Exodus 12:5
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
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(5) Without blemish.—Natural piety teaches that we must not “offer the blind, the lame, or the sick for sacrifice” (Malachi 1:8). We must give to (God of our best. The Law emphasized this teaching, and here, on the first occasion when a sacrifice was formally appointed, required it to be absolutely without blemish of any kind. Afterwards the requirement was made general (Leviticus 22:19-25). It was peculiarly fitting that the Paschal offering should be without defect of any kind, as especially typifying “the Lamb of God,” who is “holy, harmless, undefiled”—a “lamb without spot.”

A male.—Males were reckoned superior to females, and were especially appropriate here, since the victim represented the firstborn male in each house.

Of the first year—i.e., not above a year old. As children are most innocent when young, so even animals were thought to be.

Exodus 12:5. Your lamb shall be without blemish — Shall be perfect, as the Hebrew is, that is, in all its parts. This was a qualification indispensably requisite in all sacrifices: Leviticus 22:20-24. Even the heathen, in the worship of their false gods, were particular in this circumstance. A male — Because the males were accounted more excellent, and their flesh better than that of females. Of the first year — Under a year old, not above: for the lamb, as also a kid and calf, was fit for sacrifice at eight days old, but not before, Exodus 22:30. And the same law was observed in the daily sacrifice, Exodus 29:38. They were not to be offered before the eighth day, “because,” says Bochart, “till then they have hardly attained to the perfection of animal life, and are not sufficiently purified.” He adds, “they were not to be offered after the first year, because then they begin to feel the heat of libidinous appetite, and consequently are not fit emblems of purity and innocence.”

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.Without blemish - This is in accordance with the general rule (margin reference): although in this case there is a special reason, since the lamb was in place of the firstborn male in each household. The restriction to the first year is unique, and refers apparently to the condition of perfect innocence in the antitype, the Lamb of God. 5. lamb … without blemish—The smallest deformity or defect made a lamb unfit for sacrifice—a type of Christ (Heb 7:26; 1Pe 1:19).

a male of the first year—Christ in the prime of life.

Without blemish; without any deformity or distemper of body. Heb. perfect. Of which see Leviticus 22:21, &c.; Deu 15:21 17:1. And this the very light of nature taught the heathens to observe in their sacrifices. This property was required both to typify Christ, a Lamb without spot or blemish, Hebrews 9:14 1 Peter 1:19, and to instruct us that all our services to God must be as perfect as possibly may be.

A male, partly because that was better and more perfect than the female, whence a male is opposed to a corrupt thing, Malachi 1:14; and partly to typify the man Christ Jesus.

Of the first year, i.e. a year old, when it is in its rigour and perfection, and the fittest type of Christ. Most explain it thus, That it was not to be more than a year old, but it might be much less, seeing it might be offered to God any time after it was eight days old, Exodus 22:30 Leviticus 22:27. But though it was then fit to be offered to God, it was not very fit to be eaten by men. And the Hebrew phrase, the son of a year, seems to require a year’s age, as Saul is called the son of one year, 1 Samuel 13:1, when he had reigned one whole year. And it is remarkable, that he doth not say the son of this or that year, which might agree to one brought forth that year, though it was much younger than a year, but the son of a year, without any restrictive article.

Or from the goats; Heb. and from the goats: if you want a lamb, you shall take a kid of or from the goats. But the particle and is here well rendered or, as it is used Genesis 13:8 Exodus 21:17, compared with Matthew 15:4 Psalm 8:4, compared with Hebrews 2:6.

Your lamb shall be without blemish,.... Without any spot or defect in it. Maimonides (h) reckons no less than fifty blemishes in a creature, anyone of which makes it unfit for sacrifice, see Leviticus 21:21. This lamb was a type of Christ, who is therefore said to be our passover sacrificed for us, 1 Corinthians 5:7 comparable to a lamb for his innocence and harmlessness, for his meekness, humility, and patience, for usefulness both for food and raiment, as well as for being fit for sacrifice; and who is a lamb without spot and blemish, either of original sin, or actual transgression, holy in his nature, harmless in his life:

a male of the first year; anyone within that time, but not beyond it; denoting the strength and vigour of Christ, in the flower of his age, his short continuance among men, and his being tender and savoury food for the faith of his people:

ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats; it might be either a lamb, or a kid of the goats; for the most part, or generally, it was a lamb that was taken; so the Jewish canon runs (i),"he that says to his servant, go and slay for me the passover, if he slays a kid he may eat it; if he slays a lamb he may eat of it; if he slays a kid and a lamb, he may eat of the first.''The goat being of an ill smell may denote Christ being made sin, and a sin offering for his people; and the taking of a lamb from these may signify the choice of Christ from among the people in the council and covenant of God; the preordination of him to be the lamb slain from the foundation of the world; the preservation of him from the infection of sin in his incarnation, and the separation of him from sinners in his conversation.

(h) Hilchot Biath Hamikdash, c. 7. sect. 1.((i) Misn. Pesach. c. 8. sect. 2.

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
5. Characteristics of the animal chosen: it is to be (1) without blemish (like sacrificial animals in general, Deuteronomy 17:1, Leviticus 22:19; Leviticus 22:21 [H]); (2) a male, as superior to a female, and therefore more appropriate as an offering to Jehovah (so for burnt-offerings, in H and P, Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 1:10; Leviticus 22:19 : for peace- and sin-offerings females were allowed); (3) one year old (cf. the same regulation Exodus 29:38, Leviticus 9:3, and elsewhere); (4) either a lamb or a kid (cf. on v. 3); later usage declared in favour of a lamb.

of the first year] Heb. ‘the son of a year.’ The meaning is disputed. The Rabbis interpret of the first year, i.e. from 8 days old (Leviticus 22:27 H) to a full year; modern commentators generally, a year old (LXX. ἐνιαύσιος). The Hebrew idiom (of human beings as well as of animals) occurs constantly (Genesis 21:4-5; Genesis 25:26, &c.): the same age as here is appointed for sacrifices, esp. for burnt-offerings, Leviticus 9:3; Leviticus 12:6 (‘a son of its year’), Exodus 23:12; Exodus 23:18-19, and elsewhere.

Verse 5. Your lamb shall be without blemish. Natural piety would teach that "the blind, the lame, and the sick" should not be selected for sacrifice (Malachi 1:8). The Law afterwards expressly forbade any blemished animals - "blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed" - to be offered for any of the stated sacrifices, though they might be given as free-will offerings (Leviticus 22:20-25). The absence of blemish was especially important in a victim which was to typify One "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." A male. As standing in place of and redeeming the first-born of the males in each family. Of the first year. Perhaps as then more approaching to the ideal of perfect innocence. The requirement was not a usual one. Or from the goats. Theodoret says the proviso was made for the relief of the poorer class of persons; but practically it seems not to have taken effect. When people were poor, their richer neighbours supplied them with lambs (Kalisch). Exodus 12:5The kind of lamb: תּמים integer, uninjured, without bodily fault, like all the sacrifices (Leviticus 22:19-20); a male like the burnt-offerings (Leviticus 1:3, Leviticus 1:11); שׁנה בּן one year old (ἐνιαύσιος, lxx). This does not mean "standing in the first year, viz., from the eighth day of its life to the termination of the first year" (Rabb. Cler., etc.), a rule which applied to the other sacrifices only (Exodus 22:29; Leviticus 22:27). The opinion expressed by Ewald and others, that oxen were also admitted at a later period, is quite erroneous, and cannot be proved from Deuteronomy 16:2, or 2 Chronicles 30:24 and 2 Chronicles 35:7. As the lamb was intended as a sacrifice (Exodus 12:27), the characteristics were significant. Freedom from blemish and injury not only befitted the sacredness of the purpose to which they were devoted, but was a symbol of the moral integrity of the person represented by the sacrifice. It was to be a male, as taking the place of the male first-born of Israel; and a year old, because it was not till then that it reached the full, fresh vigour of its life. "Ye shall take it out from the sheep or from the goats:" i.e.,, as Theodoret explains it, "He who has a sheep, let him slay it; and he who has no sheep, let him take a goat." Later custom restricted the choice to the lamb alone; though even in the time of Josiah kids were still used as well (2 Chronicles 25:7).
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