Exodus 13:14
And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage:
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13:11-16 The firstlings of beast not used in sacrifice, were to be changed for others so used, or they were to be destroyed. Our souls are forfeited to God's justice, and unless ransomed by the sacrifice of Christ, will certainly perish. These institutions would continually remind them of their duty, to love and serve the Lord. In like manner, baptism and the Lord's supper, if explained and attended to, would remind us, and give us occasion to remind one another of our profession and duty.An ass - The ass could not be offered in sacrifice, being an unclean animal: possibly the only unclean animal domesticated among the Israelites at the time of the Exodus. This principle was extended to every unclean beast; see Numbers 18:15.

Thou shalt redeem - The lamb, or sheep, was given to the priest for the service of the sanctuary.

Firstborn of man - The price of redemption was fixed at five shekels of the sanctuary: Numbers 3:47, where see the note.

12, 13. every firstling, &c.—the injunction respecting the consecration of the first-born, as here repeated, with some additional circumstances. The firstlings of clean beasts, such as lambs, kids, and calves, if males, were to be devoted to God and employed in sacrifice. Those unclean beasts, as the ass's colt, being unfit for sacrifice, were to be redeemed (Nu 18:15). Which is added to teach parents in all succeeding ages, that it is their duty to instruct their children in the word and works of God, and in the nature and reasons of every particular kind or part of God’s worship and service. See Deu 15:5 Psalm 66:4 Hosea 2:14.

And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come,.... Or "on the morrow" (h), the day following such a separation of the firstborn of clean creatures, or such a redemption of the firstborn of unclean ones, and of man, or in any later time:

saying, what is this? what is the meaning of this? for what reason are such things done?

that thou shall say unto him, by strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt from the house of bondage: by laying his mighty hand upon the firstborn of Egypt, and destroying them, which made the king of Egypt, and his people, willing to let Israel go; See Gill on Exodus 13:3.

(h) "eras", Pagninus, Montanus, Tiguriue version.

And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage:
14. in time to come] Heb. to-morrow: so Genesis 30:33, Deuteronomy 6:20, Joshua 4:6; Joshua 4:21; Joshua 22:24; Joshua 22:27-28 †.

By strength of hand, &c.] See on v. 3.

14–15. The children to be instructed (as in v. 8) on the meaning of the observance: it is a memorial of the deliverance from Egypt, and of Jehovah’s slaughter of the firstborn of the Egyptians at the time.

Verse 14. - When thy son asketh thee. Compare Exodus 12:26, and the comment ad loc. Exodus 13:14In Exodus 13:11-16, Moses communicated to the people the law briefly noticed in Exodus 13:2, respecting the sanctification of the first-born. This law was to come into force when Israel had taken possession of the promised land. Then everything which opened the womb was to be given up to the Lord. ליהוה העביר: to cause to pass over to Jehovah, to consecrate or give up to Him as a sacrifice (cf. Leviticus 18:21). In "all that openeth the womb" the first-born of both man and beast are included (Exodus 13:2). This general expression is then particularized in three clauses, commencing with וכל: (a) בּהמה cattle, i.e., oxen, sheep, and goats, as clean domestic animals, but only the males; (b) asses, as the most common of the unclean domestic animals, instead of the whole of these animals, Numbers 18:15; (c) the first-born of the children of Israel. The female first-born of man and beast were exempted from consecration. Of the clean animals the first-born male (פּטר abbreviated from רחם פּטר, and שׁגר from the Chaldee שׁגר to throw, the dropped young one) was to belong to Jehovah, i.e., to be sacrificed to Him (Exodus 13:15, and Numbers 18:17). This law is still further explained in Exodus 22:29, where it is stated that the sacrificing was not to take place till the eighth day after the birth; and in Deuteronomy 15:21-22, it is still further modified by the command, that an animal which had any fault, and was either blind or lame, was not to be sacrificed, but to be slain and eaten at home, like other edible animals. These two rules sprang out of the general instructions concerning the sacrificial animals. The first-born of the ass was to be redeemed with a male lamb or kid (שׂה, as at Exodus 12:3); and if not redeemed, it was to be killed. ערף: from ערף the nape, to break the neck (Deuteronomy 21:4, Deuteronomy 21:6). The first-born sons of Israel were also to be consecrated to Jehovah as a sacrifice; not indeed in the manner of the heathen, by slaying and burning upon the altar, but by presenting them to the Lord as living sacrifices, devoting all their powers of body and mind to His service. Inasmuch as the first birth represented all the births, the whole nation was to consecrate itself to Jehovah, and present itself as a priestly nation in the consecration of the first-born. But since this consecration had its foundation, not in nature, but in the grace of its call, the sanctification of the first birth cannot be deduced from the separation of the first-born to the priesthood. This view, which was very prevalent among early writers, has been thoroughly overthrown by Outram (de Sacrif. 1, c. 4) and Vitringa (observv. ii. c. 2, pp. 272ff.). As the priestly character of the nation did not give a title in itself to the administration of the priesthood within the theocracy, so the first-born were not eo ipso chosen as priests through their consecration to Jehovah. In what way they were to consecrate their life to the Lord, depended upon the appointment of the Lord, which was, that they were to perform the non-priestly work of the sanctuary, to be servants of the priests in their holy service. Even this work was afterwards transferred to the Levites (Numbers 3). At the same time the obligation was imposed upon the people to redeem their first-born sons from the service which was binding upon them, but was now transferred to the Levites, who were substituted for them; in other words, to pay five shekels of silver per head to the priesthood (Numbers 3:47; Numbers 18:16). In anticipation of this arrangement, which was to be introduced afterwards, the redemption (פּדה) of the male first-born is already established here. - On Exodus 13:14, see Exodus 12:26. מחר: to-morrow, for the future generally, as in Genesis 30:33. מה־זאת: what does this mean? quid sibi vult hoc praeceptum ac primogenitura (Jonathan).
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