Exodus 12:8
And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
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(8) Roast with fire.—Roasting is the simplest, the easiest, and the most primitive mode of cooking meat. It was also the only mode open to all the Hebrews, since the generality would not possess cauldrons large enough to receive an entire lamb. Further, the requirement put a difference between this and other victims, which were generally cut up and boiled (1Samuel 2:14-15).

Unleavened bread . . . bitter herbs.—As partaking of the lamb typified feeding on Christ, so the putting away of leaven and eating unleavened bread signified the putting away of all defilement and corruption ere we approach Christ to feed on Him (1Corinthians 5:8). As for the bitter herbs, they probably represented “self-denial” or “repentance”—fitting concomitants of the holy feast, where the Lamb of God is our food. At any rate, they were a protest against that animalism which turns a sacred banquet into a means of gratifying the appetite (1Corinthians 11:20-22).

Exodus 12:8-9. Eat it not raw — Nor half dressed; but roast with fire — Not only because it might be sooner roasted than boiled, and they were in haste to be gone; but because it was thus the better type of him who endured the fierceness of divine wrath for us, Lamentations 1:13. Unleavened bread — Partly to remind them of their hardships in Egypt, unleavened bread being more heavy and unsavoury; and partly to commemorate their hasty deliverance, which did not allow them time to leaven it, Exodus 12:39;

Deuteronomy 16:3. But as the original word for unleavened signifies pure, unmixed, uncorrupted, leaven being a kind of corruption, the use of unleavened bread, no doubt, was enjoined to show them the necessity of sincerity and uprightness: to which quality of leaven the apostle alludes, Galatians 5:2, and 1 Corinthians 5:8. With bitter herbs — To remind them of their Egyptian bondage, which made their lives bitter to them.

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.In that night - The night is thus clearly distinguished from the evening when the lamb was slain. It was slain before sunset, on the 14th, and eaten after sunset, the beginning of the 15th.

With fire - Among various reasons given for this injunction the most probable and satisfactory seems to be the special sanctity attached to fire from the first institution of sacrifice (compare Genesis 4:4).

And unleavened bread - On account of the hasty departure, allowing no time for the process of leavening: but the meaning discerned by Paul, 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, and recognized by the Church in all ages, was assuredly implied, though not expressly declared in the original institution. Compare our Lord's words, Matthew 16:6, Matthew 16:12, as to the symbolism of leaven.

Bitter herbs - The word occurs only here and in Numbers 9:11, in reference to herbs. The symbolic reference to the previous sufferings of the Israelites is generally admitted.

8. roast with fire—for the sake of expedition; and this difference was always observed between the cooking of the paschal lamb and the other offerings (2Ch 35:13).

unleavened bread—also for the sake of despatch (De 16:3), but as a kind of corruption (Lu 12:1) there seems to have been a typical meaning under it (1Co 5:8).

bitter herbs—literally, "bitters"—to remind the Israelites of their affliction in Egypt, and morally of the trials to which God's people are subject on account of sin.

In that night, i.e. the night following the fourteenth, and beginning the fifteenth day. The lamb was killed upon the fourteenth day, in the evening or close thereof, but it was eaten upon the fifteenth day, to wit, in the beginning of it; whence the passover is said to be offered sometimes upon the fourteenth, and sometimes upon the fifteenth day, which may serve for the reconciliation of some seemingly contrary scriptures.

Roast with fire; partly for expedition, Exodus 12:11; and principally to be a type of the Lamb of God, Christ, and of the sharp and dreadful pains which he suffered, not only from men, but from God too, and from the fire of his sore displeasure against sinners, whose place and person Christ sustained in his sufferings.

Unleavened bread; partly, as a monument of their speedy departure out of Egypt, which gave them not time to leaven their bread, Exodus 12:34, which is the reason alleged for it, Deu 16:3; partly, to teach us how men should be qualified that come to the sacrament, they should be purged from error, and pride, and malice, and hypocrisy, which are called and compared to leaven, Matthew 16:6,11 Lu 12:1 1 Corinthians 5:8; and partly, to signify the singular purity of Christ from all kind of spiritual leaven.

And with bitter herbs; both to remind them of their hard service and bitter usage in Egypt, Exodus 1:14, from which God delivered them, Deu 16:3; and to prefigure the further crosses and troubles which they were to expect between their going out of Egypt and coming to Canaan. Or, with bitternesses, i.e. with great bitterness, or with grief of heart, that together with faith in God and in Christ, and hope and joy for their approaching deliverance, they might exercise bitter and hearty repentance for their idolatries, and other sinful practices whereof they were guilty in Egypt. And this instructs us as well as them of the absolute necessity of true and bitter repentance in all those that would profitably feed upon Christ our Passover.

And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire,.... The night of the fourteenth of Nisan; and as the Jews reckoned their days from the evening preceding, this must be the beginning of the fifteenth day, which being observed, will serve to reconcile some passages relating to this ordinance. The lamb was to be roasted, not only because its flesh thereby would be more palatable and savoury, but because soonest dressed that way, their present circumstances requiring haste; but chiefly to denote the sufferings of Christ, the antitype of it, when he endured the wrath of God, poured out as fire upon him; and also to show, that he is to be fed upon by faith, which works by love, or to be received with hearts inflamed with love to him:

and unleavened bread; this also was to be eaten at the same time, and for seven days running, even to the twenty first day of the month, Exodus 12:15, where see more concerning this: the reason of this also was, because they were then in haste, and could not stay to leaven the dough that was in their troughs; and was significative of the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, with which the true passover lamb is to be eaten, in opposition to the leaven of error, hypocrisy, and malice, 1 Corinthians 5:7,

and with bitter herbs they shall eat it; the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "with wild lettuces", which are very bitter; and the worst sort of which, for bitterness, Pliny says (p), is what they call "picris", which has its name from the bitterness of it, and is the same by which the Septuagint render the word here: the Targum of Jonathan is,"with horehound and endive they shall eat it;''and so the Targum on Sol 2:9. Wild endive; of which Pliny says (q), there is a wild endive, which in Egypt they call cichory, and bids fair to be one of these herbs; according to the Misnah (r) and Maimonides (s), there were five sorts of them, and anyone, or all of them, might be eaten; their names with both are these, Chazoreth, Ulshin, Thamcah, Charcabinah, and Maror; the four first of which may be the wild lettuce, endive, horehound, or perhaps "tansie"; and cichory the last. Maror has its name from bitterness, and is by the Misnic commentators (t) said to be a sort of the most bitter coriander; it seems to be the same with "picris": but whatever they were, for it is uncertain what they were, they were expressive of the bitter afflictions of the children of Israel in Egypt, with which their lives were made bitter; and of those bitter afflictions and persecutions in the world, which they that will live godly in Christ Jesus must expect to endure; as well as they may signify that as a crucified Christ must be looked upon, and lived upon by faith, so with mourning and humiliation for sin, and with true repentance for it as an evil and bitter thing, see Zechariah 12:10.

(p) Nat. Hist. l. 19. c. 8. & 21. 17. & 32. 22. (q) Ibid. (r) Misn. Pesach. c. 2. sect. 6. (s) Hilchot, Chametz Umetzah, c. 7. sect. 13. (t) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Pesach. ut supra. (c. 2. sect. 6.)

And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
8. in that (Heb. this) night] the night between the 14th and the 15th.

roast with fire] over the fire, on a spit, not in an oven.

unleavened cakes] not ‘bread,’ for the Heb. word is plural. They were a kind of biscuit, which could be baked rapidly, as for an unexpected visitor (Genesis 19:3, Jdg 6:19-21, 1 Samuel 28:24), or when there was no time to use leaven (below, v. 39); and they are still the ordinary food of the Bedawin. They were used in other ritual besides that of the Passover (v. 15, Exodus 29:2, Leviticus 2:4; Leviticus 7:12, Numbers 6:15 al.). Unleavened cakes are now usually made in Syria by the thin dough being clapped on to the heated interior side of the tannûr (Exodus 8:3), after the embers have been removed: they may be thinner than pasteboard, and 1–1½ ft. in diameter (EB. s.v. Bread; L. and B. iii. 219). The unleavened cakes made by modern Jews for the Passover are round, about ¼ in. thick, and 12 in. in diameter (Jewish Encycl. viii. 394). For the probable reason why leavened bread was avoided, see on Exodus 23:18 a. In Deuteronomy 16:3 the unleavened cakes (of the Passover and Maẓẓoth together) are called the ‘bread of affliction,’ and explained symbolically as a memorial of the mingled hurry and alarm (ḥippâẓôn) with which the Israelites left Egypt (cf. below, vv. 11, 34, 39), and as adapted to lead Israel to a grateful recollection of its deliverance.

bitter herbs] only besides Numbers 9:11 (also of the Passover); and Lamentations 3:15 (fig. of severe suffering). LXX. πικρίδες, which is differently explained by the ancients (see Kn. ap. Di.; Nowack, Arch. ii. 173) as meaning either wild lettuce (cf. Vulg. lạctuca agrestis) or wild endive,—both plants indigenous in Egypt and Syria. The Mishna (Pes. ii. 6) mentions five species of herbs any one of which would satisfy the present injunction: lettuce, wild endive, garden endive (?), nettles, and bitter coriander (?). The intention of the bitter herbs is uncertain: perhaps they were meant simply as a condiment, or salad: the later Jews (Gamaliel in Pesâḥim Exodus 10:5; Rashi) explained them as a memorial of the Israelites’ lives being ‘made bitter’ in bondage (ch. Exodus 1:14).

Verse 8. - Roast with fire. The meat of sacrificial meals was commonly boiled by the Hebrews (1 Samuel 2:14, 15). The command to roast the Paschal lamb is accounted for:

1. By its being a simpler and quicker process than boiling;

2. By a special sanctity being regarded as attaching to fire;

3. By the difficulty of cooking the animal whole unless it were roasted. Justin Martyr's statement that for roasting two wooden spits were required, placed at right angles the one to the other, and thus extending the victim on a cross, will seem to many a better ground for the direction than any of these. And unleavened bread. See below, ver. 18. With bitter herbs. Literally, "with bitternesses." That herbs, or vegetables of some kind, are intended, there is no reasonable doubt. The Mishna enumerates endive, chicory, wild lettuce, and nettles among the herbs that might be eaten. It is a strange notion of Kurtz's, that the bitter herbs were a condiment, and "communicated a more agreeable flavour to the food." Undoubtedly they were a disagreeable accompaniment, and represented at once the bitterness of the Egyptian bondage (Exodus 1:14) and the need of self-denial, if we would feed on Christ. Exodus 12:8With regard to the preparation of the lamb for the meal, the following directions were given: "They shall eat the lamb in that night" (i.e., the night following the 14th), and none of it נא ("underdone" or raw), or בּשׁל ("boiled," - lit., done, viz., בּמּים מבשּׁל, done in water, i.e., boiled, as בּשׁל does not mean to be boiled, but to become ripe or done, Joel 3:13); "but roasted with fire, even its head on (along with) its thighs and entrails;" i.e., as Rashi correctly explains it, "undivided or whole, so that neither head nor thighs were cut off, and not a bone was broken (Exodus 12:46), and the viscera were roasted in the belly along with the entrails," the latter, of course, being first of all cleansed. On כּרעים and קרב see Leviticus 1:9. These regulations are all to be regarded from one point of view. The first two, neither underdone nor boiled, were connected with the roasting of the animal whole. As the roasting no doubt took place on a spit, since the Israelites while in Egypt can hardly have possessed such ovens of their own, as are prescribed in the Talmud and are met with in Persia, the lamb would be very likely to be roasted imperfectly, or underdone, especially in the hurry that must have preceded the exodus (Exodus 12:11). By boiling, again, the integrity of the animal would have been destroyed, partly through the fact that it could never have been got into a pot whole, as the Israelites had no pots or kettles sufficiently large, and still more through the fact that, in boiling, the substance of the flesh is more or less dissolved. For it is very certain that the command to roast was not founded upon the hurry of the whole procedure, as a whole animal could be quite as quickly boiled as roasted, if not even more quickly, and the Israelites must have possessed the requisite cooking utensils. It was to be roasted, in order that it might be placed upon the table undivided and essentially unchanged. "Through the unity and integrity of the lamb given them to eat, the participants were to be joined into an undivided unity and fellowship with the Lord, who had provided them with the meal" (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:17).

(Note: See my Archologie i. p. 386. Baehr (Symb. 2, 635) has given the true explanation: "By avoiding the breaking of the bones, the animal was preserved in complete integrity, undisturbed and entire (Psalm 34:20). The sacrificial lamb to be eaten was to be thoroughly and perfectly whole, and at the time of eating was to appear as a perfect whole, and therefore as one; for it is not what is dissected, divided, broken in pieces, but only what is whole, that is eo ipso one. There was not other reason for this, than that all who took part in this one whole animal, i.e., all who ate of it, should look upon themselves as one whole, one community, like those who eat the New Testament Passover, the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7), of whom the apostle says (1 Corinthians 10:17), "There is one bread, and so we, being many, are one body: for we are all partakers of one body." The preservation of Christ, so that not a bone was broken, had the same signification; and God ordained this that He might appear as the true paschal lamb, that was slain for the sins of the world.")

They were to eat it with מצות (ἄζυμα, azymi panes; lxx, Vulg.), i.e., (not sweet, or parched, but) pure loaves, nor fermented with leaven; for leaven, which sets the dough in fermentation, and so produces impurity, was a natural symbol of moral corruption, and was excluded from the sacrifices therefore as defiling (Leviticus 2:11).

"Over (upon) bitter herbs they shall eat it." מררים, πικρίδες (lxx), lactucae agrestes (Vulg.), probably refers to various kinds of bitter herbs. Πικρίς, according to Aristot. Hist. an. 9, 6, and Plin. h. n. 8, 41, is the same as lactuca silvestris, or wild lettuce; but in Dioscor. 2, 160, it is referred to as the wild σέρις or κιχώριον, i.e., wild endive, the intubus or intubum of the Romans. As lettuce and endive are indigenous in Egypt, and endive is also met with in Syria from the beginning of the winter months to the end of March, and lettuce in April and May, it is to these herbs of bitter flavor that the term merorim chiefly applies; though others may also be included, as the Arabs apply the same term to Scorzonera orient., Picris scabra, Sonclus oler., Hieracium uniflor., and others (Forsk. flor. cxviii. and 143); and in the Mishnah, Pes. 2, 6, five different varieties of bitter herbs are reckoned as merorim, though it is difficult to determine what they are (cf. Bochart, Hieroz. 1, pp. 691ff., and Cels. Hierobot. ii. p. 727). By על (upon) the bitter herbs are represented, both here and in Numbers 9:11, not as an accompaniment to the meat, but as the basis of the meal. על does not signify along with, or indicate accompaniment, not even in Exodus 35:22; but in this and other similar passages it still retains its primary signification, upon or over. It is only used to signify accompaniment in cases where the ideas of protection, meditation, or addition are prominent. If, then, the bitter herbs are represented in this passage as the basis of the meal, and the unleavened bread also in Numbers 9:11, it is evident that the bitter herbs were not intended to be regarded as a savoury accompaniment, by which more flavour was imparted to the sweeter food, but had a more profound signification. The bitter herbs were to call to mind the bitterness of life experienced by Israel in Egypt (Exodus 1:14), and this bitterness was to be overpowered by the sweet flesh of the lamb. In the same way the unleavened loaves are regarded as forming part of the substance of the meal in Numbers 9:11, in accordance with their significance in relation to it (vid., Exodus 12:15). There is no discrepancy between this and Deuteronomy 16:3, where the mazzoth are spoken of as an accompaniment to the flesh of the sacrifice; for the allusion there is not to the eating of the paschal lamb, but to sacrificial meals held during the seven days' festival.

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