Exodus 12:4
And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
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(4) If the household be too little for the lamb.—There would be cases where the family would not be large enough to consume an entire lamb at a sitting. Where this was so, men were to club with their neighbours, either two small families joining together, or a large family drafting off some of its members to bring up the numbers of a small one. According to Josephus (Bell. Jud., vi. 9, § 3), ten was the least number regarded as sufficient, while twenty was not considered too many.

Every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.—Rather, shall ye count. In determining the number for any given Paschal meal, ye shall “count men according to their eating,” admitting more or fewer, as they are likely to consume less or more.

Exodus 12:4. If the household be too little — The Hebrew doctors tell us, that there were not to be fewer than ten persons, nor more than twenty, to the eating of one lamb. And at this sacred repast, men, women, and children, masters and servants, if circumcised, were entertained.

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.Tradition specifies ten as the least number; but the matter was probably left altogether to the discretion of the heads of families.

The last clause should be rendered: "each man, according to his eating, ye shall count for the lamb."

4. if the household be too little for the lamb, &c.—It appears from Josephus that ten persons were required to make up the proper paschal communion.

every man according to his eating—It is said that the quantity eaten of the paschal lamb, by each individual, was about the size of an olive.

Too little for the lamb, i.e. for the eating of the whole lamb at one meal, according to the rule, Exodus 12:8,10; if the persons be so few that they cannot eat it up without gluttony.

Take it; or rather thus, word for word, And, or Then he (the master of that family) shall take also his neighbour next unto his house; he shall take him and his family into society with himself; they shall join together.

To the number of the souls, or persons, i.e. as the two families shall consist of more or fewer persons. I suppose the meaning is, that if his next neighbour’s family were of itself sufficient for the eating of the whole lamb, that he should pass over that to the next small family, which being joined with his might make up a fit number, which, as the Hebrew doctors tell us, was ten, besides women and children.

According to his eating, i.e. according to the proportion which he can or commonly doth eat. The meaning is this, The whole lamb being to be eaten at once, and a sufficient number being necessary to that end, and there being great variety in men’s stomachs and meals, they were to give allowance for that, and to take either more or fewer persons, as their stomachs were better or worse.

And if the household be too little for the lamb,.... That they cannot eat it up at once:

let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; which Josephus (e) says were never fewer than ten, and were often twenty, but no man might feast alone; with which agrees the Jewish canon (f),"they do not kill the passover lamb for a single person, nor even for a society consisting of one hundred, that cannot eat the quantity of an olive:"

every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb: that is, a man must reckon up how many he has in his own house to eat of the lamb, and what their appetites be, by which he will he able to judge whether he can dispense with a lamb himself, or whether he must take in some of his neighbours, and how many, so as to eat up the whole lamb, for, for such persons the lamb was to be slain. The rule is,"if a man slays it for those that do not eat of it, or for those that are not counted, for the uncircumcised, and the unclean, it was wrong, and not allowed of (g).''The taking in his neighbours may respect the call of the Gentiles to partake of Christ with the Jews, see Ephesians 3:5.

(e) De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 9. sect. 3.((f) Misn. Pesach. c. 8. sect. 7. (g) lbid. c. 5. sect. 3.

And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his {d} eating shall make your count for the lamb.

(d) He will take as many as are needed to eat the lamb.

4. too little for a lamb] According to the later Jews, fewer than ten (cf. Jos. BJ. vi. 9. 3; and Targ. Ps.-Jon. here), in accordance with the Rabb. exegesis of Numbers 14:27, that ten was the smallest number the could constitute a ‘congregation’ (the ‘congregation’ there being interpreted of the ten murmuring spies).

according to every man’s eating, &c.] In determining the number of persons sufficient for one lamb, you are to be guided by the usual measure or amount of their eating,—according, for example, as they are adults or children, healthy or infirm, &c.

Verse 4. - If the household be too little for the lamb - i.e., "too few to consume it at a sitting." Usage in course of time fixed the minimum number at ten. (Joseph. Bell. Jud. 6:9, § 3.) The whole family, men, women and children participated. The lamb was generally slain between the ninth hour (3 p.m.) and the eleventh (5 p.m.). Let him and his neighbour take it according to the number of the souls. If there were a household of only five, which could not possibly consume the lamb, any large neighbouring family was to send five or six of its number, to make up the deficiency. Every man according to his eating, etc. It is difficult to see what sense our translators intended. The real direction is that, in providing a proper number of guests, consideration should be had of the amount which they would be likely to eat. Children and the very aged were not to be reckoned as if they were men in the vigour of life. Translate - "Each man according to his eating shall ye count towards the lamb." Exodus 12:4But if "the house be too small for a lamb" (lit., "small from the existence of a lamb," מן comparative: משּׂה היות is an existence which receives its purpose from the lamb, which answers to that purpose, viz., the consumption of the lamb, i.e., if a family is not numerous enough to consume a lamb), "let him (the house-father) and his nearest neighbour against his house take (sc., a lamb) according to the calculation of the persons." מכסה computatio (Leviticus 27:23), from כּסס computare; and מכס, the calculated amount or number (Numbers 31:28): it only occurs in the Pentateuch. "Every one according to the measure of his eating shall ye reckon for the lamb:" i.e., in deciding whether several families had to unite, in order to consume one lamb, they were to estimate how much each person would be likely to eat. Consequently more than two families might unite for this purpose, when they consisted simply of the father and mother and little children. A later custom fixed ten as the number of persons to each paschal lamb; and Jonathan has interpolated this number into the text of his Targum.
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