had formerly been the seventh according to the reckoning of the civil year, which began in September, and continued unchanged, but it was thenceforth to stand first in the national religious year which began in March, April. This month was the first month after the vernal equinox, called Abib, Exodus 13:4 23:15 Deu 16:1, and Nissan, Nehemiah 2:1 Esther 3:7; containing part of our March, and part of April.

The beginning; Heb. the head; which, I conceive, notes not so much the order, which is more plainly mentioned in the following words, as the eminency of it, that it shall be accounted the chief and principal of all months; as the sabbath hath been called by some the queen of days. And justly must they prefer this month before the rest, whether they looked back to their prodigious deliverance from Egypt therein, or forward to their spiritual redemption by Christ, and to the acceptable year of the Lord, Luke 4:19; for in this very month our Lord Jesus suffered, John 18:28.

It shall be the first month: heretofore your first month for all affairs hath been Tisri, which in part answers to our September, and is the first month after the autumnal equinox; and so it shall be to you still as to civil affairs, as it appears from Exodus 23:16 34:22 Leviticus 25:8-10; but as to sacred and ecclesiastical matters, this shall henceforth be your first month.

This month shall be unto you the beginning of months,.... Not only the first, as after expressed, but the chief and principal of them, now famous for their coming out of Egypt in it, and would be more so for the sufferings and death of the Messiah, and redemption by him from sin, Satan, and the world, law, hell, and death, for he suffered at the time of the passover. This month was called Abib, Exodus 13:4, which signifies an ear of corn, and at this time we find that the barley was in ear, Exodus 9:31 which clearly shows in what month the above things were transacted; afterwards it was called Nisan, which seems to be the Chaldean name for it, Nehemiah 2:1, it shall be the first month of the year to you; which before was the seventh; while the Israelites were in Egypt they observed the same beginning of the year and course of months as the Egyptians, as Josephus (z) intimates; and with the Egyptians, the month Thot was the first month, which answered to Tisri with the Jews, and both to our September, or a part of it, so that the beginning of the year was then in the autumnal equinox, at which season it is thought the world was created; but now to the Israelites it was changed unto the vernal equinox, for this month of Abib or Nisan answers to part of our March and part of April; though indeed both beginnings of the year were observed by them, the one on ecclesiastic, the other on civil accounts; or, as Josephus (a) expresses it, the month of Nisan was the beginning with respect to things divine, but in buying and selling, and such like things, the ancient order was observed; and so the Targum of Jonathan here paraphrases it,"from hence ye shall begin to reckon the feasts, the times, and the revolutions.''Indeed the Jews had four beginnings of the year according to their Misnah (b); the first of Nisan (or March) was the beginning of the year for kings and for festivals; the first of Elul (or August) for the tithing of cattle; the first of Tisri (or September) for the sabbatical years, jubilees, and planting of trees and herbs; and the first of Shebet (or January) for the tithing the fruit of trees.

(z) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 3. sect. 3.((a) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 3. sect. 3.((b) Misn. Roshhashanah, c. 1. sect. 1.

This {a} month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first {b} month of the year to you.

(a) Called Nisan, containing part of March and part of April.

(b) Concerning the observation of feasts: as for other policies, they reckoned from September.

2. This month, &c.] The ‘month’ is the one corresponding to our Mar.–Apr., called in J and E (Exodus 13:4, Exodus 23:15, Exodus 34:18) and Deuteronomy 16:1) ‘Abib,’ and in the later post-exilic writings (Nehemiah 2:1, Esther 3:7) by its Bab. name, Nisan. P never, like the older pre-exilic writers, calls the months by their Canaanitish or Phoenician names, Abib (ll.cc.), Ziv (1 Kings 6:1; 1 Kings 6:37), Ethanim (ib. 1 Kings 8:2), Bul (ib. 1 Kings 6:38); but, as do the late parts of Kings (1 Kings 12:32-33 [compiler], 2 Kings 25:1; 2 Kings 25:3; 2 Kings 25:8; 2 Kings 25:25; 2 Kings 25:27), Jer. (Jeremiah 1:3, Jeremiah 28:1; Jeremiah 28:17, Jeremiah 36:22 al.), Ezek. (Ezekiel 1:1, Ezekiel 8:1 al.), Hag. (Haggai 1:1; Haggai 1:15, Haggai 2:1), Zech. (Zechariah 1:1; Zechariah 1:7, Zechariah 7:1; Zechariah 7:3), and Chron., denotes them by numbers (1 Chronicles 16:1; 1 Chronicles 19:1; Leviticus 16:29, &c.). The old Hebrew year began in autumn (Exodus 23:16; cf. Exodus 34:22, 1 Samuel 1:20); and P here refers the later custom of beginning it in spring (see Jeremiah 36:22) to the time of the institution of the Passover in Egypt. The Bab. year began in spring; but whether the Hebrew custom was due to Bab. influence is uncertain. The earliest clear cases of the Heb. year beginning in spring are in the dates quoted above from Kings and Jer.; but 2 Kings 19:29 (= Isaiah 37:30) perhaps pre-supposes it. As the passages from Kings and Jer. shew, the reckoning from spring was more than a merely ecclesiastical calendar, it was used also for dating civil events. See further Nowack, Arch. i. 217 ff. DB. iv. 764; EB. iv. 5365 f.; König, ZDMG. lvi. (1906), p. 624 ff. There is a survival in P of the old mode of reckoning in the first day of the seventh month being celebrated as New Year’s day (Leviticus 23:24).

Verse 2 - This month shall be unto you the beginning of months. The Israelite year would seem to have hitherto commenced with the autumnal equinox (Exodus 23:16), or at any rate with the month Tisri (or Ethanim), which corresponded to our October. Henceforth two reckonings were employed, one for sacred, the other for civil purposes, the first month of each year, sacred or civil, being the seventh month of the other. Abib, "the month of ears" - our April, nearly - became now the first month of the ecclesiastical year, while Tisri became its seventh or sabbatical month. It is remarkable that neither the Egyptians nor the Babylonians agreed with the original Israelite practice, the Egyptians commencing their year with Thoth, or July; and the Babylonians and Assyrians theirs with Nisannu, or April. Exodus 12:2By the words, "in the land of Egypt," the law of the Passover which follows is brought into connection with the giving of the law at Sinai and in the fields of Moab, and is distinguished in relation to the former as the first or foundation law for the congregation of Jehovah. The creation of Israel as the people of Jehovah (Isaiah 43:15) commenced with the institution of the Passover. As a proof of this, it was preceded by the appointment of a new era, fixing the commencement of the congregation of Jehovah. "This month" (i.e., the present in which ye stand) "be to you the head (i.e., the beginning) of the months, the first let it be to you for the months of the year;" i.e., let the numbering of the months, and therefore the year also, begin with it. Consequently the Israelites had hitherto had a different beginning to their year, probably only a civil year, commencing with the sowing, and ending with the termination of the harvest (cf. Exodus 23:16); whereas the Egyptians most likely commenced their year with the overflowing of the Nile at the summer solstice (cf. Lepsius, Chron. 1, pp. 148ff.). The month which was henceforth to be the first of the year, and is frequently so designated (Exodus 40:2, Exodus 40:17; Leviticus 23:5, etc.), is called Abib (the ear-month) in Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:1, because the corn was then in ear; after the captivity it was called Nisan (Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7). It corresponds very nearly to our April.
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