That you shall set apart to the LORD all that opens the matrix, and every firstling that comes of a beast which you have; the males shall be the LORD's.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Thou shalt set apart—i.e., separate off from the rest of the flock or herd, that it might not be mixed up with those which were not “sanctified.”Exodus 13:12. Every firstling of a beast shall be the Lord’s — That is, every firstling male of a clean beast, as of the cow, sheep, or goat kind, was to be offered in sacrifice; and the blood being sprinkled, and the fat burned on the altar, the flesh of them was to be given to the priests, Numbers 18:17-18.Deuteronomy 6:7-8, Moses adopted this custom, he would take care to warn the people against the Egyptian superstition of amulets. Modern Israelites generally allege this precept as a justification for the use of phylacteries. Thou shalt set apart, i. e. separate it from the rest, resign thy right in it to God. Heb.
Cause it to pass, not through the fire, as that verb is used, Deu 18:10 2 Kings 16:3; but under the rod, as it is used, and more fully expressed, Leviticus 27:32, which was the rite when any thing was separated and consecrated to God.
The males shall be the Lord’s, devoted to him, either to be sacrificed, if it was clean, or to be otherwise destroyed, if it was unclean, as it here follows. Exodus 13:2, and this phrase, "set apart", explains the word "sanctify" there, and shows that it signifies the separating of such to the use and service of God, causing it to "pass", as the word (d) here used signifies, from a man's own power and use, to be the Lord's only:
and every firstling that cometh from a beast which thou hast; or "even every firstling" (e), explaining what is meant by what opens the matrix or womb, even every firstborn of a beast; though Jarchi interprets it of an abortion, what comes before its time, that this also should be set apart to the Lord; this must be understood of the firstlings of clean creatures, fit for food and sacrifice, such as the firstlings of cows, sheep, and goats, Numbers 18:17 as distinguished from unclean ones in the following verse:
the males shall be the Lord's; which explains what sort of firstborn of man and beast were to be set apart for his use, not females, though the first that opened the womb; but males.That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD's.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)12. thou shalt cause to pass over unto Jehovah] The word is not the ordinary Heb. for ‘set apart’; and its use here is remarkable. In Numbers 27:7 f. (P), cf. 2 Samuel 3:10, it is indeed used in the simple sense of transferring or making over (an inheritance): but it is also the word regularly used of causing to pass over children in fire to Molech (2 Kings 16:3, Ezekiel 20:31 al.), and with ‘to Molech’ alone, Leviticus 18:21 (H), Jeremiah 32:35, cf. Ezekiel 16:21; Ezekiel 23:37 (‘to them,’ i.e. to the idols), an esp. Exodus 20:25-26 (the same expression as here) ‘in that they caused to pass over (viz. in the fire) all that first openeth the womb.’ It may be (cf., p. 409) that this heathen practice determined the use of the same verb here: Jehovah claimed the firstborn; and the Israelite was to cause his firstborn to pass over to Him: the child was not, however, retained by Him, or offered to Him as a sacrifice, but was to be ‘redeemed’ by its father (v. 13).
and every firstling, &c.] lit. and all that first openeth [the womb], (even) the casting (שגר) of beasts, that thou shalt have: shéger (the root is preserved in the Aram. shegar, to ‘cast’), denotes a newly born animal, Deuteronomy 7:13; Deuteronomy 28:4; Deuteronomy 28:18; Deuteronomy 28:51 †. The ‘beasts’ meant (as the parallel, Exodus 34:19, states explicitly) are ox and sheep.Verse 12. - Set apart. The expression is especially appropriate to the case of first-born animals, which would have to be separated off from the rest of the flock, or of the herd, and "put aside" for Jehovah, so as not to be mixed up and confounded with the other lambs, kids, and calves. The males shall be the Lord's. This limitation, implied in verse 2, is here brought prominently into notice. Exodus 12:15-20) were made known by Moses to the people on the day of the exodus, at the first station, namely, Succoth; but in the account of this, only the most important points are repeated, and the yearly commemoration is enjoined. In Exodus 13:3, Egypt is called a "slave-house," inasmuch as Israel was employed in slave-labour there, and treated as a slave population (cf. Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 5:6; Deuteronomy 6:12, etc.). יד הזק "strength of hand," in Exodus 13:3, Exodus 13:14, and Exodus 13:16, is more emphatic than the more usual חזקה יד (Exodus 3:19, etc.). - On Exodus 13:5, see Exodus 3:8, and Exodus 12:25. In Exodus 13:6, the term "feast to Jehovah" points to the keeping of the seventh day by a holy convocation and the suspension of work (Exodus 12:16). It is only of the seventh day that this is expressly stated, because it was understood as a matter of course, that the first was a feast of Jehovah.
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